Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya (1916-1968) was truly a multi-dimensional personality with exceptional contributions in different fields. He was an extraordinary political leader, a highly committed organisational man, a dedicated journalist, a philosopher, sociologist, an original economic thinker and much more. He is one of the pioneering contributors of modern India, whose works and thoughts are not widely known and discussed.
He remains an example for simple living and high thinking. Regarded as an organiser par excellence, he practised the highest values in public life. Besides, he conceived the philosophy of “Integral Humanism”, based on the higher traditions of the Indian civilisation. It advocates an integrated system of the body, mind, intellect and the soul.
He was one of those who clearly understood that the Indian economic and political systems after independence were raised upon the superficial notions of the Western world. So he realised that there was no use in relying upon the western concepts such as individualism, socialism and capitalism.
By now all the thinkers agree that both the western ideologies namely capitalism and communism are not complete, as they look at the human beings from their narrow points of view. But more than five decades earlier, Deendayal Upadhyaya condemned both capitalism and communism for failing to take into account “ the Integral Man, his true and complete personality and his aspirations.” During those times, the entire intellectual class across the world believed that communism and capitalism were the only two economic approaches available before the countries.
Deendayal Upadhyaya noted that both these ideologies did not view mankind completely and in fact they de-humanised man. To quote: ” One ( Capitalism) considers him a mere selfish being lingering after money, having only one law, the law of fierce competition, in essence the law of the jungle; whereas the other ( Communism) has viewed him as a life-less cog in the whole scheme of things, regulated by rigid rules, and incapable of any good unless directed. The centralisation of power, economic and political, is implied in both. Both, therefore, result in the dehumanisation of the man. Man, the highest creation of God, is losing his own identity.”
The western ideologies and concepts are based on the limited Western views of life, while for us in India the unity of all life is paramount. Deendayal Upadhyaya pointed out: "Hegel put forward the principles of thesis, anti-thesis and synthesis; Karl Marx used this principle as a basis and presented his analysis of history and economics; Darwin considered the principle of survival of the fittest as the sole basis of life; but we in this country saw the basic unity of all life."
But unfortunately we are tied to the Western ideologies, due to our wrong beliefs: Upadhyaya writes: “Not only because of different ideals of life but also because of different conditions in terms of time and place the way of our economic development will have to be different from that of the West. But we are tied to Marshall and Marx. We believe that the economic principles they have discussed are eternal. Even those who realise that they are dependent upon certain systems are not able to step out of their orbits. The economic prosperity of the West has created a blind belief in us about the Western system of production.”
India is an ancient nation with thousands of years of experience and backgrounds. We believe in the wholesome progress of the mankind. Upadhyaya observed: "Here in Bharat, we have placed before ourselves the ideal of the four fold responsibilities of catering to the needs of Body, Mind, Intellect and Soul with a view to achieve the integrated progress of Man."
But unfortunately the post-independent leadership failed to recognise this basic fact and began adopting the alien approaches. As a result the nation suffered. The noted nationalistic thinker and a close associate of Deendayal Upadhyaya, Parameswaran notes: “When we look at the present Indian scenario from this background it will not be difficult to realise that India’s failure to measure up to the various challenges and to fulfil her destiny in post-independent period has been largely due to the erroneous path she was compelled to take under the influence of an intellectually and culturally alienated leadership. The net result was that totally wrong decisions were taken at the policy level and dangerous distortions had crept in at the implementation level. It was only natural that the spontaneous enthusiasm and energy of the people could not be mobilised for the task of nation building, because the Anglicised and/or Russianised leadership could not appeal to the masses.” ( In K.R. Rao, Integral Humanism)
As a native intellectual having roots firmly on the ground, Deendayal Upadhyaya strongly believed that India would progress only on the basis of its own identity. To quote: “ It is essential that we think about our national identity. Without this identity there is no meaning of independence, nor can independence become the instrument of progress and happiness. As long as we are unaware of our national identity, we cannot recognise or develop all our potentialities.”
Parameswaran laments that the failure of the leadership to recognise the uniqueness of India and the imposition of the foreign models have led to serious difficulties. To quote: “ It is indeed strange that our leaders missed the elementary truth, that an ancient nation like India, with a cultural heritage inherited through countless centuries of history, could not be raised to its rightful place among the countries of the world, by imposing borrowed foreign models on it. They forgot that a nation, like an individual, is not only its physical configuration, but has also a mind and soul of its own, and unless the course of development it takes is in tune with the bent of its mind and the genius of its soul, it is bound to run into insurmountable troubles and finally comes to grief.”
Deendayal Upadhyaya advocated that only the integral approach would lead to the progress as well as the happiness of human beings. His views are based on the essence of life in Bharat over thousands of years. Hence he emphasised that it is not socialism or capitalism, but a decentralised approach with the overall interests of human beings at the centre that would be the suitable for our nation.
He said it is our duty to put the “man” at the centre: “ We must re-establish him in his rightful position, bring him the realisation of his greatness, reawaken his abilities and encourage him to exert for attaining divine heights of his latent personality. This is possible only through a decentralised economy. We want neither capitalism nor socialism. We aim at the progress and happiness of “Man”, the Integral Man.”
It is important to note that Deendayal Upadhyaya presented his thoughts during 1965, when it was believed that there was no alternative to the two popular western ideologies. The developments during the last few decades clearly prove the failure of both the western ideologies. Besides, it is now accepted that the family, society and culture play a major role in the development of economy.
India’s development journey over the last fifty years has been due to the inherent strengths of our nation. It is in spite of the western approaches. Upadhyaya’s thoughts are highly relevant for us now; what we need is a Bharathiya approach, as we transform into a developed nation with a new vigour.
1. Deendayal Upadhyaya, Integral Humanism
2. Kandarpa Ramachandra Rao, Integral Humanism
3. Sudhakar Raje, Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya – A Profile
( Yuva Bharati , Vivekananda Kendra, Chennai, May 2017)