Deendayal Upadhyaya

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Deendayal Upadhyaya
Deendayal Upadhyaya 1978 stamp of India.jpg
Deendayal Upadhyaya on a 1978 stamp of India
President of Bharatiya Jana Sangh
In office
Preceded by Balraj Madhok
Succeeded by Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Personal details
Born (1916-09-25)25 September 1916
Nagla Chandraban, Mathura, United Provinces, British India
(present-day Deendayal Dham, Mathura district, Uttar Pradesh, India)
Died 11 February 1968(1968-02-11) (aged 51)
Mughalsarai, Uttar Pradesh, India
Political party Bharatiya Jana Sangh
Alma mater Sanatan Dharma College, Kanpur

Deendayal Upadhyaya (25 September 1916 – 11 February 1968) was an Indian politician and thinker of RSS ideology, and former leader of the political party Bharatiya Jana Sangh, the forerunner of Bharatiya Janata Party.

He started the monthly publication of "Rashtra Dharma" in the 1940s at Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, to spread the Hindutva ideology.[1] He became president of the Jana Sangh in December 1967. No major events in the party happened during his tenure as the president that ended in 1968. He contested the Lok Sabha election and lost.

He was killed in a train theft incident and was found dead on 11 February 1968, on a railway track near Mughalsarai Junction railway station.[2] 50 years after his death, the railway station was later renamed to Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Junction by the BJP government under Narendra Modi in 2018.[3]

Early life and education

He was born in 1916 in the village of Nagla Chandraban, now called Deendayal Dham, near the town of Farah in Mathura District, 26  km away from Mathura. His father, Bhagwati Prasad Upadhyaya, was an astrologer and his mother Rampyari Upadhyaya was a homemaker and religious Hindu. Both his parents died when he was eight years old and he was brought up by his maternal uncle.[4] His education was under the guardianship of his maternal uncle and aunt. He went to high school in Sikar. He did his Intermediate in Pilani, Rajasthan. [5][6] He did his B. A. at the Sanatan Dharma College, Kanpur in 1939. He joined St. John's College, Agra to pursue a master's degree in English literature but could not continue his studies. He then joined Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh as its full-time worker, called Pracharak.[7]

RSS and Jana Sangh

While he was a student at Sanatan Dharma College, Kanpur in 1937, he came into contact with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) through his classmate Baluji Mahashabde. He met the founder of the RSS, K. B. Hedgewar, who engaged with him in an intellectual discussion at one of the shakhas. Sunder Singh Bhandari was also one of his classmates at Kanpur. He started full-time work in the RSS from 1942. He had attended the 40-day summer vacation RSS camp at Nagpur where he underwent training in Sangh Education. After completing second-year training in the RSS Education Wing, Upadhyaya became a lifelong pracharak of the RSS. He worked as the Pracharak for the Lakhimpur district and, from 1955, as the joint Prant Pracharak (regional organiser) for Uttar Pradesh. He was regarded as an ideal swayamsevak of the RSS essentially because ‘his discourse reflected the pure thought-current of the Sangh’.[8]

He started the monthly Rashtra Dharma from Lucknow in the 1940s. The publication was meant for spreading the ideology of Hindutva nationalism. He did not have his name printed as editor in any of its issues. Later he started the weekly Panchjanya and the daily Swadesh.[9]

In 1951, when Syama Prasad Mookerjee founded the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, Deendayal was seconded to the party by the RSS, tasked with moulding it into a genuine member of the Sangh Parivar. He was appointed as General Secretary of its Uttar Pradesh branch, and later the all-India General Secretary. For 15 years, he remained the outfit's general secretary. He also contested by-poll for the Lok Sabha seat of Jaunpur from Uttar Pradesh in 1963, but failed to attract significant political traction and did not get elected. He became president of the Jana Sangh in December 1967. No major events happened in the party during his tenure as the president that ended in 1968.

Upadhyaya edited Panchjanya (weekly) and Swadesh (daily) from Lucknow. In Hindi, he wrote a drama on Chandragupta Maurya, and later wrote a biography of Shankaracharya. He translated a Marathi biography of Hedgewar.


Integral humanism was a set of concepts drafted by Upadhyaya as political program and adopted in 1965 as the official doctrine of the Jan Sangh.[10] Upadhyaya borrowed the Gandhian principles such as sarvodaya (progress of all), swadeshi (Indianisation), and Gram Swaraj (village self-rule) and these principles were appropriated selectively to give more importance to cultural-national values. These values were based on an individual's undisputed subservience to the nation as a corporate entity.

Golwalkar believed in the concept of Organicism, from which the Integral Humanism was not very different. In Integral Humanism, Golwalkar's thoughts were supplemented by appropriating major Gandhian principles and presented a version of Hindu Nationalism. The objective of this version was to develop the image of Jan Sangh as a pro-developmental and spiritual image that favours equality in society. The creation and adoption of these concepts helped to suit the major discourses in the Indian political arena of the 1960s and 1970s. This highlighted efforts to portray the Jan Sangh and Hindu nationalist movement as a high profile right fringe of the Indian political mainstream.

Upadhyaya considered that it was of utmost importance for India to develop an indigenous economic model with a human being at center stage. This approach made this concept different from Socialism and Capitalism. Integral Humanism was adopted as Jan Sangh's political doctrine and its new openness to other opposition forces made it possible for the Hindu nationalist movement to have an alliance in the early 1970s with the prominent Gandhian Sarvodaya movement going on under the leadership of J. P. Narayan. This was considered as the first major public breakthrough for the Hindu nationalist movement.[11]


In December 1967, Upadhyaya was elected president of the Jana Sangh. In the evening of 10 February 1968, at Lucknow he boarded the Sealdah Express for Patna. The train reached Mughalsarai at about 2:10 am but Upadhyaya was not found on the train.[2] He was murdered under mysterious circumstances on 11 February 1968 while travelling. His body was found near Mughalsarai railway station in Uttar Pradesh[12][13][14] 10 minutes after the train arrived. His body was lying near a traction pole 748 feet from the end of the platform of Mughalsarai station where the train halted. He was clutching a five-rupee note in his hand. He was last seen alive at Jaunpur after midnight.[2]

The CBI investigation team claimed that Upadhyaya had been pushed out of the coach by robbers just before the train entered the Mughalsarai station.[15] A passenger named M.P. Singh travelling in the adjoining cabin of the same coach had seen a man (later identified as Bharat Lal) enter Upadhyaya's cabin at Mughalsarai and walk off with his file and bedding.[2] CBI later arrested Bharat Lal and his associate Ram Awadh in the case and charged them with murder and theft. As per CBI, they confessed to pushing Updadhyay out of the train after he caught them stealing his bag. Upadhyaya had threatened to report them to the police. However, the two accused were acquitted of the murder charges for lack of evidence.[15] Bharat Lal alone was convicted of the theft of the belongings of the deceased. He appealed to the Allahabad High Court. The sessions judge had remarked in his judgment that "the offence of murder not having been proved against the accused, the problem of truth about the murder still remains".[2]

Over 70 MPs demanded a commission of inquiry to uncover the truth. The Government of India agreed to this promptly and appointed Justice Y.V. Chandrachud of Bombay High Court as the sole member of the commission.[2] Justice Chandrachud reported his findings "That Shri Upadhyaya was pushed out of the running train when he was standing near the door of the I Class compartment of the F.C.T. Bogie"; that he dashed against the traction pole and "died an instantaneous death"; and the injuries on his body were caused in a single transaction and were such as could not have been caused inside the compartment. Justice also held that the murder "was accompanied by an immediate theft, which shows that the two are part and parcel of the same transaction." Finally, the judge observed: "I can say with a certain amount of confidence that nothing has come before me can support the accusation that there was any politics in Shri Upadhyaya’s murder. Undoubtedly, he had political rivals but his death is the rash and extempore handiwork of mere thieves." The CBI he said had conducted the investigation with care and objectivity.[2]

In 2017, Upadhyay's niece and several politicians have demanded a fresh probe in his murder.[16]


Bust of Deendayal Upadhyaya

Since 2016 the BJP government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi named several public institutions after him.[17][18] In Delhi, a road/marg has been named after Upadhyaya.

In August 2017, the BJP state government in UP proposed renaming of Mughalsarai station in honour of Upadhyaya as his dead body was found near it.[17] Opposition parties protested this move in the Parliament of India. The Samajwadi Party protested with a statement that the station was being renamed after someone "who had made “no contribution to the freedom struggle".[19] The Deen Dayal Research Institute deals with queries on Upadhyaya and his works.[20]

In a public event on 16 February 2020 in Varanasi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated to the nation the "Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya Memorial Centre" and unveiled a 63-foot statue of Upadhyaya, his tallest statue in the country.[21]

See also


  1. ^ "Points about Deendayal Upadhyay". IndiaToday. 25 September 2018. Retrieved 16 February 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Noorani, A.G. (2012). Islam, South Asia and the Cold War. Tulika Books. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  3. ^ "It's Official. Mughalsarai Station's New Name Is Up On Signs And Boards". NDTV. 14 July 2018. Retrieved 16 February 2020.
  4. ^ Prabhash K Dutta (21 September 2017), "Who was Deendayal Upadhyay, the man PM Narendra Modi often refers to in his speeches?", India Today, retrieved 26 November 2018
  5. ^ "Who was Deendayal Upadhyay". IndiaToday. 21 September 2017. Retrieved 16 February 2020.
  6. ^ "PANDIT DEENDAYAL UPADHYAYA | Rajasthan". Retrieved 7 June 2019.
  7. ^ "End of an Era". Retrieved 26 November 2018.
  8. ^ Jaffrelot, Christophe (2007). Hindu Nationalism – A Reader. Princeton University Press. p. 140. ISBN 978-0-691-13097-2.
  9. ^ "Deendayal Upadhyaya". Bharatiya Janata party. Retrieved 12 September 2014.
  10. ^ Hansen, Thomas (1999). The Saffron Wave: Democracy and Hindu nationalism in modern India. NJ: Princeton University Press. p. 84. ISBN 9780691006710. Archived from the original on 2 November 2009.
  11. ^ Hansen, Thomas (1999). The Saffron Wave: Democracy and Hindu nationalism in modern India. NJ: Princeton University Press. p. 85. ISBN 9780691006710. Archived from the original on 2 November 2009.
  12. ^ Pandey, Devesh K. (25 May 2015). "Probe murder of Deendayal Upadhyaya afresh: Swamy". The Hindu. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
  13. ^ PTI (11 August 2017). "Congress seeks Narendra Modi's intervention to reopen Deendayal Upadhyaya death probe – Firstpost". Firstpost. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
  14. ^ "Jan Sangh chief found dead". The Hindu. 12 February 2018. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 14 April 2019.
  15. ^ a b "Probe murder of Deendayal Upadhyaya afresh: Swamy". The Hindu. 25 May 2015. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  16. ^ "Cong asks for fresh probe into Deendayal Upadhyay's death". DNA India. Press Trust of India. 11 August 2017. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  17. ^ a b Chatterjee, Manini (25 September 2017). "Manufacturing an icon – The Deendayal Upadhyaya blitzkrieg". The Telegraph. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  18. ^ Bindu Shajan Perappadan (19 June 2014). "Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Hospital to become a medical college-cum-hospital". Retrieved 23 March 2018.
  19. ^ "SP, BSP oppose renaming of Mughalsarai railway station". LiveMint. PTI. 4 August 2017. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  20. ^ Kang, Bhavdeep (6 October 2014) Who is this man who features in every Modi speech?
  21. ^ "PM Modi Launches, lays foundation stone of 50 projects worth Rs 1,254 crore in Varanasi". TribuneIndia. 16 February 2019. Retrieved 17 February 2020.
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