Remembering Thengadi ji

This is an effort to recollect and document life of Rashtra Rishi Dattopant Thengadi, as experienced by his colleagues, friends, followers and associates. Saroj Mitra has had a long and cherished association with Rev. Thengadi ji. Saroj Da, as he is known , has begun by recollecting his memorable incidents that he can remember. There are many more people of all age groups who will fondly remind their interaction with this one of the greatest personality of Independent India. We request every such person to contribute to this effort by sending their memoirs of Thengadi ji. Editor.

In the year 1968, Revered Dattopant Thendagi, then a member of Rajya Sabha returned from a tour of Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and Hungary along with other Members of the Parliament led by Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy, the speaker of Lok Sabha. The first speech that Manniya Thengadi ji delivered after his return was in a study class of Jana Sangh workers held at Cuttack, Orissa. He spoke about his impression on Russia. How Russia was moving away from fundamentals of communism and how signs of communism in reverse gear were appearing there. He described these impressions by citing certain facts. Not Marx but Lenin got more projection in Russia. Russian nationalism was much in observance, he said.

The largest and deepest fresh sweet water lake in the world Baikal did not signify any meaning in Russian language. The sun rise and sun set occur at Baikal within a very short period of time. This wonderful phenomenon justifies the Indian word ‘Baikal’. Baikal or Vaikal in Sanskrit means time just before sunst. Prof. Hiren Mookerjee of CPI who was also in the tour endorsed the same.

After his speech which ended by 10 A.M. Thengadi ji asked me to give a break of ten minutes. At about 10.10 AM everyone assembled in the hall once again and sh.Thengadi ji started his speech. Subject was Indian polity and its foundations etc. By 11.10 AM his speech was over and Thengadi ji asked me to give another twenty minutes’ break for tea. Accordingly participants were asked to take tea and re-assemble by 11.30 AM. Thengadi ji continued his speech till 1.00 PM. His was a brilliant analysis of western and Indian or Hindu paradigms. Every body was spell bound. After lunch Thengadi ji was requested to speak at the closing function of study class. In his concluding remarks he urged participants to march forward under the leadership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, then President elect of Jan Sangh. Vajpayee ji had assumed office after the tragic demise of Pt. Deendayal Upadhyay in 1968. At 4.00 p.m. local sakha of RSS arranged a meeting where Thengadi ji spoke again and by 5.30 p.m. he left for Railway Station to board the train. One senior Advocate Sunil Ghosh, who told me that during his school days he was a volunteer under Subhash Chandra Bose at Cuttack which is Netaji’s birth place, but had never came across such a genius as of Thengadi ji. Such was the persona of Dattopant Thengadi. He spoke practically for whole day and his exposition of the variety of subjects was unbelievably impressive.

Saroj Mitra (All India Co-convenor of Swadeshi Jagaran Manch)