It was in the year 1990 that I got opportunity to see Rev. Dattopant ji in Jodhpur for the first time. In 1992, I listened to his effortless, but stimulating Boudhik in the third year of Sangshiksha Varg at Nagpur for two consecutive days. He also delivered an Informal talk there on another day. And concluding speech of third year Sangshiksha Varga which is normally delivered by Poojniya Sarsanghchalak ji was also delivered by Rev. Thendgi ji due to indifferent health of P.P. Balasahab Deoras.
In 1998 state conference of BMS was to be held in Abu Road Rajasthan. Thengdiji had to stay there for entire period of the conference. I was working in Abu Road and was in close contact of BMS activists. An intense feeling to host Thendgiji at my residence overtook me with the fast approaching dates of the BMS conference. But I did not express it to anybody. Meanwhile we were informed that Thengdi ji will be staying at the guest house.
Just a couple of days before the conference Sachin ji, the General Secretary of BMS Abu Road visited my house along with Sh. Shyam Sunder Sharma, the state Vice President of BMS. They wanted to change the staying arrangement of Rev. Thendgiji and were seeking my permission to organize it at my residence. For me it was a God send opportunity. In fact, it was the proof that God listens to silent prayers.
Thengdi ji reached Abu Road on 10th September 1998. My entire family was both jubilant and strained to host such an important national personality. We all received Thengdi ji at Railway Station and escorted him to our residence.
Soon after entering the house Dattopant ji sought introduction of every family member. He checked the house to see what is where and gave certain clear instructions with regard to his stay and eating and sleep. By this gesture all our anxiety vanished. What remained was the treasured bliss of his divine company. Even though his health was ostensibly good, I still enquired as a matter of physician’s curiosity. His reply was brief and to the point ‘just fine’, he said adding that only trouble was some hardness of hearing for which he was using the hearing aid. After dinner he asked me at what time did I wake up in the morning? When I replied “At 5 a.m.” he was again straight, “don’t wake me”. I will get up and inform you. Elaborating it a little, he continued, I am not able sleep in time; I have to read till I fall asleep and get up accordingly. He thereafter took some books from my collection and started reading.
In the morning all of us including my 90 year old grand-mother and 3 year old son were waiting eagerly for this great man to get up. After his morning ablutions and breakfast, he glanced through my book collection. He would ask me about every book and make a comment also. When he Saw “Bharat Ka Punarjanam” by Yogi Arvind, he took it in his hands and asked, “Have you read it”. I replied in affirmative. It is an important book, he commented. Seizing the opportunity I asked a question that we at SJM display portraits of both Gandhi ji and Sri Arvind With respect, but Sh. Arvind in this book has been a strong critic of Gandhi ji. Thengdi ji accepted it and said ‘yes’ you are right. This is illustration of esteemed people, he continued and revealed that something similar had happened with him also. It was an incident of early sixties. P.P. Shri Guru ji was on a visit. To Bhopal, he recalled. Few days before the visit, I criticized Mahatma Gandhi in very strong words, Dattopant ji continued. This statement got published in Newspapers also.
During the visit of Sh. Guruji when I met him, Guru ji commented on these published reports. “Your big statements are being published”. Knowing about the strong opinion of Shri Guruji regarding Gandhi ji, I was feeling flattered, Dattopant ji is added. Suddenly Guruji became serious and remarked, “Being head of RSS, I have to express my opinion considering the larger interest of Hindu Society in mind. Otherwise for next 100 rebirths Mahatma Gandhi will remain respected for us.”
I realized the mistake. It was justifiable for Yogi Arvind to critise his contemporary Gandhi ji but for us both of them remain distinguished and respected.
During the day I got another opportunity to ask Thengdi ji, how he remained so calm in spite of so many problems and engagements?
Dattopant ji replied as follows:-
“Yes problems do remain. But I believe that every person has a restricted capability to think. This varies from person to person. For some it may be 30 to 40 minutes and for others it may extend a little more. But, No one can think beyond his competence. Accepting this fact of life, I divide problems into three categories. First, those which have no solution for the time-being or no solution at all. Second type of problems is those which can be solved in future only when the right time for that comes.
I don’t think over both these varieties of problems. Again, I spend a predetermined time slot on issues that can be solved now. Once I take a considered view, then I don’t waste time on useless reconsiderations. My Uncle/Mama ji used to say that those who claim to think for days together are actually doing “Japa”, reciting same thing repeatedly.”
I further asked thengdi ji how differences crop up among the people who believe in similar objective.
Dattopant ji replied:- this problem has somewhat aggravated in last 10-15 years. Reason is the impatience of our Adhikaris. When some opportunist sympathizer praises any senior person in an aberrant manner to gain sympathetic audience, the flattered Adhikari listens to his supposed criticism with a pinch of salt. Without counter checking with the concerned colleagues he tends to make an opinion about the person and at times makes certain unnecessary remarks. This becomes a chain of counter-criticism.
Now in such a situation a mature person has only two options. One; undiluted faith on his colleagues. If you have such a firm faith you will instantly stop the mischief maker. Second alternative is to listen patiently what is being conveyed, make no comments and contact the person concerned and sort out the issues. Constant Vigil is the only way to ward off such people, asserted Dattopant Thengdi.
In the afternoon a group of local workers came to meet Thengdi ji. They talked about the public programme scheduled for that evening.
Thendgi ji first sought the thorough introduction of every worker. Asked everyone to be unhesitatingly close to him and enquired about the public programme. In his enquiry he was actually guiding them in several niceties of such events.
He asked if anyone was presiding over the public function and guided to call him first on the stage and also seat him most prominently in middle. Even for lighting the lamp, the person presiding over must be invited first. In fixing the serial of speakers our own organisational speaker must be asked to speak last.
No one must speak after him. Even the stage secretary must speak very little after that so as to ensure that people remain focused on the issue propounded.
Lastly I asked another question. You have been in Sangh work from its very inception. Do you believe that the work is going on in the manner it was thought and do you believe that we will achieve the goal? Thengdi ji replied with firm conviction and assured passion. “Without an iota of doubt Sangh is doing its job as was planned. He continued with same firmness, “Sangh will certainly achieve its objective. Not only because we are working for it, also because it is God’s desire. And God is desire is always fulfilled”.
Dr. Ranjit Singh
Member, Central Working Committee, SJM
(Translated from Hindi)