A saintly personality who implemented the idea of a self-sufficient village.
With the core philosophy that man’s complete development is possible through Indian culture and values, Nanaji Deshmukh undertook and successfully completed many constructive projects all over India. He was born in Kadoli village, Parbhani district. Nanaji initially started his work through the medium of the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh). Later, for some years he played a prominent role in the politics of India. Realising the limits of politics he finally chose to work through the medium of social service, which is the medium of perpetual development. He achieved outstanding success in this field. Nanaji compelted his schooling through odd jobs such as selling vegetables. From the moment he came in contact with the RSS founder Dr. Hedgewar, he became associated for life with the RSS.
Initially a Swayamsevak (volunteer) he was then a full-time activist of the RSS. Nanaji successfully attempted to establish a new political party based on the nationalistic ideologies of the RSS under the guidance and inspiration from Shri Golwalkar Guruji, the then RSS head (SarSanghaChalak). From these efforts emerged the Janasansha political party. Nanaji, along with Deendayal Upadhyay, Sunderlal Bhandari, Atal Bihari Vajapayee and Lal Krishna Advani were active through the medium of the Janasangh. Later he was politically active through the Janata Party too. He also managed the periodicals Panjnya, RashtraDharma, and Swades for a while. He was closely associated with leaders with different ideologies like Rammanohar Lohia, Jaiprakash Narayan, Charansingh, etc. He participated in the BhooDaan (Donate Land) Movement initiated by Acharya Vinoba Bhave. He travelled for almost two months with Vinoba Bhave for the movement.
But after that, Deendayal Upadhyay’s philosophy of Integral Humanism for personal and social development had a deep impact on him. Influenced by this philosophy, he put his heart into developmental and constructive work and even refused a ministerial post in the Janata Party’s government. In those times he was well known in political circles in Delhi as a strategic advisor. Many important political positions were being offered to him, but he refused to get tempted and continued working for developmental causes.
In coming years, he established the Deendayal Research Organization, and his first project under this organization was the implementation of a water harvesting system using 40000 capillary tubes, to make the farmers in the Gond district in Uttar Pradesh self sustaining. Later on, he concentrated on making the people there self-sufficient and industry oriented by implementing various projects in eighty hilly and remote villages in the Chitrakut district. Many projects like water harvesting and irrigation, preservation of cows (GovanshSavardhan), reviving and preserving traditional agriculture practices, the Gurukul schooling and trade system, priority to self-employment through the medium of industrial universities, research in Ayurveda through the medium of Arogyadham and many other such projects have been implemented in the Chitrakut district. He also established Chitrakoot Gramoday Vishvavidyalata, India’s first rural University, in Chitrakoot. For suitably running these projects, he developed couples inclined towards social service into SamajShilpis (sculptors of society). These SamajShilpis are devotedly handling the projects and executing them correctly and in good speed. One can see the ideal of the socially, economically and industrially self-sufficient village coming into reality here.
With the intent of giving a religious value to the social work and to uphold an ideal before everyone, a permanent, unique tableau display based on the life of Lord Ram has been created in Chitrakut. The display has many episodes from the Ramayana, along with life like animal world display.
A very significant effect of Nanaji’s work is that 60% court cases in around eighty villages around the Chitrakut area have been withdrawn by the villagers and have been sorted out by having an out-of-court agreement. Along with Chitrakut, the work of the Deendayal Research Institute is in progress in some of the most deprived and poor districts in India. Projects like the Sondara Gurukul, agricultural development, health education, yoga studies, arts and crafts education and industrial training are being implemented in the Homari village in Maharashtra’s Beed district.
After the Emergency period (1977), Nanaji was a member of the house of people for a while. He was also elected a member to the parliament house in 1999. The Government of India bestowed on him the PadmaVibhushan for his outstanding lifetime work in social service.
This seed of the Deendayal Research Institution which was sown on 20th October 1972 is now a widely spread tree and is still growing. A salute to Nanaji who understood the importance of our ancient cultural values and is still tirelessly active in his work!