Chandika Das Amritrao Deshmukh, widely known as “Nanaji Deshmukh”, was born on October 11, 1916, in a simple family of Maharashtra. Dr. Hedgewar, the founder of RSS, used to frequently visit his family due to which Nanaji became an active social worker from his very childhood. In 1934, in the presence of Dr. Hedgewar, he pledged to work for the lifetime of the service of society. Nanaji was one of the founding members when Shayma Prasad Mukherjee founded the Bharatiya Jan Sangh in 1951. But even before going to politics, he was engaged in the service of the society as an educationalist. With this objective, he established the first Saraswati Shishu Mandir in the year 1950 in Gorakhpur, with an education system providing modern education as well as introducing Indian culture, civilization and ancient glory. Today, the plant planted by Nanaji has taken the form of a tree. Today, around 32 lakh students are studying value-based and ritual education in 12754 schools run by Vidyabharati across the country. During the Emergency of 1975, when the police lathicharged at a rally in Gandhi Maidan in Patna, his hand broke down while protecting Jayaprakash Narayan, but he did not let any flame on JP.
In addition, at the age of 60, he presented a unique example of retirement from politics. Even after retiring from politics, that society was not far from life. He gave a solid form to the unifying ideology of Gandhi Swarajya and Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay. Chitrakoot, where Lord Shri Ram spent most of his exile, the same became a land for Nanaji, in which he himself sometimes used to say in humorous satire that “लोग राजा राम की पूजा करते हैं और मैं वनवासी राम की”(People worship the Raja Rama and I worship Vanavasi Rama). He founded Deendayal Research Institute, which is popularly known as DRI. DRI is working towards making 500 villages of Chitrakoot area self reliant. In 1999, Nanaji was awarded Padma Vibhushan for her social service.
Former President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam visited Chitrakoot in 2005 and reviewed the works done by Nanaji. On February 27, 2010, he breathed his last at Chitrakoot Gramodya University, established by himself. After his death, his body was dedicated to AIIMS Delhi for research work. Today, Nanaji may not be physically present with us. But his life and his contribution will always be an eternal source of inspiration for all of us.
The article was originally written in Hindi by Shashank and was translated to English by Awakened Indian Volunteers.