This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.Find sources: "Dattopant Thengadi" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (June 2017) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Dattopant Thengadi
Dattatrye Bapurao Thengadi

(1920-11-10)10 November 1920
Arvi village, Wardha District, Maharashtra, British India
Died14 October 2004(2004-10-14) (aged 83)
Pune, Maharashtra, Republic of India
Alma materMorris College
OrganizationRashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh
Known forFounder of Swadeshi Jagaran Manch
Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh
Bharatiya Kisan Sangh
Parent(s)Bapurao Dajeebaa Thengadi (Father), Shrimati Janaki Devi (Mother)
AwardsAwarded with Padma Bhushan, but he refused.[1]

Dattopant Bapurao Thengadi, (Marathi: दत्तोपंत ठेंगडी, 1920–2004) was an Indian Hindu Ideologue, trade union leader and founder of the Swadeshi Jagaran Manch, Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh and the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh. He is one of the foremost ideologues of Swadeshi economics. He was born in the village of Arvi in Wardha district in Maharashtra.

Thengadi was a full-time Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh pracharak until his death on 14 October 2004. The kind of impact he left on the social and economic life of India was unique, and set the tone for generations to come.[2][3][4] He has been one of the foremost advocates of the hallmark qualities of his lifestyle: simple living, in-depth study, deep thinking, clarity of thought, courage of the conviction and missionary zeal for the goal.[5] He was awarded with Padma Bhushan but refused to accept it.[1]

Early history

Dattopant Thengadi (Dattatreya Bapurao Thengadi) was born in the village of Arvi (Wardha, Maharashtra) on Deepawali, 10 November 1920. He studied law at Law College in Nagpur.[6] He finished his post-graduation from Morris College and LLB from Law College in Nagpur. He was a lawyer as well as a philosopher, and displayed an early talent for administration. At the age of 15, he served as president of the ‘Vanar Sena’ as well as the Municipal High School student union at Arvi.[7] He actively took part in India's Freedom Movement and was a member of the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA) from 1936-38. He became a full-time Pracharak in 1942. He worked as organizing secretary of the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) from 1950–51,[7] and was also associated with the Postal & Railway Workers Union (Communist Party).[7] He was organising secretary of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh for Madhya Pradesh (1952-53) and south India (1956-57).

He was profoundly influenced by Sh. Madhavrao Sadashivrao Golwalkar, popularly known as Guruji. Some of the other towering figures of the time who influenced his persona are Babasaheb Ambedkar and Pt. Deendayal Upadhyaya.[7] He always kept pace with time[5] by establishing various organizations in different spheres, and maintained the core philosophy of Hindu Dharma and Bhartiya Darshan.[8][9][10]

Founder of organisations

Thengadi founded, nurtured and energized some of the well-known organizations of today: Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh[8] (1955), Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (1979),[10] Swadeshi Jagran Manch (1991),[9] Samajik Samarasata Manch, Sarva- panth Samadar Manch and Paryavaran Manch; also a founder member of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, Akhil Bharatiya Adhivakta Parishad, Akhil Bharatiya Grahak Panchayat and Bharatiya Vichara Kendra.

In Parliament

He was the member of the Rajya Sabha from Bharatiya Jana Sangh for two terms during 1964-76,[11] also served as its vice-chairman in 1968-70, always left his indelible imprints on all the tasks he handled as parliamentarian. Thengadi showed his leadership capabilities by organizing the anti-Emergency movement in 1975, by way bringing together various political streams.


A widely traveled man, within India he practically travelled almost every district place in the country if not taluka and village. He also visited foreign shores, which includes- Soviet Union[7] and Hungary as member of a parliamentary delegation (1969), Geneva, Switzerland to attend Second International Anti-Apartheid Conference at Geneva (1979).[7] He was invited in USA, Canada, Britain and Yugoslavia in 1979 to study the impact of liberalization on trade union movement. His conviction also took him to, China, Jakarta, Bangladesh, Burma, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, on various occasions.[7]

An erudite orator,[12] expert in the social, economic and political issues, his soft but forcefully presentations of the issues always kept the audience spellbound. Disenchanted with both the western models of development, namely, Capitalism and Socialism, he propounded the ‘Third Way’ of socio-economic development based on the ideology of ‘Sanatan Dharma’. He authored many books which grew not only from his ideological conviction but also from his first hand experience, some of his widely read and referred works are: The Third Way; Modernization Without Westernization; What Sustains Sangh?, Our National Renaissance, It's Directions and Destination; Nationalist Pursuit; The great sentinel and The Perspective.

Death and condolence

Dattopant Thengadi died on 14 October 2004 due to Brain Hemorrhage via Mahanirvaan. Great personalities of India and world gave him tribute.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee

Atal Bihari Vajpayee giving tribute to Dattopant Thengadi.
His writings will guide us

Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Prime Minister of India:

"I have had long association with Thengadiji. I was present in the Bhopal meeting in which the decision to form the BMS was taken. During the discussion to decide the name of the new organisation, Thengadiji had suggested the name Shramjivi Sangathan. The name Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh was coined keeping in view the fact that the name should be simple and meaningful. I feel trade unionism is facing a crisis today. We have before us two paths, one of these is on the way out. There is a need to find out the third one. Workers' interests should be protected but at the same time the nation's interest too must be borne in mind. The workers' movement is in a crisis and how to balance things in a changing scenario should be considered using the third way out, which was what Thengadi had been attempting. Whatever Thengadiji has written should be read by all of us. I feel it will guide us for long." [2]

L.K. Advani

Lal Krishna Advani (first from right) and Narendra Modi (first from left) giving tribute to Dattopant Thengadi.
Dedicated Rashtrasevak

L.K. Advani, Deputy Prime Minister of India

I have had close relations with Dattopantji for the last 50 years. If one has to explain the personality of Dattopantji in one sentence, we can say that he was a dedicated Rashtrasevak.He lived his whole life as a karmayogi. The work he took up he aimed it out with full responsibility. He established a wide network of friends without compromising on his views and ideology. His thinking was not confined to labourers or economic issues alone it involved the entire life of the nation and the world. His death is a personal loss to me. A strong pillar of our work is no more.[13]

Ashok Singhal

Ashok Singhal giving tribute to Dattopant Thengadi.
Messiah of poor and farmer

Ashokjee (Ashok Singhal), International Working President of Vishva Hindu Parishad:

With the death of Dattopantji we all have become orphans. He was a messiah of poor and farmer. There are certain great personalities whose loss can never be filled. Dattopantji was a similar great personality. He had original thinking on all spheres of life. His mother and Shri Guruji were his guides. At the time when the country is facing onslaughts from all sides, the void left by Dattopantji will be felt greatly.[3]


  1. ^ a b "Thengadi declines Padma award". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 29 July 2003. Retrieved 3 October 2018.
  2. ^ a b The Organiser, 31 October 2004 issue. p. 13, Article Named- 'His writings will guide us'
  3. ^ a b The Organiser, 31 October 2004 issue. p. 13, Article Named- Messiah of poor and farmer
  4. ^ New Indian Express Chennai Article-"A Tapasvi Dies, Unnoticed" by S. Gurumurthy, dated 31-10-2004
  5. ^ a b डा. अम्बेडकर और सामाजिक क्रान्ति की यात्रा, Introduction of Author, paragraph 2
  6. ^ "Dattopant Thengadi - activist MP from RSS who shaped 'Atmanirbhar Bharat' idea decades ago". 2020.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g A Nationalist Pursuit, Published by Sahitya Sindhu Prakashana- Introduction of the author.
  8. ^ a b Dattopant Thengadi Article on 'Founder' page of BMS' official website.
  9. ^ a b Introduction of SJM on its official website.
  10. ^ a b Dattopant Thengadi Article on Bharatiya Kisan Sangh Page as a founder.
  11. ^ Outlook: Dattopant Thengadi -- An efficient organisation builder
  12. ^ His Speech at All India National Convention of Swadeshi Jagran Manch, Bhopal. 19 November 2000 on YouTube
  13. ^ The Organiser, 31 October 2004 issue. p. 13, Article Named- Dedicated Rashtrasevak