Obituaries: Balasaheb Deoras
Thursday 18 July 1996
Deoras was instrumental in the negotiations with the federal government which led to the ban on the RSS's being lifted a year after its imposition in 1948, following the Mahatma's murder by Nathu Ram Godse, a Hindu fanatic and RSS member.
Over the years, Deoras worked with deadly efficiency, first as a RSS pracharak or motivator and later for 20 years as its Sarsanghachalak or head, always towards bringing about a Hindu renaissance, principally by targeting Muslims. His efforts paid dividends in May this year when the Hindu fundamentalist BJP, one of the Sangh's principal political units, emerged as the largest single party after India's general elections to form the federal government. Although the minority BJP government resigned after just 13 days in office, unable to cobble together a parliamentary majority, it used its short spell in power to ensure that it would be voted back decisively before the end of the decade.
Under Deoras, other RSS units, known as the Sangh Parvivar or family, gained notoriety when some of them combined with military precision to demolish the 16th-century mosque at Ayodhya in north India in 1992. The demolition led to countrywide sectarian riots in which over 1,500 people, mostly Muslims, were killed in pogroms in the western Indian city of Bombay.
Founded in 1925, the RSS has emerged as India's largest, most influential and utterly ruthless organisation committed to Hindu revivalism. It is organised along para-military lines with a well-defined rank structure, physical training sessions and the ability to mobilise volunteers to strike, thus effectively closing down entire cities through their networks.
Operating from the RSS headquarters in the western city of Nagpur, Deoras worked single-mindedly to create a nationwide Hindu underground. Gaoled by the prime minister Indira Gandhi in the mid-Seventies after she imposed a national emergency, suspending civil liberties, Deoras used the opportunity to interact with workers and leaders of different political parties arrested alongside him to widen the scope of the RSS.
Deoras was born in Nagpur in 1915 into a middle-class Brahmin family. He was a brilliant student who graduated locally before taking a law degree in 1937. Joining the RSS within a year of its founding, at the age of 11, he became a full-time motivator within a short spell, and was sent to organise RSS activities in Calcutta in 1939.
After a series of organisational posts, he became the head of the RSS in 1973, a post he relinquished in 1994, although he continued to exercise great influence over Sangah affairs. Like many senior RSS members, Balasaheb Deoras was a bachelor who lived an austere existence, believing self-abnegation to be Hinduism's true path.
Balasaheb Deoras, political activist: born Nagpur, western India 5 November 1915; died Pune, western India 17 June 1996.
Geoffrey Macnab reviews American Hustle, also starring Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper
newsFormer soldier taped 33 of the animals to the floor and then stamped on them one by one
Michelle Nijhuis' daughter insists (s)he is, and she learnt a valuable lesson on gender in books
news Opponents claim it would stop performers such as Beyonce and Madonna appearing on TV
It takes a platoon of chefs, litres of brandy and rum, and almost 100kg of dried fruit
food + drink
Latest in News
Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
Lee Rigby murder: How killers Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale became ultra-violent radicals
Cycle death inquest: Boyfriend hugs driver of 32 tonne tipper truck that killed his girlfriend
Paul Walker death caused by speed alone
Apollo Theatre collapse: Scores injured after ceiling collapses in London's West End
- 1 America's 'virgin births'? One in 200 mothers 'became pregnant without having sex'
- 2 North Koreans are gasping for the truth: Let's give it to them
- 3 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 4 Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber is 'retiring from music'
- 5 Iain Duncan Smith leaves Commons food banks debate early
- < Previous
- Next >
£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Geography ...
Competitive: Nielsen: We are seeking an enthusiastic intern with a passionate ...
£23 - £30 per hour: Morgan Hunt: A fantastic opportunity has arisen within a c...