RCR name change: What is the philosophy of Ekatma?

The central aspect of Ekatma is that humanity consists of huge diversity, but all of it is united by a common 'atma’ or soul.

Written by Adrija Roychowdhury | New Delhi | Published:September 21, 2016 4:09 pm
Race course road, Ekatma Marg, ekatma, RCR, 7 RCR, prime minister's residence, deendayal upadhyay, deen dayal upadhyay, deendayal upadhyay philosophy, ekatma philosophy, what is ekatma, meenakshi lekhi, indian express Near 7 RCR, the residence of the Prime Minister. (Express Archive)

Central Delhi’s premium neighbourhood of Race Course Road (RCR), which houses the Prime Minister’s residence, might soon undergo a change of name with Delhi BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi proposing its rechristening as ‘Ekatma Marg’, based on the ideology of party ideologue Deendayal Upadhyay.

“There are two aspects to this proposal. Firstly, the name conveys a feeling of disassociation and it can’t be the inspiration for any PM. Secondly, we are celebrating the anniversary of Deendayal Upadhyaya and the new name is proposed as a tribute to his preachings,” said Lekhi.

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The philosophy of ekatma, translated as ‘integral humanism’, was propounded by the sociologist and political scientist, Deendayal Upadhyay in 1965. It was adopted by the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, the Hindu nationalist party that went on to be succeeded by the Bharatiya Janata Party.

The concept of Ekatma

The central aspect of Ekatma is that humanity consists of huge diversity, but all of it is united by a common ‘atma’ or soul. Due to the commonality of soul, all differences get nullified and every interest or activity of human beings are complementary to each other.

According to Upadhyay, every individual has to fulfil four objectives for oneself- dharma (moral duties), artha (wealth), kama (desires) and moksha (liberation). The well being of any individual depends upon the personal fulfillment of each one of these objectives.

However, since the individual and society have a common soul, the fulfillment of the personal objectives would complement the well being of society at large. It is only when an individual thinks and acts keeping his interests as part of society’s interests can there be any common good. The ideal human being according to the philosophy of ‘ekatma’ is one who thinks beyond the goodness of the individual, family and nation and considers the common good of all of humanity.

The adoption of Ekatma

Pundit Deendayal Upadhyay took the leadership of the Bhartiya Jana Sangh in 1951 and under his authority, the party became the second largest in India at the time. Apart from being an astute politician, he was particularly known for his achievements in political thinking.

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When Upadhyay took centre stage of the Jana Sangh in 1951, giving a unique nationalist character to the social, political and economic systems of the newly independent nation was the foremost priority. The concept of ‘Ekatma’ was conceived as a means to replace western ideologies in India with a concept that has its core values in Vedic thought.

The philosophy of ‘Ekatma’ was first proposed by Upadhyay in the all India representatives’ conference of Jan Sangh, held in January 1965 at Vijayawada. Since then, it had become the adopted ideology of the party.

In his first lecture, explaining the philosophy of ‘Ekatma’, he said that “really speaking, every nation should think of its own ethos. Freedom without it has no meaning. Every nation wants to live a happy and prosperous life according to its own nature and that is the motive behind its intense desire for freedom.”

Upadhyay’s philosophy of ‘Ekatma’ formed a middle ground between western capitalism and Marxism; and was mooted as a concept that took into account the merits of both philosophies and complemented it with values that were considered indigenous.