In 2008, after his second assembly election win in 2007, Narendra Modi wrote a book titled Jyotipunj (which translates as “beams of light”) in which he retold the life stories of sixteen men who inspired him. All sixteen men were members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, and many of them mentored the young Modi in his time as a pracharak in Ahmedabad in the mid and late 1970s.The longest biography is of the RSS’s second sarsanghchalak, MS Golwalkar, who expanded the organisation after he was given its charge by its founder KB Hedgewar. Modi does not refer to any personal contact with Golwalkar in this essay.Even so, the reverence with which Modi writes of Golwalkar in the essay, titled ‘Pujniya Shri Guruji,’ (guru worthy of worship) suggests that Golwalkar is the second most important influence—Vivekanand is the first—on the life of the prime minister of India. We will be publishing the first English translation—by Aakar Patel—of the biography in four parts. In this, the first, Modi writes admiringly of the ease with which Golwalkar took life decisions.
Glancing through our history, some qualities come up when we observe great men.
– References to the Shankaracharya bring to mind his advaita [indivisibility philosophy]
– The Buddha reminds us of compassion
– Mahavir is associated with ahimsa