Dr. Suraj Prakash was the founder Secretary General and architect of Bharat Vikas Parishad. He lit one lamp that lit many more lamps and handed it over to the posterity, so that we go on lighting lamp after lamp until the whole country and the world are brightened by their ever-shinning light.
This great man was born in village Chhamal of Gurdaspur District of Punjab, as the eldest son of Sh. Ram Saran Mahajan and Smt. Mela Devi, on 27th June 1920. His father was working in an Insurance Company. It was a devoted and religious Arya Samajist family. From childhood he was a brilliant student and a pleasant and cooperative person. He passed his Matriculation examination topping the list. He joined the medical stream course and passed F.Sc. (Medical), standing first in Delhi. He was awarded a scholarship and was sent by Delhi along with one more student for M.B.B.S., to King Edward Medical College Lahore, which he passed with distinction in 1943. After passing his M.B.B.S., he worked as House Surgeon in Sir Ganga Ram Hospital and later as teacher in Sir Balak Ram Medical College Lahore.
Partition and Helping the Refugees
The Country was partitioned in 1947. At that time he was in Lahore, helping Hindus to migrate safely to India. He was virtually carrying reward on his head along with certain co-workers and every evening a stock needed to be taken of who were with them in the morning but failed to return.
When things became too hot he migrated to Jammu and took up the important work of providing relief and rehabilitation to the people coming in large numbers from Western Punjab and other surrounding areas. He tackled the gigantic task with efficiency and resourcefulness. It was here that he gained experience of doing social work, organizing relief and managing scarce funds. He plunged himself so much into this work that his family rarely knew his whereabouts at any particular time. With qualities of patriotism, discipline, fearlessness and sacrifice, he never cared for the danger to his life.
Shifting to Delhi
In 1948, after completing his work in Jammu, Dr. Suraj Prakash shifted to Delhi and started his own private medical practice. For some time he established his clinic along with his class fellow and friend Dr. Roshan Lal Behl on Sadar Thana Road but later on he started his independent clinic in Pahar Ganj. His residence was in the nearby locality of Choona Mandi.
In 1950, at the age of 30, he was married to Smt. Ayodhia Gupta, the talented, educated and highly accomplished daughter of Sh. Ram Lal Gupta, the then Accountant General of Jammu & Kashmir. She was a great personality in her own right. She was double M.A. in Music and Dance and was Honorary Magistrate. She was a great moral and physical strength for Dr. Saheb. Their eldest child, a daughter, Manju, was born in 1951 followed by their only son, Rakesh, in 1954 and two more daughters in 1960 and 1961. Thus, in all, they had 3 daughters and one son.
In 1958, when Dr. Suraj Prakash was only 38, he suffered a severe jolt when his respected father who had sacrificed a lot for country’s independence, breathed his last, leaving the responsibility of looking after his mother, 2 sisters and 3 brothers on Dr. Saheb. Till then, except the elder sister, who had been married in the life time of his father, all others were yet to be married and settled. Dr. Saheb discharged this responsibility with love, courage and affection. The three brothers, Sh. Anand Prakash, Sh. Devendra Prakash and Sh. Surendra Prakash as well as the younger sister were all settled in life and their marriages were also performed by Dr. Saheb like those of his own children.
In 1958, when his father died, Dr. Saheb felt the necessity to accommodate his brothers and sisters and his own children with him. So, he built a house of his own in West Patel Nager, New Delhi.
In October, 1962 China invaded India. India was not at all ready for the aggression. The Indian forces had neither the arms to fight nor they had equipment, uniform, and even shoes to wear at the Himalayan heights in the freezing winter. The Chinese forces entered the Indian borders and our army suffered huge losses. Dr. Suraj Prakash at once swung into action and formed a Citizens Council The Council appealed to the general public and collected warm sweaters, socks, medicines and dry fruits in large quantity and sent it to the government for dispatch to the frontiers. The Citizens Council was a huge success and a thought flashed in the mind of Dr. Saheb to give this organization a permanent foundation.
Founding of Bharat Vikas Prishad
The Year 1963 was a Century Year of the birth of Swami Vivekanand. The event was celebrated on 12th January all over the country in a big way. It is very often said that the Citizens Council was converted into Bharat Vikas Prishad. But it was not a sudden event. It was the outcome of a long thought process.
Dr. Saheb had been observing that the elite of the society and the prosperous persons, were, day by day, getting selfish, self-centered and alienated from society. He was very perturbed with this dismal situation and used to discuss the matter with his like minded friends as how to find a remedy for this malady.
Ultimately, in 1963, he unfolded his scheme of starting Bharat Vikas Parishad as a body of the elite, committed to the service of the country, before a select band of 28-30 persons in West Patel Nagar, The group agreed with his suggestion and Bharat Vikas Parishad came into being. This group constituted the nucleus of the organization. Later, they used to meet at Hotel Marina, once a month under the Presidentship of late Lala Hans Raj Gupta. At that time none of the participants had any idea what shape Bharat Vikas Parishad would take in the years to come, but the man of vision like Dr. Suraj Prakash could see into the future. He had a very clear notion about the future of the organization. He nurtured his organization with tireless efforts, and dynamism for nearly 3 decades and made it grow into a vast organization.
Expansion of BVP
In the beginning the Parishad had only one branch in West Patel Nagar, New Delhi. The annual membership fee was Rs. 10/- only. Dr. Saheb’s residence at West Patel Nagar was the office of the organization. The organization accepted Swami Vivekanand as its role-model.
In 1967 National Group Song Competition was started from Delhi. Its rules were framed by the famous music director Anil Vishwas and Dr. Zakir Hussain, the President of India distributed the prizes. Another Branch outside Delhi was set up at Dehradun in 1968. In 1969, a half yearly magazine NITI started its publication. In the beginning it was published only in English and there were no news or photographs. Only articles were published. Dr. Suraj Prakash was its managing editor.
Installation of Shiva Ji Statue
In 1972 Dr. Suraj Prakash ji undertook a big project. Year 1973 was the Terecentary year of the Rajya Abhiishek of Chhatrapati Shiva. Shivaji who in his time proved himself a saviour, an emperor and a brave fighter. So in 1972, it was decided to install an elegant statue of Shivaji astride a horse at some central place of Delhi. The place selected was the junction point of Minto Road and Thomson Road. A thirty feet high platform was constructed and a eighteen and a half feet high horse mounted statue of Shivaji was got prepared. It was unveiled by the then President of India, Shri V.V. Giri in the presence of Finance Minister and former Chief Minister of Maharashtra Shri Y.B. Chavan and many VIPs and dignataries. Minto Bridge was named as Shivaji Bridge and the railway station was named as Shivaji Station.
Further Expansion of BVP
In 1978 first All India Conference of BVP was held at Delhi. In 1979 its Branches were started in Punjab and Haryana. After that a National Governing Board was formed and its first meeting was held at Delhi. Some more branches were started in J & K, Southern India, Uttar Pradesh etc.
In the year 1990, another benchmark achievement was made. A Viklang Sahayta Kendra was inaugurated at Dilshad Garden, Delhi. Now it has been expanded into a big Centre which manufactures artificial limbs of very high quality and gives them to the handicapped free of charge.
The number of branches also crossed the magic figure of 100 and reached 135.
Family Troubles, Failing Health and Death
Constant hard work, travelling and long hours of work for the Parishad and in looking after his numerous patients, took their toll. His health could not keep pace with the tempo of his activities. When only 51, he underwent stone operation and suffered his first heart attack, when only 55.
Within 2 months of the marriage of his eldest daughter, Dr. Suraj Prakash suffered the shocking death of his wife in 1980. This was an unbearable loss. It is then, that he got his second heart attack that kept him in bed for nearly 2 months. Inspite of his failing health and shocking events around him, he kept on working incessantly-travelling, attending meetings, holding discussions, writing letters and attending long telephone calls.
In 1985, untimely death of his eldest daughter occured when she was only 34. The very next year, Dr. Saheb had to undergo surgery for removal of Gall Bladder stones. In 1988, he discharged his last obligation by solemnising the marriage of his youngest daughter. But the tale of his woes kept on chasing him. In January, 1991, he had to suffer yet another tragedy in the shape of the death of his respected mother. Only 20 days after this, while he was very much in the thick of making fool-proof arrangements for smooth conduct of All India Conference of Bharat Vikas Parishad, scheduled to be held at Udaipur on 6th February, 1991, just 4 days before the Conference, Dr. Saheb suffered his last heart attack that proved fatal. He could not find time to undergo heart surgery which he badly needed in order to survive. How ironical it is that he had finally agreed to go in for surgery at the conclusion of Udaipur conference, but his physique gave way and he died of a massive heart attack on 2nd February, 1991. Cruel hands of death snatched him from us. It was not the death of a man. It was the end of an era.
A Leader of Charmistic Personality
Even in a brief encounter, Dr. Suraj Prakash would impress as a man who had a lot within him and was impatient to take the people out of a morass and infuse in them a spirit of selfless service and love for the motherland.
As architect of Bharat Vikas Parishad, Dr. Suraj Prakash, built this organisation brick by brick. He lived for the Parishad and ultimately laid down his life for it. In his life time, he created a highly dedicated, motivated and competent team of co-workers capable of fulfilling his mission. Thus the caravan of Bharat Vikas Parishad will go on, ever guided by the immortal flame of Dr. Suraj Prakash’s spirit, even after he ceased to lead it physically.
Although Dr. Suraj Prakash was essentially a sobre and serious looking person, he had flashes of wit and humour. His small jokes spread brightness all around. His visits were welcomed by his large circle of friends and admirers everywhere and at all times.
Heading an all India network, he had the usual lot of disappointments and dejections from people who talk in tonnes and practise in grams, but he never withdrew himself into the cocoon of inaction. He always used to advise not to get disappointed with failure, because, he used to say that every failure in the beginning ultimately turns out to be the foundation for success in future.
A Duty Conscious Person
Dr. Suraj Prakash was an intensely duty conscious person. He discharged all his duties – towards the family, the patients and the society at large with full devotion and sincerity. He, in fact, established an example how social service can be carried on along with professional and family obligations. Right from 8 in morning till 10 at night, sometimes till midnight, he would tirelessly work for all.
He ran the Central Office of Bharat Vikas Parishad from his own house, much to his inconvenience and the inconvenience of his son, who, being in computer business, badly needed space for it. Almost the whole of the ground floor was occupied by the Office of the Parishad since it had no office of its own. There used to be occasions when the Central body ran short of money owing to default of its branches. On such occasions Dr. Saheb spent his own money to keep the machine moving. At the time of his demise, Bharat Vikas Parishad, owed quite a handsome amount to Dr. Sahib, which, later on was generously donated by his worthy son.
Few people are marked by destiny to act at the centre stage of life as propagators of a new thought stream, originators of a missionary movement and progenitors of a nationwide organisation. Dr. Suraj Prakash was among such privileged few. He was born with a mission in life and was endowed by nature with the qualities essential for its fulfilment – high character, integrity, discipline, a sense of vision, faith, missionary zeal, indomitable spirit, organising ability, selflessness and capacity for sacrifice. Thus, Suraj Prakash was made of a stuff, all missionaries and pioneers are made of. He was one of those whom duty beckons and who answer its call wholeheartedly. Single-minded and relentless in the pursuit of the objective, he was undeterred by difficulties and set-backs. Essentially, a kind heart, warm and sincere person, he was highly appreciative of sincerity, dedication and selflessness in others. Yet he had a sense of realism and large heartedness to tolerate even insincerity, humbug and hypocrisy, which he abhorred from the bottom of his heart. He disliked financial indiscipline, waste and extravagance, but himself was generous to a fault. Year after year, he rescued Bharat Vikas Parishad from financial crisis by advancing substantial sums of money.