Former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief KS Sudarshan, 81, passed away in Raipur - his birthplace - on Saturday following a heart attack.
The Sangh parivar ideologue suffered the stroke at the RSS office in the Chhattisgarh capital around 7am while practicing yoga after returning from a morning walk.
A doctor who was immediately called pronounced him dead.
According to RSS headquarters, the former RSS chief went to Raipur from Jabalpur on Thursday to release a book penned by Chhattisgarh Rajya Sabha member Gopal Vyas and was staying at the RSS office there. He was scheduled to leave for Nagpur on Sunday morning. He suffered a massive heart attack at around 7am on Saturday and died within few minutes.
His body will be kept at the RSS headquarters at Reshimbagh, Nagpur, for people to pay their last respects. His funeral will be held on Sunday afternoon.
Born in Raipur (Chhattisgarh) on June 18, 1931 in a Sanketi Brahmin family, Sudarshan, basically hailed from Kuppalli village of Mandva district in Karnataka. He was a gold medallist in Bachelor of Engineering in Telecommunications from Sagar University. He attended his first RSS shakha at the age of 9 and chose to become an RSS pracharak.
A multi-lingual personality, Sudarshan, who was the fifth RSS Sarsanghchalak from 2000 to 2009, was a strong advocate of 'swadeshi'.
Sudarshan's taking over the RSS reigns from veteran Rajju Bhaiyya at the Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha in March, 2000 left everyone surprised as the then general secretary of the Sangh, HV Seshadri, was the natural choice. It was his organisational skills and outstanding human resource expertise, that the Sangh's core team picked him as the next boss "citing the ill-health of Seshadri. The veteran RSS ideologue was handpicked by the then Sangh chief Guruji Golwalkar.
A bachelor, Sudarshan was appointed as a pracharak in 1954. His first posting as a pracharak was in Raigarh district in Chhattisgarh. In 1964, he was made the prant (state) pracharak of Madhya Pradesh at a young age on 33. Later, he served as head of the pracharaks, in-charge of north-east, chief of think-tank and physical exercise.
In 1990, the veteran leader was appointed as RSS joint general secretary and had the rare distinction of having held both posts of sharirik pramukh (physical exercise) and boudhik pramukh (intellectual) on different occasions.
Sudarshan was seen as one of the hardliners within the Sangh parivar. As the RSS chief, some of his statements drew sharp reactions from the BJP and also from Dalits across the country. Known for his unanticipated nature and strict discipline, Sudarshan made his criticism of the Constitution public.
"Throw away the outdated Indian Constitution which speaks of British legacy," Sudarshan had said in his first official interaction with the media on March 10, 2000, after taking over as the RSS chief.
He even made his displeasure about the BJP and its leaders including Atal Bihari Vajpayee and LK Advani, which created a stir in the RSS ranks.
After the BJP-led NDA was lost power, Sudarshan had said in 2005 that BJP's old guards like Vajpayee and Advani should retire and give way to the younger lot.
He often criticized the NDA government in general and the BJP in particular for its economic policies. He even demanded to remove officials from the PMO during the period.
The Swadeshi Jagaran Manch, a RSS outfit, was very active and vocal during his tenure against the liberalisation policy of the government
Sudarshan was in the news last month when he went missing in Mysore after a morning walk last month.
His last rites would be performed in Nagpur on Sunday afternoon.