Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is a well-known organization in India and abroad for a number of reasons; most important amongst them is the political clout the organization has come to wield in the wake of 2014 change of government at the Centre. The victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with unshakable majority was effectuated by thousands of RSS swayamsevaks who, adhering to the directions of their leader’s call for 100 per cent voting to bring about the desired change, toiled hard to make it a reality.
And mind you, this calling came with the annual Vijayadashami address of the incumbent RSS Sarsanghchalak Dr Mohanrao Bhagwat in 2013 – nearly half-an-year ahead of the general elections!
This is just one instance to cite how significant these addresses are.
There are innumerable such instances to show how the Vijayadashami speeches of RSS Sarsanghchalaks have changed the course of thinking and action in the contemporary Indian socio-political canvass. Be it an issue of banning cow slaughter, advance warnings about the Chinese inroads into Tibet and Indian territories, Pakistan’s anti-India designs, terrorism, clandestine activities of the Christian missionaries and church organizations in the garb of service, rejuvenation of Hindu culture and traditions, empowerment of tribals, Dalits and women, protecting natural resources, adopting swadeshi life style and so on and so forth. The speeches delivered by the Sarsanghchalaks of RSS have answers for all.
Vijayadashami is a very significant day in Hindu calendar. Since times immemorial this tenth day of Navaratri is celebrated as victory of the good over evil. It is associated with the victory of Lord Rama over all powerful demon king Ravana. It is also associated with the elimination of mighty asuras at the hands of Goddess Durga-the epitome of Shakti or strength of all that is good in the universe.
The founding of RSS:
No wonder then Dr Keshav Baliram Hedgewar, inspired by the mission to organize the Hindu society to reinstate this great nation of the world to its lost glory of Vishwaguru or World Teacher, chose this auspicious day to launch his epoch-making organization called Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Dr Hedgewar was a born patriot and worked with the revolutionaries and later with the Congress party to liberate the country from the clutches of the British rule. But he realized that the remedy to the ills confronting Hindu society was the lack of ‘civic nationalist character’ in the Hindu society and therefore decided to launch a movement that would unite, organize and strengthen the Hindu society into a formidable force.
Thus he gathered his friends like Bhauji Kawre, Bapurao Bhedi, Anna Sohoni, Vishwanathrao Kelkar and Balaji Huddar and announced the launching of RSS on the Vijayadashmi day in 1925 at Nagpur in Central India. Dr Hedgewar in his lifetime could see the spread of RSS to almost all corners of the country.
The mission of RSS was stated to create a strong, homogenous, vibrant Hindu society by imparting physical, military and intellectual training to the members and eliminating all barriers of castes, languages and provincialism.
Strengthening the edifice:
The initial years of the RSS were essentially devoted to strengthening the strong, unshakable edifice. This was evident from the speeches delivered by the founder in early Vijayadashmi celebrations. However, the expression of confidence gained from the physical training was visible when some 500-600 swayamasevaks in uniform marched through the streets of Nagpur to the tune of the band. This was the third Vijayadashmi program held on October 23, 1928. This was new to the Hindu society. The comment of ‘Maharashtra’ daily aptly summarizes this awesome response of the Hindu society. The paper wrote: “RSS completed three years of its existence on Vijayadashami. By this standard it can be safely said that it has made solid gains in organizing Hindu youths”.
Nagpur being the birthplace of RSS, the Vijayadashami celebration assumes an added significance and aura. In 1932 Dr Hedgewar had said:
“Our Vijayadashmi Utsav of Nagpur is the parameter to gauge the strength of RSS. People will judge us from this strength. Those who admire us will feel happy and we must remember always that their blissful hearts are the pillars of strength for us. Guests from other provinces are coming to see this program. They should feel inspired to start this work in their respective places”.
And in 1938 Vijayadashami program, Dr Hedgewar himself participated in the route march despite his falling health along with 3000 swayamsevaks. Famous personality from Punjab Dr Gokulchand Narang had come to Nagpur then to attend the function.
The RSS does not discriminate on the basis of caste, creed, language or province. It impresses upon its swayamsevaks that we are all Hindus, sons of our Mother Bharat and as such brothers. So there is no place for such discrimination in the RSS. People like Mahatma Gandhi and Dr Bhimrao Babasaheb Ambedkar who worked relentlessly to eradicate this curse on Hindu society were surprised to see its total absence in the RSS. The approach of the RSS founder proved more prophetic in this regard.
Dr Hedgewar in one of his Vijayadashami speeches said: “RSS aims at protecting Dharma, society and sanskriti. Some people misunderstand that protecting one’s dharma is spreading hatred for others. I fail to understand this logic. In the RSS there is no place for discrimination on the basis of religions and sects, castes etc. RSS has already expelled untouchability from its working as people of all castes and creed work under one flag. RSS looks at Hindu society in totality and never takes sides for touchable and untouchables”.
The era of turbulences:
Dr Hedgewar passed away in June 1940 handing over the reins of the organization to relatively young but intelligent and farsighted Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar who was popularly known as ‘Guruji” in RSS. He remained the Sarsanghchalak of RSS till he breathed his last on June 5, 1973 appointing his successor in Balasaheb Devras. Golwalkar’s era was marked with turbulences, strife, conflicts and confrontations. The country was passing through the liberation phase. The World War II, the 1942 Quit India movement, the unfortunate partition of the country and finally the freedom marked the events of his early tenure.
His teachings and directions to the swayamsevaks to treat the members of the society with love and affection and help them create a strong, influential and impregnable society to emancipate the motherland were taken in the right earnest. Hundreds of swayamsevaks sacrificed their lives saving thousands of Hindus in the wake of partition of the motherland.
The popularity of RSS in post-Independent India was very high sending warning signals for those engaged in political power game. They started hurling abuses and allegations against the Sangh. Guruji gave a befitting reply to these detractors of RSS by saying that they would not succeed in stopping the RSS from fulfilling its mission.
And the subsequent unfortunate ban on the RSS in the wake of Mahatma Gandhi’s most heinous murder could not deter the RSS from its mission of organizing Hindu society.
However, the damage was done. And the Sangh had to pay more attention to rebuild its lost ground. The speeches of Golwalkar in the early 50s stress on this particular aspect of regaining the lost self confidence of the Hindu society. In 1950 he declared that no one is untouchable for RSS. Remember this was at a time when the society did not absolve the RSS of Gandhi murder stigma. Today, the wide acceptability of Sangh thought and ideology in all sections of the society non-Hindus included proved how prophetic Golwalkar was!
Golwalkar proves prophetic:
Golwalkar proved more prophetic once again. In his 1960 Vijayadashami speech he warned of Chinese attempts to make inroads into Indian Territory of Arunachal Pradesh (then NEFA) and Laddakh. This was when the chants of ‘Panchasheel’ and ‘Hindi-Chini Bhai-Bhai’ rattled the skies. Golwalkar was criticized by the politicians and media of the day as ‘war monger’. But the 1962 Chinese aggression had proved him right!
Similarly, he also warned of continued infiltration into Assam from neighboring East Pakistan (Now Bangladesh) as part of a definite pattern. The policy of appeasement of minorities adopted by the government of the day also came under his sharp criticism. The activities of Christian missionaries and church organizations in the sensitive tribal regions of the north-east India did not escape his observations and prophetic warnings.
While congratulating the government and security forces for the spectacular victory over Pakistan Golwalkar did remind and warned the nation of the dangers of boundary disputes, water sharing disputes and neglecting border security. He also commented on cheap political slogans like ‘Garibi Hatao’ to misguide the society and divert their attention from the real challenges.
Eventful era of Devras:
The era of third Sarsanghchalak Madhukar Dattatrey alias Balasaheb Devras was more eventful and challenging. Balasaheb, like RSS founder, was more down to earth and practical. He would comment in very straight and plain words. He candidly said in reply to a question that RSS was banned because it has gained strength. But not enough to deter those from banning it or make them and their bans a laughing stock. But we will acquire such strength soon. And this actually happened in 1993 when the Narsaminha Rao government banned RSS in the wake of 1992 Ayodhya incident, it became a laughing stock. And the Justice Bahari Commission ruled the ban as improper and illegal!
His first challenge was the 1975 Emergency and ban on the RSS. But he utilized this period for uniting the political parties of different hues against the Congress and played a pivotal role in propelling the Janata Party government at the Centre under Morarji Desai. But when the same government decided to set up a Minority Commission, Devras voiced his dissent publically warning the government against dividing the Indian society into majority and minority. He, instead pleaded for a Human Rights Commission. His warning was not heeded then and today we are facing the music of minority appeasement!
Stating in most clear terms that Hindus can never be a fundamentalist, Devras redefined the terms Hindu, Hindutva and Hindu Rashtra continuously through his addresses. On the failure of the Janata Party experiment and rise of sectarian politics he gave a clarion call to create a Hindu vote bank to the surprise of all. This call came when the nation was confronted with gigantic divisive problems, the BJP was embroiled in its newfound misnomer of Gandhian Socialism, and the nation needed a clear cut direction. His Vijayadashami speech in 1984 just did that. He appealed to the Hindu society not to vote for those who did not care for Hindu interests.
Appeal for Hindu Vote Bank:
When he made this appeal, the RSS was in a position to facilitate but not to restrain and restrict. His appeal roused quite a lot of debate, discussion and criticism. Nevertheless it energized the Hindu society. In 1986 he again touched this issue and prophesied that Hindu consolidation would be the right replacement of withering Congress. He had foreseen the withering away of the Congress, growing conversions, divisive Muslim mentality, and declared that the organized Hindu strength can alone confront these challenges successfully.
Today, the RSS has acquired this strength also as it is evident from the consolidation of Hindu votes leading to the victory of the BJP and near total elimination of all those ‘anti-Hindu’ parties.
His successor Prof Rajendra Singh alias Rajju Bhayya enlightened the Hindu society on issues of country’s situation, security lapses, Kashmir problem, infiltration, the GATT and Dunkel draft, need for adopting swadeshi economy to frustrate the capitalist power’s designs and so on. He relentlessly stressed on making Hindutva a rallying point in the contemporary Indian polity and its positive results were visible when the first ever BJP government under Atal Bihari Vajpayee came to power in 1996 though for just 13 days!
Sudarshan reaches out to non-Hindus:
K S Sudarshan, influenced by and groomed under the Golwalkar style, made two prophetic observations. In his 2000 Vijayadashami speech he declared that RSS was not anti-Muslim or anti-Christians as commonly perceived wrongly though. At the same time he made it clear that the Muslims and Christians in India belonged very much to original Hindu stock and share common ancestors, culture, language, tradition and ethos with the Hindus. He appealed to them to realize this and join in the process of nation building with the Hindus.
His appeal found some takers in those communities and today the Muslim Rashtriya Manch (MRM) has emerged as a powerful voice of Indian Muslims in India! The MRM activists played an important crucial role in victory of the BJP in 2014 elections!! Similarly, the process of dialogue began with the Christians in India and many had subscribed to his views. He stressed on redefining the religious texts in Quran and Bible in accordance to changing times.
Sudarshan raised the issue of swadeshi lifestyle and reviving village-based economy to make India self-reliant and self-sufficient. His stress on bio-farming and bio-diesel was well received by the scientists and common people as well.
Describing Amarnath movement of 2007-08 as landmark movement of awakened Hindu society, Sudarshan warned the Hindu society of the impending dangers arising out of the collapse of global economic order and called for developing alternative sources of energy like solar power. Today, the incumbent government has given priority to developing solar power approving and endorsing what the RSS leader thought well in advance.
The thread of wisdom continues:
The present Sarsanghchalak Dr Mohanrao Bhagwat also exhibited the same threads of wisdom as his predecessors. His speech after the High Court verdict on Ayodhya issue gave the strong indication of his maturity. His observation that the verdict on Ramjanmabhumi was an “opportunity presented by the destiny to every section of the society to make a new beginning” put each and everyone to task and defused the tension.
His observation that terrorism can be curbed by a strengthening security forces is put to practice by the present government and the country is seeing its results in Kashmir Valley. All the terrorists attempts to sneak into Indian territory were foiled by the alert security men as they have the orders from the government.
His strong voice in opposition to the communal and targeted violence bill proposed by the anti-Hindu government led by the Congress party evoked countrywide response leading to dropping the idea by the government. But his masterstroke appeal for ensuring hundred percent voting to bring about the desired change proved the strength the RSS acquired in its journey of nine decades.
Today, the RSS is celebrating its 91st Foundation Day with the ever increasing strength and voice in the Indian polity. The organization has acquired global presence with its multi-faceted activities in almost 40 countries and contacts in about 80 other. The growing response of Indian Diaspora to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s public meetings on the foreign lands is certainly an indication of the growing strength of RSS and acceptance of Hindu thought worldwide. The future belongs to Bharat and Hindu thought and the RSS needs to garner more strength and more insight to fulfill that mission of taking Mother Bharat to the highest pinnacle of glory.
This Vijayadashmi marks RSS’ journey to fulfillment of this mission.
By Virag Pachpore