The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh was founded by a great patriot and revolutionary, Dr. Keshav Baliram Hedgewar, on the auspicious Vijayadashami Day in 1925. Dr. Hedgewar, after obtaining a degree in Medicine, decided not to enter into a selfish materialistic life and dedicated his whole life for the emancipation of the Motherland. He was in the forefront of India’s Freedom Struggle. While he was serving as the General Secretary of the Congress in the Central Province, he observed a fact very keenly. The struggle for India’s freedom was mainly a Hindu movement though the Hindus remained a divided lot. The Muslims who joined the Khilafat Movement were more interested in getting the position of the Khalif of Turkey restored than in getting the freedom of India. For them the Turkey cap, and not the Gandhi cap, was the symbol of nationalism. They dreamt that if the British were thrown out of India, once again the Muslim rule would be restored. The Christians and their institutions in India were mostly stooges of the European colonial powers right from the beginning. They believed that the white man’s rule was sine qua non for establishing the Kingdom of God on earth. The British, Portuguese and the French rulers in India used conversion to Christianity as a tool to put down the patriotic and nationalist feelings of the natives and to perpetuate their colonial rule in India. The Church and the missionaries served the interests.of the colonialists.
With a deep foresight, Dr. Hedgewar came to the conclusion that unless and until the feeling of intense love and adoration of the Motherland, respect and devotion to the hoary and eternal spiritual and cultural values of the land and spirit of sacrifice for the cause of Motherland were developed among the people, the achievement of freedom from alien rule was impossible and even if freedom came in, the country would disintegrate. He also felt that his first and foremost task was to unite the Hindus and revive the spirit of patriotism and adoration of Motherland in their hearts, the lack of which was responsible for this country falling a victim to foreign aggressions and losing its independence. In order to inculcate these qualities especially in the budding generation, he founded the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh at Nagpur, with a few boys in their teens. Because of the total surrender and dedication of these youth to the cause of the Motherland, the Sangh grew very soon in leaps and bounds and spread its wings in other parts of the country. Even during the lifetime of Dr. Hedgewar, who was the first Sarsanghchalak of the RSS, the discipline, dedication and spirit of sacrifice that manifested among the Swayamsevaks attending a Sangh camp near Wardha attracted the attention of no less a person than Mahatma Gandhi who visited the camp and was surprised to see the feelings of fraternity and equality exhibited by the youth irrespective of their caste differences. He showered his praises on the founder of the Sangh for achieving what he was dreaming of. The great Indian patriot, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, who had his own plans for the freedom of the Motherland, came to see Dr. Hedgewar at Nagpur to seek his support, but because the latter was in his death bed, Netaji could not hold talks with him and returned after just seeing him.
Dr. Hedgewar chose a saintly personality, Sri Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar, as his successor and made him the second Sarsanghchalak of RSS. Sri Guruji Golwalkar as he was lovingly called because of his career as a lecturer in Benaras Hindu University, had taken initiation from Swami Akhandananda of Ramakrishna Order and wanted to plunge into renunciation. But the question posed to him by Dr. Hedgewar, “Are you going to renounce the world to seek your own personal salvation or renounce renunciation itself to seek the salvation of the Motherland?” made him sit and think and to plunge heart and soul into the RSS movement. It was during the period of Sri Guruji Golwalkar that the RSS emerged into a powerful nation-building force making a deep impress on millions of youth all over the country. It was also a period of trials and tribulations for the Sangh fraternity.
The symptoms that Dr. Hedgewar noticed in the early stages of India’s freedom movement started manifesting clearly in the form of the disease of fanaticism that gripped the Islamic community and its leaders making them reject the thought of coexisting with the majority Hindu community of the country and demand a separate Islamic nation. To them, Vande Mataram, the patriotic song of Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, which expressed the most sublime feelings of love and adoration of the Motherland, which inspired hundreds of revolutionaries to throw their lives into the fire of freedom struggle and make untold sacrifices, and which was spontaneously chosen by the people of India as the National Anthem, seemed to be something blasphemous. To them Mahatma Gandhi was not a national leader or Father of the Nation, but only a leader of the Hindu majority. To them Congress represented only Hindus. Mohammad Ali Jinnah and the Muslim League that demanded vivisection of the country on the basis of Hindu Muslim divide became their objects of adoration.
The apprehension of Dr. Hedgewar, a man of deep foresight, proved to be true. The lack of patriotism and respect for the culture and heritage of this land among the Muslims resulted in the vivisection of the Motherland and the creation of an Islamic Nation called Pakistan at the time of Indian Independence. The spirit of ‘Jihad’ — that anyone who refuses to become a Mussalman could be annihilated, his women could be abducted and raped and his progeny could be destroyed and that Allah would reward the faithful Mussalman with Heaven for these acts of cruelty in the name of faith — went into the head of Muslim fanatics, resulting in mass annihilation of Hindus in areas which came under Pakistan, rape and murder of Hindu women and merciless butchering of Hindu children. When there was exodus of Hindus from Pakistan, naturally there arose reaction in Hindusthan. Even at that time, Mahatma Gandhi and the Congress leaders were trying to pacify the Hindus and appease the Mussalmans in the false hope that Mussalmans would relent and come to senses and join the mainstream in Indian Nation. The failure of the Congress to win over the Muslims and the negative results of the Muslim appeasement policies created chaos and confusion in the country. It was at this juncture that the most unfortunate event occurred — the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.
The Congress leadership which apprehended the loss of its hold on the people, which had already lost all moral consciousness and wanted to cling to power by hook or crook, wanted to make use of the assassination incident to suppress the growing patriotic pro-Hindu movements and falsely implicated the leaders of Hindu movements in the assassination case. Even the great patriot and revolutionary, Swatantryaveer Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, who was sentenced to two life imprisonment by the British Government and incarcerated in the Cellular Jail at Andamans during the freedom struggle, and who later emerged as the powerful leader of Hindu Maha Sabha, and Sri Guruji Golwalkar who was heading the RSS, were arrested and their organizations banned. However, truth ultimately triumphed and these leaders came out unscathed and the ban was lifted.
In spite of the vile propaganda of Congress and the so called Secular parties through decades, the RSS has grown into a big banyan tree with a number of sister organisations like the Bharatiya Jan Sangh, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, the Vidyarthi Parishad, the Vanavasi Kalyan Kendra and Vivekananda Kendra springing from its branches, taking roots and becoming themselves mighty trees. The RSS has today branches in all the countries in the world where Hindus are settled.
Today, the Bharatiya Janata Party (formerly known as Bharatiya Jan Sangh) under the leadership of Sri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and its allies have come to power. Sri Vajpayee, as a young Swayamsevak of the Sangh, dedicated his life for the work of RSS and became a Pracharak. When the late Sri Shyam Prasad Mukherji wanted to found the Bharatiya Jan Sangh, he along with some other gems of Swayamsevaks, was sent by Sri Guruji to assist the great leader. Recently, addressing a congregation of Swayamsevaks and Hindu workers in USA, when he made a claim that he is a Swayamsevak, many of his opponents and leaders of the so called secular parties in India made hue and cry. Sri Vajpayee is, was and will be a Swayamsevak, one who has dedicated his life for the sake of Motherland, whose political life is clean and unsullied, whose selflessness, humility, dedication and dynamic leadership has made him the Prime Minister of the country and the darling of patriotic citizens of India and earned admiration of even leaders of other countries. However, the vile and selfish forces, the so called secular parties, who are striving to come to power by any means, including appeasement of the so called minorities to capture their vote bank at the cost of the safety and integrity of the nation, want to destabilize his Government and therefore have targeted the RSS, the real patriotic force behind the BJP.
The recent speech of Sri K.S. Sudharsan, the Sarsanghchalak of RSS, in the Vijayadasami celebrations at Nagpur marking the completion of 75 years of existence of the Sangh, in which he demanded that the Muslims and Christians in India must adopt the Swadeshi spirit and give up their extra-territorial loyalties, has given a handle to selfish anti-national and power hungry politicians to malign the Sangh as trying to pit Hindus against the Muslims and Christians in the country. These people know very well, but try to feign ignorance of for their own political survival, the fact that in the dictionary of RSS, Hindutva is unstinted loyalty to the Motherland and respect for the universal and eternal values of life that have sprung up in Bharatavarsha since times immemorial and it is not against religious faith or method of worship. Sri Guruji Golwalkar and many other leaders of RSS have time and again declared that a Hindu not merely tolerates, but accepts all forms of religion as various pathways to one Ultimate Reality. The fight of the RSS has always been and will be against the use of religion to undermine the spirit of patriotism and loyalty to the country. Are we not seeing today hundreds of Muslim youth in various parts of the country, especially in Jammu Kashmir, brainwashed by the concept of ‘Jihad’ and lured into terrorist and militant outfits promoted by ISI of Pakistan and other Islamic fundamentalist forces from outside who are intent on disintegrating this nation? Have not the Christian missionaries played havoc with the safety and security of this nation by sponsoring and promoting militant and terrorist outfits in Nagaland, Mizoram and other parts of the North East, with the active support and connivance of foreign Christian fundamentalist forces to destabilize this country and to create a Christianistan in the Indian sub-continent? The Christians and Muslims enjoy the right under our Constitution to set up minority institutions to promote their religious interests, but why is singing of national anthem and celebration of national festivals prohibited in the schools and educational institutions run by them and western culture, heritage and way of life promoted? Some Christian institutions have gone to the extent of claiming before court of law that it is their religious right not to allow their children sing the national anthem. While the Indian Constitution guarantees, true to the spirit of Hinduism or Bharatiya culture, equal status to all religions, the Vatican has declared that it will not accept the equality of all religions, and asserted that Christianity alone can confer salvation. And the Pope speaks about Christianisation of Asia and has made India the prime target. Will the Indian Christian Churches follow the example set by their Chinese counterparts by rejecting the suzerainty of Rome or will continue to bestow their loyalty to Vatican and other foreign Christian powers? The Indonesian Mussalman takes pride in his nation’s culture and heritage which are rooted in Hinduism and Bharatiya culture because of his country’s age old link with Bharatavarsha. Though he is a Mussalman by faith, he is a Hindu by his culture and traditions. Why not the Indian Mussalmans emulate the example of the Indonesian Mussalmans and be loyal to their Motherland and its age old culture and heritage? After all the blood that flows in their veins is that of their Hindu forefathers.
RSS has always admired the services of savants of India like Sister Nivedita and Annie Besant who came from outside, but dedicated their lives in the service of Bharat and its culture and spiritual heritage. They have adored the great patriots and freedom fighters like Brahmabandav Upadhyaya for whom Jesus was Ishta-Devata and the revolutionary Ashfaqulla Khan who laid down his life with Vande Mataram on his lips. There are many enlightened Mussalmans and Christians who have admired RSS as the soul and spirit of the nation and extended their wholehearted support to the nation-building task of RSS. There are books written by eminent Muslim and Christian authors throwing light on the RSS and its work. Let those power hungry and selfish politicians condemning RSS day in and day out go through these works to know how patriotic Christians and Muslims view RSS. The people of India cannot be fooled for all the time with slogans of so called secularism and by misinterpreting the awakening of the Hindu society. If the Christians and Muslims in India are really patriotic and loyal to the nation, why should at all they feel hurt by the call to be Indian? When religion versus patriotism, the former must give way to the latter. That is what RSS wants. Jananee janmabhoomischa swargaatapi gareeyasi — Mother and Motherland are more sacred than the Heaven!
Author: Professor Sadhu Rangarajan