In spite of the opposition, RSS is growing in expanse, influence
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In spite of the opposition, RSS is growing in expanse, influence

Perhaps the inherent qualities of the fundamental Hindu philosophy characterised by ‘flexible rigidity’ and transformation as per times is the real strength behind this.

analysis Updated: Oct 16, 2018 18:47 IST
The three-day lecture series of Mohan Bhagwat was an unqualified success. As expected, conversations triggered by this first-of-a-kind interaction still continue. Among those who attended were many who were yet to hear the Sangh’s views first hand and had often been misled by propaganda(PTI)

The three-day lecture series by Mohan Bhagwat in Delhi was an unqualified success. Conversations triggered by this first-of-a-kind interaction still continue. Among those who attended were many who hadn’t heard the sangh’s views first hand and had often been misled by propaganda. There seems to be some delight or surprise about the clarification, the sarsanghchalak gave about the publication , Bunch of Thoughts, a collection of speeches and thoughts of Guruji MS Golwalkar, the second sarsanghchalak of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). He said not all of it was relevant today. In fact, the lecture on the second day about Hinduism and Hindutva was based on the intellectual articulation provided by Guruji to the sangh.

Bunch of Thoughts must be seen in the context of its times – it must be emphasised that the period it is associated with is from 1940 to 1965 (not Guruji’s entire tenure as sarsanghchalak), a specific time in pre- and post-independence history. Hence it is essential to view the opinions of that time as a subset of the larger context of the creation of a new country – Pakistan, based entirely on religion.

When Guruji took over as sarsanghchalak, he was only 34 years old. At the time, the call for Pakistan was gaining momentum. The Quit India movement had also gained force and many swayamsevaks had been incarcerated and some condemned to death. In Muslim-majority areas, Hindus were subjected to violence and persecution. India gained Independence but it was also amputated. The largest movement of humanity took place. The swayamsevaks were the only group that stood by the Hindu refugees. The psychological impact of those years was profound and lasting on Hindu society.

On Gandhi’s assassination, the RSS was targeted with falsehoods and a ban was imposed, even though the government was unable to prove the allegations. No door was left open for conversation and Guruji was incarcerated on false charges. The swayamsevaks organised an unprecedented peaceful satyagraha against this injustice and eventually the ban was removed. Correspondingly, communist ideology was expanding and divisive theories that undermined national identity were systematically mainstreamed. At the same time, conversions by Christians gained ground. The Justice Niyogi commission report led the Congress-ruled states of Orissa and Madhya Pradesh to enact an anti-conversion law.

During this time of upheaval, Guruji continued to travel through the country and addressed issues that plagued the national conscience, these contemplations and responses to the prevalent circumstances have been included in Bunch of Thoughts.

On his centenary birth anniversary in 2006, a 12-volume edition, an authoritative compilation of his thoughts (Shri Guruji Samagra Darshan) was published. If 12 volumes are too expansive then his ideas have been distilled into a book called, Shri Guruji, His Vision and Mission (Drishti and Darshan), a book which provides a deep insight as well and is shorter. Bhagwat appealed to everyone to read this book, so where does the question of denying the second sarsanghchalak’s thoughts come in?

The answer given by Bhagwat to the query on the selectively quoted sections in Bunch of Thoughts is not any different from what Guruji has himself said. There was an interview that he did with Saifuddin Jilani, a journalist, in the 1970s, in which he answered these direct questions. It is an interview that is rarely quoted. Here are the relevant sections of the interview:

Jilani: Much has been said about ‘Indianisation’ and a lot of confusion has arisen over it. Could you please tell me how to remove the confusion?

Guruji: ‘Indianisation’ was of course the slogan given by Jana Sangh. Why should there be such confusion? ‘Indianisation’ does not mean converting all people to Hinduism.

Let us all realise that we are all the children of this soil and we must have our allegiance to this land. We belong to the same society and that our ancestors are common. That our aspirations are also common. Understanding this is Indianisation in the real sense.

Indianisation does not mean that one should be asked to quit his religious system. We neither said this, nor are we going to say so. Rather we believe that a single religious system for the entire human society is not suitable.

Jilani: You said it right. It’s 100% right...You have clarified it from your side quite well. Any thinking person and gentleman wouldn’t disagree with you. Don’t you think it is high time that a meeting took place between you and such Muslim Indian leaders who would cooperate with you in finding ways and means to remove this communal discord once for all? Would you like to meet such leaders?

Guruji: I would not only like it, I would welcome it.

Well-known journalist Khushwant Singh also interviewed Guruji in 1972. If you were to read that interview then the protracted effort to malign and misrepresent Guruji by the communists who exercised control on most of the media and academic disciplines will become clear.

In the beginning Singh writes: “There are some people against whom you build up malice without knowing them. Guru Golwalkar had long been at the top of my hate list. However, as a journalist, I could not resist the chance of meeting him.”

In the end, he writes: “Was I impressed? I admit I was. He did not try to persuade me to his point of view. He made me feel that he was open to persuasion.”

As the Hindu way of life manifests itself with the changing times, the same is true with the nature of the RSS’s work. In spite of the opposition, the RSS is consistently growing in expanse and influence. Perhaps the inherent qualities of the fundamental Hindu philosophy characterised by ‘flexible rigidity’ and transformation as per times is the real strength behind this.

Manmohan Vaidya is sah sarkaryavah (joint general secretary), Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh

The views expressed are personal

First Published: Oct 16, 2018 18:46 IST