HV Seshadriji – The man who built many men with capital ‘M

HV Seshadri

14th August is the Smriti din  of Sri HV Seshadriji. He was Sarkaryavah ( General Secretary )of the RSS for 13 years and guided lakhs of swayamsevaks. He provided leadership in some of the most turbulent times our country has gone through.

“The Tragic story of Partition” written by him was one of the only books which provided a different perspective to the issue of partition and remains a must read for any real student of Indian history.

A tribute to him was written by S.Gurumurthyji in the Daily Pioneer is below :

He shaped many leaders but his name will not figure among those ‘known’ as leaders. He was a thinker but will not be among those who are ‘known’ as thinkers. He was an intellectual. But his name will not be in the list of ‘known’ intellectuals. He was a writer but will not be among the ‘known’ writers.

He was HV Seshadri, the former general secretary of the BJP, and one of the tallest leaders of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). He was little known to the outside world as what he was because he did not think, write, or lead others to be ‘known’. He wrote books to shape men who would make the country strong, not to make himself popular. He toured ceaselessly and met hundreds of thousands of people to strengthen the motherland, not to become popular or build a vote-bank for himself.

His demise provided the context for the first news item about him as a person to appear in the media. But even that courtesy is because he belonged to the RSS which is well-known.

In fact, like many of his colleagues and seniors in the organisation, Seshadri shunned popularity by design. He knew the limitation and risks of popularity. When Mahatma Gandhi withdrew the Non-Cooperation movement, and a BBC correspondent asked him what did he think of the general perception that his popularity had waned, the Mahatma replied, “Popularity comes without invitation and goes without farewell.” So superior minds like Seshadri knew how transient popularity is and how debilitating it is to chase it.

But even though he knew the limitations of popularity, he worked to produce popular leaders, because popular leaders are needed to lead and run the country. The only difference was that they should be popular leaders, not popularity-seekers. Only persons who do not seek popularity, who actually shun popularity, can produce and inspire popular leaders and guide them.

It is not easy to manage popularity. To become popular is easier than remaining popular. This is where a popular leader needs the lead of someone who is least known. Chandragupta was known, but little detail is known about his mentor, Kautilya. Chhatrapati Shivaji is popular in history books but not the saint Ramdas who shaped him. This is the rishi-raj tradition of this ancient country. So we had had known rulers ruling and unknown rishis guiding them. Seshadri belonged to the rishi tradition.

But Seshadri knew that leaders alone cannot make the country. When someone said “Great is a country that has heroes,” Galileo responded by saying, “Greater is a country that does not need heroes.” Seshadri strove for a nation that does not need heroes. To dispense with the need for heroes is a stupendous task. Only a country that has highly evolved and patriotic men and women can dispense with the need for heroes. This is precisely what Seshadri worked for. This is the task which Swami Vivekanand described in his lecture on My Plan of Campaign in Chennai
after he returned from America as ‘man-making’ mission. It is this mission which he believed was equally a nation-building task.

So the twin and sequential mission of man-making and nation-building became the fundamental work the RSS. This self-effacing objective became the life mission of Seshadri. He joins the immortal but popularly unknown category of great men and women who have lived and worked for this ancient land of rishis and munis without asking for anything in return. Seshadri follows the tradition of his mission where the mission alone is known, but not the missionary. The name of the RSS is popularly known, but not the name of its founder even. This is the tradition to which Seshadri belongs, and this is the tradition into which he has merged.

Seshadri, like many in the tradition of rishis, became part of the foundation of this ancient nation, lying below the plinth and supporting the tower of the temple of Mother India. Thus disappears one more soldier in the cause of Bharatmata into her lap. The man who built many men with capital ‘M’ who lead different public domain of this vast nation of one-sixth of humanity, is no more. Seshadri was born for a mission and lived his whole life for the service of the mission till his fragile body which he over-worked gave way at age 80.

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