After Sarsanghachalak’s three-day lecture series, there was a lot of discussions and muttering on whether RSS has sidelined Guruji’s thoughts. However, a patient and in-depth reading of scenario nullifies the claims.
The three-day lecture series of Dr Mohanji Bhagwat was an unqualified success, and as expected conversations triggered by this first of a kind interaction continue. Amongst those who attended many were yet to hear the Sangh’s views first hand and had often been misled by propaganda, hence there was also some disbelief, since the Sarsanghachalak’s speech was contrary to what had been said and reported about the organisation.
Opponents of the RSS were numbed into silence, trying to pick apart the speech but failing to come up with an incriminating utterance that confirmed their often repeated falsehoods. However, their efforts (out of habit and hubris), saw a desultory revival, mostly centred on discredited repetitions of the past. So while critics closed to new thoughts and engagement continued to rehash old accusations, the new dialogue that the Sarsanghchalak’s outreach has triggered, overwhelms past prejudice.
Surprisingly it is seen that in the process of countering Communist propaganda, some supporters of the RSS and even swayamsevaks, started parroting the same line, issuing argument as apologia when none was merited.
Bunch of Thoughts must be seen in the context of its times – also it must be emphasised that the period it is associated with is from 1940 to 1965 (not his entire tenure as Sarsanghachalak), a specific time in pre and post independent history which had its unique circumstances
Contextualising Bunch of Thoughts
There seems to be some delight or surprise about the clarification; the Sarsanghachalak has given about the publication – Bunch of Thoughts, a collection of speeches and thoughts of Shri Guruji (the second Sarsanghchalak). This analysis takes a further leap and goes so far as to assume that Dr Bhagwat has distanced the Sangh from Guruji! It couldn’t be further from the truth. The entire lecture of the Sarsanghachalak on day two about Hindu and Hindutva was based on the intellectual articulation provided by Shri Guruji to the Sangh movement.
Bunch of Thoughts must be seen in the context of its times – also it must be emphasised that the period it is associated with is from 1940 to 1965(not his entire tenure as Sarsanghachalak), a specific time in pre and post independent history which had its unique circumstances, leading to wide debate and discourse on nationhood, identity and belonging. Hence, it is essential to view the opinions of that time as a subset of the larger dialogue around these issues and the creation of a new country – Pakistan, based entirely on religion.
When Shri Guruji took over as Sarsanghachalak, he was a mere 34 years old, and destiny had led to the mantle of responsibility being placed on his shoulders. It was a daunting task for the young man to expand and guide this organisation, which had no other parallel to emulate, and would need to forge its destiny. At the time of his taking over as Sarsanghachalak, the call for Pakistan had taken on a pervasive note and echoed across the country. The Quit India Movement had also gained force, and many swayamsevaks had been incarcerated and some condemned to death as well. It was a tumultuous time, in 1946 there was an election held with the demand for Pakistan. In Muslim majority areas, Hindus were subjected to violence and persecution. As a result of Direct Action, Hindus in Bengal faced widespread violence. India gained Independence, but it was also amputated. The largest movement of humanity took place, Hindus sought refuge in India, often after facing unspeakable violence and losing everything. The swayamsevaks were the only group who stood by this population, protecting them and playing witness to their trauma. The psychological impact of those years was profound and lasting on Hindu society and the nation.
On Gandhiji’s assassination, the RSS was targeted with falsehoods, and a ban was imposed, even though the Government was unable to prove the allegations. It was the beginning of the dirty politics of hate by the Congress party in independent Bharat.
The Government was not ready to prosecute and prove the charges. No door was left open for conversation, and Shri Guruji was incarcerated based on these false charges, swayamsevaks organised an unprecedented peaceful satyagraha against this injustice, and eventually, the unfair ban was removed.
Correspondingly communist ideology was expanding, and divisive thought that undermined national identity was systematically mainstreamed. This impunity was so stark that in 1962 when communist China attacked India and there was widespread despondency in the country, the communists openly praised the Chinese, clearly articulating their loyalty to their ideology over the nation. At the same time conversions by Christians gained ground. The Justice Niyogi Commission’s Report led the Congress-ruled states of Orissa and Madhya Pradesh to enact an anti-conversion law, leading to widespread protests amongst the Christian community.
During this time of upheaval, Shri Guruji continued to travel through the length and breadth of the country and addressed issues that plagued the national conscience, these contemplations and responses to the prevalent circumstances up to 1965 have been included in Bunch of Thoughts. However, Shri Guruji continued to be engaged in public discourse for eighteen more years beyond the time span of the book. Hence on his birth centenary in 2006, a 12 volume edition, an authoritative compilation of his entire thoughts (Shri Guruji Samagra Darshan) during his time as Sarsanghachalak was published. This compilation is worth reading for those who wish to understand Shri Guruji and the evolution of his ideas better, which were in many instances a response to the concerns of the day. No opponent of the Sangh has displayed the requisite intellectual rigour to study Guruji and his ideas entirely in depth before lifting the pen to write on him.
|In Bunch of Thoughts, the concerns raised by Shri Guruji are the same that the world today is vexed with and are specific to an ideology (within the faith) that propagates fundamentalism and the jihadist mindset that leads to horrors and oppression|
Witnessing Guruji in Entirety
If twelve 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. Dr Bhagwat appealed to everyone to read this book, so where does the question of distancing from the second Sarsanghachalak’s thoughts come in?
The answer given by Dr Bhagwat to the query on the selectively quoted sections in Bunch of Thoughts is not any different from what Shri Guruji has himself said. There was an interview that he did with Dr Jilani in the seventies, in which he answered these direct questions. It is an interview that is rarely quoted either because critics develop selective amnesia or it doesn’t suit their motivated campaign.
Dr Jilani asked Guruji, ‘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?’ Shri Guruji replied, ‘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 we are going to say so. Rather, we believe that a single religious system for the entire human society is not suitable.’
On Guruji’s elaboration, Dr Jilani stated, ‘You said it right. It’s hundred per cent right. Therefore I am thankful to you for this clarification. 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?’ Shri Guruji affirmed, ‘I would not only like it, but I would also welcome it.’
Well known journalist, Khushwant Singh also interviewed Shri Guruji in 1972. If one were to read that interview, then the protracted effort to malign and misrepresent Shri Guruji by the Communists who exercised control on most of the media and academic disciplines will become clear.
In the beginning, he 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.”
Both the interviews are worth reading in their entirety. However communists have made it an art form to discuss and defame Guruji without going through the vast literature on him, it is a style of propaganda that they have “excelled” across the world.
In Bunch of Thoughts, the concerns raised by Shri Guruji are the same that the world today is vexed with and are specific to an ideology (within the faith) that propagates fundamentalism and the jihadist mindset that leads to horrors and oppression. Even in Bharat, the existence of such elements cannot be denied. Also forced and illegal conversion in violation of the law by missionary bodies, urban Maoism as well as the international support to such activities have once again in the recent past been highlighted through some incidents but have a long history of spreading disquiet and violence in society. Though it is necessary to take the Muslims and Christians of Bharat along in the nation-building process, it is also important to be cautious about the extremists, Jihadi and divisive elements active in the name of so-called minorities. In this sense, Shri Guruji’s cautions about the threats to the nation are relevant even today.
As Hindu way of life manifests itself with the changing times, same is true with the nature of Sangh work. There have been many ups and downs in the 92-year journey of the Sangh. Many efforts of opposition, suppression and venomous propaganda have taken place. Despite all this, the Sangh thought, and work has been growing with all inclusive and all-pervasive approach. Perhaps the inherent qualities of the fundamental Hindu philosophy characterised by ‘flexible rigidity’ and transformation as per times is the real strength behind this.
– Dr. Manmohan Vaidya
(The writer is Sah Sarkaryavah of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh)