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  • By M.S.Golwalkar ( Guruji Golwalkar ) 


This is an invaluable discourse delivered by the late Shri Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar, the second Sarsanghchalak of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangha, who we affectionately know as Shri Guruji.

Many Swayamsevaks introduce themselves by saying, “I am an Ordinary Swayamsevek.” Taking clue from this type of introduction, Shri Guruji has ably elaborated all salient features of the R.S.S. in this small discourse.

Narrating many events from the life of Dr. Hedgewar, the founder Sarsanghchalak of the R.S.S., Shri Guruji has explained in a very simple, lucid and organised style as to how a Swayamsevak should conduct himself in society, how to run the Sangh shakha, how to Interweave relation between the Shakha and the people living around it. He has also explained, in detail, why our character should be spotlessly clean and how our behaviour be loving and full of affection.

Ordinary Swayamsevak of the R. S. S. is not “ordinary” in the sense he describes himself to be. There is an altogether distinct “extraordinariness” in him. It is that extraordinariness of which he is not even aware, leave alone being proud of it. But Shri Guruji says that it is a matter of prestige to be an ordinary Swayamsevak. No other thing can be more respectable and prestigious than this. Post and power are merely the system peculiarities. Where as to be a Swayamasevak is its very foundation.

This discourse contains one more fundamental aspect. That is: we have to organise the entire Hindu society. Establishing small organisation within the Hindu society is not our objective. But our target is to organise the Hindu society in its entirety. Therefore we must have a total picture of society in our view. It is not that each and every individual of the society will attend the Shakha. But we must see to it that all those who dwell in cities, villages and in forests are considered as our brothers; that we maintain continuous and live relations with them, and that these relations be cordial, friendly, sportive as well as full of mutual trust and co-operation. Shri Guruji says, ” There must be sufficient number of branches, spread all over the nation, functioning continuously and having necessary number of Swayamsevaks in them for achieving this purpose” This responsibility rests with ordinary Swayammsevaks and it is a life-long mission. According to Shri Guruji such an ordinary Swayamsevak enjoys unusual and exceptional high esteem. It is even more true now than it was at that time. The Sangh is known to the people more by its ordinary Swayamsevaks than by its philosophy, well-disciplined programmes or its route-marches. Most effective and best means of identifying the R.S.S. is its Swayamsevak and his conduct. If at all the form and character of the Sangh has to have proper influence on society, it could only be through the behaviour of an ordinary Swayamsevak. It is post of such an immense responsibility. Shri Guruji expects that every Swayamsevak should understand this responsibility. This itself is a master key to understand the extraordinariness of an ordinary. I have no doubt that this discourse will help all Swayamsevaks to Introspect.



During my tours, while talking to the Swayamsevaks, I generally ask them to introduce themselves. In reply, many of them say, “I am an ordinary Swayamsevak.” Vary often, the intention behind saying so is that they do not have any specific organizational responsibility of the Sangh activities. It looks as though their responsibility is to conduct themselves in such a way that their Mukhya Shikshak or Shikshak would be required to undertake special efforts for them. For example, they would remain absent for the Shakha so that these office bearers would come to their house and would call them! So, the Implied meaning is that, as though, it is their responsibility to give those office-bearers an opportunity to do their job more effectively!

“Swayamsevak” : A Matter of Pride :

Now, the term “Ordinary Swayamsevak” is very meaningful because all of us are ordinary Swayamsevaks. Who possesses extra-ordinariness amongst us? People call me the chief of the R.S.S. What sort of uncommonness or extra-ordinariness do I possess? It is true, I have a well grown beard. But if you don”t shave everyday, your beard would also grow! What is extra¬ordinary about it?   I know many of us present here are doing various experiments in this regard! But from that point of view also, there is nothing particular about me.

I recollect an old episode. It is about the founding father of the R.S.S. Once he appealed to his Swayamsevak brethren: “Please develop some one to take up the responsibility of the Sarsanghachalak so that I can hand over this responsibility to him and exert myself as an ordinary Swayamsevak. I have some ideas of how an ordinary Swayamsevak should be. I have some hopes and aspirations from him. I would like to conduct myself accordingly and set an example before my Swayamsevak-brothers working with me”. It means, he aspired to become an ordinary Swayamsevak. But the circumstances did not allow him to do so. He was constrained to continue as the chief of the R.S.S. The question is, why did he aspire to be so? What made him think like that? The only answer is, it is a matter of great pride and prestige in our organization to be an ordinary Swayamsevak.

Time and again, I have to move in the society and undertake journeys across the country for the organizational work. During my travel, if somebody asks me, “What do you consider as the most prestigious thing in your life that you would be proud of?” Then I would like say, “Being an ordinary Swayamsevak of R.S.S.” There cannot be any greater thing to be proud of. I am educated and have earned some degrees. I have taught some people and delivered speeches at many places. Some people come and garland me, some of them even prostrate before me. I receive more namaskars perhaps because of my ascetic dress! But none of these things gives me any sense of elation. Many great people come and meet me.  They include foreigners also.  Many holy saints and sanyasins in the field of religion meet me. I always cherish their blessings. Politicians and educationists also come and meet me. They place various problems before me and seek my advice. It cannot be denied that all those things are capable of invoking a sense of pride in the heart. But I have never considered them as worthy of pride. The only thing worthy of pride is, “Due to divine coincidence, I have been a Sangh Swayamsevak.”

So, it is needless to say that no other thing is more respectable and loftier than being a Swayamsevak. If it is so, you may think, what about all those office-bearers ranging from the Sarsanghachalak to a Gatnayak? We have evolved a system for the conduct of our activities, since no organization can function without a system. And as we have to run the organization, we have devised a system. As a Swayamsevak, every one of us has been assigned a specific responsibility within the wider framework of that system. So, he is a Swayamsevak having a responsibility assigned to him. But all the same, the most important and pride-worthy thing in his life is the fact that he is basically a Swayamsevak, irrespective of whatever office he is holding within the system.

So, when I say I am an ordinary Swayamsevak, I must bear in my mind the sense of responsibility associated with it. It is really a great responsibility. Society is also watching us as a Swayamsevak. People have great many expectations from us. We also think that they should have those expectations from us and by fulfilling them, we should be able to live up to their expectations and prove to be worthy of them.

Minimum Shakha Systems :

So, what are the things in general that we as Swayamsevaks should pay attention to? Let us first think about the Shakha.

1)Shakha should be held everyday.2) It must be held on time.3) A variety of programmes should be conducted in the Shakha.4) An atmosphere of sportsman-spirit, love, affection and purity should prevail among all the Swayamsevaks.5) We must develop the urge and desire in our heart to become clearer and stronger in our goal-realization through the process of discussion and deliberation among ourselves.6) We must pronounce our Prayer correctly, collectively and with all solemnity, faith and  understanding.7) Our holy Flag is a symbol of whatever is of utmost purity for us. We must salute it collectively and with all modesty.8) Sit together for sometime and discuss various matters. Find out as to who have not attended the Shakha that day and try to meet them before the next day.

All these are routine matters related to our daily Sangh Shakha, in which every Swayamsevak is expected to fully take part.

Responsibilities of a Swayamsevak:

1) What are the other do”s for the Swayamsevak? If any Shakha is to be held regularly and on time, one must start from his house or wherever he is, sufficiently in advance and reach the scheduled place of the Shakha at least a couple of minutes before time. Nobody should wait for somebody to come to take him to his Shakha. Perhaps somebody may come and call us as a matter of his duty. But it is not fair on our part to wait at home so that the caller is give an opportunity to perform his duty! This is the first lesson that all of us must bear in mind.

2)Then, one must think that he is the person who is interested in organizing the people, and not living in solitude. Then why should he not call all those Swayamsevaks staying nearby while going to the Shakha? It is just a matter of friendship. Is it necessary that one should have some specific responsibility for doing this simple thing? Is it necessary to be either a Mukhya Shishak or a Shikshak for doing the same? It is just a matter of true friendship that whenever any one goes for doing any good work,he urges his friends also to accompany him. One should reach the Shakha in a happy and gay mood, calling and accompanied by all those brother Swayamsevaks staying near his house or on his way. And this must happen in a very natural manner.

3)Then, all programmes on the Sanghasthan should be conducted with full involvement and discipline of all Swayamsevaks and abiding by the stipulated rules and regulations. One should not get upset even if one has to over-exert himself for the same. Our programmes are meant for exertion only. By developing the habit of doing hard work alone, one can increase his capacity to undertake bigger tasks and complete them in a thorough manner. All our programmes are arranged from this point of view. Therefore, one must do them with the best of care and efforts.   It must be borne in mind that all these programmes carry manifold purpose with them. They create a spirit of fearlessness, self-confidence and valour in our mind; they weave us all in a common thread of discipline and make us realise within our heart and that we are an integral part of the Divine Power, manifested in the form of our Organisation. Therefore, we must study and practice all these programmes in the best possible manner.

4) Why should one feel like running away to home hurriedly and immediately after Prarthana, Dhwaja Pranam, Dhwajavataran and the dispersal order ‘Vikir’? In fact, one should not. If anyone is desirous of going away early or wandering elsewhere, It would only mean that he has developed a wrong tendency to “escape”, that he attended the Shakha unwillingly or under compulsion. Nobody attends Shakha under anybody”s pressure. No one should. It is always emphasised that one goes there voluntarily. If it is so, why should any one think of running away? One should feel like lingering there for some more time. All of us are bosom friends. Let us sit or stand together and chat for a while. Two things must be covered in our informal chat:

a) All those who attend Shakha regularly are our fellow brothers. We must collect information about those who attended and also about those who have not attended. It must be inquired as to why they did not attend,

b) Let us go to all those who did not attend the Shakha on that day and enquire why they could not come. Let us go in small groups and meet them. If they have any problems, let us think whether or not we can help them, solve them. If there is no problem as such, we must convince them in gentle terms that it is not fair to remain absent without proper reason.  They should be persuaded to the extent that they would take sufficient care not to miss the Shakha from the next day onwards.

Intellectual And Emotional Equipment

This is our minimum daily routine. As an ordinary Swayamsevak we must do all these things. We must also recapitulate some or other aspect of our goal and the sanctity of our motherland. Of course, this process has to be continued through several other supporting intellectual programmes after the Shakha-hour. Let us recall innumerable sacred places scattered all over Bharat, from the Himalayas to the seashore in the South. Some glorious aspects of our history or some great event stand behind every one of them. There are many historical places all around; let us recall them. Every historical place is associated with one or the other characteristics of some one or the other great man; let us remember them. Let us think collectively over the qualities reflected in that great man and ask ourselves whether or not those qualities are inculcated in us. Do we make efforts to develop those qualities within us? Do we just recall the name of Shivaji for name-sake? Now-a-day a great many people refer to the name of Shivaji with or without reason. Instead of that, his virtues must be imbibed within us. When we remember the name of Shivaji, a radiant and inspiring personality stands before our mind”s eye. His is an all Bharat figure symbolising the fiery spirit of freedom. He was an exceptionally great warrior who undertook the noble task of founding once again a prosperous, Dharma-based holy kingdom of Hindu prowess in Bharat. He was a man of high moral conduct and a versatile genius. His personality was extremely pure and full of national spirit. Do we assimilate these qualities within us? In this way, thinking about each and every great person, we should introspect what efforts have we made to develop our own qualities? If we have any undesirable traits within us, what efforts have we made to shed them off? Let us ponder over such matters, individually as well as collectively.

Neighbourly Duties:

In addition, we have to perform some other important duties as well. There will be many families near where we stay. It means, all of us together are neighbours to each other. So we have naturally some neighbourly duties towards them. This involves firstly knowing how they are carrying on their life and what are their problems. We must also know about their mental stresses and strains and should always be ready to help relieve them. This is what is expected as part of our neighbourly duty. Shutting the doors of our house from inside and sitting unconcerned is not good neighbourly behaviour, particularly when something goes wrong with our neighbour”s life. We cannot neglect him thinking that it is because of his misfortune that it is none of our concern whether he dies or survives. It is not only unneighbourly but inhuman, let alone failing to discharge our good neighbourly duty. So it behooves us to visit their houses, meet all of them, talk to them and make efforts to develop affectionate and cordial relations with them. It is also our duty to evoke similar feelings in their hearts also about us. They should all feel a sense of confidence about us that this person has a transparently clear and guileless love for us, that he is our true friend and would not let us down in our times of distress and that he would always be with us as a good neighbour and come to our help promptly. We must try to evolve our life-style in such a way that, on the basis of trust and confidence so generated, everyone in our neighbourhood would feel like being a member of a larger family. When we thus become successful in developing an atmosphere of mutual friendship, affection and trust among our neighbours, we will be able to draw from them active Swayamsevaks for the Sangh”s activities.

Mere Intellect fails to Win Hearts

Now, instead of reaching the hearts of people in this fashion, if somebody thinks that he is very intelligent and that he will be able to convince others by his intellectual arguments alone as to how the R.S.S. activities are good for the country and thereby induce them to join the Sangh, then he is committing a grave mistake. May be you are intelligent and capable of engaging people in debate, but they will not necessarily be convinced about the value or worth of our activities.

One of my friends told me that a particular gentleman had some doubts and reservations about the Sangh and that he had a desire to meet me and talk. He happened to be an old acquaintance of mine and also had attended the Shakha for sometime in the past. So I went to him and we discussed about the doubts he had in his mind, for nearly two hours. Of course, now-a-days I do not get so much of leisure time for such discussion. Because during those days neither the Sangh work was so widely spread (nor there were so many “wrangling’s” as they are today!) I could get enough time to go and meet friends. During the two hours of our discussion I tried to clear as many of his doubts as he possibly had and thus tried to satisfy him. But every time he used to say, “Guruji, what you say is correct, but….”, and he would raise the same questions again. I also tried to convince him and satisfy him by giving almost the same answers. Despite my best efforts, he used to say, “What you say is all right but…..” Finally I asked him, “My dear friend, how many “buts ” do you have? The more I try to pluck them out, the more they are growing! What is the matter, after all?” All this only means, it was not possible to convince him. Rational arguments would not “clear” any of his doubts. That also did not make him convinced so as to undertake Sangh work. Intellect has its own limitations. What can you do if the intellect cannot go beyond its own limitations?

Arguments Prove Counter Productive

In fact, arguments will only prove counter-productive. You will find no one joining the Sangh just because you have debated with him the merits of the issue and defeated him successfully in the arguments. If you think, that he would accept the defeat and say “All right gentleman, I join the R.S.S”. You will be badly disappointed if you make use of your intelligence in this way and show others that you are superior to them in intellect, do you think they would feel happy about it? Who would like to concede that God has given him less intelligence and that the other person is more intelligent than him? Nobody would like it. In fact, it is my experience that he would feel insulted and would keep himself away from you.

I had a friend of mine. Though our subjects were different, we were studying in the same class. He was very fond of indulging in arguments and debates. He was a well-read and much studied person. Therefore perhaps he had a great passion for debates.  I was also infected by his passion and we used to often enter into arguments. At times, he felt that he was on tenterhooks. A similar situation was repeated for three, four times. His friends started laughing at him and said, “You pose yourself pompously to be very intelligent wherever you go, but here you cannot make even a couple of cogent arguments.” He thought he was being ridiculed and thought it was all because he used to talk to me. So he started avoiding me, to this extent that if he saw me from the other side of road he would escape stealthily into a nearby bye lane and disappear! I saw that happening for a few times. And then, one day I went to him running and caught hold of him when he was escaping into a by lane. I said, “My dear friend, Why are you running away?” He replied, “I don”t want to talk to you because you make me a laughing stock in the presence of others. Who will talk to you only to get ridiculed and insulted?” Then I told him gently, “My dear fellow, you have a passion for debate and not I! I entered into arguments with you unwillingly, just to satisfy your thirst for the same. What can I do if you find yourself on tenterhooks in the process? However, it doesn”t matter. Let us now resolve that we will never enter into any arguments hereafter. Do you think it is fair to forsake our friendship just for satisfying our passion for debate? Friendship is more important than a battle of wits.” And thus I tried to pacify him. It only means that by engaging oneself in arguments in debate, one just gets alienated from the person and never comes close to him again.

Winning the Hearts

Then how do the people come to accept our propositions? Firstly, there are some people who are, as though, marked by God Himself for the Sangh”s work.
When somebody just goes to them and requests them to attend the Shakha or do some Sangh work, as if, the impressions they had accrued in their previous birth awaken instantly, they spontaneously respond and come forward to work with us as our colleagues. They do not need to be convinced about it at all. There are in fact a number of such people everywhere.

2)Some people think rationally and discerningly. They study the national state of affairs and are convinced that there is no other solution except the R.S.S. They come forward to do the Sangh work with a sense of duty towards the society,

3)Some people intensely desire to have friends, and since their desire is fulfilled in the Sangh, they join us in our work.

Watch out for the Motive

4)But there may also be some who may come due to some one or other kind of selfish motive. One day I saw one of my lawyer friends in the Shakha. Pretending myself to be a lawyer, I asked him, “How come you are present in the Shakha today?” He replied, “I have started thinking that I must join the R.S.S.” I queried, “What made you think like this? He said “Nothing very special”. But I smelt a rat in what he said. I thought I must dig out what was going on in his mind. Though he was senior to me in profession I thought I must get into his graces and so we exchanged many matters of various sorts, Later on, it struck me that there were some lawyer-Swayamsevaks who were assigned the responsibility of going to different villages in the Nagpur Taluka andDistrict and introducing the Sangh work there. Every week, on Saturdays and Sundays they were expected to go to those villages and make report of their activities on Thursday night in Nagpur and also finalise the plan of their visits and activities for the next week. Our lawyer friend also came to know of this touring. He also felt that because of this touring practice a lawyer Swayamsevak could get himself acquainted through out the district. Some or the other court cases of those places would also be there in the District Court. Naturally, all those who knew that lawyer Swayamsevak would approach him for the cases. So, he thought,” If I also join their group, some people might approach me also and my practice might flourish.” With that ulterior motive in mind he had started attending the Shakha! One day he himself confided to me saying, “People from all over the district come to Nagpur for their court cases. If I would get acquainted with them as a lawyer, they might come to me with their briefs and I could also get some cases.” I just remarked, “Your thinking is imperfect.”

Surprised, our lawyer friend asked, “What is lacking in my thinking?” I replied, “Since you are a Swayamsevak, they might be attracted to you with a feeling of intimacy and bring their cases to you. But due to that same feeling of intimacy they might not also pay you the fees!” Our friend stared at me, as if shocked, and asked, “Is that really so?” I just said, “See my own example.” When I told him to see my own example, he became thoroughly disillusioned that he would not gain anything. Needless to say, from the next day onwards he never turned up to the Shakha!

 Rouse People”s Trust in us

What then is the best way for making people -whatever their mental aptitudes- come close to us? How can a situation be created in which we can calmly explain to them the aims and activities of the Sangh? For that purpose, proper unison of minds needs to be established between both of us, i.e., the person to be persuaded and ourselves. True friendship has to be evolved between us so that both of us feel oneness of our hearts. Once that situation is created, commitment to the cause in our heart would also penetrate his heart. Only in this way, i.e., on the basis of true love only, we can bring each and every person into our fold. We can then create an urge in his mind to dedicate himself to our cause, so that we can utilise his services as our colleague. For that, we must ponder diligently about our own attitudes and behaviour.

This is the way to bring one and all into our fold. We should never be careless in this respect. Thus should be our natural attitude towards not only our neighbours but also towards all those who come in our contact in different contexts; may be they are students studying with us, colleagues in our office or our associates in any avocation. If we are engaged in business, similar feelings of oneness, faith and honour should be roused in their minds about us. And there by whatever deep conviction we have in our heart about the Sangh, it will naturally be reflected in their hearts as well.

All this we have to do by away of our duty as an “Ordinary Swayamsevak”. No extraordinary qualities are required for this. It is the work of every one of us. In short, what are the essential things required of us? They are: firstly, we must become worthy of people”s trust and confidence. Secondly, we should always be ready to exert for their sake and that too willingly, voluntarily. It should neither be done casually nor by way of mere, formal duty. It should also be done in the spirit of oneness in our relationship with each other.

Put up Examples of Flawless Character

These are two minimum things. In addition, the third thing we are required do is: we have to cultivate flawless conduct in ourselves. Thereby alone we can arouse faith for the Sangh work in their hearts. Otherwise, who will follow us if we tell them to attend the Shakha and we ourselves go to cinema avoiding the Shakha? If no work is carried out by us or no capability reflected, then it means that we are not sincere and honest in our work. Do we really do our work as per expectations? We should not plead lame and petty excuses and avoid the daily routine of the Shakha and keep ourselves away from it. Then our words will not carry any value. Nobody will take us seriously. If we conduct ourselves in such a lazy way and try to talk to the people, they may well reply, “But you do not conduct yourself likewise.” In that case, we have no voice to say anything to them. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary that our conduct must be completely flawless and be true to our words.

Now from this point of view, let us think and ask ourselves whether or not we have become trustworthy of all the people. What then is required for becoming trustworthy? Our life-style must be pure and chaste. Nobody will repose trust and confidence in a person who is impure and unchaste and subject to the prevalent tendency of indulging in undesirable things.  Therefore, we must ensure that our life becomes spotlessly clean. People should feel convinced that every one of our Swayamsevaks is, as an individual, extremely chaste, pious and transparently clean in his character.

The Ideal to be followed: Doctorji

We have before us the ideal of our founding father of Sangh. He was a man of spotlessly clean character. I recollect an incident when Dr. Hedgewar was alive. At that time, an election was held. Two old colleagues of Doctorji, who had later on joined two different parties, contested the election against each other. One of them was closely associated with Doctorji. Hence Doctorji was naturally trying to help his friend in his own informal way. The second contestant was a very powerful speaker. He used to speak from the top of his voice. Thousands of people used to come to listen to his speech because he was adept at hurling choice abuses in a slang and caustic language. Now a day’s, people are used to listening abusive and slang language and without such a spicy and fiery language they do not find the speech interesting enough! Then that leader used to publicly expose in his speech the scandalous affairs in the private lives of his opponent and of his supporters as well. He used to tear them apart in such a way that they would not dare to face the people in their public meetings. He had reduced almost all of his rivals to that sorry situation. In one of his public meetings, he had openly declared that to he would create such a situation that none of his opponents would dare speak in any public meeting in any corner of that town. And he had almost created that situation in reality.

Then Doctorji”s friend also thought of organizing a meeting. Doctorji also Okayed the proposal and accordingly the meeting took place. Some persons present there were bent on disturbing the meeting. Doctorji went to the meeting and sat on the dais. When those people saw the mighty personality of Doctorji present there, nobody dared disturb the meeting. Because they realised that since Dr. Hedgewar was present in the meeting, strength incarnate itself was present there! So, the meeting went off peacefully. That leader said, “What should I say? I tried to expose publicly every scandal of my opponent so that he would have no face to come before the public. But now I see that my opponent is standing on the broad shoulders of “that man against whom I don”t have a single word to utter.” Who would dare say anything against Doctorji? Transparently clean as he was from within and without, what could be said against him? Was there even a single scandal in his life to be exposed? What could that leader do? Such is the glorious example before us. There are many such instances in Doctorji”s life which reflect the supreme confidence that he enjoyed in the hearts of the people.

One more such instance will suffice. One of Doctorji”s friends was in need of money and he came to Doctorji seeking his help. It was a matter of surprise since Doctorji himself hardly had any money. For, Doctorji never practiced medicine as a profession. He used to keep only two medicines with him, one quinine and the other, liniment iodine, for suitable cases! Further, he used to give medicine only to the Swayamsevaks. How then could he get money for his friend? However, Doctorji requested the gentleman to wait and said he would soon arrange for the money.

Doctorji went to some of the rich persons living around him, but as a matter of coincidence nobody was at home. Then he took a tonga and went to the same opposition party leader residing at some distance. At that time, the gentleman concerned was having a chat with his friends. When he saw Doctorji, he said in a light mood, “Welcome Dr. Hedgewar, how come you are here at this time?”, since he had very cordial relations with him. Doctorji told him that he had hardly any time for light, jocular chat and that he had some private work with him. The said gentleman realised that there was some urgent matter. Immediately he went in and Doctorji told him that he wanted five hundred rupees urgently. The gentleman was a bit surprised and asked, “Why? Anybody from your side died or what?” Doctorji replied, let us discuss all those matters later on. Please let me know whether you are able to lend me the amount?”

Thereupon the friend remarked: “You come to ask for money and can I ever refuse? What shall I do with merely keeping money with me”. And immediately he gave Doctorji the required amount. But when Doctorji proposed to give him a promissory note, the leader said, “If people come to know that I have taken such a note from Dr. Hedgewar, they would say, whether I have gone mad! So please take these five hundred rupees. If you want to return them, welcome. If you cannot, please do not worry”.

We must also be able to generate so much of trust and confidence in the hearts of people about ourselves. So much of piety we must possess that the two dangerous vices that might spoil the character i.e., lust and wealth, would not be able to pollute our mind. We must make deliberate attempts so that our mind becomes very pure and unattached to such allurements. It is neither difficult nor impossible. Then only can we become worthy of people”s trust. Then one can go to anybody with confidence. Nobody would also any suspicion as to why we had gone to him. We must create such an atmosphere that the doors of all houses would remain open for us for all 24 hours.

Let us imbibe all these qualities in our life as an ordinary Swayamsevak and perform all those duties with the full awareness of the benefit to our work accruing from all these things, and of the need to carry them out with diligence and effort.

No Fixing of Target of Growth

A question may arise in our mind as to why at all should we do all these things? Somebody may say it is for the growth of the Sangh work. Then somebody may well ask what is meant by the Sangh growth? The Sangh has already grown a lot. Occasionally, its name also figures in the newspapers. So now it is quite enough. Therefore we have to clearly understand as to why we have to grow? What are the aims and objectives before us? It is not our objective to evolve a small organization within the Hindu Society. In fact, our goal is to organize the entire Hindu Society. Now how can this huge society be organized? How is it possible to make all of them attend the Sangh Shakhas? People may ask, is it possible? And in a sense, they are correct. One thing is clear: that our work is restricted to the male part of the society. So, obviously half of the population will not be able to come to the Sangh Shakhas. Then, those who are too young also cannot come, and also those who are very old or physically disabled. Since we have understood all these things before, we have evolved a simple definition and that is, anyone who can come to the Shakha on his own legs or with the help of some one else is a Swayamsevak! So, from our point of view, all such males right from a child to an old person are our potential Swayamsevaks. But, will all such persons also come? Many times we see even this is not feasible. In that case, should we conclude that we will never be able reach our goal. It is obvious; we must have some minimum target before us. Now, what should be that minimum target?

Long ago, our Doctorji had said, “If a certain percentage is achieved, we would have reached a minimum level of organisational growth.” I don”t want to lay down any particular percentage. Because at that time, the percentage was prescribed under a particular situation and now there is likelihood of its misinterpreting it. Once, at a particular place, I also mentioned a particular percentage. As a result, all the workers there set to work enthusiastically as if they were all possessed by that idea. Branches were spread all over. The number of Swayamsevaks was increased everywhere to reach the target. And then I received a letter saying,” We have reached the given target and the expected number of Swayamsevaks are coming to the Shakha. Our work is now completed. So, please let us know what should be done next?” In a humorous style, I wrote back to them stating, “Perform the Pooja in the name of Lord Satyanarayana, listen to the story, distribute Prasad to all and close down the Sangh activities!” Stipulation of a particular percentage is likely to create such misunderstanding!
Then what should be done?

Minimum Level of Work:

When we talk about the duties of an ordinary Swayamsevak, we expect him to establish affectionate and friendly relations with the entire society through the Shakha. Not only in the immediate vicinity of the Shakha but with all those in the surroundings as well. They may be city dwellers or village dwellers or living in deep forests or hills and valleys – all of them are our own fellow brothers in society. So we must have enough numbers of branches, continuously active and spread all over the country with sufficient number of workers required for establishing constant, lively, cordial and healthy relationships of mutual co-operation, trust and confidence with all of them. It is on these lines that we have to think. It is indeed a Herculian task but we have to do it. No less than this should satisfy us. This is the minimum level of growth of work and once that minimum level is attained, we will then have to see to it that it is never allowed to go down.

This is how the mission of life-long work of Sangh is before us. It is on this background, that we must think and ask ourselves, how much has been done at present and how meager it is compared to what is expected of us. And we must also ponder over how much efforts are required to be done even as an ordinary Swayamsevak. Any negligence or avoidance in this respect is unfair and unbecoming of us. With this thought in our mind, let us re-arrange the priorities in our life and let every one of us come forward to work according to expectations and with the best of our capabilities.

Our Mission

Why all this urgency? The reason is obvious: The sorrowful condition of our Hindu society is there before us. It has forgotten its national identity. We have lost courage of conviction of calling our country, our nation as our own. Our love for the motherland appears to have been weakened. As a result, selfishness has become rampant in our society, coupled with the growth of vices, groupism, unethical behaviour and vying with each other. It looks as though the whole society is getting disintegrated.

In addition, many enemies have also infiltrated into our country. They are not leaving out any opportunity to disintegrate and destroy our society, and help their internal agents here. They are also standing on all sides of our boundary and nobody knows when they might attack. Further, vices such as mutual quarrels and feuds, lack of character, self-forgetfulness prevalent everywhere may well lead us to anarchy. If our internal fragmented situation further continues, we may lose our ability to resist the aggression of all these enemies when they attack.

If we take all these things into consideration, there is only one answer before us. Complaining or whining is not the answer. Should we keep on complaining or stand up much stronger than the enemies? What should a virtuous, self-respecting and valiant nation do? Should it just complain? Should we merely scream that other people are attacking us? They are bound to attack so long as we are weak and offer them a favourable situation.

Then, what is our duty? The forgetfulness of our national identity needs to be overcome. We have to arouse a feeling in everybody”s heart that it is his motherland, his nation, that the entire society is his and that the nation must be made mighty, self-respecting, confident and glorious in the galaxy of all nations. On the basis of this awakening and on the strength of our noble conduct we will have to infuse our society with the supreme confidence, that we will certainly organise our society from the Himalayas to Kanyakumari as a well disciplined and powerful entity and make our nation capable of overcoming all sorts of calamities. There is no alternative to this. All other ways are cursory, shallow and outwardly. We have to cleanse the society from inside by purging all the dirt accumulated so far and purifying it so that its vast latent vitality is fully roused to action.

This is the mission of R.S.S. And there is no substitute to this. Be assured, that by the Grace of God, we are destined to fulfill this mission and we as ordinary Swayamsevaks, are the missionaries of this great mission, in fact, this is an exceptionally great honour and recognition that we are bestowed upon. Keeping this keen awareness ever awake in our mind, we must set to work forthwith. We have to broaden the base of Sangh activities by dedicating all our strength, intellect and time of every one of us and that too within the shortest possible period of time.

” It is a matter of great pride and prestige that due to divine coincidence. I have been a Sangh Swayamsevak. This is only thing worth of pride “

*ये नव वर्ष हमे स्वीकार नहीं*

*–राष्ट्रकवि रामधारीसिंह दिनकर*

ये नव वर्ष हमे स्वीकार नहीं, है अपना ये त्यौहार नहीं।

है अपनी ये तो रीत नहीं, है अपना ये व्यवहार नहीं।।

धरा ठिठुरती है सर्दी से आकाश में कोहरा गहरा है।

बाग़ बाज़ारों की सरहद पर सर्द हवा का पहरा है।।

सूना है प्रकृति का आँगन, कुछ रंग नहीं, उमंग नहीं।

हर कोई है घर में दुबका हुआ, नव वर्ष का ये कोई ढंग नहीं।।

चंद मास अभी इंतज़ार करो, निज मन में तनिक विचार करो।

नये साल नया कुछ हो तो सही, क्यों नक़ल में सारी अक्ल बही।।

उल्लास मंद है जन -मन का, आयी है अभी बहार नहीं।

ये नव वर्ष हमे स्वीकार नहीं, है अपना ये त्यौहार नहीं।।

ये धुंध कुहासा छंटने दो, रातों का राज्य सिमटने दो।

प्रकृति का रूप निखरने दो, फागुन का रंग बिखरने दो।।

प्रकृति दुल्हन का रूप धार, जब स्नेह – सुधा बरसायेगी।

शस्य – श्यामला धरती माता, घर -घर खुशहाली लायेगी।।

तब चैत्र शुक्ल की प्रथम तिथि, नव वर्ष मनाया जायेगा।

आर्यावर्त की पुण्य भूमि पर, जय गान सुनाया जायेगा।।

युक्ति – प्रमाण से स्वयंसिद्ध, नव वर्ष हमारा हो प्रसिद्ध।

आर्यों की कीर्ति सदा -सदा, नव वर्ष चैत्र शुक्ल प्रतिपदा।।

अनमोल विरासत के धनिकों को, चाहिये कोई उधार नहीं।

ये नव वर्ष हमे स्वीकार नहीं, है अपना ये त्यौहार नहीं।।

है अपनी ये तो रीत नहीं, है अपना ये त्यौहार नहीं।।

-राष्ट्रकवि रामधारीसिंह दिनकर

Civilisational Narrative – An Imperative

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s choice of Mahabalipuram for his informal meeting with President Xi Jinping has an obvious, deep significance and even a deeper message“, writes noted columnist, thinker and political commentator, Sri S.Gurumurthy.

(Courtesy: | Published: 11th October 2019)

It is strategic civilisational diplomacy at its symbolic best. Narendra Modi found that his second informal summit with Xi Jinping at Mahabalipuram in 2019 had been fixed 1,500 years ago by a prince of the Pallava dynasty, which ruled Mahabalipuram from Kanchipuram. The Pallava prince from Kanchipuram renounced the throne, became a Buddhist monk, known as Bodhi Dharma in India and DaMo in China, almost like how prince Siddhartha became Buddha. His guru asked him to go to Zhen Dan- today’s China.

Bodhi Dharma, who became India’s first spiritual ambassador to China, also emerged as its chief mentor. Regarded as Buddhaabdara (Buddha’s Avatar), he expounded Zen Buddhism and founded the famous Shaolin Temple in China’s Henan province.

Revered as the first Patriarch of China, the rest of the Buddhist world listed him as the 28th in line from Buddha. Modi is now reviving memories of Bodhi Dharma to position him as the icon of India’s civilisational outreach to China, which is integral to his overarching strategic civilisational diplomacy.

Bodhi Dharma’s foray was not limited to China. Popular as DaMo in China, as Dalma in Korea, Daruma in Japan, Dharmottara in Tibet, with his name echoing in Vietnam too, he ended up as India’s cultural ambassador to most of Asia. Just as Modi began gradually changing the secular narrative of India into a civilisational narrative within after his historic victory in 2014, he extended it to foreign relations as well. In 2015, he began writing a strategic Hindu-Buddhist civilisational narrative to give thrust to India’s Look East philosophy.The Mahabalipuram summit, which recalls the 5th-century DaMo today, is an important chapter in Modi’s overarching civilisational narrative to handle the relationship with China that was seriously damaged in the late 1950s and early 1960s. So, the Namo-Xi summit should be seen in the backdrop of Modi’s national strategic narrative.

Post-Independence Secular India – a civilisational orphan

With the rise of radical Islamist terror, particularly the 9/11 attack, Samuel Huntington’s view that the world would become increasingly civilisation conscious virtually binned the utopian Francis Fukuyama’s prognosis of a world free of conflicts founded on free market and liberal democracy.

The politically diverse Western nations began to be seen more as civilisationally Christian, Japan as a civilisation state and China as a civilisation pretending to be a state. But secular India continued to remain orphaned without a civilisational name and a narrative of its own.
Post-Independence India did not attempt to reinstate the national narrative it had lost due to centuries of foreign domination even after it rediscovered it during the freedom movement. Instead, it enjoyed living on borrowed narratives like secularism and socialism.

Lost in fake secularism that increasingly rested on vote-bank politics and in the failed socialism, which proved to be a global disaster, India ignored its spiritual and civilisational foundations that would have helped it develop its own national civilisational narrative. India’s distorted secularism undermined its civilisational assets. Result: India, which had become part of the universal notions of secularism and socialism, had nothing special to talk about itself.

In a seminal essay (to mark the 25th anniversary of Huntington’s clash theory) on civilisational exchanges between China and India titled “Civilisational Perspectives in International Relations and Contemporary China-India Relations”, Ravi Dutt Bajpai (Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia) asserts that India and China were both civilisation states but adds, “Although India’s ancient civilisational legacy originates from its Hindu-Buddhist religious beliefs, the constitutional secularism in the Indian polity makes it difficult for the state to flaunt a religious identity.”

Indian intellectualism was even blind to the historical fact that each materialist ideology that succeeded one another and dominated the world for the last couple of centuries increasingly had a shorter shelf life. Colonialism lasted for 200 years. Capitalism lasted100 years. Communism lasted 50 years. And globalisation has been pronounced dead by its chief proponent The Economist magazine in just 25 years. Our nation of thousands of years of these dominant thoughts sprouting, growing and, as Swami Vivekananda said, “vanishing like ripples on the face of waters, living a few hours of exultant and exuberant dominance”. India’s fate as a civilisational orphan continued even after socialism proved to be a global fiasco and secularism turned fake at home. It continued to adopt the socialist narrative for half a century and later a globalist narrative for a quarter more.

In this period, India saw Confucian China re-emerging out of communist China that violently banished Confucius for half a century. India saw ex-communist China establishing over 1,200 Confucian centres and classrooms the world over to present itself as a Confucian civilisation. It saw communist Russia turning Orthodox Christian, socialist Poland turning Roman Catholic.

Yet, it continued with its outdated and borrowed narrative that negated its own spiritual and civilisational foundation, which Mahatma Gandhi in his seminal thesis Hind Swaraj had emphasised as its unifying force. Till Modi came to power, India did not even think of making a draft national narrative for bilateral and multilateral relationship building.

National narrative- an imperative

The world which became obsessed with globalism after the Cold War, recently began rediscovering the need for a national narrative. The idea of a national strategic narrative was felt in the US in 2009. In 2011, the US government and the Woodrow Wilson International Center jointly authored a paper on the national strategic doctrine in 2011. The paper said:

A narrative is a story. A national strategic narrative must be a story that all Americans can understand and identify within their own lives. America’s national story has always see-sawed between exceptionalism and universalism. We think that we are an exceptional nation, but a core part of that exceptionalism is a commitment to universal values — to the equality of all human beings not just within the borders of the United States, but around the world.”

Later, in 2017, came a paper titled “Stories about ourselves: How national narratives influence the diffusion of large-scale energy technologies” by Joint Global Change Research Institute, United States Maryland School of Public Policy, University of Maryland.

The paper said, “A national narrative rationalises and is supported by the nation’s identity. The narrative gives citizens an awareness of their common values and characteristics as a nation; it also situates a nation among other nations as unique (at least in part). If successful, the national narrative (is) a source of pride domestically and respect from other nations…. Of course, no nation exhibits unanimity around a single story; instead, ‘we find a polyphony of voices, overlapping and crisscrossing; contradictory and ambiguous; opposing, affirming and negotiating their views of the nation.’”

National narrative is NO outdated concept. It is very much a contemporary need. Yet the Indian discourse did not attempt a national civilisational and strategic narrative for India, even though the Supreme Court had held as early as in 1995 — which it refused to review even as late as 2016 — that secular India is compatible in cultural terms with Hindu India.

Narendra Modi writes India’s national strategic narrative

Modi’s tryst with Buddha started soon after he became the Prime Minister. He saw Buddha as the civilisational face of India and Buddhism as the most effective bridge to link the culturally Hindu India with the civilisationally Buddhist Asia.

Modi has endeavoured to integrate Buddha with India’s Look East doctrine. He saw that Dharma in Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Jain traditions in India and Dhamma in diverse Buddhist traditions in Asia linked people of both traditions more intimately than any single or multiple state policy or pact. Cognate civilisations vault over state-erected walls to connect people with people. Modi saw the Hindu-Buddhist civilisational nexus as the most potent people-to-people link, which even the modern and ex-communist states like China could not ignore.

The Prime Minister’s strategic Hindu-Buddhist civilisational diplomacy started with his first visit to Japan in early 2015. Modi quickly roped in Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe into a joint Indo-Japan initiative of “Samvad” — Sanskrit word meaning “dialogue” — through strategic think tanks in Japan, Tokyo Foundation and Japanese Foundation, and the Vivekananda International Foundation in Delhi.

And the first Samvad of Hindu-Buddhist nations on the theme of Conflict Avoidance and Environmental Consciousness took place in September 2015. In his video address to the Samvad, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that the idea of Dharma, which was the foundation of Japan’s rule of law, was India’s gift to Japan — a declaration emotionally more powerful than any economic or political pact.

The Samvad

The year 2015 ended with the Bodh Gaya Declaration to make it the global centre of enlightenment. The Samvad II was held in Myanmar in 2017 and Samvad III in Mongolia in September 2019. The Indian and Japanese prime ministers inaugurated each of the three Samvad meets by direct or video address.

The impact of the Modi-Abe civilisational outreach of Samvad on the Buddhist world is phenomenal. The most leading global Buddhist website, the Buddhist Door Global (BDG), which had said in 2017 that “India’s efforts at Buddhist diplomacy are not easy to accomplish”, did a U-turn in 2019 to accept Samvad as “a burgeoning, informal alliance of Buddhist Asian democracies”, adding that “Modi and his allies have been responsible for a resurgence of Buddhist diplomacy unseen in modern Indian history”.

The report concluded, “Words like conflict avoidance and environment consciousness (Samvad’s consistent conference themes) conjure a very specific mode of Buddhist action: one that always leads back to New Delhi’s very unique understanding of transnational Buddhist power.

Undoubtedly Modi has innovated a national civilisational and strategic narrative for India not just for relating to Asia but for relating to the world, by globalising and positioning Indian-Asian Buddha as the icon of his presentation at the UN recently, contrasting Buddha (enlightenment) with Yuddha (war).

As Namo invokes DaMo at Mahabalipuram

Modi’s choice of distant Mahabalipuram for his informal meeting with Xi has an obvious, deep significance and even a deeper message. Can a China that has discarded communism and begun reinstating neo-Confucianism as its national narrative and an India that has discarded the failed socialism and fake secularism and begun re-writing the national narrative in civilisational terms find their common Hindu-Buddhist civilisational roots in Mahabalipuram? Will the spirit of DaMo help Namo and Xi accomplish that will be seen this weekend and in what unfolds thereafter.

Namo’s strategy is to find positive answers to such and other questions is manifest in his choice of the venue — DaMo’s Mahabalipuram.

The civilisational link between the peoples of India and China has always been stronger than any government-to-government policy declarations. Modi’s attempt seems to be to awaken the unleveraged civilisational impulses to relate to China whose aggression in 1962 damaged India’s trust in its neighbour.

How Modi handled the Doklam issue has obviously convinced the mighty neighbour that India is no more a pushover. Namo is invoking DaMo, the deeper spiritual chord between India and China, to restore mutual trust, which will be the foundation for a stable and trustworthy India-China relationship.

Postscript: Yet another Kanchi connection to China-India relations. The Sage of Kanchi (the Shankaracharya of Kanchi) who lived for 100 years told the writer of this article in the early 1990s that India should settle the border row with China, which the Sage saw as India’s cultural ally. The writer had mentioned this in 2003 to Atal Bihari Vajpayee when as India’s Prime Minister he was going to China. It was then that the NSA-level talks commenced with China for settlement of the border dispute. Whether recalling DaMo by Namo will fulfil the desire of the Kanchi saint remains to Be seen.

(Courtesy: Sri S Gurumurthy,

Philosophies of Gandhi and Deendayal

– Dr. Walter K. Anderson (American scholar, author of “Brotherhood in Saffron”).

After Mohandas Gandhi’s emergence as the major figure in India’s freedom movement in the 1920’s his life, thought and program became benchmarks against which other Indian political and social figures were compared. There has been a marked revival of interest in Gandhi since the electoral victory of the Janata Party, many of whose leaders trace the Party’s ideological roots to him.

Simultaneously, there has been a developing interest in the life of Deendayal Upadhyaya. Until recently, he was not widely known outside the confines of the Jan Sangh.

It was almost inevitable, both for intellectual and ideological reasons, that the two men would be compared. However, there are major difficulties in any effort to do so. The political environment in which they worked was different; their own social backgrounds were not the same; their most immediate political objectives were not the same. Perhaps, the most difficult problem is the lack of available material on Upadhyaya. Unlike Gandhi, who was among the most public of private men, Upadhyaya was a quiet man who preferred to operate out of the spotlight. The published compendium on his life and thought is still very thin. Research is now in progress in India to rectify the situation and the time may be near when we will get a more complete picture of his contribution to the social and political thought of India. Consequently, any attempt to compare Upadhayaya and Gandhi will have to be very preliminary and subject to much revision as more information comes to light. Those best qualified to speak on him are people who worked closely with Upadhayaya and hopefully they will contribute to the efforts of those who are collecting material on him.

Gandhi and Upadhayaya were primarily organisers and only secondarily interested in philosophic speculation. Indeed neither were intellectuals in the conventional sense of the term – that is erudite and sophisticated men with academic qualifications and long lists of books to their credit. Neither wrote systematic treaties on morals and politics, nor was either a philosopher, in the sense that they were not particularly interested in abstract theoretical formulations. Gandhi, for example, told a scholar researching the concept of *Satyagraha*: “but satyagraha is not a subject of research – you must experience it, use it, live by it” (Joan Bandurant, Conquest of Violence – Pg 146). I suspect similar anecdotes could be repeated of Upadhayaya.

Both men were charismatic figures, though Gandhi had the larger impact, in part because so many considered him a saintly figure, if not a saint. His asceticism convinced many that he was able to realize ideals which many held, but which few could realize. (See study in Lloyd and Susanne Rudolph, Modernity of Tradition, pt. 2). Gandhi transformed the Indian National Congress from a rather staid debating forum of the anglicized upper class into a rationalized organization that encompassed a wide range of activities that touched on the lives of the masses. His organizational skills, combined with his charismatic appeal as a Mahatma, transformed the Congress into the effective action arm of the independence movement.
Upadhayaya also possessed the characteristic of the saintly. He gave up the calling of a profession and a family to dedicate himself to the Motherland. His life was Spartan and his adherence to moral standards was of an unusually high order. These traits brought him the respect, if nor devotion, of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Swayamsevaks in the United Provinces where he served as a Pracharak (full time worker) from 1942-51, the latter few years as assistant state organizer of the RSS in the now-renamed Uttar Pradesh. He has a similar effect on the cadre of the Jan Sangh where he was one of the two All-India Secretaries after the formation of the party in 1951 and from 1952-67 the All-India Secretary, Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, president of the newly founded party for a few years before his untimely death., commented that were he to have several more men like Upadhyaya he could transform India. Upadhyaya certainly transformed the Jan Sangh. He took over the management of the party at the death of Dr. Mukherjee in mid-1953 at a time when many questioned whether it could survive without a towering figure such as Mukherjee to lead it. There was strife in the small party over control of the executive and confusion over its program. He instilled discipline, broadened participation, recruited a dedicated cadre and shaped its program to espouse the interests of those with little money, power or status. While there were a few minor defections during his life, the Jan Sangh was the one major India party which suffered no significant fissure. That is a testimony to the cohesive organization that he mulled.

Yet, it must be recognized that he was never a mahatma, nor is there any indication that he aspired to such a status. Indeed, he even tried to avoid public attention. From both his writings and talking with people who knew him, I get the image of a man who felt uncomfortable in the limelight, who believed that the organization and its goals were incomparably more important than personal recognition.

So self-effacing was he that, for example, he often would not sign articles that he wrote for Panchajanya, a journal which he edited from Lucknow in the late 1940’s. Consistent with the RSS tradition from which he came, he viewed personal publicity as a detriment to the cause – and the cause was organizing Indians to overcome the internal divisions that, he felt, had historically exposed the country to outside subversion and that has undermined the willing ness to make the sacrifices necessary for economic and cultural revival.

Unlike Gandhi, Upadhyaya was not a religious man in conventional sense of the term. While he was stepped in the Hindu traditions, particularly Vedant, he was not a wordly sadhu and he was not moved to act by religious precepts. However, like Gandhi, he rejected post-Machiavellian trend of western thought that posited the separation of religious and political ideals. In their attempt to fuse the two concepts, Gandhi and Upadhyaya drew on the traditional Hindu concept of Karma Yoga, or spiritual realization through social work. Both accepted the traditional notion that Dharma (individual and social duty) is the legitimate guide for shaping Artha (interest) and Karma (pleasure).

Yet, their approach to the determination of dharma was quite different. Gandhi stressed the individual’s quest of satya (truth) to inform him of the ethical rules that govern man’s behavior. This approach stands out in his oft-quoted assertion that “I would reject all authority if it is in conflict with sober reason or the dictates of the heart. Authority sustains and ennobles the weak when it supplants reason (that is) sanctioned by the small voice within”. Gandhi’s focus on individual effort has led some to conclude that he was a moral anarchist, if not also a social anarchist. For example, he wrote in Young India (March 1931), “there is no freedom for India so long as one man, no matter how highly placed he may be, holds in the hollow of his hands the life, property and honor of millions of human beings. It is artificial, unnatural and uncivilized institution”. Gandhi of course, was not an anarchist in either sense, for he also accepted the Vedantist notion that there is an underlying truth potentially open to all. Moreover, he had a respect for traditional institutions such as the Panchayata and the varna system, both of which specified special social duties and responsibilities.

Upadhyaya on the other hand, emphasized the collective wisdom of the nation as the authoritative voice of Dharma. However, he was also apprehensive that the majority might not always properly understand the laws of Dharma. “But even the people are not sovereign because people too have no right to act against Dharma” (Integral Humanism, page -56). Furthermore, “the truth cannot be decided by the majority; what the government will do will be decided by Dharma (Ibid – page -58). He does not define who the legitimate interpreter of dharma is. It is not unreasonable to conclude from his writings that he thought democracy the system most likely to approximate dharma since it provides an opportunity to detached men dedicated to national well-being to shape and correct public opinion.
The centrality of the nation in his thought rests on notion that it has a soul (i.e, “chiti”), shaped by experiences within a given geographical space and motivated by an over-arching ideal ( Integral Humanism – page 36-37). In describing the nation, he often drew on the metaphor of an organism, in particular the human body, in which each part has its true reality only in the particular function it fulfills within the whole.

“A system based on the recognition of this mutually complementary nature of the different ideals of mankind, their essential harmony, a system which devises laws which removes the disharmony and enhances their mutual usefulness and cooperation, alone can being peace and happiness to mankind; can ensure steady development” (Integral Humanism – page 39). Indeed, it is this organic concept of the nation that, it his view, has been the ideal that kept alive the Indian nation through the vicissitudes of time. It is its unique contribution to political philosophy. His major philosophic argument against the ruling political elite of his time was his conviction that they advocated western notions of society and, in the process, undermined the integral unity that has sustained Bharatiya civilization.

He was far less committed to traditional institutions than Gandhi. His writings are sprinkled with attacks on the caste system, as practiced. In his view, all institutions are derivative and, when they cease to fulfill the integrating function, they should be revised or abandoned. It is not surprising that orthodox Hindus were among the major critics of the Jan Sangh.

Gandhi’s political object was Swaraj (self-rule). But he interpreted Swaraj as more than mere independence from the British; it carried the meaning of an all-embracing self-sufficiency down to the village level. Self-sufficiency translated into a concrete program of action that led him to espouse Swadeshi (self-reliance) and the central effort during the years of the nationalist struggle for Swaraj lay in the propagation of Khadi (hand-spun cloth). Swadeshi served not only an economic function in actual supply of cloth; it also carried significant ideological implications. It was the central piece of his elaborate constructive work program. It was the symbolic representative of his effort against centralized industry and urbanization which he thought degraded the worker. (These products of modernization were attacked vigorously in his tract – Hind Swaraj, written in 1909). His condemnation of western materialism led him inevitably to support the concept of self-governing village communities and a simple low-technology system of production.

Upadhyaya’s writings demonstrate a comparable outrage against the effects of westen models of development. In a series of lectures in Poona in 1964 on Integral Humanism, later adopted as the official ideological statement of the Jan Sangh, he lashed out at both Socialism and Capitalism. “Democracy and Capitalism join hands to give a free reign to exploitation. Socialism replaced Capitalism and brought with it an end to democracy and individual freedom” (Integral Humanism – page 10). In their place, he proposes a model that takes into consideration all aspects of the human condition, “body, mind, intelligence and soul – these four make up an individual”. (Ibid – page 24). In practical terms,, the notion translated into a decentralized economy and political system in which citizens have a meaningful voice in the production process and in their own governance. This populist conception assumes a leveling in both economic and political power. Marked differences in access to power or economic resources would undermine the harmony he believed to be the essential cement of the good society.

Upadhayaya was not, however, adverse to the selective adoption of science, technology or even urbanization. (Ibid –page 8). He thought that they should be adapted to local conditions to improve the economic well-being of the population. Societies must produce enough to feed, cloth, house, educate and employ those within it. To do less would result in misery and strife, thus disrupting the harmony necessary for well-being of the collective. At the same time, however, he felt that consumption should not degenerate into consumerism (Ibid – page 65). “From this point of view, it must be realized that the object of our economic system should be, not extravagant use of available resources, but a well regulated use. The physical objects necessary for a purposeful happy and progressive life must be obtained. The Almighty has provided as much. It will not be wise, however, to engage into a blind rat-race of consumption and production as if man is created for the sole purpose of consumption.”

Finally, both (Gandhi and Deendayal) were suspicious of political power and its corrupting effect on public figures. Neither held a political office and neither aspired to do so. (Upadhyaya once ran, unsuccessfully, for parliamentary, but I strongly suspect that he did so with no great enthusiasm). Gandhi a few months after India attained independence told his closest colleagues, “By adjuring power and by devoting ourselves to pure and selfless service of voters, we can guide and influence them. It would give us far more real power than we shall have by going into government… Today politics has become corrupt. Anybody who goes into it is contaminated. Let us keep out of it altogether. Our influence will grow thereby.” (D.G. Tendulkar, Mahatma, Volume-8-pages 278-80). His advise, of course, was rejected by most of his Congress colleagues. Ironically, Upadhyaya, the leader of a political party, would probably have subscribed to his view of politics. He wrote, “Today politics ceased to be a means. It has become an end in itself. We have today people who are engaged in power with a view to achieving certain social and national objectives” (Political Dairy – page 115). Nevertheless, he thought it important, if not crucial, for the detached man of good will to remain in the political arena to help shape public opinion in the path of “Truth” (or Dharma). Consequently, he placed great stress on recruiting to politics men of high moral rectitude.

Despite the many differences between the two men, both came to the conclusion that it is the quality of men in society who will ultimately determine the nature of the state. This is at variance with most contemporary western political though (both speculative and empirical) which argues that conflicting interests are the major forces that shape the state and its policies. Whatever the merits of Gandhi’s and Upadhyaya’s views on the issue, their intense interests in the types of people who worked around them were of fundamental importance in their successful organization-building efforts.