Tag Archives: Dr.Hedgewar

Dr Hedgewar sowed the seeds of eternity for RSS

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has dominated the social scene in all spheres of life today. Its opponents are worried over its ever increasing strength and they miss no opportunity to malign its name and fame. But in spite of all their attempts to defame the organisation, this ‘Rashtra Shakti’ is on the rise complicating their worries. On the other hand, the nationalist forces are happy and assured at the bright future of the country with its growing strength. They are willing to join and cooperate the RSS or any of its social welfare activity, and contribute their might in the process of nation building.

It has been observed that the number of those willing to join the RSS on internet was 1000 per month in 2012. It increased to 2500 per month in 2013 and 9000 in 2014! This is sufficient to indicate the growth of RSS. The secret of this growth lies in the pure national outlook of RSS and a chain of selfless, devoted, dedicated and committed workers.

While this huge Banyan tree, called RSS, is touching new heights, its roots are penetrating deeper and deeper searching new sources of the elixir of life. The very idea about the seed of such a huge Banyan tree enthuse our minds. It was Dr Hedgewar whose 125th birth anniversary coincides this year’s ‘Varsh Pratipada’. How was that seed?

Born on the auspicious occasion of Varsh Pratipada (April 1, 1889) Keshav Baliram Hedgewar was a born patriot. He came from an orthodox Brahmin family, which had no connection with the freedom struggle nor was there any major movement for freedom in the Central Provinces then. But the spark of freedom burnt in the heart of young Keshav and his heart throbbed for freedom. This urge of freedom became visible through many incidents of his childhood days. Noteworthy amongst them were throwing away the sweet box distributed to the students on diamond jubilee of Queen Victoria; or refusing to go for enjoying lighting and decoration on the government buildings to commemorate the arrival of George Vth in India, and many more such examples.

Young Keshav was the mastermind of ripping through the infamous Risley Circular that prohibited the singing of Vande Mataram in 1907 against the background of “Bang-Bhang” movement. When the School Inspector entered a classroom he was greeted with a shout of “Vande Mataram”. Obviously, Keshav was the inspiration of this protest. He opted for Calcutta to pursue his studies in Medicine as Calcutta happened to be the core centre of revolutionary activities then. He joined the Anusheelan Samiti, the topmost revolutionary outfit, and soon admitted to its inner most circles. After completing his medical studies and obtaining licence to practice, he came back to Nagpur but did not get involved in practice nor did he think for entering into a married life. His life aim was to free the motherland and he plunged into the freedom struggle then.

Dr. Hedgewar was entrusted with the responsibility of a volunteer corps of 1920 Congress Session in Nagpur. He raised the volunteer force of 1200 for it. Besides, he proposed two resolutions to the Draft Committee. One of them was related to full freedom of India. And the other was freeing other countries of the world from the clutches of imperialism. However, these resolutions could not see the light of the day. But when Congress passed a resolution of full freedom in 1930, Dr Hedgewar wrote to all the RSS Shakhas to congratulate the Congress. This showed his all encompassing vision.

Despite his differences he was of the opinion that all should join hands to throw off the shackles of slavery without weakening the movement. Due to this thinking he did not express his displeasure on Congress support to ‘Khilafat’ Movement, though he had differences with Mahatma Gandhi on this issue. He participated under the leadership of Gandhi in the non-cooperation movement and suffered jail term.

To achieve Independence is very important for any society but to create a society infused with national values, ethos and character to uphold and protect the freedom was more necessary and fundamental. Dr Hedgewar realised this and decided to start the RSS in 1925. He mingled with the youths and led them by his example through the technique of daily shakha, which happens to be real forte of RSS. Worship of strength, collectivism, discipline, patriotism, national pride and love and compassion for entire society and work selflessly for the society with full dedication were some of the virtues he wanted to inject and infuse into the Hindu society through the technique of daily shakha. Traversing the entire country in spite of his falling health, he succeeded in spreading the countrywide network of RSS in the short span of 15 years.

He did not have slightest of hesitation to use modern means to obtain desired results even though he had deep faith in our age-old culture and traditions. He always used to project his comrades to the forefront of the work and it was this style of his that laid a very strong, unshakable foundation of the RSS.

He not only kept in touch with various movements in the society aimed at Independence of the country even after he founded the RSS, but he also participated in them. In 1930, he participated in Gandhi’s Civil Disobedience Movement and participated in ‘Jungle Satyagraha’ in Vidarbha and suffered a nine-month jail term at Akola. But he also took care of RSS and appointed Dr LW Paranjape, his close associate as Sarsanghachalak and made arrangements of senior swayamsevaks to look after the Sangh work. The society was then divided in Congress, Revolutionary, Tilakites, Gandhites, Hindu Mahasabhaites and so on. Dr Hedgewar kept himself aloof from all such fractions yet he had good cordial relations with all of them. He sailed the RSS through such turbulences like an expert captain.

He ensured that RSS does not become yet another organisation in the society. He developed RSS as an organisation of the entire society. He introduced the tradition of ‘Guru Dakshina’ to make RSS self-reliant and self-sufficient. He placed the traditional ‘Bhagwa Dhwaj’, a symbol of dedication, renunciation, and selfless service, as the ideal ‘guru’. He was against projecting any individual as “guru” because he was aware of the shortcomings of an individual. That is why the RSS work is spreading to new areas and constituencies even after nine decades without diversions.

Dr Hedgewar was free from the ego of being the founder of RSS. Though he agreed to be Sarsanghachalak on the requests of his colleagues in 1929, he expressed his mind in 1933 meeting of the Sanghachalaks thus:
“I am fully aware of the fact that I am not the father or founder of the RSS; I am only performing the duties of a foster-mother of RSS as per your wish and would continue to do this so long as you wish and desire.

I would not care for any difficulty, problem or insult, etc. “Whenever you feel that RSS is suffering owing to my incompatibility you are free to appoint any proper and competent person to the post. I will owe my allegiance to the new incumbent and work as a devoted swayamsevak as happily as I have opted to work as per your order. For me personality does not matter. It is the mission of Sangh that matters, therefore, I would not hesitate to do any work in the interest of the Sangh”.

These thoughts of RSS founder Dr Hedgewar throw sufficient light on his unattached attitude and dedicated personality.

Dr Hedgewar introduced common uniform, route march, band, military drill, camps etc. to inculcate virtues like collective discipline, and rising above the self attitude amongst the swayamsevaks.

This was a very revolutionary and radical thought considering the social condition of his time. He did not give much importance to criticism against RSS, avoided debates and discussions and insisted on established cordial relations even with his opponents.

He followed the Sanskrit dictum that said ‘avoid debate’ and ‘sans opposition from all’. He remained firm in praise and criticism. Nothing could dislodge or dissociate him from his chosen path. He would accept the praise as inspiration to speed up Sangh work and criticism as ignorance of the critics.

In 1936, Shankaracharya Vidyashankar Bharati honoured him with the title of “Rashtra Senapati”. This news got wide publicity and letters started pouring in. But he directed all the swayamsevaks to refrain from using this honorary title as this would be in contrast with our nature. He even discouraged those who wanted to write his biography. “The nation first” attitude he created thus in the RSS.

He would teach not with words but with actions. He used to say that people would judge and like the RSS as they experience the RSS and not by publicity. We have sown the seed, now without discussing or publicising it we should work for nurturing it. The fruits would make the identity of the person who had sown the seeds known.

Therefore, even after his death, in spite of the difficulties, upheavals in national life, the RSS is marching on its chartered course undisturbed, unfazed encompassing the entire society. This success story of RSS is in fact the success story of Doctor Hedgewar’s dedicated, epoch-making, and meaningful life as an organiser par excellence.

Dr Manmohan Vaidya (The writer is Akhil Bharatiya Prachar Pramukh of RSS)

Dr.Hedgewar #SmritiYatra – Kandakurti to Nagpur and Beyond

The ancestors of the founder of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Dr.Keshav Baliram Hedgewarji hailed from #Kandakurti village in Telangana. A short video of titled on how his vision and dedication has translated into a national movement of Hindu rejuvenation.

डॉ हेडगेवार एक स्मृति यात्रा


Dr. కేశవ్ బలిరాం హెడ్గెవార్ – ఓ స్మ్రితి యాత్ర

Dr.Hedgewar – The Founder of RSS


Dr.Hedgewar’s Lasting and Unique Contribution to Nationalism

The long term significance of Dr.Hedgewar’s work was recognised by Veer Savarkar. Speaking in a Sangh camp in 1939, he said,” Our work is like the torrential rain which falls down and flows away. But Dr.Hedgewar’s work is like the farmer who channelises the rain water and makes the  best use of it.”

The exponential growth of the number of people working relentlessly to realise Dr.Hedgewar’s  vision of a glorious motherland, is living evidence of the enduring quality of his life’s work. Not only has the organisation grown, but it has spread to every section of the society, every nook and corner of the country, encompassing all facets of socio-economic, political and cultural life of Bharat today. And it is still growing.

His unique vision emphasised four aspects of positive nationalism that have relevance even  today.

The “Shakha” – Enabling Self-Organization of Society :

Our nation has produced a number of thinkers, reformers and leaders who have worked  tirelessly for the glory of our country and sacrificed their all.  Dr.Hedgewar is undoubtedly one such stalwart.

However, what makes his contribution special is the fact that he built an organization with an innovative style of functioning viz, the daily RSS Shakha. He insisted that if somebody wants to work for society and nation, on daily basis he should dedicate an hour for the Sangh.  The  swayamsevaks who come to the  Shakha, work to organise and integrate society. Through this, the RSS has established a tradition of ordinary people living extra-ordinary lives for the sake of the nation.

Creating a Hindu Identity over Caste Identity :

Many social reformers were working for eradication of caste inequalities and untouchability by attacking the caste system. Dr.Hedgewar embarked on a new path of not considering castes but only insisting on the unifying factor of Hindutva (Hinduness).

In 1939, Dr.Babasaheb Ambedkar visited the Sangh training camp ( Sangh Shiksha Varga ) in Pune. Dr.Ambedkar was surprised to find the Swayamsevaks moving about in absolute equality and brotherhood without even caring to know the caste of the others.  When Dr.Ambedkar asked Dr.Hedgewar whether there were any untouchables in the camp, the latter replied that  there were neither touchables nor untouchables, but only Hindus. Dr.Ambedkar personally  asked the castes of the Swayamsevaks in each room and was happy to find that many Swayamsevaks were from the  so-called  untouchable  castes.

One of the participants in the camp was Sri Gangadhar Bagul who later became a Zilla Sanghachalak of RSS, ( District President ). He wrote about the entire discussion between Dr.Hedgewar and Dr.Ambedkar in his autobiography, “Patha Sanchalan” .

The unique order “Ekshah Sampat” (Fall in One Line) symbolizes the profound thinking of Dr.Hedgewar through which he not only made everybody to walk together but also eat together, which was quite revolutionary at that time. The whole RSS functioning is in tandem with this line of thinking.  He made Swayamsevaks to identify with the bigger identity of Hindutva  as against their caste identity. The success of this practice set by Dr.Hedgewar resonates in the fact that even today nobody is asked about their caste or class, there by eroding the caste divisions among the Sangh Swayamsevaks.

Organisation for Women on National Ideals :

Like Swami Vivekananada, Dr.Hedgewar believed that women can solve their own problems provided they are given education and freedom to organise themselves. He stood up for the respect for women and their rightful place in society. RSS shakhas had only male members. However, on many occasions, he invited women leaders to give talks in RSS Shakhas to enable the swayamsevaks to get a perspective.

He extended support to various organisations working for the cause of women education, consolidation and social transformation.  Dr.Hedgewar also approved the formation of Rashtra Sevika Samiti, an organisation run by women that works towards achieving the pristine glory of our motherland.

Shuddha Satvik Prem in the Sangh

The secret of Sangh’s growth has been the unadulterated love that is showered by the seniors. The foundation of this tradition of “shudh saatvik prem” was established by Dr.Hedgewar. He believed that Sangh is one big family and the corner stone of our work is the love for society. Many incidents shared by karyakartas are testimony to this. This was evident even in his last days. In spite of being terminally ill, he wrote a letter to  a sick Swayamsevak in Mumbai expressing happiness over his successful surgery. This was on 19th June 1940, just two days before his death.

Dr.Hedgewar’s Philosophy of Life

Personal Piety and Divine Mission of Sangh

Dr.Hedgewar exemplified in his daily life the saying of Basaveshwara: “None is smaller than me and none is greater than a Shiva-sharana (devotee of Shiva).”

In his conception, he was just a servant of the Nation — a Swayamsevak. It was a living faith with him. Describing an ideal public worker, Dr.Hedgewar once said : “He is not like an ochre-robed monk. He does not proclaim, ‘I make no distinction between gold and mud.’ He knows the difference quite well, but he is not enamoured of the glitter of gold. He willingly says, ‘The gold is for the society. I shall be content with mud.’

Dr.Hedgewar was pious by temperament, and cherished deep faith in God. He invariably began his letters, and even entries in the diary, with the sacred syllable OM or SRI. Whenever he started out from his house he would invariably salute God. The Sangh work was for him a Divine Mission and this faith manifested itself in every word that he spoke or wrote. He sincerely believed that he was just an instrument to carry out His injunctions through the medium of the Sangh.

In the letters that he wrote, the inscription at the top carried a saying of Tukaram :   “Compassion means protection of the living and extermination of the wicked.”

Humility Personified

Sri Damodarpant Bhat, a writer from Madhya Prant wanted to write a biography of Dr.Hedgewar. Dr.Hedgewar wrote to him stating “My life is not important enough to write a biography. Kindly excuse me.”

On another occasion, Shankaracharya Vidyashankar Bharati declared him as “Rashtra Senapati” meaning “General of the Nation”. Dr.Hedgewar came to know about this through newspapers and congratulatory messages. He immediately wrote back stating that he would not like to be called thus and also instructed Swayamsevaks and newspapers not to address him as ‘Rashtra Senapati’.

“Teach Me How to Live “

Dr.Hedgewar was very positive and confident in his outlook. His favourite quote was “Swayameva Mrugendrata”. This is part of the subashit which says that the lion becomes the king of the jungle by his daring and courage.

He believed that the social transformation of our society will come by character building, individual transformation and consolidation of such individuals . During a time when going to jail and dying for the nation were considered as the ultimate objectives of patriotism, he laid emphasis on working for the nation and laying down one’s life only as the last resort.  His positive outlook is reflected in an incident wherein he struck down a line in a poster which said, “ Teach Me How to Die”. He changed it with the line “ Teach Me How to Live”.

“Living for the nation” sums up Dr.Hedgewar’s philosophy of life.

  • Ayush Nadimpalli

Important Links on Dr.Hedgewar :

  1. Role of Dr.Hedgewar in Freedom Movement
  2. Life in pictures
  3. Dr.Hedgewar – Online biography in Hindi ( Downloadable pdf )
  4. Glimpses of Dr.Hedgewar – What His Associates Said About Him.
  5. Dr. Hedgewar – Seer, Patriot and Nation Builder ( download book )
  6. Dr.Hedgewar – The Epoch Maker : A Detailed Biography ( Downloadable pdf )

Role of RSS Founder in Freedom Struggle


Author : Rakesh Sinha


The propaganda against the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) crossed all limits of not only political moralism but also academic discipline, as the Marxist academicians and intellectuals, failing to counter the growing influence of the Sangh Parivar, use Goebble’s Big Lie tactics to prove that the RSS remained aloof from the freedom struggle. A prominent CPM leader Sita Ram Yechury in his article ‘What is Hindu Rashtra?’ (Frontline March 12, 1992) says – “It (RSS) virtually boycotted and at times opposed the freedom struggle”. Four Marxist historians including Sumit Sarkar in their tract ‘Khaki Short and Saffron Flag’, while accepting the anti-imperialist character of Dr. K.B. Hedgewar, the founder of the RSS, claimed that the RSS remained aloof from the Civil Disobedience movement, (P. 22).

Similar claims were also made by K.L. Mahendra, a CPI ideologue, in his pamphlet ‘Defeat the RSS Fascist Designs’, (third edition, 1990, P.22-23) when he says ‘the RSS never participated in the freedom struggle’. However a Marxist bites another Marxist. The veteran Communist leader E.M.S. Namboodiripad (in his one of the most critical booklet `BJP-RSS: in the service of the Right Reaction’) reveals:

“One of those who were highly impressed and inspired by the Savarkar thesis was Dr.Hedgewar, the founder of the RSS. A nationalist who participated in the Gandhi led movement, he continued to be a Congressman for a decade more and participated in the 1930 Salt Satyagrah”. (p.8).

The Nehruites and Communists have manipulated the truth, distorted facts and misinterpreted incidents for their gains in the past too but what is conspicuous is the level the brain is being exercised to malign the face of the RSS by those who betrayed the most crucial struggle (Quit India Movement) for India’s independence in 1942.

At no stage of the freedom struggle either the RSS as an organisation or any individual member of it cooperated or integrated with the colonial regime and administration. Even Bipin Chandra,a Marxist historian conceded, however in a distorted manner, this truth when he says Hedgewar never integrated with the colonial regime. (Communalism in Modern India. P. 332). Both before and after the formation of the RSS, Hedgewar missed no opportunity to strengthen the anti-colonial struggle. To him, “there is no politics for a dependent nation other than the politics of freedom struggle. It is a sine qua non for it”. Mahatma Gandhi’s call for civil Disobedience Movement was responded by Hedgewar to such an extent that he transferred the responsibility of the Sarsanghchalak of the RSS to Dr. Paranjape, and along with prominent leaders of the infant organisation, including Appaji Joshi, jumped into the movement. He was arrested in Yeotmal while breaking the “Forest Law” and was sentenced to nine months prison. Can anyone imagine what would have been the reaction of the followers whose leader jumped into the movement and was imprisoned ? In fact Hedgewar did not want to create another political centre by using the banner and platform of the RSS. They were already divisions in the Congress. Besides the Communists, Hindu Mahasabha, Muslim League etc. had differences with the Congress not only on ideological plank but also in tactics, strategy and programmes too. It was on ominous sign for the freedom struggle. The need of the day was to accept the strategy and programmes of the Indian National Congress instead of beating drums separately under different banners what Hedgewar actually did.


Hedgewar’s political career begins from 1905 and ends with his death in 1940. In the first phase (1905 – 1918) of his political life, he was ‘an unalloyed Tilakite. Maharashtra witnessed two simultaneous lines in the public life one, propagated by Agarkar, emphasised the necessity of social radicalism as precondition of political change. But, Tilak emphasised on political activities as the first priority. Hedgewar endorsed Tilak’s approach.

Pandurao’s Khankhaje, leader of Swadesh Bandhav, a revolutionary organisation, wrote in Kesari, “Hedgewar and the other young men were in the forefront of Swadeshi propaganda and delivering
speeches”. After joining National Medical College in Calcutta in 1910 with the sole aim to participate in revolutionary activities, he became active member of “Anushilan Samiti” with his code name
“Koken”. He was closely associated with revolutionaries like Nalini Kishor Guha (who provides authentic account of Hedgewar’s revolutionary activities in Calcutta during his stay from 1910 – 1916). After his return from Calcutta to Nagpur, he used his contacts to organise revolutionaries with a plan of “armed revolt” which, according to P.L. Joshi (in his article “Mobilisation in Vidharba by Tilak in political thought and leadership of Tilak” edited by N.R. Inamdar P.370) was dropped on the advice of Tilak. Hedgewar’s revolutionary group was the biggest one and consisted of 150 hard core revolutionaries. G.M. Huddar says Hedgewar’s revolutionary group resembled a secret “conspiratorial group” of young men. (G.M. Huddar in -RSS and Netaji in the Illustrated Weekly of India, Oct. 7,1 1979). His plan of armed revolt was not an isolated case of adventurism but it was coincided by his manifesto for Indians Independence which was to be declared from many countries. He postponed his plan on the advise of Dr B. S. Moonje.

A Gandhian

The second phase of his political career begins with his active participation in the Amritsar Congress in 1919 and soon he was elected the secretary of the Central Provinces Congress Committee. His differences with Tilak and Moonje came on the surface on the question of World War I and Non Co-operation Movement respectively. He refused to toe Tilak’s line of “passive co-operation” during the war period (1914-1919) and separated himself from the political forum of Tilakites ie. Rashtriya Mandal and formed Nagpur National Union to campaign for complete Independence. Thus he foresaw the congress resolution of complete independence in 1930. Moreover, the most conspicuous political action of Hedgewar was his voice against both imperialism and capitalism. He moved a parallel resolution in the subject committee of Nagpur session of the Congress in 1920 stating – “the goal of the Congress is to establish a republic in India and free the countries of the world from exploitation by capitalist countries”. His differences with Moonje who was described as his “mentor” occurred on two very important issues. Firstly, Hedgewar opposed Moonjels candidate Vijay Raghavachariar for Presidentship of the Congress in the Nagpur session of the Congress (1920) on the ground that he attended Governor’s party. The differences between the two became more acute on the question of non co-operation movement. S. Suntharalingam in his work “Indian Nationalism – a historical analysis” (Vikas Publishing House P.271) reveals that prominent Tilakites led by Moonje and G.S. Kharpade opposed non co-operation movement but Hedgewar refused to toe sectarian approach and jumped in the Movement with vigour and virulence and was sentenced to one year rigourous imprisonment on August 21, 1921 by the court with the remark that his defence was “more seditious than his speech”.

Another important incident is revealed by Sri Aurobindo’s biography (Published by Publication Division in the series of Builders of Modern India, by M.P. Pandit 1983 P.270) that Hedgewar the then secretary of C P Provincial Congress went to Pondicherry to draw back Aurobindo, who had been living sequesteral life since 1910 and was considered by Hedgewar as only alternative to fill the lull created by Tilak’s death before the Nagpur Congress, in to politics. Hedgewar requested him to accept the Presidentship of the Congress in that hour of great crisis of leadership. Being a pioneer of cultural renaissance and a man of non compromising character, Aurobindo was fittest person to lead the Congress and freedom struggle. However Aurobindo modestly declined. (Explanatory letter of Shri. Aurobindo dated August 30, 1920, Sri Aurobindo himself Vol.26, P.432-34, Sri Aurobindo birth centenary library).

Hedgewar’s vision for declaring complete Independence was transformed into action with Congress decision to observe Jan 26, 1930 as Independence Day. His circular to RSS Shakhas reads, “that the Indian National Congress too has adopted a goal of Independence naturally gives us immense joy. It is our duty to co-operate with any orgainsation working for the cause… Therefore on the evening
of 26.1.1930 all the shakhas of the RSS should hold rallies of Swayamsevaks at their respective places and worship national flag i.e. the Bhagwa Dhwaj. Through speeches it should be explained what is the meaning Independence and why we should work with the end in view. The rallies should conclude by complementing the Congress for accepting the goal of Independence.” This fact is accepted by even the worst RSS critics like Sumit Sarkar in his tract “khaki shirt and saffron flag”.

Thus the slanderous’allegations against the RSS by Bipin Chandra that “the relationship of the RSS to colonial rule was more complex and subtle. Its leadership also treated the Congress as its enemy number one which had to be weakened and destroyed by all available means”, (Communalism in Modern India, p 115), shows how he consciously tried to mislead the readers through “omission tactics”. The British Government tried to prove the RSS as the conspiratorial group, but in the absence of any proof it abysmally failed to do so. It left no opportunity to suppress the organisation. During Hedgewar’s imprisonment in 1930s under the provocation of the British, the owner of Mohile Bara, where the RSS shakhas used to take place dragged the issue into the court and forced the closure of the shakha there.
Hedgewar’s sympathiser Bhosale Lakshman Rao provided ground for the RSS activities. But soon after his death in 1932, Bhosale’s children who were in the protection of the British Raj went to court and forced the RSS to stop shakha in Tulsibagh’s land in 1934 (see Krishna Rao Mohorir’s interview Pratham RSS Shakha, Jagriti Prakashan). Anti-imperialist struggle was complementedby RSS activities and despite the ideological commonality between the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha on the question of Hindu nationalism, Hedgewar preferred Congress to Hindu Mahasabha. He and the RSS did not lend
support to the strategy and tactics of the Mahasabha and instead accepted the hegemony of the Congress as the only prime platform to lead the freedom struggle.

Source :  http://www.hindunet.org/hvk/articles/0696/0127.html

Original article from India Express – 24 June 1996

2. Also Read – RSS and Bharat’s Freedom Stuggle