Tag Archives: Hindu Nation

RSS, Hindu Nation and The State


Courtesy Indian Express

MG Vaidya Courtesy Indian Express

Sometimes, something good comes out of a seemingly ugly or evil event. The JNU episode, though unfortunate, has given rise to a debate on what constitutes a nation. The confusion is due to the present-day formation of a one state — one nation reality. But the two concepts need not be congruent. One state can include many nations, so also one nation can consist of many states.

For example, the state of the USSR, till a quarter of a century ago, included many nations, like Latvia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, etc. The state of Yugoslavia, too, had comprised of more than one nation. Our India, that is Bharat, that is Hindustan, was one nation from time immemorial but contained many states. At the time of the invasion of Alexander in the 4th century BCE, there was one Nanda empire but, besides that, there were many republics. Lord Buddha was born in a republic. In the 7th century CE, King Harshavardhan ruled over the territory to the north of the river Narmada; in the south, the king was one Pulakeshin. Germany had been a nation for many years. But from 1945 to 1990, there were two states.

The distinction between the two concepts — state and nation — should always be remembered. A state is a political association that is run by and through laws. And for laws to be effective, the state needs physical force. To quote political thinker Ernest Barker, “The state… is a legal association: a ‘juridically organised nation, or a nation organised for action under legal rules.’ It exists for law: it exists in and through law: we may even say that it exists as law, if by law we mean not only a sum of legal rules, but also, and in addition, an operative system of effective rules which are actually valid and regularly enforced. The essence of the state is a living body of effective rules; and in that sense the state is law.”

All those who follow the legal framework become its citizens. A nation means the people. The people are the nation. There are three main conditions for people to constitute a nation: One, their sentiment for the land in which they live. Those who believe that the land is their motherland constitute a nation. The Jews were driven out of their motherland and for 1,800 years, they lived in different countries. But they never forgot that Palestine is their motherland. The second condition is a common history. After all, what is history except certain events that happened in the past. Some of them may lead to a feeling of pride and others may cause shame. Those who have the same feeling of joy or grief about the events in their history constitute a nation. The third and most important condition is adherence to a certain value system, that is, culture. In all nations of the world, these three conditions prevail. It is in our hapless country alone that there is controversy about these conditions.

Who are the people who take pride in uttering a slogan like “Bharat Mata ki Jai” or “Vande Mataram”? Who are the people that stretch their history to Rama, Krishna, Chanakya, Vikramaditya, Rana Pratap and Shivaji? And who are the people that share a certain value system? One major principle of this value system is the appreciation of plurality of faiths and religions. These people are known, world over, by the name of Hindu. Therefore, this is a Hindu nation. It has nothing to do with whether you are a theist or atheist, whether you are an idol-worshipper or against idol-worship, whether you believe in the authority of the Vedas or some other sacred book. This was understood by the framers of our Constitution. Therefore, Explanation II under Article 25 states that “reference to Hindus shall be construed as including a reference to persons professing the Sikh, Jaina or Buddhist religion”. Why should this not be applicable to those who profess Christianity or Islam? B.R. Ambedkar moved the Hindu Code Bill in Parliament, and it is applicable to Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists. Why not to Christians and Muslims?

For 17 long years, I was a lecturer in a Christian college run by a Protestant church. I never concealed my affiliation to the RSS. Once, in 1957, a very senior Christian professor, some two decades older than me, asked me: “Can I become a member of the RSS?” I said, “Yes, you can.” He said, “What shall I have to do?” I replied, “You need not give up your church, nor abandon faith in the Bible and can have the same reverence for Jesus Christ.” I was watching the signs of surprise on his face. However, I said, “But, sir, you have to accept the validity of other faiths and religions also.” He immediately remarked, “I cannot accept this. If I accept this, I will not be able to propagate my religion.” I said, “Sir, then you cannot become a member of the RSS.”

The whole confusion in our understanding of “Hindu” is due to our consideration of Hinduism as a religion. It is not a religion. As S. Radhakrishnan said, “It is a commonwealth of many religions.” “Hindu” is a dharma. And in English, there is no equivalent of the word dharma. It will require another article to explain the correct concept and connotation of dharma. I will end by quoting Ernest Renan, a French philosopher, whose book as translated in English is titled What is a Nation. I quote, “The soil provides the substratum, the field for struggle and labour, man provides the soul. Man is everything in the formation of this sacred thing that we call a people. Nothing that is material suffices here. A nation is a spiritual principle, the result of the intricate workings of history; a spiritual family and not a group determined by the configuration of the earth.”

He adds, “Two things, which are really one, go to make up this soul or spiritual principle. One of these things lies in the past, the other in the present. The one is the possession in common of a rich heritage of memories; and the other is actual agreement, the desire to live together, and the will to make the most of the joint inheritance. Man, gentlemen, cannot be improvised. The nation, like the individual, is the fruit of a long past spent in toil, sacrifice and devotion…To share the glories of the past, and a common will in the present; to have done great deeds together, and to desire to do more — these are the essential conditions of a people’s being. Love is in proportion to
the sacrifice one has made and the evils one has borne.”

To become a nation, Renan emphasises that you don’t need to have one language or one religion, or a community of economic interests. You only need the spirit, the sentiment, the value system. Can one abuse this connotation of “nation” as narrow or dangerous?

  • By Sri M.G.Vaidya

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 )

“Map of Hindoostan ” – 1788 CE

This 1st map printed by the British in 1788 was made after an extensive survey of the entire country. It is important to note that the Map was called – “Map of Hindoostan” and it was only later that maps were printed as British Empire of India. ..and today the media still wants us to debate if this is “Hindu-sthaan” or not !!