A series of thought provoking and profound articles titled Sri Guruji: A Drishta authored by Sri S Gurumurthy begins in Organiser from this week. The author had originally written on this subject as a long introduction to a book titled Reminiscences of Sri Guruji by Sri K Suryanarayana Rao, a veteran RSS worker, who has intense experience of and with Sri Guruji. The introduction of the author to the book on Guruji is being rewritten and serialised by the author specially for Organiser.
In his articles, the author studies, investigates, analyses and the far-reaching thoughts and expositions of MS Golwalkar, the second Sarsanghachalak of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) on the philosophical and ideological foundations of Hindu Nation and the unified but diversified cultural ethos of the Hindu society. The author explains how Golwalkar’s thoughts and expositions, heavily questioned and harshly criticised in his lifetime, have been validated and vindicated long after he had given expression to them. Madhav Sadhashiv Golwalkar, affectionately called by his students in Benaras Hindu University as “Guruji’ – which name later stuck to him for life – laid the ideological foundations of the RSS and, by silent and sustained work, built it into a mighty socio-cultural, national movement under his leadership spanning over three decades.
He led the organisation through the pre and post Partition days, the most turbulent time in the recent history of India and also of the RSS. Post Partition, the most popular and powerful leadership of post Independent India, that had inherited the entire goodwill of the freedom movement, used that power and influence and banned the RSS on false and malicious charges that were later established to be fake and attempted to wipe it out. But the attempt failed and the RSS emerged out of the ordeal without blemish and became more and more powerful to finally emerge as the most powerful organisation in the country. How Guruji led the RSS at that critical time is a profound lesson and unprecedented example of outstanding leadership in crisis. And how the swayamsevaks, inspired and led by him, faced the onslaught of the pre-constitutional Indian government, that had no constitutional injunctions against use of state power, is story of high risk, sacrifices and courage for the RSS itself and the organisations inspired by it to study, imbibe and emulate in future. Guruji established the basic truth that, when everything goes against, an organisation sails through the crisis aided only by unwavering conviction in its foundational thoughts.
In the upcoming series, the author brilliantly and with illustrations, explains how, like all saints and seers spoke ahead of time, Guruji also looked beyond his times and at the future of India and the world, while placing his profound thoughts before their times had arrived. In his mission to keep the profound thoughts and the mission based on them alive through the complex and turbulent times, Sri Guruji repeatedly transcended the compulsions, the complexities and the arresting influences of the context in which he lived. The author explains how Guruji voluntarily, and even gladly, risked being misunderstood and faced unpopularity repeatedly tell the unpleasant truth contrary to the main and but superficial discourse of the day, to keep alive the foundational truths about this ancient nation deep in the inner consciousness of the people of the country.
The author draws a parallel between the dissent of Guruji to the main discourse of his times and the dissenting views against the majority judgement in judicial cases. Comparing Guruji’s dissent to the ruling ideas of his times to dissent by a judge in judicial proceedings differing from the majority judgement, the author says like the dissent by a judge in a judicial case is regarded as an appeal by the dissenting judge to the future conscience of the judiciary, the dissenting expressions of Guruji was an appeal to the future conscience of the people of India. The author quotes judicial authority that describes the philosophy of dissenting judgements thus: “A dissent … is an appeal to the brooding spirit of the law, to the intelligence of a future day, when a later decision may possibly correct the error into which the dissenting judge believes the court to have been betrayed.” The author says that it was in this spirit that Guruji, while keeping alive the fundamentals of this ancient nation in his times and through his thoughts and expositions, was making an appeal to the future conscience of the people and the leadership of India in various walks of life.
Who is a Hindu?
Both Indian and Western commentators tend to use such terms as “militant Hinduism”, “Hindu fundamentalism”, “religious revivalism”, or “reactionary Hinduism” to describe the ideology of the (RSS) movement, although these terms may seem inappropriate category for the study of Hindu religious phenomena. Hinduism is without foundation texts, defined dogmas, and institutional structures that are characteristic of most varieties of fundamentalism in other belief systems. This point of view finds frequent expression in modern Indian thinking, with emphasis on Hindu view of life as grounded in a spiritual experience that is essentially rational and humanistic.”
Resembles the speeches delivered decades ago by Guruji Golwalkar among his followers? Yes, it is Golwalkar’s thoughts. But not his words. Now go further.
“No precise meaning can be ascribed to the terms ‘Hindu’, ‘Hindutva’ and ‘Hinduism’ and no meaning in the abstract can confine it to the narrow limits of religion alone, excluding the content of Indian culture and heritage”; “Ordinarily, Hindutva is understood as a way of life or a state of mind and is not to be equated with or understood as religious Hinduism.”
Rings like Guruji’s words uttered somewhere some half a century ago? Yes, it is his views. But not his words.
Neither of the two quotes are in Guruji’s words. But both carry Guruji’s thoughts. These views were expressed long after—actually three decades—after Guruji passed and several decades before that Guruji had expressed these very thoughts.
Fundamentalism Project in US agrees with Guruji decades later
The first quote, which contains Guruji’s thoughts but not in his words, is that what the editors of the five volume Fundamentalism Project of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences involving international group of scholars had approvingly allowed. It is an extract from the essay “The functioning of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh: To Define the Hindu Nation” by Ainslee T Embree. Embree’s essay is contained (at pages 618-619) in the book titled Accounting for Fundamentalisms: Dynamic Character of the Movements, p.617-52, Volume 4 Fundamentalism Project of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; Chicago University Press ISBN: 0-226-50885-4). This book is the fourth of the mammoth five-volume research work on the emerging phenomenon of religious fundamentalism produced by the authors of the Fundamentalism Project in 1995, more than two decades after Guruji had passed away. The author has independently evaluated the ideological premises of the RSS – read Guruji’s thoughts – and accepted his thoughts almost in the very words Guruji had uttered them.
When the Fundamentalism Project says that “to use such terms as “militant Hinduism”, “Hindu fundamentalism”, “religious revivalism”, or “reactionary Hinduism” to describe the ideology of the (RSS) movement, although these terms may seem inappropriate category for the study of Hindu religious phenomena” it is only repeating what Guruji had said decades earlier. Guruji had also pointed out the difference between rejuvenated Hinduism and reactionary Hinduism and explained how rejuvenation of Hinduism is wrongly labelled as “revivalism” and “reactionary”. Guruji had been consistently and with mathematical precision, articulating the difference between “positive” Hinduism and “negative” or “reactionary Hinduism”. By taking the most sensitive issue of cow slaughter as an example Guruji says that while reinstating faith among Hindus in cow protection is positive Hinduism, the views of those Hindus who had opposed cow slaughter not because of love of cow, but because Muslims kill them constituted “reactionary” and “negative” Hinduism (Bunch of Thoughts (p. 70) Book comprising the speeches of Guruji given over decades compiled in 1960 and printed and published as the first edition 1966: publishers: Jagarana Prakashana; Kempegowda Nagar; Bengaluru-560019). More on the Fundamentalism Project and how their view agrees and approves of Guruji’s thoughts in the later parts of the series.
Supreme Court approves of Guruji’s views on Hinduism half a century later
The second quotes are from the judgement of the Supreme Court (in RY Prabhoo Vs PK Kunte AIR 1996 Sc 1113 is now popularly known as the Hindutva case). In that case, Supreme Court was called upon to consider whether ideology of Hindutva was communal. Guruji had always referred to Hinduism as an “all embracing” “way of life” of the people of this country and “not (a) narrow religion” (p72/137); he also used to refer to it as Hindu culture (p51/p78). The Supreme Court, decades later, came to acquire the same view that Hinduism “may broadly be described as a way of life and nothing more” and “in fact it does not satisfy the narrow traditional features of any religion or creed.” (Hindutva case p.1127). The Court also said the terms ‘Hindutva’ or ‘Hinduism’ may be to promote secularism or to emphasise the way of life of the Indian people and the Indian culture or ethos” (Hindutva case p.1132). So, word for word what Guruji had been saying for decades earlier the Supreme Court agreed with the views of Guruji.
Now look at the chronology. The first Volume of the Fundamentalism Project came out in 1991; and the last and the fifth Volume, in 1995; the fourth Volume, which is cited here, came out in 1994. The Supreme Court judgement on Hindutva came out in 1995. Guruji who became the Sarsanghachalak of the RSS in the year 1940 passed away in the year 1973. It means that Guruji, who was articulating the RSS ideology since 1940 for 33 years till the end of his life in 1973, more than two decades before the Fundamentalism Project volumes and the Supreme Court judgment were out. And yet the thoughts and expressions of Guruji which were mindlessly, and at times maliciously, criticised were endorsed by the Fundamentalism Project and by the Supreme Court. So what Guruji spoke decades earlier was not only in tune with the intellectual, cultural and religious analysis of Hinduism contained in the Fundamentalism Project of 1990s but also consistent with the secular constitutional perspective of the Supreme Court regarding Hindutva. When Guruji spoke that what he did, his views were criticised as anti-secular and communal. But the very views of Guruji were later accepted and endorsed by intellectual appraisal by the Fundamentalism Project and legal scrutiny by the Supreme Court. It only means that what Guruji spoke was ahead of his time.
These are just illustrations to show how Guruji’s thoughts unacceptable then became acceptable later. The later parts of this series will more exhaustively deal with how Guruji’s views on various subjects have been vindicated by time. But before that serious exercise begins, here is a background of Guruji to those uninitiated about him.
Guruji – a spiritualist who subsumed himself and his self for the nation
Guruji became the second Sarsanghachalak of the RSS an original, but less understood and mostly unfairly judged, man-making and nation-building movement founded by Dr Keshav Baliram Hedgewar, who chose Golwalkar as his successor. Guruji, a spiritualist by nature, training and temper, was a disciple of Swami Akhandananda, a direct initiate of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. Guruji, an intelligent young man, matured into a towering intellectual who subsumed, like all saints in the Indian tradition, his total self in building the RSS. The spiritual dimension of Guruji that lay hidden deep in him perhaps subtly influenced his thought and action.
This spiritual element in him seems to have enabled Guruji to defy and overcome the arresting and compelling influence of the contemporary times, vault over the current issues, look at the future transcending and overcoming the excruciating pain of ignoring, context from that vantage point and appeal to the conscience of the people and the nation. That is why many who knew him regard him as Drishta – a Seer. As the second Sarsanghachalak of RSS from 1940 till 1973 when he breathed his last, Guruji led the RSS for 33 years. He relentlessly expounded the ancient Hindu philosophy and way of life, not merely in the context of his times, but with a vision of the future. He ceaselessly toured different parts of the country year after year, met people, shared his thoughts with them and built arguably the strongest grass-root organisation in the world. The intellectual and moral courage implicit in his articulation and the clarity with which he expounded his ideas, are legendary. Even those, who questioned Guruji’s thoughts in his lifetime and later, could not deny the courage of his conviction and sincerity of his purpose. Guruji assumed the leadership of the RSS in 1940 when the movement for Partition of India, that eventually succeeded, was assuming dangerous proportions. So some of his thoughts ought to be read in the context of the extreme heat that the movement for Partition had aroused.
From those turbulent times, for over a quarter century after the country attained political freedom, Guruji had expressed his views with unwavering consistency on issues concerning the future of India though he spoke in contemporary conditions. A recall of what Guruji spoke in his lifetime in the light of later history brings out the fact that much of what Guruji spoke had had greater relevance to the future, though he spoke in the given context. While articulating his views, Guruji tended to defy the compulsions of the context and contemporary attractions of his times and placed before the people the eternal agenda of Hindu India. Guruji had shared his thoughts with the people of India for over three decades as the head of the RSS and it is almost four decades since he passed away. But his work did not end with him; it continues through the RSS, which he had shaped into a mighty influence over the society. He has left behind a vast and trained human asset of high quality, which renews itself through the very work of the RSS. This quality human resource carries on his work.
Guruji – not a Prophet but a drishta (seer)
But Guruji was not a Prophet. He did not prophesy. In fact, the Hindu tradition does not recognise or believe in any Prophet or prophesy. Hinduism does not postulate prophesies. Prophets in other traditions discover the what they regard as the only true religion and God and prescribe them to their followers and equally mandate that all other religions and Gods are false. The truth propounded by a Prophet becomes the final and the only truth. This applies to all monotheistic faiths which are explained in detail in the parts that follow. But Hinduism is founded on the basis that the ultimate truth is one but sages view and describe it differently. Therefore there is nothing like one way of worship being true and others false or some God being true and other Gods false. Hindus therefore believe that great seers come and guide the people from time to time and the tradition of seers continue as an unending stream. So, no one’s thought is the final prophesy or valid for all times as in the case of faiths propounded by prophets. Hinduism is not propounded by any person. Sages and seers expound the principles of Hinduism. Hinduism believes that if people persist with following the thoughts of the past beyond their period of validity, they will be frozen in the past and rejected by the course of history; else, they will cause immense violence and harm to the society and to the world at large as different dogmatic faiths and prophesies have done. So before accepting what a seer had said in the past for guidance in future, Hindus understand that the seer’s role is a chapter in the continuing tradition of great men born from time to time to guide the people. So Hinduism rejects the very notion of prophesy and prophets, understands only Drishta.
The first test to know whether one is a Drishta – seer – is to know whether one’s thoughts are just contextual, namely to satisfy the contextual needs and demands or to win the approbation of the people in his times or for power or whether he spoke detached from the contemporary situation with the future in vision. The crucial test is whether one has defied the compulsions of the present and willingly courted unpopularity to stand by and tell the truth. And the ultimate test is whether the future has validated those thoughts. The heart of the analysis here is whether Guruji’s thoughts spoken over half a century ago were expressed with the future in mind or the context as the compulsion and whether they have been validated or rejected by history after him. The parts that follow this part probe into the thoughts and sayings of Guruji. The probe ultimately establishes that Guruji was a Drishta who transcended the context and its compulsions and limitations and rose to a vantage point from which he could see into the future. In the process what he spoke then was unacceptable and unpopular then but became later as the time for his thoughts expressed ahead of time arrived.
The endorsement of Guruji’s views on ‘Hinduism’ and ‘Hindutva’ by the Fundamentalism Project and Hindutva case are just two illustrations that whet appetite of the readers for the highly interesting and informative fare that this series unfolds on how history has repeatedly validated Guruji. The two examples establish how Guruji’s thoughts dismissed by the establishment in his times became accepted later by the course and force of history. Fundamentalism Project and Hindutva judgements are not literary works. They are the outcome of historical developments after Guruji. Here is the background of how these two historical developments had occurred, which will show that Guruji’s thoughts were validated by what history unfolded after him.
Historic drive behind Fundamentalism project
Even though “fundamentalism” – where religion overrides science – has been in public discourse for decades, it was only in 1987 that a study on fundamentalism by global scholars was instituted by the American Academy of Social Sciences. The fundamentalism project was the response of the Western – read Christian – scholarship to the movement of history and the outcome of the West-driven global historical process. This study was no accident. It was compulsion of history. The rise of militant Islam and a resurgent church, both contrived by the West to counter communism, had weakened the “secularisation theory” that evolved in the West in 1950s and 1960s. The theory had prophesied that the more westernised a traditional society became, the less religious it would become, and modernity would have the last laugh and tradition, its last breath. The modernisation process opened before the US the possibility of drawing the Middle East Islamic nations into its orbit and away from the Soviet’s.
But the secularisation theory received a huge setback in 1979, six years after Guruji had passed away. Three historic developments took place in the same year – the Iranian Revolution, the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan and a Cardinal from Communist Poland becoming the Pope, John Paul II. The Soviet occupation of Afghanistan forced the US to legitimise, promote and weaponise Jihadi forces, the likes of Taliban. The Iranian Revolution triggered robust bottom-upward Islamisation campaign all over world. Pope John Paul II criss-crossed the world tirelessly, drew large crowds of young people everywhere, particularly Europe. In this historic process, the Pope dynamited the communist rule in Poland which eventually brought down communism; the Islamisation tsunami initiated by Iranian Revolution swept across the Muslims world; the Jihadis’ victory over the Soviets in Afghanistan legitimised the concept and forces of Jihad; and political Islam began rising with the support of the West. These historic developments forced the West study the meaning of, and respond to, these historic developments which challenged the secularisation theory.
The core thesis of the study was that reaction among adherents of different religions to globalisation of Western modernity constituted “fundamentalism”, thus substituting ‘modernity’ for ‘science’ as conflicting with religion. It was while analysing Hinduism and the ideology of RSS as part of their work, that the project scholars concurred with the views of Guruji, but in their own words thus: terms like “militant Hinduism”, “Hindu fundamentalism”, “religious revivalism”, or “reactionary Hinduism” used to describe the ideology of the (RSS) movement ‘seem inappropriate’ for ‘Hindu religious phenomena.’ And being ‘without foundation texts, defined dogmas, and institutional structures’ like in most varieties of fundamentalism in other belief systems, according to modern Hindu scholars, the Hindu view of life is grounded in ‘spiritual experience that is essentially rational and humanistic.’
Undeniably, it was the historic developments studied by the fundamentalism project, not anyone’s opinion, that validated Guruji’s view that Hinduism was different from other religions. But, decades ahead of the fundamentalism study, Guruji had distinguished Hinduism from the dogmatic faiths. The fundamentalism project, after studying the features of the monotheistic faiths and their conflict within and with secularism, had to distinguish Hinduism from them, which Guruji had done decades earlier. More on Fundamentalism Project, Guruji and RSS later.
Historic background to the Hindutva case
The Hindutva case was not a bipartite litigation between two parties as litigations normally are. It represented an ideological clash between two conflicting thoughts. One was the establishment view articulated by Pandit Nehru, which regarded Hinduism as just a religion like the monotheistic faiths which clashed with one another and also with secular rule. The other was the RSS view articulated by Guruji that the inclusive Hinduism was never, and would never be, in conflict with any religion or with secularism as it was superior to secularism, since it accepted all faiths and not negated any. But, how did this case of clashing ideologies land in the Supreme Court? The Hindutva case was the product of Ayodhya movement, which had originally targeted to build a temple for Sri Ram at his Janmasthan on which a mosque that was dysfunctional for decades stood. But gradually, the Ayodhya movement evolved as the response of the people and the forces of history to minority appeasement and other pseudo-secular distortions in Indian polity. The hitherto unchallenged idea of minorityism as equal to secularism was challenged by the movement. Hindutva or Hindu cultural nationalism emerged as the antidote for pseudo-secularism. The Bharatiya Janata Party and Shiv Sena, which had adopted Hindutva as their ideology were targeted as fundamentalist, communal and unsecular. Therefore, the election of some of their candidates was challenged on the ground that the concept of Hindutva was anti-secular and therefore constituted communal appeal for votes.
The establishment view had contended that Hindutva was just a religion and communal idea and that was countered by the other view, articulated for decades and decades ago by Guruji, that Hindutva was an all inclusive concept and way of life of Indians, not a narrow religion, nor opposed to other religions, or to secularism. The Supreme Court accepted the latter view, that of Guruji, by an appraisal of the concepts of Hinduism and Hindutva. So it is again the course and force of history, which have established the truth of views of Guruji on Hindu cultural nationalism represented by Hindutva.
Series unfolds the historic forces that validated Guruji’s thoughts Beginning with the two illustrations of Fundamentalism project and the Hindutva ruling, the series discovers several such illustrations and unfolds how Guruji’s views on different subjects have been vindicated by historic forces and how Guruji was ahead of time. Based on research and analysis, the series presents how Guruji’s thoughts were validated by time and brings out:
How historical accounts always proved, and as the Supreme Court of India later affirmed, Guruji’s view that minorities of India were always part of the mother Hindu society and culture;
How Guruji’s perception that all people of Bharatavarsha and Bharatakhanda have common culture and traditions have been accepted and endorsed even by Pakistan government later;
How precisely as Guruji had warned against disregarding and weakening the core culture in the name of composite culture or multiculturalism there is growing realisation in the West that shift to multiculturalism has weakened the core societies and core cultures in US-West;
How Guruji’s views on cultural nationalism objected to by Westernised thinkers as illiberal in his times are re-appearing in the West as the corrective to multiculturalism;
How Guruji’s enunciation of the concept of assimilation of minorities into the mainstream or core society is now viewed by Western thinkers positively as being inevitable to avoid societal and national disintegration and violence;
How, as Guruji had warned against, the ambivalence in cultural nationalism confuses the West promotes multiculturalism which is destabilising societies;
How Samuel Huntington’s “No” to multiculturalism echoes that what Guruji had said decades earlier;
How Guruji’s insistence on cultural nationalism as the bulwark against cultural decline and national chaos, is now proved by Western experience;
How Guruji’s warning that minority appeasement would promote minority separatism has now become a national and also global concern;
How Guruji’s emphasis on the inevitability of culture and civilisation as essential identities for a people and nation is being validated by the emerging perception that unless such diverse identities are recognised, the world would slip into violence and disorder;
How Guruji battled to save the nation, Hindu society and minorities by his formulation of majority-minority relations that transcended the contextual compulsions;
How contrary to the popular notion, Guruji and Pandit Nehru had actually broadly agreed on cultural unity and minority assimilation, but differed only on applying the terminology ‘Hindu’ nation;
How contrary to the popular view, there was complete convergence of views between Guruji and Gandhiji on cultural and civilisational unity and continuity of India and on assimilation of minorities;
How Guruji’s untiring efforts to establish that “Dharma” was different from “religion” is now being accepted in public discourse;
How Guruji views on “Dharma” as a trans-religious concept expressed decades years ago have been gradually accepted by the judiciary and in politics;
How Guruji’s appeal to align the Anglo-Saxon structure of the Indian Constitution insensitive to the age-old culture of India with inclusive Hindu view of life is now becoming broadly accepted in judicial and public discourse;
How Guruji adumbration of “the other mind of contemporary Indian leadership” is now the mainstream view according to the Fundamentalism Project;
How Guruji has been proved right on the character of Islamists and of Pakistan as a state and on the situation prevailing in Pakistan;
How Guruji was on the dot on the nature and emergence of China which was to happen a decade after his lifetime;
How Guruji’s dissent against the establishment thinking of his time was an appeal to the brooding conscience of India and its validity is being recognised after him; and
How, therefore, Guruji was a drishta, who saw and spoke ahead of his times and was validated by history after him.
Yet, Guruji, whose views were validated after his lifetime, was criticised in his times, maliciously, as anti-secular and communal! And now in the weeks ahead follows detailed expositions on how the course of history, not just in India but all over the world, has validated Guruji’s thoughts.
(The writer can be contacted at email@example.com)
In the backdrop of the recent news of an IAF officer being honey-trapped by an ISI agent posing as a British journalist, it is important to once again bring our focus back on the core qualities that go into building individuals who form the foundation stones of the nation. When the focus slips from character building activities to only achievement orientation, individuals tend to slip and the loss on the nation is tremendous.
The Rashtriya Swayamsevaks Sangh lays enormous importance on a combination of sterling personal character plus national character. This excerpt from “Bunch Of Thoughts” by Guruji Golwalkar, ( the 2nd Sarsanghchalak of the Sangh ) , throws a lot of light on the importance of this combination.
” In our national tradition character has always occupied the place of foremost importance. Character has two facets: the one, which is personal, and the other, which manifests itself in our relationship with society. Both these aspects of our character should be pure and unsullied. But these days we often hear people saying that if a man is working well in the public field, why should we look at his personal conduct? Maybe he is addicted to a number of vices, but when he is doing good to the people why should we pry into his private life?
However, our culture has always held high the purity of personal character. We have never called a person a philosopher who is selfish or given to various vices like wine, woman and gold. For us, the philosopher is, more than everything else, a man of absolute purity and austerity of character. Right from the ancient seers down to the great personalities of modern times, all those whom we consider as standard-bearers of our philosophy and culture have been wholly pure – their thought, word and deed all in tune with the highest truths. Such men alone have been the real glowing symbols of our national heritage. But such is not the example set up by workers in the public field these days. There is a general feeling that if a person is generous in giving donations or he delivers fine speeches or has gone to jail a number of times for a public cause then his private conduct, howsoever abhorrent, may be condoned.
The idea of ‘greatness’ prevalent in the outside world is also similar. There are ever so many men who are eulogised as nation-builders and national heroes who, however, were degenerate in their personal character.
The “means” is like the vessel – if it is dirty and contaminated, then, the water that we drink from it will carry infection into our body. It is necessary, therefore, that the vessel too is as clean as the water.
Purity of ‘Means’
However, our culture says the ‘means’ – the individual – for achieving the ‘ideal – the social good – must also be chaste and holy. Many times we hear people saying that the end justifies the means. Most of the modern ideas and ideologies, which seem to be catching the imagination of the people today, belong to this category. It means that the individual – the ‘means’ for bringing about any social change – is relegated to the background. Therefore we see the degeneration of man going on at a terrific pace all over the world, having thrown to winds all considerations of the human element in pursuit of an end ordained mostly by politicians. But, the command of our culture is different. We revere Rama and Shivaji as much for their glorious national achievements as for their pure, unimpeachable personal character. The view that some little failing in personal character needs to be ignored or even justified, provided he works all right in the public field, is against our grain.
It is, however, true that when choice became inevitable between two evils, we have tolerated – but not justified – some failings in personal character when it did not come in the way of social interest.
Bad means can never yield good results in the long run. If for some time bad means appears to give good results, it is only temporary. It is like trying to warm ourselves by sitting amidst fire when caught in a hailstorm. The warmth will soon result in our total reduction to ashes. We are no doubt aware of how electioneering is carried on by various persons and parties in our country today. There is an instance of the 1937 elections. I asked a certain Congress candidate why he was stooping to low tactics. He replied, “Well, evil has to be met with evil”. I asked him, “Can you make coal-tar white by adding charcoal?” and added, “If this logic is pursued, a time will come when there will not be a single individual who will choose to be good and honest. Even supposing we are to suffer for some time, should we not fight our way through all those evils?” Today, things have come to such a pass that it is only those who have mastered more and more of those evil tactics who rise higher in power and positions. As such the importance of the character of the individual – the purity of the means – can never be over-emphasised.
A Potential Danger
If a person is loose in character and given to vices, he can be a source of danger to the nation as well. Our nation is surrounded by various other nations and it is a matter of history that no two nations are either permanently friendly or permanently hostile to each other. The relationships go on changing. Each country is guided by its own self-interest and does not hesitate to stoop to any tactics to achieve its ends. So they are all in a way ‘potential enemies’ to our country. It is all right that, while speaking and moving among others, we cherish sentiments of friendship, world peace and world fraternity and even strive for them. But the statesman, who guide the destinies of the country, must always keep in view this hard reality of the world which can be ignored only at our peril.
These ‘potential’ enemies or even the open enemies who surround our nation will certainly try to exploit our weaknesses to their advantage. There is the well-known incident of the First World War. At one stage it was found that Germans used to get the clue to the plans which the commanders of the ‘Allies’ used to discuss and decide upon. Before they were put into action, the enemy forestalled them and made a mockery of all their plans. For a long time it went on like this. Only when special officers were deputed to trace the leakage was it discovered that in the camp of the important generals there was a woman spy, Mata Hari by name. To those lustful persons she appeared charming. She was also well-versed in singing, dancing and all such enticing arts. She allured those generals and wormed herself in their hearts. She stayed with them in their tents. They had such implicit faith in her that they freely discussed their plans in her presence. But she, on her part, was regularly giving out those plans to the other side. It was only after she was traced and caught that victory could be achieved. If those generals had been persons of upright character and considered the whole of womanhood as manifestation of the Divine Mother, as every Hindu is expected to consider, they could have avoided so much of disservice and disaster to their countries.
Story with a Moral
Some have weakness for flattery. If anyone showers praise upon them, they become elated and inflated and will be prepared to do anything that is desired of them. One can resist many things but not flattery. It is easier to digest the deadliest of poisons than to digest praise and honour. As the story goes, Bhagawan Shankara drank the deadly poison for the protection of all creation but remained unaffected. However even he fell a prey to the praises of Bhasmasura and invited troubles to himself! Praise puffs up a man like an inflated football, always being kicked about from one side to the other. Anybody may come, just praise him in superlatives, get his own self-interest fulfilled and go away leaving the man disillusioned or probably not!
There is an old story carrying this moral. Once a crow with a piece of meat in its beak was sitting on a tree. Seeing the crow, a fox sat down under the tree and looking up at the crow, began praising, “What a charming colour you have, sister! It is the same Shyama varna as lord Krishna. And the last time I heard you sing, oh, even the Gandharvas would have envied you! How fortunate I would be to get another chance of listening to your divine music!” The crow began to rock to and fro in great elation and thought, “All right, let me oblige this fellow”. And as it opened its beak the piece of meat fell down. The fox snatched it readily and went its way saying, “I have no love for your music any more!”
Weakness for flattery is there in many of our great personalities today. And there are many cunning men in the world, who make use of this subtle instrument of praise. When thy say, “What a peace-loving, non-violent and generous man you are! You are one of the greatest international figures in the world” and so on, our leaders are swept off their feet and they grant whatever is asked for, whether it be canal-water, money, material or our army men as cannon-fodder in conflicts all over the world.
Alert at Every Step
If therefore we are to be of service to the nation under all circumstances, we have to set our face sternly against these failings and develop a pure personal character. Especially when a worker in the public field moves about among the people the public eye becomes rivetted upon him. Even if he slips a bit, it is marked out and the people will ejaculate, “Oh! What a fall!” they nevertheless overlook far more serious lapses on the part of other common men. When we wear a coloured shirt it makes very little difference in appearance whether we wear if for a day or for a fortnight. But, on a clean white cloth even a drop of water leaves its mark for a time. So the purer we aspire to become, the more the vigilance we have to exercise over every moment of our life. We have to be alert at every step as though the whole of society is keenly eyeing us only to peck at and expose our failings.
Enough of ‘Gentlemanliness’
Then we come to the national aspect.
We see around us a number of persons with good personal character. Maybe they have remained good and harmless merely because they have had no chance or daring to take to evil ways! It is no use having such negative, inactive, so-called goodness and gentlemanliness. Doctorji used to say humorously of such persons, “See, what a thorough gentleman Sriman……… is! He goes to the office punctually, returns home in the evening, chats with his wife and children, eats and sleeps. He has never once tried to interfere in others’ matters. Although he has been residing here for over twenty-five years, he does not even know how his neighbours are nor do they know much about him. Rarely do we come across such a good, harmless, unassuming gentleman!” Doctorji would then chastise the ‘gentlemanliness’ that made the individual impervious to the joys and sorrows of his neighbours, and submit meekly to the insults and humiliations heaped on his society. It was this cursed mentality, he used to say, that lay at the root of all our national ills.
Even in the past there had been quite a number of pious and well-meaning persons in our land. In spite of that, we have had to face disasters continuously over the last thousand years. Some have even gone to the length of asserting that it was this too much of personal goodness that landed our nation in troubles. But it is not a correct reading of history. The real reason was that we lacked in national character – the essential counterpart of personal character. We are not mere solitary individuals but are indivisible parts of the whole society. In that relationship also we should express and uphold purity of character. If this aspect is ignored, mere piety and goodness of the individual will be of little avail in the cause of the nation. Not merely that; if society does not survive, the individual goodness and character also will be trampled under the feet of barbaric aggressors. And that is what has happened in the past.
To give a glaring example: the Raja Karna of Gujarat had a Prime Minister who was a great scholar of Vedas and also well-versed in various arts and sciences. Once the King, in a moment of weakness, abducted the wife of one of his sardars. At this the Prime Minister was beside himself with rage and took a vow to punish the King for that sin. He felt that all his powers of piety and religious learning were challenged. What was the course he adopted to fulfil his vow? He knew that the Muslim armies were poised on the northern border of Gujarat. Prior to that, they had made several abortive attempts to over-run and subjugate Gujarat. The Prime Minister directly went to the Muslim Sultan at Delhi and sought his help to punish his King for the sin he had committed. The enemy was only too glad to snatch that golden opportunity. Equipped with the valuable information revealed by the Prime Minister, who knew all the secrets of the defences of his kingdom, the enemy marched on Gujarat. And the powerful Hindu outpost of Karnavati, which had so far effectively checked the Muslim expansion into the South, fell. Thereafter, not only Gujarat, but, the whole of South lay prostrate at the feet of Muslim marauders. What did Prime Minister gain after all? Doubtless, the King was killed, but along with him thousands of the Prime Minister’s own kith and kin were put to sword. Countless women were molested before his eyes, temples razed to the ground and his own residence where he used to recite Vedas and worship God turned into a slaughter-house of cows; in addition, a vast portion of our motherland was reduced to slavery for centuries to come!
We can see, that, on the one hand, the King was loose in his personal character, but, strong in the national aspect, and, on the other hand, the Prime Minister was personally full of piety, of God-fearing nature and all that, but devoid of national character which enables a man to judge the ultimate well-being of the nation as a whole and urges him to sacrifice his all including his personal notions of righteousness at the altar of his nation’s well-being. Thus both the King and Prime Minister became responsible for bringing about such a great disaster to a cause which both of them cherished.
In fact, the perverted notion of personal character and dharma exhibited by that Prime Minister is not a solitary instance in our history. It was sufficiently deep-rooted to produce a whole race of traitors down the centuries. It was the ‘devout’ worshippers of Ishwara who guided and aided the Mohammed of Ghazni, who had, set out with the declared objective of desecrating Somnath. Jayasingh, the famous sardar of Aurangzeb, who came to destroy Shivaji, too, was a man of learning, an ardent worshipper of God and endowed with many a remarkable quality of head and heart. But in vain did Shivaji appeal to him in the name of swadesh and swadharma and call upon him to lead the patriotic forces against the cruel foreigner instead of remaining his slave. But Jayasingh was quite contented with his ‘devotion to God’ along with his oath of ‘loyalty to Emperor’. What a dangerous perversion of the concept of devotion to God and of one’s sense of personal integrity and loyalty! It is clear that only when the twin aspects of character are manifest that both the individual and the society can progress and prosper. They are like the two faces of a coin – one having the imprint of national insignia and the other carrying its value. Erasure of any one face will render it useless.
The National Aspect
It is essential, therefore, that personal goodness and purity of character be made active and dynamic in the national cause. It must express itself in the form of complete dedication to the nation which does not expect anything in return, be it name or fame or any gain whatsoever. We should not worry whether the people whom we serve praise us or not. In fact, it would be better for us if they do not. Because we are then free from the bondage of public praise which may tie us down to an undesirable course. We look upon our nation as our Chosen Deity. Our dedication, our offering of all that we have, should be made in a spirit of worshipping the Nation-God. Then how can we ask for anything in return?
Today, this spirit of unreserved sacrifice and dedication has all but disappeared. If persons go to serve in the public field they want something in return; if not money, a name, a jaikar or at least a photograph in some paper. Once an eminent leader of our country, always accustomed to receiving big ovations, went to a place. He was shocked to see no one present there to receive him. There were no slogans, no garlands and no photographs. He felt insulted and actually went back at once! This is a polished way of selfish behaviour. Other practical and paying ways are also being practised. If in the name of the nation a person serves himself, then it is not rashtra-bhakti but swartha-bhakti. For such a person service of the people is only a mask to further his own personal glory.
These days even worship of God is carried on by many in the same fashion. They pray putran dehi dhanam dehi¬ – ‘Oh, God! Give me sons, give me wealth’ – and so on. If there is a demand for something, then it is not worship, it is carrying on mere business. All our scriptures and holy men have derided this ignoble attitude. Worship is for the sake of worship, for the very joy of it. If at all we pray for anything, it is for greater capacity and greater worthiness to worship, greater strength to pursue the path of service and sacrifice.
There is an instance of Yudhishthira in Mahahbahrata. When the Pandavas along with Draupadi were roaming about in the forests, Draupadi observed Yudhishthira constantly repeating the name of God. Being keenly aware of their woeful conditions she asked bitterly, “Why do you always take the name of God? Even from your childhood you have been devoted to Him. You have performed so many yajnas and all the duties enjoined by the shastras. But till now, how has God responded to you? You have been even deprived of your rightful throne and are now made to wander about from place to place, always under the shadow of danger. Are you not tired of repeating His name even now?” Yudhishthira gently replied. “Look at those Himalayas! How peaceful and majestic! Do we not love it! Is it because we expect anything from it? We love it because of its solemn grandeur, its serenity and purity. So is God, but infinitely more grand. In the presence of such sublime grandeur I have nothing to ask, except to enjoy its bliss and love it all the more”. In the Narada Bhakti Sutra, God is described as the very embodiment of love – Sa Paramapremaroopa.
Power of Devotion
Devotion is not business. It is sheer self-surrender. It is all one-way traffic; we only give. It is only persons of such absolute dedication who can raise the nation to glorious heights from amidst a heap of ruins.
The inspiring example of Khando Ballal is before us. After Sambhaji ascended the throne he, because of some past prejudices, put to death Khando Ballal’s father who was one of the Ashta Pradhans of Shivaji. Khando Ballal was at that time a proud, heroic young man. But he silently gulped down that agony and insult. And again when Sambhaji, who was addicted to women and wine, cast his evil eyes on his sister, Khando Ballal allowed her to end her life to save her chastity, but he himself never forsook his loyalty to Sambhaji. For he knew that Sambhaji, with all his personal vices, was then the unifying symbol of the resurgent Hindu Swaraj around which all Hindu forces were trying to rally. Later, when Sambhaji was captured by Aurangzeb, it was Khando Ballal who risked his life in a hazardous attempt to free him. True to his spirit of dedication to a cause, Rajaram became his point of loyalty after the end of Sambhaji. Once again we see him casting the life of his own son in mortal peril and giving away all his property in a successful bid to free Rajaram, who lay besieged in Jinji fort. Ultimately he sacrificed his life as the final offering in the cause of swaraj. What a glorious and unreserved self-immolation!
It is as a result of such sacrifices, not merely of one’s life but all that one holds near and dear including one’s ego, that the entire course of history changes. Aurangzeb who had come down to the South with an army of nearly five lakhs after Shivaji’s passing away to put out the smouldering embers of the spirit of swaraj, was himself enveloped in the flames that blazed forth form the sacrificial pyres of such heroic souls as Khando Ballal and had to enter his grave in South itself.
When Character Blooms
Such is real national character. Let us develop it in our lives by constant endeavour. With our hearts overflowing with pure love for the whole of society, with no trace of selfishness or expectation for our self, let us serve the nation. And may the lotus of our character blossom in the bright rays of pure sacred national devotion.
Let us aspire and strive for such an unwavering and unreserved spirit of devotion-a devotion, which rises above the ordinary plane of intellect and ego and enters into the very marrows of our being. Let that deep, serene and perennial flow of pure devotion permeate the whole of our being. All great lives beckon us to this one direction- the direction of single-minded dedication. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was a scholar of unchallenged eminence. He had defeated all his great contemporaries in discussions on all the varied spiritual subjects. But with all that brilliance of intellect and vastness of learning, he later on gave up all discussions and arguments, and to those who came to discuss he would only say in words soaked with devotion – Hari bol, Hari bol. The thrill of devotion in those words would carry away the listener in its current and make him realise the vanity of dry discussions and the grandeur of devotion.
Such a person of intense devotion develops extraordinary powers for achieving his goal. Even in our daily life do we not see that an ordinary workman works best when he loves and adores his work and an artist is at his best when he forgets himself in drawing the picture after his heart? Let us try to develop such a state of perfect concentration on the path of national devotion and make our lives living examples of sterling character in all its aspects
Abstract of the speech delivered by RSS Sarsanghachalak Dr.Mohanji Bhagwat on the occasion of #Vijayadashami on Thursday 22 October 2015 at Nagpur
Honorable Chief Guest of Today’s program Dr. V. K. Saraswat, other invited guests, revered citizens, mothers, sisters and beloved swayamsewaks:
Today, we are gathered here to celebrate our annual festivities of the Vijayadashmi Parva. 90 years have elapsed since the sangh work was started. This year is the 125thbirth anniversary of Bharatratna Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar. He made a lifelong struggle against the injustice of social inequality and made provisions in the Constitution thereby eradicating those discriminations from the political and economic spheres of our national life. In Shri Guruji’s (second Sarsanghchalak of RSS) words, his talent was a confluence of Acharya Shankar’s Sharp Intellect and Tathagat Buddha’s unbounded compassion.
Last year was also the 125th Birth Anniversary of Parampujaniya Dr. Hedgewar (founder of Sangh). He envisioned creation of a prosperous Bharat as example for the whole world to follow, through collective efforts of an egalitarian society. The evolution of a technique to create honest and selfless workers, striving incessantly and wholeheartedly to achieve this goal was his lifetime contribution. Birth centenary of Late Shri Balasaheb Deoras, an expert in this technique and the third Sarsanghchalak of RSS, is also to commence this year. Late Pandit Deendayalji Upadhyay, who was nurtured in this technique, had suggested an integral approach called Ekatma Manav Darshan, adopted to modern times for the nation, based on the eternal values of Bharatiya Philosophy. His birth centenary has also commenced.
By a pleasant coincidence, this is also the 1000th year of coronation of Raja Rajeshwar Rajendra Chola, a royal who had established a model of good governance in Bharat and had promulgated in South East Asia the benevolent influence of the eternal Bharatiya culture. Rejecting all disparities based on caste and creed, and breaking all the barriers of superstitious traditions, Shri Ramanujacharya made the path of Bhakti to all the sections of the society, thus paving the way for social harmony. Preparations are going on at the social level to celebrate his 1000th birth anniversary in the coming year. This is also the 1000th birth anniversary of great Shaiva philosopher from Jammu-Kashmir, Acharya Abhinav Gupt. The celebration of the 5151th Anniversary of our revered Bhagvad Gita, which conveys the message of doing Karma without expecting any of Phala, and the principles of “Karmasu Kaushalam” and “Samatva”, will be continued till the Gita Jayanti.
Two great souls departed us this year. Our Ex President, Dr. Abdul Kalam was one who had dedicated his life towards instilling confidence and national pride in our young generation, while constantly urging them to achieve the best for our country in all walks of life. Swami Dayanand Saraswati, by being a Vedic teacher, provided a modern view of our eternal culture and aroused pride and activism about it in our society and the world at large. Both of these eternal souls etched the message of the glory of Bharat and social unity through their work.
The reason behind remembering all these coincidence today is to draw our attention to the call of our innate duty to build up a prosperous, efficient and egalitarian Bharat, to bring peace, prosperity and progress, right from our families to the whole world. To accomplish this goal, based on the strength of an organized society, is the point of contemplation today.
The resurgence of a self reliant, strong, prosperous and secure Bharat, giving benevolent and flourishing leadership to the world, is possible only when an egalitarian, organized and enlightened society with self esteem strives towards this end; not only that, the firm resolve of such a society will reflect on the policies of our democratic system and the constitutional authorities who run the system. Agile, clear, accurate policies as well as discretion of a society which is free of selfishness and divisiveness are mandatory requirements to change the destiny of nation and, therefore, it is essential that both should complement each other.
With this picture in mind, when we ponder over the present situation in the country, we get a very optimistic and soothing view. An atmosphere of disappointment and lost faith, which existed couple of years back, has evaporated. An atmosphere of expectations has come to fore, generating a sense of optimism that such expectations shall be fulfilled. It has to be made sure that these positive vibes reaches the last person in the row, by turning it into an actual experience by bringing about a real positive change in his life; his trust in the bright future of his own personal life as also of national, should grow.
It is becoming evident to all that Bharat’s esteem in the world has gone up many-fold in the last couple of years. In view of Bharat’s national interest, many pro active steps have been taken to improve bi lateral relationship with the neighboring countries, with successful results. It seems that the world is being introduced to a new modern Bharat. The World is experiencing a Bharat, which is full of self-respect and self confidence, maintaining the traditional view of goodwill towards all but, at the same time, unhesitatingly taking stand in very clear terms, in international diplomacy whenever national interests are involved, and giving a helping hand to nations in distress anywhere in the world. Bharat is reincarnating itself into an all together new manifestation and the world is enchanted to see Bharat’s new Avatar with utmost optimism. Bharat’s Gita, Yoga and Tathagat have a universal acceptance like never before. Keeping in view the need to develop goodwill for Bhartiya psyche and tradition and to protect and enhance its prestige, Policies are being formulated at the administrative level. All the developing nations of the world are looking forward to Bharat’s leadership to emancipate them from the undesirable influence of the so called world powers. Throughout its chequered history of rise and fall, Bharat has always treated the whole world as its own family. On account of its agility and strength, Bharat has always followed the tradition of finding the balance between national interests and world interests, with utmost integrity towards both, and today we are gradually experiencing the glimpse of same age-old diplomatic approach. It is necessary that this effulgent picture of Bharat is imprinted in the mind of the World as well as in the mind of every individual of the land. Hence, it is vital that we should make all walks of our national life vibrant with a new thought and new valiant efforts. So, creating a new picture of the society capable of adopting policies and systems in keeping with modern times and, at the same time, based on the foundations of the eternal truth, which forms the substratum of our immortal national life, is the need of the hour.
We must come out of “Saheb is always Right” (“Saheb Wakyam Pramanam”) mentality. Making Bharatiya mind and soul as the basis, we should adopt whatever is good, truthful and fair from the rest of the world and create an independent modern road-map for our nation. The thoughts and actions of intelligentsia, administration and policies of government should be transformed accordingly. In the absence of this synergy, it will not be possible to present a Bharat that is self reliant, egalitarian, strong and prosperous. Deficiencies of the thought processes and philosophies, which prevailed for centuries in the world, are being scientifically proved. The ill-effects of such deficient thought process and philosophies are even more compelling to ponder over the very same thought processes and philosophies have made review of them all the more compelling.
In 1951, Social and economic department of United Nations, supporting these deficient philosophies had made following proclamation:
“There is a sense in which rapid economic progress is impossible without painful adjustments. Ancient philosophies have to be scrapped; old social institutions have to disintegrate. Bonds of caste, creed and race have to burst and large numbers of persons who cannot keep up with the progress have to have their expectations of a comfortable life frustrated. Very few communities are willing to pay the full price of economic progress.”
It was an extremely materialistic, self-centered and insensitive philosophy that was forced upon the world. When the ill-effects of the very same philosophy started affecting the proponents of this philosophy, they made a sudden U turn. In October 2005, the conclave of the Governors of Central Banks of the G20 countries declared:
“We note development approaches are evolving over time and thus need to be updated as economic challenges unfold. —— We recognize there is no uniform development approach that fits all the countries. Each country should be able to choose the development approaches and policies that best suit its specific characteristics while benefitting from there accumulated experience in policy making over last decades, including the importance of strong macroeconomic policies for sustained growth.”
Bringing more clarity to the statement above, News Bulletin of World Bank in 2008, said:
“In our work across the world we have learnt the hard way that there is no one model that fits all. Development is all about transformation. It means taking the best ideas, testing them in new situations and throwing away what doesn’t work. It means, above all, having the ability to recognize when we have failed. This is never an easy thing to do. It is ever more difficult for an organization to do so, be it the government or the World Bank, which constantly need to adapt to the changing nature of developmental challenge.”
After this self realization, phrases like ‘Holistic’ and ‘Sustainable development’ started appearing in the world discourse over development talks. Environmental concerns also could find made some place in this discourse. So, it will be prudent to free ourselves from the tendency to accept this deficient philosophy as the ultimate truth, since it in itself is going through the cycle of experiment- experience- change. It would be better if we stick to our time tested philosophy. This philosophy is based on cooperation and coordination. According to this philosophy, Dharma and Sanskar are at the forefront of Life and not Arth–Kaam. For sustainable development, this philosophy encourages least use of energy, maximum employment, sensitivity towards environment, ethics, and the wholesome approach to agriculture. It suggests a decentralized and self reliant economic and industrial order. There is a major emphasis on skill development and increased productivity. As per this philosophy, success of the system is judged on the fact whether the last person in the land is getting justice, education and basic needs of life. Hence the major emphasis has to be on farmers and agriculture, small and medium scale industries, small traders and craftsmen. All organizations, intellectuals, policy makers, political class and administrators working in the socio-economic field have to take a note of this.
It is pleasurable to note that the manifesto of Niti Ayog is giving clear indications in the same direction. It is obvious that this metamorphosis will not take place all of a sudden. It would be a challenge to bring inherited economy back to normal state, balance political compulsions, and straighten administrative machinery. We ought to keep whole lot of patience to see the fruition of our efforts to take the benefits of development to the lowest strata of society and enlist their participation in the nation-building. We would like to see steady increase in their confidence towards nation building exercise. Mudra Bank, Jan Dhan Yojna, voluntary surrender of cooking gas subsidy, Swatch Bharat initiative, and skill development are some useful initiatives of the present government, in the same direction. It is essential to get credible data, both qualitative and quantitative, from the grassroots level to measure the efficacy of our developmental policies. It is also necessary to hold fruitful dialogues to ensure the participation of all in the nation building exercise, and speed up the execution of the program.
Efficacy of all the policy measures aimed at changing the destiny of the nation will very much depend upon the enterprising spirit, capability to cooperate, and the wisdom of masses. To achieve it, enlightenment and training of society is a prerequisite. While speaking about development, population growth is one related aspect, which is much talked about. We need to seriously ponder our population policy. It must be discussed whether population is a boon or bane? Whether the current systems and resources would be adequate to provide employment and basic amenities to masses after 50 years from now? How much manpower would be required to run our systems effectively? Quiet often, it becomes mother’s responsibility to bringing up children and inculcating values in them. Hence diet, healthcare, self-respect, empowerment, enlightenment, opportunities and freedom to make use of those opportunities by our mothers need to be ensured by our system. Are our systems turned for the same? What is our anticipation regarding the condition of our environment after 50 years? Facts and figures of last two census reports and the imbalances that have come to notice as a result are being widely discussed. Our present and future is getting impacted by the same. We need to rise above vote bank politics to formulate a holistic approach, equally applicable to all citizens, towards the population policy. Such a population policy cannot be enforced by our Governments or laws, all alone. Considerable efforts are required to tune society’s psyche to the same. It would be prudent to think about the same during policy making exercise.
To bring about a change in the natural instincts and behavioral patterns of humans, customary religious practices, and cultural traditions, in accordance with current times is often, too tricky. Even if this change is appropriate, it cannot be accomplished by just bringing in a law or making law enforcement agencies to enforce the law. It never happened this way and it will never happen this way. It can only be accomplished through a respectful dialogue with concerned entities. This dialogue and the efforts to enlighten the society through the dialogue, needs to take place at all the levels be it the government, administration, media or intellectuals in the society and it should consistently continue before and after such changes. We should not be guided by cheap popularity or political incentives. What is truthful and just should be our guiding principle. By adopting a compassionate approach towards every section of society, we can change their approach through a friendly and respectable dialogue. The anguish some sections of people felt as a result of some reasoned judgments could have been avoided. For example, Santhara, peculiar life style of Digambar Acharyas,Bal-Deeksha (initiations of children as recluses), etc., are some of the age old practices prevalent in the Jain community. To bring about changes in such matters without consulting the Acharyas of the respective sects about the reason, importance and philosophy behind such practices, will affect social cohesion and harmony and finally harm the nation. It has been a tradition in every sect/religion in our Country to introspect about their rituals and practices at regular intervals and attunes such a rituals and practices to current times and circumstances. This is the healthy way of bringing about necessary changes. All such changes have always come from within. Any external attempt to bring about such changes has always ended up only in controversies. Success in any systemic change is achieved only through changing the social psyche.
Education system is an important tool for social transformation. In recent years, we have been observing commercialization of education. Getting more and more expensive, it is going beyond the reach of an ordinary citizen. Hence the purpose which education is expected to fulfill, is not taking shape. Apart from imparting formal education, education also aims at shaping a complete man, who is wise, self respecting, self reliant, compassionate, efficient and cultured. With this integral approach to education, many experiments are going on within as well as outside the country. We should take cognizance of all these experiments. Results from these experiments, and the suggestion made by various organizations, educationists and panels should form the basis for all the aspects of education be it curriculum, fee structure or management of education. Education should be society based. Education should be oriented towards fulfilling its goal as well as contemporary requirements of society. And in the light of these limits there should be freedom to chalk out the education system. To ensure that education is not commercialized; government needs to make sure that government educational institutions also are run well at all levels. This process starts with the quality of teachers we have. We need to have effective training, and maintain standards for teachers. More than anything else, we need teachers who realize their responsibilities.
However, the role of parents and society is equally important. Do we tell our children that it is more important to have a meaningful life than a successful life? Is our behavior such, which instills the values of truthfulness, justice, compassion, sacrifice, patience and good behavior? Is our generation ready to tread this path in social and professional fields with insistence and agility, ignoring petty gains? Do we – the social and political leadership – and media care to see that our walk and talk leads the society, particularly new generation, towards national integrity, social harmony and ethical behavior?
To say that Governance and economy and other systems drive human behavior –“Yatha Raja Tatha Praja”. Hence our policies should unite the society; caring for the uplift of the weakest link of the society, they should achieve progress of everyone in the society. We need fundamental reforms in our electoral practices, administration, tax systems, public health system, and industrial, educational and agricultural policies to make them more effective and people oriented. Hostilities by Pakistan, expansionism from China, rising fundamentalism and chauvinism in the world order, and unfair international diplomacy, resulting in rise of terrorist outfits like ISIS, are acting as a catalyst to already complicated and serious internal and external security of our country. Fostered by external powers and inspired by external ideologies, some people from within are walking the path of terrorism. It goes without saying that it is government’s responsibility to come out with a comprehensive and a firm policy to root out all such problems ones and for all. Ethical education should be made part of the education policy so as to preserve our social and cultural values intact and thwart all attempts at destroying our culture. There is a view that media should be regulated while conserving their freedom to ensure that no ill effect, knowingly or unknowingly, prevails in the society. It is a fair to expect that all the promised dreams are realized and became a reality fast. But this is also true that governance is driven by the will, quality of thoughts and organized state of the society. When a self realized, righteous and holistic society starts walking with determination on the path towards national glory, the systems and apparatus of nation follow and become helpful in the transformation. A nation becomes prosperous, safe and capable only when government, administration and public at large are on the same page on the issues of identity of nation, national pride, and credible integrity towards nation, and are ready for constant efforts with focused contemplation.
What is the chord that can keep our diverse society together?
(1) Certainly, it is our eternal culture – Hindu culture – that accepts and respects all forms of diversity and which precisely forms the nature and value system of every Bharatiya.
(2) The very culture, based on which our ancestors build their lives, toiled hard to nurture and foster it, and even sacrificed their live for its protection and honor, even to this day, their glory is a source of inspiration and ideal for us.
(3) This divine motherland endowed with richest and wealth, who helped us realize the truth that formed the foundation of that culture and the Dharma born out of it, whose abundance of divine wealth nurtured us and made us magnanimous, the love and devotion for whom we inherited from our ancestors, such motherland of ours, even today has the power to arouse the creative spirit of every individual of this country.
Through these three factors an individual can easily be assimilated while keeping ones diverse identity of language, region, sect and party intact. Also, even while safeguarding one’s smaller identity, one becomes part of the larger social identity. The humanitarian spirit, vision and philosophy based on the above three factors, the decision in conformity and equally matched practice is what is called Hindutva.
This lifestyle of Hindu society, from time immoral, even long before the term Hindu was coined, evolved in keeping with the time on the basis of above three factors. The onus of good and bad of this nation ever rusts only on their shoulders.
For last 90 years, RSS has been constantly trying to galvanize the energies of Hindu society for nation building. Sangh founder Dr. Hedgewar had very well understood that the task of nation and society building cannot be entrusted on contract. When an efficient and organised society works persistently for the betterment of nation for a long time, then only the nation becomes prosperous. The mission of RSS is to prepare such workers who can organize the society for this noble cause. Today, everyone can see the impact created by Swayamsewaks coming out of the easy and simple modus operandi of RSS. Now they not only get respect and affection from a grateful society, but also the recognition of the whole world.
Come on, let us all become Swayamsewaks and be part of this sacred work, because this the only way to build the Bharat that the world inevitably looks forward to for a new opening. The Bharatiya society has to become perfect and organised on the strength of their eternal identity. Soaked with the nectar of our Dharmic Values that ends all divisiveness and is capable of infuse the whole humankind with the feeling of fraternity by giving them real freedom, let us individually and collectively endeavor to accord happiness, peace and redemption to human race. This the way out and we have to do it.
हिन्दू हिन्दू एक रहें
भेदभाव को नहीं सहे
संघर्षों से दुःखी जगत को
मानवता की शिक्षा दें।।
”भारत माता की जय“
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.”
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 :
- Role of Dr.Hedgewar in Freedom Movement
- Life in pictures
- Dr.Hedgewar – Online biography in Hindi ( Downloadable pdf )
- Glimpses of Dr.Hedgewar – What His Associates Said About Him.
- Dr. Hedgewar – Seer, Patriot and Nation Builder ( download book )
- Dr.Hedgewar – The Epoch Maker : A Detailed Biography ( Downloadable pdf )