Dr Hedgewar based Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh on the teachings of Swami Vivekananda
A Comparative Study
Dr KM Rao, PhD
Though Dr Hedgewar did not seen Swami Viveka-nanda in person, he worked in Damodar River flood relief work organised by Ramakrishna Sevashram. He absorbed in himself the essence of Vivekananda’s teachings and message to Hindus at the highest intellectual level and silently transformed himself and formed Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) on the teachings enunciated by Vivekananda in his lectures.
The Hindu Nation opened its eyes by the clarion call of Vivekananda but did not awaken itself enough to follow an action-oriented path to liberate itself. The task of leading the youth of the nation on this ideal path of action and to organise them as a solid organisation was taken up by Dr Hedgewar.
Let us examine the following fundamental teachings of Vivekananda on the lines of which he wanted to organise Hindus. Dr Hedgewar actualised these ideas of Vivekananda into Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
1. We can attain God by playing football than by reciting Bhagavadgita.
2. Let us stop worshiping all other Gods and worship only Bharatmata for the coming three hundred years.
3. We should build a temple everywhere which is above all sects. Let the word “Om” be there as the unique symbol, which represents all the different sects.
4. All Hindus should meet for 10 minutes daily and pray together. All our problems will be solved if Hindus can organise themselves through these daily meetings and pray together.
Sister Nivedita gave wide publicity to these four Cardinal Principles of Vivekananda on which Hindus should be organised. Dr Hedgewar being a very practical person in outlook has directly implemented these principles of Vivekananda into his basic concept of daily shakha of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Vivekananda’s advice to the youth to play football actually conveys the idea of working for a common goal collectively by coordinating individual skills. The same principle is involved in Dr Hedgewar’s concept of daily shakha meetings where individuals play games, develop physical fitness, imbibe self-discipline, sing songs in praise of Bharatmata. Vivekananda’s advice of keeping “Om” as a common symbol for all Hindus has been transformed by Dr Hedgewar into hoisting a saffron flag which is revered by all Hindus, which symbolically represents knowledge, sacrifice and service—the three ideals of Hindu Dharma. Vivekananda’s advice for Hindus to meet daily for ten minutes at an appointed time and place has been changed to one hour by Dr Hedgewar. Vivekananda’s advice to Hindus that their daily meetings should be ended with a daily prayer which will instill the spirit of humility, service and sacrifice has been adopted by Dr Hedgewar as it is.
Dr Hedgewar did not write books or gave lectures. Through the medium of daily shakhas he adopted the method of man-to-man contacts, house to-house-contacts, family-to-family, city-by-city, town-by-town, village-by-village, area-by-area covering the length and breadth of the country by personal contacts moulding the lives of thousands of people to adapt to the method of personally contacting people and build a strong and powerful organisation which alone can solve the problem of our country.
Like Vivekananda, he believed in man making organisation in which man making education is imparted and man-making theories are conceived. He wanted us to give up things that make us weak physically, intellectually and spiritually; reject it as poison. There is no life in it. “An ideal strengthens you,” he said.
Like Vivekananda his plan was to start Sangh shakhas to train the youngmen. Strong, vigorous, believing young men, sincere to the backbone are trained by him under his tutelage. He revolutionised the country silently by training a few hundreds of them.
Like Vivekananda he felt that ‘this is not the time with us to weep….. We have had weeping enough. No more is the time for us to become soft. This softness has been with us till we have become like masses of cotton….. what our country now wants are muscles of iron and nerves of steel, gigantic wills, which nothing can resist which ….. will accomplish their purpose in any fashion, even if it meant going down to the bottom of the ocean and meeting death face to face. “That is what we want,” Dr Hedgewar felt, and that can only be created, established and strengthened, like Vivekananda by understanding and realising the ideal of Hindu Sangathan. Let us have faith in ourselves to accomplish this ideal and let us stand up firmly on that faith.
(The writer is state president of Bharatiya Itihas Sankalan Samiti, Tamil Nadu)