Reminiscences of a Swayamsevak
By P. Parameswaran
Is it possible for a person to totally identify with his ideal? Is it possible to fully merge all one'slikes and dislikes, desires and aspirations and submerge one'sindividuality in the ideal one has chosen? Is it possible, so to say, to totally eliminate one'sseparate identity and become one with the ideal? When we speak of idealism, these questions arise in the mind. We hardly come across a person who has been successful in becoming the very embodiment of the ideal – nothing else and nothing less.
It was a few years back?I do not exactly remember the year?that I saw Mananeeya Seshadriji coming to attend a programme, walking with extreme difficulty supported by a staff and being helped to climb the dais from where he was to address the assembled Swayamsevaks. Once he took the seat on the dais, he was his normal self with the usual smile, engaging the Swayamsevaks with various queries and finally ending up with his simple but brilliant exposition of the ideology of the Sangh. Distressed to see him in that condition, I thought to myself – Why should he have taken all this trouble to travel and fulfill this simple engagement? He could have easily deputed another competent person for the program.
No longer had the doubt crossed my mind, flashed the answer. Not to take the trouble would have been a greater agony. How can a person like him take lightly the oath he had taken – to serve the cause of the Sangh and the nation with his body, mind and all that he has till the very end of his life? Does not the Swayamsevak chant in his daily prayer, ?O, my Motherland, let this body fall for thy sake?? These are not empty words or meaningless utterances but total commitment for a Swayamsevak. It is this total commitment and absolute identification that characterized Mananeeya Seshadriji during his entire life and which made him such a respectable figure for one and all in the organization.
I remember my last meeting with him. It was in the Bombay airport. I was waiting for the Nagpur flight. As I was waiting, I saw a wheelchair being pushed in and in it was seated Mananeeya Seshadriji. He was so weak and disabled, he could not walk and had to be carried in the wheel chair. Looking around he saw me and asked the wheelchair to be brought to where I was sitting. Since there was time for the aircraft to take off he went on enquiring about my health and Vivekananda Kendra activities. He spoke nothing about his health. Both of us were going to Nagpur for an important Baithak. In spite of his physical disabilities, he did not miss a single session. He took lively part in the discussion and gave his valuable suggestions as and when required. He was not holding any high position in the organization but his words carried weight with one and all, irrespective of post or position.
Does not the Swayamsevak chant in his daily prayer, ?O, my Motherland, let this body fall for thy sake?? These are not empty words or meaningless utterances but total commitment for a Swayamsevak. It is this total commitment and absolute identification that characterized Mananeeya Seshadriji during his entire life and which made him such a respectable figure for one and all in the organization.
It was the year 2000 that the ?Gita International? seminar was held in Thiruvananthapuram. Mananeeya Seshadriji attended it. But, he neither sat on the dais nor addressed the huge gathering of delegates, not withstanding our request. He said he was there to listen and to learn, not to speak. But quite willingly he sat along with the Karyakarthas and discussed with them various aspects of the practical application of the teachings of the Gita for bringing about social unity and regeneration. He was more concerned with the social implications rather than the philosophical interpretations of the Bhavagad Gita.
Towards the end of his life when physical disability made detailed tour and programmes impossible, he devoted his energy and experience to travel to some important centres with the purpose of meeting the middle level workers individually and discuss with them their personal problems including problems of health, study, Sadhana, etc. This was a great solace for such workers because they could unburden their problems before an all comprehending individual and receive much required counsel. That was the way of his strengthening the organization within the constraints of his prohibitive physical torments towards his fag end.
Mananeeya Seshadriji was endowed with a rare capacity for clear and analytical thinking on complicated issues. It was such an asset to the entire organization. Everyone sought his help and guidance whenever there were difficult questions and complicated situations. Once the matter was placed before him, he would ask a few simple questions and then unravel the complexities and suggest solutions, sometimes incredibly simple but very effective in practice. Whether it is in the Sangh or in the Parivar organizations, Seshadriji continued to be the last resort in times of uncertainity or confusion whether theoretical or practical.
It was the year 2002. I was informed by the then Central Government that I am likely to be selected for the Padma award. It was the usual discrete communication before the formal announcement. I was in double mind. As a pracharak of the Sangh, will it be proper on my part to accept such a ceremonial award? There was no doubt whom to ask. I was told that Mananeeya Seshadriji was in Calcutta. He was conducting a baithak in the Calcutta Karyalaya. Knowing that I was trying to contact him, he took the call in the baithak itself. I placed the matter before him. Without a moment'sdelay, he replied, ?You straight away accept it. It is not a personal award. It is a recognition given to the work you represent. It will help our work in that part of the country. If anybody consults me, I will certainly endorse it.? And he kept down the phone. My mind was at ease. He saw everything only in one light, whether it will help the work or not.
Sometime in the 1980s, I was invited for a series of lectures in the Keshava Shilpa, Bangalore. It was a four-day lecture. To my surprise and embarrassment, I found Mananeeya Seshadriji everyday in the front row, punctually. Naturally, the hall remained full to its capacity. Since a person like Seshadriji was present and observing, no one wanted to be marked absent.
His contribution to the ideological enrichment of the Sangh movement is unique. The Sangh, and also the nation, is deeply beholden to him for some of the major literary productions expounding the Sangh ideology and also Sangh'spractical contribution. ?Bunch of thoughts? which is rightly considered the most authentic ideological document on RSS, consisting of Sri Guruji'sconsidered views on almost all matters would not have seen the light of day, had it not been for the committed and strenuous labour of Mananeeya Seshadriji. Similarly ?The Tragic Story of Partition? and the ?Vision in Action? are standing monuments to Seshadriji'sstudious and dedicated work. They will always remain invaluable sources of information about our history and also the vision and achievement of the RSS. His literary output is really enormous. But, hardly does his name figure as the writer or the author.
Mananeeya Seshadriji was molded in the luminous mould of stalwarts like Shri Guruji and Shri Yadavarao Joshi. Their imprint is indelibly visible in his personality. He was basically an intellectual and a scholar who carried these attainments very lightly on his shoulders. He never tried to impress by his vocabulary or learning. He lived an extraordinarily simple life, never trying to grab the lime light, which would have been his, if only he had not resisted. He shunned it. He projected many into the lime light, remaining himself scrupulously in the background. He symbolized the impersonal character of an idealist for whom the ideal is supreme and personality only important as an instrument. If Seshadriji'sdemise did not figure in the headlines of daily news papers, it only shows how successful he was in eliminating and effacing his ego.
As Shri Guruji used to say, it is the foundation stones lying buried beneath that sustains the magnificent structure above. Mananeeya Seshadriji formed such a foundation stone and no doubt it will provide great strength and stability to the movement to which he gave his precious life.