Shri Guruji was a seer gifted with an extraordinary intellectual talent. His deep concern for the nation was quite evident in his tireless extensive tours?every year he used to travel twice across the country for the cause of the nation. His sole mission was to get India its earlier status as a luminous, well-organised, developed and powerful nation, which would be an ideal for the rest of the world. For this noble cause he inspired thousands of swayamsevaks.
Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram was founded in 1952 by Shri Balasaheb Deshpande and Shri Guruji'sinspiration and guidance always played a pivotal role since its inception. Having recognised his immense potential and exceptional ability, Shri Guruji knew for sure that Shri Deshpande would discharge his duty in the course of all-around development of Vanvasi bandhus by generating a sense of self-esteem thus putting brakes on the ongoing mass conversions. He asked Moru Bhaiya Ketkar, an-experienced RSS Pracharak, to assist Shri Balasahebji. Shri Guruji knew well that there were a number of foreign Christian missionaries engaged in effecting mass conversions by means of siphoning huge funds from foreign countries.
In 1963, Shri Guruji visited Jashpurnagar for the first time. The occasion was the concluding session of Manas Navah Parayan under Dharma Jagaran Karyakram of Kalyan Ashram. It was for the first time that Shri Guruji had expressed his views in public meeting regarding Vanvasi Samaj. He said ?Vanvasi Samaj has always been an integral part of the Hindu Samaj. There is a reference of four varnas in the Vedas, at the same time there is a term found in many richas, that is ?panch jan?.
This fifth component is actually the Vanvasi Samaj. In ancient scriptures they have been termed as ?Nishad?. In our Panchayat system, there used to be four members representing four varnas, while the fifth one used to be from among the Nishad, that is the Vanvasi Samaj.?
While paying a visit to Shri Vinoba Bhave, Shri Guruji had once mentioned the above during his conversation with the former. And Shri Vinoba Bhave had on his lips a smile of affirmation.
In his address, mentioned above, Shri Guruji had also discussed the unparallel contribution of the Vanvasi Samaj in the whole history of India. He remembered their contribution in the success of freedom fight under the leadership of Maharana Pratap and Chhatrapati Shivaji as the most noteworthy ones.
Shri Guruji said that due to ?divide and rule policy? of the Britishers, the Indian intellectuals had been totally brainwashed and the homogenous Hindu Samaj got infected with a number of discriminations in the name of language, caste, creed and region. As a result the feeling of fraternity was weakened, the foundation of harmony started drying, and thus Vanvasi Samaj got isolated from the rest of the Hindu society.
Shri Guruji once told that the regions where the Christian population was found to be greater, the incidents of violent insurgencies were greater too. He asked why it was so. He expressed his concern over the way the Christian missionaries were disrupting the national integrity.
Having witnessed suspicious activities of the Christian missionaries for over a long period the legislators of C.P. and Barer Vidhan Sabha (including Congress MLAs) demanded a probe by constituting a commission in 1953-54. In May 1954, a seven-member Enquiry Committee was constituted, headed by Justice Niyogi, who had some apprehension regarding the active co-operation from the majority (Hindu) community, hence he had decided to resign, but Shri Guruji asked him not to do so and asked the workers of Kalyan Ashram to co-operate with him. Thousands of witnesses from hundreds of villages with hundreds of documents came forward and the so-called religious activities of the Christian missionaries were exposed before all. The report offered certain invaluable suggestions to check these anti-national activities, yet the report was thrown in the dustbin. Is the future of such a nation safe?
Shri Guruji with deep study of life was like a torch of light guiding swayamsevaks even while dealing with day-to-day cores of life. He was so sensitive that his letters used to cover a variety of issues. On one occasion he had written a fairly long letter as to how a hostel is run. Needless to say he had prescribed all the necessary qualifications of a hostel superintendent as well as those of a hosteller.
Once he got to know that the workers of Lohardaga Vanvasi Kalyan Kendra were not in favour of any further expansion and he quickly wrote a letter to the effect that we should not feel contended with work in restricted areas. On the contrary we should try to reach far and wide.
Shri Guruji'sapproach was already practical and realistic. Once there arose a point in the discussion of a meeting of Vishwa Hindu Parishad regarding consumption of beef in certain areas of the north-east, by certain janjati communities, whether or not they should be called Hindus was the point. Shri Guruji categorically explained that they were as much Hindus as the rest of the Hindu society. He attributed it to the fact that for centuries those regions have not been visited by Hindu sadhus and sannyasis. He also cautioned the workers not to ask them to give up eating beef. They themselves would do what is proper.
Once, perhaps in 1962, Shri Balasaheab Deshpande saw that Shri Guruji was also there on the railway platform (Itarsi railway station) so he met Shri Guruji, who immediately noticed lines of worry on the former'sface. Shri Deshpandeji informed him that a grant had been sanctioned for Ashram School but it was withheld and could not be released even after seeing the minister concerned . Shri Guruji laughed aloud in a style of his own, and observed that it was quite in the interest of the Ashram as no government grant can preserve piety and sanctity of the work.
Some people believe that Shri Guruji would not take the term ?development? in its economic context. This is not true. Actually, Kalyan Ashram had got affiliation by Adimjati Sewak Sangh in 1958. They also ran some projects for generating money among Vanvasis.
(The writer is a veteran leader of Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram.)