Special on Vijayadashmi
RSS marches ahead on Vivekananda’s Mission
Dr Ashok G Modak
The festival of Vijayadashmi is significant for two reasons. First it reminds us of our victorious tradition and secondly it also invites our attention to the birth anniversary of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
As for the first dimension we all know that our brave ancestors enriched our tradition through achieving victories over evil forces. It was on the day of Vijayadashmi that Sri Ram defeated Ravana and established Dharma Rajya. And in subsequent years great personalities like Chandragupta Maurya, Pushya-mitra Shunga, Vikrama-ditya, Yashodharma, Krishna Devarai, Shivaji and so on carried forward the same legacy. We are indeed inheritors of victories. What is essential is to note that we insist on pure and sacred means for achieving victories. We in other words refuse to compromise on principles. We, moreover, look at these victories as instruments for enhancing the wellbeing of common masses and for further strengthening the process of national reconstruction.
We should of course keep in mind that all victories in Bharat are preceded by socio-cultural transformations. Thus Chanakya came first and emperor Chandragupta followed him later. Vidyaranya Swami heralded the emergence of Vijaya Nagar empire and several saints and social reformers proved to be harbingers of the rise of Maratha Power under the pioneership of Shivaji Maharaj.
Swami Vivekananda, the Warrior Monk of India, referred to this tradition of India during the course of his remarkable speech on Vedanta, delivered at Lahore on November 12, 1897. He then reminded of the fact that the sages and saints who always heralded political transformations in India were determined to pursue the path of Truth. No sage in India, in fact made even a single false step from the right path. Swamiji quoted here one of the most memorable shlokas from the Neei Shatak of Bhartrihari: Let the sages blame or let them praise, let Lakshmi come today or let her go away, let death come just now, or in a hundred years, he indeed is the sage who does not make one single false step from the right path.
One comes across equally most valuable advice in the speech titled as the “Mission of the Vedanta” delivered by Swami Vivekananda at Kumbhakonary in February 1897 after his return from abroad. The advice runs as follows:-
“The ship of our nation has been plying here for ages. Today perhaps it has sprung a leak, today perhaps it has become a little worn out. And if such is the case, it behoves you and me to try our best to stop the leak and holes. Let us tell our countrymen of the danger. Let them awake and help us. I will cry at the top of my voice from one part of this country to the other, to awaken the people to the situation and their duty… Be patriots, love the race which has done such great things for us in the past. Ay, the more I compare notes, the more I love you my fellow countrymen; you are good, pure and gentle you have always been tyrannised over and such is the irony of this material world of Maya. Never mind that, the spirit will triumph in the long run. In the meanwhile let us work and let us not abuse our country, let us not abuse the weather-beaten and work-worn institutions of our thrice holy motherland.”
It was Dr KB Hedgewar who implemented this advice most appropriately on the Vijaya-dashmi Day of 1925 and laid the foundation of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Least wonder, the sacred day of Vijayadashmi informs us of the lofty mission of the RSS.
Dr Hedgewar rightly felt that India is a Hindu Nation and every patriot in India should give priority to organise Hindus with a view to facilitating the process of the reconstruction of our nation. We very well know that Swamiji referred to India as a Hindu Nation and by defining our nation as the union of hearts, which beat to the same spiritual tune he endorsed spiritual or cultural nationalism and bluntly demolished the concept of territorial nationalism. It was Swamiji who invoked Hindus to take initiative and to rebuild Bharatvarsha. It was Viveka-nanda who reminded his audiences in India to strengthen Hindu civilisation and Hindu culture as he was convinced of the all accommodative and all inclusive Hindu nationalism. Swamiji devoted his speech at Lahore in 1897 to consolidate the common bases of Hindu society. We must never forget that Swamiji expressed his anxiety over the growing number of non-Hindus at the cost of Hindus. The interview granted by Swamiji to Prabuddha Bharat in April 1899 underscored the fact that every man going out of the Hindu pale is not only a man less but an enemy the more! How beautifully Swamiji summed up his appeal to the countrymen I am tempted to allude to this quotable quote:- “Be bold take courage, be proud that thou art an Indian, and proudly proclaim” I am an Indian every Indian is my brother. Say, “The ignorant Indian, the poor and destitute Indian, the Brahmin Indian, the Pariah Indian, is my brother. Thou, too clad with but a rag round the loins, proudly proclaim at the top of thy voice.” The Indian is my brother, the Indian is my life. Indian’s gods and goddesses are my Gods, Indian society is the cradle of my infancy, the pleasure garden of my youth, the sacred heaven, the Varanasi of my old age.”
Dr Hedgewar, who took inspiration from the life and mission of Swami Vivekananda transparently practiced all Hindu precepts. He succeeded in getting following throughout India. At present, members of the fifth generation are marching ahead on the path of Dr Hedgewar. Anybody who studies the history of RSS naturally observes that this organisation is unique in several respects. The RSS has thus established its branches in all the nooks and corners of India and launched quite successfully a number of constructive programmes and projects. No wonder it has earned the reputation of the most trustworthy organisation.
The RSS has during 88 years of its existence since 1925 succeeded in uniting Hindus irrespective of caste, creed language, etc. all over India. It has, as a result mustered remarkable victories in various fields despite harsh poisonous opposition from pseudo-secularists and leftists. Post-Partition rehabilitation, role during the 1962 Indo-China war, participation in land reforms (bhoodan) movement and anti-Emergency movement for restoration of democracy etc certainly are landmarks in the glorious contribution RSS has made to the nation. The Ramjanmabhoomi movement is certainly legitimate zenith to this march in resurrecting India on the basis of cultural nationalism. The RSS felt immensely satisfied, when in 1995, the judicial verdict underscored the fact that the word ‘Hindu’ connotes the way of life in India. And subsequent years witnessed a number of events, which informed common Indian masses that the ideology of Hindutva obtained support from several eminent personalities thus causing defeat to the pseudo-secularists campaign against RSS. Thanks to RSS efforts, common masses came ahead to defend the cause of Hindutva. Thus the governmental ban on Amarnath pilgrimage prompted Hindus in Jammu to oppose the ban. Even the women and children also withstood state atrocities and countered the confusing arguments of the so-called progressives. That the society won at the expense of polity and the Amarnath pilgrimage remained uninterrupted was a great achievement for the RSS. Similarly, people responded favourably and energetically to the RSS call to save Rama Sethu in Tamil Nadu and accordingly the Manmohan Singh Government was constrained to withdraw its decision of the demolition of Rama Sethu. We can also refer to the notable success achieved by the Shiksha Bachao Andolan. And thus success sanctioned the legitimacy of the views of Hindutva historians.
Vijayadashmi festival undoubtedly enhances the confidence of genuine Indians and conveys to us that it is indeed the Day of Commemoration of victories.
(The writer is Adjunct Professor, Department of Eurasian Studies, University of Mumbai.)