THE learned author, Vidya Subramaniam in her article ‘The Forgotten Promise of 1949’, alleges that the RSS is not following a promise that the organisation gave to the Government in 1949. The fact is that no promise as such was given. No power in the country can stop an individual or a group from entering politics. It is not necessary for anyone to seek the permission of the Government to form a political party. It is true that the article 4 (b) of the RSS Constitution avers that “The Sangh as such has no politics.” It is simply its assertion about its commitment. The same article allows the Swayamsevaks to join any political party. In the same article Sangh has affirmed that the Sangh will work ‘in consonance with the cultural heritage of the Hindu Samaj. What is cultural heritage? or the question can be drafted as what is culture? Is culture restricted to the fine arts like Music, Dancing, Painting, Sculpture etc? No! Culture, in essence, means a value system. Hindu Samaj as well as Hindu Dharma has a certain value system. Because of this value system, Hindus not only tolerate, but appreciate plurality of faiths, beliefs and opinions.
What is a Nation?
Also, culture is the basis of our nationhood. I will dare to say that culture is the basis of all nationhood. What is a nation, after all? Is it simply geography or a political system? No! People are the nation. I will not dilate here on what the essential conditions are for the people to constitute a nation. I will just quote, famous French intellectual Ernest Renan, who in his work ‘What is a nation’ observes:
“The soil provides the substratum, the field for struggle and labour, man provides the soul. Man is everything in the formation of this sacred thing that we call a people. ….”
He adds: “Two things which are really one go to make this soul or spiritual principle. One of these lies in the past, the other in the present.”
Meaning of Hindu
Sangh believes in the concept of a Hindu Rashtra. In Sangh-thought Hindu is not a religious term. In essence it connotes the culture. Possibly, the title ‘Hindu’ of the paper in which Vidya Subramaniam’s article is published connotes the same meaning. The very first word in the name of the Sangh is ‘Rashtriya’, which means national’ and as referred above the people are the nation; i.e. Hindu Samaj is the nation; and Sangh is engaged in the work of organising this Samaj since last 88 years. I will repeat organising the entire Samaj. It is an organisation of the Samaj and not an organisation in the Samaj, i.e. it aims at consolidating the entire Samaj and not at forming an organised group or sect or tribe.
Now Samaj or nation is a complex existence i.e. It works and functions in various spheres. Politics is one such sphere; not the only one. There are other spheres of social activity also, like Dharma, education, trade, industry, agriculture etc. The meaning of organising the entire Samaj means organising all these sectors. For that purpose, Sangh has sometimes directed, sometimes inspired, sometimes allowed its workers to work in these various spheres of social life. When Dr S P Mukherjee wanted to form a new party, he approached the Sangh and asked for a few workers to help him establish a party, Sangh had given some workers. In the sphere of dharma, Shri M S Golwalkar, then Sarasanghachalak himself took the lead and formed Vishwa Hindu Parishad. But he did not become its president or any other office bearer. In the area of education, Shishu Mandirs were started first in U. P. Now Vidya Bharati, the umbrella organisation runs thousands of educational institutions. In the tribal sector there is Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram. In the tribal area, the Sangh workers run, thousands of one-teacher schools. In Jharkhand alone there are about eight thousand one teacher schools. In the labour field Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) came up. At present there are about 32 fields, where RSS workers are involved.
All these institutions are independent and autonomous. They have their own Constitutions; they have their own methods of collecting funds. The only condition is that they must work for national interest. No parochial interest should harm the integrity of the entire nation. It is the duty of the RSS, to see that all activities, whatever may be their field, must have national interest as a beacon light. As stated earlier, politics is one such sphere. It is an important area, and the RSS will always want, that the workers in that area too, as in other areas, never obviate the basic goal of the organisation.
State and Nation
In our country, unfortunately there is much confusion about the concepts of a nation and a state. We just don’t mind saying that on August 15, 1947, a new nation was born. My question is “What were we on August 14 ?” Actually on that fateful day a new state was born. “A State is a legal association, a Juridically organised nation. It exists in and through law: we may even say that is exists as law….. The essence of the State is a living body of effective rules; and in that sense, the State is law.” (Ernest Barker: Principles of Social & Political theory, page 89) State is essential for the safety of the people. The Mahabharat says that where there is no state, the Dharma perishes.
Sangh – Method
All the Sangh workers who work in various fields of social activity come to the RSS functionaries for discussion and guidance also. The Sangh fulfills that obligation. What sanctions does Sangh possess to hoist its command on all these affiliates? Sangh has no disciplinary mechanism. Have you ever heard of Sangh taking disciplinary action against any individual? Is it possible that in the career of 88 years, no Swayamsevak might have violated discipline? But the method of Sangh is unique. It explains, counsels, consoles, makes one understand and leaves the matter there.
As regards Narendrabhai Modi’s choice, the proposal must have come from the BJP quarters and Sangh would have given its consent. If there is difference of opinion about a certain decision Sangh’s help is sought. That’s all. Sangh does not dictate as to who should be made MP or MLA or Minister or Chief Minister or PM Sangh’s only concern is that the state must function for the nation’s interest. Nation is above the state, above every field of people’s activity.
RSS is like, the soul or the spirit, in a human being. The Ishopanishad describes this ‘aatmatattva’ as follows:- “It moves, it does not move also. It is far away and it is near also. It is inside everything, it is outside also”.
The Ban on the RSS
Here, a legitimate question can be asked as to why the Government lifted the ban on the RSS. The best time to lift the ban could have been, when the real culprits in the Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination were apprehended, when even more than twenty thousand homes of the RSS workers were searched and not an iota of evidence was found. The other occasion was immediately after the written Constitution of the RSS was submitted. Shri Guruji, the then Sarasanghachalak was against giving the written Constitution to the Government. Shri Venkataram Shastri, the ex-Advocate General of the Madras Presidency came forth as a mediator and he suggested to Shri Guruji, that if written Constitution is given, the ban may be lifted. Shri Guruji countered “was the ban on the RSS imposed because it had no written Constitution?” But respecting the wish of the learned advocate, the Constitution was sent on April 11, 1949. The Government instead of lifting the ban, tried to point out the defects in the Constitution. The Government also took objection to the language used by Shri Guruji. Shri HVR Iyengar, secretary to the GOI, in his letter dated May 24, 1949, said, “The GOI regret that you have used in your reply phrases like ‘meaningless expression’ and charged the Government with indulging in unbecoming behavior and lack of respect for truth, justice and due process of law.” Shri Iyengar was obviously irritated. He further wrote, “Such language constitutes a complete disregard of the ordinary rules of courtesy and propriety, more particularly in reply to the Government.”
Shri Guruji replied on 1-6-1949 saying, “I am sorry that my language has offended the Government. I am a plain man brought up in an organisation wherein the sense of high or low does not predominate and wherein, there is no occasion to study and use a style of language suitable for addressing rulers and masters.” At the end of this letter he wrote, “Since my direct and truthful words seem to be unpalatable to the Goverment, I think it best to desist from writing any further for the present.”
This put the Government in a fix. It believed that Shri Golwalkar was caving in. Therefore it tried to browbeat him by suggesting superfluous amendments to the Constitution. But that did not work. But for whatever the reason, the Goverment wanted to lift the ban, but wanted a figleaf to do that. So it found a mediator in Shri Moulichandra Sharma. He met the RSS leaders who were not in jail. They plainly told Shri Sharma, neither Shri Guruji nor Sangh will write to Government. Shri Sharma returned to Delhi empty-handed, but then came with a new proposal that Shri Guruji need not write to the Government; but should explain to Shri Sharma, about certain issues that he will refer to. This was agreed to Shri Sharma went to Seoni(Madhya Pradesh) jail, met Shri Guruji and Shri Guruji in a letter addressed to Sharma, explained the points raised by him. The letter, dated July 10, 1949, starts with the appellation “My dear Pandit Moulichandraji”. Whatever appeared in this letter was almost a copy of Shri Guruji’s statement, issued to the press in Delhi on December 3, 1948. Shri Sharma took that letter to Delhi and on July 12, 1949 ban on the RSS was lifted. The intelligent people can draw their inferences about the reasons for the ban, the reasons for continuing it and then abruptly lifting it.