Dr Keshav Baliram Hedgewar , popularly known as ‘Doctorji’ was born in Nagpur on Varsha Pratipada Day on April 1st , 1889. After receiving his early education at the Neel City School, Nagpur, Keshav joined Rashtriya Vidyalaya of Yeotmal. Since it was inculcating a nationalist feeling among the students it was eventually closed down. But Keshav remained unperturbed. He went to Pune to continue his studies. Thereafter, he took up the entrance examination of Calcutta Rashtriya Vidyapeeth at Amaravati in Maharashtra.Since he had steeped in poverty after the demise of his parents, Dr. Moonje came forward to provide the necessary help for Keshav's further education. He was sent to the National Medical College of Calcutta . After passing the L.M.&S. Examination from the National Medical College in June 1914, he completed one year apprenticeship and returned to Nagpur in 1915 as a doctor.
What caused Keshav immense sorrow was that his Motherland was under an oppressive foreign rule. Influenced by Veer Savarkar he came to the conclusion that creation of nationalist feelings and self-confidence that cohesion amongst the Hindus was essential pre-requisite for wresting freedom from the British.Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh( RSS) founded by him in Nagpur on Vijaya Dashmi Day in 1925 was to be the instrument to achieve this end. Dr Hedgewar never used to impose his ideologies on others. In fact, even for naming of Sangh, Doctorji arranged a baithak in his house . Three names were suggested after elaborate discussions. They were: 1. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS); 2. Jaripataka Mandal; 3. Bharatoddharak Mandal. The name RSS was finally decided upon.
Had he lived longer , he might have given a new direction to the national politics and freedom movement , but destiny wished otherwise. He breathed his last on June 21,1940 in Nagpur.
Such was Keshav
On June 22 1897 on the occasion of Queen Victoria completing 60 years of her ascent to the British Throne sweets were being distributed in schools. Children were rushing to their schools to have sweets. But amidst all this, one young boy was not happy. He threw away the sweets given to him, and sat alone in a corner brooding.
A true patriot
Keshav was deeply inspired from the heroic life of Shivaji.At the time when patriotic personalities like Lokmanya Tilak, Mahatma Gandhi, etc., were fighting to put an end to the oppressive rule of the British, Keshav eagerly used to listen to the their speeches. He took pledge to liberate Bharatmata from the clutches of British imperialism.
In 1905 Lord Curzon, the then Viceroy of Bharat, partitioned the Bengal Province into two. This provoked thousands of youths to revolt against the British. This was the time when Vande Mataram had become the refrain of the freedom struggle.
Keshav was then studying in Neel City High School of Nagpur. The very mention of Vande Mataram used to enrage the British. One day an officer of the Department of Education arrived for inspection of the Neel City High School. The Inspector set out for inspection along with the Headmaster of the school. Barely had they reached the threshold of the classroom when, like a bolt from the blue, a deafening cry of Vande Mataram rang out of that classroom piercing the ears of the duo. The Inspector was angry beyond words. The Inspector thundered, “This is treason. Who is singing Vande Mataram? Debar these students from the school. They should be punished mercilessly.” Passing strict orders, he left the school in a huff.
As none disclosed the name of their leader, all the students of both the classes which had sung Vande Mataram were suspended from the school. It was Keshav who had kindled the flame of patriotism in the bosoms of his fellow-students to sing Vande Mataram. Keshav never set foot in that school again.
|Adventurous by nature
Hedgewar was adventurous by nature. His spirit rose whenever he was confronted with a challenging task. Once the well in his backyard was to be readied for an annual worship. It was full of dirt and mire. Keshav along with his two brothers took it upon themselves to clean the well. They did not inform about this plan to the elders in the house, fearing that they might prevent them. Then the trio drew out all the soiled muddy water from the well, removed the accumulated dirt at night and quietly went to bed before morning. The others in the house were surprised to find fresh and clean water shining in the well the next morning.
A devoted student
At the close of the nineteenth century, Keshav’s parents died due to plague. Keshav was just thirteen then. After the sudden demise of his parents, Keshav's hardship knew no bounds. All the household chores like cutting wood, drawing water, cooking, etc., fell on Keshav’s shoulders and his elder brother Sitarampant. Sometimes they had to go without food and had to roam about with torn clothes on their person. But Keshav was full of self-respect. Often even when he was hungry, he would not approach his friends for food. It was not in his nature to stretch his hand before anybody. Despite travails, his attention to his studies was never affected.
He was always ahead in his class and a favourite student of his teachers. He was sober and spoke sparingly. He established instant rapport with others, and others too longed for his company. The daily four-mile run to the school never proved to be a problem for him.