With close association with a person or an institution many weak links of theirs normally get exposed. But this was not the case with Dr Hedgewar. He proved to be an exception to this universal observation. Those who looked at him from a distance would ask with a tinge of surprise: “Is this your national leader?” Dr Hedgewar’s personality was such that anyone looking at him from a distance would not recognise his unique extraordinary personality. But his greatness was revealed to those who came in close contact with him. Many persons came near him thinking him as an ordinary individual but they used to leave fully influenced by his character and personality. Those who would come to hurl allegations at him would go singing his praise. Such was this great man.
Three distinct features of Doctorji’s working style:
Dr Hedgewar was an organiser par excellence. His working style had three distinctive features and first amongst them was Loksangraha the ability to connect to people. No organisation can be built sans public participation which requires better ability to connect with the people. This seems to be very simple at the outset, but this is not the case. To get four people, infuse them with a particular ideology and inspire them to work for that ideology is the most difficult task. Today, even four brothers staying together after their marriage has become a rare scene!
Loksangraha: A Science and an Art
Dr Hedgewar used to say that connecting with people was a science and an art too. People normally believed that you can automatically connect with people once you propagate your ideology and make better publicity of it. But this is not that easy. Doctorji used to say that swayamsevak is the instrument of this Loksangraha. No amount of public speeches or propaganda would be helpful in achieving this. Publicity can be helpful in building an agitation or a temporary movement but that cannot provide the required basis for a stable and permanent organisation. Hence, he used say that every swayamsevak should adopt the qualities that would connect him with the people.
He himself had adapted to changes in his behaviour for this purpose. His original nature was that of a very angry, hot-tempered man. But once he understood that these traits of character are forbidding him from connecting to people, he took special efforts to change his nature. Once someone alleged that ‘RSS teaches our children to steal’. But to our surprise, Dr Hedgewar did not get angry at him. Instead he talked to him in a soft tone and removed his misunderstanding about the RSS. He almost forgot to be angry! “I am a human being and to err is human” was not acceptable to him. “Use me ‘as is where is’ was against his ethos. He would insist upon improving our mistakes and making amends in our behaviour.
Dr Hedgewar led others by his example enlightening lives of countless swayamsevaks. He generated a sense of responsibility in them. This is the secret of the success of Sangh. In the beginning we children used to go to Sangh Shakhas. Many of his colleagues would then belittle his efforts cutting jokes. But with his sustained efforts those children have spread the RSS work throughout the length and breadth of the country. These very workers have scaled new heights in their respective fields of social and national life. Even the opponents of RSS accept the greatness and qualities of swayamsevaks and advise their workers to follow the ideal of RSS. Doctor Hedgewar led the swayamsevaks by his own example and made them the best instruments of Loksangraha.
Proper values are must
The second distinctive feature of Dr Hedgewar’s working style was inculcating good values and sanskars. Organisation is not built by collecting people and lecturing them on a topic. It is necessary to inculcate in them good ethos and values. But one needs to have enough strength to accomplish this task. Dr Hedgewar started daily shakha for this very purpose of inculcating values in the persona of swayamsevaks. Many people still equate shakha with a gym. But Dr Hedgewar did not think so. He arranged and chalked out all the programmes of the shakhas, which would instill the sanskars in the swayamsevaks. Those who thought that they can ban RSS by closing these programms of the shakhas do not know that these programmes are not mere outdoor activities. Dr Hedgewar used to say that every programme of the shakha should be capable of instilling the desired values in the swayamsevaks. With this in mind he provided powerful programmes for daily shakhas. This atmosphere was is so effective and powerful that even now it brought about a sea change in the lives of many swayamsevaks inspiring them to dedicate their lives for the Sangh work. Once a man joins RSS he is considered as ‘obsessed’. But this is a kind of certificate to the capability of that atmosphere! This atmosphere has generated strong, unshakable confidence in the Hindu society. The RSS succeeded in piercing the vicious circle of self-centered, self-oriented lifestyle. This glorious tradition of lighting a chain of lamps begins with Dr Hedgewar himself. His dedicated and virtuous life is the source of this tradition.
The third distinctive feature of his working style was compassionate and sweet relations with all. He would often say that such relations amongst the members were necessary for building a strong organisation. Earlier, no organisation had developed such healthy and sweet and compassionate relationship amongst its members. This aspect is the gift of Dr Hedgewar to RSS. It has been observed that steep differences are visible even amongst the members belonging to same ideology and organisation. At times these differences degenerate to the level of personal and physical attacks.
Thus it cannot be said that common ideology, common mission and objective alone keep the activists together in an organisation and the common experience also endorses this.
It is necessary therefore to create a sense of compassionate relations and unflinching bond of love amongst the workers. Dr Hedgewar understood importance of this and created a strong foundation of brotherhood and love visible amongst the swayamsevaks today.
For this he would not miss a single opportunity to attend family functions of swayamsevaks. He would make it obligatory for himself to participate in such functions with great enthusiasm and blithe. At times he would attend 15-20 marriage ceremonies in a single day. He was very particular about close and lovely relations amongst the swayamsevaks and being Sarsanghachalak he had presented his own example to follow. Every swayamsevak should be a friend and every friend should be a swayamsevak, he would insist. Even today, swayamsevaks observes this practice. The credit for this goes to Dr Hedgewar and his unique working style!
Dr Hedgewar also established the dignity of labour. He wanted that the swayamsevaks should not have any hesitation in doing any work. In the early days he himself would take-up broom and clean the Mohite Sanghsthan along with others, and we all know this.
Changed the concept of Swayamsevaks
The personality of Dr Hedgewar was very influential and electrifying. His presence and contributions in the meetings used to be remembered by one and all. His meetings were always held in a very cordial and friendly atmosphere.
Doctorji used to point out the shortcomings and mistakes of any swayamsevak without hurting his feelings. His idea behind this was to ensure that each swayamsevak becomes a perfect or near perfect worker to carry forward the RSS mission.
His public relations technique were very powerful and magnetic. He totally changed the concept of swayamsevaks. Swayamsevak means patriot, swayamsevak means social activist, swayamsevak means dedicated to mission and providing capable leadership to the society.
This trait distinguished him from all other contemporary leaders. While remembering him we should continue his mission of creating such swayamsevaks in the country.
Balasaheb Deoras (The writer was third Sarsanghachalak of RSS)