Dr Hedgewar’s magnetic personality is unfolded through the letters he wrote on many occasions mainly to Sangh workers. The total number of letters he drafted is 951 accommodated in 1,821 pages. These letters were written in between 1929 to 1940. However, he also wrote 586 letters during 1935 to 1938. His health started deteriorating since 1939 and hence most of the letters of 1940s are written from Rajgeer where he went for recuperating.
This correspondence is basically a history of initial expansion of RSS activities in the entire country. The RSS, which began its mission of Hindu consolidation at Nagpur in 1925 under the visionary leadership of Dr Hedgewar spread its work in almost all the provinces by 1940s. Thus, these letters tell us the story and history of gradual extension of RSS activities. Besides, these letters are the first alphabets of the science of organisation. We can read the fundamental observation of Dr Hedgewar about the prevailing social situation in these letters.
Archives of RSS Work
The letters of Dr Hedgewar are no less than the archives of the RSS. Though his letters were mostly personal, they nevertheless were written to accelerate the pace of Sangh work. Many letters were read collectively and discussed before being replied. In a letter from Indore dated 24.8.1929 Dr Hedgewar writes to Dada Parmarth and Krishna Mohrir: “Please show my letters to Shri Balaji, Muthal Barve etc.” Again on 3.10.1931 Dr Hedgewar wrote to Krishna Mohrir about making systematic arrangements for Nagpur camp and advises him to read the contents of this letter to Shri Martandrao Jog, Kalikar, Baburao, Bapurao and other members of the Karyakari Mandal and convey his regards to them.
Dr Hedgewar made it a regular practice that his letters were meant for all the swayamsevaks and they should be read by all concerned.
The letters of Dr Hedgewar served as an instrument of his life mission called RSS. Hence, these 951 letters are nothing less than archival importance of the early growth and expansion of the RSS activities in the
Dr Hedgewar insisted on proper documentation of RSS activities and wrote to a number of Karyakartas about this. He wanted the record of these activities and programmes be maintained properly and monthly report be sent to Nagpur for record. In a letter, dated 22.4.1932 and 2.10.1932 to Ganpatrao Deo and Kashinathrao Limaye he insisted that they should send “monthly report of Sangh activities before the third day of the next month according to English calendar” and “no dilly-dallying would be tolerated in this”. Similar letter was sent to Vinayakrao Apte, Sanghachalak of Pune, asking him to send a copy of such monthly report to Kashinathrao Limaye, who was then provincial level adhikari.
Published news and reports of public functions of the RSS also formed the part of this documentation and there is mention of dispatching such reports to various individuals in his correspondence. He also directed all the shakhas to send their Vijayadashmi function report for publishing in newspapers, particularly in Maharashtra daily of Nagpur. He asked Vasantrao Oak, who was in Delhi then, to translate the Marathi news of Nagpur RSS Vijayadashmi in Maharashtra and get it published in Hindi newspapers and send those published news to Nagpur in a letter of 27.10.1937.
In a letter to one Narshingh Prasad of Munger in Bihar, who expressed his desire to start RSS shakha Dr Hedgewar replied on 16.7.1938. He wrote: “In the meanwhile by way of helping you just a little; we are herewith enclosing a copy of an English leaflet that gives in nutshell the account of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh as it stands today.”
The Government banned its employees from participating in RSS activities through a circular. The circular was defeated on the floor of the House in Central Provinces. Dr Hedgewar collected all the records related to this circular and its defeat in the Council. He wrote to one Patankar of Kolhapur in 1937 along with these reports. Doctorji wrote further: “Keep these papers safe and secure after they are shown to concerned persons. These documents are rare and it is difficult to get them time and again.”
Dr Hedgewar understood the importance of archives as equally as he underlined the need to consolidate Hindu society.
His letters also spell the ideological aspect of his mission. Explaining the aim of RSS he wrote to Bhausaheb Ghate of Katol on 1.10.1934: “The work of RSS is not confined to one village or province. We have started this for organising the entire country and consolidating the Hindu society in order to make it self-reliant and strong. In our opinion, Hindu is the oldest nation and the Bhagwa Dhwaj of this Hindu Rashtra is the oldest flag. Since Hindu Rashtra is not to be created therefore there is no need for a new flag for this nation. And at least, the RSS would not accept any new flag instead of this traditional age-old national flag.” This letter thus gives the concrete idea and philosophy that inspired him for RSS mission.
His letters present the perfect analysis of the then prevailing social and political situation. The arrogance of Muslims, the indifferent attitude of the councillors towards issues of national importance, the internal squabbling and personal interests of the national leaders etc. find ample expressions in his letters.
His letters are also indicative of his efforts to establish RSS work in all the provinces in a short span of 15 years overcoming the prevailing social situation. The initial letters have references to RSS work being started in Indore, Jabalpur, Khandesh, Mumbai, Pune etc. followed by Kashi and Karachi in the early 30s. After 1936, the RSS work spread speedily in Delhi, Punjab, and Bihar with frequent visits of Babasaheb Apte and others. The first OTC was held at Lahore in 1939, while swayamsevaks from Madras in down south had come to Nagpur OTC. His letters in this period bear references to all these developments about the Sangh work.
Dr Hedgewar used all opportunities small or big for spreading the Sangh activity. Notable amongst them are Tarun Hindu Parishad of Karachi. Dr Hedgewar participated in that and used this opportunity to start a shakha there with DD Chaudhary as Sanghachalak. Maharsahtra Sahitya Sammelan was another such occasion. He dispatched Prof Golwalkar and Babasaheb Chitle to Mumbai for exploring possibilities of starting Sangh shakha taking advantage of the Hindu Mahasabha session. He also arranged visits of important leaders to RSS shakhas and used their contacts to spread the Sangh work in their regions later. In 1938, senior leader from Punjab Dr Gokulchand Narang was invited as chief guest for Vijayadashmi Utsav of Nagpur shakha. In a letter to Dharmaveerji, Sanghachalak of Lahore, Dr Hedgewar wrote on 17.10.1938: “We feel confident that you will try to take full advantage of his influence for the spread of Sangh organisation in Punjab as that was our sole motive in bringing in direct touch with our organisation in this province.”
Guidance to workers
Dr Hedgewar developed individual workers for spreading Sangh work in different provinces after 1935 and sent them to different regions. Vasantrao Oak, Gopalrao Yerkuntwar and Janardan Chinchalkar were dispatched to different regions. But they were properly groomed before their new responsibilities. In a letter to Rajabhau Paturkar in Punjab, Doctorji asked him to take care of health. In another letter to Chinchalkar he asked him to understand the social situation in depth and then work on strategy to spread the Sangh work.
Thus, his letters unfold the journey of an individual who conceived the ideas of such an epoch-making organisation that has now influenced all the sectors of social, political, economic and religious life of the nation. Dr Hedgewar’s greatness lies in the fact that he did not boast of his greatness while moving along with his colleagues and juniors lest they kept respectable distance from him and worshipped him as their hero. Bhushan Damle