I read with interest Shri Ram Chandra Guha's article titled ‘Bhagwat's Ambedkar’ published in The Indian Express dated December 10, 2015. I was amused; amused to learn that historians are only interested in the past and are oblivious of the present. But society and social institutions, if they are not fossilised, work and move on the well-known principle of “by the past, through the present, to the future.” Hindu society has moved, through the ages following this benevolent principle. Dr S Radhakrishnan has correctly stated in his book The Hindu View of Life that “Hinduism is a movement, not a position; a process, not a result; a growing tradition, not a fixed revelation.” RSS
too, as a staunch follower of Hindutva, moved on this principle.
Now about certain facts.
1) The erudite author writes “RSS took part in neither Salt Satyagraha nor the Quit India Movement.” When was the Salt Satyagraha started? Ignoramus as I am, I think it was in 1930. Average age of the RSS volunteers must be around 15 or 16 at that time. Are they expected to take part in that Satyagraha? But I may tell Mr Guha, the founder of RSS Dr KB Hedgewar took part in the forest Satyagraha, an equivalent of Salt Satyagraha, in Vidarbha. He was arrested and sentenced to nine months rigorous imprisonment. It will be pertinent to know a few facts about KB Hedgewar. He was a revolutionary since his childhood. He was rusticated from the school for welcoming a school inspector with the slogan of Vande Mataram. After matriculation he went to Calcutta to become a Doctor. He preferred Calcutta to Bombay which was nearer to Nagpur. The reason is easy to know. After coming from Calcutta, he joined the Congress and was sentenced to undergo rigorous punishment for delivering anti-British speeches. He was the secretary of the Provincial Congress Committee and was head of the volunteer corps at the 1920 All India Congress session held at Nagpur.
2) As for 1942 Quit India Movement, I will request Shri Guha to note that Gandhiji did not want to start the movement in August. He had given six months time to the British to ‘Quit India’. The British knew that Gandhiji was not giving them six months time to pack up, but was taking time to organise his agitation. I have a reference in my mind, but I cannot exactly quote it here. But I request Shri Guha to find out from the confidential letters published in five volumns by the British Government in 1972, under the title ‘Transfer of Power’. In one letter, the then UP (United provinces) Governor wrote to the Viceroy, that Mr Gandhi is planning to start a violent agitation in February-March 1943, in Bharat, when Subhas Chandra Bose will be attacking Bharat from the East. You add six months to August, and you get February 1943. The then British Government decided to crush the movement and meticulously planned to arrest the Congress leaders. The arrest-warrants were ready. The preparations for lodging the Congress leaders were all made before hand. After the arrest, the Quit India Movement started but got erratic and scattered. There was no organised All-India plan. It was intense and wide-spread in Bihar but not in UP. It was stringent in Satara in Southern Maharashtra but not in Pune. In Vidarbha, Chimur, now a tehsil witnessed a violent outbreak, but Chandrapur, a district was comparatively cool. Had Gandhiji got time to plan and organise he would certainly have contacted the RSS. However, the RSS volunteers, on their own took part in that agitation. In Chimur episode, those who were convicted and sentenced to death included one RSS worker. The person who hoisted the tri-colour at the government building in Ramtek (District Nagpur) was a RSS volunteer. Mrs Aruna Asaf Ali, while underground, was given asylum in Hansraj Gupta's house in Delhi. (Shri Gupta later on became chief of RSS Delhi unit.) Shri Nana Patil of Satara, who led a fierce anti-British agitation was for many days, staying underground in the house of Pandit Satwalekar, the Sanghachalak of the nearby town.
Now about Dr Ambedkar. The writer writes that RSS and its associated bodies literally opposed Dr. Ambedkar in the year 1949-1951. Which were the associated bodies of the RSS in 1949-1951? I will be extremely happy if the writer throws some light of his erudition on our ignorant faculties. Jan Sangh was started in 1951. How can RSS be held responsible for opposing the Hindu Code Bill. Are Shankaracharyas members of the RSS? Those who are associated with Hindu religious activities can inform you how difficult it is to bring all Shankaracharyas, Mahantas, and Mathadhipaties on one platform. It was only in 1964 that, because of RSS efforts, they could come on one platform and take a historical decision to declare that untouchability is not sanctioned by our Dharma. The slogan was 'all Hindus are brothers and no Hindu is fallen.'
It is true that RSS was against Partition. But it did not propose transfer of population. On the contrary Dr. Ambedkar had proposed the transfer of population. Mr. Guha should read Dr. Ambedkar's book on Partition and find out the truth.
It is a fact that RSS had felt convinced that Gandhi will not accede to Partition. In the 1946 elections, the main point of the Congress manifesto was United India, while that of the Muslim League was Partition. Muslim League did not get majority even in N.W.F.P. where Muslim population was 95 per cent, but the Congress won handsomely. So also in Punjab, Muslim League was routed by the Unionist Party. Even Gandhiji had said the country will be Partioned ‘over my dead body’. What happened after that is a mystery and betraying the people's mandate the Congress accepted ‘Partition’.
In the RSS daily Shakha functioning, Ekatmata Stotra (hymn for integration) is recited. It was first introduced in the fifth decade of the last century. It was known at that time as prathsmaran—meaning remembrance for good morning. It was a collection of old shlokas (i. e. stanzas) in praise of old saints, warriors and incarnations. It was revised in the seventies and was titled Ekatmata Stotra. It included the names of the modern great men, viz. Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Dayananda Saraswati, Rabindranath Tagore, Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Rama Teertha, Vivekananda, Aurobindo, Dadabhai Naoroji, Gopabandhu of Assam, Lokmanya Tilak, Mahatma Gandhi, Raman Maharshi, Pt. Madan Mohan Malviya, Subramania Bharati, Subhas Chandra Bose, Pranavananda, VD Savarkar, Thakkarbhai, BR Ambedkar, Mahatma Phule, Narayan Guru of Kerala, and lastly Hedgewar and Golwalkar. Dr. Ambedkar's greatness has not dawned on the RSS in 2015. The new hymn was conceived during Emergency.
It should be admitted that it is not easy to understand RSS, because it does not fit into any model of existing parties as an institution. RSS is unique. To understand RSS you have to get your mind free from prejudice. It is also necessary to note that RSS aims at organising the ‘entire’ society. The word ‘entire’ is very very important. Society is a complex existence. It functions through various spheres of activities. Politics is one of them but not the only one. Education, Religion, Labour, Agricul-ture, Health, Cooperation and many others are different functions of social behaviour. Organising the entire society means organising all the sections of social life; and RSS has gradually entered into these fields. RSS is not a political party. It is a cultural organisation; culture means, a certain value system. We understand ‘culture’ as restricted to dance, drama, music, etc. No. Culture is a value system—a value system that is the basis of nationalism. A nation is a cultural concept. One race, one religion, one language are not essential conditions to become a Nation.
Nation and State are two different concepts. But to explain the essential distinction between the two will require another essay. So also for understanding the distinction Between Dharma and religion. ‘Hinduism is not a religion’ as Dr Radhakrishnan has said; “it is a common-wealth of many religions” and yet something more than religions. Dharma is related to both this-worldly and other-worldly affairs; that is both material as well as spiritual.
(The writer is a senior RSS ideologue)