Ventured invarious spheres of life
Understanding the RSS and its associated organisations is quite amazing while looking from outside. Once one crosses the exterior of the Sangh movement, one finds an altogether different model of organisational dynamics
The genesis of Sangh extending its appendages outside Shakha work can be traced indirectly to the formation of Rashtra Sevika Samiti during the life time of Dr Hedgewar, the founder. Smt Lakshmibai Kelkar, popularly known as Vandaniya Mausiji, was the mother of a swayamsevak at Wardha Shakha. She met Doctorji several times to persuade him to start a women’s wing of the RSS. After initial hesitation, he agreed and assured all possible help. Thus, Rashtra Sevika Samiti was started on Vijayadasami Day of 1936. But Doctorji gave a clear advice that it will be independent of Sangh and will work parallel to it. Hence, the Samiti in strict sense is not a Vividh Kshetra (associated organisations) of the Sangh. Probably, the next organisational phase initiated by Shri Guruji Golwalkar by starting Vividh Kshetras should have been inspired by this approach of Doctorji.
After becoming the second Sarsanghachalak in 1940, Shri Guruji adopted an aggressive organisational strategy to reach all walks of national life. During his tour from 1940 to 1942, he called upon the youths at every place to come out as Pracharaks to spread the work. He said: “Today for Bharatmata Puja, we require flowers which are untouched, not smelled, not dried up, not worn in the head; at the same time with good scent, honey and charm.” On his call, hundreds of youth from various Shakhas came out leaving their home, parents, wealth, jobs, friends, villages, towns, etc. They went to places which they have not seen or even heard of, happily with full self-confidence of conquering it. DB Thengadiji became a Pracharak after completing his studies in flying colours. The same time Shri Guruji gave a new direction to the Sangh work by inspiring to start different organisations in different sectors of national life. He was also exceptionally knowledgeable in many such fields.
In the initial phase, the structure of the Sangh was confined to Shakha work in Sanghasthan only. Sangh meant work in the Shakha Kshetra only. After the closing of Second World War, it was strongly felt that our Nation is destined to get Independence. Hence, anticipating the role of media in the national life in the new free era, weeklies and newspapers were started under the guidance of Shri Guruji. The long list of such endeavours include Organiser, Rashtra Dharma, Yuga Dharma, Tarun Bharat, Vivek, Jagruti, Kesari, Alok, Swastika, Hindu, Panchajanya, Vikrama etc. Hindustan Samachar was started as a news agency which introduced the first teleprinter service in Devnagari. Newspapers, schools, dispensaries, etc. were also started by the swayamsevaks. Almost at the same time, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) was formed on July 9, 1949. It infused the vision of national reconstruction in the field of education. This was a new beginning for Sangh outreaching different walks of national life.
Expeditions to New Horizons
Shri Guruji gave serious attention to the expansive work called Vividh Kshetra by sparing the ‘First Rank Generals’ of the Sangh including Pt. Deendayal Upadhyaya (Jana Sangh), Dattopant Thengadi (Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh), Balasaheb Deshpande (Vanvasi Kalyan Ahram), Eknath Ranade (Vivekananda Rock Memorial), etc. Sometimes Sangh directly started activities like ABVP, VHP, etc. Sometimes outsiders started the activity and later Sangh accepted them. Jan Sangh, Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, etc. are such examples. In the third category, the swayamsevaks on their own initiated and later the Sangh accepted them. Such examples are the Samskrit Bharati, Kreeda Bharati, etc.
Two swayamsevaks travelling to Kenya who met first time in a ship in their discussion decided to start Sangh work in a country outside India. Thus, on the Makar Sankranti day of 1947, Bharatiya Swayamsevak Sangh was started in Kenya. It was later renamed as Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) and the move spread to several countries of the world.
On a previous occasion, Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee had come to Nagpur on May 20, 1940 and met Doctorji who was laid up. He requested Doctorji that Sangh should involve in politics. It was outrightly rejected, saying Sangh is above politics. The ban on Sangh in 1948 and the consequences prompted certain swayamsevaks to think of working in a political party. In 1951, Dr. Mookerjee started Bharatiya Jana Sangh which was akin to Sangh ideology. After storming sessions, Shri Guruji permitted formation of the Jana Sangh branches by Swayamsevaks in the month of October 1951. In 1952, at the request of Dr Mookerjee, the Sangh deputed Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya to work in the Jana Sangh.
Shri Ramakant Keshav Deshpande, popularly known as Balasaheb Deshpande, was inspired by the renowned Gandhian and Janjati activist Thakkar Bapa. After the death of Thakkar Bapa in 1950, under the inspiration of Shri Guruji, he resigned from the government job and started the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram on December 26, 1952. He was assisted by Shri Morubhaiya Ketkar, a senior Pracharak, on the instruction of the Sangh.
When Sangh deputed Thendadiji for the purpose of starting a national trade union, the trade union field was dominated by the communists. Even though AITUC was formed by Indian National Congress, when all its leaders were involved in political activities, communists cunningly captured its leadership. Hence, in 1947 INTUC was separately formed as a political extension of INC in the labour field. In those circumstances, in 1955, Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) was founded. Even though it was the last arrival in the field, according to the verification of 1989, it was declared by the Government as the largest trade union in the country.
Shri Dattaji Didolkar, the Sangh Pracharak in Tamil Nadu, discussed with Shri Guruji the idea of erecting a grand memorial to Swami Vivekananda on the mid-sea rock near Kanyakumari where Swamiji had sat in meditation. The responsibility for implementing it was entrusted to Shri Eknath Ranade, the then Sarkaryavah of the Sangh. The Himalayan work was started in 1962 and completed in 1970.
Shri Shambhunath Kapildev, a Member of Parliament from Trinidad, realised that in his country there was no proper institutionalised facility for inculcating Hindu values and conducting Hindu religious ceremonies like marriage, etc. He came to India and sought the assistance of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru who showed his helplessness. Then he approached many Acharyas who could also not find any lasting solution. Thereafter, someone advised him to meet Shri Guruji who was at that time attending a programme at Belgaum in Karnataka. Shri Guruji found the solution and entrusted a senior Sangh Pracharak Dadasaheb Apte, who formed Vishwa Hindu parishad at Bombay on the Krishna Janmashtami day in 1964, to promote Hindutva spirit throughout the world.
In the same way several such organisations were formed in almost all walks of national life. Even Statewise Vividh Kshetra organisations were also formed according to necessity. Shri Guruji, in his speech at the historic session in Sindi (near Nagpur) on the night of March 14, 1954, gave a vision about the Vividh Kshetra work: “Every Swayamsevak in other fields has to keep living contact with the daily work of the Sangh, present a new ideal in every walk of life, and fulfil the wider goal of the cause in his specific sphere of work… His work is in addition to the Sangh work, not a substitute… We must also realise what a tremendous amount of organised man-power we need if we have to achieve the goal. Keeping this view firmly in our minds, we must become fit instruments for the fulfilment of this supreme goal in whatever field we work… These workers have to keep a living contact with the daily work of the Sangh.” Reacting to the formation of the Jana Sangh, a political party, Guruji presented the vision of each worker: “It is being carried on so as to present a model of idealism in the political field and build up an organisation that would be able to dominate the political scene…. He has to remember that he has the responsibility of bringing about the desired change in that field.”
The Six Functional Groups
Vividh Kshetra organisations in the Sangh school of thought can be broadly divided into six functional groups as explained in the chart. Sangh insists that those who work in a particular field should also have a holistic understanding of the Sangh and Vividh Kshetra activities. This is achieved through various Baithaks, study camps, programmes, etc.
Vividh Kshetra organisations are independent, autonomous and separate. ‘Autonomous’ means functional and operational autonomy. In Vividh Kshetra organisations, the Sangh has relations with swayamsevaks and not with organisations. These swayamsevaks are bound by Sangh culture called Sanghatva or Swayamsevakatva. Deendayalji said, the culture of that akhada from which we came has to be maintained. In society, a swayamsevak should be recognised by his patriotism, good qualities, behaviour, character, etc. People now identify that if somebody raises the slogan of ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’, then he is from ‘Sangh Parivar’. Sangh developed the application of Bharatiya values in different sectors. In the midst of programmes, we should not interrupt the basic tapas. When persons are to meet with tough realities, it may be very difficult to stick on to values. But Sangh trains us to perform tough tasks without losing our values. The criterion of strength of an organisation is the number of workers with dedication to an ideal.
Vandaniya Mausiji Keklar says: Shakha is the sanjeevani of society”. Sangh Shakha is daily sadhana. Sangh work is mainly confined to the man making process thorough its Shakha mechanism. The swayamsevaks are duty bound to go to the social mainstream and bring about the total transformation envisaged in the whole Sangh scheme. Vividh Kshetras are organised instruments through which this is achieved. Sangh will do Shakha work only; rest, swayamsevaks will take care of. Social transformation is the outlook of the swayamsevaks who are created in Shakha and working in various fields. Sangh will not do anything directly, but swayamsevaks will not spare anything in the social life. No stone will remain unturned or remain without Sangh touch. Sangh gives life to different organisations through swayamsevaks. The one difference is, for Sangh, the only work is man making; but for Vividh Kshetras, man making has to be done in the midst of so many other works. This is a test of efficiency of the workers there. BMS is a Sangh creation, reminded Thengadiji. Doing Sangh work in the field of labour is the BMS work. Shri Guruji distinguished that we should say swayamsevaks working in labour field, student field, etc. and not swayamsevaks working in BMS, ABVP, etc.
The Sangh Touch in Vividh Kshetra
What is the Sangh touch in Vividh Kshetra? Once, Shri Thengadiji came to Tatanagar to attend a BMS meeting. He stayed in the house of a labourer. On the same day the well-known Communist leader Shri Dange came to attend another meeting and stayed in a luxury hotel. Dange’s followers questioned their leaders on this issue. For a swayamsevak, wherever he works, his life is his message. In comparison, Shri AK Gopalan, the veteran Marxist leader and former Leader of Opposition in the Parliament said in his reminiscences how workers change their attitude and habits on attaining covetable posts. Communist leaders, who worked for party by residing in slums and small huts of workers, were rewarded by the people by voting to power. When they became MPs and went to Parliament they were given bungalows to stay in Delhi. There they were used to European closets. Hence, when they went back after five years, they were searching big houses for stay with European closets. At that time only rich people had it. So, they distanced themselves from ordinary workers. This is a sarcastic way of describing the transformation of one time sincere workers.
Most of the Sangh organisations believe themselves as apolitical (above politics) but not anti-political. In the first public meeting in Bhopal in 1955, BMS workers decided to bring Vajpayeeji who was in Bhopal on that day for attracting people. But Vajpayeeji refused and said: “What I understand is that BMS is a non-political organisation. But if in your first meeting a politician is speaking, what will be its fate?” This is the correct understanding about the Sangh ideology. To add to this, BJP has for long decided that they will not have a separate Trade Union wing or student wing, etc. As a contrast to this, Communists believe in political frontal organisations i.e. related organisations work as a part of their political work to achieve their political ambitions. For example, during the Quit India Movement, their trade unions had to support the British Government in order to thwart the national movement at the order of their bosses i.e. Indian Communist Party and Russian Stalinist Government.
Those who look at Sangh and its organisations from outside are at times confused at the apparent contradictions that they see in the functioning. One characteristic of Hindutva is that it can accommodate different apparently contradicting philosophies like shad darshans ranging from aasthik to naasthik. Similarly Vividh Kshetra organisations also may have different views on the same issues–e.g. economic policy, labour policy, etc. Different opinions do not mean difference of opinion. We bring down difference to the minimum by constant dialogue and thus bring about intellectual discipline. For the purpose, the concept of samanvyaya is the guiding light to workers. Samanvaya Baithaks are not for samanvaya between organisations or with Sangh, but to create a mindset of constant samanvaya in the minds of swayamsevaks.
Thengadiji reminds every swayamsevak about the scheme of total social transformation envisioned in the last paragraph of the Sangh prayer:
Our goal- Highest glory of Nation (Param vaibhavam netumetat svarashtram)
The means- By Protection of Dharma (Vidhayaasya dharmasya samrakshanam)
Method- By organising the society (Vichetree cha na samhataa kaarya saktir)
Every swayamsevak pledges to achieve this scheme. Thengadiji said we will continue working till the glory of our nation and the development of the last person is attained. The whole cadre based movements move in this common direction. About Sangh Parivar a European used the word in the title of his book- “Brotherhood in Saffron”, pointing out the peculiar Parivar or familial feeling among the Sangh fraternity. The relationship of the Sangh and Vividh Kshtetra organisations are something unparalleled even in the global scenario. We collectively are an organisation with a difference, a distinctly different formation.
The writer is former national president of BMS