Vision for Sewa: Service as Sadhana
The 1,55,000 sewa projects being run by the Sangh Swayamsevaks today are proving instrumental not only in generating harmony in the society, but also in eradicating various social evils and setting good precedents
In their daily prayer, the Sangh swayamsevaks resolve to take the nation to the pinnacle of glory. This resolve cannot be realised unless every element in the society connects with the mainstream and becomes powerful, self-reliant, proud and integrates with other sections of the society. The swayamsevaks run sewa projects only to attain this objective. As of today, 1,55,000 sewa projects are being run across the country.
Sewa is the means for the swayamsevaks to create samarasata (harmony) in the society. What the Hindu philosophy says about sewa forms the basis of the service activities by the Sangh. For us, service means the work done with the sense of selflessness, with the aim of welfare, with a sense of duty, with the sense of worship, for allaying the pains of deprived, exploited and disadvantaged members of the society and for their upliftment, for their emancipation.
A swayamsevak is shaped only to reply to the challenges of the time. The swayamsevaks are carrying out service activities since beginning of the RSS. They are ever ready for the relief and rescue works during the war, flood, drought, earthquake or any other calamity. They have also made sacrifices during the relief and rescue activities.
Promote the Values
“We should hold regular classes to teach our children about the values of Sanatan Dharma. At every temple there should be funds set aside to distribute spiritual books to children for free. Instead of only taking our children to scenic locations for holidays, we should also take them to poor villages so that they can see for themselves the lives of the less
The RSS formed Sewa Vibhag, dedicated solely to the service works, in 1990, because a large section of the society is deprived, disadvantaged and exploited even today. It is away from the progress and development and is victim of the harmful customs. Very powerful and speedy efforts are necessary for upliftment of all these classes. To go in those families and classes, provide them education, health, self-reliance and values and bring them in the mainstream is necessary. Secondly, the RSS has grown in strength during these 90 years. The swayamsevaks who have received values from the RSS and in whom the sense of service has been kindled, forms a big chunk of the society. To give impetus to this large force of swayamsevaks for the upliftment of deprived classes of the society is the work of the Sewa Vibhag.
As per the Hindu philosophy, there are three categories of sewa. The third category of sewa is trying to allay the deficiency of the deprived, such as providing education to the illiterate, treatment to the ill, food to the hungry, water to the thirsty and clothes to the uncovered, etc. The second category is that of enabling the deprived person to help stand on his/her own. One who is being served today should not need the service in future. The first category of service is the one in which one who requires service today should be able to serve others. This service is our means. We have to make the society proud and self-reliant and inspire it for the service. The measure in which we attain the success in this, we will call it the fulfilment of our service work.
Organised Form of Activities
RSS does no sewa work, all service activities are conducted by the swayamsevaks only. The only work that the RSS does is the character building. RSS creates the swayamsevaks with servitude having the sense of values. These swayamsevaks venture out into various sectors of the society and contribute to the life of the nation. Millions of swayamsevaks are working in service sphere also. These service works are being operated through 800 big and small organisations. They plan and decide about the service works. These organisations include the micro-organisations at village level to big organisations at the regional level. The organisation that works at the regional level is called Sewa Bharati. However, there are other names as well in some regions such as Jan Kalyan Samiti in Maharashtra, Lok Kalyan Samiti in Nagpur, Utkal Bipanna Sahayata Samiti in Odisha, Hindu Seva Pratishthan and Rashtroththan Parishat in Karnataka, etc. It is called Dr. Hedgewar Smarak Sewa Samiti also at some places.
There are four main dimensions of these service activities – education, health, social values and self-reliance. Besides the service organisations, the swayamsevaks are also active in the service activities at individual level or by forming small groups. They carry out various small service activities like tuition centres, Sanskar Kendras, Balwadis, empowerment of the disabled, environment protection, etc. The swayamsevaks collect the money themselves and carry out these activities. However, in a registered organisation like Sewa Bharati, the fund collection is done through the receipt books, accounts, etc. That is why the larger works, larger projects and the service works at the mass scale are carried out only through the organisations.
Sewa Activities and Sewa Initiatives
A classification has been done for the ease of planning and system of the work. We call only those works as service works which are run on daily or weekly basis, such as single teacher school, hostel, dispensary, etc., while the works which are done once in a fortnight, month or few times in a year are called Service Initiatives, such as blood donation, tree plantation, cleaning drive done occasionally. They are called initiatives. As of today, the number of the service activities is 1,55,000 and the number of service initiatives is 60,000.
Policy of Self-Reliance
All these service activities are conducted with the assistance from the society. As far as the question of government assistance arises, we have a clear-cut policy for that. We accept only the 'one time funding' from the government for the completion of a specific project like construction of a building, purchase of a vehicle, etc. However, we do not accept the government assistance for operation of the organisation or for the daily expenses of the service works or for any other expenditure. Most of the service works are run solely with the assistance from the society. Receiving grant from anyone is not the habit of the swayamsevaks.
Regular Review of the Sewa Activities
A review of the service activities is carried out regularly. All sewa organisations review their works annually. Moreover, there is an umbrella organisation of over 800 service organisations, through which 55,000 service works are undertaken. It is called Rashtriya Sewa Bharati with headquarters in Delhi. Rashtriya Sewa Bharati reviews all service works once in five years in which volunteers participates for supervision of every service activity.
Common Platform for Sewa Workers
The swayamsevaks have started a new endeavour (for the past ten years) to convey the message of sewa and take the values to the masses. 'Sewa Sangams' are organiseed in every five years in every Prant. All sewa organisations that work with honesty and selflessness, whether swayamsevak or not, are invited in these Sewa Sangams. Likewise, a Sewa Sangam is organised at national level also in every five years in which prominent service organisations doing commendable work are invited from all over the country. By appearing at one platform, exchange of the ideas takes place, the chances of cooperation increase and the resolve of service becomes stronger. More than 1000 service organisations are connected now-a-days in this initiative. One such Sewa Sangam took place in Delhi in April 2015.
Multi-Dimensional & All Encompassing
Our service activities are being run today in urban slum areas and backward rural areas. In addition, 10 crore Janjati brethren live in the country whom the government calls ‘adivasis’. The service activities are run in large numbers in such areas.
The service activities are run in remote regions and Janjati areas as well. In Assam, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura and Nagaland, 5000 Swasthya Mitra/Arogya Mitra are working who provide medicines for the common ailments. They organise health camps. There is an organisation of doctors that serves in the health sector called National Medicos Organisation (NMO). Its organises Dhanwantari Sewa Yatra every year in north-east. The Sewa Bharati and NMO together send the post-graduate medical students and the doctors from all over the country to different villages in north east every year. Likewise, the post-graduate doctors in Rajasthan organise a similar Sewa Yatra in December every year in Janjati areas of the state called Poonjabhil Sewa Yatra. Hundreds of doctors and their colleagues go there and look after the health of the people. Similarly, Rishi Kashyap Sewa Yatra is conducted in Jammu & Kashmir. Thus, all these sewa works are run in all the areas of the country that are considered remote.
Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram is active in Vanvasi areas. Health and education projects are being run through it also. The projects of employment training are also run. The number of such projects is more than 18,000.
Service activities are going on among the nomadic tribes of Maharashtra for the last 22-23 years. Some of the nomadic or Banjara tribes are in existence for hundreds of years. They have no home to live, hence no values, their names are not in the ration cards or voters' list nor they have the caste certificates. Therefore, they have no employment. The children do not get education. They are affected by addiction and crime. Hostels and schools are being run for their children. As a result, thousands of children have abandoned begging and are studying now. The children from those strata that had adopted stealing as their occupation are now receiving education. They are leading a good life by availing the education. The women from this class have become self-reliant and running their homes by doing small and big jobs. They have abandoned the nomadic life and caring for the education of the children as also the safety and values of all.
Various sewa projects are also run to improve the financial condition of women and deprived class. More than 50,000 women are helping in the service activities. They run self-help groups and run 1,000 Sanskar Kendras and self-help groups. The women are standing on their own; helping their families and villages. Examples like these are spread all over the country. Today, 6,000 service activities are going on in Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu alone. Of these, 1,600 are self-help groups. Besides the financial empowerment, these self-help groups try to rid the men from the alcoholism and get their villages rid of addiction. Today, the self-help groups are run all over the country among women. Many other activities for women empowerment are also undertaken. Women are becoming sophisticated, organised and self-reliant through them. It is the experience of the entire country that the deprived class is coming out of the realm of the word 'deprived'; it is becoming self-reliant. The sewa volunteers too are coming out from this class. Thus, many types of effective service works are going on in the country to improve the condition of the deprived class. Projects for the orphan children are run in the name of Matruchhaya.
RSS never thinks of the caste, sect or faith while doing the sewa. Anyone who is in crisis, deprived or exploited must be served; whatever may be his caste, way of worship or sect. That is why these service activities impress every section of the society. There is no hesitation at all. For example, if any service activity is going on somewhere and the Muslim community is in large number there, they benefit from that project. When dispensaries are run or mobile medical vans are taken out, the Muslim women reach there in large numbers with their children and families. Single Teacher Schools are also run for the children, self-help groups, tailoring training centres are run for the women, many types of initiatives, and programmes for health are run. Training and awareness about the service activities is also regularly conducted.
Let's Move Together
Local RSS worker may be contacted for connecting with or to know details about the service activities being carried out by swayamsevaks. Also, one may go to the website of Rashtriya Sewa Bharati (www.rashtriyasewa.org). A magazine ‘Sewa Sadhana’ is published annually. Besides, a tri-monthly journal ‘Sewa Sagar’ is also published. A publication titled ‘Sewa Disha’ is brought out every five years providing detailed statistical information of the service activities in the country. These journals are available on the website of Rashtriya Sewa Bharati. The literature on sewa work is also published at regional level.
Signs of Change
The security of women has been ensured wherever the service works are going on. The volunteer who carry out their work honestly in the direction of removing the financial and social inequality have been created. Good examples of de-addiction, rural development, environment protection and water conservation have come up. A good measure of success is being achieved in eradicating the disparity and the practice of untouchability. While carrying out their service works, the swayamsevaks experience that the sense of servitude is always welcomed in the society. The sense of service exists in our country, in the blood of every person in the society. This sense is awakened in some of them who are active in the service works. Those, in whom this sense is dormant, also join the service works when it is aroused in them. Contact and constant touch is necessary to arouse the sense of service in the hearts of the educated and affluent people and to keep the feelings of the pain of the society alive.
Challenges like continuously toiling in the service works, to maintain the courage and fortitude of the heart and keep up the work come up during the service works. However, millions of volunteers are working in the country are involved in the service works in spite of the unfavourable experiences and difficult situations because this is a national cause. It is a divine cause. The courage and enthusiasm of the volunteers grow after seeing the help coming from the society.
A heavy cyclone ravaged Andhra Pradesh in 1978. Houses and lives were destroyed in a large number. After watching the relief work of the swayamsevaks during that calamity, the then Sarvodayi leader and sanyasi Prabhakar Raoji had said that RSS meant ‘Ready for Selfless Service’. Millions of swayamsevaks are set to bring these words into reality. These service works are for the society, of the society and are the force of the nation.
(The writer is Akhil Bharatiya Sewa Pramukh of RSS. As told to Prashant Bajpai)