The legend who initiated the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh ork in Kenya in 1947 to spread the Hindu ethos o utside Bharat
Jagdish Chandra Shastri Sharda, the man behind initiating the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) work in 1947 passed away on December 25 at the age of 96. Fondly known as ‘Shastriji’, Jagdishji breathed his last in Toronto at about 1.45 pm as per the local time. The last rites were performed on December 30 in Toranto.
Originally, a RSS swayamsevak from Punjab, Jagdishji held various Sangh responsibilities in Ludhiana before shifting to Kenya in 1947. In Kenya, he initiated the first HSS Shakha on Makar Sankranti Day in 1947. Countless swayamsevaks have been inspired by his narration of the first RSS Prarthana recited on the deck of a ship when he travelled from Mumbai to Kenya with fellow swayamsevaks whom he met on the boat itself.
“Adaraniya Jagdish Shastri ji”s passing away is very sad news indeed. With three generations of the Sangh swayamsevaks his family, Shastri ji was truly a living legend especially for all of us in the Vishwa Vibhag. Apart from being one of the initiators of the historic first Shakha outside Bharat, his contribution to the HSS work in the countries in three continents, Kenya, UK and Canada has been unique. Thanks to Ratan Sharda ji”s efforts, it is chronicled in the book “Memoirs of a Global Hindu” and recently also video recorded.
Always cheerful and humble, Shastriji was instrumental in establishing the HSS work in Kenya, UK and Mauritius before moving to Canada. He attended most of the Vishwa Vibhag programmes including many Vishwa Sangh Shivirs in Bharat. He inspired many swayamsevaks through his letters, personal conversations and phone calls and was always eager to know about the growth of the Sangh work in Bharat and other parts of the world.
Reference Point of Vishwa Vibhag
“Shastri ji didn’t use his pleasant speech only to please people, but as an intelligent organiser he used his persuasive skills in his work. He thought positively that every person who comes in his contact can be of use for the Sangh. With this in mind he persuaded that person to work for the cause. As he carried out all the work, he took a totally egoless and selfless view that all this was possible only because of the Sangh and the associated colleagues. He was always keen to give credit to others. His humility to stay away from limelight was of the rare class. Even as he did so much, his mental attitude was that he hardly did anything. He could easily have led a leisurely life after retirement in Canada, but his ‘youth’ and ‘enthusiasm’ did not allow him to do so. He firmly believed that ‘resting is rusting’. Shastri ji was the ‘reference point’ of the Vishwa Vibhag. His gentle, humble, self-abnegating personality was an inspiration to all of us.”
In his tribute, RSS Akhil Bharatiya Prachar Pramukh Dr Manmohan Vaidya said, “Jagadishji has inspired and motivated innumerable karyakartas by his exemplary life dedicated to the Sangh activities in Vishwa Vibhag for three generations. His fond memories now will continue to do the same for coming generations of swayamsevaks.”
Vishwa Vibhag Sah Samyojak Shri Ram Vaidya said, “Shastri ji was an icon of simplicity and consistency in work. He was the ‘Pitamah’ of Vishwa Vibhag. He lived as ‘Yuva’ throughout his life. He never left his dream. His phone call on birthday was inspirational backing for us Pracharaks. We will miss all these things. To carry the role we have been given with fullest capacity will be the real tribute to him.”
Shri Sadanand Sapre, another Sah Samyojak,Vishwa Vibhag said, “Shastriji was very gentle, humble, cheerful and above all a source of inspiration for the swayamsevaks all over the world. I am fortunate that I have met him in person during the VSS-2010 in Pune. I still remember his charismatic personality on the wheelchair and spreading cheerfulness all around him. During the photo session after the Shivir, everybody wanted him in their group photo and smilingly he obliged all.” Passing away of Shastriji is indeed a major loss to the HSS work. The real tribute will be to emulate his qualities to further the cause of the HSS. n