A unique phenomenon in the history of Bharat in the twentieth century is the birth and unceasing growth of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). The Sangh’s sphere of influence has been spreading far and wide, not only inside Bharat but also abroad, like the radiance of a many splendored diamond. Sangh-inspired institutions and movements today form a strong presence in social, cultural, educational, labour, developmental, political and other fields of nationalist endeavour. Sangh initiated movements – be they social-reformist or anti-secessionist – evoke ready response and approbation from the common multitudes as well as from vast numbers of elite of different shades. It has increasingly been recognized that the Sangh is not a mere reaction to one or another social or political aberration. It represents a corpus of thought and action firmly rooted in genuine nationalism and in the age old tradition of this country.
No other movement or institution has attracted such vast numbers of adherents, several thousands of them making social work their life’s mission, whose character and integrity are not doubted even by their most virulent critics.
As a movement for national reconstruction totally nurtured by the people, Sangh has no parallel in Bharat or elsewhere. The growth of the Sangh – as a movement for assertion of Bharat’s national identity – acquires added significance when we remember that the birth of the Sangh was preceded by mental, cultural and economic onslaught by alien rulers for long decades.
Sangh Marches Ahead
There could be only one explanation for the continuing march of the Sangh from strength to strength: The emotive response of the millions to the vision of Bharat’s national glory, based on the noblest values constituting the cultural and spiritual legacy of the land and collectively called ‘Dharma’, comprising faith in the oneness of the human race, the underlying unity of all religious traditions, the basic divinity of the human being, complementarity and inter-relatedness of all forms of creation both animate and inanimate, and the primacy of spiritual experience. That the mission of the Sangh is in tune with a millennia old heritage itself carries an irresistible appeal.
It would have been logical for our post-1947 rulers to re-structure the national life in keeping with our culture. Sadly, that golden opportunity was lost. Until Dharma also is recognized as a basis of survival and progress, national integration and such other oft-repeated goals will remain a far cry indeed. Idealism and patriotism are tangible exterior manifestations of Dharma.
Absence of idealism has been at the root of most problems haunting our polity. Amidst such an environment, Sangh is unique in according primacy to inculcation of patriotism in all citizens and in all life’s activities. National reconstruction demands the fostering of a national character, uncompromising devotion to the Motherland, discipline self-restraint, courage and heroism. To create and nurture these noble impulses is the most challenging task before the country – what Swami Vivekananda succinctly called man-making.
It is to this historic mission that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has addressed itself.
Sangh: A Dynamic Power-House
Great oaks from little acorns grow. What started as a tiny stream in an obscure corner of Nagpur in Maharashtra 92 years ago has now swollen into a mighty river engulfing the remotest villages of the country. That the number of Sangh Shakhas has crossed 57000 is one indicator of the expanding reach of the Sangh.
It redounds to the foresight of Dr. Keshav Baliram Hedgewar (1889-1940) that he anticipated the need for strengthening the foundations of the Hindu society and for preparing it for challenges on social, economic, cultural, religious, philosophical and political planes. A galaxy of savants such as Dayananda and Vivekananda, Aurobindo and Tilak, had sown the seeds of the most recent phase of national renaissance. What was needed was a sufficiently strong instrumentality for carrying that process onward. This instrumentality was created and bequeathed to the nation by Dr. Hedgewar in the form of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh which he, after years of deliberate and patient preparation, founded at Nagpur on 27th September, Vijayadashami Day of 1925.
One of the hazards of organisation-building is allowing one’s vision to be clouded with immediate concerns, resulting in dilution of perception of the ultimate goal. Dr. Hedgewar’s especial strength was that he never allowed demands of the immediate present to veer him away from the ultimate mission he set to himself.
Keeping aflame the spirit of freedom and endeavouring simultaneously to strengthen the cultural roots of the nation marked the twin features of the character of the Sangh from the beginning; and that has to this day remained its main plank. Every passing day has confirmed the validity of this basic philosophy. Erosion of the nation’s integrity in the name of secularism, economic and moral bankruptcy, incessant conversions from the Hindu fold through money-power, ever-increasing trends of secession, thought-patterns and education dissonant with the native character of the people, and State-sponsored denigration of anything that goes by the name of Hindu or Hindutwa: these pervasive tendencies provide ample proof of the soundness of the philosophical foundation of the Sangh as conceived by Dr. Hedgewar and its continued relevance for the survival and health of the Hindu society and of the nation as a whole. It is the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh alone which has consistently been sounding the alarm against all these wrong tendencies in the body-politic of Bharat.
Dr. Hedgewar said often, "Even if the British leave, unless the Hindus are organised as a powerful nation, where is the guarantee that we shall be able to protect our freedom?” His words have proved to be prophetic. Conjointly with Independence, parts of Punjab, Bengal, Sindh and the Frontier areas were sundered from Bharat; and, four and a half decades after the nation’s attaining freedom, Kashmir remains a thorn in the flesh.
Continuous efforts have been there to make Assam a Muslim majority province. Likewise, no-holds-barred efforts to proselytize by Christian missions continue unabated. Even armed revolt has been engineered (e.g., in Nagaland) to carve out independent Christian provinces. Such activities receive ready support and unlimited funds from foreign countries and agencies keenly interested in destabilizing Bharat for their own ends.
Sangh’s alone has been the voice of genuine patriotic concern amidst the cacophonous, politically inspired shibboleths of undefined secularism, etc. Even at its inception, the Sangh was viewed by its founder not as a sectoral activity or movement, but as a dynamic power-house energizing every field of national activity.