The idea of founding the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh was conceived at a time when self-oblivion had overtaken society. The struggle for political independence occupied the minds of people; this was but natural. However, what was askew was the tacit assumption that the advent of freedom would automatically usher in a revival of genuine nationalist values which had perforce receded during foreign rule. Looking to the West as the pinnacle of civilization, irrationally perpetuating the Britishers’ self-serving theories of the ‘White Man’s burden’; that the Hindus were ‘a nation-in-the-making’, that the Hindus had achieved nothing of significance in the past, that Westernisation was the only hope for ‘the dying race’ that were the Hindus; unquestioning acceptance of myths floated by Westerners even in the name of history (e.g., that the Aryans came from outside), that life in Bharat was and had always been at a near primitive state; – acceptance of such numerous myths had virtually become mandatory for anyone with the slightest pretensions to education or intellectuality.
That this breed still claims adherents even seven decades after Independence bespeaks the intensity of the overarching colonial legacy.
All the father figures of the national renaissance from Swami Vivekananda to Lokmanya Tilak and Mahatma Gandhi had laid great stress on the fact that releasing the society from such mental thraldom was as necessary as throwing out the imperialist rulers.
While efforts to hasten political independence were being pursued in various forms, there were few or no sustained efforts for the restoration of the Hindu psyche to its pristine form. Indeed, it is the latter that should constitute the content or core of freedom.
Such was the backdrop for envisioning a countrywide movement such as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Is it not the lack of social cohesion which enabled a handful of traders and shop keepers (who were no match to us either in intellectual brilliance or physical prowess) to establish their empire here? It was the native chieftains who facilitated the repeated destruction of the sacred Somnath shrine. Wasn’t it Raja Mansingh who, by becoming a kingpin of Akbar’s regime, betrayed the interests of the Hindus?
As if testifying to the sagacity of the proverb ‘The more things change, the more they remain the same’ – considerable sections of the so-called academia and the elite even today display a singular lack of national consciousness even after witnessing such horrendous insult to nationhood as the partition of the country.
The fact that such a breed continues to exist even after so much historical and recent experience provides the strongest raison det’re for intense and continuous propagation of the ideal of nationalism and the recognition of the Hindu national identity as a fundamental fact transcending corroboration and discussion. Any compromise in this regard is bound to cause peril to hard-earned freedom; and without freedom, there will be no prospect of progress for all either. Equally, it is a fact of history that national consciousness should not merely remain an idea or concept, but should be reflected in every single activity of life.
A burning devotion to the Motherland, a feeling of fraternity among all citizens, intense awareness of a common national life derived from a common culture and shared history and heritage – these, in brief, may be said to constitute the life-springs of a nation. It is these sentiments that have to be instilled in each child. Obviously, this task is beyond the capabilities of political institutions. This is basically a social task. The mechanism Dr Hedgewar evolved for the fulfilment of this all-important task is the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Dr. Hedgewar not only had the foresight to anticipate this need, but also the skills of organisation needed to give a concrete shape to that concept.