By the mid-80s, the Sangh had crossed 500 shakas in Tamil Nadu. Now it has over 2000 shakas all over the state, with most of the Sangh-inspired organizations establishing their active presence in the state. However, the court had permitted open route marches only in 3 districts – Kallakurichi, Perambalur & Cuddalore. While allowing the procession to happen in 41 other places, the Sangh deemed it ‘unacceptable’ to conduct these processions ‘within the confines of 4 walls, as dictated by the court! The strange court decision did raise the eyebrows of even a commoner on how a procession could be held within closed doors! It is notable from the letter issued by the President of RSS of the State that ‘elsewhere in all states of India, such processions are permitted in public spaces. The vehement denial of to permit by the Tamil Nadu Government does necessitate a closer view as it distinctly suggests the growing clout of RSS. Why else would a government behave so firmly against an organization deemed nondescript in Tamil Nadu by most? The repeated reference to Sangh in almost every public meeting by political parties opposed to it & the blatantly inciteful conjectures has been on the steady rise. To learn why the RSS is generating more attention now than ever in Tamil Nadu needs further scrutiny.
Informed the courts on the ‘crimes’ of RSS & which have been cheered by parties in association with the ruling Government. But, the manner of conduct of the route march processions in these three places bore a stark contrast. Empty threats and stringent conditions posed by the powers of the day notwithstanding, more than 1000 ‘Swayamsevaks’ across the three districts marched in a structured form that left the onlookers awe-struck. This show depicted the organization’s tenacity, ignoring the charges put before the Judiciary & that its staunch opponents loudly echoed. Surprisingly, there was not even a single reference in any of the speeches made to the curbs levied by the Courts. No blaming or shaming opponents either. This scant discard of the fierce opposition that the Sangh faced seems to convey how quietly RSS is attempting to wipe the scum thrown, just by its vibrant & inspiring action. Almost a century of systematic work preparing society for discipline, unity & Service is paying dividends. Sangh’s strong base, credible cadre and a ‘Ready for Selfless Service’ attitude is helping their reach go broader & more comprehensive. The queer pitch during the speeches made by a Sangh leader in each location only communicated the glory of our Nation, the sacrifice of past leaders & how Swayamsevaks ought to pursue the path laid out by a success philosophy of not getting distracted from the purpose that Sangh works for. Repeatedly directed emotions to upholding the national resolve of ‘bringing back Bharat Mata to all Her glory. It was strange that out of the 1000 odd cadres assembled; not a single person was seen ruffled or went over=board to attract attention. It was evident that the trained cadres gathered there had been, through multiple training sessions, that has been so effective in administering discipline & subordination to the commands given, much like a civilian military force.
The choice of these three districts was also exciting. Each of the three districts had faced issues that were apparent attempts to weaken the presence of RSS. Kallakurichi’s school mishap when a girl committed suicide was hogging headlines not long back & the school was accused of having permitted RSS training camps to be held within their premises. Cuddalore district has Chidambaram included, the parliamentary constituency of Shri. Thirumavalavan, one of the most vociferous opponents of Sangh & also has Kurinjipadi, the home village of DMK stalwart & Minister Shri.MRK Panneerselvam, and yet, it witnessed the most turnout among the marches conducted. Perambalur is a well-known belt of Naxals, having operated within the spawning Cashew groves and also with a recent history of unabated violent clashes.
So, where is this ability to persevere sown by Sangh to Swayamsevaks? Why does Sangh nor any Swayamsevak not react to allegations? Why are there no publicly known faces amongst the leadership in RSS? How & why does Sangh prefer to remain humble & often passive to the extent of earning the criticisms of their supporters? When ‘Guruji’ Golwalkar (1906-1973), the 2nd Sarsanghachalak of RSS, was lavishly praised by his school teacher at a function, Golwalkar had said he winced in pain hearing such flattery. He mentioned hearing it made him feel like a mouse caught under the scorching sun in a hot desert, finding shelter by hopping onto a long rope tied to the neck of a lonely camel passing by, only to think later to be the one guiding the camel to find its way. The attribute to serve selflessly gets imbibed hard by such inspirational leaders, who ‘walk the talk’.
Very often, Sangh leadership across all levels quote their past leaders’ deeds & actions and whose life as an entire package had been spotlessly clean in attitude, persevering to the hilt against incredible odds & grinding their health to peril for the cause of the larger society. The care & concern that generates a brotherhood of affection to any ‘Swayamsevak’ continues from the times of Dr Hedgewar, the founder of RSS, till date without a shred of waning. Dr Hedgewar’s inspirational examples of love for fellow ‘Swayamsevaks’ serves as the guiding light for Swayamsevaks to simulate in their own lives. His philosophy to Swayamsevaks that ‘no one is our enemy, ‘today’s adversary is tomorrow’s friend & ultimately a Swayamsevak’ had made Sangh’s arch opponents fall in line or fade away.
Apart from such attitude, one wonders why an organisation is considered the world’s largest voluntary organisation that meets daily in about 60000 places across the country. Close to 100 social organizations that run parallel, separate & autonomous operations conduct more than 175,000 Seva projects in India alone. It had not been convicted of a single crime to date that runs several thousands of schools, including 150,000++ single teacher schools in tribal areas, should be subjected to such ridicule & shame? The politics in our country ought to be celebrating such a deserving organisation & with the full support of an extended ecosystem. However, factually, it does not permit this non-political organisation of such exemplary repute to perform and has been reduced to constantly crawling slowly with caution throughout its 97-year history. The Sangh has stood on the strength of its unassuming yet extraordinarily committed cadre. The distributed leadership system adopted ensures multiple levels of decision-making bodies & with no single person holding the right to any controlled decision. With a complete absence of monetary involvement, a continually developing brotherhood spurred by a deep sense of humility & an ‘always giving’ attitude, the conduct amongst Swayamsevaks gives no room for personal animosity. The Sangh has shunned the usage of cameras & therefore, publicity. The worldwide prevalent ‘Selfie culture is rather conspicuous by its absence in Sangh, even now.
The Sangh has a distinct advantage over its opponents. It preaches what is preached by the elders in the Hindu society & as a result, connects’ immediately with any family firmly rooted in culture. All Sangh opposing organisations not only have an obvious disadvantage in communicating their cause and stance but also would find it difficult to convince families to go against a ‘cultural’ belief system so firmly ingrained in our society. Sangh was started in Tamil Nadu in 1939 when a fragile, short young man, Shri.Dadarao Paramarth (1904-1963) was sent from Nagpur by Dr.Hedgewar. He came here with an introduction letter to a well-known advocate of those times, given to him by Dr Hedgewar and with Rs.20/- to manage his initial days. He was expected to start a shaka, build relationships, and establish Sangh while caring for his daily living. He slept on the beach, ate at temples & without the knowledge of the local language, and struggled for many months.
A boy, unable to balance his bicycle, fell on him. Dadarao took the bruised boy to his house & thus started his first friendship. Visiting the boy’s house for a few days to enquire about his health, the boy and a few of his friends became the first shaka goers in Tamil Nadu in an open space of Lord Govind Das bungalow in today’s Royapettah, Chennai. The atheist movement of the 1960s had taken a significant toll on the nationalists’ mindset, and Sangh was struggling to gain acceptance in Tamil Nadu & at a time when the Sangh’s growth in most of the other States in India was recording rapid progress. In 1972, during the Akhil Bharatha Pratinidhi Sabha, the Annual General Body Meeting of RSS, Shri. Shivram ji Joglekar, Sangh pracharak to Tamil Nadu, was critically questioned by Shri.Golwalkar on the lack of progress of Sangh for a decade. ‘For ten years, you have been saying there are only 50 shakas in Tamil Nadu. Would Sangh ever grow in Tamil Nadu?’. Shivram ji replied, ‘Yes. We would.’ ‘How?’ questioned Golwalkar. ‘Haven’t you been saying the same for all these years?’. ‘We would.’ Shivram ji restated. ‘And I say that because we are still standing & fighting it out. By the mid-80s, Sangh had crossed 500 shakas in Tamil Nadu and now stands with close to 2000 shakas all over the state and with most of the Parivar organisations establishing their active presence.
The very abnormal life of a Sangh Pracharak, who, irrespective of their family background and educational qualification, quits family life & earning desires only to dedicate their life. The cause of this ‘man-making mission has been a huge reason for sustaining organisational momentum. Stalwarts like Shivram ji, the only son of his parents & a University Gold Medallist, became a pracharak of the Sangh immediately after his studies. Despite coming to Tamil Nadu without knowing a single word of Tamil was as fluent as any native in writing & speaking Tamil at the time of his death in 1998. His life was penanced throughout & during a time in Sangh when having one good meal a day was rare., Shri. Thanulinga Nadar, called a ‘KarmaYogi’ by his followers, Shri. K Suryanarayanan Rao from Karnataka, who led Sangh for four decades. Shri.Rangaswamy Thevar, a close associate of Rajaji & the then State President of Sangh, Swami Chidbhavananda of Thirupparaithurai Ramakrishna Thapovanam, who was a good friend to Shri.Jawaharlal Nehru & also a close relative of Shri. C Subramanyam, former Governor of Maharashtra, Justice Krishnaswamy Reddiar & Shri. Ramagopalan were the others, amongst the many more, whose lives were dedicated to the one cause of the growth of Sangh in Tamil Nadu.
Today, their life stories, sprinkled with selfless sacrifice, lay the foundations for Swayamsevaks’ behavioural guidance. All of them had had a luxurious set of friends across the social spectrum and even amongst those opposed. In personal conversations, their adversaries had admitted to the huge respect they carry for such personalities. When viewed as a complete life package, there aren’t any comparable leaders amongst those opposing who would have shunned name, fame, money or vices for the sake of principles. Over the last year, the ‘Join RSS’ link on Sangh’s website has attracted approximately 400 volunteers monthly in Tamil Nadu. The Sangh has been banned thrice & surprisingly, each time, post lifting the ban, the growth of Sangh was exponential. It may be the friction provided to Sangh by its opponents that is spurring its growth!