करणीयं कृतं सर्वम्
तज्जन्म सुकृतं मम
गच्छाम्यद्य चिरं गृहम् ॥ १ ॥
तथाप्याशास्ति मे हृदि
मित्रै सह कर्म कुर्वन्
स्वान्त: सुखमवाप्नुयाम् ॥ २ ॥
एषा चेत् प्रार्थना धृष्टा
तावकेच्छा बलीयसी ॥ ३ ॥
My Last Prayer
With the satisfaction of having done everything that needed to be done I return to my permanent home.
But in my heart I want to come back to experience the joy of working with my friends to achieve the goal.
This is my prayer, if there is any mistake in this, if this prayer of mine is personal selfishness… I beg your pardon Oh! Merciful… Now your thoughts are to prevail… it is your will to strengthen.
Ranga Hariji, fondly known as Hariyettan for the RSS Swayamsevaks in Kerala, wrote his final prayer in three shlokas (¸मामिकान्तिम प्रार्थना) on Vijayadashami day six years ago. These three shlokas can be said to be the manifesto of his life. He devoted his entire life for the Sangh in the nation building and serving the humanity. And, his last wish was to born again as a Swayamsevak and work with his fellow Swayamsevaks to achieve the ‘goal’! Words cannot describe the profundity of the stream of knowledge emanating from the mountain of great wisdom, our Hariyettan. It had its own rhythm and pace. How extensive and unpretentious it was?
Simple, Beautiful and Profound
In my initial days in the Sangh, when I barely caught hold of the real ideals, I was perplexed by all those materialistic dogmas and verbal juggleries of the so-called “progressive arts and literary movement” workers. At the same time, enriching nationalistic thoughts, the greatness of Hindutva and importance of man-making process that I heard from shakhas were reverberating in my mind, marking the herald of a new dawn in my life. It was during this quest of fixing my mind from all those slacking ideas flowing inside me. I got to know that Hariyettan himself was to be part of the Ekatrikaran being held at Pandalam. There I was overwhelmed with enthusiasm to meet him as my senior Karyakartas advised me to take his guidance to fix all my doubts and perplexities. Hariji was present at the venue way before scheduled time. All Swayamsevaks who gathered there got dissolved in his strong sense of aura. His special way of conveying ideas and thoughts through humour gave me new insights as to the working of the Sangh. That Baudhik still gleams in my mind. I still remember how he defined the significance of Hindutva and Hindu dharma and how it is different from others simply by using two English words ‘only’ and ‘also’, where “only” – meaning one alone is right and “also”- meaning others are also right. What a beautiful way of expressing it.
….With love and affection
As a talented craftsman does his marvel, Doctor ji’s life is a guiding light for us as to how a karyakarta can be fostered. Hariyettan followed the very same way. My memories in relation to this noble soul began way back in 1984 when I received a letter of reply from him. I was a Vistharak at Seethathode Khand in Kerala. When I was the Pandalam Khand karyavah, Zilla Pracharak AM Krishnan assigned me this responsibility. The Sangh activities were in a standstill at that time as a result of the political violence and resultant murder.
By the continuous efforts of our Swayamsevaks the number of Shakhas slowly started increasing. From a Khand where none was expected to participate, 18 karyakartas took part in that year’s Sangh Shiksha Varg (Officers’ Training Camp).
After taking the Oaths, we stayed there at Karyalaya at Ranni and planned to go for OTC the very next day. It was while sleeping with everyone by the corridor at Karyalay that this thought came up. It is not a simple thing that these many Swayamsevaks are participating. Suddenly, knowingly or unknowingly the thought of “I” spiralled in my mind. Anyways, I should make it known to my Prant Pracharak (Hariyettan) about this great achievement. Without sparing a moment I woke up my Taluk Pracharak Krishnankuttyettan and took an inland from him and started writing a long letter to Hariyettan.
Started the letter with the new responsibility I took over, the new shakhas which were started and also the visits which I had to make to the police station and at last, I mentioned about the achievement. The very next day before going to Thiruvalla I posted it. From that moment I awaited each day with great enthusiasm for his reply. At last the fourth day his reply came.
With an elegant handwriting the letter began “with love and affection to my dear Nandan”.
My mind lighted like thousand sparkles. In the first part, there was no mention of the OTC achievement. It was more about the things I need keep in mind while working at a new place; inquiry about whether I was writing regular letters to my mother…and at last, came a line about the Sangh Siksha Varg.
“Heartfelt condolences on the sad demise of Shri Ranga Hariji,first Pracharak who led RSS in Kerala. He devoted his life to service of humanity. His books uphold Indian values and culture. May his soul attain Mukti” — Arif Mohammed Khan, Governor Kerala
This question was to burst the balloon which I filled with pride. He wrote “I understand that 18 swayamsevaks are participating from Seethathod. But did Nandan take up duty there for this sole purpose?”
In the first reading I could not digest it. Later, it struck me that in this journey of achieving the true goal of Sangh work, such achievements are very small.
When I talked about the photographic memory of Swami Vivekananda once, a student asked “Isn’t that a little bit of exaggeration”. Answering to that question I gave the example of Hariyettan.
Sangh Shiksha Varg was going on in Cherpu. I was busy day in and out engaged with programs.
At night, after finishing everything, I was heading to my room to sleep off when I saw a light in the varanda near Adhikari Vibag (where senior officer bearers were staying). When I headed there thinking of switching the light off, I saw Hariyettan reading something. He didn’t even could feel the sound of my footsteps. He was reading the book titled – “The end of a scientific Utopia” by Dr V Sheshagiri Rao. He was taking notes on the last page of the book.
Out of interest and curiosity I asked “did you not sleep Hariyetta”. It was then he noticed my arrival there. This is the latest book by Dr Rao. I thought if I finish it by today I could give this to any of you for reading tomorrow.
When I started traveling across Bharat with the national level responsibility, Swayamsevaks and their families were always inquisitive about Ranga Hariji
“Will this be finished by night?” to my question he replied, “This will be over in 1-2 hours”. I was amazed. The very next day morning during the time of breakfast when I saw him, he announced, “since Nandan saw me reading this book at night, I am giving Nandan the first chance to have this, read it, take notes and return it to me”.
“Ranga Hariji was a noble soul and a great intellectual who dedicated his entire life to the people of our country. His invaluable thoughts and contribution inspired lakhs of swayamsevaks to work for the nation. His passing is a profound loss for us all” — Jagat Prakash Nadda, National President, BJP
It was Hariyettan who gave me Dattopant Tengadiji’s book titled “Communism – Apani Hi Kasauti Par” for reading, which explains the fundamental defects of communism as an ideology.
Dr Rao’s book clearly highlights the danger that communism poses. Hariji often used to quote Guruji’s words on communism, “It is defective in theory and destructive in practice.”
There was an incident related to this book that made me further realise his greatness in handling of quick reading with intense concentration. It was 10-12 years since I read that book. I was looking for a reference of the Yugoslavian Communist reader who propounded the theory “New Class” from the book while writing an article in Kesari (weekly). I searched for the book everywhere in Trivandrum Karyalaya but in vain. I rang up Hariyettan. He immediately advised me to visit the Vichar Kendram Library and also specified the section on communism, the shelf number and page number of the book referring to the new class theory.
Following his direction I was mesmerised by his memory of even challenging the computer. Finally, I got my name “Milovan Djilas”. That very moment, I did a pada-namaskaram (bowed down to his feet in my mind) even though I was away from him.
Connect Across Bharat
When I started traveling across Bharat with the national level responsibility, irrespective of place, age-group and profession, Swayamsevaks and their families were always inquisitive about Ranga Hariji.
Each one had a lot to share about him. For students, it might be a solution he gave to a tricky question related to studies or for elders the inspiring insights which he shared with them for endeavouring the Sangh work, and for mothers it would be recipe of a particular dish Hariji has suggested. This way, Hariji would find connect the sangh families across Bharat.
Everyone knew that they would gain something new in a meeting with Hariyettan.
In every Sangh Siksha Varg there is an important informal programme with senior functionaries called – Maidani Gap-shap (informal chitchat). It is an opportunities for the trainees to have informal interaction with the senior karyakartas. Names of all participating functionaries are announced in advance and Swayamsevaks are given a choice to join conversation with a particular office-bearer.
- December 5, 1930: Born at Tripunithura, Kerala as the second of eight children to Ranga Shenoy and Padmavati
- Schooling at St. Albert’s High School and graduated from Maharajas College, Cochin
- Became Swayamsevak at the age of 13
- Joined Satyagraha and faced imprisonment at Central Jail, Kannur, in Kerala from December 1948 to April 1949 demanding lifting of the ban on RSS
- Became a Prachaarak in 1951 after finishing his graduation
- One of key underground leaders in Kerala of Lok Sangharsh Samiti during the Emergency and the ban on RSS (June 25, 1975 – March 21, 1977)
- Prant Prachaarak of Kerala from 1983 to 1994
- Akhil Bharatiya Sah-bauddhik Pramukh in 1990 and Akhil Bharatiya Bauddhik Pramukh from 1991 to 2005
- Guidance to Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh
- Participated in the World Conference of Pre-Christian Religions and Tradition in Lithuania 2001 and later in India in 2005 and 2006
- Member of Akhil Bharatiya Karyakaari Mandal of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh till 2006
- Was active till the age of 87 and then devoted his time to studies and writings
- Authored around fifty books in different languages like Sanskrit, Konkini, Malayalam, Hindi, Marathi, Tamil and English languages. Proficiency in Gujarati, Bengali and Assamese languages also.
- Edited and compiled Sri Guruji’s complete works ‘Guruji Samagra’ – published in 12 volumes.
- Recently published Prithvi Sukta: An Ode to Mother Earth which was released by Sarsanghachalak Dr Mohan Ji Bhagavat and Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan
- Worked with 5 Sarsanghachalaks 0f RSS – Sri Guruji Golwalkar, Madhukar Dattatreya alias Balasaheb Devaras, Prof. Rajendra Singh (Rajju Bhaiyya), KS Sudarshan Ji and Dr Mohan Ji Bhagwat
- October 29, 2023 – Last breath at Amrita Hospital, Cochin
Once in Nagpur I had the opportunity of hearing Hon’ble Suresh Rao kelkarji, who was Sah-Sarkaryavah (Join General Secretary) of RSS saying that “if Ranga Hariji is there then no one will prefer to interact with any other Adhikari”.
An Ode to Mother Earth
His urge to learn and commitment to impart knowledge was unparalleled. Even in the bedridden situation he continued the Jnaan Tapasya. His last published work Prithvi-Sukta – An ode to mother earth was finished while he was passing through the excruciating pain out of cancer.
Experience of meeting Hariji frequently during the rush to organise his last book launch in Delhi, of “Prithvisuktha – An ode to mother earth” never fades away from my mind. Even in his silence he conversed with me through his smile… About the book, book release program and so on… Many touching moments….
The compilation of 12 volumes of Shri Guruji Samagra is one of Hariyettan’s unique contributions. His meticulous and systematic work at the Nagpur headquarter of RSS is another chapter of his endless penance. Kishor Kant ji and Krishnakumar Baveja ji, two other Pracharaks who were with him in the project, always remembered his inquisitiveness, writing style and leadership skills with amazement.
Along with Hindi, he was determined to publish the complete works of Sri Guruji in all the Bharatiya languages. The Hindi version of the book with 12 volumes edited and published under Hariyettan’s leadership and reached to the states, including Kerala on the stipulated date. Hariji was so disheartened with the delay in the Malayalam translation work. He specially travelled to Kochi and summoned all state office bearers and reminded us about the gravity of the project. He gave us guidelines in his own unique and natural way to complete the responsibility of translation work.
Besides inspiring and galvanising us to take up such a great work, he was always been there with us throughout the journey by frequently checking on us during his visits to Kochi. Even when he was admitted to a hospital for heart related ailment, he was never ready to give up the task. I still remember those days and nights that I had with him in Sudheendra Medical Mission room reading and correcting the translation.
The sad demise of our Shri Ranga Hariji had robbed us of a profound thinker, practical worker and ideal of behaviour and most of all a loving and encouraging elder. Ranga Hariji had lived his life fully and meaningfully. Many workers who came into his acquaintance when he was Akhil Bharatiya Baudhik Pramukh of RSS will be mourning his loss today all over the Bharat . Even on his sick days, In his last days he was fully aware of his failing strength but he did not seize his activities of reading, writing and pleasantly counselling Swayamsevaks who came to see him. On October 11, only his commentary on Prithvi Sukt was published in Delhi. Even after his speech failed him, he used to hear the visitors and respond by his facial expressions. I personally and on behalf of RSS offer my respect-full condolences to his inspiring memory and pray for enlightenment and peace on the part of the departed soul.
Dr. Mohan Bhagwat
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh ( RSS)
He firmly believed that Consistent effort is the basis of all progress and merely begging for God’s grace of no avail, unless it is backed by determination and corresponding actions. As a sign of his conviction, he often used to quote a poem by Longfellow as follows:
“The height by great men reached and kept
Were not attained by a sudden flight,
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upward in the night.”
These words should be the guiding principle for every Swayamsevak. This principle answered a common doubt as to why some of the commonly read and heard old incidents were not found in Hariyettan’s writings. We can never find stories of Sri Guruji involving some sort of breaking a granite layer all by himself when he was a student and a story of a Swami travelling through the Himalayas experience a strong aura of blue flame around Sri Guruji while meditating in Hariji’s writings. For his, Sri Guruji undoubtedly was divine, but emphasising on that point will only make him a mere idol to be worshiped from afar. Hariyettan used to say, ‘it is through tireless efforts, Sri Guruji reached that position and we should also strive for the same. Shouldn’t we impart these beliefs to the readers, especially Swayamsevaks?”
On top of his desk lay a stack of old paper, Inscribed in it was the spiritual experience that Sri Guruji had after receiving mantra diksha from Pujya Akhandanandaji, vividly described as if written by Sri Guruji himself. Till date, from where this beautiful piece came and who placed it on his desk is still a mystery. But he was never ready to give any unnatural interpretations or explanations to it. The reason was those same principles that he upheld in his life.
With love and care
It was literally when his health condition was very poor, I asked Hariji for his permission to visit him at ‘Thanal’ (a Balika Sadan run by the Sangh that literally means ‘Shadow’, where he was staying) to discuss about a presentation on ‘Selfhood of Nation’, (which was supposed to be presented in Akhila Bharatiya Karyashala). Honestly speaking, I was not aware about his worsened health condition. My caring Guru granted me the permission. He also cared to ask the in charge of Balika Sadan for arranging a car to pick me up from Cochin airport to reach Thanal. I reached there late night only to find how he had already arranged my stay, food and all. Tears started rolling down my cheek unknowingly. In the letter, 40 years ago, he wrote “With love and care to Nandan”. Those words came from the bottom of his heart that will always be there to cool me like a breeze in the scorching heat of life.
As Poojaniya Sarsanghchalak Mohan Ji Bhagwat said about Hariji while releasing his commentary on the Prithvi Sukta, when we sit next to him, nobody can guess the depth of his knowledge. But when he starts speaking, his knowledge would pervade all and permeate everywhere. In Mohan Ji Bhagwat’s words, “It is like getting drenched in rain. Even if we don’t want, we unknowingly drenched in a good rain. It’ll be continuously showering. You may be holding an umbrella, hoping to protect yourself against rain. Still, the incessant rain will drench you. You can’t help but just get wet. That’s Hariji’s ‘knowledge shower’. It is rain of wisdom.” I am sure, that shower of wisdom will continue to guide us. My humble tributes to the sacred memory of my Guru – Hariyettan!