The Pran Pratishtha of Ram Lalla in Ayodhya, who represents the aspirations of Bharat, concluded on January 22. Hindus in Bharat and across the world are filled with extreme joy and satisfaction. The day commemorates the fulfilment of a longstanding desire and resolution, which at times felt impossible to attain but is now in its final stages, leaving many awestruck. At this point in time, people are looking towards the Sangh (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, RSS).
Once, someone asked me, “What contribution has the Sangh made for Bharat after Independence?” I responded, “The Sangh has committed itself to the realms of individual development, social organisation and fostering national consciousness. Individuals nurtured with a national perspective, supported by societal awakening, will naturally accomplish everything that is required, expected, and doable. The Sangh will not do anything except social awakening and nurturing these individuals. Nevertheless, the absence of the Sangh could lead to a lengthy list of missed opportunities and unfulfilled achievements in Bharat.” Swami Vivekananda is known to be the proponent of Hindutva who not only propagated this ideology in Bharat but abroad as well. Swami Vivekananda, before going to America, embarked on a two-year journey across Bharat. His odyssey culminated at Shripada Shila (rock) in Kanyakumari on December 25, 1892, where, following three days and nights of deep meditation, he attained profound insights into the purpose and direction of his life.
Reclaiming Disputed Site
The year 1963 marked the centenary year of the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda. Hence, in 1962, the then Tamil Nadu Government proposed erecting a grand statue of Swami Vivekananda on the sacred rock as a memorial. However, the plan sparked controversy as Christian groups claimed ownership of the rock, announcing a memorial for Saint Xavier. In a bid to avoid conflict, the Tamil Nadu Government abandoned the idea of a memorial. At this point, the then-Sarsanghchalak Shri Guruji, entrusted the project to the then Sarkaryavah Eknath Ranade. With the help of Swayamsevaks, Shri Eknath Ranade began the process of reclaiming the disputed possession by Christians for the memorial. To fund the project, they sought symbolic contributions of Rs one, two or five from the public, amassing Rs eight lakh from 30 lakh people across all States of Bharat.
The Swayamsevaks also took a pledge for symbolic financial aid by all State Governments, which were mostly led by Congress (in 1963) at that time. Except for some States like Kerala and Jammu & Kashmir, all States fulfilled their commitments. This initiative, transcending regional, linguistic, and religious diversity, sparked a revival of Hindu Dharma in villages and towns across the country. Today, the Swami Vivekananda Rock Memorial, situated in the distant South amid the sea, stands as a focal point of faith for every individual in Bharat. While it is undeniable that Hindu society accomplished this feat with their unity, it is equally true that the Sangh played a crucial role in making it possible. In Hindu society, various traditions of spiritual worship, devotion and practice have been followed as pathways to moksha (liberation). The continuous emergence of new paths and their addition to the older ones contributes to the rich tapestry of Hindu Dharma. Back then, there felt a need for a platform uniting ascetics, saints, and leaders of monastic orders for discussions on the current state and future plans of Hindu society.
VHP formed under Guruji’s leadership
In pursuit of this goal, the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) was established in 1964 under the leadership of Sarsanghchalak Shri Guruji. The inaugural assembly of the VHP drew prominent representatives from Jainism, Sikhism and Buddhism, alongside major heads of Akharas, Hindu monastic orders and practitioners of various traditions in Hindu society. The first World Hindu Congress convened in 1966 at Tirthraj Prayag, marking the rare gathering of all Shankaracharyas from the four peethas, along with major heads of monastic orders and Dhamracharyas. Amidst concerns arising from forced conversions and the subsequent desire of many converted Hindus to return to the Sanatan fold, a prevailing notion had taken hold that those who had converted were deemed impure (Mlechha). Hindu society, weakened in its ability to protect them, witnessed compelled conversions. Recognising the responsibility to welcome the convertees back, a unanimous proposal was passed at the religious conference, emphasising that a Hindu can never be impure.
The proclamation’ न हदं ू पिततो भवते’ became a resounding slogan. Likewise, the second Dharma Acharya Conference of the VHP convened in Udupi, Karnataka, in 1969. In Hindu society, which inherently believes in the common Divine essence shared by all Hindus as children of the same Ishwar (Bhagwan), issues like untouchability and caste-based hierarchy have emerged. At the Udupi conference, all religious leaders collectively passed a resolution disavowing untouchability as a basis for religion. They declared that all Hindus are brothers, a sentiment echoed by all the religious leaders, saints, others in attendance. This transformative shift was not initiated by the Sangh, but it is true that it became possible only because of the Sangh.
In this context, a new mantra was born: ‘िहन्दवः सोदरा सव।ेर् न िहदं ू पिततो भवते ।।’
In 1981, the mass conversion of people from the Scheduled Castes to Islam in Meenakshipuram, Tamil Nadu, sent shockwaves across the nation. To curb such conversions, the VHP devised comprehensive plans. In order to promote social justice and respect for the uneducated, marginalised and backward communities affected by conversions, several Seva Prakalps (service projects) were launched. These initiatives were also aimed at raising awareness, providing education, and instilling social consciousness. To achieve these objectives, Sanskriti Raksha Nidhi was collected from across the country, and the volunteers reached out to the people in as many as 5,500 villages.
Following this conference, an additional verse complemented the earlier proclamation:
”िहन्दवःसोदरासव।ेर् निहदं ूपिततोभवते ।।
All the political parties, irrespective of their ideologies, showed the same concern, empathy and collective response to the massive conversion going on in the small village of Tamil Nadu.
Launching Yatras to unite Bharat
Taking inspiration from this accomplishment, the VHP laid down a plan for three major yatras aimed at uniting the entire Bharat and imbibing a sense of unity. These yatras, known as Ektama Yajna Yatra, set forth with chariots embarking on three routes: Kathmandu to Rameswaram (Pashupati Rath), Haridwar to Kanyakumari (Mahadev Rath), and Ganga Sagar to Somnath (Kapil Rath). People with murti of Bharat Mata and Gangajal Kalash (sacred water) in hand began the yatra. Over 300 chariots traversed various locations across Bharat within a span of 1,000 days. People from each destination brought Gangajal (sacred water) in kalashas, with a total of 38,526 places contributing 77,440 kalashas for worship. Of the 564,342 places (including hamlets) in India, a remarkable 7,28,05,520 individuals from 184,592 locations actively participated in this event, with 49 per cent being women.
The profound emotional awakening experienced during this Ektama Yajna Yatra instilled a sense of unity throughout Hindu society, transcending caste, region, language, and worship diversity. In the midst of this yatra, during a religious assembly in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, Shri Daoodayal Khanna, a Minister of the then Uttar Pradesh Government, highlighted the locked status of the Mandir of Bhagwan Ram in Ayodhya. He brought attention to the fact that except for the pujari, no devotee of Sri Ram was permitted inside for darshan.
The Mughal invader Babar committed the crime of demolishing the Mandir of Sri Ram Lalla and constructing a mosque on the same site, solely to display aggression. Scholars of Islam emphasise that forced occupation of land or a building does not make Allah accept prayers. However, this non-Islamic act was carried out to humiliate Hindu society. Subsequent to this incident, persistent efforts were made to rebuild the Mandir. During British rule, a court order in 1938 restricted the entry of the Muslim community within 100 meters of the disputed site. In 1948, after Ram Lalla appeared at the disputed site, the Mandir was locked and regular worship of Ram Lalla continued, with only the pujari allowed inside to perform rituals.
VHP boosted morale of Hindu society
Since then, the VHP started organising public awareness programmes with demands to unlock the Mandir of Ram Lalla. In February 1986, following the order of the Allahabad High Court, the Mandir was opened, allowing devotees easy access for darshan. This development, coupled with emotional awakening and the subsequent triumph of truth, bolstered the morale of Hindu society. Plans were set in motion to construct a grand Mandir for Bhagwan Ram at the disputed site, symbolising victory over aggression rather than maintaining the disputed structure. To garner public support, nationwide programmes were organised for the Pujan (worship) of Ramshilas, which began their journey to Ayodhya. Just like the Mandir in Somnath, the vision to build a grand Ram Mandir in Ayodhya is not against Islam or a mosque; rather, it is a concerted effort to restore Bharat’s pride.
As a result, an unprecedented mass awakening happened across Bharat. The Pujit (worshipped) Ramshila, inscribed with the name Shri Ram, from distant villages of Bharat started coming to Ayodhya for the construction of the Ram Mandir. This initiative sparked extensive nationwide public outreach and awareness. Six crore people in 2,75,000 villages performed the puja of Ramshilas, and the entire country was ‘Rammay’ (coloured in the idea of Ram). The impact of this initiative, indeed surpassed the organisational strength or network of the RSS and its entities. To claim that only the Sangh accomplished this feat would be unjust. The people of Bharat, devotees of Bhagwan Ram, played a crucial role in it with the Sangh being an integral part of the collective effort. Without the Sangh, such extensive, systematic public outreach and awareness might not have been possible. Just as a building’s entire load relies on strong pillars/columns during construction and the unseen skeleton of iron bars plays a supportive role. This iron frame provides strength to those pillars to bear the load of the building, else they will collapse. In a similar manner, the Sangh endeavours to create a similar societal structure that will empower the society in every welfare task, with the society itself undertaking the actions consciously.
Kar Seva on December 6, 1992, marked the outcome of this awakening. The constant delays in the judgement of the court despite the completion of all legal proceedings was distressing for as many as two and a half million Kar Sevaks, who had assembled in Ayodhya that day. While it seemed unimaginable and impossible for such a robust structure to collapse in just five hours, Kar Sevaks maintained self-discipline in such an uncontrolled atmosphere. There was an order in disorder. This is why the removal of the Murti of Ram Lalla during the commotion, the construction of a temporary shed and its Pran Pratishtha (consecration) became possible. Ayodhya, a town with a population of 55,000, where approximately 10 per cent are Muslim and there are about 15 mosques, remained peaceful. None of the lakhs of Kar Sevaks disturbed any of those mosques. There was no misconduct towards any Muslim resident. This contrasted sharply with the violent behaviour of Left-wing extremists towards the depressed during their movements. Despite being less in numbers, their movement involved damage to homes, shops and vehicles. However, approximately two and a half million Kar Sevaks from all over Bharat did not engage in any violent behaviour. Their remarkable self-discipline, even in an uncontrolled situation, was unbelievable. Such discipline resulted from two facts, one being that this movement was not against Islam or a mosque and the other was the Sangh’s organisational iron skeleton which not only provided the strength but also the patience to this movement. Individuals who contemplate and engage in the rejuvenation and progress of Bharat, guided by its inherent ‘self’ across all facets of life—be it students, farmers, laborers, scientists, artists, lawyers, and more—are the ones poised to contribute to personal development.
The Sangh’s role extends solely to fostering this vision, anticipating that awakened individuals with a national perspective will collaborate and garner support from society to establish new systems.
The Sangh is dedicated to the holistic development of the nation, with selfless service. For this, initiatives are being taken by Sangh through the implementation of education rooted in Bhartiya values, with 12,000 schools and 84,000 Ekal Vidyalayas currently functioning in society. Collectively, the Sangh, without any Government aid, is developing as many as 2,000 villages and 1,000 urban colonies. Eliminating social disparities, efforts are being made to create a harmonious and united society.
Various initiatives, including training, inspiring, and supporting self-employment over job-seeking, are actively led by society with the help of Sangh and Swayamsevaks.
The foundation of Bharat’s ‘self’ is deeply rooted in its spirituality, with one of its symbols as Bhagwan Ram. Amidst the global impact of the deadly coronavirus pandemic, Bharat witnessed a unique collaboration of the government machinery with 5.5 lakh swayamsevaks and a large segment of society to provide assistance. This crisis showcased the spiritual expression of Bharat’s general society. Another pillar of Bharat’s ‘self’ is its societal (national) systems, which are driven by society rather than being state-controlled, as evident during the coronavirus period. A poignant Sangh song echoes the sentiment: ‘Do not anticipate transformation solely from power; the eternal society will arise from the centers of awakened knowledge.’ The Sangh operates Shakhas as awakening centres for individuals who envision a society driven by awakened minds, capable of establishing a structural framework (iron skeleton) across various sectors of societal life. These centres provide strength and direction, unlike the static skeleton between RCC pillars that enhances load-bearing capacity. Instead, the dynamic structure of a vibrant society is carried by living individuals who remain steadfast and resilient throughout their lives. To achieve this, the Sangh prepares dedicated, selfless, committed, and unwavering Swayamsevaks (volunteers) who tirelessly contribute to these efforts. The Sangh has been preparing these Swayamsevaks in the past and doing it to date.
As the saying goes, ‘Rome was not built in a day.’ Similarly, this national awakening did not occur overnight but is the result of continuous efforts and consistent support from society. The result of the 2014 parliamentary elections was announced on May 16. On May 18, 2014, an article was published in The Guardian, stating, “Today, May 18, 2014, may well go down in history as the day when Britain finally left India.” The editorial further notes, “It should be obvious that underlying changes in Indian society have brought us PM Modi and not the other way around.”
This national awakening has begun and will continue. It became easier due to devotion to Bhagwan Ram. It is necessary to do it, to keep doing it. It is necessary to walk, to keep walking. “Charaiveti-Charaiveti” – Keep Marching Ahead!