What do you think youngsters got a sneak-peak at history not written thus far the other day? Historians like Romilla Thapar, Irfan Habib and Ramchandra Guha must be wondering how come they missed this chapter the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh fought for India’s Independence and its founder KB Hegdewar waged a war against the British Raj the same like Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, as surely as E = MC squared!
Like one Dongi Baba is going viral on social media telling his devotees that ‘E’ is energy and energy is seen for its “Intensity” while ‘M’ is matter and matter is known for its “constancy”. The two go together in a seamless never-ending unbroken constancy. And the RSS wants us to believe that it was at the vanguard of the freedom struggle. It’s just that the khaki got lost in the congress of red, white and green.
Lectures or propaganda?
Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat, in the first of his three-part lecture on ‘Future ka Bharat’, sought to explain the reason for the existence of the RSS. He also explained RSS’s position on ideological issues for which ‘BJP’s father’ is regularly flayed by ideological adversaries. Will after this, Guru Golwalkar’s ‘Bunch of Thoughts’ become essential reading for the young of Bharat?
Not yet. But RSS ideologues are batting for Golwalkar in television studios. Bhagwat on his part laid out the life and times of RSS founder KB Hedgewar to stake claim on India’s freedom struggle with the opening words, “To understand RSS, you have to start with Dr Hedgewar”, who refused to be cowed down by the British from right when he was knee-high to the Viceroy’s horse.
Seventy-plus years after Independence, an RSS chief has sought to refurbish RSS’s nationalism which, by the way, has been so much on display in the last four and a half years that children know it by heart, no need for anybody to spell it out.
Bhagwat cited instances from Hedgewar’s life to drive home the point, including the one that Hegdewar “joined the Congress” and went to jail for a year. Bhagwat couldn’t have, then, not given credit to the Congress for kick-starting a “big freedom movement”.
And what’s more nationalistic than the tricolour? There has been a lot of controversy flying on RSS and the Tiranga. The RSS has been accused of “saluting the saffron flag and not the national flag”. Bhagwat came up with “guru dakshina” and “bhagwa dhwaja” to squirm out of that controversy.
He recalled an incident in Jalan in Maharashtra when a Swayamsevak climbed up the mast to “release” the “stuck tricolour” hoisted by Jawaharlal Nehru at a Congress function!
“The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh fought for India’s Independence and its founder KB Hegdewar waged a war against the British Raj the same like Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru,” – Mohan Bhagwat (at a three-part lecture on Bhavishya ka Bharat)
Society & democracy
By the way, the RSS is a “most democratic organisation”. Once, Bhagwat was questioned by a young Swayamsewak for not attending the shakha in Nagpur where Bhagwat was enrolled as a member. “I had to explain to the boy that I had been travelling and hence could not attend,” said Bhagwat.
“The RSS is that democratic.” And don’t be surprised if “motherland” gets tripped by “fatherland” in case of a democratic RSS takeover. Bhagwat set the RSS’s record straight on “women’s participation” and on allegations that RSS affiliates “including the BJP govt” are remote-controlled by Bhagwat & his boys.
“Who will be in power, what policy the country will accept is something to be decided by the society and people. There are mechanisms in place for that… We are not concerned about that, what we are concerned about is the conduct of the society,” Bhagwat said.
RSS lives in an abstract world. And is engaged in the esoteric task of “man making” or “Vyakti Nirman”, which is required for “social change” by “political means”. Especially, of the ‘Hindu’. But, who is ‘Hindu’? The Brahmin-heavy top of the RSS appears so caste-blind that it gives ordinary mortals the feeling they (Bhagwat & RSS) are living in an ashram where guru and shishya sit under mango trees imparting & inculcating wisdom that escapes them, the Aam Aadmi!
The RSS defines Hindus by a set of values imbibed sacrifice, patience and gratitude. “One finds the same set of beliefs in the value system in people in India even if they are followers of Islam and Christianity, religions that have roots outside India.” Edgar Rice Burroughs, whose racism dripped from his Tarzan books and which found their way to the ‘Centre of the Earth’ in his Pellucidar novels, couldn’t have put it better.
The eerie, creepy feeling that one gets is also matched by rants spawned by an irrevocable book that has its origins in the 7th century. The whole business of ‘Vyakti Nirmaan’ has been part of “man making” for centuries. And nothing good has come out of the exercise at any point of time. Rest assured in a century and a half the subcontinent will be a patchwork of retinues of different ideologies the ordinary mortal will live to die for. Welcome to the world of Yvakti Nirmaan!
RSS & freedom struggle lies as facts
RSS’s denunciation of the tricolour
RSS says that Hedgewar joined the call of ‘purna swaraj’ made by the 1929 Lahore Congress for a public unfurling of the tricolour on every January 26. In fact, RSS, under the leadership of Hedgewar, refused to follow it. In a letter Hedgewar wrote to RSS workers (available in the collection Dr Hedgewar: Patrroop Veyaktidarsham, 1981), he order all the RSS shakas to workship “Rashtriye dhwaj arthat bhagwa dhwaj” (national flag i.e. saffron flag).
On the eve of Independence Day, the day before Jawaharlal Nehru was to unfurl the flag on the ramparts of the Red Fort in Delhi for the first time in history, the RSS’s English mouthpiece Organiser published these lines in its August 14, 1947 issue about how the national flag would “…never be respected and owned by Hindus. The word three is in itself an evil, and a flag having three colours will certainly produce a very bad psychological effect and is injurious to [the] country.”
RSS’s opposition to Quit India Movement
18 months after the launch of the Quit India Movement, a memo written by the Bombay govt of the British Raj noted: “the Sangh has scrupulously kept itself within the law, and in particular, has refrained from taking part in the disturbances that broke out in August 1942.”
Golwalkar, in his June 1942 speech delivered a few months before the unnecessary, British-made famine that was to kill millions of Indians in Bengal, said: “Sangh does not want to blame anybody else for the present degraded state of the society. When the people start blaming others, then there is basically weakness in them. It is futile to blame the strong for the injustice done to the weak… If we know that large fish eat the smaller ones, it is outright madness to blame the big fish. Law of nature whether good or bad is true all the time. This rule does not change by terming it unjust.”
(Author is a political commentator)