As the ninth day of the Auspicious Navratri ends, Maa Durga now retires. For the purpose of the incarnation is fulfilled. The benevolent mother blesses her children and gives them peace and freedom from tyranny, exploitation and injustice. Vijayadasami is a celebration of Peace and freedom from evil forces.
At the end of a tyrannical rule there should be a sustainable force created to ensure that peace and prosperity last for many years until a new demon threatens the society.
Sustainable force through the pages of Hindu history had been an Incarnation of Vishnu who’s Avatarams led people into the righteous path of Dharma. In this current Yuga the force can be no one man. It is the collective strength of a Society born and bred with the principles of Dharma, Tolerance, Acceptance, Pluralism and Knowledge.
Hindu society over the last two millennium has seen countless number of invasions – political and religious. Yet it withstood most of these and assimilated various thoughts from them ensuring Knowledge transfer, peace and livelihood for generations of Hindus.
Dr. Keshav B Hedgewar (Doctorji) drew inspiration from the countless number of Hindu Stories and realised that a great latent potential is untapped in the Society. But, the society was in a sad state of affairs due to the Mughal Islamic and the British East India Evangelical Rule. Hindus were denied dignity of upholding the values of ancient wisdom and Dharma. The education systems were written to show a perverted understanding of Hindu Dharma by the British. The upper castes (educated) were happy working for the British administration while several lower castes were left to exploitation, poverty and social discrimination.
The Hindu society has not learned from its mistakes. When struggle for India’s independence was propelled by a collective few who took upon themselves to unite people, Doctorji was at the forefront leading agitations and challenging the British to give up their Golden goose, India. But he was not totally convinced. India could become an Independent state within no time but is the society ready to accept the change in rulers? Shouldn’t the society build upon its Dharmic principles to ensure a long lasting peace? Will the leadership in Congress have the wisdom to understand the needs of such a vast population? Thoughts plagued him.
Doctorji saw that Congress was soon turning itself into a political body rot with favouritism and petty egos rather than a revolutionary body. After a lot of thought process he came to the conclusion that Selfless service is required to uphold the one true identity Hindu under which the gamut of Collective wisdom, systems, and knowledge born in this holy land can be secured for the future generations.
A Patriot, Master Organiser and Orator, Doctorji pooled together like-minded young men and started off this Maha Yagna called Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in Nagpur on this auspicious day of Vijayadasami.
Shakha is the essential daily programme in which Yoga, Exercises and Team games were conducted followed by singing patriotic songs. Swayamsevaks were encouraged to pursue studies as well as conduct with discipline in the society and set examples. The template remains the same till date. This Shakha system created Swamy Vivekananda’s Men with Mettle – Swayamsevaks of the first order ready to sacrifice their self-interests for upholding the spirit of motherland, Bharat.
Doctorji knew well that a person cannot be the guiding force forever as every Human has deficiencies. He chose the Bhagawa Dhwaj (Saffron Flag) for the representation of sacrifice to motherland and the ethos of Bharat.
RSS found immediate popularity for the selfless approach to getting things organised and penetrating into the society which is divided on many lines. Though initially it had members from the educated class it soon reached and touched the hearts of several castes and Dalits. People found hope in coming to the Shakhas where no caste, creed or religion were discussed and everybody stood shoulder to shoulder praying allegiance to motherland (Prarthana).
Swayamsevaks commitment didn’t seize with the fight for freedom from a foreign rule. They have catered to various needs of the society during calamities and also during the heart wrenching episode, Partition of Bharat. Swayamsevaks ensured safe return of many families into India.
After the demise of Doctorji, Madhav S. Golwakar (Guruji) took charge of expanding the Sangh into various fields, involving many personalities and Hindu Gurus. Guruji is a walking encyclopedia who has written several books which till date have a lasting impression on many young minds. Guruji travelled extensively within India expanding and establishing Sangh Shakhas.
After India’s Independence Guruji advised Swayamsevaks to pledge their energies into nation building. Though the immediate compulsions demanded a political wing, RSS chose to stay away from politics. The reason being its work is among the people not for Netagiri.
Out of selfless thoughts emerge the greatest ideas which can change the course of people for a lifetime. Guruji understood this and entrusted Swayamsevaks with starting organisations like Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Akhil Bharateeya Vidyarthi Parishad, Bharateeya Mazdoor Sangh and several others which till date are some of the largest bodies in India and Asia. Today there are over 35 organisations which address several issues plaguing the society to make a difference irrespective of caste, creed and religion.
RSS was called on to serve the forward forces by supplying essentials during all wars India fought with China and Pakistan. Recognising the effort, Swayamsevaks were asked to participate in the 1963 Republic Day Parade by the then Prime Minister J. Nehru.
RSS had its share of suppression from the ruling political parties because of the organic growth in the society. RSS was banned for three times till date and every time revoked.
- It was accused of killing M. K. Gandhi and later acquitted by the Supreme Court.
- Democracy came under threat under the Congress rule for which nearly 70,000 swayamsevaks had to endure physical and mental torture staying away from their families languishing in jails. Voices were silenced, Pens were put down and Acceptance of a Dynasty became the survival word. The Satyagraha continued until it was lifted.
- Soon after the disputed Babri Masjid was brought down by Karsevaks, a ban was imposed and later lifted for lack of evidence on inciting the demolition.
Today the organisation is expanding at a rapid pace. There are over 51,300 shakhas and several weekly and monthly meetings held across the country. RSS swayamsevaks through Sewa Bharati run over 1.5 lakh sewa programmes catering to the tribal and dalit communities’ education, social upliftment and employment. RSS affiliates run the largest non-governmental schooling programmes through the vast network of Vidya Bharati, Saraswati Shishu Mandirs and Ekal Vidyalayas. There are over 55000 swayamsevaks in Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh(HSS), the international organisation catering to Hindus spread across the globe. Muslim Rashtriya Manch, a patriotic Muslim body is inspired by the Chief Late K. S. Sudarshan committed to upliftment of Muslims into responsible citizens for India.
Vishwa Hindu Parishad(VHP) was formed by bringing together all Sants, Gurus and Spiritual leaders of Hindus under one umbrella and proclaimed that “Haindava Sodarah Sarve. Na Hindu Patito Bhavet” “All Hindus are brothers. Hindus can never become fallen”.
At the 50 years celebration of VHP formation the entire Sangh Parivar (RSS and Affiliates) have pledged to eradicate Untouchability which is rampant in many parts of the country through a simple formula for every village – “One Well, One Temple and One Crematorium”. Such is the commitment and such is the execution.
I remember Ma. Mohan Bhagwat (now RSS Chief) words from 2003 when I was a Prabandhak at an RSS Camp. He said “There are only Swayamsevaks and Future Swayamsevaks”.
This Mahayagna with its highest discipline and selfless service cannot end and will not end. The success of the Sangh Parivar is the success of Bharat (i.e India). There are better days in the future. Swayamsevaks and the crores of Mothers and Sisters affiliated to Sangh Parivar will lead the Hindu Society towards Peace and prosperity.
The Work has just begun..