The unique technology that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has evolved and developed by amalgamating new ideas, concepts and techniques is worth studying. That is why many foreign universities have taken up research studies on RSS and its affiliated organisations and the social transformation they have brought about in the Bharatiya society. Still there are many dimensions of the RSS that can be explored academically
Rashtrasant Tukdoji Maharaj Nagpur University (RTMNU) is in focus in recent days. Not for any academic achievement or commendable research in a particular field. It is caught in a controversy for including a topic “RSS and its Role in Nation Building” in the BA level syllabus. Divergent views and controversial opinions are being expressed from all corners – most of them opposing the university officials – for including the RSS into its syllabus. Those who are antagonist towards the RSS commonly perceive it as a secret organisation that works against the non-Hindu religious groups and is communal, obscurantist, revivalist, fascist, etc. in nature, is opposed to democratic values and ethos and wants to convert India into a Hindu Rashtra. They felt that inclusion of RSS in university syllabus tantamount to negation of all democratic, secular and progressive values and ethos. Therefore, they are opposing this move of the RTMNU.
Some of them have even approached the High Court seeking their indulgence in directing the RTMNU to withdraw this topic from the syllabus because the RSS is not a registered organisation!
Congress and other secular parties too have expressed their displeasure over the inclusion of RSS and its role in the nation-building at the graduate level syllabus. Former Maharashtra Chief Minister and PCC Chief Ashok Chavan was leading the attack by questioning the RSS’ role in the 1942 Quit India movement and suggested the university authorities to teach the students about how the RSS opposed the 1942 movement and later the national flag and the constitution, if they were to teach the role of RSS.
Similar views and opinions were also expressed by former Union Minister Kapil Sibal, leaders of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and NSUI and other organisations. Their main point of argument was the alleged non-participation of RSS in the freedom movement in general and in 1942 Quit India movement in particular; the three bans imposed on the organisation in 1948, 1975 and 1992 respectively, and the communal tensions vis-à-vis the RSS. How can such an organisation have a role in nation-building, was the focus of their criticism?
RTMNU Defends the Decision
However, the Vice Chancellor and the Board of Studies (BoS) of RTMNU stood by the decision they have taken on the inclusion of this particular topic. According to them, this topic was included in the syllabus for MA and it is only included at the graduation level from this year. Other universities like Mumbai, Delhi and Burdwan in West Bengal do have chapters on RSS’ role in nation-building. Even the Gondwana University, which was part of the RTMNU until recently, has included a chapter on RSS in its post-graduation syllabus.
Today, the RSS has grown into a global giant organisation that has thousands of branches, millions of swayamsevkas and lakhs of multi-faceted service activities all singularly aimed at making Bharat a strong, vibrant and developed nation as a world leader
VC Prof SP Kane said the RSS history was a part of the syllabus of the PG course since 2003. From this year it is included in the graduation course. He said the PG syllabus had a chapter on RSS founder Dr KB Hedgewar and also a chapter on the Congress Sewa Dal founder Dr NS Hardikar.
BoS Chairman Shyam Koreti said the earlier chapter on ‘Rise and Growth of Communalism’ that dealt with RSS, Muslim League and the Hindu Mahasabha was replaced with the “Role of RSS in Nation Building” referring to the work of RSS activists in social field, the relief works undertaken by them during natural calamities and accidents, etc.
Dr Hedgewar, RSS & Freedom Struggle
RSS is probably the only organisation in the world that is more popular than its founder. Dr Keshav Baliram Hedgewar founded the RSS in 1925 with an avowed aim of organising the Hindu society which he perceived as the backbone of this nation known as ‘Hindu Rashtra’ and which has the responsibility to take this country at the highest pinnacle of glory. Therefore, he took upon himself the mission of organising the Hindu society and to make ‘Bharat Mata’ a Vishwaguru once again.
1942 Quit India Movement & RSS
Dr Hedgewar died in 1940 handing over the baton of Sarsanghachalak to Shri MS Golwalkar alias ‘Sri Guruji’ who continued till his death in 1973. In Golwalkar’s long innings of over three decades, the Sangh witnessed major upheavals in its forward journey including the 1942 Quit India Movement, the Partition of the motherland and Independence of India in 1947, the Gandhi murder and subsequent ban on RSS, and so on. Of these the oft-repeated question raised by the antagonists of RSS is about the 1942 movement and RSS’ participation in it. Firstly, when the Congress decided to launch a nationwide movement against the British, they should have consulted all the parties which they failed or intentionally did not, resulting in the movement turning into a sporadic outburst than an organised and well-planned rebellion. The Sangh swayamsevaks did not lag behind and participated whole-heartedly in the movement. The Ashti-Chimur rebellion in Vidarbha, uprooting of Delhi-Muzaffarnagar railway line, can be cited as examples of this participation. Krantisinh Nana Patil of ‘Patri Sarkar’ movement was sheltered by RSS Sanghachalak of Aundh Pandit SD Satvalekar, Sane Guruji, who always hated the RSS, was given safe shelter by Pune Sanghachalak Bhausaheb Deshmukh. In Delhi, Jai Prakash Narain and Aruna Asaf Ali were provided shelter at Delhi and Punjab Sanghachalak Lala Hansraj Gupta’s house. During the 1947, Sangh swayamsevaks risked their lives to bring back lakhs of Hindus in Bharat safely. They played a key role in saving Delhi from the attack of Muslim League. Bharat Ratna Dr Bhagwan Das had narrated this valiant role of the RSS swayamsevaks in his writing of October 16, 1948.
RSS as an Informal HRD System
Today, the RSS has grown into a global giant organisation that has thousands of branches, millions of swayamsevkas and lakhs of multi-faceted service activities all singularly aimed at making Bharat a strong, vibrant and developed nation as a world leader. The number of youngsters joining this organisation is increasing each passing day. This informal system of human resources development has trained lakhs of ‘swayamsevaks’ to serve the society in whatever way they can. These committed, dedicated and devoted ‘swayamsevaks’ today conduct 1.75 lakh service projects throughout the length and breadth of the country and even in the remote, inaccessible areas of the north-east region. And where does the Congress party stands in comparison to this? Do they run a single service project to name for the neglected, the downtrodden, and the depressed sections of the society?
Some Most Vital Questions
The arguments and counter-arguments notwithstanding, certain fundamental issues can be raised in this regard. There are so many schools of thoughts around us and each one has its merits and demerits. For purely academic purpose, should we not study all such different ideologies, thought-processes and philosophies to enrich our level of information and level of knowledge? Why should we put some barriers in the process of learning? Why should we prevent the inquisitiveness and quest for learning new ideologies/philosophies? Why not open the vistas of knowledge in this age of information technology?
Our ancestors proclaimed loud and clear that “let noble thoughts come to us from all directions”. And here by opposing a certain ideology/philosophy, we are acting exactly opposite to that noble proclamation. What a shame! Ours is not a closed society. Here we welcomed thinkers of various hues and entertained different philosophies. We celebrated Adi Shankaracharya, Buddha, Mahavira, Charvaka, Guru Nanak Dev, various saints who adored the Bhakti tradition in the medieval period; Sri Ramakrishna Paramhamsa, Swami Vivekananda, Rishi Aurobindo, Swami Dayananda, Lokmanya Tilak, Veer Sawarkar, Mahatma Gandhi, Dr Hedgewar and so on. We have a shining galaxy of such thinkers, philosophers, social reformers, academicians and educationists that no country in the world boasts of. They have left a treasure of knowledge for the posterity to study, understand and apply whatever good for the betterment and uplift of the society so that our country becomes the world leader or ‘Vishwa Guru’.
The ideology of RSS is all-inclusive. Sarsanghachalak Shri Mohan Bhagwat in his three-day lecture series last year made a very clear announcement of this inclusiveness when he said that the idea of Hindutva was incomplete without the Muslims (read non-Hindus). RSS envisages taking all together on to the path of national glory.
Two Different Approaches
In our country, there are two basic schools of thought. The one that believes that the national life of this country began on August 15, 1947, when India became free of British slavery, represents the Congress, the socialists, the secularists, the progressives, and so on. The other school believes that this is an ancient nation, a continuous cultural tradition, woven attractively by people speaking different tongues, wearing diverse clothes, having different food habits, and so on. But there has been an underlying flow of unity in this diversity that is flowing uninterrupted through the ages making this the most ancient nation of the world. This unity is expressed by the numerous colourful diversities around us, they believed. The RSS belongs to this category and there is nothing wrong in this belief. One may agree or not with this view, but that does not mean one should outrightly discard this ideology from the academic pursuit.
RSS ideology is all-inclusive. Shri Mohan Bhagwat in his three-day lecture series also made a very clear announcement of it.
Dr Hedgewar used to say: “There are many colleges of arts but there is no college of hearts. The Sangh will be a college of hearts”
And what is the history of those who claim to be secular, progressive, modern, open-minded? The Congress Party tried to ‘crush’ the RSS during Pt Nehru’s days by banning it under the false pretext of Gandhi murder in 1948; again in 1975 during the tenure of Nehru’s daughter Indira ‘Priyadarshini’ who declared internal Emergency and put thousands of RSS workers behind the bars just to save her political power; and again in 1992 after the fall of the disputed structure at Ayodhya. It was the same Congress again that created a phobia and fear psychosis among the Muslims and Christians by spreading falsehoods about the RSS. It was the same Congress that in collusion with the Communists tried every opportunity to destroy the RSS. It was the same Congress that raised the bogey of Hindu terror to malign and defame the age-old Hindu tradition of tolerance and acceptance of different opinions and thoughts.
RSS founder Dr Hedgewar used to say: “There are many colleges of arts but there is no college of hearts. The Sangh will be a college of hearts”. The unique technology the RSS has evolved and developed by amalgamating new ideas, concepts and techniques is worth studying. Many foreign universities have taken up research studies on RSS and its affiliated organisations and the social transformation they have brought in Indian society. Nagpur University has done a commendable job by introducing a chapter on RSS at the graduation level. The Vice-Chancellor, the members of the Board of Studies and all others deserve to be congratulated on this bold step.
(The author is Nagpur-based senior journalist)