I, hereby remembering the Almighty and my ancestors, take a pledge that, I have become a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh to protect the sacred Hindu Dharma, Hindu Sanskriti and Hindu Society, and to make this Hindu Rashtra independent…”
This was the pledge that was taken by 99 selected swayamsevaks (volunteers) of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in Nagpur in March 1928. The original pledge was a hand-written one in Marathi by the then Sangh chief Dr KB Hedgewar. Almost nine decades later, the present RSS Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat on Thursday evening, while referring to Hedgewar, gave a call to unite and organise Hindus across the world, at an event in New Delhi.
“Hindu(ism) is not a sect; whosoever believes in our diversity is a Hindu. Whether one calls oneself Hindu or a Bharatiya — it means the same. Who were our ancestors in this country? It was Hindus. Hedgewar had said that while you want to see the whole world as a family, first unite those who believe in Hindutva, bring them to your fold — not in fear of Muslims or Christian missionaries. Even if there is no Muslim or Christian, the duty lies in uniting the Hindus as they are unorganised. The others, who are skeptical of being a Hindu due to any reason or are outside the fold, will follow automatically,” said Bhagwat while speaking at an event to commemorate 90 years of the RSS.
Sending out a strong message, the RSS chief asked the Hindu community to first set its house in order. “the problem is not with others. First, set your own house in order. We talk of having a global family, but we discriminate against our own people — the Dalits. That needs to be stopped. Keep your own principles of life in order. That’s what Sangh says — for it, the importance lies in ‘what a man is’ and ‘not on what he’s doing’.”
Emphasising the role of India as a global leader, he said Bharat has to organise and strengthen itself first, so that we can organise at the global level.
An hour-long address by Bhagwat was more about making people understand the genesis, principles and functioning of the 90-year old RSS. And that is what its publication division, the Bharat Prakashan has attempted to do by bringing out collectors’ editions of its bilingual magazines Organiser (English) and Panchajanya (Hindi). The magazines have covered the journey and evolution of the Sangh since its inception in 1925, by digging out information from archives and old communications.
After releasing the collectors’ edition, Bhagwat urged that while the magazines would help people to know about the Sangh, those willing to know more could visit an RSS shakha. His emphasis was on making people understand the Sangh as an entity.
The existence and functioning of the RSS has always been a debatable subject that has often led to controversies. Speculations have been made on the role (read interference) of the Sangh in the policy-making of the government and that of the swayamsevaks in the public domain. The collectors’ edition divides the RSS journey into four phases — 1925 to 1947, 1947 to 1977, 1977 to 2005 and thereafter, vis-à-vis the roles played by the respective Sarsanghchalaks.
“The Sangh is a nothing but a thought process, which evolved out of collective thinking of all in the country over the years. There are misconceptions about the Sangh in the public domain. We never get into any argument and try to avoid any kind of opposition and controversy. Instead, we ensure maintaining a cordial and friendly interaction with all. If anyone wants to know about the RSS, one needs to be free from prejudices and look into it objectively with an open mind. If you have pre-decided notions, you’re bound to have misconceptions,” emphasised Bhagwat.
“The Sangh’s sole objective is man-making and to run shakhas, and it’s the swayamsevaks who perform their duties in society. There’s no other means to know the Sangh than to visit a shakha. One can’t be informed about the RSS by talking about it. You visit a Sangh shakha, if you feel good, stay with it. If not, you can move ahead. But, get your misconceptions cleared. There’s no sanction on visiting us,” Bhagwat signed off.
“The attempt has been made to do an objective analysis of the Sangh through this collectors’ edition and answer many queries in the public domain that has taken the shape of enigma or misconception. Questions have been raised from time to time on the role played by the RSS during India’s freedom movement, post-Independence, during the Emergency and the organisational structure of the Sangh. The two editions will help people to better understand the RSS,” said Jagdish Upasane, group editor Bharat Prakashan, who also spearheaded the collectors’ edition along with its two editors Praful Ketkar and Hitesh Shankar.
By Debobrat Ghose