With a view to bring about systemic changes, swayamsevaks are actively contributing in different areas through various organisations. It is time that each swayamsevak goes out with a renewed vigor for social change and through all these initiatives toward the fulfilment of Sangh’s work would be the best way to celebrate the organisation’s centenary
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is nearing its 100th year of foundation. The Sangh was founded in Nagpur in the year 1925 and on the Vijayadashami of 2022, the organisation would touch the 97 years mark. The Sangh’s reach is growing manifold and this is not due to anybody’s favours. Hard work, penance and sacrificial spirit of the Sangh workers, accrescent support of the society and blessings of the Almighty have made this possible. Having overcome innumerable obstacles, oppositions and crises the scope, strength and influence of Sangh have persistently grown, rousing much curiosity around it all over. People are also curious to learn how RSS would celebrate its centenary.
RSS founder Dr Hedgewar was very clear in his vision, in that he saw the Sangh not as an organisation operating within the society, but as the organisation of the entire society. One of the prominent Sangh luminaries Shri Dattopant Thengadi remarked, “Conceptually RSS and Hindu society are co-terminus and psychologically they are one.”
Therefore, the decision to celebrate the centenary of RSS is itself invalid. The Sangh is synonymous with the society. The goal should be to manifest Sangh’s vision of unifying the entire society. Dr. Hedgewar opined that our mission should be fulfilled even before the silver jubilee of RSS and with this resolve he committed all his strength to propagate the work of RSS. However, he was around only for the first 15 years. Therefore, to accomplish Sangh’s mission before the centenary would be equivalent to the centenary celebration. A Sangh song goes like “to live is to be absorbed in work and only its completion is to rest.”
Dr Hedgewar in his last address to Swayamsevaks during a 1940 RSS training camp said Sangh should not remain confined to the shakha, it must be carried out in the society. Earning the necessary income for our families, nurturing our families and attending shakha regularly would not suffice. To invest one’s time in actively working toward the social transformation and social awakening is the definition of a Sangh worker
This journey of the monumental expansion of Sangh operations has seen four major phases. The period spanning the foundation of RSS until the nation’s independence should be considered the first phase, wherein the focus was single-pointedly concentrated only on “organisation”. Since it was necessary to make people believe that the Hindu society can be united, they can march in one direction while keeping pace with each other and can speak about Bharat and Hindutva with one heart in one voice, therefore all actions spun off from this central tenet. Swayamsevaks participated in the ongoing freedom movement and other social reform movements in their personal capacity but Sangh as an organisation completely absorbed itself in organising the collective.
From time immemorial, our Hindu society has had members that identified with varied caste nomenclatures, but those elements, that have vested interests in dividing the society, have consistently tried to instigate caste-oriented animosity. “Samajik Sadbhav” (social harmony) meetings are a series of meetings that were started with a view to create a consortium for all concerned to sit together, discuss common challenges and contemplate collective actions to overcome those
The second phase of the Sangh expansion is the timeframe between official independence and the year 1990. This was a remarkable phase. A thousand year-long continuous struggle followed by the inspiration of the freedom movement called for a need to envision a social and national blueprint to shape all areas of social life based on our real identity or self (“Swa”). Deeply rooted in the eternal notion of Bharat, many initiatives were propelled in the areas of education, student development, politics, labour, tribal society and the farmers among many other segments. While the organisation carried on with its core activities, several people’s initiatives addressing the needs of the entire spectrum of human lifespan also shaped up alongside.
Today, the Sangh work in the form of shakhas is actively conducted in over 90 per cent of the development blocks in the country and more than 35 community-driven initiatives are actively and efficaciously addressing different needs of the society.
The third phase of the Sangh developmental journey commenced following Dr Hedgewar’s birth centenary in the year 1990. The desire to weave the society in the threads of affinity and affection reflected upon the dire need to reach out to the deprived, weak, backward and those living with scarce resources-the brethren of our own society – and to assume the responsibility to serve them for their upliftment and the society’s overall development. For this very purpose, the Sewa Vibhag (1990) was established.
In the same spirit every volunteer takes an oath, “I have become a constituent (volunteer) of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh for the all-round progress of the nation.” It is irrational to assume that all-round progress can be brought about by the volunteers alone. Our society is abundant with influential and generous people who sincerely wish to be instruments of social welfare and many are even doing their bit. The Sangh is unaware of their efforts and they also lack authentic information about Sangh and its national ideals.
RSS’ Sampark Vibhag was created in the year 1994 to outreach and gather information about the strengths, activities, achievements and contributions of such achievers of our society toward different social causes. It also intended to provide them with information about the ideas and work of RSS. These new connections of the Sampark Vibhag may not join Sangh, but as Sangh Swayamsevaks, we would get connected with them to facilitate mutual exchange of ideas, experiences and achievements and to cooperate with each other in areas of common interest. This was the intention behind setting up this initiative.
Oftentimes RSS and BJP Government garner news in relation to the matter of conversion. Traversing the timelines of the independence movement and the Constituent Assembly this issue continues to be one of the most debated till date. This example will illustrate how Sangh’s Sampark Vibhag could affect some tangible results in this sphere.
It was in the year 1967 that in the states of Madhya Pradesh and Odisha, a bill to stop Christian conversion was passed for the first time in the Legislative Assemblies. That time Congress government presided over both the Centre and in these two States. Thereafter this issue has been single-handedly taken up by the Bharatiya Janata Party only and most of the anti-conversion Bills were passed during BJP reign in various States with an exception of Himachal Pradesh.
In 2006, the Congress Government led by Shri Virbhadra Singh passed a Bill against conversion there. A few years ago, some officials of the Sangh Sampark Vibhag met Shri Virbhadra Singh ji and heard the first-hand account of the passing of that anti-conversion Bill during his tenure. He added that if he could be instrumental in stopping conversion anywhere in Bharat outside Himachal Pradesh, then he would readily contribute.
In 2008-09, when Gau-Gram Rath Yatra was organised, ‘Sarvodaya’ workers participated in this yatra at many locations. In this way, issue-based cooperation and activism became possible due to the Sampark Vibhag initiative. It may be that these people may have a worldview that is not in total alignment with Sangh’s viewpoint but that did not deter people from coming together and uniting in actions on common issues, this much is evident.
Similarly, the Prachar Vibhag of RSS was formed in 1994 to disseminate RSS views on various national issues and its ideal of Bharat using different media and also to counter the malicious, false propaganda built around RSS through accurate information. It’s immanent function was to factually establish what the Sangh really does and also to highlight before the society, the innumerable creative social endeavours initiated by Sangh swayamsevaks. Having successfully harnessed the power of various mass media and social media platforms the Prachar Vibhag is now a vibrant one that has enabled the greater representation of RSS in ongoing dialogues of national relevance. Swayamsevaks are dedicatedly engaged in the task of social awakening as all three of these aforementioned Vibhag viz Sewa (service), Sampark (outreach) and Prachar (publicity) help to multiply the outreach by reaching out to even those who are living in far off regions.
It was during the third phase only that alarmed by certain burning social issues, social reform projects were instituted. It was through the intervention of ‘Dharmajagaran Vibhag’ that organised mass conversion operations were impeded and the project of helping those proselytised and desirous of reconnecting back with their roots was initiated.
Along similar lines it was felt that village folk could be mobilised to enable village-development, independent of State intervention. With a motto to usher in extensive rural development by empowering villagers in a way that they can accrue adequate benefit of the Government schemes ‘gram vikas’ work had commenced.
From time immemorial, our Hindu society has had members that identified with varied caste nomenclatures, but those elements, that have vested interests in dividing the society, have consistently tried to instigate caste-oriented animosity. “Samajik Sadbhav” (social harmony) meetings are a series of meetings that were started with a view to create a consortium for all concerned to sit together, discuss common challenges and contemplate collective actions to overcome those. Unfortunately, some sections of our own society were deemed untouchables and denied respect, education and other facilities. This was downright unjust. Eradicating this injustice by commemorating our common heritage, efforts to move forward by taking everyone together started through “Samajik Samarasata” (social cohesion).
The work of “Gauseva – Gausamvardhan” has flourished with thousands of new Gaushalas coming up all over Bharat. Creating mass awareness about the medicinal value of products obtained from cows of indigenous breeds, conservation and promotion and breed improvement of these cows along with education programs to train farmers in cow dung based organic farming are few of the programs undertaken.
Traditionally the family holds a special place in Bharatiya culture. While the western thought has seen the individual as the smallest unit of the society, the Bharatiya thought believes that it is the family. According to Bharatiya spiritual worldview, family is the first step of the journey from “Me to We.” In the present scenario urbanization and fast pace of life have shrunk families smaller and everyone is deprived of opportunities to come together and discuss our heritage, tradition, relationships, festivals and the like. Therefore, “Kutumb Prabodhan” (familial dialogue) was started wherein all family members gather weekly to analyze our civilizational heritage, traditions, culture and the prevailing social scenario from the national point of view and also discuss their duties in the light of the same.
Our universe is the mother of all beings, but the spell of materialism has led to ceaseless exploitation of mother nature. In just about 500 years the development based in the western paradigm of development has wrecked the ecological balance. With the ambition to restore this equilibrium, ‘environmental protection’ work has begun. It strives to bring in awareness and propel activism around the issue of ‘environment,’ by encouraging public participation. All these projects have been conceived and personally shouldered by the swayamsevaks in view of the larger social good. These too form a part of the third phase of the developmental journey of the Sangh.
Now we are in the fourth phase of Sangh’s developmental journey. Every swayamsevak associates with the Sangh as a constituent for the all-round progress of the nation. Therefore, it is expected that every “earning young swayamsevak” should actively participate and cooperate for social awakening and social change by choosing any one area for social transformation according to their interest and ability. The founder of the Sangh, Dr Hedgewar in his last address to Swayamsevaks during a 1940 RSS training camp said Sangh should not remain confined to the shakha, it must be carried out in the society. Earning the necessary income for our families, nurturing our families and attending shakha regularly would not suffice. To invest one’s time in actively working toward the social transformation and social awakening is the definition of a Sangh worker.
The Sangh expects that its swayamsevaks – 1. will develop themselves to effectively execute Sangh’s mission in the society. 2. will uphold the holistic Bharatiya worldview, that this entire nation from (Ram) Setu to the Himalayas is one and is my own. 3. will realise the feeling that all members of the society are equal. 4. will regularly attend shakha so that the practice of putting the nation above oneself and to lead the movement while remaining in the backdrop could be perfected. 5. Will actively channelise the character traits built through the Shakha in one of the many areas of social transformation. It is imperative that these points are a part of a swayamsevak’s conscience.
Simultaneously, swayamsevaks should be more active in mingling: penetrate more in the society so that newer sections of the society come into contact with the Sangh, understand the Sangh, know the national ideals of the RSS and being an integral component of society can protect Hindu Dharma, the Hindu culture and the Hindu society and remain devoted to the cause of all-round progress of the nation.
The organisational undertaking of societal organisation and character-building is an ongoing process. Social activism is also a perennial task. With a view to bring about systemic changes, swayamsevaks are actively contributing in different areas through various organisations. It is time that each swayamsevak goes out with a renewed vigor for social change and through all these initiatives toward the fulfilment of Sangh’s work would be the best way to celebrate the centenary. किमन्यै: श्रमै: शुन्यै: (All other efforts are of no worth)