Dr. Hedgewar had worked with Indian National Congress, different revolutionary groups like Anushilan Samiti, some 30 small and large groups, different movements and Gandhiji’s Satyagraha. He had served one-year rigorous imprisonment also. With this experience Dr. Hedgewar decided to put his idea of a historical, strong and self-sufficient Hindu organization into a real shape. He called his trusted friends in his house on Vijayadashami day of 27th September 1925. After a brief meeting Dr. Hedgewar declared there itself the formation of a purely indigenous organization to take on foreign rulers. He said. “We are starting today Sangh.” It may not be an exaggeration to say that the meeting was the first meeting/Shakha of an organisation which had since evolved into the biggest patriotic volunteer force of the world serving selflessly.
Formation of RSS – An Inextricably United Hindu Organisation
After listening to everyone in the meeting, Dr. Hedgewar in his brief and measured words told that the purpose of Sangh formation was to get ourselves trained in physical fitness, in martial arts, in good governance, human resource management and then impart the same training to others also. Brief speech of Doctor ji was fully loaded with thousand words. He meant to say that before training others we first must get ourselves trained. These few words contained the biggest message. Dr. Hedgewar did not follow any institution or organization in the matter of name, constitution, flag, office, fund management, maintaining books and posts of president etc. It was so simple. Sangh was formed in a room and its activities started in the open ground. He founded Sangh on the auspicious day of Vijayadashami for the sacred cause of rebuilding the Nation. He had challenged the British Imperialism with great and bold initiative. Dr. Hedgewar broke through the contradictions, selfishness, lethargy, contemptuous behaviour and all types of superstitions to consolidate the Hindu society. He put the Hindu society on a glorious path of evolution which would ultimately counter foreign rulers, cruel administrators and traitors among us.
It had some purpose and meaning to plant a seed of mighty Banyan tree on this auspicious day of Vijayadashami. Swayamsevaks were initially told to exercise in any of the gyms. Later they would assemble in some ground on Sundays. A retired army officer Martandrao Jog would impart martial training to them. It was later followed by workshops and training sessions twice a week. Dr. Hedgewar and other dignitaries would give their lectures in these workshops. These trainings and workshops later developed into “Shiksha Varg” and “Bhoudhik Varg”.
A meeting was held at Dr. Hedgewar’s house on 17th April 1926 in which 26 persons participated. In this meeting Sanghthan (organization) was named as Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. In this meeting Dr. Hedgewar said that the key to achieve complete freedom and overall development of the Nation lies with powerful organised Hindu society. People with different contradictory traditions, culture and faiths would never form a Nation who were always opposing each other.
We were one in the matter of faith, culture, country, language and history and this conviction that we should remain one and maintain a sense of belonging which comes out of our deep inner consciousness, would be the basis of our Nation.
Doctor Ji in his speeches would often say that the solution to the critical problems being faced by our society lies in consistent efforts to be done by inculcating spirit of Nationalism by a band of dedicated whole life workers. These workers were to be developed in sufficient numbers who will spread Sangh work all over India. Dr. Hedgewar created a mechanism where Swayamsevaks were developed in high traditions of patriotism and Nationalism dedicated to the Nation by developing their physical and mental strength in a balanced manner. In March 1928, he took his Swayamsevaks to a nearby hill where a pledge (Pratigya) program was held in front of the Saffron flag. In this program what Doctor ji in his brief speech had said, that would silence those people who would later always question the role of Dr. Hedgewar in freedom movement.
Doctor ji in his speech had said – Our objective is complete freedom. Sangh is formed to achieve this sacred objective. In this Pratighya Swayamsevaks would take pledge while standing in attention. “I take this pledge to work for freedom of my Nation, bodily – mentally and monetarily till the last of my breath. I pledge to work consistently with the core of my heart.”
Young Pracharaks to Expand and Consolidate the Network of RSS
In order to expand the Sangh network in other states, he inspired young Swayamsevaks to pursue their studies in other states/ universities. Many young workers left for Uttar Pradesh, Bengal, Punjab and Delhi etc. as student Pracharaks. These student Pracharaks braved very difficult odds like language, money constraints, finding night shelters and food. Facing all odds happily, they dedicated their whole lives on the altar of Nation. Only God knows how they managed to remain focused and did their assigned work successfully, ignoring their personal comforts and sacrificing their bright carriers as all of them were intelligent minds, handpicked by Doctor ji.
It is worth mentioning here that Dr. Hedgewar while working with Congress, armed revolutionaries, Arya Samaj, Hindu Mahasabha and other around 50 odd organisations, had developed a chain of different resources and persons across India. Doctor ji sent these young preachers with introductory letters to his close associates in different parts of the country. These young Pracharaks were no less than any saffron clad saints. This method of expanding the network was unique in itself and unprecedented. The dream of Swami Vivekanand, Swami Ramtirath and Maharishi Aurobindo Gosh of a young band of ascetics was given a live and practical shape by Dr. Hedgewar.
To boost the morale of those young Pracharaks who had renounced their families and homes and remained unmarried, Dr. Hedgewar would write inspiring letters to them frequently. For the Pracharaks working in different states, the contents of these letters were like the preaching of Lord Krishan who had energised reluctant Arjuna to do his duty. Similarly, Dr. Hedgewar inspired young Pracharaks to take up their duty towards Nationalism and saving Hindutva.
In those letters he would write : have patience, accept difficulties as blessings, Hindu organization is the most required thing for the country, if we will not come forward then who will come, our job is inspired by God, never feel demoralized, have restraint, behave with everyone with love and compassion. Those letters would guide them and will make them strong against local hardships and other difficulties. They consolidated Sangh work and also inculcated cultural and patriotic values among young people so that they could take up Sangh work at different district and tehsil level. There was not a magic band that spread the Sangh work throughout the country but it was Dr. Hedgewar ‘s inspiring personality and affectionate love that moulded Pracharaks into monks in ordinary clothes having committed their lives to the cause of Nation.
Inspiration to Sacrifice Everything for the Nation
Even after these engagements, Dr. Hedgewar did not leave his agitational activities of Congress, instead he asked Swayamsevaks to participate in those activities. According to him every step taken towards freedom of Nation is a step towards fighting for its existence and dignity. It was the duty of every citizen to participate in the freedom movement. He had a clear concept that all organisations and parties, active in freedom struggle must join together, forgetting their mutual differences. As a matter of fact, RSS was formed with the active participation of freedom fighters. Dr. Hedgewar’s plan was beyond its political scope and that was the establishment of a strong and prosperous Nation. This could not be achieved without getting complete freedom or independence.
In 1929, at the concluding ceremony of the Sangh training course at Wardha, Dr. Hedgewar said in forceful words. “British government had several times assured that India would be given independence but that had been proved false assurance. Now it is clear that India has to get independence on its own strength.”
A clear declaration was made at this ceremony that Swayamsevaks should be prepared to sacrifice everything to achieve its ultimate Goal.
……………………………to be continued
(Writer is senior journalist and columnist)