The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has become the largest volunteering organisation of world due to consistence dedication of its workers. Millions of swayamsevaks, prepared by its mother organisation over 94 years, have installed and developed more than 50 sister organisations. Despite this prolific achievement, the RSS has been undergoing a litmus test. After a long legal battle, the organisation has successfully isolated itself from the allegation of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination, but is still struggling to free itself from the public perception of being anti-Muslim. The Vijayadashami speech of sarsanghchalak Dr Mohan Bhagwat or his latest discourse with the intellectuals in Odisha clearly indicates that there is no concrete reason appears that declares the Sangh as anti-Muslim or a rigid organisation. This organisation seems to an alternative to the Congress party, the one led by Mahatma Gandhi. In that time, the Congress was trying to eradicate social evils like illiteracy and untouchability and the RSS and its sister organisations has been doing the same exercise.
There is a misconception about the Sangh that it is restricted to a particular tradition and bound with rigidity. This notion has been also clarified in the speech of Dr Bhagwat. He concluded his speech with the song: Yug parivartan ki bela mein ham sab milkar sath chale desh dharm ki raksha ke hit, sahte sab aghat chale… which means: “In the time of changing era we should move together and to protect our country and dharma we should move tolerating all assaults.” It clarifies many things. The Sangh is ready to accept all type of changes according to the changing era. It is ready for the changes according to the times and need except its basic idea and core values.
Second RSS chief Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar alias Shri Guruji, who had contributed a lot in the expansion and strengthening of the organisation, has written in his book Bunch of Thoughts, about the dialogue between him and our first Prime Minister Pt Jawaharlal Nehru. During their conversations, Nehru asked him that why they keep on repeating the Hindi-Hindu line every time. He also told that by doing this the RSS had confined itself inside a boundary wall and stopped the fresh air of world from coming inside. At this, Golwalkar replied that we should welcome the winds coming from all sides and corners. We should come in contact of all type of ideologies being implemented in different parts of world and we should also try to understand them and examine them subtly to accept the suitable parts of each. But this doesn’t mean that by doing this we should destroy our own house and get buried under the demolished roof. Dr Bhagwat also very aptly once again clarified that the RSS is ready for positive changes and that we should accept a form of education system that is able to introduce our generation to our mother tongue, dress, culture and provide a time-relevant, logical, righteous and gentle view towards the world and duty-bound knowledge.
The RSS chief clearly asserted on the questions regarding the word, Hindu, the dilemma is driven by fictional propaganda prevalent since the British rule period and there is a class of society even today which does not accept this word in its true essence and use the word Indian instead. Some people use the word “Indic” for the civilisations based on Indian culture and temperament. The Sangh also accepts these synonyms. One is not isolated only because of a different word, community, worship style, food habit and traditions. All are one in the eyes of the RSS. Our benevolent nature is the national temperament that is Hindutva. These words, asserted by Dr Mohan Bhagwat, clarify the modus operandi of this huge organisation. This organisation keeps expanding despite protest. As the RSS says, the reason behind it is that there is no difference between what it is saying and what it is doing. People continue to join this organisation and whoever comes once remains forever. Critics ignore this facet of the Sangh. But the fact is that its dedicated volunteers are the core strength of this organisation.
Politics, education, agriculture, industry, dharma, culture, literature, history, journalism, trade unions, medicine, services and research are many areas where these volunteers are working. The BJP, one of its sister organisations, is ruling the country on the basis of its firm determination. The RSS had started its journey in the form of a small seed 94 years ago to become a huge banyan tree in contemporary times, which has spread itself across the country over the years. Despite this fact, there are many misunderstandings about this organisation persisting among intellectuals. In this context, Bhagwat’s speech is like an authentic document to understand the contemporary situation, working culture, modus operandi and temperament of the RSS.
There is a trend of verbal attacks on the RSS regarding the word lynching. Bhagwat discussed this issue in length and said that violence created by an attack of one community on another is not one-sided. According to him, reports suggest an unfortunate blame game happening over these kind of incidents. Some incidents had been intentionally orchestrated and projected in a twisted manner. Bhagwat points to the theory that ever since 2014 after the formation of Narendra Modi government, the word, lynching, has come to light in the discourse of mob violence. The RSS chief also tried to convey that “lynching” does not assimilate in the culture of India as it originates in the Western society. But this word was intentionally popularised in India after 2014. So RSS believes that the word lynching identifies the violent nature of a society, unlike the reality of Indian society. De-associating the RSS from mob violence, Bhagwat clearly said that it never supports the people involved in such incidents and has always condemned such incidents. As the debate on lynching continues to be in the political arena inspired by various reasons, the RSS chief has clearly tried his best to give the discourse a new dimension.
The writer is a political analyst and a former chairman of the Andhra Pradesh Electronics Development Corporation