As a young graduate student at Delhi University, I was introduced to the grand ideas of revolution and classless society of Karl Marx through the eyes of my foreign-educated professors who spoke with such poise and confidence that it was hard to not believe them. At first, their grasp of the subject, their style of debate and the way they spoke, everything just bowled me over.
However, the only one thing that always left me confused was why they spoke with so much hate against an institution about which I did not know much then, but definitely knew that it had gone out of its way to help several war refugees in my native state of Assam during the 1962 Sino-Indian conflict. Yet, at the same time, I also could not ignore reading hate pieces written by these same professors against this remarkably huge institution, which is none other than the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
During my college and university days, a mere mention of the words ‘RSS’ and ‘Hindu Rashtra’ meant unexplained hate and contempt! The Leftist discourse had always painted the RSS as a murderous, regressive organisation based on a parochial ideology that was responsible for the death of M.K. Gandhi.
Thankfully, because of an upbringing that was strongly rooted in Hindu traditions, in the initial stages itself, I could smell though their very well-planned, carefully executed propaganda. It was one-sided. It was based on a toxic version of secularism. Most importantly, it fed on spreading lies and hatred against only one community, while the other was always projected as peace-loving and victims in the hands of the political establishment.
However, it was only in the later stages when I started doing some real ground-level study related to the subject of my research that the truth gradually began to unfold itself! What I had been taught till now was an entirely fabricated story crafted by a narrow, but quite influential and hypocrite “intellectual elite”. Influential, because this “elite” had left no stone unturned to discredit and disrepute an institution that, from the very beginning, posed a strong ideological challenge to their hopelessly shallow, but a venomous narrative based on open hate for Indian culture and traditions. Hypocrite, because questioning their narrative amounts to being labelled as ‘Sanghi’, ‘Bhakt’ or ‘Fascist’, while they keep glorifying themselves as the supreme upholders of the values of liberty and freedom of speech and expression.
Out of sheer intellectual arrogance, they have deliberately refused to acknowledge the selfless service rendered by RSS swayamsevaks to the people of this country, irrespective of their religious or community backgrounds, especially during disasters and epidemics; and, this they have done without in return seeking any form of public attention or unnecessary media glare for their work. The journey of the RSS since its inception in 1925 by Dr. Keshav Baliram Hedgewar has not been a smooth and romantic ride. There have been numerous attempts by successive governments at the Centre in alignment with a morally corrupt academia and a paid, agenda-driven media to malign its image time and again.
But, one of the greatest achievements of the RSS has been the creation of a counter-narrative in a country like India where the Left’s mafia-like grip has permeated almost all spaces of public life, from media to university spaces and even the judiciary. It has been able to maintain its steely resolve and commitment to achieve the goals of national integration from Kashmir in the north to remote pockets in India’s Northeast like Majuli island in Assam. This has been despite the fact that it has lost so many of its swayamsevaks and pracharaks to sponsored political killings and mindless violence in various states of India.
Many of the RSS swayamsevaks serving in a particular state of India belong to other states. But, they spend their almost entire lives in a culture and society so unique and different from where they have been born and brought up that they eventually become a part of that society itself. They happily learn to enjoy its local cuisines, learn the local languages of that region, and also adapt themselves to the local customs and traditions so that they can serve the local population in the best manner possible. It is their extremely strong feeling for the cause of Bharat Mata and a fierce commitment to nation-building that binds them all together.
E.g. there are several swayamsevaks from the Southern Indian states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu working in some of the most neglected and geographically isolated areas of North-East India. In Assam’s Majuli, as many as 300 RSS cadres from different parts of the country have been working under the leadership of their senior functionary Yogesh Shastri for several years now. In this respect, sister organisations of the RSS such as Lok Jagaran Manch, Seva Bharati, Ekal Vidyalayas, etc. have also been playing a prominent role in helping establish a close rapport of the swayamsevaks with the local population of the area.
The motivation and inspiration of these swayamsevaks to work in far-off areas from their hometown, risking their lives and families’ well-being, and also putting all their personal assets to risk, has failed the imagination of most armchair intellectuals of this country. They have failed to comprehend and accept the grassroot-level hard work accomplished by the RSS cadres in the face of numerous adversities, violence and hardships. They talk about NGOs and social service in their academic papers but have either bypassed or belittled this huge institution in a very much denigrating manner.
The truth is that except for a very few honest writings by people like Prof. Makarand Paranjape and Madhu Purnima Kishwar, there is absolute silence in the rest of the academia about the RSS and the sense of sacrifice among its swayamsevaks for their motherland inspired by the feeling of oneness with the entire country. They have fearlessly settled down and served in some of the most interior regions of the country for years after years, but there has been no sincere attempt to even critique this organisation in a comprehensive light!
In fact, it has largely been because of the blood and sweat of these swayamsevaks working in different parts of the country that the coming to power of the BJP at not only the Centre but also in various states, including the North-East, was made possible. They might not have had the luxury of elite English-speaking university education or swanky office spaces, but with utmost grit and determination, they have been successful in bringing about sweeping political change across the country. If there is something called ‘Revolution’ in the 21st century, then this is it in the true sense of the term. It is because unlike a fake narrative of secularism and crony socialism that has for long been fostered by the academia, these unnamed, unacknowledged swayamsevaks have remained brutally honest with their politics and their allegiance to the BJP for decades.
But, the RSS has mostly been demonised through a genuine and strategically planned neglect by an elite minority of this country. Academic jargons such as Brahmanical oppression, minority discrimination, etc. have kept their political shops running. The Leftists’ contempt for Brahmins has foiled any attempts at Hindu unity. They target young boys and girls in educational campuses in whom they spot sparks of anger and frustration against an incompetent, inefficient system. Anger makes a person easily vulnerable. These vulnerable young minds are then brainwashed with reference to a misinterpreted version of ancient Sanskrit texts such as the Manusmriti, which are used as a mere polemic to fuel Dalit hatred not only against Brahmins, but everything that is associated with the Hindu way of life.
It is this anger that eventually gets consolidated in one enemy – the RSS – which seeks to achieve ‘Hindu Unity’, a term that includes all faith groups with Indic roots. As a result, people who fall into the trap of the Leftists at a young age generally end up hating everything that is related to Hinduism, including its festivals.
In the view of the RSS, non-Indic/Abrahamic religions (primarily Islam and Christianity) have imposed themselves on India through military conquest and political domination, which, however, does not imply that practising Christians or Muslims abandon their faith. ‘Hindu (Sanatan) Rashtra’ translates not into a ‘Hindu Nation’ per se, but a form of governance based on Dharma as its foundation. It represents an eternal, integral, spiritual and holistic worldview that peacefully accommodates all forms of life and provides space for their growth and existence to form an all-inclusive (Sanatan) Rashtra. This is the unique national and spiritual identity of the Indian society based on maintaining a fine balance between individual, society, environment and the universe.
Vaidya, Manmohan. (2018, April 14). Rashtra and Nation: The Eternal Hindu Rashtra. Organiser.
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