Clearing Misconceptions About RSS - by Dr. David Frawley

Clearing Misconceptions About RSS - by Dr. David Frawley
Many people criticise Hindus for not having a proper sense of charity and not helping their own less fortunate brothers and sisters. Caste and untouchability are often cited as proof.

This excuse is used for people to fund non-Hindu or foreign-based charities in India. Such individuals fail to note that India has the largest volunteer service organisation in the world, the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangha), which is actively engaged in a full range of charitable ventures for the entire society regardless of caste or creed.

The RSS has a national vision to uplift the country overall, while also preserving its great spiritual and cultural heritage. Service organisations can be found in all nations, promoting social advancement on various levels. Many government leaders in different countries have backgrounds in service activity. Some service organisations have religious affiliations, even if their work is for the general public. Yet foreign-based service organisations can have an effect, whether intentional or not, to undermine peoples' support for their own culture and country.

After all, if my society cannot take care of my needs, but someone else can, my appreciation is likely to go to them instead. India naturally benefits from service organisations, given the scope of poverty and lack of education that still prevails in many areas. But its own native service organisations have a special place that should not be underestimated. Today, some foreign NGOs are exploiting more than helping people and even laundering money.

During the colonial era, India was exploited and had little resources for charities of its own. Foreign charities, many conversion oriented, came to fill the gap. Yet when Hindu-based charities come up today, they are seldom recognised. Sympathy to colonial type charities strangely remains in the minds of many Indians.

Nature of RSS

  • The RSS is the most important cultural and service organisation in modern India in terms of the number of its members, the scope of its affiliated groups, and the people that it benefits.
  • Yet the RSS is not monolithic and encourages individual and local efforts and has members from a variety of backgrounds, points of view and religions.
  • The RSS promotes an ethic of service to the nation, emphasising dharmic values and simple living. It has many full-time workers or pracharaks who have renounced their personal lives to serve the country.
  • The RSS has special initiatives for women, Dalits, tribals, children, and the poor as well as for protecting animals and the environment.
  • It has special organisations for farmers, labourers, students, scientists, sadhus, and other social groups. It is often the first group to help in the case of natural disasters and catastrophes. Though cntered in India, it has many international affiliations.

  • The RSS aspires to reflect the vision of Swami Vivekananda on a social level to uplift India according to its traditional spiritual and yogic knowledge. Yet it strives to honour all the great gurus of the country from ancient to modern times.

Relationship between RSS and BJP

Some people are afraid of the RSS connection with the BJP at a political level. But service organisations throughout the world have political concerns about the welfare of society that are usually respected. That there is an Indian service organisation of this type is understandable and necessary.

The RSS has a strong vision of national and cultural unity. This is not an intolerant Hindu chauvinism, as its opponents like to portray. The RSS has always accepted freedom of religion and a plurality of spiritual paths. Yet it has opposed forced or deceptive efforts at conversion, which unfortunately still occur.

Marxists in India have long endeavoured to denigrate the RSS as militant and dangerous, but hundreds of the RSS workers have been victims of Marxist violence, particularly in Kerala and West Bengal. It is the radical Left that has encouraged class and caste warfare, and has sympathised with foreign powers like China.

PM Narendra Modi

PM Narendra Modi reflects the yogic spirituality, simplicity and hard work of his RSS background. He is a dedicated servant of the nation and all its peoples. His emphasis is on development that reaches to the last person. Such development is not simply economic but also educational and cultural. This emphasis on development reflects the RSS vision for India to flourish on all levels. The previous Congress government was riddled with corruption, largely because it promoted self-serving individuals and followed a culture of dynasty, nepotism and greed.

The current BJP government has had no major corruption cases, in part owing to the dharmic values it encourages. One may not agree with the RSS at an ideological level or may think that other service organisations are doing better work. But the RSS is making an enormous contribution to the well-being of India as a whole that should be welcomed, not greeted with misinformed suspicion and hostility.  

By Dr David Frawley

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