Recalling RSS Sangh’s contribution to freedom struggle

Vishwa Bhaarath
Recalling RSS Sangh’s contribution to freedom struggle
It was not just the Sangh's believers and followers, but many Congressmen and Hindu Mahasabha praised and admired Sangh for its discipline, social inclusivity, and the services it rendered.

Left historians' claim, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its inspired organisations were not involved in the liberation movement. I believe this piece will surely enlighten those wicked souls and minds who always claim that Sangh had no significant role in the Freedom struggle. Above all, it will also illustrate that "Hedgewar, a freedom warrior was a pre-RSS Congressman, imprisoned and sentenced to a year's incarceration for his role in the non-cooperation movement (1919-1924)".

In 1930, Sangh had already completed its five years since its establishment, and Congress declared January 26 1930, as Independence Day. Dr Hedgewar directed all the Sangh's officials to volunteer with their unconditional support to this proposal. He said, "It is, therefore, our duty to cooperate with any organisation that keeps this purpose (Independence) foremost." Above all, Hedgewar instructed all the Swayamsevaks that "All Shakas of the RSS should organise to volunteer. The true meaning of independence and how to present its goal must form the essence of the talk. We have accepted this proposed goal of the Congress; the party must be congratulated for it."

Notwithstanding with the left, historians claim that Sangh has utter faith in the Saffron flag instead of the National flag but let me just remind them of something which will simply break their myth. It is not just Sangh that respects the Saffron flag, but this sense was found more logical even by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. In 1931, the Congress Working Committee recommended the saffron flag as the national flag in its final reports with these significant words, "If there is one colour that is more acceptable to the Indians as a whole, even as it is more distinctive than another, one that is associated with this ancient nation by long tradition, it is (nothing but) the Kesari or Saffron colour." So it becomes imperative to know the idea of founding Sangh was nothing but to decolonise the minds over Europeans' materialistic conceptions. To revive the genuine nationalist values which had perforce receded during the imperial regime. To enlighten all that you had achieved nothing of significance in the past, kindle in them the spirit of dedication and sterling qualities and character, rouse social consciousness, mutual good-will and cooperation among all to make them realise that casts, creeds and languages are secondary, service to the nation is the supreme end and to mould their behaviour accordingly. Instil in them a sense of true humility, discipline and train their bodies to be strong and robust to shoulder any social responsibility, thus creating all-around Anushasana (discipline) in all walks of life and building together with all our people into a unified, harmonious national whole.

It was not just the Sangh's believers and followers, but many Congressmen and Hindu Mahasabha praised and admired Sangh for its discipline, social inclusivity, and the services it rendered. Eventually, Sangh was always there to assist in every political movement overtly or covertly by directing its Swayamsevaks' and instructing them to assist whenever required to perform for the national service (Rashtriya Sewa). Dr Hedgewar promised Trailokyanath Chakravarty that Sangh would provide him with everything that would meet his intent for future revolution and for the nation's true liberation. In the case of Partition, which was rapidly approaching despite the bravado and hollow sentimental rhetoric of Congress leaders, the Hindus-Sikhs of Western Punjab and Hindu-Buddhist tribes in East Bengal were also rapidly approaching to be protected and preserved to avoid a bloodbath. As a result, Guruji Golwalkar thought that the organisation needed to be expanded and strengthened. "Anderson and Damle point out that Golwalkar believed the British should not be given any pretext to prohibit the RSS," as the RSS baiters never weary of saying. According to British Intelligence, on April 27, 1942, at the RSS training camp in Pune, Golwalkar chastised those who were selfishly assisting the British Government. 

During a speech on April 28, 1942, he stated that Sangh was committed to carrying out its responsibilities even if the entire world was against them. He emphasised that the volunteers must be prepared to give their lives in defence of the country. The RSS provided crucial help to a large number of independence fighters. Nana Patil was sheltered by Pandit Damodar Satavalekar, and Sane Guruji was housed with Bhausaheb Deshmukh and Babasaheb Apte. At the same time, Aruna Asaf Ali sought refuge in the home of Lala Hans Raj Gupta and Pandit Damodar Satavalekar.

On August 16, 1942, many RSS workers participated directly in a Quit India agitation in Chimur, Maharashtra, which was brutally suppressed by the British. According to exclusive reports, two individuals were responsible for these uprisings. One of them was Dada Naik, who, according to the report, was substantially responsible for the recent disturbances, and the other was Sant Tukdoji Maharaj, who was closely linked with the RSS and was suspected of being involved in the disturbances at Chimur, both of whom were arrested. Sant Tukdoji Maharaj was one of the co-founders of the Vishva Hindu Parishad, which is still in existence today (VHP). Dada Naik, the leader of the Chimur RSS section, was sentenced to death by the British. Dr N B Khare, the leader of the Hindu Mahasabha, had taken up his matter with the authorities. Ramdas Rampure, another RSS swayamsevak, was assassinated by the British in 1942. 

One of the many myths propagated by historians is that Guruji Golwalkar did not explicitly blame the British for India's partition. In fact, throughout his tenure as the sarsanghchalak of the RSS, he took extreme care not to blame any of the issues of Hindu society and the Sangh on anyone or anything outside the organisation.

For example, when it came to religious conversions, he prevented his adherents from blaming Christians or Muslims, as was done in the past. Meanwhile, in this context, he stated that "Many workers appear to take delight in blaming others for all ills. Some may blame the political perversities, others on the aggressive activities of the Christians or Muslims and such other faiths. Let our workers keep their minds free from such tendencies and work for our people and our Dharma in the right spirit, lend a helping hand to all our brethren who need help and strive to relieve distress wherever we see it. They need to forget that Nehru's views on the RSS were changed after Sangh assisted the Indian army. This comes after he refused to grant Sangh any piece of land for their flag in the country and now invites them to the Republic Day parade." Thus, the mission of Sangh has been described as the revitalisation of the Indian value system based on universalism, peace and prosperity to all. Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, propounded by India's ancient thinkers, is considered the organisation's ultimate mission.

(The writer is the principal at Delhi College of Arts & Commerce, University of Delhi)

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