Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the largest voluntary organisation in the world, was founded in 1925 on the auspicious day of Vijayadashami, a Hindu festival that celebrates the victory of the good over the evil. The address of the RSS’ Sarsanghchalak (head of the organisation) on every Vijayadashami has been watched and followed with keen interest for several years now, especially since 2014 when an RSS Pracharak (full-time worker) Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister of Bharat leading his party (Bharatiya Janata Party) to an emphatic victory and repeated the feat in an even more accomplished manner in 2019.
The Sarsanghchalak’s address on Vijayadashami helps one understand the worldview of the RSS in contemporary context. And it becomes important for the rest of the world as it helps one understand the policy nuances of the present government to a large extent as the key players in this government have been part of the RSS since its formative years.
This year, the sixth Sarsanghchalak of the RSS, Dr Mohan Bhagwat, has once again outlined the all-inclusive worldview of the RSS that goes beyond the headlines and brings to the fore several significant civilisational issues. It is important to understand that what the Sarsanghchalak said in his address on the occasion of Vijayadashami this year indicates that there are certain eternal values and principles which remain unchanged for the RSS. Unfortunately, many political commentators, who haven’t read the history of the RSS and don’t understand the progressive unfolding of its vision tend to misconstrue. They tend to look at all that has been said from the electoral perspective with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) being a reference point.
One must understand that the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS), a predecessor of the BJP (that was set up in 1980), was set up almost 26 years after the foundation of the RSS was laid. For RSS, politics is a sub-function of the Bharatiya social structure and political power isn’t the final destination. In fact, the RSS’ vision has always been that the transformation of Bharatiya society can only be done by the society itself and politics has a limited role to play in it. That is the essence of Mohan Bhagwat’s speech on Vijayadashami this year as we look at the myriad of issues he spoke about.
Hindu Rashtra and the fundamental unity of Bharat
One of the most significant things which Bhagwat spoke about was about Bharat being a Hindu Rashtra (Hindu nation) and why no one needs to be apologetic about it as it isn’t a parochial or a divisive concept or a communal idea that berates minorities. He said, “Since ancient times, irrespective of differences in geography, language, religion, lifestyle, diversities in social and political systems, as a society, culture and nation our way of living has continued in an unbroken manner. In this, there is acceptance, respect, security and progress for all diversities. Other than narrow-mindedness, fundamentalism, aggression and ego, no one needs to forego anything. Nothing is compulsory other than Truth, compassion, physical and inner purity and the dedicated practice of these three. Devotion to Bharat, the shining ideals of our ancestors and the great Sanskriti of our country, these are the three pillars which light up and pave our path on which we have to travel together with love and affection. This is our selfhood and Rashtra Dharma.”
The RSS mobilises and calls on society with this intention. Today Sangh experiences that people are ready to listen to and understand this clarion call. The propaganda which circulated against the Sangh due to ignorance, falsehoods, malice, fear and selfishness, has now lost its impact. This is because the geographical and social reach of the Sangh has considerably increased, i.e. it has increased in strength. It is a strange reality that to be heard in this world, truth also needs strength. There are evil forces also in this world and to save oneself and others from them, the virtuous forces need to have organised strength of their own. Spreading the above mentioned national thought, the Sangh works to develop the entire society as an organised force. This work is Hindu Sangathan (organising Hindus) work because the above mentioned thought is called as thought of Hindu nation and it is so.
Therefore, without opposing anybody, the Sangh organises all who subscribe to this thought — i.e., organises the Hindu society for protecting the Hindu Dharma, Sanskriti, Samaj, and an all-round development of the Hindu Rashtra.
Now when the Sangh is receiving the affection and confidence of people and also has become strong, the concept of Hindu Rashtra is being taken seriously. Many people agree with the concept but are opposed to the word ‘Hindu’ and they prefer to use other words. We don’t have any issue with that. For the clarity of concept — we will keep emphasizing the word Hindu for ourselves.”
While the Western framework of nationalism has always been rooted in the political space, what Bhagwat has brought to the fore in his Vijayadashami address is the concept of Spiritual nationalism. In an extremely divisive world where nation-states are facing an existential crisis both from within and outside, the RSS Sarsanghchalak has brought to the fore the concept of spiritual nationalism which could be the key to conflict resolution mechanism globally as well as for the struggles and conflicts within our own nation.
Bhagwat said, “We are completing 75 years of our Independence. At the beginning of our national resurgence, Swami Vivekananda had exhorted us to devote ourselves to Bharat Mata and her service. On the occasion of our first Independence Day, 15th August 1947, Rishi Aurobindo gave a message to Bharatiyas. It was also his birthday.”
The message described his five dreams. First, Bharat’s independence and solidarity. The integration of princely states through a constitutional process was a matter of joy for him. However, he was worried that due to Partition, instead of Hindu-Muslim unity an everlasting political divide had been created which could obstruct and get in the way of Bharat attaining unity, progress and peace. By whatever means possible he wanted Bharat’s partition to be nullified and fervently wished for Akhand Bharat.
He knew Bharat had a central role in fulfilling his other dreams — liberation of Asian countries, unity in the world, the gift of Bharat’s spiritual wisdom to the world, the evolution of man to a higher consciousness.
Therefore, he gave a concise manifesto of service:
“There are times in a nation’s history when Providence places before it one work, one aim, to which everything else, however high and noble in itself, has to be sacrificed. Such a time has now arrived for our motherland when nothing is dearer than her service, when everything else is to be directed to that end. If you will study, study for her sake; train yourselves body and mind and soul for her service. You will earn your living so that you may live for her sake. You will go abroad to foreign lands where you may bring back knowledge with which you may do service to her. Work that she may prosper. Suffer that she may rejoice. All is contained in that one single piece of advice.”
In a nutshell, what Bhagwat has conveyed is that there are certain core elements of the fundamental unity of Bharat. And they need to be the guiding principles of our nation and society as we move forward to ensure that the world becomes a better place to live.
The writer, an author and columnist, has written several books on RSS including ‘Know About RSS’ and ‘The Saffron Surge: Untold story of RSS leadership’. He tweets @ArunAnandLive. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the stand of this publication.