Just a small idea of boys playing together in a playground developed the world’s largest cadre-based voluntary organisation. That is the brilliance of PP Dr Keshava Baliram Hedgewar: the man who changed the way Hindus should look at themselves.
‘Tat Tvam Asi Swayamsevaka’
Translation: That thou art, Swayamasevak.
These are the words that PP Dr Keshava Baliram Hedgewar or our beloved Doctorji has said and these are the words that guide me daily. Everybody who has been a part of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) believes the same. We are all wholly and purely a Swayamsevak. That is what defines and guides us in everything that we do. That is what defines our whole existence.
Today is the Janmatithi of PP Doctorji, the creator of the RSS way back in 1925. It all started with a small idea. He just wanted the neighbourhood boys to come together every day for an hour in a uniform. He just asked them to sing patriotic songs, do some physical exercises and play kabaddi. There was no membership or recording of attendance. He did not even have any infrastructure, just an open playground. He felt that this will instil patriotism in the boys who would then be able to lead the country in all sectors. People laughed at his idea then. But these young guys networked among each other and then branched out to spread this mission far and wide. Today, RSS is the largest voluntary organisation in the world and all its members are still committed to serving the country in whichever way possible.
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What amazes me today is how well he understood the nuances of the problems that plague our society and how simple were his solutions to tackle these problems. The problem of caste had torn apart our community for ages. He knew that the only way he could unite the Hindus was if he could eradicate caste from it. No, he did not go about preaching against caste. He came up with a very simple solution. Everybody who attends Shakha should wear the same uniform and do everything in the Shakha together. Through the uniforms, the bands and the drills he instilled a feeling of equality and unity in the youth. This made them realize that only if they are together in this can they overcome any challenges that come their way.
There is an incident about Doctorji I was told at the Sangh that I still remember vividly. Once Dr Ambedkar has said that he was born a Hindu, but he won’t die a Hindu. Doctorji did not ridicule or rebuke him because he understood the ordeal Dr Ambedkar went through to say those words. So, he invited him over to the Sangh to address the members. When Dr Ambedkar visited, he asked Doctorji where the scheduled community people were. Doctorji replied that in a Shakha, there are no touchables or untouchables, there are only Hindus! Dr Ambedkar then realized that the Shakha was an absolutely equal place with no caste consciousness. That was the brilliance of Doctorji!
There is another incident that was told to me about Doctorji which requires a special mention in today’s times. Once, he came across a colony named “Hindu Colony”. He then remarked asking, why do Hindus have a colony named after them when this entire nation belongs to them? He helped us see the Hindus beyond a community and as a nation. So, whenever we make petty demands for immediate gratification, we all need to take a step back and understand that we need to build a nation together. We cannot just remain happy with small gifts and tokens. The journey that was started by Doctorji has still a long way to go and we shouldn’t stop till it is finished.
The small idea of Doctorji has now spread across many organisations like Vigyan Bharathi, Seva Bharathi, Vidya Bharathi, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, and the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh. They are now one of the biggest organizations in their respective fields. India, to date, has just two non-Congress Prime Ministers, both of whom have started their journey as Swayamsevaks. This is all a result of Doctorji’s vision. Today, on his Janmatithi, I pay my humble respects to this brilliant leader and visionary whose writings and stories have made me what I am today.
About Abhinav Khare
Abhinav Khare is the CEO of Asianet News Network and also the host of a daily show named Deep Dive with AK. He has a lifetime collection of books and gadgets and has already pinged more than hundred cities around the globe.
He is a tech entrepreneur, who is passionate about policy, technology, economy and philosophy from ancient India. He earned an MS Engineering from the ETH Zurich and an MBA Finance from the London Business School.
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Last Updated Mar 25, 2020, 6:59 PM IST