SANGH - INSPIRED ORGANISATIONS
After the advent of Independence in 1947, the centuries-long struggle for freedom gave place to the task of nation-building precisely in a literal sense. But the crucial question was, what should be the goal and the means to achieve it. It was here that the men then at the helm stumbled. They had all along been. while engaged in the freedom struggle equating the mere transfer of power from the alien rulers, with real independence and hence to some extent, were bewildered at the sudden turn of circumstances in which they were empowered with authority to rule.
In fact, for them, it was a god-given historic opportunity to shape the destiny of the nation, which was as it were taking a new birth altogether. The real need then was to identify the character and the time-tested basic values, which this ancient nation stood for millennia, and to reshape the nation on that basis with any modifications suited for the changing needs of the day. But they deemed economic progress and material welfare as the finality of an independent nation.
They had before them two models, both from the West. While the American one had in it the capitalist economy with all-permissive individual freedom, which in fact was eating into the very vitals of her social life, the Russian socialist alternative with its ambitious five-year plans, presented a facade of heaven on the earth, in which actually the individual was but a cog in the wheel. Being enamoured by both, and material progress alone being made the touchstone, the new rulers opted to simultaneously ape both - an exercise which ultimately tended to make the nation a carbon copy of neither.
The thinking of the Sangh in this regard has all along been of a very basic nature. From its inception, the goal before the Sangh was to attain the 'Param Vaibhav' (the pinnacle of glory) of the Hindu Rashtra, the freedom from the alien rule being just a step in that direction. The transfer of power can at the most be 'Swaraj' (one's own rule) but definitely not 'Swatantrya' (actualisation of one's own potential being). The concept of ''Param Vaibhav' has ingrained in it the material progress too of the nation, hut not with its very identity and interests mortgaged.
The Sangh with its total commitment to the actualisation of 'Swa', in other words the Hindu ethos, keeping itself away from the powers-that-be, from 1947 onwards, began on its own to extend its influence to varied fields of social life. The Sangh 'Pratijna' (pledge), which until then was for the liberation of the Hindu Rashtra, was amended to indicate 'Sarvangeena Unnati' (all-round development) of the nation. The entire gamut of social life was planned to be designed on the rock-bed of Hindu nationalism. The swayamsevaks with the insight and the organisational skill they acquired through the 'samskars' on the 'sanghasthan' and with the uncompromising urge for the national reassertion gradually began to enter one after another field of national life. The process commenced as early as in the end of forties, and has in these four decades encompassed a vast number of areas that the society is composed of.
In 1948, after the assassination of Gandhiji, when the Sangh was unjustly banned, the exuberant student and youth force, which until then was active in the Shakha work only, was mobilised to contact the public with issues of national interest, particularly the draft constitution which was then being debated in the Constituent Assembly. This movement, the Akhil Bharateeya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), in course of time has grown into a massive nation-wide student organisation, successfully harnessing the buoyancy, time, intelligence, talent and creativity in the students, over and above their educational responsibilities, for nation-building activities. Today ABVP its recognised as the front-rank student organisation with a totally nationalist outlook.
Earlier, when most of the Sangh functionaries were unjustly incarcerated, and baseless canards against Sangh were let loose by the establishment, to set the record straight, apart from the 'Organiser' weekly in English, a series of language periodicals like 'Panchajanva', 'Yuga Dharma' (troth Hindi), Vicrama (Kannada) etc., were started. Nowadays, with regard to this fourth estate of democracy, almost all the provinces have their own vernacular papers all belonging to Sangh school of thought, and command a very wide range of readership.
The educational system initiated by Macaulay with the motive of producing an army of 'brown-skinned Englishmen', to serve the imperial administration as 'the most obedient servants' was another legacy of the British rule in Bharat. After Independence, there was dire need to reshape the entire system. In 1952, the first 'Saraswati Shishu Mandir' (nursery school) was founded in Ghorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, as an attempt towards inculcating, along with mandatory academic knowledge, discipline, patriotic outlook, love for mother tongue, high moral values and Hindu principles the thrust of education being based upon a holistic approach to the physical, intellectual, moral and spiritual growth of the pupil. The small sapling of this 'Shishu Mandir' - which it was in fifties - has now grown into, a mighty banyan tree as 'Vidya Bharati', an umbrella body for thousands of educational institutions, ranging from nursery to post-graduation level. The system of education being evolved by Vidya Bharati is based on age-old Hindu values, hut having an outer structure in consonance with present-day needs of modern education.
The systematic alienation of the tribals, inhabiting remote forest areas, but who form an inseparable part of the Hindu society through proselytisation was another grave challenge that demanded immediate corrective measures. Far away and hence uncontaminated by the sophisticated modernity, they are yet, though deprived of literacy, committed to their own rustic cultural moorings and also are very talented. They had all along been a most exploited lot and an easy prey for unscrupulous conversion by Christian missionaries. It is to counter this twin menace of British legacy, that the Bharateeya Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram (BKVA) was founded in early fifties. The BKVA, now spread over a hundred districts in 21 States, has been striving for the all-round development of the vanavasis, in their own natural surroundings, enabling all their latent potentialities and tallents to blossom. Over the decades, the Ashram has succeeded not only in putting a stop to conversions in all its areas of operation, but also in bringing the converts back to the Hindu fold.
The trade union movement guided by the alien socialist and Marxist philosophy, started in thirties, was gaining ground by the time and British left the country. This philosophy, with its faith in class conflict and its methodology of anti-production strikes, was in fact, both in theory and practice, a negation of labour and national interests. Bharateeya Majdoor Sangh, a totally new labour movement, apolitical in character, based on Hindu tenets, was started in 1955. The BMS believes in conciliation when ever dispute arises, and considers strike as the last resort. It does fight against exploitation in any form from whichever party, and upholds the all-comprehensive interest of the society as a whole with supreme concern. It is now recognised as a leading labour organisation even at the international level and in the home-front, the second biggest one, far ahead of other similar organisations with socialist and Marxist leanings.
While the Sangh was by itself effective in organising the Hindus and inculcating in them healthy 'samskars' like discipline and social consciousness, the need for Vishwa Hindu Parishad began to be felt in the sixties, for augmenting certain grey areas of the activities of the former. For example, there was need to organise overseas Hindus residing in about 150 countries and provide them with necessary arrangements for upholding their Hindu samskars and faith in their daily lives. There was also need to bring all sadhus sannyasins and orthodox mathadhipatis on a common platform, so that their combined influence could be channelised for the common good of the entire Hindu society. A mechanism to reconvert all those who had been knowingly or unknowingly proselytised to alien faiths and are now desirous of coming back to the Hindu fold was needed. The VHP was founded in 1964, to fill this need.
The VHP is now spearheading the movement to rebuild the temple at Sri Ramajanmabhoomi at Ayodhya in Uttar Pradcsh. After a four-centuries-long physical struggle fought by the Hindus, a period in which as many as seventy-six battles were fought to recapture the premises, where once stood a beautiful temple, which was desecrated by the Moghul invader Baber, the VHP has now picked up the gauntlet to rebuild the temple, yet more magnificently, at the same spot, whatever be the price in terms of sweat and blood. The first phase of this renewed struggle was won in 1986, when the temple-door, which was unlawfully locked by the government to spite the Hindus, was thrown open to the public by a court order. Again in 1989, the VHP could successfully accomplish the 'Shilanyas' of the proposed temple (foundation-laying ceremony), in spite of the numerous hurdles, legal and administrative, and in the teeth of bitter opposition from all those opposed to the project for their own Ulterior motives. The very next year, literally lakhs of Hindus from all over Bharat stormed Ayodhya in a bid to stars 'Kar-seva' (rendering physical service as an expression of their devotion), braving the hurdles caused by a hostile government, and successfully hoisted the Bhagawa Flag atop the disputed edifice. There was unprecedented bloodbath. The VHP is committed to undo the historical insult to the last nuts and bolts and it is this determination of the VHP that has instilled a spirit of righteous militancy in the Hindu society.
With the end of the British raj, Bharat became a democratic republic with a constitution of its own, when the need for a strong political alternative to the ruling party with unalloyed nationalism arose. The Sangh, though it preferred to remain apolitical, was well aware of its commitment to social transformation, including in the political field, based on Hindu values. In fact, politics was and has been wielding all-pervading influence over each and every other field of social life; and as such there was need to evolve a totally new political culture in the country. It was in that contest that a few senior Sangh functionaries, driven with the uncompromising commitment to Hindu nationalism, decided to form Bharateeya Jan Sangh in 1951, under the presidentship of Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee. The party, apart from electoral battles, had been waging many a political fight for upholding the nation's integrity and honour. It was in the forefront of the 'Save Kashmir' movement in 1952 and also in the movement against the formation of Muslim-dominated Malappuram district in Kerala in 1969.
Having firmly established its foothold on the political arena for over twenty-five years, BJS became the strongest constituent in the Janata Party, which assumed power at the centre in 1977, on a common forum of the linen existing opposition parties. Unnerved with the growing political cloud of BJS, when the other constituents made the very membership of Sangh a bone of contention in the Janata Party, the swayamsevaks came out of that party and formed the Bharateeya Janata Party (BJP) in 1980. This new party continued the legacy of the BJS, with 'Integral Humanism' propounded by late Deendayal Upadhyaya as its philosophical base. The BJP, without bothering about its being isolated from other political parties, has been in the vanguard of the movement for Sri Ramajanmabhoomi and also, as a major party, has opposed the move for transfer of Tin Bigha over to Bangladesh. Their differences apart, even the opponents of the BJP accept that it has initiated a totally new political culture. After the general elections of 1991, the party has became the main opposition at the centre and is ruling in four States.
As early as in 1936, Srimati Lakshmibai Kelkar (Mauseeji) of Wardha was prevailing upon Dr. Hedgewar that just as men were being trained in Sangh, women too need to be trained in nationalism and proper samskars. After many months of discussion, Dr. Hedgewar in the end promised to extend all help to Mauseeji, to found Rashtra Sevika Samiti, an exclusively women's organisation, its goal being the same as that of Sangh but which was called upon to operate parallel to the latter and with a different name, prayer and independent structure.
The above is a brief, illustrative account of just a few among the vast number of organisations inspired by the Sangh, generally looked Upon as 'Sangh Pariwar'. The 'Pariwar' in fact is very vast, since no field of activity is beyond the reach of Sangh swayamsevaks; and as such a description of each and every activity is beyond the scope of the present book. The swayamsevaks, in whichever field they entered, with their invincible drive to translate their dream of 'Sarvangeena Unnati' have made it vibrant with Hindu nationalist ethos. Thus, what was started as a humble man-making activity in the form of Sangh Shakha, in a brief span of seven decades, especially after the advent of Independence, has now assumed the form of a unique and mighty nation-building instrument, with its benign influence pervading each and every field of social life.