Hindu Vivek Kendra
A RESOURCE CENTER FOR THE PROMOTION OF HINDUTVA
   
"Manu, Sangh and I"


Chapter V


In this book I have mentioned Sukhadev Navale wherever the context has called for it. His contribution to the projection of the social content of the Sangh's work is massive. He lives at Sambhajinagar, which is one of the main centres of the Dalit movement. There are a large number of workers there who can be called Dalit intellectuals. The Milind Mahavidyalaya, a College started by Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, is situated there. Sukhadev Navale has close links with the activists of the Dalit movement.

My in-laws also belong to Sambhajinagar. When I married Miss Mangal of the Vadnagare family, my visits to Sambhajinagar became frequent. My friendship with Sukhadev thickened. His immense ability and competence, and his in-depth understanding of the Sangh work, had a magnetic impact on me.

One day, Sukhadev told me, "Ramesh I want to set up a Pratishthan (a Trust) here." 

"What Pratisthan?", I asked. 

"A Medical Trust", he said, "in the name of Dr. Ambedkar". 

"O.K., What next?", I asked. 

"What I am contemplating is to start a clinic and dispensary and name it after Dr. Hedgewar", said Sukhadev. "People will be able to comprehend the significance of the thinking and service to the society of both these great doctors through a project like this". He mused. 

Then, in a lighter vein, he said, "You are a thinker and give lectures. But all that goes over the heads of village farmers like us. Without some concrete action, or activity, we can not understand your intellectual stuff."

"But how is all this to be organised? We will need doctors to work on the project. They will have to work in accordance with you ideology. Basically that is a difficult task. Moreover, no big money can be expected through such service. That being so, will we be able to get a doctor to join us?" I put my practical doubts before him.

But Sukhadev had already thought about all these issues. He said, "Are you free tonight? Then do one thing. A meeting of Dr. Ambedkar Medical Pratisthan is being held at Dr. Ashtaputre's place. Please come there".

I attended the meeting that night. Dr. Satish Kulkarni, Dr. Bharat Deshmukh, Dr. Ashtaputre, Dr. Tupkari, and some other doctors were there. After many such meetings, Dr. Hedgewar Hospital came up in Sambhajinagar, under the aegis of Dr. Ambedkar Medical Trust. An action platform, manifesting Hindutva through service, came to life in Sambhajinagar. I must reveal here, for the information of my progressive friends, that most of the doctors who have given up the lure of money to work in this clinic on meager salaries are RSS Swayamsevaks, and are mostly Brahmins. Even their spouses have gladly involved themselves in this service. 

I have not mentioned Girish Prabhune in this book. Girish started participating in the Samarasata Manch activities from 1989. Before joining us in the Manch, he was working with the Nimgaon Mhalungi Project of the Gramayan of Pune. He gradually got himself freed from there. The Nimgaon Mhalungi Project is an unusual project. Dalits who live there, had migrated to Mumbai after mortgaging their lands to the moneylenders. They had come to Mumbai in search of employment. The project aimed at bringing them back to their village, and rehabilitating them there. Some eight to ten Dalit families were brought back and their lands were restored to them. Farming and its ancillary activities were undertaken at Nimgaon. Girish had contributed significantly to the project. We gradually came closer, and I grew more familiar with his personality traits.

Girish is neither a Dalit nor a backward class worker. He belongs to an orthodox and conservative Brahmin family. In the progressive parlance, he should have been a hardcore Manuist. Instead, he came to the RSS, and became a hardcore samarasatawadi. He became a dedicated worker, exerting his body, mind, and wealth for the welfare of his Dalit brothers. Once I heard about his past from his own mouth. When a mere schoolboy, he ran away from home with a nomadic family. He wandered with them from village to village for one whole year. That nomadic family was rounded up by the police at some place and charged with theft. Girish too was arrested. The nomads however told the police that Girish was not one of them but was a Brahmin boy. The police launched a search for his parents, and brought him back to Chinchwad. Thus at an early age, Girish commenced the work which he was destined later on a different but grander scale.

In 1989, a conference for the development of nomadic and gypsy tribes was held at Solapur, a District place in South of Maharashtra, at the initiative of Girish Prabhune and Bhikuji Idate. We started working in a new field. I had known these tribes only through reading about them. I was conversant with their problems. On Gandhi Jayanti Day (birthday) in 1990, we organised a get-together of the Nomadic Tribes Development Parishad at Pune. Bhimrao Gasti, an eminent leader of a nomadic tribe viz., Berad and a doctor in Metallurgy had come to inaugurate the meeting. About 200 to 250 nomads were present. I was on the dais as an activist of the Samarasata manch. My speech was scheduled for the evening. Throughout the day, I was listening to the problems and hardships of the tribes, injustices meted out to them, and police brutalities perpetrated on them. This facet of our society was new to me. What to speak before them was a problem. There was no use telling them the philosophy of Hindu Rashtra, Hindutva, and Samarasata. They were all Hindus, many even orthodox Hindus, and they were also proud of their Hindutva. Their agony was of a different kind. Their agony was that they were kicked away by the Hindu society itself. I had no answer to this conundrum. The problems of the nomadic and tribal Hindus, truly speaking, are problems of the entire Hindu community. Integrating them presupposes a change in the psyche of the Hindu society. Our real task is to take up the problems of nomadic and gypsy tribes and place them before the Hindu society, is what I was thinking. But that day, I did not make a speech along those lines. Girish, however, was well versed in the difficulties and hardships of the tribes. He had seen their style of life from close quarters. He had a clear idea of the nature of work to be done among them.

Although by coincidence, the work among the nomads took a definite direction in 1991. There was a raid by dacoits on the Minaar Express (train from Mumbai to Hyderabad) near Kurduwadi, a place near Solapur. It was reported that two Pardhis, a nomadic backward tribe stamped as criminals were killed in the raid. The Sangha's Training class was going on at Solapur at that time. Gaikwad came to the class. The news of the raid and the killings reached us. However, we did not feel concerned as the Pardhis were known to resort to raids and the related mishaps were not rare. But this raid was different from the usual.

It turned out that the two Pardhis who were killed had not joined the dacoity. They were at their homes on the night the raid took place, and were asleep when the dacoity occurred. A number of people corroborated the story. This meant that the two Pardhis were murdered by the police. That was shocking. Girish Prabhune, Teksas Gaikwad, Chandrakant Gadekar, Secretary of Nomadic Development Conference, and Madhukar Vatkar immediately proceeded to Kurduwadi and conducted investigative inquiries into the incident. The information which had come to us was true. The police had killed the two Paradhis in cold blood. Later, we published details of the story in Vivek.

After a few days, when I met Girish Prabhune, he told me some anecdotes about the Paradhis. I was stunned to hear the atrocities perpetrated on them. We deliberated further at our next meeting, and decided to go to the root of the murder of the two Paradhis. Sudhakarrao Naik was the Chief Minister at that time. A delegation of the Development Council for Nomads called on him. The entire episode was conveyed to him. He promised an inquiry into the matter. We hoped the inquiry would take place, and the guilty punished. Nothing of the kind took place.

The issue was not limited only to the two Paradhis. Anguish and affliction affected the entire Paradhi tribe. One incident of atrocity led to another, and yet another, in an endless chain of oppression. Each of the stories which surfaced were factual, real, authentic, and mercilessly exposed our social and political system in all its frightening nakedness. It was necessary to do something urgently to mitigate the torments and tortures of the Paradhi community. The Yamgarwadi project came into being to meet this need.

According to a Sanskrit saying, the success of any work is dependent on the inherent merit of that work, not because of the means used. The will and yearning of us all, particularly the urge on the part of Girish Prabhune to do something, along with the Sangh tradition of service because the inspiration underlying this work. One day, a message came from Sukhadev Navale that Ramesh Chatuphale, an RSS activist, was prepared to donate 18 acres of land at Yamgarwadi near Tuljapur. What would we like to do with it? We took a prompt decision to accept the land on behalf of the Nomadic tribes. After due legal proceedings, the land was transferred to us, and we had a hostel built there for nomadic students.

Mahadevrao Gaikawad,an RSS worker, is a resident of Kakrumba, near Tuljapur. His contribution to the work of the Development Council for Nomads was substantial. He himself belongs to one of these tribes. He is highly educated and works as a teacher in a local school. He has dedicated himself to working for the uplift of nomads and tribals. He took great pains to execute the project. It was mainly due to his efforts that the hostel was built within a far months, and the children of the Paradhis came to stay there.

It was difficult to run the hostel without assistance from the Government. We were in a quandary as to how to raise the funds required for the hostel. We placed the problem before the Prant workers of the Sangh. They decided to raise the requisite monetary assistance for the hostel. Through 'Vivek', I appealed to the readers of the weekly for donations. I made an appeal for donation of Rs.12 a year, at the rate of Rs.1 per month. The response from the readers was unprecedented. Individual donations ranged from Rs.12 to Rs.40,000. The Sangh tradition, once again, came to our help. In the initial stage we received about Rs. 3,50,000. 

Who were the donors? As Sangh Swayamsevaks, we do not believe in caste. We do not even think of it. But, for the kind information of our socialist friends, I must reveal that 99 percent of the donors were Brahmins. Aptes, Kelkars, Joshis, Gokhales, Kulkarnis, Khares were prominent in the list of donors. Most of them were middle class people. Majority of them were employees. They gave us one fistful of their food for their brethren. Some of the stories about donors deserve need to be mentioned here.

There is a village called Phanasu near Dapoli. Dattopant Pethe is a swaymasevak in that village. He is 82. One day, he telephoned me in my office. He had come to Mahim to stay with his daughter. "Ramesh, are you free today any time?" he asked. "Can you come over here?" I knew him since long. I said, "Yes, I will come."

By a coincidence, that day, Girish Prabhune too, was in Mumbai. Both of us went to Mahim to meet Dattopant Pethe. Dattopant handed over to us a cheque for Rs. 10,000. He had obtained that cheque from Mangalatai Abhyankar, permanent Director of HICO Products Ltd. . His youthful enthusiasm at the age of 82 amazed me.

Govindrao Phadnis, an RSS worker looks after the work of "Vivek" in Vile Parle. He is nearing 70. He has a defective foot. Nevertheless, he moved from house to house in Parle to collect donations for Paradhi boys.

A Rajasthani Swayamsevak, Arun Kankani rang me up in my office. His marriage was about to take place and he warmly invited me to attend the function. He said, "Rameshji, please come also to my place at Goregaon, a Mumbai Suburb. I wish to make a donation of Rs. 25,000 for the work of nomads and gypsies on the occasion of my wedding."

"I will definitely come", I said.

"But there is a condition", he said. You will have to join me for lunch that day." I gladly accepted. When I was the karyawah at Goregaon, Arun was a Bal swayamsevak. He used to conduct the shakha very competently.

Girish Prahune and I went to Arun's place and accepted his donation. Each of the donations has its own story to tell. These transactions are easily made by the swayamsevaks spurred by the love for the entire society which the Sangh has inculcated in them. They can well ask, who are these Paradhis? Thiefs and pendharis? Why should we give money for their boys? But the impact of the Sangh ideology is so great that such morbid thinking is not possible for the swaymasevaks.

Within three to four years, the work for the pardhis gained good momentum in Maharashtra. One day, news appeared that Paradhis of Sheshnagar in Nagpur had decided to convert to Christianity. Promptly, Girish Prahune went there, with some Paradhis from our project. The conversion plans went haywire because of his efforts.

Girish then planned a programme whereby some girls from Swaroopwardhini, an educational institution in Pune, would stay among Paradhis for eight days. During this time, they would organise adult literacy classes, make prohibition propaganda, hold anti-superstition meets, and help in other ways. The girls who were selected, belonged to middle-class families in Pune, and with a few exceptions, were Brahmins. Before going on their project, they met some people at Pune, who included social workers and a woman scholar who had specialized in folk literature. Having heard that these young girls were going to stay alone, among Paradhis, for eight days, the lady scholar commented, "Paradhi is a horrible caste. They live like brutes. It is extremely dangerous to stay among them alone in this manner." These comments frightened the girls. Girish then neatly explained to them the real nature of the Paradhis. And as was planned, the girl went to the Paradhi settlements, and stayed there for eight days.

When I heard of this incident, it invariably drove me to make a comparison between the attitude of our average Swayamsevak, who has not made any specialized studies of the Paradhis and that of progressive scholars who have made such specialized studies. On one side, there is affection and sympathy, while on the other, there is only dry, dehumanized analysis.

Our work was affecting the world of progressives in Maharashtra. The work of the Samarastra Manch incensed some Ambedkarite thinkers. They started sermonising that the Sangh is Hinduising Dr Ambedkar. The Sugaawa publication of Pune brought out a Diwali special number on "Hindutva people in the Ambedkarite movement." This issue featured articles from eminent progressive thinkers like Dr Raosaheb Kasbe, Dr Yeshwant Manohar, Dr Smt. Neelam Gorhe, Prof Vasant Waghmare, and Dr Sharad Patil. The synopsis of all these articles was that the Sangh, using cunning and hypocrisy, has been Hindutvising Dr Ambedkar's philosophy to kill it. The premise they put forth can be demolished only by writing whole lot of books. Dr. Kasbe's treatise on the Hindu-Muslim problem, Dalit Writer Shantaram Pandere's "Bhagwa Tukoba: Brahmin cunning of the Sangh" are books which deserve rejoinders in the form of counter books.

I read all such literature avidly. Their weird logic often stuns one. If there is a literary award for purveying blatant lies, the progressive literature on the Sangh will make the topmost grade.

The high priests of progressives became quite restless in the wake of the commencement of our work for nomads. Laxman Mane described us as parasites. He also commented that we did not have any knowledge about nomads, and were treading into unknown pastures. We have discovered a criterion to judge the success or failure of our work. When our opponents start crying wolf, we take it for granted that our work is proceeding in the right and effective direction.

1994 dawned. It was decided to convene the first state level session of the Samarasata Manch in that year. Who would preside over the session? I suggested the name of Bhikuji Idate. The suggestion was unanimously accepted. The session was fixed for April 30, 1994 at Pimpri, a locality near Pune.

We did a lot of thinking on what should be the theme of the session. It was strongly felt that a definite thesis should be projected before the society. Structuring the society on the basis of harmony and togetherness was a thesis which was appropriate to our times, and social environment. It was decided that in his presidential address, Bhikuji Idate should expound this thesis. I was advised to write a brochure on "The Social Content of Hindutva" on the eve of the session.

The session took place as scheduled. It should be described as historic, especially by those who take the Sangh's social outlook seriously. Bhikuji Idate gave a masterly exposition of the comprehensive philosophy of Hindutva in his presidential address. I cannot resist reproducing here a few paragraphs from his speech:

"I feel it is necessary to explain a couple of factors which have caused tremendous commotion in our social life. Goebbelsian propaganda having been made that Hindutva wants to revive the Chaturvarnya and Manuism. There is a great deal of confusion about these concepts. There is, however, no ground absolutely to have any illusions in this matter.

These concepts of Chaturvarnya and Manuism, which gave rise to inequality and the caste system, have now become obsolete and dated, and anybody who wants to organise people cannot accept these thoughts and concepts. An organisation is possible if its basis is equality. Hindu unification is impossible on the basis of Chaturvarnya. The third Sarsanghanchalak Balasaheb Deoras once very clearly said that though the Varna order has not remained, it has survived as a disorder. It should be eliminated in toto. All should join hands to drive it out. It must go lock, stock and barrel. This means that the Chaturvarnya system should be rejected in its entirety.

As regards the point that the Hindutva people want to bring back Manuism, we must note that our country is run according to the Constitution. Because Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar gave us this Constitution, we call him its architect. Can a situation arise in which the Constitution will be demolished, and the country will be run on some other basis? This eventuality is possible only in two sets of situations, the first being a foreign invasion and conquest of our country and the second, if there is a bloody, violent revolution followed by dictatorship in the country. This means that there should be no doubt in anybody's mind that our country will always be governed on the basis of the Constitution, because either of the eventualities of a foreign conquest or a bloody revolution does not appear to be in the realm of possibility so far as our country is concerned. Of course some amendments in the Constitution could be affected as per the needs of time only in a way prescribed by the Constitution itself. More than 80 such constitutional amendments have taken place till now. There is therefore no reason to take any exception to this. We should avoid interpreting the Constitution by letter as this again leads to the danger of distortion. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar himself once said that "if necessary, I would consign the Constitution to flames. Many of the clauses in the Constitution have been inserted against my will. For instance, the clause 31, [Compulsory acquisition of property] I am in no way related to this clause".

I therefore make an humble appeal to those thinkers, who clamour from the housetops, to put a stop to their incessant and baseless propaganda that these are efforts to revive Manuism, and with an open mind comprehend the changes of times." 

The Pimpri session was attended by Senior Sangh leaders like Dattopant Thengdi, Moropant Pingle and Vasantrao Kelkar. Devdatta Dabholkar, (ex-Vice Chancellor of University of Pune) had come from Satara specially to attend the session. Prof. Ram Shevalkar inaugurated this session. It will remain a permanent feature in my memory because of an utterly mischievous speech made by Teksas Gaikwad. He was chairing a symposium. The Chairman had to conclude the discussion in an appropriate manner. Teksas did not do this. Instead, he read out a speech in which, he used abusive language in respect of Lord Shriram. He compared Lord Shriram to Dawood Ibrahim, a well known smuggler and criminal now leading luxurious life outside India. I was listening to the speech from the dais. It is not in my nature to tolerate meaningless harangues from anybody. I was caught in an ugly trap where I felt somebody was spitting on me in a public place, and I was not able to offer any resistance.

Gaikwad's unkindly and improper speech puzzled everybody. Why should he make a speech like this? They wondered. On innumerable occasions during the last four to five years, we had dialogues with him. He was a frequent visitor to the Sangh office at Moti Baug, Pune. He had participated in various activities of the Samarasata Manch, and made appropriate speeches on those occasions. He had also declared in the Dr. Ambedkar Salutation Rally held at Shivaji Park, Mumbai that Dr. Ambedkar and Dr. Hedgewar together were the harbingers of bright and prosperous times. Suddenly, why did he feel that we all were fundamentalists, and the concept of Hindu Rashtra (nation) was a morbid one?

I feel it was the influence of Kanshi Ram (leader of scheduled castes particularly in North). The elections were round the corner. For this purpose, Kanshi Ram started making the rounds of Maharashtra. He had said that he was on the lookout for a Mulayam in Maharashtra. He was confident of changing the power equation in this state. There were many candidates for the position of Kanshi Ram's Mulayam in Maharashtra. Is it not in possible that Teksas Gaikwad too, wanted to announce his candidature by making an ugly speech in the Samarasata Manch session?

The Swayamsevaks reacted very strongly to Teksas Gaikwad's provocative speech. They had great expectations from Teksas, which were reduced to dust by his speech. For months I to come, found it a tough job to explain away Gaikwad's conduct.

My brochure, 'Social Content Of Hindutva', was published at this same session. I preferred to speak on that subject whenever I was invited to give a lecture. 'The casteless, integrated and harmonious Hindu society is the social philosophy of Hindutva', used to be the theme of my speeches. The audience invariably had the satisfaction of having heard something new. 

Elections took place in 1995 and there was change of power in Maharashtra. None had expected that the Congress would be defeated in Maharashtra, and Shiv Sena-BJP would form the government. The conversations we had with the BJP leaders before the election did not at all indicate that they were confident of coming to power. The Congress had a firm grip on political power in the state and it was not easy to loosen it.

Sharad Pawar was shouting day in and day out that Maharashtra was a state of progressive ideology, of Phule and Ambedkar. He was haranguing the people that Hindutva forces are not only reactionary, but if they came to power, they would bring back the Peshwa Raj meaning a rule by Peshwas i.e. Brahmins. There is no dearth of so-called scholars and thinkers in Maharashtra who make merry on Sharad Pawar's money. They also parroted this propaganda through their speeches and articles. It was inevitable that all this tom-tom should have impact on Dalits too. Sharad Pawar had thought that the Dalit votes would come to him as a matter of right.

BJP's attitude to Dalits was the same as that of the Sangh. The party believed that the ties with Dalits should be closer, and their political aspirations should be respected and encouraged. But that was not the case with the Shiv-Sena. The Sena could not give up its estrangement with Dalits. I therefore had a feeling that the alliance with the Sena was not socially advantageous. I held this view at that time and today too I hold the same view. BJP, however, is a political party and it is only in the fitness of things that it should think in political terms. For them an alliance with the Shiv Sena was not only necessary, but there was no alternative to it.

The social factor inevitably influenced the results of elections. But the social climate was not so much in favour of Hindutva as to catapult it to power. This was the view generally held, and it seemed to be grounded in reality. Then how could the social mindset be actively turned in favour of Hindutva? That was the real problem before us. The social philosophy of Hindutva was effectively explained at the Samarasata Manch session at Pimpri. Similarly, on the Namaantar issue, our thoughts were manifest in our actions. 

The question as to what BJP would do was not confined only to Sangh related organisations. Individuals are not important in organizational approach, the collective is more important than the individual. The social psychology however, is different. People will assess the situation on the basis of leadership. Fortunately, the name of Gopinath Munde was coming forward by virtue of his competence. Gopinath Munde had staked his life to launch a fight against the Sharad Pawar Dawood Ibrahim axis. People had taken cognizance of his spirited attitude.

We wrote profusely on Gopinath Munde in the Vivek weekly. Vivek's support to Munde signified that his leadership was acceptable to RSS Swayamsewaks. Vivek has definitely a share, however small, in pushing forward the name of Gopinath Munde to the position he came to occupy in the wake of the change in the Government.

Predictably, the change of power in Maharashtra started a debate on whether the Phule-Ambedkar ideals had suffered defeat in Maharashtra. The egoistic Ambedkarites were stunned. They were confused and unprepared to react intelligently. At such a juncture, there was particular need to prepare and project an appropriate interpretation of recent events.

I never once felt that the change in power in Maharashtra was a defeat of Phule-Ambedkar philosophy. I also do not accept that the Sharad Pawar Government was a Government of Phule-Ambedkar ideology. Dawood Ibrahim's remote control was running the Government of Shard Pawar. To relate such a Government to Dr. Ambedkar's teachings is an insult to Dr. Ambedkar. The Pawar gang was defeated in Maharashtra. Some Ambedkarites had jumped on the bandwagon of this gang, and they too, were defeated.

The BJP's triumph in Maharashtra is the defeat of Manuism. A big political transformation was brought about by getting 27 backward class M.L.A.'s elected to the Assembly. All castes and tribes are treated as equals in Hindutva. Because of this change in power, this message went down to the grassroots of our society. Personally, I was elated. All those who called us Manuists were given a fitting rejoinder in a practical, visible way.

Those of us who were indifferent to social problems were awakened from their social slumber. An awareness of the acute need for working in the neglected localities dawned on us. Service became the Sangh programme. The Sangh started thinking of Dalits, backward class people, tribals, women, and their problems. The Sangh workers were now repeatedly advised that henceforth our work would be in the social direction. In a village where there is a Shakha, if Dalits have no entry in any temple or they are not allowed to draw water from the common reservoirs, that should be a matter of shame for us, the senior Sangh leaders started saying.

Why was this advice not given thirty to forty years ago? Why has the RSS suddenly developed a stake in the social field? Those who specialize in twisting logic may ask us these questions. When a grand building is to be constructed, it has to be built brick by brick. First the foundation has to be laid, then the platform, then the walls. That is also scientific. The Hindu nation is to be reconstructed in the same way. The prerequisite for this achieving was that the RSS work cover the whole country. This expansion took some years to accomplish. A group of dedicated workers also had to be created. That is how, the Sangh works, and goes ahead, in achieving its objectives-step by step. The Sangh has now built up strength to take on social tasks.

The process by which the workers of the Sangh are moulded is worth studying. A worker like me who had not read Dr. Ambedkar till 1975, is now a social worker of some stature. The guidance of the Sangh leadership, and the individual's own efforts, bring about this transformation. It is not that this process is successful or perceptible in my case alone. I have written here about myself because I am telling only my story. Hundreds of RSS workers go to ever new spheres of activity. What information did those workers have about the lifestyles and customs of tribal people, before going to live and work amongst them? They acquired it. Many Sangh Pracharaks go to foreign countries. When they go, they may be blank about life in the respective countries but they acquire the requisite knowledge.

How does this process take place in the Sangh? How has it happened in my case? The Sangh has given definite direction to our thinking. Dattopant Thengdi once advised us that while thinking or contemplating an action, we should bring before our mind's eye the Hindu Rastra personified, and we should ask ourselves whether our thinking and action are in its interest. In other words, we have to test every thought and action of ours on the anvil of national interest. I think of Dr. Ambedkar and Mahatma Phule, and view their thoughts and deeds from the above angle and find that they further of the interests of the Hindu Rashtra, and hence, should be followed by us. 

In the march of the Sangh, I too am a traveller. However, at times, several questions crowd my mind. There is no inequality in the Sangh. There is no Manuism either. But that does not mean that it is not there in the society outside the RSS. Untouchability may not be observed now as rigidly as in the past but untouchability is not entirely eradicated. The sentiment that "he is of another caste" still persists. There is a picture of Dr. Ambedkar in my house. A maidservant who worked for my neighbour, once asked my wife:

"Do you belong to our community?"

"What do you mean by that?" asked my wife

"I mean are you a Buddhist?"

My wife conveyed to me this dialogue when I returned home. My non-Buddhist neighbour used to say, "Why are you keeping Ambedkar's picture in your house? In what way is he related to us?" The man who asks these questions is a Hindu. The sense of social inequality persists in his mind. He thrives on the same, traditional values, under the garb of modernity. How to change his outlook? How to train him to think correctly? The Hindu society outside the RSS is vast. To transform the mindset of this vast human concourse is as difficult as lifting the Himalayas.

The present socio-political environment is also not highly favourable for bringing the sort of transformation of which I am speaking. Most of the people talk of finishing Manuism. Most of the time their behaviour contradicts what they say. And now we see that organisations of different castes are coming up in the name of Dr. Ambedkar's legacy. Dr. Ambedkar used to say that castes are inimical to nationhood. Because of castes the Hindu society is not able to develop common values. Castes create and widen the cleavages among people, between man and man. Castewise claims are made even on great people. This prevents emergence of common ideals and common aspirations in the Hindu society. Dr. Ambedkar's thoughts and teachings are forgotten for momentary political benefit.

One naive question arises in my mind. If all people want to eradicate castes, why do they not work together, at least on this one task, of de-casting the society? Why is there this division of people among Hindu protagonists, socialists, radicals and so on. Why are all of them so emphatic and assertive of their own group? Why is political capital sought to be made out of social issues?

Not to work together collectively seems to be in the nature of Hindu society. When four Hindus come together, arguments and counter-arguments are inevitable. These arguments are called theoretical discussions. Now that people have branded me as a thinker, I am called to read papers in some seminars. I have noticed that Hindus are incapable of reaching unanimity on any issue. Hindus have reached unanimity on this point alone - that Hindus cannot be unanimous on anything.

Whatever limited insight I have been lucky to gain through my public activities, has brought to my notice conspicuously that what our thinkers are most worried about is the Muslim. Many among us hold the view that the Muslim problem should be settled on a top priority basis. Non-Hindutva people feel that we should try to understand Muslims; we should not provoke them or annoy them. This type of talk goes on endlessly. There is very little awareness that the problem of social inequality in the Hindu society is more burning than the Muslim problem, and should be settled first.

It is very easy to talk against Muslims. It is not so easy to wage a struggle against caste differences and social inequalities. Because this struggle is our conflict with ourselves alone. When we sit down to seek solutions to social problems, we really are standing in the dock. Then the ancestral burden devolves on our shoulders, and we are reluctant to accept or bear it.

In the desert of such a social milieu, the families who live the Sangh ideology appear to be the oases. The family is the unit of social transformation. Social respectability is perceptible in such families. I have seen many Sangh families living happily even after inter-caste marriages. I have also seen a Swayamsevak like Ramesh Pandav who has named his house 'Lahuji Smriti'. I have met people like Raosaheb Kale who, after returning from a holy pilgrimage, respectfully hosted Dalits and honoured them. I have seen a daughter of the Sonavanes coming as a daughter-in-law in the Damle household. The number of such families might be small, compared to the magnitude of the problem. But these are the brave earthern lamps shimmering in the social darkness. Their number is bound to grow steadily, till the entire darkness is dispelled by their light.

I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that the social road of Hindutva will widen into a national highway in future. It is only in Hindutva that the strength to impart equality, fraternity and justice lies. No other ideology has this strength. I do not have the slightest doubt about this. This is neither blind faith nor a blinkered vision.

When I think why Hindutva has this power for change, I remember Dr. Hedgewar and his life. He is the inspiration behind my Hindutva. In the film 'Sant Tukaram', there is a lyric of Shantaram Athavale which says that a little seed contains in it the germ of crores of trees. The social ideology of Hindutva is inherent in the form of a seed in Dr Hedgewar's life. Initially, when the seed starts growing, it attracts no attention. Momentary beauty of foliage, creepers, flowers attracts admirers. Their life is however very short. In contrast, the banyan plant, grows steadily but vigorously until one day, it becomes a sprawling, giant tree; and under its shade, thousands of travellers get cool comfort. Dr Hedgewar's life will also be a banyan tree. Under the vast canopy of its branches, the Hindu society will enjoy harmonious and integrated life, forgetting all its internal differences and divisions. This is not a mere poetic ideal, it is a realistic image of the future.

The concept of Hindu unification is the seed of thought Dr Hedgewar has given us. Hindu unification (sanghathan) means to organise Hindus on the basis of common faith, common loyalties, and common values of life, eliminating all inequality from this society. Unification and inequality are contradictory terms. Any one who wants to achieve unification of the Hindu society will be unable to accept the caste system which is the mother of social inequality. And those who believe in caste differences and caste egos will never be able to achieve Hindu unification.

"Jaat nahi ti jaat" (that which cannot be cast away is caste), is one of the definitions of caste. Many great men in our country tried to eradicate caste. Unfortunately none of them could drive away caste from the Hindu mind. This failure is frustrating. We have to measure Dr Hedgewar's work in this context against the backdrop of a panoramic canvas. We have only witnessed the effort made for caste eradication by different people. But so far, no book has been written which can give us a comparative analysis of the greater efficacy of one or the other method. At least I am not aware of any.

Dr Hedgewar wiped out caste feelings from lakhs of Hindus like us. When I think how he could have wrought such a miracle, I come to the conclusion that it was because he never criticized caste or the Varnashram system. He avoided even any reference to the subject. Why waste energy and time on a subject which is not at all relevant to one's thoughts and actions? Why does the Hindu love his caste? Because the caste gives identity and security, both social and economic. Dr Hedgewar gave us the broader 'Hindu' identity, Hindu pride. At the same time, he raised a security posse of Sangh Swayamsevaks around the Hindus in the RSS. As a result, the Sangh Swayamsevak never feels lonely while working in society. He does not feel that the Swayamsevak who speaks a different language, eats different staple food in any part of the country, is a stranger to him. Doctor Hedgewar created this bond of Hindu brotherhood among all de-casted Hindus.

According to me, he could accomplish this for two reasons. First, he had realised the inner vitality of Hindutva. He was convinced that Hindutva had the power to bury all differences and divisions. That led him to awaken, with consummate skill, the force of Hindutva which is inherent in the mind of every Hindu. The Hindutva philosophy of course, is not his invention. Hindutva is eternal, endless. Realizing this Dr Hedgewar sought to give us a Hindu identity. Naturally, he was successful in his endeavour.

His real success is the integration of thought and action, which was manifest in his life. To release thoughts which are imprisoned in books and lectures, action must accompany thought. Dr Hedgewar's life was a 'yajna' of action.

People who accuse the Sangh of being "Manuist" have never made a thoughtful study of Dr Hedgewar's life. This is indicative of the intellectual bankruptcy of thinkers in Maharashtra, and their blinkered outlook. It is highly unfortunate that in Maharashtra, which calls itself intellectually oriented, the life of a great man, who mesmerized and motivated lakhs of young men in our country should be overlooked, and no efforts made to comprehend his philosophy.

I do not think really that to blame others will serve any useful purpose. It is now 70 years since the RSS was founded. Except the biography, written by eminent Sangh Pracharak and leader, Nana Palkar, no one else has ventured to write an analytical biography of the Dr Hedgewar. In 1988-89, even when his birth centenary was celebrated all over the country on an unprecedented scale no annotated biography of Dr Hedgewar came out. Hopefully, somebody will write it in the future, I hope.

Time has now come to bid adieu to the readers as this story is coming to an end. I will conclude it with an incident which spurred me to write this story. I had just delivered my speech at the Vicharwedh conference, and presented my thoughts on Manu when a communist leader in the vicinity of Satara met me. He said, "Patange, if you hold this view about Manu, you will be driven out of the RSS. You will have to resign your editorship of the 'Vivek'. He said this very sincerely. There was no socialist hypocrisy in his comments. I failed to give him a reply at that time. "Nobody will drive me out of the RSS, nor will anybody remove me from the editorship of the Vivek", I should have told him. But I found it difficult to say so. Mainly because he looked upon the RSS as a Manuist organisation.

I became keenly aware that to break such hard rocks was a tremendous challenge for us, Sangh Swayamsevaks. The Sangh today has acquired an excellent reputation, but Dr Hedgewar's Sangh has yet to reach crores of families. When and how it will be accomplished is a question.
 


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