Hindu Vivek Kendra
"Manu, Sangh and I"


My article, 'Sangh, Manu & I' was published in the Diwali number of Vivek in 1994. Readers liked the article. Many of them met me personally to convey their appreciation and others did so by writing letters. The Bouddhik Chief of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Hariji (Shri Ranga Hari) met me in the Dadar office. Hariji is from Kerala. Still he went through my Marathi article. He said, "I read your article. I liked it very much. Such articles will go a long way in raising people's confidence in our work." His comments made me happy.

Initially I was hesitant to write a article for the Diwali issue of 'Vivek'. I had to tell the story of my perceptions and experiences. I am a Sangh swayamsevak; the majority of the readers of 'Vivek' are also swayamsevaks. The first person singulars, "I", "to me", "my views", "my opinion" are not used in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (The Sangh). Self-praise and boasting do not fit in the Sangh culture. I am nothing, Sangh is everything is the motto for all in the Sangh.

If I wrote about myself in my article, at times in a style, which might appear self-edifying, how would it be received? I had some doubts in my mind that it may not be appreciated. Fortunately nobody took any exception to my style of writing.

After its publication, many people suggested that the article should be expanded into a book. My respected friend Girish Prabhune, an RSS worker dedicated to the cause of Hindu backward and nomad tribes was very insistent. Some other Sangh workers also joined him. This book is an outcome of the friendly pressure they brought to bear on me.

This book is not my autobiography. My life is not great enough to lend itself to such a venture. In deed, this book traces the evolution of my intellect. It depicts only those incidents, which I felt are important in the intellectual context. Moreover, I have narrated my experiences in the Sangh in the context of social equality.

After reviewing the manuscript, a friend asked me, "You have consistently narrated only good experiences with the Sangh. Did you never face an insult in the Sangh arising from your caste?" I said to him, "I truly never had the type of experience you are referring to. Not even once." I further told him, "Never in the Sangh, that's why I have not written about it, but outside the Sangh, I once did have an experience like that." His curiosity was tickled. "What experience?" he asked.

I started narrating it. "In 1989, I went to Hyderabad for Ramesh Devle's marriage. From there I went to Shrisailam with my wife. When I left Hyderabad, a Sangh swayamsevak handed me a note at the instance of Sheshadri Chari, the Editor of an English Weekly 'Organiser'. There is a good dharmashala (Serai) at Shrisailam and he suggested that I could stay there. With that note, I went to the dharmashala, and they offered me a room.

The dharmashala was exclusively for Brahmins. At night I sat for dinner with them Afterwards, however, the manager started inquiring about who I was and what was my gotra, to which Brahmin sub-caste did I belong, and he came to know that I was not a Brahmin.

"Next day, at lunch time the manager told me, 'You can't sit here with all these Y Brahmins. We will serve you lunch after they have finished eating.' I understood the meaning of what he said. I felt it was the worst insult I had encountered in my life. I felt I should not stay in the premises even for a moment. So I collected my luggage and bade farewell to the dharmashala."

That was the sole incident in my life when I was looked down upon because of my caste. Hence is deeply etched in my memory. At Sangh programmes, we and often said, "The 'pangat' is full. You can take your lunch afterwards". The words are the same but there is a world of difference in the underlying sentiments. Unlike in the Sangh, caste pride came to the fore in the dharmashala.

In narrating my experiences in the Sangh, I will figure throughout in the narrative as without me, the story will not be able to move forward. I am a swayamsevak a worker of the Sangh, carrying out the assignment entrusted to me, and a volunteer practitioner of the RSS ideology and activities. I have made an attempt here to narrate through my life what I perceived about the Sangh. This book contains numerous references to the Samajik Samarasta Manch (the Manch). There are many workers whose contribution by way of thought, action and competence to the Manch's work is a great deal more than mine.

The contribution of many Sangh leaders like Arvindrao Harshe, a Senior leader of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Prof. Aniruddh Deshpande, Bouddhik Chief of Maharashtra Division of RSS and Principal of Commerce College, Pune, Namdeorao Ghadge, a lifelong Pracharak of RSS, Bhikuji Idate, Karyavah of RSS for Maharashtra Division, Sukhadev Navale, Sr RSS Worker, Mohanrao Govandi, Sr RSS and Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) leader and last but not least, Damuanna Date is tremendous. Since I have not referred to their work in detail in this book, some readers may feel that I have not done justice to them. But I am constrained by the fact that this book is not a history of the Manch. In writing about myself and the Sangh, I have chosen the first person singular. This format should be pardonable given the genre of the book.

I have not written this book to make myself feel elevated. My objecive in writing the book is to convey to readers my social experiences in a sphere of activities in which I have an abiding faith and to which I have always given top priority in my life. The transformation which the RSS has brought about in person-to-person or even in a family-to-family relationships without making any fuss about social equality is unique. I feel in today's circumstances a worker like me should place before people his experiences of life. Of course it is the readers who should judge how much I succeeded in conveying the social vision of the Sangh in my book.

Many people have rendered valuable assistance in the making of the book in Marathi. My colleague Shivani Oak read the book twice to ensure that its grammar is faultless. Dilip Mahajan cheerfully accepted the responsibility of publishing the book. The cover was quickly prepared by D L Lele. My friend Sudhir Joglekar carefully went through the book and made valuable suggestions for improvement. I am grateful to them all.

Ramesh Patange
* * * * * 

Note on Translation :

The book in Marathi was applauded not merely for its contents, but its tremendous informality. In the first draft of translation, it became obvious that while the informality was maintained, the literary standard was average. After discussions, it was decided that there was merit in sacrificing good English to convey the mind of the author. This book is really one of experiences and not of philosophy. However, the philosophy of the Sangh is what is practiced and not what is written about it, particularly by their opponents. Maintaining the informality conveys not only the message of the Sangh, but the Sangh itself. 

The English translation was undertaken by Shri Suresh Desai who did it with great devotion. Dr Vivekanand Phadke and Dr Neera Sohoni also made valuable contribution. I would like to thank them for making it possible for the book to come out in English. 

Seeing the spontaneous response to the book, some of my friends and colleagues felt that there was a need to convey my views to a circle greater than the Marathi speaking world. So much confusion has been created by the progressives about the Sangh, that even unbiased persons get carried away by the propaganda. It was decided to translate in other languages as well. It is already being published in a serialized form in Kannada Weekly "Vikram" published from Bangalore. 

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