Ideology of RSS kick started India’s freedom Struggle

Hindu Renaissance Movement

The formation of RSS is not a sudden process but rather a culmniation of decades of reforms and movements throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries. The Hindu Renaissance Movement of mid nineteenth century is the ideological foundation of RSS. Several organizations such as Brahmo Samaj and Arya Samaj were formed during this period. Brahmo Samaj founded by Raja Ram Mohan Roy and focussed on social causes such as ending caste discrimination. Arya Samaj is also a social movement that had profound influence on independence movements by churning out revolutionaries such as Bhagat Singh, Lala Lajpat Rai and Ramprasad Bismil. Swami Vivekananda was a Brahmo Samaj member who later associated with Shri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. Swami Vivekananda inspired the nationalist movement by spreading the wave of Hindu spirituality. This wave had a great impact on the freedom struggle and this wave was carried forward by Mahatma Gandhi And Bal Gangadhar Tilak.

This Hindu Renaissance wave was coined the word “Hindutva” by Veer Savarkar in the early 20th century. Veer Savarkar is an Atheist and a Rationalist and rejected the notion of religion. And hence he coined the word “Hindutva” to steer clear of any religious connotations associated with the movement. He saw “Hindutva” as a culture. Mahatma Gandhi after deepening his association with Indian National Congress, diluted the Hindutva principle that nurtured him. Because such dilution may help in gaining political mileage amongst Indian Muslims thereby enhancing political prospects of Indian National Congress at that period.

Hindutva kick started Freedom Struggle :

It would be apt to say that this Hindutva movement kick started the Indian Independence struggle. Hindutva This movement led to several interpretation of Vedanta and awakened the masses and as a consequence, people of India rejected the foreign rule and brisith supremacy by the desire to uphold the original culture of India. Hindutva came close in the heals of Sepoy Mutiny (Mangal Pandey’s initiative) which is generally considered to be the start of Indian Independence Struggle. The wave of Hindutva made sure that freedom fighters were united ideologically in their struggle against British. The Hindu Spiritual Movement that spread massively across India inculcated the need for self-identification and also fuelled the need for restoration of India’s glorious spiritual past that was devoured by Mughal and British invasions. The spirituality that was in the air at that time, united all Hindus to fight against the British forces. Later, Minorities of India too joined the protest.

Prominent Freedom Fighter’s Connection with Hindu Spirituality and Hindutva :

Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Bipin Chandra Pal virtually owned the nationalist movement during their time and associated it with the freedom struggle. The nationalist movement directly gave birth to the freedom struggle. Lala Lajpat Rai was fatally injured by Lathi Charge (by British Police). After his death, his ideology of Hindu Spirituality spread like a river across the length and breadth of India. Bal Gangadhar Tilak is a fierce Hindutva proponent who utilized religious gathering – “Ganesh Chaturthi” – for uniting Hindus to fight against British. Bipin Chandra Pal is a fierce supporter of Hindu nationalism and was a key member in uniting Hindus across the country.

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose who is one of the most prominent freedom fighter referred to Vedanta and Bhagavad Gita as the source of Inspiration to fight against Britishers [Refer to Book : Imperial Japan and National Identities in Asia, 1895–1945 ]. Netaji was visibly inspired by Swami Vivekananda’s teachings on Hindutva and Hindu Spirituality. In 1925, Netaji went on Hunger strike when Durga Puja was not allowed in Prison.

Mahatma Gandhi was the first to coin the word “Ram Rajya” and was a vociferous proponent of Hindu belief system. He believed that Ram Rajya is the true democracy. After his political affiliations with INC and in his attempts to view Muslims of India, he modified his definition of Ram Rajya to state that the secret of Ram Rajya lies in respecting all religions. Gandhi was also inspired by Bhagavad Geeta and on several occasions quoted that his preferred choice of religion is Hinduism. His acceptance reverberated louder and the already existing wave of Hindu spirituality got further strengthened.

Madan Mohan Malaviya was an ardent admirer of Bhagavad Geeta. He made the Sanskrit Words “Satyameva Jayate” relevant in the present context – which is now the national theme of India. He founded the Benaras Hindu university and was an proponent of Hindu spirituality and culture.

Almost all freedom fighters were Hindu nationalists as it was Hindu nationalist movement that kick started the freedom struggle.

Culmination into RSS :

At the peak of Hindutva movement that gripped the country, Keshav Baliram Hedgewar – who is a doctor by profession and a member of Indian National Congress – joined in the freedom struggle. His influence was so much that British had to imprison him. In 1925, he left Indian National Congress as it was increasingly getting political. He, heeding to the suggestion of several Hindutva icons, started the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) as a social organization for spreading the idea of Hindutva which had a profound impact on the freedom struggle. As the country was already under the grip of Hindutva, RSS evolved into the most prominent Social organization with a great degree of influence in all circles of India – social, cultural and political. RSS worked with the Indian National Congress in several freedom fights including Jungle Satyagraha in 1931 and even Quit India movement.

The Split of RSS with INC :

INC became increasingly political. Gandhi had cautioned against INC using fruits of freedom struggle (a collective effort) for personal political gains. But that was not heeded to. Gandhi later supported INC in wooing minorities thereby enhancing its political clout. RSS was completely against INC using minorities – as a vote bank and protested against INC. Consequently, INC barred its members from associating with RSS in 1934. However, as freedom struggle has close association with Hindu Spirituality, several congress members opted to leave Congress and join RSS. This irked the prime members of INC who then forced British Government to ban RSS. Six years later Hedgewar died in 1940.

M.S Golwalker took over the leadership of RSS in 1940 and was very particular in ensuring the growth of the organization as a socio-cultural force. As a consequence, RSS supported the freedom struggle rather passively for a short period (after 1940) so that British Government may not ban it. After Muslim League passed a resolution for demand of separate state of Pakistan, RSS campaigned for a Hindu nation in response.

India obtained her freedom on 1947, due to external and internal factors.

Freedom of India and The Partition of India :

India gets her freedom but Pakistan was carved out. The partition of India was a sour event in the history of India. Several Hindu nationalists hated the idea of the split and became extremely critical of the weak leadership of Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi appeased muslims hoping that muslims would eventually not accept to the partition, but Hindu nationalists knew that muslims will not budge. Several freedom fighters and spiritual leaders blamed Gandhi – Nehru for conceding to Muslim League’s demand of Pakistan. They was further infuriated when Gandhiji started a fast-unto-death asking the Indian government to release the funds of Rs.550 Million (at that time – inflation adjusted figures may be MUCH higher) which according to him was to be given to Pakistan. This infuriated several nationalist leaders and freedom fighters. Several leaders pursuaded Gandhi to give up his fast and even revealed the fact that India would then be subject to absolute poverty if the funds were released. Gandhi was steadfast in his demand and would not budge.

Assasination of Gandhiji and its ramifications :

Gandhi, by then, had become a larger than life figure and his fast would coerce goverment of India to concede to his demand. During the discussion with government, the government agreed to work on release of funds – but Gandhiji would not give up his fast until the funds were physically released. Things however, took an ugly turn when a Nathuram Godse of Hindu Mahasabha (another Hindu organization which fought for freedom) took up law in his hands and assasinated Gandhiji thereby ending the impasse. Though the country got saved from the clutches of an impending fund-crunch, the shine of Sangh Parivar got dimmer as there was a huge public outrage. INC took the opportunity to associate Godse with RSS despite vehement opposition from the RSS. Several Sangh leaders such as Savarkar and others were arrested. RSS was banned. The Supreme Court – after an intensive hearing (with international curiosity) – acquitted Savarkar and found that RSS had nothing to do with the assasination. Hindu Mahasabha became defunct. By then the INC used its clout on the media to damage the repute of RSS.

Evolution of BJP :

Nehru, the first PM of India, invited the Pakistan PM to establish a joint minority commission in India. Shyam Prasad Mookerjee – a great freedom fighter – opposed this move. Also, several millions of Hindu were returning to new India from Pakistan and East Pakistan (present Bangladesh) due to religious persecution and uncontrolled violence against minority Hindus in Pakistan. Shri Golwalker Guruji sanctioned the formation of Bharatiya Jana Sangh under the leadership of Mookerjee in 1951. BJS’s ideological parent is the RSS. BJS opposed Minority Appeasement and favored Uniform Civil Code – ie., same law for all citizens of India. Hindutva was adopted as the guiding principle of BJS. BJS evolved into the present day BJP.

Mookherjee’s sacrifice for the integrity of Nation :

BJS vehemently opposed the grant of special status to Kashmir with its own flag and government by Nehru. Nehru’s blunder on Kashmir made it impossible for even the president of India to enter Kashmir without the permission of Kashmir’s prime minister. To oppose this grant, Mookerjee marched to Kashmir in 1953. But he was promptly arrested by the Kashmir government after the advise of Nehru. He was then housed in a unhygenic and dirty place – under arrest. As a result Mookerjee contracted pleurisy and heart infection. He was taken to Hospital where the doctor administered him penicillin despite having informed (in advance) the doctor of his allergy to penicillin. He died as a result. Mookherjee’s death and the public outrage following it forced Nehru to dismantle the Permit System, the separate flag and the special government of Kashmir. Mookherjee’s sacrifice ensured that Kashmir remained as a part of India.

It would be horrible to say RSS / Hindutva stayed away from freedom struggle. RSS is just a name. The ideology that guides RSS predates to atleast one century before. Precisely that ideology kick started the freedom struggle. Today we are free, we have our constitution. The constitutional freedom that is provided to us today are the fruits of Hindu renaissance movement that evolved into full fledged freedom struggle. We should thank RSS for the great life we live today.