As the nation celebrates the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is firmly on its path to assimilate Gandhian principles in its ideologies. The RSS mission to include Gandhi's philosophies in its manifestations has been so intense that the Congress, which once literally owned the legacy of the Father of the Nation, now increasingly finds being pushed away from that position.
In a clear demonstration of the RSS determination to blend with the Gandhian way of thinking, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat on Monday appealed to the youth of the nation to take the lead in imbibing the principles and values of Gandhi in personal, social and political life for a new India.
Until a few years ago, this would have been unthinkable as the Congress often accuses Sangh Parivar of being involved in Gandhi’s assassination. The difference between the two over Mahatma Gandhi was so deep that RSS was even banned for years soon after the assassination of the Father of the Nation. Even today, the Sangh’s detractors and the Congress leave no opportunity to malign the BJP and its ideological mentor RSS on Gandhi's assassination, despite the fact that the first home minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel had said on record that there was no proof of any role played by the RSS in the assassination.
On Monday, when RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat spoke on the need for the country to follow the path laid out by the Father of the Nation at Gandhi Smriti, the symbolism of the event was not lost. The RSS chief was speaking on the occasion of the launch of a book — Gandhi ko Samajhne ka Yahi Samay — by former director, NCERT and India’s representative to the executive board of UNESCO Jagmohan Singh Rajput.
The move to embrace Gandhian principles by Hindutva-based organisations got a real fillip when Prime Minister Narendra Modi started majorly invoking Mahatma Gandhi in his governance policies, the flagship being the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
“The world is eager to know Mahatma Gandhi and hence, it becomes the responsibility of India to keep reminding the world of the abiding relevance of the Mahatma and his vision,” Modi had said in December 2019. “This basic philosophy of Gandhi for upliftment has the potential to help India develop and progress. All citizens need to imbibe the Gandhian thought and vision in their lives and take it ahead in the times to come.”
Modi in his addresses has emphasised time and again that development would remain futile unless benefits of governance reached the last man standing -- the basic principle of Gandhi’s polity.
Bhagwat echoed a similar view on Monday to remind the political leaders of the country that this Gandhian principle should be considered as the ultimate parameter of development and progress of the nation.
During his address on Monday, the RSS chief touched upon sensitive topics like Hindutava and communal harmony and examined them from the prism of Gandhian principles.
“Gandhi never hesitated in saying ‘I'm a Sanatani Hindu’. But he also said, ‘Respect all other religions as well and live with them because all religions and sects speak the same’,” said Bhagwat.
In December last year, Bhagwat caused a stir when he said that RSS considers the 130 crore people of the country as Hindus.
"The son of mother India, whether he may speak any language, from any region, follow any form of worship or not believing in the worship of any, is a Hindu....In this regard, for Sangh all the 130 crore people of India is Hindu society," he had said. He even quoted Gandhi in the past to bring his point home, “Gandhiji said the endless search for truth is called Hindutva.”
However, the appreciation of Mahatma Gandhi by the RSS is not entirely new.
Citing Sangh’s founding Sarsanghchalak, Keshav Baliram Hedgewar, the RSS chief said, “Hedgewarji had said that remembering Gandhi alone won’t help, one needs to follow the life and principles of Mahatma.”
Gandhi had visited RSS shakha (training camp) at Wardha in 1934 and applauded the discipline of RSS workers and absence of divisive feelings in them. He reiterated the same while addressing a meeting in Delhi on 16 September 1947.
“I visited the RSS camp years ago when the founder Hedgewar was alive. I was very much impressed by the discipline, the complete absence of untouchability and the rigorous simplicity,” Gandhi had said.
The Sangh Parivar today wants the new generation to understand Gandhi in the present context while imbibing his philosophy and principles.
“First we need to understand Gandhiji in today’s context and then prepare ourselves by following the path of truth and discipline. The process has begun, with the young generation taking the lead and now I can say in the next 20 years, the mission will be completed. And we’ll be able to say proudly – it’s Mahatma Gandhi’s Bharat,” said Bhagwat.
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Updated Date: Feb 18, 2020 12:56:32 IST