Golwalkar: the brain of RSS
By Kashif Hoda
The Milli Gazette Online
26 February 2006
RSS is planning to celebrate birth centenary of the second RSS chief Madhavrao Sadashivrao Golwalkar. While K. B. Hedgewar is responsible for setting up RSS and the initial leadership, it was the genius of Golwalkar that firmly established RSS in the Indian political scene. It was he who developed most of the strategies that are still in use by RSS. He gave RSS the vision that still inspires its cadre.
Therefore to understand RSS it is important to understand Golwalkar and his teachings. Golwalkar was born in 1906 near Nagpur. He entered Banaras Hindu University in 1906, got his B.Sc. degree in 1926, M.Sc. in Zoology in 1928. He joined BHU as a teacher and worked there till 1933. Golwalkar was very apolitical in his student life; the only political activity before he joined RSS in 1931 was to meet Hedgewar in 1929. Exactly what led him to get involved in politics to such a degree in a short span of two years, to resign from his job and move to Nagpur, is a mystery.
Hedgewar worked on his new disciple to train him for a future leadership role. Meanwhile, Golwalkar got himself enrolled into Nagpur University to study law, getting his LLB degree in 1935. Probably the militaristic routine of RSS was unable to satisfy the intellectual and spiritual need of Golwalkar, in 1937 we find him leaving RSS to move to Bengal and become a disciple of Swami Akhandana at Sargachi. Just a few months later, Swami dies, and a confused Golwalkar goes back to Hedgewar. He remained attached to his Swami’s mission all his life though, he never cut his hair and beard as instructed by the Swami.
Golwalkar accompanied Hedgewar in all his trips to set up shakhas in different places. Golwalkar was trained and his personality built up so that he could become an acceptable leader. In 1938 A book comes out “We or Our Nationhood Defined.” It was supposed to be written by Golwalkar, and was a clear attempt to raise his profile. Later Golwalkar himself admitted that it was an abridged translation of another book in Marathi.
During Hedgewar’s final days, when he was too sick to travel, it was Golwalkar who took care of business associated with RSS, and took complete charge of the organization. Therefore, it is not surprising that in 1940, bypassing some senior leaders who were with RSS since the beginning, Golwalkar was made head of RSS.
Golwalkar is the longest serving chief of RSS and also may be the most successful in terms of increasing membership and establishing shakhas. Hedgewar left RSS with about 50 shakhas and 100,000 members and when Golwalkar died he had expanded its reach to 10,000 shakhas and membership running above a million.
RSS under Hedgewar was resigned to its status of a junior member of the Hindu Right, playing second fiddle to Hindu Mahasabha. Mahasabha leaders didn’t treat them as much more than a youth organizer with no mass movement or vision for the future. In fact, V. D. Savarkar commented that “the epitaph for the RSS volunteer will be that he was born, he joined the RSS and he died without accomplishing anything.”
Hedgewar developed his organization as a street-fighting machine; cadres were well trained to fight the “enemy” and enhance passions by the disinformation campaign. RSS continues to be a master of the rumor industry, but inspite of their emphasis on physical training, there is little evidence that RSS members get involved in actual physical fights. Lower caste communities are utilized to do the dirty work of rioting once they have been initiated. The credit for this transformation goes to Hedgewar.
Soon after taking over RSS, Hedgewar tried to make it a separate identity from Hindu Mahsabha. The RSS as a result became more anti-Socialist than Mahasabha, while maintaining its anti-Muslim stance. This expanded its social base to include all the people who lose from any radical social change. That increased its membership as well as giving it financial security. While most of India was revolting in a peaceful way against the British occupation, RSS chose a non-confrontational approach. For them being patriotic had nothing to do with being anti-British.
In his book “Bunch of Thoughts,” Golwalkar writes that “the theories of territorial nationalism and of common danger, which formed the basis for our concept of nation, had deprived us of the positive and inspiring content of our real Hindu Nationhood and made many of the ‘freedom movements’ virtually anti-British movements. Anti-Britishism was equated with patriotism and nationalism. This reactionary view has had disastrous effects upon the entire course of the freedom movement, its leaders and the common people.” It is really ironic that this is the same organization that now treats Subhash Chandra Bose as a patriot who was clearly anti-British in his approach and did not mind taking the assistance of Germany and Japan to fight the common enemy.
RSS these days have turned anti-Christian but they were never anti-British, in fact RSS tried to channelize the nation’s anti-British feelings into anti-Muslim sentiments. The youthful energy of the members was kept busy by occasional clashes with the Muslims. The British Government must have been happy that scores of youth were kept out of the freedom movement.
It is possible that RSS was hand-in-glove with the British Government in their plan to keep their cadre outside the freedom movement. We find that RSS accepted all the restrictions placed on it by the government of the time. The khaki shirt was replaced by the white shirt because it was similar to the military uniform; canvas shoes replaced leather boots and the belt was dropped altogether. RSS preferred Anti-Muslim sentiments in place of Anti-British.
While the Indian leadership was in prison because of the quit Indian Movement, RSS laid the foundation stone of Hedgewar Bhawan in 1945. It was completed in less than a year’s time. Its compound is big enough to hold an assembly of 9000 RSS men. This lavish construction comes on the heel of the Bengal famine, for which RSS, a voluntary organization, was not involved in helping the people. In fact RSS did nothing to stop the partition of ‘Akhand Bharat’, which puts them in the same group with the Muslim League, as the group who favored the two-nation theory.
It is difficult to imagine what was going through the mind of Golwalkar at that tumultuous time in Indian history; it must have taken a lot of effort not to be active. Nathuram Godse, who used to accompany Hedgewar in his travels, killed Mahatma Gandhi. The ban on RSS was a difficult time on its organizational history, it exposed the weakness of the Organization, and all this time the emphasis was on physical exercise and creating an army of clones. RSS found little support in its effort to revoke the ban. It was able to gather only nine lakh signatures to petition the government.
Failing in its effort to launch a movement against the ban, Golwalkar started to use lobbying to get the ban removed. After coming out of the ban, RSS started infiltrating different sectors by launching their own organizations (eg. student organizations, trade unions, and farmers unions). About 50 front-organizations were created to cover different sectors of the society. Clashes with China in 1957-59 gave RSS a platform to come out of hibernation. RSS started many campaigns against cow-slaughter, the Urdu language, and formation of the Malappuram District in Kerala etc.
Jawaharlal Nehru was very much against lifting the ban against RSS, but towards the end of his career, Nehru initiated the process of making peace with RSS. Lads of Golwalkar were invited to join Republic day parade in 1963. That was the first and the last time that they were part of the Republic day parade, but it was a nice propaganda tool for RSS.
The atmosphere of the 1965 war with Pakistan was fertile for RSS growth. On the eve of the 1967 election, RSS mobilized the various Hindu organizations to stage a massive anti-cow-slaughter demonstration outside Parliament in November 1966. This movement coupled with Congress’ inaction lead to a major defeat for the Congress and many RSS men became ministers in many of the north-Indian states. This brought another chapter for RSS, which enabled them to use state machinery to promote the cause of RSS.
But apparently they grew too fast and were unable to cope with their success. Indira Gandhi’s shrewdness and defeat of the Pakistani army in Bangladesh made RSS ineffective. RSS works better under the environment of fear. The strong leadership style of Indira Gandhi confused RSS strategists, and thus the death of Golwalkar in July 1973 left behind a demoralized organization. In spite of this his legacy lives on, directions and strategies that he gave to this organisation are still followed by RSS.
In brief, this was the public life of the second RSS chief Golwalkar. The evil design planted by him continues to give fruit. In this centenary year there will be many articles praising Golwalkar, and as is the style of RSS, they will be re-writing history to show us how great a leader he was. To understand Golwalkar, we have to cut the hype and simply have to read his words as follows:
On caste system:
“There is nothing to prove that it (the caste system) ever hindered our social developments. Actually caste system has helped to preserve the unity of our society.” (Bunch of Thoughts p.108)
“The history proves that Mohammadan could win over North West and north east areas easily where Budhism had shattered the pattern of caste system. Gandhar which is Kandhar now, was converted to Islam completely. But contrary to this, Hindu religion was strong in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh despite Muslim rule because caste system was strictly followed there. (Bunch of Thoughts]
“When we say, “This is the Hindu nation”, there are some who immediately come up with the question, “What about the Muslims and Christians dwelling in this land? Are they also not born and bred here? How could they become aliens just because they have changed their faith? But the crucial point is whether they remember that they are the children of this soil? …. No. Together with the change in their faith, gone are the spirit of love and devotion for the nation.” (Bunch of Thoughts)
Solution to the Minority ‘problem’:
“The foreign races in Hindustan must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but those of the glorification of the Hindu race and culture, i.e., of the Hindu nation and must lose their separate existence to merge in the Hindu race, or may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu Nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment – not even citizen’s rights. There is, at least, should be, no other course for them to adopt. We are an old nation; let us deal, as old nations ought to and do deal, with the foreign races, who have chosen to live in our country. (We or Our Nationhood Defined)
“German race-pride has now become the topic of the day. To keep up with the purity of the race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic races- the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for Races and Cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for use in Hindusthan to learn and profit by” (We or Our Nationhood Defined)
The author is also the editor of website www.indianmuslims.info