The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or, as more commonly called, the RSS-was started in 1925 on the day of Vijayadashami. The founder, revered Doctor Keshav Baliram Hedgewar, passed away in 1940 handing over the charge to Sri Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar, popularly known as Guruji, who continued to be the chief of the organisation till 1973.
The present attempt to collect some of his i.e., Shri Guruji’s thoughts has made us feel like ‘picking pebbles on the shores of an ocean’. The impossibility of compressing in a single handy volume the various thoughts that he had expressed for full 33 years of his stewardship of Sangh in thousands of his speeches, talks, discussions, and informal conversation covering a whole range of national topics is obvious. What is attempted here is just to present his viewpoint on various topics in a comprehensive manner. With this end in view, some of his ideas are strung together under different heads. However, we do not claim any exhaustive exposition of the topics under each head.
Moreover, most of his speeches were in Hindi. The force and diction of his chaste Hindi and the inspiring images they bring up are bound to suffer while rendering them into other languages, especially to a foreign language. Naturally, the ideas contained herein are his, but the words are ours. As such we are keenly aware of the shortcomings of these words and expressions. Burdened though with all such anxieties, what made us take up this task is the confidence that the radiance of his thoughts will outshine all these dark spots and illumine the national mind. As the following pages will bear out, the thoughts of Sri Guruji, are proving a beacon - light in the confused state of our national mind even to this day. The crisis in our country is more intellectual and mental than physical. Whatever physical maladies are seen today ravaging our body - politic have their roots in the mental weaknesses and intellectual perversions of the leadership at the helm of our national affairs. Often these failings strut about masquerading as high ideals trying to cover up their disastrous effects. Sri Guruji’s ideas have the intensity of warmth and light to dispel all such darkness and charge the nation’s mind with right vision and the spirit of right action.
Since its publication, nearly three decades ago, the book has been brought out in almost all the major Bharatiya languages. It has indeed stirred the thinking sections of the country and even abroad. It is clear that it had met a long and deeply felt need.
It is no exaggeration to say that thousands, if not lakhs, have been inspired by the living thoughts in the Bunch. As Prof. M. A. Venkata Rao, in his Introduction, says "It will be seen how full, how positive, how patriotic, how practical and idealistic at the same time, the principles and methods of nation - building adopted by the Sangh are, as adumbrated by Shri Guruji."
As could be expected, these thoughts cover the eternal and abiding aspects of our national life, as also the current and the contemporary ones. This is quite natural. Analysis of the burning problems of the day with suitable anecdotes and examples do help to emphasise, and highlight the permanent principles. The excellence of ‘Bunch of Thoughts’ lies precisely in this. The abiding values, which should form the warp and woof of our national fabric, are again and again imprinted on the mind of the reader.
In this Third Edition we have added the Index and effected some typographical correction, which had remained in the Second Edition. A short biographical life - sketch of Shri Guruji and some of his thoughts prior to and during 1947 - 48 are two more new features of this Edition. We are sure that the present Edition too will meet with the same enthusiastic and enlightened response that greeted the previous ones. The nation’s continuing demand for ‘Bunch of Thoughts’ is amply proving that it is a Philosophy of Thought and Action par-excellence, with its appeal as eternal as the nation itself which it seeks to resurrect and re-build.
We offer our heart - felt homage to late Prof. M. A. Venkata Rao, a scholar of vast erudition and great depth of vision. to whom the book is dedicated - for his excellent Introduction.
We are grateful to Shri V. S. Godbole of U. K. for his detailed observations which, have helped us to improve and update the present Edition in a few respects. Our thanks are due to all those whose loving cooperation has made this arduous though pleasant task, possible.
THE TECHNIQUE THAT SUCCEEDS
1. FOR TRUE NATIONAL REORGANISATION
2. THE RIGHT APPROACH
3. EFFICACY OF THE TECHNIQUE
4. CALL OF THE GURU
CHARACTER – PERSONAL AND NATIONAL
BE MAN WITH CAPITAL ‘M’
MEN WITH MISSION
THE IDEAL INCARNATE
HIS LAST MESSAGE 1. PUT YOURSELF TO THE WHEEL 2. WORSHIP THE IDEAL 3. MEANING OF THE PRARTHNA
I. QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
II. A FEW EXCERPTS OF SRI GURUJI’S GUIDANCE PRIOR TO AND DURING 1947–48
Independent India is engaged in a many-sided renaissance and reconstruction more or less consciously directed to what may compendiously be called nation-making (or remaking) in an image more adequate to the needs of the present and future of India as a strong, creative nation guiding the destinies of its people in accordance with a worthy and inspiring charter of life.
This era commenced roughly with the emergence and work of Raja Rammohan Roy in the beginning of the last century and has continued to the present day through the life-effort of notable thinkers in many fields like Ramakrishna and Vivekananda, Swami Dayananda, Sri Aurobindo and Lokamanya Tilak, Gandhi and Tagore, Dr. Hedgewar and
Veer Savarkar. These are only typical names and do not exhaust the galaxy
In the present phase of the struggle (and triumph) with the British Power (typifying the entire gamut of foreign ideas and ideals) we have a similar period as in many periods in the past of the self-recollection and re-assertion of the national self-consciousness and of a conscious search for the roots of aeroculture as the living points on which we may regraft current life and foster it to vigorous growth and power. In this many-sided effort, the image of Indian culture as the pattern of nation-building is laid over with many confused notions from the West and from distorted ideas of the past of our own life.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi introduced a powerful leaven into this maelstrom of ideas, impulses and images having many elements congenial to the spirit of Indian Culture. Thus the national liberation movement of M. K. Gandhi derived power from the cultural heritage indwelling in the sub-conscious mind of the people.
But unfortunately as the political motif was dominant in the Gandhian movement, the cultural forces it invoked and mobilised were not grasped in their genuine purity and power and were not related naturally and organically to the ideals of politics, economics, social order and values and the many dharmas of the living past. They were all mobilised as vague sources of inspiration against the common enemy, namely the foreign rulers. They afforded no positive pattern of the new Indian society and state, economy and social order that was to replace the present order of things under long foreign rule. It was mainly negative, the many types of leaders following the Mahatma being content to put off decisive thinking on positive lines for the post-liberation epoch. Thus we find the Mahatma choosing a person with nothing in common with his ultimate ideas on man, nation and God like Jawaharlal Nehru to succeed him as the national leader. The Nehru Mind is made mostly abroad and in spite of his Discovery of India, Sri Nehru never succeeded in catching the spirit of Indian culture at its best. Thus the blueprint of the new society he is using as Prime Minister and leader of national reconstruction for building independent India is the "socialist pattern of society" which is infinitely more abstract and superficial, more mechanical and charged with unsolved problems of class conflict than the foundational ideas of the past.
It is this lack of a positive idea of Indian society at its best, accumulated and moulded through centuries of culture and civilisation (that is yet alive in the subconscious of our people in all their ranks) that is so disappointing in the current efforts led by Government and official and authoritative leaders for national renovation. The failure in education is the most signal indication of this grave lacuna. Indian education has some of the most creative features making for sublimity and a uniform level of success in character formation influencing life in its inmost springs. But the failure of the present leadership in this field is total in character and reveals an entire absence of any inward grasp of the spiritual climate of Indian education in its essential quality and pattern.
The failure of Indian history to assimilate the Muslims into the national society, as it had succeeded in assimilating the earlier invaders – the Shakas, Scythians and Hunas – is a notable fact which the new Indian leaders of national liberation ignored altogether. They committed the blunder that by giving concessions to Muslims at the cost of the majority, they could win them over! The sequel showed that it was a tragic blunder. No concessions given without change of ideology on the part of the recipients could bring about the change needed.
Assimilation is possible and necessary but it requires the right philosophy and right psychology, the right strategy and tactics. But Indian leaders proved incapable of evolving any such change of technique. They persisted in their colossal blunder until they had to vivisect the motherland. They retain the same blundering techniques even today and are thus encouraging further ‘Pakistans’!
From another point of view, too, the ‘Weltanschauung’ of the national liberation leaders has proved too negative and therefore sterile and frustrating. This concerns the right relation India under independent auspices should envisage towards modern Western civilisation. It is too often forgotten that Hinduism is not merely a sect. A small religious fellowship concerned exclusively with modes of worship or social customs peculiar to it. The word Hindu in this context has a national character. It is tantamount to the word Indian – i.e. pertaining to a people living beside the river Sindhu. It connotes the entire culture and civilisation of the Indian people from pre-historic times developed on Indian soil through millennia.
During the Gandhian era, the idea of developing a Hindu civilisation stemming from the living roots of the past and assimilating the best of the present Western pattern of values had the dominant place in the thoughts of some leaders. Gandhi’s little book Hind Swaraj is symptomatic of this desire, though there was no agreement on all sides with the ideas adumbrated therein.
But today we find that the alien, unassimilated, crude, class-war-ridden, monolithic social structure associated with Marxism is influencing the structural ideals and actual policies of the authorities without any re-assessment of ideas so essential to such a vast and fateful undertaking.
Here too the vacuum in the sphere of Indian cultural ideas in the minds of leaders in authority is being filled up by ideas and ideals unsuited to national renovation. The iconoclastic method seems to be taking the upper hand in preference to creative reform.
In both spheres, namely that of the minority assimilation into national society and that of the assimilation of Westernism (both its politico-social philosophy and its science and technology) India needs to adopt a more positive and more creative policy with a clear vision of the best features of Indian society at its best and of the enduring element of nationalism and Westernism in just proportion and with sure insight into their human significance.
It is significant that this more concrete point of view attained form and substance in the organisation founded as early as 1925 at Nagpur by Dr. Hedgewar. The philosophy and history that his movement known as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (literally National Volunteer Corps) embodied belong to the more positive, concrete inspiration that was so lacking in the more dominant Gandhian movement that captured the headlines on account of its immediate political interest and the urgency of national liberation.
In addition to the right philosophy and history of Indian culture, Dr. Hedgewar hit upon a unique method of training the young through a course of mental and physical exercises. In its combination of mind and body for training, the Sangh technique of education reminds us of the main features of the Platonic System of Music and Gymnastics. By music plato meant the whole range of the arts and sciences – history, philosophy, science and the fine arts. BY gymnastics, he meant physical exercises for developing a sound mind in a sound body, with health and bodily condition responding to the higher impulses of the soul like the veena in the hands of the musician. Music must pervade the body. Looking at the exercises of the young volunteers in the Sangh, the observer sees how closely they succeed in realising the ideals of Plato. Plato included courage as one of the cardinal virtues and so too the Sangh instructors stress courage and the virtues needed for resisting wrong and aggression.
The current aspersions against the R.S.S. mostly by Congress leaders and followers to the effect that it is a ‘communal organisation’ and more dangerous to the country than even Communism are a travesty of the fact.
The present collection of thought expressed by Parama Poojaneeya Guruji Golwalkar on different occasions to Sangh workers and public in many parts of the country over two decades and more, serve to bring together the outliens of the philosophy and history of Indian culture as well as the technique of nation-making followed by the Sangh as laid down by its founder Dr. Hedgewar.
To appreciate its full role as perhaps the most influential movement of cultural reconstruction in the land today (which has spread practically to all parts of the country from the Punjab to Madras), it is necessary to eschew the petty-minded criticisms of
ignorant and jealous opponents that it is ‘communal’ or merely ‘Hindu’ in any derogatory sense.
It is based on a philosophy of national culture and envisages the whole of the nation.
The outlook it offers has room for all minorities on condition of their whole-hearted submission to the supreme value of the nation in their lives. The nation is the vehicle of universal truths and is not an entity above them. This is no chauvinist nationalism of the kind associated with Mussolini and Hitler in the recent West.
It teaches loyalty and devotion to the national society in the national homeland under the image of the Mother. The unity and solidarity of the Motherland is taught to claim the highest sacrificial devotion from the citizen body. Whoever enters into this spirit of devotion to the nation as a spiritual unity of land and people are Indians or Hindus in essence. The mental commitment should be final and supreme.
This is quite consistent with different groups and sects retaining their own modes of worship and social customs so long as they do not conflict with social cohesion.
The Muslims, Christians and Jews etc., have perfect upasana swatantrya, freedom of worhip so long as they do not seek to destroy or undermine the faith and symbolism of the national society. They should subordinate their exclusive claims for final and sole revelation vis-à-vis the national society. They could bear witness to their faith in life and speech but they should not indulge in any unfair and unspiritual modes of conversion.
The national identity requires that the whole of national society including minorities should share in the best values of the past. They should appreciate national dharma – the code of ethical principles and ways of life enshrined in the best usage. In cultural history, they should all give their mind and hearts whole-heartedly to an appreciation of the best types of Rama and Krishna may be appreciated by non-Hindus as secular examples while the Hindus will see them as full spiritual exemplars (avatars).
The national history of the Muslim period should be re-written giving the truth without varnish and all should appreciate the best values exemplified by the heroes of authentic history.
Thus these thoughts go on to delineate quietly and patiently the portrait of the best Indian society and pattern of values in all spheres of life and culture, philosophy, art and social order, that the Sangh seeks to hold before the mirror of the national mind.. To see the wood in spite of the bewildering number of trees that crowd the landscape, it is necessary to see in a bird’s-eye view the full design of the landscape after which details will fall into an illuminating order.
Pride in the cultural heritage of the past is the recurring theme of the lectures. Chapter after chapter points to some aspect or other of the features that bear inspiring value for present emulation in social life and incarnation into individual character and personality.
Enough is said to vindicate faith in the best values of inherited culture and its capacity to afford guidance even today.
1. Philosophy: Darshanas: Vedanta as the typical philosophy of India envisages a vision of the universe steeped in Spirit fulfilling a life of eternal joy. Individual souls as sparks of such a supreme cosmic spirit have the divine destiny of realising universality and becoming godlike. This assures equality of spirit among all souls. What higher basis for democracy can we have than this? What greater stimulus to generosity and self-sacrificing participation in the life of society? The nation is the grouping next to family and clan and neighbourhood in the service of which we grow in moral stature.
All groups who share in this vision and discipline can become equal compatriots but none else. Traitors cannot be assimilated into the national fellowship until they change in spirit.
Toleration: Springing from understanding and sense of identity, this philosophy of immanence has produced the Indian doctrine of toleration of all points of view, religious views and ways of life. For all are expressions of the same cosmic spirit and can reach the same goal at their own pace and in their own way in accordance with their own symbols, provided they are sincere in their aspiration and effort. Errors will correct themselves in the climb.
Adhikara Bheda:Divergent status due to divergent qualification is the formula that reconciles identity of goal and diversity of pathway.
Social Order: Such a view has evolved the outline of social order in India that enables members to pass normally from step to step in the ladder of life smoothly using the experience of ages and lifting their personalities to higher planes.
The individual career is distinguished into brahmacharya, garhasthya, vanaprastha and sannyasa.. In the first, we have the student absorbing the cultural heritage, assimilating truth, science, philosophy, law and the arts. In the second, we have him fulfilling his duties as a member of society and as head of his household. The householder pays taxes, supports the state and does charity. The second half of life prepares the individual to detach himself from involvement in the detail of existence to contemplate the eternal. The values of life including the relations of the sexes in family and outside offer a pattern that is of universal value. It helps to make the best of life, with enjoyment, achievement and serenity in perfect equipoise. This is the ashrama dharma whose sociological value remains for fruitful assimilation today even in the West.
The social order has another aspect, namely the duties and rights of different vocational groups – viz., swadharmas. In addition to universal values like truth-speaking, non-stealing, non-injury, etc., Indian ethics recognises particular vocations – thinkers and men of worship i.e., free devotees of Truth and God or Nature or Reality; warriors and administrators, executives, etc.; traders and manufacturers and transporters, agriculturists
No doubt we may surpass the past but only by thinking through them to new conclusions, not by ignoring them and starting de novo.
and cattle tenders and breeders, etc. These classes emerge in the course of social differentiation in any progressive society. If their duties are laid down and social expectations are crystalised in society so that everyone will know what is expected of him – his rights as well as duties – a harmonious social order will result spontaneously. The present society will throw all careers open to talent on the basis of swadharma or duty springing from one’s vocation and karma and guna, character and conduct.
No Class War: Another advantage of the Indian view of society is that it eschews class-war. It postulates social harmony as a potentiality, if not as a full actual order of law and custom, observances and enforcements.
Dharma as determinant of the conduct of groups and individuals lays down a synthesis of the claims of conflicting parties. A study of the conflict impartially from the standpoint of the service involved, the function performed in society by the conflicting parties, will reveal the elements of the truth and justice in each party’s claims. Dharma will come to mean an expression and crystallisation of the synthesis of interests and values revealed by the panchayat. This is the source of the long-standing Indian faith in the panchayat way of setting disputes. It is democratic, scientific and moralistic at the same time. The destructive idea of class-war or irreconcilable antagonism between different functions and classes is therefore, successfully avoided in the Indian scheme.
The use of the word dharma does not preclude the inclusion of different sects and religious fellowships who may use different words for the same meanings – like the Muslim and Christian. The substance of the thought and procedure value is non-sectarian and human in the plainest sense.
Thus, both from the standpoint of a philosophy of man and nature as well as from the viewpoint of social good, the Indian scheme is capable of affording a comprehensive social philosophy able to furnish a saving pattern for modern complex life – a social philosophy superior to current violent and muddy theories of Marxism and Freudianism.
Indian thought too has sound notions of the role of the State as the agent of common good – raja dharma which now may be designated rajya niti or rajya dharma The State should be above partial interests and should regulate all activities according to dharma. The State is not a class agent of the upper class, according to Indian shastras or political and social science. Nor it is an exploiting agency. It is an agent of morality or dharma. It precludes socialism in the sense of adding economic to political power. The State is not a trader or manufacturer but is entitled to regulate all vocations. Thus Indian ideas help us to think through current conflicts and social theories and arrive at solutions more satisfactory because more truly based on wide experience and mature reflection.
Also, it is a waste of effort if we are to start from scratch when great ideas are to hand for the asking. It is like each scientist ignoring all previous discoveries and starting from scratch from a false notion of originality !
It is not national chauvinism but sober common sense to build on the foundations already well and truly laid.
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is not merely a school for teaching ideas and ideals. It is a school for practical education in character-building. As already mentioned, the volunteers are trained in a series of camps in which through songs, participated life in common, discussions on history and national ideals and national heroes, drill and physical exercises etc., habits and motives for service of the motherland are built into character. The influence of example is fully made use of.
Day-to-day meetings of Swayamsevaks in Shakhas or branches, bigger gatherings on the occasions of national festivals and the celebration of the Days of heroes and lectures and demonstrations and other ways inculcate courage, discipline, sense of service to society, respect for elders and learned, etc. This is a unique system of training the young in the land in full consonance with the proved ideals and practice of Indian culture.
Not a whisper of hatred of any one is heard in the camp or routine activities of the volunteers. Only the positive image of the Mother country is made to occupy the entire mind and heart of the Swayamsevak.
The thoughts of the present Leader collected in these pages and presented in English can be appreciated as the adumbration of the Other Mind of Modern Indian Leadership neglected by the more prominent exotic Gandhian Congress Leadership. It will be seen how full, how positive, how patriotic, how practical and idealistic at the same time, the principles and methods of nation-building adopted by the Sangh are. It will be seen that the Sangh is the indispensable basic corrective to all other current efforts to furnish the foundations of national reconstruction and inspiration for national regeneration on sound lines. It is not sectarian but national. And its nationalism gives room for all nationals who enter into the spirit of spiritual nationalism and patriotism in a life of social service of which defence is not the least ingredient. Readiness for service and even sacrifice is the chief motif of the movement.