RSS is an abbreviated form of Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh or Rashtriya Sewa Sangh. It is a Hindu based nationalistic organization in India and thought to be the parent organization of ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as its political wing. It has conservative values that hope to make India a Hindu country and enforce Hindu way of life under the banner Hindutva or Hindu-ness. There has always been a curiosity of this organization because of its limelight in media and growing influence in the country. But still many people are unaware of its basic facts. Here is some highlighted information about RSS that you would be interested in.
Foundation of RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh)
RSS was established in the year 1925 during Vijayadashami in Nagpur in India. It was initiated by Dr. Keshav Baliram Hedgewar, a physician living in Sukravari, Nagpur in the Maharashtra state. The formal beginning of Sangh took place in Doctor Hedgewar’s house. Training in a drill, march etc. was promulgated on Sundays. On Thursdays and Sundays, there were discourses on national affairs.
Keshav Baliram Hedgewar
Keshav Baliram Hedgewar was born on Varsha Pratipada, the Hindu New Year day, 1st April 1889. He started participating in national activities since his high school. He was expelled from school for leading the students in raising the seditious cry of ‘Vande Mataram’. He had to move to Pune to complete his schooling. Hedgewar opted for a medical course in Calcutta, chiefly prompted by the prospect of getting first-hand acquaintance with the underground movement. He soon became a core member of one of the leading revolutionary groups called Anusheelan Samiti, and also plunged himself into various social-service activities. When the river Damodar was in floods in 1913, he rushed to join the relief team.
He returned to Nagpur in 1916 as a qualified doctor but never continued his practice. Instead, he worked in responsible positions in the Congress and Hindu Mahasabha, till the early 1920s. Hedgewar’s public speeches of those days were very critical. He was awarded one year’s rigorous imprisonment for his actions.
Years of thinking had convinced him that a strong and united Hindu society alone is the sine qua non for not only the all-round prosperity but for the very survival of India as an independent sovereign nation. Social cohesion alone could ensure national integrity.
Dr. Hedgewar’s response to this challenge was the founding of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in 1925.
Vision and mission of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh
The ideology of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is to carry the nation to the pinnacle of glory, through organizing the entire society and ensuring the protection of Hindu Dharma. It has conservative values that hope to make India a Hindu country and enforce Hindu way of life under the banner Hindutva or Hindu-ness. Although it propagates Hindu Dharma, it is open for all religion as it has a policy of Hindu and those who were Hindu, who were forced to other religion during different times.
Once a banned organization
RSS has been banned for 4 times in its history. RSS was banned during British rule because they did not want any nationalistic views in their rule.
RSS has been banned for 3 times after independence.
- First time was after Nathuram Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi. Nathuram Godse was a former member of RSS, the government banned the organization in February 1948 and withdrew on July same year after not finding any evidence for it.
- Second time was during Indira Gandhi prime ministership after the emergency was imposed in India. The ban was lifted after the emergency after a new party was elected in the government.
- Third time was after Babri demolition in 1992. RSS was banned citing its role in the incident but was lifted unconditionally again for not having any prominent evidence.
The word Swayamsewak in English means to volunteer. So anyone can volunteer in the organization as Sakha. There is no membership card or any kind of ID in the Sangh. There is no fees or application form.
Sakha are those who join daily activities or gatherings of RSS. Daily activities include physical exercises, singing the patriotic chorus and, group discussions on the various range of subjects. Moreover, the activities are focussed on preparing citizens to different requirements of the nation.
Women in RSS
Women cannot join RSS as it is only for males. But there is a different unit for women called Rashtriya Sevika Samiti whose functions are same as RSS.
RSS educational wing
RSS educational wing Vidhya Bharati Sansthan operates about 40,000 schools all over India. It functions mainly in rural and backward areas. There are more than 40 lakhs students studying in these schools.
There are Sanskrit terms when naming the positions or objects in the RSS. These may be difficult to understand so here is a brief explanation.
- Sarsanghchalak: He is the topmost leader of the RSS revered and venerated as ‘Friend, Philosopher, and Guide’ by all. In its journey of 92 years, the RSS has seen the tenure of Six Sarsanghchalaks from its Founder Dr. Hedgewar to present incumbent Dr. Mohanrao Bhagwat.
- Sarkaryawah: Though there is no equivalent term in English the nearest word could be General Secretary. He is the Executive Head of the organization and conducts the affairs of the Sangh.
- Sah-Sarkaryawah: The Joint General Secretary. They can be more than one. At present, there are four Sah-Sarkaryawah to assist the Sarkaryawah in conducting the affairs of the Sangh.
- Pracharak: An individual who is inspired by the mission and objective of the Sangh and dedicates his full time to carry forward this mission.
- Mukhya-Shikshak: Incharge head of a Shakha.
- Karyawah: Executive head of a shakha.
- Gatanayak: A group leader.
- Prarthana: A prayer is sung daily at the end of the one-hour shakha in the honor of the Motherland.
- Bhagwa Dhwaj: Saffron Flag. The RSS has accepted Saffron Flag as its “GURU”. The flag reminds the swayamsevaks the glorious history of the nation and the heroic deeds of the countless worthy sons and daughters of Mother Bharat inspiring them to devote their time and energy to serve the society.
- Gurudaxina: The monetary offering offered at the Bhagwa Dhawj once in a year by each swayamsevak. This money is used for sustaining the overall activity of Sangh.