GANDHIJI AND RSS—A MUTUTALLY RESPECTFUL RELATIONSHIP


I have quoted from Shri Guruji’s letter because it exposes the lie, still being spread by our detractors today, that the RSS was fi lled with hatred for Gandhiji and had a hand in his assassination. The letter clearly underscores the RSS’s respect and admiration for Gandhiji and its abhorrence toward his assassin. It is necessary to dwell a little more here on the mutually respectful relationship between the two. In its Ekatmataa Stotra, a set of Sanskrit prayers as an ode to India’s national integration, the RSS regards the Mahatma as one of the pratah smaraneeya personalities (persons worthy of being reverentially remembered every morning). Addressing the Sangh Shiksha Varg (the annual training session for would-be organisers of the RSS) of 1946—when Gandhiji was still alive—Shri Guruji had described him as Vishwa vandaneeya (deserving of being revered across the world).



Gandhiji first visited a RSS camp on 25 December 1934 at Wardha in Maharashtra, where he had established one of his ashrams. Gandhiji had come to Wardha and learning that about 1,500 swayamsevaks of the RSS had assembled in the town, he expressed his desire to visit the camp. He was accompanied by Mira Behn and his secretary Mahadev Desai. He was garlanded with fl owers and given a guard of honour. ‘I am tremendously impressed,’ said Gandhiji speaking of his visit, referring, in particular, to the fact that there was no caste distinction among the volunteers and no untouchability towards those belonging to so-called ‘low’ castes. 

Soon after Independence, when the atmosphere in the country was marred by communal violence and lack of trust between Hindus and Muslims, Gandhiji sent out a message that he wanted to talk to Shri Guruji. Shri Guruji immediately went to Birla House to see him on 12 September 1947. Gandhiji mentioned to him the various complaints about the Sangh that he had received in Calcutta and Delhi. Shri Guruji assured him that, although he could not vouch for the behaviour of each swayamsevak, the Sangh’s policy was purely service of Hindus and Hinduism. It did not threaten any other community, he clarified. The Sangh might not believe in ahimsa (non-violence), but neither did it advocate aggression. The swayamsevaks were only taught the art of self-defence.

Any organisation inspired with the high ideal of service and self-sacrifice will never fail to grow in strength all the time.’It should be evident from the above that, despite its differences with Gandhiji on certain issues, the RSS held him in high esteem. It is also evident that Gandhiji reciprocated this positive attitude. Therefore, the thought of assassinating him would have seemed heinous and sinful to the Sangh. But, sadly, falsehood often triumphs over truth in a nation. Thus, in spite of the RSS having had no role whatsoever in Mahatma’s murder—a fact that would later be established by a government-appointed commission of enquiry—there was a shrill demand from some quarters for a ban on the RSS.


In this meeting between Gandhiji and Shri Guruji, both agreed that every effort should be made to control the communal frenzy immediately. During his evening prayer meeting that day, Gandhiji referred to his talk with Shri Guruji and told the audience that the RSS leader was anguished over the gruesome violence all around and that he would make an appeal for peace and normalcy. The appeal was duly published in the press and also broadcast by AIR. In the same meeting, Gandhiji told Shri Guruji that he wished to address a gathering of RSS workers. Accordingly, on 16 September 1947, he came to meet some fi ve hundred RSS swayamsevaks assembled at Delhi’s Bhangi Colony. Here he recalled his visit, thirteen years earlier, to the RSS camp in Wardha. ‘Some years back, when the founder of the Sangh was alive, I had visited your camp. I was highly impressed to see the spirit of discipline, complete absence of untouchability and simple, rigorous style of living. 


Even those in the Congress who were suspected to be sympathetic towards the RSS were not spared from this malicious campaign, launched primarily by the communists. They publicly demanded Sardar Patel’s resignation ‘for his failure to protect’ the Mahatma and also called for the removal of Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee from the Union Cabinet for his association with a ‘communal organisation’, meaning, thereby, the Hindu Mahasabha. Ironically, they disregarded the fact that it was at Gandhiji’s insistence that Pandit Nehru had included Dr B.R. Ambedkar and Dr Mookerjee, both of whom did not belong to the Congress, in his first Cabinet formed after August 1947. Gandhiji had made this suggestion to the Prime Minister because he wanted India’s first government to be truly broad-based in its representation and national in its character.

~ excerpts from My Country, My Life by L.K. Advani (Former Deputy Prime Minister of India)