Home > Archives (2006 on) > 2006 > November 25, 2006 > ‘Karmayogi’ Golwalkar Guruji - Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You

Volume XLIV, No.49

‘Karmayogi’ Golwalkar Guruji - Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You

Tuesday 24 April 2007, by Subhash Gatade

True or false!
• The RSS had participated in the freedom struggle?
• The Congress had demanded help from the RSS for Gandhi’s protection?
• Godse had never been a member of the RSS?

Well, for laypersons like you and me, who have the ‘misfortune’ of attending any normal school, the answers to these queries would be in the negative. But if you happen to see the yet-to-be- released film/docu-feature titled ‘Karmayogi’ you would be enlightened with a different set of answers.
You would be told that it is a myth to say that the RSS kept itself away from freedom struggle and in fact it had decided in its high level meeting to participate wholeheartedly in the struggle. (It is a different matter that till date one has not yet discovered a single freedom fighter who owed allegiance to the RSS brand of Hindutva.) If one goes by this Bollywoodian version of Sangh trajectory, you would know that the Congress Government led by Nehru had made frantic calls to the Sangh bosses for Gandhi’s safety and a team of swayamsevaks in fact happened to be brave enough to volunteer for his security.

Of course, there could be many more surprises in store for you. And I would not like to deprive you from 100 per cent pure entertainment when this film, which has been directed by Nitish Bhardwaj, (of ‘Mahabharat’ fame) arrives in a cinema hall near your home.

Of course, it needs to be told that this presentation of ‘filmy’ version of Sangh history is formally a part of the grand birthday centenary celebrations of the second supremo of the RSS, Madhav Sadhashiv Golwalkar. Fondly called ‘Guruji’ by his followers for his brief stint in the Banaras Hindu University as a teacher of Zoology, Golwalkar led the RSS for a period of 33 years, after the demise of its first supremo, Dr Hedgewar (1940). Within the Sangh circles, he is credited with providing a theoretical basis and a practical organisational framework for this formation.

It has been more than nine months that the anniversary celebrations of Golwalkar are on starting with a big gathering of his followers at Nagpur (February 24, 2006). It has also been resolved that the celebrations would culminate in a rally to be held on February 18, 2007 in Delhi. The focus of the yearlong celebrations is ‘social harmony’ wherein meetings, seminars, rallies are being held all over India with special focus on the deprived sections, namely, the Dalits and the tribals.

Definitely nobody can question the prerogative of his followers to concentrate on ‘social harmony’ during the yearlong celebrations, but it is clear to any impartial observer that the kind of politics which Golwalkar practised all his life stood miles away from the actual essence of the term.

Virtues of Manusmriti?

He was known as ‘guruji’ (revered teacher). I find that at least in some vernacular papers he is being referred to as ‘shreeguruji’. The addition of shree to his title guruji makes him nearly sacred, an avatar of sorts. Within the Maharashtrian context this has an additional meaning or significance. Mystic gurus are often referred to as ‘shreeguruji’. You can see thus that there has been rather subtle glorification of Golwalkar, the new appellation making him stand a little above the human level.
—GPD, “An Occasion for RSS”, March 25, 2006, EPW

Of course, neither the film nor any of those twenty short booklets, which are being prepared and distributed, explaining his worldview to the common people, tell us about the facets of his life which the Sangh itself finds uncomfortable. And one of the most under-reported aspect of his life is the way he espoused the cause of Manusmriti all his life.

It was in the late sixties when Maharashtra witnessed a massive mobilisation of people, cutting across party lines, which was precipitated by a controversial interview given by Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar, the then supremo (sarsanghchalak) of RSS, to a Marathi daily Navakal.
Golwalkar in this interview had extolled the virtues of Chaturvarnya (the division of the Hindus in four Varnas) and had also glorified Manusmriti, the ancient edicts of the Hindus.

Of course, it was not for the first time that the supremo’s love and admiration for Manusmriti, which sanctifies and legitimises the structured hierarchy based on caste and gender, had become public. In fact, at the time of framing the Constitution also, he did not forget to show his disapproval towards the gigantic effort, claiming that the said ancient edict could serve the purpose. Organiser (November 30, 1949, p. 3), the organ of the RSS, gave vent to his ideas:

But in our Constitution there is no mention of the unique constitutional developments in ancient Bharat. Manu’s laws were written long before Lycurgus of Sparta or Solon of Persia. To this day laws as enunciated in the Manusmriti excite the admiration of the world and elicit spontaneous obedience and conformity. But to our constitutional pundits that means nothing.

It was the same period when attempts were made to give limited rights to Hindu women in property and inheritance through the passage of the Hindu Code Bill, which were opposed by Golwalkar and his followers, with the contention that this step was inimical to Hindu traditions and culture.

Hate as Harmony

A journey down memory lane makes it clear that the period during which he led the organisation (1940) was one of the most tumultuous periods in world history. It was a period, which was signified by three broad currents: the ascendance of the forces of Nazism and Fascism, the surge in the anti-colonial struggles in the present-day Third World and the emergence of militant socialist movements in many countries with due help and support from Soviet Russia. Coming to India, the anti-colonial struggles and the rising communist movement were mediating the path through the socio-cultural movements challenging caste and gender hierarchy, led by the likes of Periyar, Ambedkar. It was also for the first time in this part of the world that new bonds of solidarities cutting across caste, community and regional loyalties were being forged in opposition to the British colonialists.

Retrospectively, it can be said that Golwalkar, whose project of Hindu unity which took inspiration from the experiments in social engineering undertaken by the likes of Hitler-Mussolini, miserably failed to see this historic march of history. He celebrated the way Germans were purging the country of Jews. In his controversial book We Or Our Nationhood Defined, which he had penned down when he was appointed sarkaryavah by Hedgewar (1938), he had clearly stated:

To keep up the purity of Race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her (sic) 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 us in Hindusthan to learn and profit by.

On the domestic front, his project of ‘nation building’ not only hinged around opposition to the Muslims, Christians but also the challenges posed by the anti-Brahminical struggles. In fact, with this characteristic worldview, he had no qualms in keeping himself and the organisation which he led, aloof from the anti-colonial movement and oppose the assertion of the dalits and the tribals. He derided the heroic anti-imperialist struggle of the masses as a struggle for ‘territorial nationalism’ as opposed to his fight for ‘cultural nationalism’.

The partition of the country and the consequent bloody riots suddenly saw him catapulted to the centrestage of Indian polity. The world saw him and his organisation surging ahead with the twin objective of providing help to the hindu refugees and also take advantage of the communalised ambience to strengthen itself. There are enough documentary proofs to show its ignoble role during that period. It would be opportune to look at the memoirs of a senior civil servant who was posted as the Chief Secretary of UP in those tumultous times to get to know one such instance.

Rajeshwar Dayal, the then Chief Secretary, reveals in his memoirs, A Life Of Our Times (1998, Orient Longman) notes that soon after the partition the Deputy IGP of the Western Range, B.B.L. Jaitely, produced before him two steel trunks. They “revealed incontrovertible evidence of a dastardly conspiracy to create a communal holocaust throughout the western districts”. There were accurate maps marking out the Muslim localities and habitations...

Timely raid conducted on the premises of the RSS had brought the massive conspiracy to light.The whole plot had been concerted under the direction and supervision of the Supremo of the Organisation himself—both Jaitley and I pressed for the immediate arrest of the prime accused M.S. Golwalkar.

Incidentally the then Chief Minister of UP, G.B. Pant, refused to order the arrest. He was arrested only after Gandhi’s assassination.
The assassination of Gandhi at the hands of a fanatic not only saw the RSS getting banned but was also witness to arrests of many leading workers of the same. Vallabhbhai Patel, then Home Minister, in a letter to Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, his Hindu Mahasabha colleague in the Cabinet, wrote:
Our reports do confirm that, as a result of the activities of these two bodies particularly the former ( the RSS), an atmosphere was created in the country in which such a ghastly tragedy (Gandhi’s assassination) became possible…The activities of the RSS constituted a clear threat to the existence of the government and the state. Our reports show that those activities, despite the ban, have not died down. Indeed, as time has marched on, the RSS circles are becoming more defiant and are indulging in their subversive activities in an increasing measure.
(The RSS and the BJP, A.G. Noorani, Leftword, 2000,
p. 28)

The subsiding of the communal riots and the way the leadership of independent India went ahead in meeting the challenges faced by the nascent nation found himself and his organisation in a typical quandary. The stigmatisation of the forces of Hindutva for their ignoble participation in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, coupled with their non-participation in the anti-colonial struggle, had led to their further marginalisation in the Indian polity. It was a time when Golwalkar, as a leader of his organisation, was forced to revisit the ways and means of sustaining the project of building a Hindu Rashtra.

Sanitising the Supremo

It is worth noting that the anniversary celebrations of Golwalkar have brought the discomfort experienced by his followers over his controversial legacy. Of course, it needs be underlined that as far as the basic understanding of the project of Hindutva is concerned, there does not seem to be any divergence of views. The ‘successful social experiment’, which witnessed genocide of innocents in Gujarat in the year 2002, bears testimony to his followers, abiding allegiance to the Golwalkarian project of ‘nation building.’ To be very frank, their unease has arisen over the packaging or presentation of the project.

The feverish attempts by his followers to tell the outside world that he was not the author rather translator of the controversial book We or Our Nationhood Defined despite facts to the contrary, or their daily new ‘discoveries’ of participation in the independence movement or their claims from rooftops about ‘untouchability’ having no place in Hindu ethos, just go to show that the celebrations are also an occasion for them to present before the gullible public a more acceptable and ‘humane’ Golwalkar. It needs be emphasised that in his Preface to We or Our Nationhood Defined, dated March 22, 1939, Golwalkar himself claims authorship of the book. The American scholar, Jean A. Curran, who did a full length study of the RSS in the early fifties, Militant Hinduism in Indian Politics: A Study of the RSS (1951), confirms that Golwalkar’s 77-page book was written in 1938 when he was appointed the RSS General Secretary by Hedgewar and he calls it as the RSS’ ‘Bible’.

Looking at their foolish attempts to ‘sanitise’ their own supremo, one is rather reminded of George Orwell’s novel 1984 where the Rulers of Oceania, by their language of newthink and process of doublethink, convinced the masses that statements formerly considered irrational were rational. In other words, virtual reality became actual reality and the Party’s slogans, accepted by the ruled, were “War is Peace”, “Freedom is Slavery”, and “Ignorance is Strength”.

Perhaps the Sangh thinkers assume that India has already metamorphosed itself into their very own Oceania, the Hindu Rashtra of the supremo’s dreams.

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