07 February 2008

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh - 2

Hedgewar studied India's long history and concluded that outsiders could attack and defeat us because of our following drawbacks:
1. Disunity
2. Weakness
3. Lack of organisation
4. Indiscipline
5. Lack of patriotism
6. Lack of character
So the only real and lasting solution to all the nation's problems was to remove these ills. Once these ills were removed, the rest would take care of itself. A nation can only be as good and as strong as its people. If the people are good and strong, the nation will be likewise.

But how to do it? How to build moral character and national consciousness? How to instill discipline and strength in people? How to organise and unite society? Hedgewar thought long and hard and hit upon the idea of the shakha ('branch'). Every day, people would get together for one hour and participate in various activities like exercising, playing games, singing patriotic songs, having discussions, etc. Over time, this would instill the required qualities in the people. In 1925, on the auspicious day of Vijaya Dashami, he invited some like-minded people to his house and shared his thoughts with them. His guests agreed to join him in his mission. Thus was born the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

"That's it? That's what this is all about? You guys get together for an hour every day and do some stuff? Is that all there is to it?" The reaction is perfectly understandable. Anybody will be incredulous. At first sight the shakha does seem to be a trivial activity. But how is character formed? Character is nothing but repeated habits, and habit is nothing but repeated actions. Also, character is formed mainly by influence – of parents, teachers and friends. So if a person is exposed to good thoughts, good words, good actions and good people for even one hour a day, it has a significant impact. The technique is most effective with children, as their character can be moulded easily.

But all this is just theory. The real test is in the real world. And in the real world, the shakha technique has passed with flying colours. In the 82 years since its birth, the RSS has grown from strength to strength. Its shakhas have produced a multitude of workers who have served society in various fields. Most of them you have never heard of, because a true swayamsevak believes in working, not in talking. Even if you do hear of them, you will not know they are swayamsevaks, because of the media's bias against us (example). Two products of the shakha system you have heard of are L K Advani and A B Vajpayee.

A journalist once asked an RSS leader, "Tell me about the social service done by the RSS." The pracharak replied, "The RSS does not do any social service." The journalist was taken aback. The pracharak continued, "The RSS does not do any social service. Swayamsevaks do social service. And the RSS's job is to produce those swayamsevaks."

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