Rajiv Tuli reviews Ratan Sharda’s latest book on Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh(RSS) that explains how it has evolved from an organisation to a movement. This is not typical book analysing the utility or the very existence of the RSS. This is also not a run of the mill kind of book analysing the good and bad about RSS. This book is actually an analysis of growth and history of the RSS .
It is an insider account of how RSS has has been able to successfully convert itself from an idea to an movement. This book explains the journey of RSS and its growth making successive Sarsanghchalak as reference points. The book gives account of all the RSS chiefs and their personal life. Also how RSS changed itself and adapted to demands of various time periods.
The book also gives an account of evolution of organisational methodologies which is generally not available in public domain. The author exaplains “ RSS has been an innovative organisation right from its birth. This is because of the novel approach adopted by its founder and new methodologies that were introduced by its leaders towards building a strong organisation. For example, the very idea of gathering daily for an hour to pray for the motherland was unique and never done before at the social level.”
The book also gives an account how the unique idea of physical and intellectual training was introduced and evolved with changing times. “Physical fitness programmes began with akharas from where Doctor ji ( RSS founder) recruited young boys for his mission of nation building for the freedom of Bharat. Then, finding that it was difficult to provide nurturing environment of togetherness and team building, the daily shakha was introduced. The daily Shaka had many energetic games- all of them indigenous and traditional Bhartiya games.”
He further writes “ Doctor ji roped in his friends for physical and military training, such as parades.” The book ably explains the formation and evolution of RSS prayer as well. This is one of the few books which carries the original Hindi -Marathi prayer which was later converted to Sanskrit after long deliberations. It took about 15 years for the new Sanskrit prayer to be formed in Sindi workshop and was sung by a Sangh swayamsewak in 1939.”
“ The new prayer was written and set to tune by scholars based on the brief given by the RSS leadership during the Sindi workshop in 1939. Sanskrit was chosen as it is the route for most Indian languages. Thus, it was felt that it would create a sense of oneness and acceptance everywhere across the country.”
The book also gives a detailed information about how and why daily inspirational songs were introduced in RSS. “Doctor ji used to sing patriotic songs. Balasaheb Deoras turned this irregular practice into a standard protocol by making it a regular feature of shakkas. Slowly, songs became a major source for building intellectual and emotional qualities in the RSS cadre.”
The book gives a detailed account of how the RSS training camps evolved. These camps used to be of longer duration ranging from 45 days. They have been reduced to 20-25 days today. This also explains how RSS is adapting to the needs of modern world.
RSS have even changed the classification of its shakhas according to the need of the hour. Now the new professionals joining RSS are given opportunity to attend training camps by dividing each of the training camps in two parts. The thrust today in RSS is more on environment protection and rural development. These finer details are generally not available in other various books around. Most of the books about RSS are being written after visualising it thru the political prism whereas this book by Ratan Sharda provides an unadulterated perspective about what is called progressive unfoldment of RSS.
(The author is a columnist. Views expressed are personal)