Dr. Hedgewar and Sangh
Dr. Hedgewar-A Born Patriot
It would be relevant here to know the personality of Doctorji briefly. His full name was Dr. Keshav Baliram Hedgewar. Right from his childhood, as a student he emitted sparks of patriotism. The nation was resonant with the chant of ‘Vande Mataram’, and young Keshav also joined the movement. Later, he went to Kolkata to obtain his medical degree. Kolkata was the hub of revolutionary activities in those days. During his four years of study of medicine, Doctorji very keenly studied the working style of revolutionaries, their contributions to the freedom struggle and also actively engaged himself in such activities. Once, while speaking about Doctorji, Sri Trailokyanath Chakravarti, prince of revolutionaries, said, “Even in Kolkata of those days, young Keshavrao would say that it would not be possible for a mere handful of motivated youth prepared to embrace martyrdom to make the nation free from the strong shackles of foreign rule. For that, the spark of freedom needs to be ignited in the minds of each and every person in the society”.
Founding of the Sangh
Having obtained his medical degree from Kolkata, Doctorji returned to Nagpur. He joined the movements which were going on under the leadership firstly of Lokmanya Tilak and later of Mahatma Gandhi and went to jail also. All this time, his mind was deeply engrossed in contemplation about how the nation could be delivered for all time from its external as well as internal dangers. Gradually, he arrived at this conclusion that the Hindu society, the backbone of our country, should be organized to attain this goal. For the fulfillment of this objective, on the auspicious occasion of Vijayadashami in 1925 he established the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and freeing himself from all the other activities, he engaged himself completely in the work of the Sangh. Although, he came from a poor family, Doctorji did not opt for the medical profession and renouncing family life, he devoted himself totally towards the expansion of the Sangh.
It was due to the superhuman efforts of Doctorji that in a span of just eight to ten years, the activities of the Sangh spread throughout Bharat. But his health too started fast deteriorating. As a result, the future of the Sangh after him deeply occupied his mind. It was but natural that he chose Shri Guruji as his successor.
Test of Shri Guruji’s Mettle and His Appointment
In 1939, in a small village named Sindi near Nagpur, Doctorji discussed the outline of the approach of the Sangh, progress of its activities, the Sangh prayer, commands to be used in day-to-day shakha etc. This meeting was attended by senior Sangh workers and lasted for eight days. At the end of the discussion, on each issue, Doctorji’s decision was naturally accepted by all. Shri Guruji also would make his own point on every issue, logically and forcefully. But if at the end Doctorji decided against his opinion, he would gladly accept it. Everybody noticed his total surrender to Doctorji and mental control that Shri Guruji displayed and they all felt that Shri Guruji was the most suitable successor to Doctorji. In 1939, Shri Guruji was appointed as the Sarkaryavah (General Secretary) of the Sangh.
Around this time, Doctorji had a serious attack of fever, which could not be controlled by any means. He was in a place called Devlali near Nasik. The doctors treating him began giving up their hopes. Shri Guruji attended upon him in this dire circumstance and would stay awake through the night, administering medicine, water and other help needed. Luckily, after a few days Doctorji’s health started improving. On his return from Devlali, a few months later, Doctorji again took seriously ill and was taken to Nagpur. In 1940, he could address the third year trainees in Nagpur for just a few minutes with great difficulty. Those words have remained as an eternal source of inspiration for Swayamsevaks - “Today, I see a miniature of a Hindu nation in front of me. I only have to say to you that you consider the activities of the Sangh as the main objective of your lives. We should never be unfortunate enough to say that I used to be a Swayamsevak.”
Doctorji’s fever kept on rising and doctors having lost all hopes finally decided to go for lumbar-puncture. This was enough for Doctorji to surmise that he was about to breathe his last. He called Shri Guruji by his side and in front of the Swayamsevaks present, said, “You should look after the work of the Sangh when I am gone.” Later, following the lumbar-puncture, Doctorji left his worn out body on 21st June 1940 to reach his heavenly abode.
As the Chief of the Sangh
Shri Guruji was rather new in the Sangh as compared to other associates. He was also not very well known in the country. This obviously raised doubts in the minds of quite a few well-wishers and others regarding the future of the Sangh. Many of them started commenting and advising too. But Shri Guruji silenced everybody in his very first preliminary speech as the Sarsanghachalak, “Doctorji was a synthesis of an affectionate mother, a responsible father and an able Guru. He has entrusted me with this tough job of Sarsanghachalak, but then this is the throne of Vikramaditya (a king of ancient Bharat known for his benevolence and justice); even if a shepherd boy would sit on it, he would but dispense justice..... The meritorious deeds of our great leader would ensure that I will always do the rightful things.” In another speech, he said, “Our organization is like an impregnable fort; those who would attack it would only receive its brunt.” Shri Guruji’s self-confident utterances boosted the morale of the Swayamsevaks and silenced his critics.
Thus, Shri Guruji made the work of the Sangh the sole purpose of his life. A most important aspect lay in his concentrated efforts to orient his daily routine, life-style and nature as per needs of the Sangh. He also gradually tried to overcome his weaknesses. The aggressiveness in his tone due to his strict disciplinary nature also started to soften. He was always alert about all these aspects. Shri Guruji had totally imbibed the ideal of Hindu nationhood. For him, Doctorji served as a living example in all such respects.