RSS Chiefs are recognised as original thinkers whose words, speeches and writings form the basis of Sangh’s functioning and of its over 36 affiliate organisations, which includes its political arm Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). On 19th September, Dr Mohan Bhagwat, the current RSS Chief, explained to an eager audience at New Delhi’s imposing Vigyan Bhavan that Sangh no longer follows each and every word written in Golwalkar’s famous book “Bunch of Thoughts”. Bhagwat was responding to a question of whether RSS still considers Muslims in a negative light as portrayed in the “Bunch of Thoughts”.
“….when we speak of “Bunch of Thoughts”, when we discuss anything, we do it with reference to the circumstance and context. It does not remain eternal,” Dr Bhagwat explained. Golwalkar, lovingly referred by Sangh swayamsevaks as Guru ji was the second RSS Chief and his writings have largely been the guiding philosophy of Sangh over the last several decades.
Dr Bhagwat further explained that eternal thoughts of Guru ji has been penned in Golwalkar’s another book “Vision & Mission”. This was indeed quite a departure from the earlier working and thought processes within the Sangh. “Bunch of Thoughts” is one of the few authentic writings of Guru ji that has remained as the guiding philosophy of millions of Swayamsevaks. Selecting excerpts from this book and announcing that certain issues and concerns (about Muslims) are raised only in a specific context has raised some eyebrows and created quite a flutter.
Sangh ideologue KN Govindacharya said: “To cull portions from the ‘Bunch of Thoughts’ implying that the next editions will not carry these passages…who has the rights for these…you may differ from ‘Bunch of Thoughts’ you may even disassociate with certain sections but denying its existence is doing injustice to the facts.” Govindacharya explained that even if there is a need to disassociate from certain thoughts of Guru ji then, “…What will be the parameters and what will be the forum… to change the beliefs of Sangh…though the finality may rest with the Sarsanghachalak…what is the context…are these sections constant as eternal values or they are variable as changing society…” Govindacharya wanted to know what has changed since 1960s, when Golwalkar wrote Bunch of Thoughts, which is being recognized and accepted today. “Is the scourge of Wahhabism not present today that was present in the 1960s? Has fundamentalism lessened in today’s time? Has anything been discarded by the religious heads of Semitic religions in context of India?” Govindacharya questioned. He quickly added: “Has jihad been discarded or has conversion been said to be anti-religious? These are some of the questions that need to be thought over deeply.”
Dattopant Thengadi had once said that if you want to damage an organisation just do two things: One, increase the comfort level of cadres and two, make the leaders status conscious. This will ensure that the leader is cut off from their cadre and the cadre will be cut off from the masses. “Thengadi ji was quoting his conversations with Congress politician DP Mishra. Mishra told Jawaharlal Nehru that he (Nehru) had been a great help to Sangh by imposing a ban on the RSS. Mishra explained that around 65,000 people have been incarcerated by the then Nehru government and these people are being infused with RSS ideology in jails, all at the government expense. The government is not going to keep them behind bars forever and whenever they step out these well-groomed RSS cadre will be the torch bearers of Sangh ideology,” Govindacharya reminisced. He further explained that Nehru asked Mishra what would have he done. Mishra replied that he would have constructed posh offices for Sangh in all districts replete with modern luxury facilities, such that the RSS cadres need not step out and remained confined within their luxurious offices.
In fact, in the 2002 meeting of the Swadeshi Jagran Manch, Thengadi ji had said: “At times it is better to be right and be irresponsible than be wrong and responsible”. Govindacharya said that Thengadi ji explained that in a healthy organisation the functioning will be healthy but in an unhealthy organisation the healthy work functioning will have its boundaries and limits.
Delving deeper into his thoughts Govindacharya recalled the sequence of events where the authentic transcript of the final speech of Golwalkar ji was lost due to unforeseen circumstances. “A booklet named Disha Bodh was published in 1972. When I read it I felt that all the essentials (of Guru ji’s speech) were left out. I did not feel good. I had listened with great concentration to what Guru ji had said in this meeting, and a lot of things which even I remembered were not present in that booklet. There was a tick system that was followed for writing notes during those times, which was a kind of note taking through relay method. The notes were taken in this fashion of Guru ji’s last speech. I spoke to Thengadi ji and asked for those notes. Thengadi ji said that it was kept on the racks of the basement of Hedgewar Bhawan. But, emergency was imposed in 1975 and in July the basement was flooded. Somehow these notes and other literature in drenched and half- drenched condition were recovered. All these notes were then sent over to the homes of Swayamsevaks because emergency was still in place. When emergency was lifted all these notes were brought back. Dattopant ji said that all other notes came back but the notes of the 1972 meeting and Guru ji’s speech never came back,” Govindacharya recalled, a tinge of sadness was clearly visible in his eyes.
“I told Dattopant ji that you were also present in that meeting and you remember a lot of these things…you have also said that it is the magnum opus and there is hardly anything left to say after this. It was said with such finality. It will be good if you write about what Guru ji had said in that last meeting,” Govindacharya said. On this request of Govindacharya Dattopant Thengadi ji replied: “Listen I cannot even dare to tinker with anything about what Guru ji had said. And I am not even qualified to write that Guru ji had said such and such thing. I can only say about my views. But that Guru ji had said such and such things I cannot say this.”
In the absence of this authentic last speech of MS Golwalkar which Dattopant Thengadi called as the magnum opus, it is the “Bunch of Thoughts” and other books written by Golwalkar that have guided scores of Sangh Pracharaks and other Swayamsevaks. As Govindacharya has said Golwalkar had the foresight and clarity of thoughts to talk about the threats from an ever-rising Muslim population which is increasingly coming under the influence of Wahhabi thoughts. Several other Sangh ideologues also expressed their displeasure on Bhagwat’s disowning the sections of “Bunch of Thoughts”
(Vivek Sinha is a Journalist, Filmmaker and Author of the Novel "Chip in the Madrasa". His Twitter handle is @viveksinha28)