How did RSS become Hindu messiah in India? Disaster relief because 1947

How did RSS become Hindu messiah in India? Disaster relief because 1947

Unlike its past avatars, seva supposed a new formula under the aegis of the RSS that was formed in 1925. Hedgewar made humble beginnings by deploying swayamsevaks for providing service to Hindus during public festivals and parties, particularly in people where there was a chance of confrontation with the Muslims. As an RSS accounts shows:

It put forward a mutually agreed formula, regarding when and in which the music can be performed ahead of the mosques and if and where it was to be stopped.

But so far as the Muslims were worried the arrangement remained only on paper. They continued to become increasingly more competitive. Hindu ladies proceeding for religious festivities like Haritalika became subject to Muslim mischief. However, Doctorji deputed batches of Swayamsevaks to such places and the girls devotees could breathe a sigh of relief. (Deshpande and Ramaswamy [1981] 2015, 88)

The RSS generated positive visibility when in 1926 the young swayamsevaks tracked a local celebration of Ram Navami and helped establish orderliness. It was through this occasion that Hedgewar chose a title and a uniform for his new company: Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, which literally means’a nationwide company of (self-motivated) volunteers’, who wore white shirts, khaki shorts and black khaki caps (Andersen and Damle 1987, 35).1 In doing this, Hedgewar’s goal was’to demonstrate the worth of discipline to the volunteers as well as the general public’ (Andersen and Damle 1987): A year after in 1927, when communal riots erupted in Nagpur, yet another significant act of service from the RSS that attracted the attention of the people was when Anna Sohani, an associate of Hedgewar, coordinated several swayamsevaks into 16 squads to protect Hindus (Andersen and Damle 1987, 36).

The RSS members arose as’messiahs’ for the Hindus during this time.

This demonstration of’devotion, sacrifice and organizational capability’ during the riots, allowed the RSS to’establish its image as the’saviour of’ Hindus’ and helped it to expand its influence in Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi and other parts of North India (Kanungo 2003, 55). The saving operations left several beneficiaries convinced that the RSS was really concerned. A large number of those refugees were individuals who prospered in the new nation and who had been indebted to the RSS; over a period of time, they became a reliable source of funding for the company (Andersen and Damle 1987, 49).

This positive image of the RSS received a serious blow following the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi in 1948 by Nathuram Godse, an ex-member of the Sangh. The RSS was banned by the government of India and several of its leaders were detained. Consequently, all its public activities came to a standstill. After a series of discussions between senior leaders in the RSS for example Eknath Ranade and Golwalkar and Patel and Nehru in the central authorities, the ban on the RSS had been raised in July 1949, on the condition that the company adopt a constitution that was written, preserve transparency in its activities and confine itself to performing cultural work. The organization therefore maintained a very low profile along with the rapid expansion of shakha actions that had acquired momentum in refugee camps in northern India was briefly stalled. It was at this phase which Golwalkar’reoriented the RSS by playing down its paramilitary ago’ and charted out a new form of social involvement for his company (Beckerlegge 2003, 49). Between 1949 and 1954, the RSS participated in a range of varied social movements such as the bhoodan motion of Vinoba Bhave and the Satyagraha movement to liberate the Portuguese colonies of Dadra and Nagar Haveli while also continued to offer relief after riots and disasters. After providing refuge to Hindus fleeing from East Pakistan in 1949-1950, in 1950 again, RSS swayamsevaks engaged in providing relief after the Assam earthquake.

The situation had been worsened by heavy flooding in Brahmaputra River and its tributaries such as the Dihing River. Many villages were completely washed away and plants were destroyed. The RSS took this opportunity to become actively engaged in relief work in the area. The Assam branch of the RSS organized the Assam Bhukamp Pidit Sahayta Samiti (the Assam earthquake victims relief culture ) and distributed food, clothing and provided shelter to a number of victims of the earthquake.

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