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HVK Archives: The end of an epoch - an editorial on Balasaheb

The end of an epoch - an editorial on Balasaheb - Organiser

Posted By ashok (ashokvc@giasbm01.vsnl.net.in)
30 June 1996


Title : The end of an epoch
Publication : Organiser
Date : June 30, 1996

WITH the passing away of Shri Balasaheb Deoras, the
third Sarsanghchalak of the Rashtdya Swayamsevak Sangh
one more link that connected the present mammoth
organisation with the founder of this unique institution
Dr Keshav Baliram Hedgewar has snapped. He was
not only to the eventful years of the RSS but was
instrumental in influencing and moulding the course of
history of events that filled the major part of this

Joining the RSS almost from its inception as a bal
swayamsevak at the age of eleven as he grew Balasaheb
cast himself in the mould of his mentor, the visionary
Hedgewar, the epoch-maker who condensed the age old
wisdom of this land into an aphorism and an easy way to
practice it-the shakha. And then there was no looking
back for this man once he put his shoulder to move
forward Lord Jagannatha's rath that is the RSS. Like
Doctorji, behind his stem facade Balasaheb had a soft
and considerate heart that beat in tune with million of
swayamsevaks. Old timers in Nagpur recall how Balasaheb

used to sit in the verandah of the Mahal RSS office
under the banyan tree and exude an air of relaxed
simplicity even while deliberating over many a ticklish
problem of head and heart. Taking decisions came
naturally to him. A hard task master he certainly was.
It was only natural that being endowed with exceptional
qualities of leadership, the mantle of Sarsanghchalak
should fall upon him after the passing away of Shri
Guruji in 1973. `We are old heads on a young body", he
would say, referring to the set of selfless colleague who
fanned out in different Sangh.

It was Balasaheb's conscious decision that brought new
dimension to the RSS work. The vision of the Sangh's
founder was translated into reality by an able
architect-that Balasaheb was. A keen observer of
political events, Balasaheb was quick to see the shifting
power balance and the emergence of vote-bank politics
that would damage the social framework besides
the democratic institutions. So when the anti-
establishment agitation fuelled by a desire to
cleanse public life of corruption took the shape of
a Nav-nirman andolan in Gujarat Balasaheb had no
hesitation in ending active support to this yet another
reform movement. But he was aware of its political
overtones. It is probably divine dispersion that every
Sarsanghchalak had to face a ban on the RSS, but for the
organisation to invariably emerge with renewed vigour.
Guruji became the Sarsanghchalak in the forties when the
nation was passing through the crucial birth of
Independence. The holocaust of Partition followed by the
assassination of Mahatma Gandhi had tom the social fabric
asunder and dealt a severe blow to the RSS. But the Sangh
came out unscathed in spite of the insinuation and
calumny. No doubt as a result Sangh's progress had a
set-back. But the second ban after Independence followed
by the "second freedom struggle" ahd the war against
the Emergency only rejuvenated the Sangh. Balasaheb,
pained at the miserable plight of the people under a
draconian Emergency wrote to the Sangh leaders working

underground of his decision to go on an indefinite fast
to save the rashtra-dharma and restore democracy. A
diabetic body would not have lasted long. The dead
conscience of Smt Gandhi would have hardly reacted, felt
the underground leaders and refused the permission to
Balasaheb. Inspired by his urge for supreme sacrifice,
the Lok Sangarsh Samiti under the Sangh's leadership
wrote a new history of a peaceful democratic revolution.
It was not surprising that the RSS should have invited
the wrath of the then Prime Minister Smt lndira Gandhi
who quickly slapped a ban on the RSS. This brought out
yet another facet of Balasaheb's leadership qualities who
adroitly guided the organisation as well as the country
through the days of the Emergency. After the ban on the
RSS was lifted, to the surprise of niany, the number of
shakhas had grown. But Balasaheb was not surprised. Nor
was he surprised at the post-Emergency political
developments. In spite of the ban on RSS, the
unconstitutional and illegal declaration of the
Emergency, the unfortunate incarceration of lakhs of
swayamsevaks, and the horrendous atrocities and excesses
committed during the Emergency, Balasaheb's advice to
the then Government in general, was to 'forgive and

He too came in for severe criticism from some quarter for
this piece of advice, but he remained firm on his stand
and finally proved himself right when the post-Empregency
rulers chose not to "forgive and forget', paying a heavy
price in the bargain. But all along, Balasaheb was
preoccupied with the laying of the foundation for the
next course of action to be undertaken by the
swayamsevaks. Under his leadership the Sangh diversified
into every walk of life and set up institutions in all
parts of the country to tackle every known problems
facing the society. Among them the scourge of
unteachability was one that Balasaheb staved hard to rid
the Hindu society. With the zeal and vision of a
revolutionary he declared that the caste-system was
outdated and that it should go lock, stock and barrel.
For the millions of swayamsevaks attending the daily
shakha caste had no more relevance in their social
dealings but to the handful of self-pro-claimed pundits
of the "new class' the road to social equality ran over
red carpets.

Unmindful of the jibes, Balasaheb quietly toured the
whole country meeting leaders from various strata of
society and helping clear the cobwebs of disinformation
and prejudice. He was very sure of the direction in
which he was leading the Sangh, but ,'@was concerned
about the Pace. Judge us pot "as though we
were politicians; look at the social impact of our
doings, he pleaded with critics.

The shakha has an in-built mechanism that allows one to
rise above caste, class and other parochial divisions and
dissensions. Balasaheb saw the immense potential of the
shakha as an instrument of change in the society. Yet he
firmly believed that it is the swayamsevak who will
transform the society. The shakha is an instrument to
create such swayamsevaks, he would say. Speaking at the
Vacant Vyakhyanmala of Pune, he declared unequivocally :
"if untouchability is not a sin, nothing else is. It must
go lock, stock and barrel." He aimed at and worked for
social harmony much before the Mandalisation of politics

with the narrow view to gamer votes. Social assimilation
for him was a matter of conviction, a commitment that he
vowed to achieve. even as a child.

He was instnimental in creating a concensus in favour of
a resolution adopted by the RSS on the sensitive
reservation issue. "Just for a moment think of yourself
as having been born in such a neglected scheduled caste
family and then decide", he pleaded. Such was his
commitment to the cause of social harmony.

He exploited every problem and turned it into an
opportunity to carry further' the message of Hindu unity.
After the unfortunate incident of Meenakshipuram, the
Sangh undertook a number of yatras all over the country
that shook the Hindu society out of its complacence.
Doctor Hedgewars birth-centenary celebrations that
followed gave an opportunity to the Sangh to expand its
network of seva institutions. The growth of RSS during
his tenure was phenominal. Though he prefered to maintain
a low profile, he guided the team to cross the mark of
forty thousand shakhas and at same time expand the
of affiliate organisations allowing them maximum
functional freedom. There can be no limit to 1 number of
organisations deriving inspirat from the Sangh, he used
to say. For every problem swayamsevaks can pool together
their talents and organise themselves into a solution he
felt. But the basic problem is Hindu unity and a nation
is great and only as great as its common man is, he would
say. His message could be summarised into what he
said when replying to his felicitation on saharsachandra

Let us all be firm in our Hindu, ideology which actually
has universal welfare as its summum bonum. Let us forget
the superficial distinctions of high and low, rich and
poor, of caste, creed and religion, of language, region
and faith. Let us rise above all this, assimilate, awaken
and engage in our disciplined work of organising a strong
Hindu people. The hand that has the strength to wield the
sceptre should also be endowed with the spike to
discipline the wielder with moral force. Such strength
can come only through an organised, disciplined society
guided by lofty ideals. So we must have more daily
shakhas to realise Doctoji's dream.

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