INTERVIEW WITH RANGA HARIJI

via K. Ramakrishnan published on February 26, 2007

 


Ranga Hariji’s innocent and joyous nature attracts any one to his side.   His child like nature makes one relaxed in his presence.  His concern for each one coming into contact with him is unmatched.  His narrative style of conversation makes one attentive.  He explains complex ideological theories with ease, convincing the listener of his arguments.  The 76 year old Ranga Hari, popularly known to the Swayam Sevaks of Kerala as Hariyettan, after holding many important positions in the RSS now leads a retired life, due to health problems, at the Pranth Karyalaya of RSS, Madhava Nivas, Ernakulam, his native place in Kerala.



 Ranga Hari who was all India Boudhik Pramukh of RSS for 15 years is presnetly a member of the Central working committee (Akhila Bharateeya Karykari).  He is well versed in ten languages; Malayalam, Tamil, Sanskrit, Konkani, Marathi, Hindi, English, Bangali, Gujarathi and Assameese and has written about 25 books in different languages.  Recently he edited the complete works of Poojaneeya Guruji titled ‘Guruji Samagra’ which came out in 12 Volumes.




Born to Ranga Shenoy and Padmavathy in the year 1930, R. Hari came in contact with RSS in 1944.  Coming from a big joint family of four brothers and four sisters, he could very easily adopt the sangh family as his own.  He found the Sangh as his natural choice for he had no other option to think about!  His father was an Accountant in the Tata Oil Mill Company and mother a pious house wife.




At the young age of 14, as a teenage boy, Hari used to play Foot ball and Badminton at the TDM Maidan, Kochi.  Shri. Purushotham Govind Chincholkar who was the then Sangh pracharak of Kochi used to visit the youngsters club to play Badminton with them.  Slowly and steadily the Badminton club became the first Sakha in the Erankulam area and all the members of this club became Swayamsevaks.




The teachings of RSS had made a deep impact on the life of young Hari.  His mind and heart dwelt on the mission of RSS and he started attending various camps and trips organised by RSS.   Got inspired by the Sangh ideology Hari started reading Hindu books to understand more about Indian culture and philosophy.  His close association with Swami Agamanandaji Maharaj, founder of the Sri Ramakrishna Advaita Ashram at Kalady, helped him to understand more about Hinduism and its age old culture.




In 1951, after graduating in B.A (Economics) from the Maharajas College, Ernakulam, he decided to dedicate his life to the cause of the Sangh by becoming a prachark at Norht Parur, near Alwaye in Ernakulam district. Thereafter he took the Sangh ideology to different parts of Kerala.  Wherever he went, Hariji could win the hearts of people and was instrumental in bringing different people to the Sangh fold.




During the Emergency Ranga Hari toured the entire south India in disguise organising meetings, arranging printing and distribution of pamphlets and meeting prominent people to fight the injustice heaped on the nation by Smt. Indira Gandhi. 




He became the Prant Pracharak of RSS in Kerala in the year 1982.  Under his stewardship RSS reached every nook and corner of the State and had wide mass appeal.  He was elected as the Akhila Bharateeya Bhoudik Pramukh of RSS in the year 1990 and while holding this post he was also looking after the Sangh work in foreign countries, particularly south East Asia and Australia.




As part of his mission he went to Nepal, Myanmar, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, Fiji and Newzeland four times to attend camps and seminars organized by Swayamsevaks there.  In addition to this charge Ranga Hariji was also closely associated with Bharatiya Sikshan Mandal, Vidya Bharati, Ajathi Sahitya Parishat (Prabhari) by guiding these organisations.




Ranga Hari is now a contended and happy man. He sees no difference in work of the present and past RSS.  “Since our work is Pracharak oriented, during the past since workers were less, he was virtually the visible Swayam Sevak on the spot. But now his presence is felt as one among the several workers”, that is one difference I see, “he said.




To the question, did he see any quality erosion in the organisation he firmly said, “Not at all?  Today highly qualified persons, those who are having professional qualifications are becoming pracharaks on their own.  But at the same time Sangh has grown to such an extent that it now encompasses several organisations.  Our time tested Sakha method would cleanse everything.”




“Sakha means coming together and imbibing a common culture.  In that sense we have to adopt modern programs and have to avail all the modern amenities for the betterment of the Sakha”, he added.




What was his most memorable experience with Guruji?  “While Guruji was undergoing Ayurvedic treatment at Palakkad in the year 1956, it was decided to organise samparka in connection with the 51st birth day of Guruji.  Initially Guruji was reluctant but when it was explained that the occasion could be utilised to reach people with Sangh literature, Guruji agreed.  A 51-day samparka yajna was launched from February 1 to February 29 (being leap year).  I was the jilla prachark of Palakkad at that time.  One day around 3 p.m when we were all waiting to see Guruji coming down from the upstairs of Dr A K Warrior’s house, where he was staying, including workers from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, Guruji came down to take tea and said that he had a feeling that he was committing sin. All were surprised and shocked to hear his words and there was perfect silence for some time.  When one senior karyakartha asked Guruji the reason for saying so he said that he had been responsible for cutting one day of the contact programme!  This incident amply testifies how the Sangh work was dear to Guruji’s heart.




“Another incident occurred in 1965. At that time also Guruji was at Palakkad undegoing Ayurvedic treatment under the famous Kuttancherry moosath, one of the ‘Ashta vaidyas’ (eight promient Ayurvedic practioners of Kerala). At the beginning of the treatment, the Vaidya called me and said that before commencing treatment, after lightning the customary oil lamp the patient has to pray to God for his health and for the efficacy of the treatment.  When this was conveyed to Guruji, he said that never in his life he had prayed for his body and prayed for things to God and hence he can’t do that.  Hearing this Vaidya said that Sri Guruji is really a great soul (Mahatma) and directed me to pray for Sri Guruji.  This incident clearly reveals how selfless was Guruji. This had helped me to make my conviction strong”




In spite of his adverse health Ranga Hariji continues to inspire swayamsevaks with his humorous talks, boudhiks and books.  Recently he had completed a dictionary in Malayalam of important terms in the Bhagavad Gita for easy reference.   His is a life completely devoted to the Mother land.




Recently Ranga Hariji was kind enough to grant an exclusive interview to Haindavakeralam correspondent, K. Ramakrishnan:





1.      You had held the responsibility of Boudhik Pramukh of the Sangh at the national level and have traveled widely all over the country and abroad. What do you think of the present Sangh activities in India, particularly in Kerala?




The Sangh is always able to maintain a steady rate of growth and was able to maintain the normal rate of progress every year.  However, thanks to the Guruji centenary celebrations, we are able to achieve a little more progress this year.  Every year not only the number of Sakhas is increasing but our parivar organisations are also registering constant growth.  Coming to Kerala, in spite of the highly polarized society (not politically, but ideologically) every year we have been able to maintain a regular growth rate.  In Kerala our each step is a step with struggles and fights.  In spite of resistance from every political and other out fits, we have at present about 4500 shakas, spreading across every nook and corner of the State, reaching to all the Panchayats. Because of the constant struggle we have to undergo, the speed of our growth is not that much visible. But I am sure with confidence and determination, we can reach other areas. 



At the national level, the politics of casteism, which divides Hindu society, affects wider Hindu unity.  Appeal to smaller loyalty always brings quick and fast results in the game of politics.  The example of UP, Bihar, etc testifies to the fact that appealing to a larger cause, Hindu unity, instead of narrow casteist feelings, takes a back seat in the political arena. During the course of our work, we feel the difficulty of raising the consciousness of people to the cause of Hindu unity. In order to overcome this RSS have adopted efficient and successful methods. We have started service activities and projects aiming the neglected areas and sections of the Hindu society.  To make them feel that they are one with the larger Hindu fraternity, during the last 30 years the Sangh has started nearly 70,000 projects to eradicate poverty, casteism, untouchability, etc.  When people realize that these projects are very practical than the hollow promises of politicians, they naturally come to the Sangh.  We have started about 30,000 educational institutions (out of which 25,000 is in rural areas) in different parts of the country to provide education to the needy. Whenever there is a natural calamity such as earthquake or flood Swayam Sevaks are in the forefront helping the needy. The service of RSS is in stark contrast with the loud proclamation of politicians.  When people realize the true role of the Sangh, naturally they become part of the activities, serving our nation.




2.      You are the editor of the book “Sri Guruji Sahitya Samagra” which took many years of tireless work to complete. Can you tell us something about this book?



The credit for the twelve-volume compilation goes to the entire team who worked from Nagpur, the headquarters of RSS.  We took one year and eight months to complete the work. The Hindi, Gujarathi, Marathi, Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu, versions have already come out and the Oriya, Bengali and Assamese editions are being prepared.  The Sanskrit and English version would also be released soon.  Interestingly, the first vernacular editions have been completely sold out.  The 12 volumes consists of Tributes and homage of great men of India, Guruji’s exposition of the Sangh Ideology, Guruji’s annual lectures at Sangh camps, stray articles that he wrote, selection of letters written to various publications, his correspondences with government during the unjustified ban period and his interaction with the press.  The idea behind the compilation was that the coming generation should know the work and contribution of Guruji, the visionary par excellence.   Unfortunately, during the ban of 1948 and later during 1978 (emergency period) the police authorities destroyed many valid documents, thereby denied us the opportunity to access them.  All through his life Sri Guruji built up confidence in Hindu society by arousing social consciousness among Hindus.  He created an organization for Hindus disapproving the cynical belief that Hindus are never organizable!  He brought self inspired discipline in lakhs of youth and made them dedicate their life at the bedrock of unalloyed patriotism.




3.      In Kerala, Hindu unity is yet to become a reality in spite of the presence of Sangh and its Parivar organizations and various spiritual organizations led by Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, Sri Sri Ravisankar ji, Chinmaya Mission, Sri Sathy Sai Baba, etc working to spread Sanathana Dharma.  Yet the mindset of the majority of Hindus has not changed.  What could be the reasons?



The main reason for lack of Hindu unity is ‘to be religious and pious is one thing and to have a sense of social consciousness’ is another.  The first rests at building up or formation of individual personality.  The spiritual organizations concentrate on personal development of the individual. No doubt, this is the basic condition for building up a strong society/nation. But further, social consciousness resulting into service organizations is also a must in the absence of which we will meet with a tragic state where organized few will aggrandize upon disorganized many.  So the approach of RSS has been to work in close cooperation with all these movements to overcome the lacunae.




4.      The Sangh has always believed that political power alone is not enough to solve all the problems facing the society.  Hence the Sangh chose to serve the society without political power.  However, various recent incidents indicate that political parties are misusing their power and making harmful core policy changes, especially in the field of education and national security.  Anti-cultural poison is injected into student’s minds by changing CBSE curriculum. These political parties give the simple excuse that they have been elected by people and so have the right to take any decision.  How can we deal with this problem? Does the sangh plan to launch a mass movement to compel these political parties to drop their anti-national agenda?



      Merely launching agitations against such politics will not solve the problem.  Of course, it may make people aware of the problem. In order to make people aware of the situation without any governmental aid, wide network of positive activities of our choice to meet with the situation have to be built up. We need an alternative system of education to tackle this problem. Precisely this is what is taking place in a daily RSS Shakha.  The system of Shakha can be termed as a nation wide Hindu university, completely rooted in our native system of education once prevalent in this ancient land.  In the past, our indigenous system of education had helped us to preserve and protect our culture and cultural values without any governmental aid. RSS shakhas are the new adaptation of the working models of our ancient system of education. 




5.      There was a suggestion from various fields for a single Hindu spiritual leader to head all the spiritual organizations in the country that should have the authority to take any decision concerning Hindu society.  What is the Sangh’s stand on this and what is your personal opinion?




I must categorically say that the idea itself if anti-Hindu. Such an idea of one Head for an entire society is against the spirit of Hindu Dharma.  Even a cursory glance through the Bhagavad Gita would amply prove this.




6.      Hindu society is worried about the steadfast anti-Hindu and anti-national stand taken by most of the visual/print media, especially English media. Much of the good work done and being done by the RSS and various parivar organizations are not reaching the public because of the hostile media.  The Sangh is doing wonderful selfless service, especially in the field of education, Health service and Vanavasi welfare, yet the media is projecting ‘Sangh Parivar’ as communalists or fascists.  Why? And what can we do to fight this?




I can’t say why they do this.  They might have their own irons to grind.  Having their own various self-interests, they are against social consolidation of Hindu society.  Perhaps, a disorganized Hindu society will be ready cannon to their fold and their aim might be to keep Hindus disorganized and divided so as to fulfill their vested interests. As I told you earlier, the different kinds of Sangh work are steadily spreading and only through our dedicated and sincere efforts we could overcome the false propaganda against us.




7.     





In Kerala many unconstitutional actions are going on openly and yet our government and media is not concerned about it.  Despite clear laws against cow slaughter, these are openly violated in Kerala.  Christian missionaries are seeking religious conversions by sending open invitation letters.  False allegations are often made against Hindu organizations and spiritual leaders by the media. Hindu Gods and spiritual leaders are shown in a vulgar manner in TV programs.  To deal such problems intelligently and legally is there any plan to set up an intellectual forum with the support of leading lawyers of Kerala?



 The H

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