Shri Guruji – Reminiscences -A Book review

published on February 21, 2011

Dr S Kalyanaraman
Sarasvati Research Centre

Shri Guruji  Reminiscences
by K. Suryanarayana Rao
(2010, Vijaya Bharatham Pathippagam,
12 MV Naidu St., Chetpet, Chennai 600031

[email protected]

368 pages; Rs. 200)

The book is a remarkable compilation of more than 100 anecdotes from the life and work of the great nation- builder Shri Guruji Golwalkar. The book also has a detailed introduction by S. Gurumurthy evaluating Guruji’s contributions in the present-day geo-political context.

It was a privilege indeed to read through this book and re-read it to imbibe the splendour of the life of a great patriot who lived and died serving the cause of building the Hindu nation. As Einstein noted about Gandhiji, it is difficult to believe that such a person walked this earth of Punyabhumi Bharatam. Yes, he did and built up the Sangha for 33 years, reached out to crores of Indians, with a single-mindedness of purpose and dedication unsurpassed in the annals of human endeavour.

To read about the life and contributions of Golwalkar who is fondly referred to as Guruji by everyone in RSS which is the largest voluntary cultural organization in the world with over 10 million active members, is to salute a patriot who had one abiding concern: the protection of dharma by ensuring welfare and abhyudayam (development) of Hindu nation.

The anecdotes related to Guruji are presented elegantly, and with integrity, grouped in a number of categories which closely intertwine with the history of the nation .

Starting with an account of pen-portraits of Guruji given by eminent Indians like Sardar Patel, Gandhiji, Vinoba Bhave, Rajaji, Jayaprakash Narayan, Kushwant Singh, the anecdotes relate the meetings and discussions of Guruji with RK Shanmugam Chetti of Tamil Nadu on the imperative of a common link language for India, with Gandhiji and Nehru, with Kashmir Maharaj, and on Urdu language with Moulavis.

The book recounts how Guruji was also respected by many spiritual stalwarts like Swami Akhandananda ji, the then President of Ramakrishna Order, and with Paramacharya of Kanchi Shankara Matham. About the Deeksha Sri Guruji got from Shri Akhandananda Maharaj of Ramakrishna Ashram. Guruji noted in his diary: “Wednesday -Til Sankranti, the 13th January 1937. Red letter day for me. To be noted down in words of Gold. For did not the fortune of ages, of countless millions of trickles smiled upon me this day and conferred upon me this bliss of being graced by the Master!…” Later in 1962, after Guruji’s mother, Tayiji, passed away Amitabh Maharaj told Guruji: “The Sangha work is not yet complete. You have to do your work, at present you have to go to your small room in the Sangh karyalaya…” This was confirmed by Shri Pamaracharya in a letter: “Your mother with flesh and bone has no doubt passed away, but, there is the great Bharat Mata who has given birth to crores of sons like you and not only today but also from times immemorial and in future as well. You have offered everything and with a selfless attitude you are engaged in the service of Bharat Mata. Therefore you can never be separated from your mother.” Guruji never was separated; he lived and died for this Mother. His work was so admired that Shri Amitabh Maharaj remarked: “Sangh has got a king of men as its leader.” In the Hindu tradition, a person who sacrifices is more powerful and more revered than a king.

The book is an inspiration for young generation of Indians that there lived a person like Guruji who walked the earth and left behind the memories which serve as guideposts for service to society which is the key pratijna (determined dedication) of every member of RSS.

Suryanarayana Rao remembers how Guruji fought for justice and refused to bow down to injustice perpetrated by banning a patriotic organization like RSS in the wake of the tragic assassination of Gandhiji. After the ban was lifted by the Government of Independent India, Guruji pursued the restart of the shakas in RSS with redoubled vigour and made the RSS the premier cultural, nationalist organization that it is today.

One characteristic that exemplified Guruji and which earned the respect of every Indian was Guruji’s unassuming modesty and humility in every action of his. He was a relentless fighter for social justice and fought against conversions of Hindus by evangelizing faiths, while advocating reforms within Hindu samajam to remove the scourge of untouchability and to ensure temple entry for every Hindu.

Guruji’s was the sage voice which called for maintenance of Hindu traditions, Hindu samskaras and cultural values.  When in February 1972, Guruji visited Kavele in Goa, he wrote in the visitor’s book of Samskrit Pathashala there: €œTo have the basic knowledge about Bharatiya life values it is necessary to study the books in the original form. For this it is very necessary to make a deep study of Devavani Samskrita and become experts. To understand the great qualities and values of our Samskriti which happens to be the main stream of our nation and to see that life of every individual will be shaped according to our national traditions it is necessary to have a total knowledge of that Samskrit language in which the original cultural values have been written. Our sruthies are the source of all the activities which will give the right samskara on our lives. The reading and study of the sruties should go on without any break. But now a days not much attention is being paid towards the study of Samskrit language and study of Vedas along with the Upasana systems. As a result of this we are experiencing an increasing Non-Bharathiyatha-consumerism and immoral behavior, tendency towards lust and enjoyment are all on the increase. From the point of view of the protection and development of national life values, this situation is very dangerous. There is a great, national necessity to make a systematic study of the Samskrit language, Vedas etc.” (pp. 291-292).

Guruji’s life itself was the message that to serve man with love and compassion is to serve God. His life mission was governed by the work ethic which was the governing principle in every activity of Guruji  as he travelled across the length and breadth of India spreading the message of loving the nation as Matrubhumi, mother earth. He was instrumental in encouraging the formation of Bharateeya Mazdoor Sangh as a swadeshi trade union governed by the work ethic while sustaining dharma as the global ethic.

If there was one quality which he emphasized during his interactions, that was discipline and unswerving patriotism to mother-land, maatrubhumi.  The last message Guruji delivered was in March 1973 at the Akhila Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha in Nagpur: €œWe should bear in mind that our work in different spheres cannot succeed without the firm base of Shakha. Wherever Shakha flourishes, other works also will definitely prosper. It becomes our bounden duty therefore to see that the programmes and the systems of Shakha, behavioural norms of Swayamsevaks, their attitudes and development of their qualities€¦Today I have spoken. Who knows whether God will allow me another opportunity!” (pp. 368) The compiler, Suryanarayana Rao who had the good fortune of knowing Guruji and living during the exciting times when Guruji lived, ends with this comment: €œUnfortunately, Shri Guruji could not get this another opportunity.” This last message rings in the aatman of every swayamsevak of RSS who adores Guruji as the rare human being who lived his talk and who was the very personification of everything glorious about Hindu rashtram.

Quite a contrast with the emotion-charged anecdotes narrated by Suryanarayana Rao with such compassion is the detailed introduction by S. Gurumurthy who focuses on his political analysis of Guruji’s life and work as Sarsanghachalak of RSS for 33 years, from 1940 till 1973, portraying Guruji as a drashta (a seer, that is, a rishi who could foresee) (pp. 3-123). The key facets of Guruji’s political philosophy which Gurumurthy emphasizes are that:

•         Guruji’s thoughts on issues such as cultural nationalism, secularism and Hindutva have stood the test of time and have been validated and are being echoed now. Gurumurthy notes that the Fundamentalism Project of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences on RSS and Hinduism clearly accepted 1) Guruji’s distinction between State and Nation as different concepts and 2) RSS as a cultural, not a religious or political organization. (p. 12)

•         Gurumurthy notes how the Supreme Court of India accepted Guruji’s views on Hindutva, secularism and Dharma by delineating Hinduism as a way of life which advances secularism.

•         Guruji’s views on cultural nationalism are now getting increasingly accepted by western nations which are now recording reactions against multiculturalism.

•         Guruji’s views on the imperative of assimilating minorities into the mainstream to create a cultural nation devoid of socio-political chaos, governed by dharma, the global ethic.

•         Guruji’s enunciation that dharma is different from religion is accepted by the translation of the word €˜secular’ used in the Preamble of Indian Constitution into Hindi as pantha nirapekshata. This means a reaffirmation of Guruji’s views that the state has to be neutral as regards various religious paths but has to be governed the fundamental global ethic uniquely described in the civilizational ethos of India by the word, dharma with emphasis on one’s set of fundamental social duties and responsibilities of every individual as juxtaposed to the western concepts focusing on fundamental rights of invididuals.

With these arguments, Gurumurthy notes that four decades after the death of Guruji, the nations of the world are increasingly accepting Guruji’s thoughts as central to current national and global perspectives related to governance and socio-cultural-economic progress. Gurumurthy underscores that the mission of Guruji was the mission of the RSS and the nation and notes: “In fact Guruji dwarfed himself and his towering individuality, and sublimated his heightened spirituality to head the RSS, which itself demonstrates his commitment to the mission following which he merged into the organization without any trace of his individual self apart from it.” (p.118)

Such was the life and mission of a noble Hindu who lived and died in the cause of dharma and the Hindu Nation leaving behind him the reminiscences from his life, so ably documented by Suryanarayana Rao, which will be cherished by the present and future swayamsevaks for generations to come.

Every Indian owes a deep debt of gratitude to Suryanarayana Rao whose book should serve as a companion volume to the monumental compendium of 12 volumes of complete works called Guruji Samagra, compiled by Shri Ranga Hari and released in 2005. (Guruji Samagra, Delhi, Suruchi Publications, Rs. 2000).

There are some typographical errors which will hopefully corrected in the next edition.  (e.g. spelling of Abraham Lincoln on p. 157). It may also be appropriate to publish Gurumurthy’s introduction as a separate volume since his exposition is more related to an appraisal of Guruji’s thoughts in the context of modern political philosophy and political practices related to nation-building.

The book which takes us down the memory lane of our pitr-s who have given us our identity and life work, Shri Guruji – Reminiscences will be read and discussed in every shakha of RSS which is a dedicated mission to build character among swayamsevaks whose duty is to serve the rashtram, the Bharata Maata, Mother Bharat.

I am sure that together with Guruji Samagra, this book Shri Guruji-Reminiscences will get translated into Samskrit and in other Indian languages so that the memories, thoughts and anecdotes from Guruji’s life reach every nook and corner of Bharata Rashtram for which Guruji’s life was dedicated.

The dharma of our pitr-s shall protect us. The dharma that Guruji’s life mission was, exemplifying true citizenship of the Rashtram, shall be cherished as long as the Sun shines on this Mother Earth, protecting all patriotic Indians and impelling them to seva, service to the Mother.

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