The Secretive RSS

published on March 24, 2009
Article by Ratan Sharda 

Comments by H Balakrishnan

A comment by Times of India in today’s (23 Mar 2009) report about the new Sarsanghchalakof RSS, triggered off this article.)

morning began as usual with freshening up myself with No. 1 newspaper
of the world, Times of India accompanying to the wash room.  I was stumped to find the RSS change of guard as the lead story.  What’s 
gone wrong with the guys? Where had my familiar and comforting news
about IPL and incest and violence related staple news?
And how come a communal outfit got the top billing? I am yet to fathom this secret. But, I was surprised by the expert comment of TOI that RSS was a secretive organization. 
I reflected very hard on these comments by the most responsible
newspaper of India (or the world). It won’t make a comment lightly on
such an issue of national importance.  I went back over my years or
rather decades of association with RSS and tried to make sense of this
comment. As a hapless citizen of India ensnared by RSS in his tender
young age secretly  through simple Indian games which were on the verge
of  extinction and a secret to our west educated elite intellectuals,
maybe I never realized the secretive nature of RSS.  So, I tried to day
past regression analysis of self vis a vis RSS. I remembered the
dubiousness of RSS recruitment. The simple looking fun loving teacher
in RSS shakha had never told me that I was being initiated to a Hindu
outfit which believed in Hindu consolidation and
nor did he tell me that I would be taught the virtues (liabilities in
today’s world) of high moral values and discipline without me realizing
all this.
All this happened so unknowingly to me.

Yes, now I could slowly comprehend the import of the wise words of TOI.May
be the commands were designed in Sanskrit – an archaic and communal
language so they could be kept a secret from people who wanted to study
Why ofcourse, even the daily prayer the motherland was in Sanskrit.  Naturally,
our journalists couldn’t understand it and thought it was a Nazi
exhortation to kill non-Hindus and talk of superiority of Hindus?

Luckily, I was explained the meaning of this prayer.  A simple booklet
about it was available off the shelf from RSS promoted book shop. As
it turns out the prayer glorified our motherland and reminds us of
doing our best to work hard for the motherland  for its all round
Why this secretiveness I wonder now? Perhaps, we
could have had it in English.I realize now that we had quaint names for
simple activities. Like calling snacking together in team as
‘Chandan’.  I am told, that the police got fooled by this secretiveness
and went hunting for this guy ‘Chandan’ to arrest him after the first
RSS ban in 1948. I had my own experience of this secretiveness when the
police came calling to arrest my elder brother, who had been active
years back in his youth and had moved to Surat by then,  after the ban
in 1975 during the glory days of emergency but failed to arrest me
though I was a young activist giving trouble to police by being part of
a team that organized ‘satyagrah’ every week in our college! Yes, we should have updated the volunteer list of police regularly.
 As I grew up and got some responsible positions in
RSS, I tried to remove the veil of secrecy by inviting press to various
programmes of RSS.  I used to feel
quite let down when hardly any press person turned up for our
programmes like festivals and camps etc.  Generally, the English press
reporters would  simply forget the event by the evening  probably with
more interesting evening activities and the news would never get
If at all it got covered the inspiring
speeches would be missing and so would be the stirring photographs of
massive disciplined drills and parades.

I remember seeing
a single photograph of RSS swayamsevaks taking bath on common taps in a
camp with a cryptic line describing this chore, without any reference
to the fact that the camp was being attended by nearly 10,000 RSS
volunteers and had such a meticulous planning and organization that it
would be envy of any organization. No indiscipline, no looting of
stalls on way etc. etc.!

Who is interested in such a boring organization.
Same fate awaited massive rallies of RSS or its
associate organizations anywhere in India . I recall a massive Hindu
mahasammelan  that RSS associated organizations held in Mangalore just
last week.  Ofcourse it escaped the
eyes of the so called National press as no one was beaten up nor was
there any arson.  May be if the volunteers had behaved abominably with
some people the veil of secrecy over RSS could be ripped off.


 I am
aware, as a part of the young team of RSS workers during emergency,
that the majority of people arrested during emergency were RSS workers.
Not only that, but nearly 90% of satyagrahis who fought  against
emergency were from Sangh parivar.

But, all this was done so diabolically secretively that our thought leaders never got to know about this secret. 
They didn’t even study police records to find who were arrested and
kept in jails for months, spoiling careers and businesses of thousands
of RSS and associated activists.  When new born Janata Party
had no cadres or organization, RSS provided  a readymade organization
and cadres to fight elections and defeat the fascist Congress ideology.
secret was  unraveled  when our dear socialist friends  tasted the
fruits of power on the shoulders of young people like us and then  tore
apart the dreams of venerable leaders like Jai Prakash.

May be, what upsets the
critics is the secret of the success of RSS. How does it manage to
organize such massive numbers without any publicity machinery or media
relations? May be, RSS should share the biggest secret of this success.
May be it is mutual love and trust and bonding between its members, the
nurturing of young workers  by sheer love

training by seniors by examples of their own selfless and simple lives,
rather than by lectures, the selfless love for the motherland,  burning
desire to do something for the society.


I am still thinking all
this over and trying to unravel the secret.As I think over, I realized
that the veil of secrecy has been thrown around RSS by the press
itself. It thinks that by closing its eyes to the biggest voluntary
organization in the world and not letting people know about its
contributions to the society. May be in its own judgemental wisdom it
has decided to be the prosecutor and the jury and decided that RSS work
must be kept a secret from the society so the harm can be kept to the









Sita Ram Goel , Voice of India , New Delhi – 11002



“ It was the summer of 1959, I [ Shri Sita Ram Goel ] was working as the secretary of an

of which the late SHRI JAYAPRAKASH NARAYAN (J.P.) was the President.
One day an RSS leader walked into my office. I had known him for a
number of years. After some small talk, he suggested that I should
request J.P. to visit an RSS camp which was being held in

New Delhi

at that time. J.P also happened to be in town. I was diffident about
the proposition. Having worked with J.P. for more than a year, I sensed
his preferences and prejudices. But I said to the RSS leader that I
would do my best.”



“ I broached the subject to J.P. next day as soon as I found him alone,

was a rare event. J.P. seemed to be stunned as if I had uttered an
obscenity. There was an expression of disapproval on his face which
made me too feel uncomfortable. He was a gentle person who seldom lost
his temper. But now he seemed to be on the verge of exploding. The
atmosphere became tense. For a few moments none of us could find words
to break the spell of silence.”



 “ At last J.P. controlled himself and said: ‘ Do you know what you

are talking about, and to whom’? There
was a touch of temper in his voice. By now I had managed to collect my
wits to a certain extent. I said: ‘ I knew the proposition would be
annoying to you. Even so, I took a chance.’ He relaxed. I also heaved a
sigh of relief. He said: ‘ You know
that I have a certain standing in the country and a certain reputation
in public life. You should not expect me to get mixed up with an
organization which is known for its communal, reactionary, and
revivalist character.’
I said: ‘ It is precisely
because of your standing in the country and your reputation in public
life that I have conveyed their invitation to you’. He said: ‘ I do not
understand. Could you make yourself a little more clear’? I explained:
‘ Your standing in the country is that of a man of reason, and your
reputation rests upon the keenness of your moral sense. I am sure that
you will live upto that standard in this instance as well.’ He said: ‘
I try to do my best according to my understanding and strength of will.
Tell me where and how I have failed.’ This encouraged me and I said: ‘
You have been practicing untouchability towards a section of your own
people. You have never met the RSS people face to face. You have never
listened to their side of the story. Yet you have formed an unsavoury
opinion about them. This does not sound reasonable to me, nor just.’



“ He became thoughtful. I continued, ‘ Your status today is not that of
party politician seeking power, and fomenting partisan strife. You have
been a father figure for the nation as a whole, almost the conscience
keeper of our people. You raise your voice whenever you feel that an
injustice has been done, or that justice is being denied. That is why
people of all persuasions- Congressites, Socialists, Communists,
Akalis, National Conference people and who not- come to you for
consultation, for registering their complaints, for presenting their
point of view, and for seeking your advice. You do not always agree
with them. Yet you listen to them patiently, and give them your point
of view. They do not always agree with your view of men and matters,
nor always follow your advice. The point is that you are always
accessible to them. You always go out and meet them whenever they
invite you.
It is only the RSS and allied people whom you avoid, so much so that
one of their leaders could not come to you directly and had to convey
an invitation through a small fry like myself. Tell me if this is not
tantamount to practicing untouchability?’



  “ He closed his eyes and shook his head several times. He seemed to

engaged in some inner struggle. I pressed the point, ‘ I am not
inviting you to get mixed up with the RSS. Nor is it their intention to
spread some snare for you. What they expect from a man like you is that
you should try to know them first-hand rather than through hearsay or
gossip in a partisan press controlled almost entirely by people who are
hostile to them. Maybe you find that you have been mistaken about them.
Maybe they benefit from the advice you give them. But all this can
happen only when you meet them, listen to what they have to say, tell
them frankly what you feel about them, and thus open the door for a
fruitful dialogue in days to come. In any case, heavens are not going
to fall simply because you go and visit one of their camps. That is all
I have to say. Rest is for you to decide.’



“ He opened his eyes, smiled somewhat sadly, and said, ‘ You have

me in a rather awkward position. But I see the point in what you have
said. I cannot easily refute your accusation. I can really be held
guilty of practicing untouchability.’ I kept quie and waited for him to
make up his mind. He did it in a moment, and said, ‘ Okay, you win. I
am willing to visit the RSS camp. Make an appointment with them, and
let me know. I hope tomorrow evening will suit them. Day after I am





“ Next day he spent nearly two hours in the RSS camp, witnessing

mass drill, moved by the songs of devotion to the motherland, meeting
and talking to their leaders, asking all sorts of questions, and
offering his own comments. Finally, he sat on a chair facing a group of
about hundred RSS workers from several parts of the country. The
workers sat on the ground in row after row, stood up one by one to
introduce themselves to their honoured guest of the evening. Each one
of them told his name without mentioning any surname indicative of
caste or community, his educational qualifications, the province from
which he came, and years he had spent as a SWAYAMSEVAKA. I COULD SEE
THAT J.P. WAS IMPRESSED. His face which had been grim so far softened
suddenly, and visibly. Most of the SWYAMSEVAKAS held graduate and
post-graduate degrees in arts, commerce, or science. All of them were
between the ages of 20 and 35.”



  “ At the end J.P. was requested to say a few words, and bless the

confused, and did not know really what to say. I conveyed his feelings
to the RSS leaders, who showed immediate understanding and did not
press him anymore. As he was taking
leave, J.P. looked at the BHAGVA DHVAJA, and observed, ‘ That I suppose
is the Maratha Flag’. The RSS leader explained, ‘ The Marathas did not
invent it. They borrowed it from an age-old national tradition. The
saffron colour has always been the colour par-excellence of Indian
spirituality as well as of Indian nationalism.’ J.P. said, ‘ I do not
know. I have not been a student of History. But that is what a well
known historian told me.’
The RSS leader smiled, and remained silent. The parting was rather warm on both sides.”



 “ On our way back, J.P. muttered as if talking to himself, ‘ They have

lot of young and disciplined workers. The workers are also highly
educated. I NEVER KNEW THAT. In our socialist movement, most of our
workers are not even matriculates.’
I kept quiet and waited
for him to say something more. He made one more comment as we got out
of the car at the end of our journey. He said, ‘ Sitaramji, I am
grateful to you for helping me break down what looked like an
insurmountable wall. But I am not at all satisfied that it is not an
attempt to revive the Maratha Empire.’



  “ I could have asked him as to what was wrong with the Maratha

I could also have told him that the Maratha Empire represented the
triumph of a tough and long drawn struggle against Islamic Imperialism.
But I was not prepared for some more frowns on his face. I had no
status as a historian. Nor was my
version of Indian History being taught in school and college
text-books. J.P. was only repeating what most of our historians were
saying from their august seats in universities and research institutes.



 – – – –. “ J.P. had at last visited an RSS camp. He had been positively

by the quality of workers whom the RSS had mobilized in service of the
nation. And yet he had retained his earlier reservations about the RSS.
He could not visualize that the RSS was not a miracle that materialized
out of thin air. He could not see
that there was something in a society and a culture and a historical
tradition which had created such a splendid band of selfless workers
without the benefit of any patronage from the powers that be, and in the face of much malicious propoganda in the national and the international




RSS neither Nationalist nor Fascist, Indian Christian priest’s research concludes

Fri, Dec. 19, 2003 Posted: 07:52:38 AM EST

Kerala, India., Dec. 19
– The name of the research institution is Sorbonne University, Paris, France. The researcher is Dr. (Father) Vincent Kundukulam of St Joseph Pontifical Seminary, Aluva, Kerala.

The thesis for the doctoral research is: Le RSS Et L’Eglise En Inde (RSS and Church in India).

To Fr. Kundukulam goes the credit for being the first Christian priest to do a doctoral thesis on the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh,
that too in a foreign university. He is also the first clergyman to
author a book on the RSS titled RSS: Enthu? Engott? (What is RSS and
Where is it headed for).

In fact, a former clergyman, Anthony
Elenjimittam, had published a book titled RSS: Bharathiya
Samskruthiyude Kavalsena (RSS: Watchdog of Indian Culture) way back in
1951, but he had ceased to be a priest and had taken to social service
when the book was published.

motivated Fr. Kundukulam to conduct a research on the RSS was his
conviction that the Catholic church should closely study the
philosophy, organisational structure and working of all the
socio-politico- cultural movements in the society in which it operates,
imbibe the best in them, and invite a dialogue on their negative

The phenomenal growth of the RSS in post-Independent India, with its tentacles firmly rooted in all walks of life, all nooks and corners of the country, kindled his curiosity.
In Madhya Pradesh, he came across a European who had been doing a
doctoral thesis on ‘Hindu nationalism’ in the Sorbonne University.

I broached the idea of writing a book on my research findings on the
RSS, some of my co-religionists cautioned me that the RSS men would
beat me up if I wrote something a

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