With the Hinduism wave hitting the country at a speedy rate, the importance of RSS has increased too. This Indian right-wing, Hindu nationalist, paramilitary volunteer organisation, widely and openly favours as well as propagates the Hindu religion. However, do we know who started this movement and organization? It was Keshav Baliram Hedgewar, a name which most of us might not have heard of. Also called as “Doctarji” by co-members of the RSS, it was he who started the organization in 1925 in Nagpur.
What else should we know about this leader who intended to promote the idea of an Indian nation which was rooted in Hindutva ideology then? Let’s see, shall we?
Inspiration and ideation
As a youngster living in pre-independence India, Keshav Baliram Hedgewar was highly influenced by the writings of the Hindu nationalist Vinayak Damodar Savarkar. He adopted much of his idealogies in the formation and workings of RSS. The organization was formed as part of a freedom movement against the British rule and as a response to the Hindu-Muslim riots in that era. Other than Vinayak Damodar, young Keshav was also influenced by Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak and B S Moonje.
A rebel since schooling days
He was thrown out from his school, Neel City High School in Nagpur, for singing “Vande Mataram”. This was because he had violated a circular issued by the British government against singing of it. Because of this, he had to finish his high school education from the Rashtriya Vidyalaya in Yavatmal and later in Pune.
Keshav Baliram Hedgewar’s Birthday
Even though Hedgewar was born on April 1 according to the English calendar, it is said that his true followers celebrate his birth anniversary according to the Indian calendar which happens to fall on the auspicious occasion of Gudi Padwa i.e. the Hindu New Year.
A doctor by qualification
After his matriculation, Hedgewar was sent to Kolkata by Dr. B. S. Moonje, (National President of Hindu Mahasabha) in 1910 to pursue his medical studies. he passed the L.M.&S. Examination from the National Medical College and even did a one year apprenticeship. After that he returned to his hometown Nagpur in 1915 as a doctor.
Was an active part of the Indian National Congress
Once he was back to Nagpur, Hedgewar involved himself with social work as well as with the Bal Gangadhar Tilak faction of the Congress Party. At a session of Indian National Congress held in Nagpur,Dr.Hedgewar was appointed as the Deputy Chief of volunteers cadre where he was responsible for overseeing the whole function. He also actively participated in Non-cooperation movement of 1920 and wherein he undertook multiple tours of villages after villages for mass awakening of nationalism and patriotism. Due to this, he also had to face one year imprisonment. Around this time, he also became a member of the Hindustan Republican Association.
Came up with simple and inexpensive technique to awaken patriotism in youth
He would gather a group of young boys for one hour everyday. During this hour, he would engage them in various games and he would also make them sing patriotic songs in chorus and regale them with stories of patriots. His vision in doing so was that this one hour participation would eventually lead to transforming the youth to devote more time and energy in the service of the nation.
Surely, he was one of the most inspiring freedom fighters and leaders in the pre-independence era of India and his influence can be felt in the strong presence of RSS, even today.
Do you know more about such leaders or even on this leader? Let us know in the comments!