Showing posts with label Hindu organization. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hindu organization. Show all posts

Hinduism - Who Was Dr. K. B. Hedgewar?

Dr. K. B. Hedgewar (1889–1940) was the founder and first supreme leader (sarsanghchalak) of the Rashtriya Svayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which he established in Nagpur, central India, in 1925.

The RSS is a conservative Hindu organization that was founded with the explicit objective of providing leadership for a revived Hindu India.

For the most of its existence, the RSS has described its mission as cultural rather than religious or political.

Dr. Hedgewar's persona and the RSS are closely related to the tumultuous years after World War I, and the great dislocation in Indian society that accompanied the struggle for freedom.

Hedgewar had been active in the independence struggle as a young man, and had even backed Mohandas Gandhi's Congress Party for a period.

However, by the early 1920s, he had lost faith in Gandhi's tactics.

He was also inspired by Hindu nationalist Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, whose core theory was that Hindus constituted a nation despite significant geographical, social, linguistic, and religious distinctions.

In 1925, during the Vijaya Dashami (Dussehra) holiday, Hedgewar founded the RSS to aid in the creation of the Hindu country by uniting Hindus who had previously been divided by caste and class.

This day is noteworthy because any activity launched on Vijaya Dashami, according to common Hindu belief, would definitely succeed.

Hedgewar was the RSS's leader until his death, fifteen years after it was created.

The RSS was established to preserve Hindu interests as well as to develop a leadership cadre.

On one level, it aimed to do this by cultivating more forceful, tough members and teaching them how to employ traditional weapons like the wooden staff.

On a different level, the RSS has a long history of humanitarian work with refugees and natural disaster victims, and one of its purposes is to serve the Hindu community.

In any event, the RSS has a reputation for being anti-Muslim—non-Hindus were forbidden from joining until 1977—and many of its members see Muslims as foreigners in India, if not outright enemies.

Hedgewar maintained the RSS firmly out of politics throughout his life, and his claim that it was a cultural and character-building organization enabled it avoid being outlawed by the British.

The RSS extended from Maharashtra to other regions of India under the umbrella of a cultural group, assisted in part by worsening Hindu-Muslim relations in the years leading up to India's independence in 1947.

See Walter K. Andersen and Shridhar D. Damle's The Brotherhood in Saffron (1987); Tapan Basu et alKhaki .'s Shorts and Saffron Flags (1993); and Christophe Jaffrelot's The Hindu Nationalist Movement in India (1996) for further details. 

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