Showing posts with label pracharak. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pracharak. Show all posts

Hinduism - What Is The Rashtriya Svayamsevak Sangh Or RSS?


Dr. K. B. Hedgewar formed the Rashtriya Svayamsevak Sangh  ("National Volunteer Corps," afterwards RSS) Hindu nationalist movement in 1925.

The RSS has adhered to Hindutva values from its founding, believing that Hindus are a nation despite geographical, linguistic, and cultural distinctions.

The RSS has long been known as a cultural and character-building organization that has avoided direct political action for most of its existence, yet wielding tremendous power via its numerous linked groups.

RSS training emphasizes devotion, obedience, discipline, and commitment to the Hindu nation's growth, but it discourages the formation of independent thinking.

The daily meetings of its local units, known as shakhas ("branches"), are at the center of its program.

Members, known as svayamsevaks ("volunteers"), spend part of their time at these meetings playing games, part of their time doing martial arts drills (including sparring with sticks), and part of their time debating and learning RSS beliefs.

A full-time RSS worker known as a pracharak ("director") administers the shakhas in any particular region, serving as a bridge between the local units and the RSS leadership and overseeing RSS operations in his area.

The RSS is an aristocratic group whose self-proclaimed objective is to offer leadership for a resurgent Hindu India.

The majority of its members will never get beyond the local level, but those that do are astonishingly efficient and successful leaders.

Although the RSS has avoided direct activity in order to protect its self-proclaimed cultural focus, it has had a significant impact via the development of allied organizations for which it has supplied leadership.

From labor and student unions to service groups, religious organizations like the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), and political parties like the Bharatiya Janata Party, these organizations may be found at every level of Indian society.

The RSS has produced some very successful leaders, but it has also sparked a lot of debate.

One explanation for this is that it is a very authoritarian institution modeled after the Hindu joint family.

All power is concentrated in the hands of a single supreme leader, the sarsanghchalak, and it is passed down from there.

In this regard, the RSS is very undemocratic, and many of its critics, notably in politics, have expressed concern about it being the controlling hand behind its associated groups.

Other critics have expressed concern about the organization's anti-Muslim and anti-Christian tone—non-Hindus were not permitted to join until 1979—a tone based in Hindutva ideology.

Finally, I have a social reservation regarding the RSS.

The RSS has always condemned untouchability and claimed that there are no caste disparities inside its ranks; in line with its Hindutva traditions, it declares that all of its members are Hindus and Hindus exclusively.

However, opponents have pointed out that the majority of RSS members are from the brahmin and other privileged castes, and that all of the RSS's leaders are brahmins.

These opponents argue that such apparent denial of caste distinctions is a ruse to maintain brahmin power and hide who the RSS genuinely represents.

For more information, see Walter K. Andersen and Shridhar D. Damle, The Brotherhood in Saffron (1987); K.

Jayaprasad, The RSS and Hindu Nationalism (1991); Daniel Gold, "Organized Hinduisms: From Vedic Truth to Hindu Nation," in Martin Marty and R. Scott Appleby (eds. ), Fundamentalisms Observed (1991); Tapan Basu et al.