Before we start reviewing the book RSS 360 by Ratan Sharda, a quick question to readers – Do you know who built the Vivekananda Rock Memorial at Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu?
Ratan Sharda, a well-known face on TV channels as a panelist, is also a known face on the social media, especially on Twitter. He writes extensively on national issues, defends the Hindu cause and also offers constructive criticism to the Government, when required. His experiences in the RSS have made him the best person to write about the internal working of the RSS and give readers an all-round view about the much misunderstood organization, which actually is one of the most disciplined bodies anywhere in the world.
On the face of it, it is a book which talks, in simple language, about the functioning of the RSS, the way its members learn to lead their lives through social service for the benefit of mankind and the way RSS moulds its members to become a good human first and a good administrator next. But a deeper understanding of the book reveals how to stay true to principles even in the face of jealousy, petty politics and vendetta. Ratan Sharda does this through his repeated portrayal of the two initial Chiefs of RSS – Dr. Hedgewar and Guruji – and their thought process and actions in the face of all struggles. There is no doubt that Ratan Sharda was deeply inspired by Guruji (Shri M S Golwalkar) and his unbending, principled stand during the ban on the RSS by Nehru and Sardar Patel. To my mind, the highlight of the book, are the chapters on the ban on RSS in 1948 (Annexure III, IV, V). These chapters show clearly why RSS has stoutly refused to become a political party, how Congress and its leaders tried their best to malign RSS and how RSS chiefs set the benchmark on principles and discipline, in the face of treachery.
Ratan Sharda sets the tone for the book by exposing the falsehoods that the Congress along with the media have spread about the RSS not being a part of the freedom struggle (he writes about how the conspiracy of the Muslim League to assassinate all members of the government and hoist the Pakistani flag on the Red fort was exposed because of young RSS volunteers). He has exposed the treacherous nature of the Communists in India, during the freedom struggle and the Emergency. He has also referred to the causes of the split in the Janata Party in a straightforward manner. The book takes us through the travel of the Constitution and our country from being a ‘all religion respecting’ entity to one based on Secularism, Casteism and Socialism. The struggles of the RSS and its members during the Emergency can be clearly understood when we read that out of the 1,30,000 people arrested during Emergency, nearly 1,00,000 were from the RSS; out of 30,000 people arrested under the dreaded MISA, approximately 25,000 were from the RSS. Definitely this was not for the thirst of power, but for the love of the country.
One of the best features of this book is also the exposure of how one-sided the media, the historians and the Leftists are when it comes to Hindus. The ‘Unity in Diversity’ phrase has ‘Oneness in Multiplicity’ on its other side. Shri H V Sheshadri has been quoted to explain this – “Diversity is like leaves, flowers and fruits that grow out of a tree. But, the sap that nurtures all these diverse elements of the tree comes from the root of the tree. The diverse tree is Bharat, this sap is the Hindu way of life. If sap dries up, the tree dies.” Unapologetically Ratan Sharda writes with pride about how Hinduism is what makes our country truly great and respectful of all religions. He writes boldly how when Hinduism declines in any region, that region becomes less tolerant of other religions. The section on “What Defines India” and “Need to Organise Hindus” should be read by every Indian, more so by youngsters. It would serve two purposes – increase pride in all Bharatiyas about their heritage and understand the agenda to break India (by the biased Media & other ‘intellectuals’). He has quoted Koenraad Elst, Osho and noted Gandhian, Shri Dharampal. The reasons that led to the Ram Janmabhoomi movement have also been dealt with gracefully.
The book is of course, mainly about RSS, its functioning and the hierarchy that exists in the organization. Ratan Sharda has given us a full insight to all this with personal experiences of the RSS cadres. He also mentions cheekily how the secrecy about the organisation is not because RSS wanted to hide anything, but because the Media did not want to highlight any work done by the RSS because they feared a selfless organization like the RSS. It is a fact that the RSS does not publicise any work done by them and it also does not believe in publicizing any particular individual. The motive of every RSS volunteer is to put ‘Nation before Self’. A heartwarming feature of RSS shakhas is that they have kept our native games alive and such games are used for team-building. The misconception of RSS being a Brahmanical body has been dealt with sternly in this book. Mentoring and imbibing of values sub-consciously through prayers, songs and lectures are some of the most endearing features of the Sangh. The Sangh values capability over position in society. Political parties give more importance to leaders than cadres, but in the Sangh, cadres are its soul.
More than 1,70,000 social work projects are attached to the Sangh – RSS. The most important feature here is that they are working silently and with devotion to the Motherland. It is well-known that RSS handles disaster and rescue missions better than any other non-military organization in the country. Coming to the question asked at the beginning, it was Eknath Ranade, a senior prachaarak of the RSS who was responsible for the building of the Vivekananda Rock Memorial (Vivekananda Kendra). Bet you did not know about this!
Note: I would have loved it if Ratan Sharda had tackled the brutal slaying of their cadres in States where BJP does not rule and how RSS hopes to fight back.
Rating: **** A must-read book