I had not imagined that I shall ever like to share my experiences, excitements and joy of my association with the Shakha of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. R.S.S. in short. I was in my early teens at that time and a student in a secondary school. The time period was 1945-46. I do not recollect as to how I was initiated in the Shakha. In the early images the shakhas provided us space and opportunity for playing in an organised manner; a Shakha was held for just an hour in the afternoon. Punctuality was very strictly observed and there was a strict emphasis on discipline. There was no written membership or register to the best of our knowledge. No membership fees were levied.
Our Shakha was a BAALA SHAAKHAA, because it was meant for adolescents only. The members were called Swayamsevaks. I became a very active swayamsevak and was promoted to the rank of Mukhya Gattanayak and eventually Mukhya Shikshak of our Shakha within a span of eight months. I was required to keep a close watch on the attendance of the members. Whenever someone was found to be defaulting, we used to make it a point to meet him at his home to persuade him to be regular at the Shakha. This used to be very effective and seldom would any one decline. In many cases the guardians would join us in our efforts. The Shakhas were platforms for boys and men to perform physical exercise, games and inculcate active and disciplined habits. Indigenous games such as Kabbadi, Kho Kho and a few others were played. In addition to that training and stunts with lathis were also performed. Our Shakha was not as yet considered qualified for being elevated to train swayamsevaks for sword fights.
Besides these academic sessions called ‘Bouddhik’ were included intermittently . During these sessions we learnt that the Shakhas were offshoots of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh(R.S.S.) with headquarters at Nagpur. Dr Keshav Baliram Hedgewar (1 April 1889 – 21 June 1940) was the founding Sarsanghachalak and Shree Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar was the then sarsanghchalak. The aim of the Sangh was to organize the Hindus. The purpose of organizing the Hindus was also declared just organizing. On being pressed to solve the riddle of organizing for the sake of organizing, we were told that it would be decided once we get organised. We were told that Hindus have a unique identity. Hindu is a community which identifies India as its motherland, fatherland as well as spiritual land. Hindus are descendents of the Aryas. Through these sessions we were told that the Aryas did not come from Asia Minor, they were inhabitants of North Pole according to the findings of Bal Gangadhar Tilak. We were told that the Aryas did not migrate to India from North Pole, but the North Pole has moved to its present position from its original location in the Himalayas region. We were also enlightened with the wisdom that these conclusions have been arrived at from academic studies. So the forefathers of the Hindus are the native inhabitants. Direct reference to non-Hindus was rarely made.
There used to be no discussion on the national movement , quit India call or the national leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi Nehru, Subhash, Patel, Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan or Pakistan movement. though Savarkar used to be eulogised. We were told that before participating in any such struggle we must organise ourselves well. A struggle without acquiring proper srtrength and getting well organised is destined to fail. There used to be quizzes,
such as, Q. Who are the inhabitants of Britain? Ans- British.
Q. Who are the inhabitants of Germany? Ans- German.
Q. Who are the inhabitants of Japan? Ans Japanese.
Final Q. Who are the inhabitants of Hindustan? Ans. Hindus.
Ultimate respect was reserved for the DHWAJ or the saffrn flag. Which was revered as the Guru. We were told that a human individual cannot be a guru, because he may not be spotless. Though the session of the Shakha ended with Dhwaj Pranam and a salutation song to motherland in Sanskrit; a Shakha was entitled to have a real dhwaj only after being worthy of it. Till then the salutation was offered to a lathi, which was presumed to represent the dhwaj. Our shakha had not yet qualified for this honour.
A swaykamsevak Was addressed by suffixing ‘jee’ after his name. Greeting each other with a ‘Namaste’ was mandatory. Bishwanathjee was the pracharak of the sangh. He was a very amiable and popular young man; He was an inhabitant of north Bihar and had been deputed to Deoghar by the state office. He had taken admission in the local High school as a student and had established good rapport with the teachers and students of the school. He lived in a rented house along with some fellow students who were sayamsevaks too. That house served as the office of the sangh and was named 'Niwas' It was the effect of the amiable, humble and persuasive personality of Bishwanathjee that guardians besides young boys were favourably disposed towards involvement in the activities of the Shakha. Adults too began to participate in the shakhas. Several shakhas were established for adults.
My association lasted just for roughly a year. It is now a distant memory. I cannot recollect as to how I was disenchanted from sangh; though my elder brother continues to be closely associated with sister organizations of the sangh till this day.