Guruji— A drishta not a Prophet—II
The second quotes are from the judgement of the Supreme Court (in RY Prabhoo Vs PK Kunte AIR 1996 Sc 1113 is now popularly known as the Hindutva case). In that case, Supreme Court was called upon to consider whether ideology of Hindutva was communal. Guruji had always referred to Hinduism as an “all embracing” “way of life” of the people of this country and “not (a) narrow religion” (p72/137); he also used to refer to it as Hindu culture (p51/p78). The Supreme Court, decades later, came to acquire the same view that Hinduism “may broadly be described as a way of life and nothing more” and “in fact it does not satisfy the narrow traditional features of any religion or creed.” (Hindutva case p.1127). The Court also said the terms ‘Hindutva’ or ‘Hinduism’ may be to promote secularism or to emphasise the way of life of the Indian people and the Indian culture or ethos” (Hindutva case p.1132). So, word for word what Guruji had been saying for decades earlier the Supreme Court agreed with the views of Guruji.
Now look at the chronology. The first Volume of the Fundamentalism Project came out in 1991; and the last and the fifth Volume, in 1995; the fourth Volume, which is cited here, came out in 1994. The Supreme Court judgement on Hindutva came out in 1995. Guruji who became the Sarsanghachalak of the RSS in the year 1940 passed away in the year 1973. It means that Guruji, who was articulating the RSS ideology since 1940 for 33 years till the end of his life in 1973, more than two decades before the Fundamentalism Project volumes and the Supreme Court judgment were out. And yet the thoughts and expressions of Guruji which were mindlessly, and at times maliciously, criticised were endorsed by the Fundamentalism Project and by the Supreme Court. So what Guruji spoke decades earlier was not only in tune with the intellectual, cultural and religious analysis of Hinduism contained in the Fundamentalism Project of 1990s but also consistent with the secular constitutional perspective of the Supreme Court regarding Hindutva. When Guruji spoke that what he did, his views were criticised as anti-secular and communal. But the very views of Guruji were later accepted and endorsed by intellectual appraisal by the Fundamentalism Project and legal scrutiny by the Supreme Court. It only means that what Guruji spoke was ahead of his time.
These are just illustrations to show how Guruji’s thoughts unacceptable then became acceptable later. The later parts of this series will more exhaustively deal with how Guruji’s views on various subjects have been vindicated by time. But before that serious exercise begins, here is a background of Guruji to those uninitiated about him.
Guruji – a spiritualist who subsumed himself and his self for the nation
Guruji became the second Sarsanghachalak of the RSS an original, but less understood and mostly unfairly judged, man-making and nation-building movement founded by Dr Keshav Baliram Hedgewar, who chose Golwalkar as his successor. Guruji, a spiritualist by nature, training and temper, was a disciple of Swami Akhandananda, a direct initiate of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. Guruji, an intelligent young man, matured into a towering intellectual who subsumed, like all saints in the Indian tradition, his total self in building the RSS. The spiritual dimension of Guruji that lay hidden deep in him perhaps subtly influenced his thought and action.
This spiritual element in him seems to have enabled Guruji to defy and overcome the arresting and compelling influence of the contemporary times, vault over the current issues, look at the future transcending and overcoming the excruciating pain of ignoring, context from that vantage point and appeal to the conscience of the people and the nation. That is why many who knew him regard him as Drishta – a Seer.
As the second Sarsanghachalak of RSS from 1940 till 1973 when he breathed his last, Guruji led the RSS for 33 years. He relentlessly expounded the ancient Hindu philosophy and way of life, not merely in the context of his times, but with a vision of the future. He ceaselessly toured different parts of the country year after year, met people, shared his thoughts with them and built arguably the strongest grass-root organisation in the world. The intellectual and moral courage implicit in his articulation and the clarity with which he expounded his ideas, are legendary. Even those, who questioned Guruji’s thoughts in his lifetime and later, could not deny the courage of his conviction and sincerity of his purpose. Guruji assumed the leadership of the RSS in 1940 when the movement for Partition of India, that eventually succeeded, was assuming dangerous proportions. So some of his thoughts ought to be read in the context of the extreme heat that the movement for Partition had aroused.
From those turbulent times, for over a quarter century after the country attained political freedom, Guruji had expressed his views with unwavering consistency on issues concerning the future of India though he spoke in contemporary conditions. A recall of what Guruji spoke in his lifetime in the light of later history brings out the fact that much of what Guruji spoke had had greater relevance to the future, though he spoke in the given context. While articulating his views, Guruji tended to defy the compulsions of the context and contemporary attractions of his times and placed before the people the eternal agenda of Hindu India.
Guruji had shared his thoughts with the people of India for over three decades as the head of the RSS and it is almost four decades since he passed away. But his work did not end with him; it continues through the RSS, which he had shaped into a mighty influence over the society. He has left behind a vast and trained human asset of high quality, which renews itself through the very work of the RSS. This quality human resource carries on his work.
Guruji – not a Prophet but a drishta (seer)
But Guruji was not a Prophet. He did not prophesy. In fact, the Hindu tradition does not recognise or believe in any Prophet or prophesy. Hinduism does not postulate prophesies. Prophets in other traditions discover the what they regard as the only true religion and God and prescribe them to their followers and equally mandate that all other religions and Gods are false. The truth propounded by a Prophet becomes the final and the only truth. This applies to all monotheistic faiths which are explained in detail in the parts that follow. But Hinduism is founded on the basis that the ultimate truth is one but sages view and describe it differently. Therefore there is nothing like one way of worship being true and others false or some God being true and other Gods false. Hindus therefore believe that great seers come and guide the people from time to time and the tradition of seers continue as an unending stream. So, no one’s thought is the final prophesy or valid for all times as in the case of faiths propounded by prophets. Hinduism is not propounded by any person. Sages and seers expound the principles of Hinduism. Hinduism believes that if people persist with following the thoughts of the past beyond their period of validity, they will be frozen in the past and rejected by the course of history; else, they will cause immense violence and harm to the society and to the world at large as different dogmatic faiths and prophesies have done. So before accepting what a seer had said in the past for guidance in future, Hindus understand that the seer’s role is a chapter in the continuing tradition of great men born from time to time to guide the people. So Hinduism rejects the very notion of prophesy and prophets, understands only Drishta.
The first test to know whether one is a Drishta – seer – is to know whether one’s thoughts are just contextual, namely to satisfy the contextual needs and demands or to win the approbation of the people in his times or for power or whether he spoke detached from the contemporary situation with the future in vision. The crucial test is whether one has defied the compulsions of the present and willingly courted unpopularity to stand by and tell the truth. And the ultimate test is whether the future has validated those thoughts. The heart of the analysis here is whether Guruji’s thoughts spoken over half a century ago were expressed with the future in mind or the context as the compulsion and whether they have been validated or rejected by history after him. The parts that follow this part probe into the thoughts and sayings of Guruji. The probe ultimately establishes that Guruji was a Drishta who transcended the context and its compulsions and limitations and rose to a vantage point from which he could see into the future. In the process what he spoke then was unacceptable and unpopular then but became later as the time for his thoughts expressed ahead of time arrived.
(To be continued)