1. “July 10, 2005. New Delhi, July 10 (PTI) Believe it or not! Activists of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), an organisation known for its strong views on majority rights in India recently rescued 80 Christian priests trapped in an accident in the dense forests of Sambalpur district in East India’s Orissa state and even donated blood to save their lives.
A marriage party comprising 90 Christian priests was on its way in a truck from Jamankeri village to Goudpil in the state when it met with an accident in which 10 of them died on the spot and 80 others were seriously injured, said a report in the latest issue of RSS mouthpiece ‘Organiser’.
As the Priests looked for help in the dense forests, an RSS activist heard their shouts and managed to mobilise 50 Sangh volunteers to help them.
“The Pastors were rescued and admitted to a nearby hospital, 45 kms from the site, in that dark night,” the report said disclosing that the Swayamsewaks not only provided the injured medicines and food but “donated their own blood”to the pastors.
The weekly quoted Bishop Samal as saying, “these boys of RSS have given us a new life. We are grateful to them. May God bless them”.
“We have not done anything much. What we have done has been done from the humanitarian point of view. All of us are human beings. All are children of God,” it quoted B B Nanda, RSS state Secretary as saying.
The RSS has often been criticised by Christian organisations for targeting Christian missionaries in the tribal areas, who the RSS says are bringing about religious conversions among the tribals. “ [RSS to rescue of Christian priests. PTI - The Press Trust of India Ltd. (July 10, 2005)]
From my blog post, here.
Gowalkar, a key RSS leader for a very long time, started off on a wrong foot on virtually everything. His Hitler fascination is legendary. His Muslim hatred is widely known. His fascination for eugenics was great, although not as well known ("the belief that only the Brahmins of the North, specifically Namboodri Brahmanas, belonged to a superior race – the first off-spring of a married woman of any class must be fathered by a Namboodri Brahmin and then she could beget children by her husband."). A racist (Brahmins were the superior "race" in his model). And his strong belief in Manusmriti and caste.
But it seems Golwalkar's legacy has been almost entirely rejected by RSS
Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar, the then Supremo (Sarsanghchalak) of RSS, to a Marathi daily Navakal Golwalkar in this interview had extolled the virtues of Chaturvarnya (the division of the Hindus in four Varnas) and had also glorified Manusmriti, the ancient edicts of the Hindus. [Source]
In 1969, Shri Guruji Golwalkar, second Sarsanghchalak (Chief of RSS) gave an interview to a Marathi daily, “Nawakal” on the subject of “Chaturvarnya” (a system of 4 main castes by birth described Manusmriti, a code of conduct Hindus laid down in ancient times). This interview provoked quite a storm in Maharashtra and gave a handy weapon to leftists and socialists to beat the Sangh with. Meet were held to launch protests against Shri Guruji’s view and abuses were hurled on the Sangh. [Source]
Confirmation – 2
It was in the late sixties when Maharashtra witnessed a massive mobilisation of people, cutting across party lines, which was precipitated by a controversial interview given by Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar, the then supremo (sarsanghchalak) of RSS, to a Marathi daily Navakal. Golwalkar in this interview had extolled the virtues of Chaturvarnya (the division of the Hindus in four Varnas) and had also glorified Manusmriti, the ancient edicts of the Hindus.
Of course, it was not for the first time that the supremo’s love and admiration for Manusmriti, which sanctifies and legitimises the structured hierarchy based on caste and gender, had become public. In fact, at the time of framing the Constitution also, he did not forget to show his disapproval towards the gigantic effort, claiming that the said ancient edict could serve the purpose. Organiser (November 30, 1949, p. 3), the organ of the RSS, gave vent to his ideas:
But in our Constitution there is no mention of the unique constitutional developments in ancient Bharat. Manu’s laws were written long before Lycurgus of Sparta or Solon of Persia. To this day laws as enunciated in the Manusmriti excite the admiration of the world and elicit spontaneous obedience and conformity. But to our constitutional pundits that means nothing.
It was the same period when attempts were made to give limited rights to Hindu women in property and inheritance through the passage of the Hindu Code Bill, which were opposed by Golwalkar and his followers, with the contention that this step was inimical to Hindu traditions and culture. [Source]
Gandhi on RSS's lack of caste consciousness
Gandhi (who was a major racist and casteist – see details in my SH book2): “When Mahatma Gandhi visited the RSS shakha (meeting) at Wardha he was surprised to see people of different castes sitting together and having a meal,” he said. [Source]
This is, of course, contrary to the statements of Gowalkar. It is possible that the Wardha branch had some specific non-casteist person in charge.
Madhukar Dattatraya Deoras (Balasaheb Deoras)
Looks like with Deoras, RSS started changing, till now it is 100 per cent opposite toGowalkar in a number of things (including Hitler, etc. – having rejected Golwalkar's book 'We')
"if untouchability is not wrong, nothing in the world is wrong" [Source]
Deoras, according to Kelkar, tried to change the conservative dispensation of RSS by calling for Hindu unity to include the Dalits. The RSS had come a long way, says Kelkar, who admits to being uncomfortable about the ‘covert Chaturvarnya system” that continued to exist in the RSS.[Source]
K S Sudarshan
Sudarshan seems to have defended caste, however.
RSS chief K S Sudarshan today said the caste system earlier was "non-discriminatory" and every caste was given "job reservation" under it.
"Caste system used to be like a fence around the farm. Those who violated its rules were ostracised. It was not discriminatory. Rather, it provided for job reservation. Every caste was given reservation in a particular job. A mason cannot do the carpenter's job and a carpenter could not do a sweeper's job," he said.
Sudarshan said though discrepancies and shortcomings crept into the system over a period of time, the village continued to be a single unit and everyone used to be treated on par. [Sanjeev: this is very questionable - there is NO evidence to substantiate this]
"A Brahmin father would scold his son, if he called an elderly person from the Balmiki community (sweepers) by name. He would ask the child despite being a Brahmin to call the elderly person his uncle," the RSS chief said, adding "the mutual respect and culture in the villages was such that nobody used to feel the untouchability". [Sanjeev: here, of course, Sudarshan is entering the area of delusion]
"Every caste had a Panchayat and if anybody was dishonest to his profession, he used to be penalised," Sudarshan said. [Source]
Namdeo Dhasal (Dalit Panther)
By 2006, RSS had made friendship with RADICAL Dalit leaders. In August 2006, Dhasi released a book by RSS on oppression of Dalits.
The internationally renowned poet and Dalit leader is the founder president of Maharashtra's Dalit Panther that has traditionally been at odds with the RSS. The Dalit Panther has for long looked upon the RSS as representing the Brahmanical order. Ironically, Dhasal released a RSS book on Dalit pain at the function. [Source]
Advani (the man with whose Ram temple crusade I totally disagree):
Now, finally, this man Advani – whose actions cost India innumerable innocent lives – believes (FALSELY) that RSS "NEVER" accepted caste. That is a total falsehood, but I'm happy to accept this position, for it is in the right direction. '
“RSS never accepted caste and believed that all sections of society are equal" [Source]
'Manusmriti has become outdated and today it has no relevance to the Hindu Society" [Source] (Ramesh Patange is a Dalit who confirms that RSS does not discriminate on the basis of caste)
All's well that ends well. If RSS has slowly changed for the better, who am I to hold it to the statements of Golwalkar? RSS has rejected Golwalkar almost entirely. That's clearly something in the right direction.