RSS & Tricolour

Dr. Keshav Baliram Hedgewar, who was part of Indian National Congress (INC) till 1923, started Rastriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in 1925 with the initial impetus to provide character training through Hindu discipline and to unite the Hindu community to form a Hindu Rashtra (Hindu Nation). He was deeply influenced by the writings of Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Vinayak Damodar Savarkar. From the time of its inception, RSS positioned itself as a cultural organisation and carefully avoided any political activity that could be construed as being anti-British.

Dr. Hedgewar, the first Sarsanchalak, instructed all RSS members to participate in political activities [independence movement] only in an “individual capacity”. The formation of the RSS, further increased the Hindu-Muslim divide, as the RSS rejected Mahatma Gandhi’s willingness to cooperate with the Muslims. M S Golwalkar, who became the Sarsanchalak of the RSS in 1940, continued and further strengthened the isolation from the independence movement. In his view, the RSS had pledged to achieve freedom through “defending religion and culture” and not by fighting the British. Thus the nationalistic political base behind Gandhiji during the Non-Cooperation Movement was broken into factions.

The RSS leaders through their shakhas (branches) convinced Hindus that Muslims were despots and religious invaders. This narative worked perfectly for the British, who wanted to be seen as a rectifier of the historical harm inflicted by the Muslims, the invaders. The British had already completed the deeply resented partition of Bengal, in 1905, along religious lines – a Muslim majority state of East Bengal and a Hindu majority state of West Bengal. This Hindu-Muslim divide kind of strengthened the British hands to do the same with British India.

When INC called upon all Indians to celebrate January 26, 1930 as Independence Day, the RSS and its Sarsanchalak Dr. Hedgewar issued a circular asking all the RSS shakhas to observe the occasion through hoisting and worship of its own Bhagva Janda (Saffron Flag), rather than the Tricolour. The RSS continued the practice till 2002 except for a once in 1950 when the RSS hoisted the Tricolour in their HQ at Reshambaugh, Nagpur.

The second RSS Sarsanchalak and the most reviered till date, Golwalkar, wrote in Organiser in July 1947 issue ”Indian Tricolour will never be respected and owned by the Hindus. The word three is in itself an evil, and a flag having three coulours will certainly produce a very bad psychological effect and is injurious to a country.” In another book published by Golwalker popularly called Guruji by RSS ”We Or Our Nationhood Defined” (first edition in 1939) has been orally disowned by some in the RSS-BJP, even if copies are freely available on the internet.

In 1960 RSS published another book ”Bunch of Thoughts”. The official website of the RSS ( has a version of the e-book, Bunch of Thoughts. In this book he lamented that “our leaders (freedom fighters) have set up a new flag for the country. Why did they do so? It is just a case of drifting and imitating… Ours is an ancient and great nation with a glorious past… Then, had we no flag of our own? Had we no national emblem at all these thousands of years? Undoubtedly we had. Then why this utter void, this utter vacuum in our minds?”

On January 26, 2001, three Rashtrapremi Yuwa Dal activists Baba Mendhe, Ramesh Kalambe and Dilip Chatwani, entered the RSS premises in Reshimbagh and hoisted the national tricolour amid patriotic slogans. The RSS filed a case (FIR No. 176 at Kotwali Police Station, Nagpur) against them. The case file reads that Sunil Kathle the incharge of the premises first tried to stop intruders from entering the premises and later tried to prevent them from hoisting the tricolour. The 3 activists were later were acquitted and were released.

The last time RSS Sarsanchalak Golwalkar had hoisted the Tricolur in RSS HQ was on January 26, 1950. In the wake of Gandhi’s assassination on January 30, 1948, the new Government banned the RSS and the then Deputy Prime Minister, Sardar Patel, wrote to Nehru on February 27, 1948 ”It was a fanatical wing of the Hindu Mahasabha directly under Savarkar that [hatched] the conspiracy and saw it through”. However personal conviction would not compromise Patel’s commitment to due legal process. After investigations were completed, Patel declared quite unequivocally that though “the RSS was not involved… his assassination was welcomed by those of the RSS and the [Hindu] Mahasabha who were strongly opposed to his way of thinking and to his policy”.

Golwalkar repeatedly pleaded with Patel, but he remained firm. Sardar Patel finally lifted the ban on July 11, 1949, only after the RSS pledged to “stay away from politics, not be secretive and abjure violence”. More important, it had to profess “loyalty to the Constitution of India and the National Flag”. But post the death of Patel on December 15, 1950, the RSS went back to their old ways till the 2001 Rashtrapremi Yuwa Dal shocker.

    • Vasudevan
    • November 19th, 2019

    I wish for an India without RSS and religious crooks.


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