Those were days of utter innocence, days of indecisiveness where i followed everything blindly like a sheep in the herd. Perhaps the age did not permit to have the luxury to have that kind of judiciousness. Just flew with the flow then. I was in one of the leading convent school then, and was nearly going to be a convert, had i not happened to enrolled in RSS (Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh) by accident.
We used to stay in a Naval Colony at Bhandup then, and in our nearby playground in the evening a Shakha (assembly) used to take place of RSS Swayamsevaks. They used to do many exercises, play games and some brainstorming sessions followed. I was too young to fathom all those things then. Then on one day the coordinator of that Shakha told that someone from the top hierarchy from their organisation was visiting and he required to show his shakha in full strengths. He then enrolled all the kids, i was in fifth then, in the shakha, quickly taught some basics and asked us to recite the prayer “namaste sada vatsale matrubhumi..”, i did not really understand what it all meant, but since most of my friends went, i too went, and then some Bharatiya games were played. I started liking these games and casual attendance in this shakas became regular feature in the evening. But still i never came to understand what this organisation meant.
Then after my dad’s retirement, we shifted to Dombivli, a predominantly Marathi city. Fortunately, there was a shakha near our house here too. I and my friends were member here too. I was grown up now, was in eight standard and I understood what this organisation was, and i started liking it, RSS is nothing but an aggressive nationalistic organisation with no political aspiration of its own. It dreamt of a Hindu Nation, but did never bemoan minorities, as was painted by the political opponents of this grouping. Love for country was imbibed from my father who was a navy man and i started liking this organisation. I even had a dress, that khaki half pant, a white shirt and a black cap stitched for me.
Unlike what is being said about this organisation, I witnessed the actual side, the real work this organisation did in tribal area. I was in tenth then and we were asked to visit an Adivasi Pada for shramdan for two days at an Adivasi Pada at Karjat. The village was at the remotest stretch in Karjat inaccessible by road, bereft of all basic amenities like clean drinking water, sanitation, let aside school, electricity. In such a far flung place this organisation had started residential Ashram Shala (School) where the tribals would send their children for study. The organisation would take care of the needs of these students, their food, their clothes, their education everything. The kids grow up as educated men and women and get an opportunity to mix with the mainstreams. We did our bit there, helped in construction of road there.
I worked as an ordinary member of that organisation for many years till i got government job, since joining RSS was not permitted, i had to leave the organisation, but sadly by then the organisation had become very weak in urban areas atleast. The shakha that we used to attend, once used to have an assembly of more than 125 swayamsevaks, now struggle even to conduct a daily shakha of ten swayamsevaks. Only old blood, retired people attend the shakhas dutifully.
It pains sometimes when i read news, and bad press about such a fantastic nationalistic organisation, it was this organisation, whose help even Pandit Nehru took during time of national crisis, it was this organisation whom Nehruji invited for 26th Jan Parade. During my pursuit in this organisation as a grassroot level ordinary worker, i remember that the organisation only dreamt of Akhand Bharat, a nation that was before the advent of British. The Bharatmata Devi which is reverred in the organisation had a map which showed Akhand Bharat inclusive of Pakistan and Bangladesh. RSS never bored minority bashing attitude, it only taught us to love our country perhaps a bit more aggressively. Ya it did never preached the Secularism, it promoted Hinduism, but didnt even our Supreme Court, said that Hinduism is not a religion, it is a way of Life. Had I not been in this organisation, i might have, under the confluence of Convent education converted to christianity some day.
Our politicians in their pursuit to show how secular they are always try to suppress the majority. Perhaps ours is the only country where the minority enjoys so much of freedom, them enjoying freedom is a welcome step but it happens at most of the times at the cost of silent majority.