Sangh Building’s connect

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 21 Dec 2017 12:09:38



Vijay Phanshikar,

Standing a little distance away from the Headquarters of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in Mahal in the morning of June 1, 2006 just a little while after the security forces had foiled a terror strike on the precious premises, I realised the importance of the place once again. Even though I had seen that building on countless occasions and had entered it to meet many globally important personages like many chiefs of the RSS, I could never become a victim of familiarity. Each time I entered the place or even passed by it, I realised its importance. For, it was the place where a worldwide movement of Hindu unity began 92 years ago when a certain Dr. Keshav Baliram Hedgewar and a few of his close friends gathered to launch the RSS.

Though I was born a full 25 years after the movement was launched, I was told about what the entire place meant to be for the Indian nation. Even though I was brought up in a cosmopolitan and secular atmosphere, my upbringing never missed the staunchly Indian content. It was out of that upbringing -- sanskaar -- that I realised why the terrorists had tried to strike the place. Obviously, they wanted to make a statement -- that even that place where the RSS operationalised itself could be hit.

For a journalist like me who had watched all his life the evolution of modern India and its political discourse tainted by wrong definitions and perceptions of secularism, the importance of RSS as an organisation could not be overlooked. Now, as the RSS has come to occupy centrestage of Indian theatre of modern political and cultural thought, one realises the historicity of the place all the more.

Yet, as a child who grew up in the city, I often felt rather attracted to the RSS Headquarter -- Sangh Building! I had seen hundreds of old men, youths, and children of my age lining up in neat rows every morning and evening for salutation to the saffron flag and prayers and physical exercises and Indian sports. I was fortunate to have attended quite a few sessions in other branches of the RSS activity in my locality. Though subsequently I felt that I was meant for some other activity, I strayed away from the RSS
programme. Despite that, I could not miss the importance of what was happening in that premises and countless other premises across the Indian landscape from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. Even for a person like me pursuing the heady sense of independence of thought and action as a journalist, the RSS ideals had their own charm.

That philosophical mould apart, I must say, the Sangh Building often had its attraction for me and for almost every Nagpurian, no matter which religion he belonged to. As Indian politics attained an undesirable and plebiscitary tone over time, some people were told to harbour honour for the Sangh Building and some others to harbour hate for its existence. No matter all that, the Sangh Building often held people of all faiths and fatuations in certain awe.

For years and years, anybody could enter the Sangh Building and meet anybody. Then, as the organisation grew, certain restrictions came up. And then came the terror attack, and that changed the entire scenario. Now, nobody can ever enter the place without approriate police scrutiny of which an explicit permission from somebody inside the building is an integral part. The no-nonsense police presence around the building, the continuous searching eye of the cops, the cautious solicitousness of the Sangh swayamsevaks -- all these have lent the place a different aura now.

The narrow, curving lanes through which one approaches the Sangh Building from two or three directions almost act as parts of the defence system of the nervecentre of a worldwide movement. The people who have lived in the area, too, treat themselves as its self-appointed protectors and keep feeding all sorts of mostly accurate info to the cops on the round-the-clock security duty. They may not belong to the RSS or its thought, but they do act as its well wishers beyond words.

This is how social process often evolves -- around any place and every place and anywhere in the world. In Nagpur, the Sangh Building is one good example of that social expression of familiarity breeding a contagious connect.

There is no doubt that the Sangh Building is one place that has made signal contribution to the history of the city and the nation. Many thinkers and planners havge spent hours and days and months and years giving shape to lot of dreams into actionable plans in this place. As they got engaged in that high-octane intellecftual activity, they also faced much ire from certain segments of the political class as well as successive Governments at the Centre and the State.

Throgh that hostility, despite the well-planned alienation by the rulers, the RSS kept working tirelessly to promote its belief-system. One realises the silent energy of that process as one stands before the Sangh Building or passes by it during the diuarnalliving. One who is aware of all that, despite one’s own personal ideology, realises the importance of the Sangh Building.