Book review of RSS- The Icons of the Right by Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay on

The RSS: Icons of the Indian Right

“In the years immediately after Ghandhi’s return to India in 1915, Hedgewar, much like the revivalists, had found Ghandhi acceptable because of his emphasis on tapasya and satyagrah, concepts which were part of ancient Hindu precepts. But when Ghandi had insisted that every form of protest must remain non-violent, Hedgewar with others had vociferously disagreed. They felt that non-violent action were inadequate to counter the might of British empire. Moreover, the adoption of amhinsa or non-violence, they felt, would further weaken the Hindus and give Muslims an opportunity to ride roughshod over the ‘original dwellers’ of India. The denouncement of non-violence as a tool to counter the enemy became a recurring theme of  Hedgewar’s theory all through his life.”

 Why I picked this Book?

RSS- Rahstriya Swyamsevak Shangh – is an organisation which invokes a mystery, everyone has heard about it but few in the general population know much about it. Not only in terms of its organisational structure  and its leaders but also about its ideology.  I have seen and heard extreme views about the organisation  either in support or against it. And this made me read about the organisation and its leaders.

The Book

The RSS – Icons of the Rights  is a book about the RSS as an organisation, who formed it, how and why it came into being, what is the core ideology of RSS , who are considered the Icons of RSS and their roles in shaping up the RSS to its present form as we see it now.

The book starts with Keshav Baliram Hedgewar, the founder and first sarsangchalak of RSS. It presents the reader the situations, circumstances and thought process behind the formation of the organisation. The author presents in details the life of Hedgewar, quoting the instances from his early life-

“In school, besides religious and spiritual texts, stories eulogizing historical heroes inspired him to such an extent that very soon, the iconic Maratha ruler, Shivaji Bhonsle became Keshav’s ideal. At a very young age , the boy begain perceiving Shivaji as the redeemer of Hindus, who had been wronged by the Mughals,  and dreamt of securing the ‘dignity’ for Chhatrapati’s legacy. 

In Keshav’s mind , the concept of classical heroism was substituted with the idea of patriotism, and there is a telling incident of how a eight year old had once expressed by throwing away sweets that were distributed on the occasion of queen Victoria’s sixtieth anniversary in his native Nagpur.”

It then dwells on the facts how RSS came into being, who were the original founding members along with Hedgewar. Their role during the freedom struggle, how they were envisaging  the free India. 

You will get to know in details about all, who right wing considers their Icons. The author tells you about all the sarsanghchalaks since the inception of RSS an other leaders of right wing. Like Vinayak Damodar Rao Savarkar, or as he is known as ‘veer’ Savarkar among his followers. The book talks about how V D Savarkar, who was a staunch revolutionary , how his ideology changed during the time he was in Jail and after he came from jail his main focus became consolidation of Hindus. You get a glimpse of his life, the author having his own views about RSS or the right wing presents the facts about the lives of people without any bias. 

The book will give you insights about the most controversial and well known sarsanghchalak after the founder Hedegwar. Madhav Shadashiv Golwalker or ‘Guruji’ as he is known and called by his followers in RSS. There are details about the involvement of RSS, Golwalker and V.D.Savarkar’s involvement in the planning of the murder of Ghandhi . The ban on RSS by Sardar Patel,  the subsequent acquittal of them due lack of evidence and lifting of ban from RSS.

The readers will get to know in details about all the sarsanghalaks including the present one Mr. Mohan Bhagawat. The books also present a sketch of the  pracharaks who were moved to the political wing of RSS  called “Jan Shang” now BJP, formed by Shyama Prasad Mookharjee and later headed by Deen Dayal Upadhayay another pracharak from RSS. You will get to know about Advani and Atal Bihar Vajpayee who helped in making BJP a mainstream national party of India.

All in all this book gives you some great insights about RSS, its leaders, their ideology and thought process along with many unknown facts about both.

About The Author

Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay began his career in journalism in the early 1980s and is best known for his reportage on the rise of Hindu organisations and their politics. He writes columns for several newspapers and web portals, and is also a well-known face on Indian television news channels as a political commentator.

His other books include the best-selling Narendra Modi: The Man, The Times and Sikhs: The Untold Agony of 1984. An unabashed college drop-out, Nilanjan lives with his family on the edge of the Indian capital.

Our Verdict

A must read for everyone who wants to know more about the RSS and their leaders. It becomes all the more important in the present times when we have a government at the center which strongly believes in right-wing ideology.

Want to read the book? click on the below link to get your copy  now.

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