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M S Golwalkar: 100 years of a controversial leader

February 19, 2007
Thousands of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh members participated in the concluding convention in New Delhi on Sunday to celebrate the birth centenary of Madhav Sadashivrao Golwalkar.

Golwalkar, revered as Guruji by RSS followers, was the second sarsanghchalak (supreme leader) of the RSS from 1940 to 1973, till his death due to cancer.

During the unfolding of tremendously important events like India's Partition, Mahatma Gandhi's assassination, Jawaharlal Nehru's regime, India’s defeat in the 1962 war with China, India's victory in the 1965 war with Pakistan and the rise of Indira Gandhi, Golwalkar lead the organisation that wants to proclaim India a Hindu nation.

Following conservative RSS tradition, Golwalkar remained unmarried, was deeply religious, knew many languages and was a voracious reader. His followers believe he was a fierce nationalist. His critics maintain he was a rabid communalist.

What is undeniable is that the man had great leadership qualities to build the RSS in the complex social structure of the Hindu community.

He was a leader who knew the secret to building a rigid, workable and hierarchal institution. Although he was RSS supremo for more than three decades, the RSS has inherited a 'doctrine of collective decision-making'.

Even now, RSS traditionalists quote his thinking to resist change. His quotes still are brahm vakya (godly wisdom) for a large section of the organisation.

Text: Sheela Bhatt | Photographs, courtsey: Shriguruji.org

Image: An archival photograph of M S Golwalkar addressing a public rally from the Red Fort. Photo courtesy: http://www.shriguruji.org/

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