Chapter 8: ‘I am just an ordinary Swayamsevak’
A swayamsevak is one who attends shakhas of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and vows to abide by its way of life. But it takes four levels of training, in camps called Sangh Shiksha Varg, to become an RSS karyakarta or functionary.
Any person can attend Shaka and become a Swayamsevak. All Swayamsevak irrespective of his religion, caste, financial background status etc.. are treated alike. This foundation of oneness and team spirit is the biggest strenghth of RSS.
According to RSS founder KB Hedgewarji, training is essential to raise a cadre which can communicate the organisation’s vision to society at large. A Swayamsevak goes through a series of training to take up various positions at the RSS.
It all starts with Prathmik Shiksha Varg, or initial training camp, after which committed members move to the second level, called Pratham Varsha Sangh Shiksha Varg, and then to Dwitiya Varsh Sangh Shiksha Varg, and finally to the Tritiya Shiksha Varg.
Select swayamsevaks are invited to the RSS headquarters in Nagpur for a 25-day camp for physical and ideological training.
What happens in Shiksha Vargs?
The rigorous daily routine, from 4 am till 10 pm, includes physical exercises and yoga in the morning, group discussions on various current issues, lectures are carried out.
Evening drills, training in unarmed combat techniques called ‘Niyuddh’, code of conduct during disaster management, importance of prachar, service activities and rural development, and basic lessons in security management and indigenous farming are learnt and discussed.
Stress is laid on ideological and philosophical training. RSS sarsanghchalak too tour across the country and visit different shiksha vargs.
In the beginning, the camps used to have cultural programmes every Saturday and a weekly off on Sunday.
Later, the duration of camps was reduced to 30 days, and then to 25 days. Over time, the focus has switched to ideological thinking from military drills and physical exercises.
History of Shiksha Varg:
Hedgewar introduced summer training camps for swayamsevaks in 1927. The camp was originally designed for 40 days, from 5 am to 9 pm, and was known as ‘Summer Camp’, and later ‘Officers’ Training Camp’.
After 1950, the nomenclature was changed to Sangh Shiksha Varg. The orders were mostly in English to begin with, but, in 1939, changed to regional languages. Prominent people who have attended RSS training camps as guests include Mahatma Gandhi, BR Ambedkar and Zakir Hussain. Shiksha vargs have been conducted regularly over the past 85 years.
Are there different kinds of karyakartas?
About 95% of karyakartas are grahastha karyakartas, or householders, who have their livelihoods and families but devote their available time to the organisation.
The rest 5% are the pracharaks who pledge their lives to the RSS. Their expenses are borne by the Sangh and they are sent to different areas depending on their expertise.
A Swayamsevak could be planning and executing games in the Shaka while another could concentrate on learning and singing patriotic songs, reciting daily prayers and training others.
The secret of the unity in an organisation is the unity of purpose. Right from the day when a young volunteer starts attending shakha, he will experience consensus building.
In RSS meetings it is very common to see a 50 year old Swayamsevak saluting a young instructor half his age. Sometimes it could be a father saluting his son or a teacher in school saluting his student in Shakha!
Since nobody in RSS is promoted out of favour or fear, though simple this structure ensures respect for any person who has been given responsibility and holds a higher post in the organisation.
Respect for Honest work:
In RSS a person is respected for his performance, genuine work regardless of his ideological background. This is the reason RSS Swayamsevaks can co operate and work with any organisation or person if situation demands.
The open discussion that take place in the meetings also encourage Swayamsevaks to keep an open mind for a different way of thinking.
The leftists and Congress blame RSS of being fundamelist but the truth is, Swayamsevak who is the building block of the Sangh is always ready for debate and discussions and keep an open mind. Because that is what the intention behind forming a society which consolidates good in people of different ideologies and work towards uniting the Hindus(people who are born in this Holy Land).
This is the reason we see many Swayamsevaks of different religion and caste serving the society under a single identity of being a ‘RSS Swayamsevak’.
Sitaram Goel went to a great deal of persuation to bring a great leader like Jaya Prakash Narayan to meet RSS Swayamsevaks. He had a bias in hisind about RSS built over years. But after Attending one meeting his apprehension had washed away and a religious Gandhian changed his views on RSS even when he knew he would be ridiculed by his colleagues.
Sangh brings a best out of a Swayamsevak and he dedicated that in service to the society.
Sources: rss.org , RSS 3600 by Shri Ratan Sharada
Dr Sindhu Prashanth