Keshava Baliram Hedgewar

Keshava Baliram Hedgewar (Marathi: ???? ?????? ????????) (April 1, 1889 – June 21, 1940) was the founder of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Hedgewar founded the RSS in Nagpur, Maharashtra in 1925, with the intention of promoting the concept of the Hindu nation. Hedgewar drew upon influences from social and spiritual Hindu reformers such as Swami Vivekananda, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar and Aurobindo to develop the core philosophy of the RSS.

Keshava Baliram Hedgewar

Keshava Baliram Hedgewar (Marathi: ???? ?????? ????????) (April 1, 1889 – June 21, 1940) was the founder of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Hedgewar founded the RSS in Nagpur, Maharashtra in 1925, with the intention of promoting the concept of the Hindu nation. Hedgewar drew upon influences from social and spiritual Hindu reformers such as Swami Vivekananda, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar and Aurobindo to develop the core philosophy of the RSS.

After being sent to Kolkata to pursue a degree in medicine(mbbs), Hedgewar was drawn into the influence of secret revolutionary organisations like the Anushilan Samiti and Jugantar in Bengal. He was also a member of the Hindu Mahasabha till 1929. Hedgewar was imprisoned for sedition by the British government in 1921 for a year and again in 1930 for nine months. After his spell in prison he instructed the RSS to remain aloof from political activities including the Salt Satyagraha (1930) and continue mainly as a social organisation.
Born : April 1, 1889(1889-04-01)
Nagpur, India
Died :June 21, 1940 (aged 51)
Nagpur, India

Early life and career
Dr. Hedgewar was born in 1889 on the Marathi New Year. He hailed from a Deshastha Brahmin family which was originally from Kundakurti, a small village in Bodhan taluka near the border of Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh states. Near this village, the rivers Godavari, Vanjara and Haridra meet to form a Triveni sangam.

Hedgewar lost his parents in his early childhood and was educated by his elder brother. After matriculating, he decided to go to Kolkata to study medicine. He was sent to Kolkata by Dr. Moonje in 1910 to pursue his medical studies and unofficially learn the techniques of fighting from the secret revolutionary organisations like the Anushilan Samiti and Jugantar in Bengal[1]. He immediately joined Anushilan Samiti and had contacts with revolutionaries like Surya Sen[citation needed]. He came to believe that although the revolutionaries had immense determination, in a country of continental proportions it was impossible to instigate an armed insurrection. After completing his graduation, he returned to Nagpur, disillusioned with the armed movement. In his memoirs, the third chief of RSS, Balasahab Deoras narrates an incident when Hedgewar saved him and others from following the path of Bhagat Singh and his comrades.

In Nagpur Hedgewar became involved with social work and also with the Tilak faction of the Congress Party, through which he developed a close association with Dr Moonje. In the 1920 session of INC, which was held in Nagpur, he was appointed as the Deputy Chief Co-ordinator of volunteers overseeing the whole function. This volunteer organisation was named as Bharat Swayamsewak Mandal which was headed by Dr. Laxman V. Paranjape (Dr. Hedgewar as his Deputy). All volunteers were told to wear a uniform (to be made at their own expense) which was later on adopted as RSS’s official uniform from 1925 to 1940. This could be called as the real beginning of RSS because Dr L. V. Paranjpe had declared the intention of starting such an organisation in future.

Background of RSS

Dr. Hedgewar slowly came to the conclusion that all the problems he felt the Hindu community in India faced – subjugation and oppression by ‘foreigners’ in the present and past, provincialism, and untouchability – were a result of an inherent flaw in the Hindu character rather than problems themselves. He felt a remedy was a cultural organisation that would unite Hindus on a common platform and instill among them discipline and national character. In this endeavour, he was blessed by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar[citation needed], who was then under house imprisonment in Ratnagiri.

Inception of RSS

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) first met in 1925 in a small ground in Nagpur with 5-6 persons on Vijaya Dashami. The basic element of RSS was to be the Shakha (branch) in every town/village, where swayamsevaks were to perform drills, exercise and chant slogans on an open ground everyday for an hour.

His initial followers included Bhaiyyaji Dani, Bhaurao Deoras, Balasaheb Deoras, Vyankappa Patki, and Appaji Joshi.