Keshava Baliram

Keshava Baliram Hedgewar(Apr 1, 1889 – Forever)

He was the founder of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Hedgewar founded the RSS in Nagpur, Maharashtra in 1925. Hedgewar drew upon influences from social and spiritual Hindu reformers such as Swami Vivekananda and Aurobindo to develop the core philosophy of the RSS.

His strong desire was that all the people should dedicate themselves for the service of the Motherland forgetting the differences of caste, creed, etc. He exemplified this ideal in his own life. 22 June 1897. On that day, Queen Victoria of England completed exactly 60 years of her ascent to the British Throne. Naturally, an atmosphere of pompous festivity of that Diamond Jubilee prevailed everywhere. The British Government had arranged grand functions in all villages, towns and cities in Bharat too. Among other things, they distributed sweets among the school children. The poor were served with food. The prominent in society were conferred with decorative titles. But amidst all this, one young boy was not happy. He threw away the sweets given to him, and sat alone in a corner brooding.His elder brother came and asked him, “Why are you downcast? Didn’t you get the sweets?” ‘What’s there in that sweet?” – the boy pointed to the sweets thrown away by him and added, “But why should we celebrate the jubilee of the Queen who has snatched away our Bhonsle’s kingdom?” The sweets, which were sweet to others were bitter for this boy. He had perceived nothing but bitterness in the sweets. He was barely eight at that time. Patriotism had found lodgment in his heart even at such a tender age, Such was Keshav.

During those days, reciting ‘Vande Matram’ was considered a crime. Young persons like Keshavrao, who were proud of their country, decided to defy that order. One day, when a school-inspector went to his class, some students under the leadership of Keshavrao openly defied the administrative order by shouting ‘Vande Matram’. Keshavrao was expelled from the school, but this did not allow Keshav to budge from his standpoint. Such was the childhood of the born-patriot Keshavrao.

After being sent to Kolkata to pursue a degree in medicine, 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.

A Collection By Chetan

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