KS Sudarshan, the fifth Sarsanghchalak of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, could foresee future challenges and signal them well in advance
Kuppalli Sitaramayya Sudarshan, the fifth Sarsanghchalak of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), was way ahead of his time. He was a visionary who could foresee future challenges and signal them well in advance. He helped revive the concept of “Swadeshi” in the 1990s long before the globalization bubble burst. He was also instrumental in raising the issue of illegal migration of Bangladeshi Muslims and how it would alter the demographic profile and destabilize the socio-political structure in several states of India, especially in the northeastern part.
He was known as a “perfectionist” among his colleagues. A few hours before his death, he had the pronunciation of “Ekatmata Mantra” corrected by a swayamsevak (volunteer) at the RSS office in Raipur. The swayamsevaks had gathered at the Raipur headquarters of the RSS for the daily shakha and Sudarshan participated in it as a swayamsevak. One of the swayamsevaks was reciting “Mantra Ekatmata(which praises the unity and integrity of the motherland) and did not utter a particular word appropriately. Sudarshan noticed this, but he did not intervene then and let the swayamsevak finish the story of this mantra. And then he pointed out to everyone present that a particular word was not pronounced correctly. While pointing it out, he also explained in detail the importance of this word and the reason for insisting on the correct pronunciation. Then he had everyone present say the word five times correctly. There are several other examples of his penchant for doing things “perfectly” and in the best way possible.
Tracking illegal immigration in the 1970s
During his tenure in the Northeast as RSS Pracharak, which began in 1977, he played an important role in identifying several key issues, such as illegal migration from Bangladesh. In fact, he had studied and put together a detailed and authentic prognosis of the Assam problem long before the youth of Assam started an agitation over this issue. Murli Manohar Joshi, former National Chairman of the Bharatiya Janata Party and former Union Minister, aptly puts it: “I was in charge of the northeast when Sudarshanji worked there. I was deeply impressed by his in-depth study and thought process. We used to discuss not only issues related to the Northeast, but a wide variety of other issues as well. Swadeshi (self-reliance) and ancient science were two of the important areas that often featured in our talks. At that time, we prepared several programs that were to be executed in the future. The agitation over illegal migrants was one such issue. Sudarshanji had prepared the intellectual and emotional ground for this commotion long before it was launched. (Hamare Sudarshan ji, Prabhat Prakachan)
It is a well-known fact within the RSS that Sudarshan was one of the first to point out the problem of illegal migration of Bangladeshi Muslims to northeast India, particularly Assam. He saw illegal migration as an “attack” across the border of a new weapon called “population”. He has traveled extensively to states like Tripura, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh among others to study the issue of illegal immigration and its impact. He prepared a detailed plan to counter this influx and solve the problem.
Later, in the 1980s, we all witnessed a historic agitation across the state of Assam to push illegal migrants back across the border. In fact, ignoring Sudarshan’s advice has cost the state of Assam dearly, as it has seen a dramatic change in its demographics, with the Muslim population increasing dramatically in several districts, mainly due to the settlement of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. Successive state governments had failed to address this issue. The Congress, in fact, has been rightly accused by its critics of protecting the interests of Bangladeshi Muslims at the expense of the interests of the legal residents of the state, the reason being the expectation of electoral gains.
Ashok Singhal, who died in 2015, was a leading figure in the movement to build a Ram temple at Lord Ram’s birthplace in Ayodhya in the state of Uttar Pradesh. He had also worked and interacted closely with Sudarshan. He fondly remembered Sudarshan in one of his articles (Hamare Sudarshan ji; Prabhat Prakachan). “As a (full-time) Pracharak in the northeast, he first learned Bengali and Assamese. He could lecture fluently in both languages. He thoroughly studied the activities of the Church and exposed them… Later, he sent a number of ‘Pracharaks’ from all over the country to work there considering the seriousness of the problem.
Singhal added, “He studied the tribes of the northeast in detail…He suggested ways and means to protect the tribes from the influence of Christian missionaries. Several schools and student hostels have been established. Bangladeshi Muslims migrated illegally to Assam, West Bengal and Bihar on a planned basis; simultaneously, Hindus in Bangladesh, unable to protect themselves, were also migrating. At that time, it was Sudarshanji who told the compatriots and especially the Assamese people that if the Muslims coming from Bangladesh were illegal immigrants, the Hindus coming from there were refugees. Thus, the latter should be sheltered by the Hindus in the rest of India. Meanwhile, illegal Muslim immigrants who settled in West Bengal, Bihar and Assam are expected to be deported to Bangladesh. The northeastern states have gradually understood his argument.
History and Swadeshi
Sudarshan, who was the fifth Sarsanghchalak, was also at the forefront of starting a movement to write the correct history of India. According to Joshi, “He started discussing it with five to six people which apart from me included P Parameswaran, KI Vasu, Dr. Sujit Dhar, Malkaniji (KR Malkani), Devendra Swaroopji, etc. Later he (Sudarshan ) got more people on board like Dr Bajrang Lal Gupt. Discussions continued and the end result was a thought process. It was called ‘Prajnya Pravah‘. Some programs were held under his banner and gradually regular seminars began to take place. Similar activities have taken place on the issues of Swadeshi and under the banner of Vigyan Bharati. The eminent scientists of the country have been approached and they have joined in these activities. Thus, Sudarshanji had a multidimensional thought and approach.
Vision for agriculture
Sudarshan has always been concerned about Indian agriculture. He has always pointed out that the seeds provided by the multinational corporations are genetically modified and that the use of these seeds for a long time will have adverse effects on the Indian agricultural sector. This is precisely what we are witnessing today as farmers grapple with challenges such as poor soil quality and low yield with rising input costs making farming unsustainable for many. small marginal farmers. Sudarshan had stressed decades ago that India should embrace organic farming. The economic model proposed by Sudarshan had organic farming as a central element.
Outreach to Muslims and Christians
Sudarshan has always considered Muslims and Christians as part of Hindu Rashtra. He was in close contact with many Muslim and Christian religious leaders.
Very few people know that Sudarshan was a very good singer. The RSS trains its swayamsevaks in mixed martial arts known as ‘Niyudh‘. Few know that it was none other than Sudarshan who developed it. He also developed a manual for using ‘Yogchap’ (Lezium – a wooden idiophone to which thin metal discs are attached which produce a tinkling sound and dancers use it while dancing) as an instrument for rigorous exercises.
It may be recalled here that Sudarshan headed the “Sharirik vibhag” (department of physical exercises). It also introduced some changes in the ‘Bharat Bhakti Strota‘replacing some old ones’shlokas‘ with some newer ones. Bharat Bhakti Stotra is recited every morning and every evening by the swayamsevaks during the daily Shakha. In this recital, the swayamsevaks revere their homeland, ie ‘Bharat’. It is an integral part of the daily routine of swayamsevak and aims to instill the feeling of patriotism.
In 1990, when Sudarshan took over as ‘Sahsarkaryawah’ (Joint Secretary General) of the RSS, the Khalistan movement was at its height in Punjab, he was instrumental in the ‘Sadbhavna Yatra’ (Goodwill March) by 400 Saints.
Singhal mentioned a very interesting fact in his article on the life and works of Sudarshan: “He (Sudarshan) used to mention in his speeches that a new era will begin for India from the year 2011 We are all witnessing a change that he predicted long before it began to happen.
Sudarshan was born on June 18, 1931 and died on September 15, 2012. His daily routine was fixed. He would get up at five in the morning, freshen up and then walk around for about an hour. After his return, he did ‘Pranayama’ (yoga breathing exercises). He continued his schedule until the last day. His soul left his body during ‘Pranayama’. According to Hindu tradition, this only happens to highly emancipated individuals.
M. G. Vaidya, former RSS Pracharak and former editor of the Nagpur-based newspaper Tarun Bharat, is known to have worked closely with several Sarsanghchalaks. “Sudarshan did his bachelor’s degree in telecommunications engineering in the 1950s. He could have opted for a well-paid job. But he decided to choose another path and became RSS Pracharak. But he had already decided that he would devote his whole life to the Sangh.
Sudarshan held responsibilities as a Pracharak in Chhattisgarh, then in central India and after that in the Assam-Bengal region. In 1990, he was given responsibility for “Sahsarkaryawah” and in 2000, he assumed the mantle of RSS leader as Sarsanghchalak. In the RSS, the new Sarsanghchalak is appointed by the outgoing head of the RSS. Sudarshan was nominated by the outgoing fourth Sarsanghchalak, Prof. Rajendra Singh, also known as ‘Rajju Bhayya’. Sudarshan himself passed the torch to the current RSS Sarsanghchalak, Mohan Bhagwat, nine years later.
The writer, author, and columnist has authored several books, including “The Saffron Surge: Untold Story of RSS Leadership” and “Know About RSS.” The opinions expressed are personal.