M. S. Golwalkar

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M. S. Golwalkar
Born 19 February 1906
Ramtek, Maharashtra, India
Died 5 June 1973 (aged 67)
Nagpur, India
Occupation Former chief of RSS

Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar (19 February 1906 – 5 June 1973), also known as Shri Guruji,[1] was the second Sarsanghchalak (Supreme Leader) of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

Early life[edit]

Golwalkar was born on 19 February 1906 at Ramtek near Nagpur, Maharashtra. He was the only surviving son of the nine children born to his parents Sadashivrao and Lakshmibai. As a school teacher, his father was frequently transferred around the country, and Golwalkar enrolled in schools in several different locations.[2]

After graduating with a Bachelor's degree in the sciences from the Hislop College in Nagpur in 1926, he joined Benaras Hindu University (BHU) in Varanasi for his Master's degree in science. During this period, he came under the influence of Madan Mohan Malaviya, a nationalist leader and the founder of the University. After completing his degree in 1928, he went to Madras to pursue his doctorate in Marine Life but was unable to complete it for financial reasons. Later, he served at BHU as a professor for three years, teaching zoology. It was here that he earned from his students the affectionate sobriquet of 'Guruji', owing to his beard, long hair and simple robe, a practice that was continued in a reverential manner among his RSS followers in later days.[3] After his teaching tenure, Golwalkar returned to Nagpur and by 1935 had obtained an LL.B. Degree.

In Nagpur, Golwalkar came into contact with the Ramakrishna Mission. He left for the Saragachi Ashram in Murshidabad district of West Bengal, seeking to renounce the world and become a sanyasi. At the ashram, he became a disciple of Swami Akhandananda, a direct disciple of Ramakrishna and gurubandhu of Vivekananda. On 13 January 1937, he was initiated into the order and eventually, received his 'diksha' but his guru refused to permit him to become a sanyasi and directed him to continue his social service. He returned to Nagpur after his guru died in 1937.[4]

Leadership of RSS[edit]

While Golwalkar was lecturing at BHU, Bhaiyaji Dani, a student at BHU and a close associate of RSS Sarsanghachalak K. B. Hedgewar, founded an RSS shakha in Varanasi. Inspired by the ideology and methodology of the RSS, Golwalkar joined the RSS and eventually, following a meeting with Hedgewar, went to the RSS' "Officers Training Camp" in Nagpur.

Hedgewar was deeply impressed by Golwalkar and, after his return from the Ramakrishna Mission, persuaded him to take a more active role in the RSS. About his new role, Golwalkar said: "Like spirituality, organization of the Nation has also been my inclination from early days. I believe that I would be in a better position to achieve it successfully being a part of the Sangh." He rose rapidly through the ranks of the organization, and was appointed General Secretary of the RSS in 1939. Golwalkar succeeded Hedgewar as the RSS Sarsanghachalak when the latter died in 1940.

In his role as the Sarsanghachalak, Golwalkar began a series of countrywide tours for interacting with the Sangh workers and propagating the RSS ideology. Under his leadership, Sangh activities grew and shakhas were established all over the country. He was the force behind the formation of the network of numerous socio-cultural organisations in the entire country, popularly referred to as the Sangh Parivar. The Bharatiya Jana Sangh (political party), Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (trade union), Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (students union), Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram (Tribal welfare) and many other organizations were started by Swayamsevaks who forayed into various fields of public life.

RSS expanded into Kashmir and Jammu starting in 1940, when Balraj Madhok was sent as a pracharak to Jammu, with Prem Nath Dogra being the sanghchalak (Director). A shakha was started in Srinagar in 1944 and Golwalkar himself visited Srinagar in 1946. On 18 October 1947, he met the Maharaja Hari Singh upon the request of Vallabhbhai Patel, India's Home Minister, to persuade the Maharaja to accede to India. He was accompanied by Vasantrao Oak, the RSS pracharak for Delhi, and Narendrajit Singh, the RSS sanghchalak for United Provinces. It is believed that the Maharaja agreed to the proposal but the formal accession was signed only on the 26 October, after the invasion by raiders from Pakistan.[5][6][7][8][9]

Arrest and RSS ban[edit]

When Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated in January 1948 by Nathuram Godse, a former member of RSS, there was widespread apprehension that the organization was involved in the plot, despite Golwalkar condemnation of the murderers.[10] Golwalkar himself was arrested on 4 February, along with 20,000 swayamsevaks, and the RSS was banned on charges of promoting "violence" and "subversion."[11] Godse declared that he acted on his own initiative and no connection between the RSS and the Gandhi's assassination has ever been made officially. Golwalkar was released on 5 August after the expiry of the six month statutory period.[10]

The ban on the RSS however continued, and Golwalkar tried to negotiate with the then Home Minister Vallabhbhai Patel about lifting the ban. The mass arrests, violence against its members and the ban by an independent Indian government of what was understood to be a patriotic organization was a great shock[weasel words] to the RSS members.[10]

Patel asked the RSS to join the Congress, but this was not to Golwalkar's liking. Patel then demanded, as an absolute pre-condition, that the RSS adopt a written constitution. Golwalkar responded by launching a satyagraha on 9 December 1948. Golwalkar was arrested once again, along with 60,000 RSS volunteers. The RSS leaders Eknath Ranade, Bhaiyaji Dani and Balasaheb Deoras suspended the satyagraha in January 1949 and, in collaboration with Liberal leader T. R. Venkatarama Sastri,[12] wrote a constitution for the RSS that was to Patel's satisfaction. The ban was subsequently lifted on 11 July 1949.[13]

Political views and reception[edit]

Critics have accused Golwalkar of being a fascist, pointing to his extreme right-wing views expressed in the 1939 book, We, Our Nationhood Defined. In it, Golwalkar writes: "To keep up the purity of the Race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the semitic Races - the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well nigh impossible it is for Races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindusthan to learn and profit by."[14] "Ever since that evil day, when Moslems first landed in Hindustan, right up to the present moment, the Hindu Nation has been gallantly fighting on to take on these despoilers. The Race Spirit has been awakening."[15]

Despite the use of the term "race," Golwalkar's purpose was not racial homogeneity, but rather cultural unity.[16] Neither was Golwalkar an anti-semite as he admired Jews and supported the establishment of a Jewish state of Israel.[17] Christophe Jaffrelot does not see Golwalkar advocating the "purging" of Muslim or other minorities. Rather, the religious minorities were required by him to owe allegiance to the "Bharatiya nation" which, by definition, embodied Hindu symbols of identity. The minorities were meant to be "assimilated" through the removal of their signs of adherence to particular communities.[16] This is evidently an asymmetric relationship: whereas the Hindu symbols are "national," those of the religious minorities are communal or "foreign." The Indian nation of Golwalkar and other RSS leaders is a "hierarchy dominated by the Hindus."[18]

Golwalkar was vehemently opposed to the concept of a secular Indian state.[19] In We, or Our Nation defined (1938), he stated:-

William Dalrymple says Golwalkar "broke with conventional views" on numerous issues in multiple senses, including the mainstream view about Indo Aryan migration. Golwalkar believed that the Aryan ancestors of the Hindus were indigenous to India in contrast to India’s Muslims, who invaded India and still looked to Mecca as the center of their faith. [20]

Narendra Modi in his book titled Jyotipunj wrote a biography of Golwalkar, who was one of his inspirations.[21][22]



  • Andersen, Walter (25 March 1972). "The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, III: Participation in Politics". Economic and Political Weekly 7 (13): 673+675+677–682. JSTOR 4361179. 
  • Chitkara, M. G. (2004). Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh: National Upsurge. APH Publishing. ISBN 8176484652. 
  • Goyal, Des Raj (1979). Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Delhi: Radha Krishna Prakashan. ISBN 0836405668. 
  • Guha, Ramachandra (2008). India after Gandhi : the history of the world's largest democracy (1. publ. ed.). London: Pan. ISBN 9780330396110. 
  • Jaffrelot, Christophe (1996). The Hindu Nationalist Movement and Indian Politics. C. Hurst & Co. Publishers. ISBN 978-1850653011. 
  • Sharma, Mahesh (2006). Shri Guruji Golwalkar. New Delhi: Diamond Pocket Books. ISBN 8128812459. 


  1. ^ Eleanor Zelliot, Maxine Berntsen (1988), "The Experience of Hinduism: Essays on Religion in Maharashtra", SUNY, p.197: "M.S. Golwakar, who later came to be known as Guruji".
  2. ^ V. Sundaram (9 January 2006). "Salutations to Golwalkar - I". News Today. Retrieved 10 October 2014. 
  3. ^ Jaffrelot 1996, p. 40.
  4. ^ "Shri Guruji Centenary Reminiscences: The importance of not asking for anything". Organiser. 27 August 2006. Retrieved 7 October 2014. 
  5. ^ Chitkara 2004, p. 263.
  6. ^ Sharma 2006, p. 44.
  7. ^ Tapan Bose (1 September 2014). "Modi's Kashmir Policy". Kashmir Times. Retrieved 2014-10-15. 
  8. ^ R. Upadhyay (July 2002). "RSS & Kashmir: Battle for Integration". The Kashmir Telegraph. Retrieved 2014-10-15. 
  9. ^ Priti Gandhi (15 May 2014). "Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh: How the world's largest NGO has changed the face of Indian democracy". DNA India. Retrieved 2014-10-15. 
  10. ^ a b c Andersen 1972, p. 675.
  11. ^ Goyal 1979, pp. 201-202.
  12. ^ "RSS to abandon politics" (PDF). The Hindu. 24 May 1949. Retrieved 2014-10-14. 
  13. ^ Jaffrelot 1996, p. 88-89.
  14. ^ Jaffrelot 1996, p. 55.
  15. ^ Roy, Arundhati (13 December 2008). "The monster in the mirror". Guardian. Retrieved 2014-10-08. 
  16. ^ a b Jaffrelot 1996, p. 57.
  17. ^ Elst, Koenraad (2001). The saffron swastika : the notion of "Hindu fascism" ([1st reprint] ed.). New Delhi: Voice of India. ISBN 8185990697. 
  18. ^ Jaffrelot 1996, p. 83.
  19. ^ Guha 2008, p. 19
  20. ^ William Dalrymple. "India: The War Over History". New York Review of Books. April 7, 2005.
  21. ^ Śuklā, Narendra Modī ; anuvāda, Saṅgītā (2010). Jyotipuñja (Saṃskaraṇa 1. ed.). Dillī: Prabhāta Prakāśana. ISBN 9788173156953. 
  22. ^ Modi, Narendra. "Narendra Modi on MS Golwalkar, translated by Aakar Patel - Part 1". www.caravanmagazine.in. Retrieved 27 June 2014. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Raje, C.P. Bhishikar ; translated into English by Sudhakar (1999). Shri Guruji : pioneer of a new era (1st ed. ed.). Bangalore: Sahitya Sindhu Prakashana. ISBN 81-86595-16-3. 
  • Islam, Shamsul (2006). Golwalkar's We or our nationhood defined : a critique (1st ed. ed.). New Delhi: Pharos Media & Pub. ISBN 8172210302. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Keshav Baliram Hedgewar
Sarsanghchalak of the RSS
Succeeded by
Madhukar Dattatraya Deoras