M. S. Golwalkar

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M. S. Golwalkar
Born 19 February 1906
Ramtek, Maharashtra, India
Died 5 June 1973 (aged 67)
Nagpur, Maharashtra, India
Ethnicity Maharashtrian
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. Golwalkar wrote Bunch of Thoughts,[2] and We, or Our Nationhood Defined. which is considered a controversial book.[3][4] Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has written a biographical profile of Golwalkar in his book "Jyotipunj"; Modi considers Golwalkar to be one of his inspirations.[5][6]

Early life[edit]

Golwalkar was born on 19 February 1906 in a Marathi family at Ramtek near Nagpur, Maharashtra. He was the only surviving son of 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.[7]

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, receiving a 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 Biology but was unable to complete it for financial reasons. Later, he taught zoology for three years at BHU. 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 years.[8] After finishing his teaching duties, 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 social service. He returned to Nagpur after his guru died in 1937.[9]

Indian Independence Movement[edit]

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) kept aloof from the anti-British Indian independence movement since its founding by K.B. Hedgewar in 1925. M.S. Golwalkar became the Sarsanghchalak (head) of the RSS in 1940, and under him, this policy was further crystallized. Golwalkar was always more vocal and forthright about the RSS' non-involvement in the anti-British Indian freedom struggle.

In a speech delivered by him at Indore in 1960, Golwalkar said:

Many people worked with the inspiration to free the country by throwing the British out. After [the] formal departure of the British this inspiration slackened. In fact there was no need to have this much inspiration. We should remember that in our pledge we have talked of the freedom of the country through defending religion and culture. There is no mention of departure of the British in that.[10][11][12]

Golwalkar lamented the anti-British nationalism of pre-independence India. In his book titled "We or our Nationhood Defined," he criticized the vigorous anti-British character of the Indian freedom movement. In Golwalkar's own words:

Anti-Britishism was equated with patriotism and nationalism. This reactionary view has had disastrous effects upon the entire course of the freedom struggle, its leaders and the common people.[13][14]

Quit India Movement[edit]

Main article: Quit India Movement

Under Golwalkar RSS abstained completely from the Quit India Movement. The British Bombay government appreciated the RSS for this, noting:

"...the Sangh has scrupulously kept itself within the law, and in particular, has refrained from taking part in the disturbances that broke out in August 1942."[15]

The government also stated that the RSS was not supporting any civil disobedience against the British; so their other political activities, even if objectionable, could be overlooked.[16] After the Quit India Movement, Golwalkar did not want to give the British an excuse to ban the RSS, and was willing to follow any British order to that end. When the British Government banned military drills and use of uniforms in non-official organisations, Golwalkar complied and terminated the RSS military department on April 29, 1943. To this effect, Golwalkar distributed a circular to senior RSS figures, the wordings of which revealed his apprehensions about a possible British ban on the RSS. The circular said:

We discontinued practices included in the Government's early orders on military drills and uniforms...to keep our work clearly within bounds of law, as every law abiding institution would...Hoping that circumstances would ease early, we had in a sense only suspended that part of our training. Now, however, we decide to stop it altogether and abolish the department without waiting for the time to change.[17]

Golwalkar later openly admitted that the RSS did not participate in the Quit India Movement. Harboring such an attitude during the Indian freedom movement caused the Sangh being viewed with distrust and anger by the general Indian public as well as by certain members of the organization itself. In Golwalkar’s own words:

In 1942 also, there was a strong sentiment in the hearts of many. At that time too, the routine work of the Sangh continued. Sangh decided not to do anything directly. But Swayamsevaks of Sangh where greatly puzzled. "Sangh is the organization of inactive people, their talks have no substance" was the opinion uttered not only by outsiders but also our own swayamsevaks.[18][19]

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.[20][21][22][23][24]

Plan of Pogrom of Muslims[edit]

In his book A Life of Our Times, Rajeshwar Dayal, who was the Chief Secretary to the United Provinces Government in 1947-1948, comments on the official discovery of Golwalkar's plan to carry out a pogrom of Muslims. According to Dayal:

I must record an episode of a very grave nature when the procrastination and indecision of the U.P. Cabinet led to dire consequences. When communal tension was still at fever-pitch, the Deputy Inspector-General of Police of the Western Range, a very seasoned and capable officer, B.B.L. Jaitley, arrived at my house in great secrecy. He was accompanied by two of his officers who brought with them two large steel trunks securely locked. When the trunks were opened, they revealed incontrovertible evidence of a dastardly conspiracy to create a communal holocaust throughout the western districts of the province. The trunks were crammed with blueprints of great accuracy and professionalism of every town and village in that vast area, prominently marking out the Muslim localities and habitations. There were also detailed instructions regarding access to the various locations, and other matters which amply revealed their sinister purport.

Greatly alarmed by these revelations, I immediately took the police party to the Premier's house. There, in a closed room, Jaitley gave a full report of his discovery, backed by all the evidence contained in the steel trunks. Timely raids conducted on the premises of the RSS (Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh) had brought the massive conspiracy to light. The whole plot had been concerted under the direction and supervision of the Supremo of the organization[Golwalkar] himself. Both Jaitley and I pressed for the immediate arrest of the prime accused, Shri Golwalkar, who was still in the area. [25][26]

Dayal goes on to state that the Chief Minister, Pant, did not agree to an immediate arrest of Golwalkar, as he and Jaitley had hoped for, but instead called for a discussion of the issue by the Cabinet. Dayal comments:

At the Cabinet meeting there was the usual procrastination and much irrelevant talk. The fact that the police had unearthed a conspiracy which would have set the whole province in flames and that the officers concerned deserved warm commendation hardly seemed to figure in the discussion.[27]

Finally, it was decided to draft a letter to Golwalkar, demanding an explanation in lieu of the evidence against him. Dayal states that he drafted this letter himself, and two police officers were sent off to deliver the letter immediately. However, the letter could not be delivered because:

Golwalkar, however, had been tipped off and he was nowhere to be found in the area. He was tracked down southwards but he managed to elude the couriers in pursuit. This infructuous chase continued from place to place and weeks passed. Came January 30, 1948, when the Mahatma, that supreme apostle of peace, fell to a bullet fired by an RSS fanatic. The whole tragic episode left me sick at the heart.[27]

RSS ban and arrest[edit]

When Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated in January 1948 by Nathuram Godse, there was widespread apprehension that the organization was involved in the plot, despite Golwalkar's condemnation of the murderers.[28] Golwalkar himself was arrested on 4 February, along with 20,000 swayamsevaks, and the RSS was banned on charges of promoting "violence" and "subversion."[29] 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. However, Nathuram Godse's brother Gopal Godse—who was also an accused in the Gandhi assassination—has asserted that Nathuram never left the RSS and his statement of having left the RSS was designed to protect the RSS and Golwalkar who were "in a lot of trouble" after the Gandhi assassination.[30] Golwalkar was released on 5 August after the expiration of the six month statutory period.[28]

T.R. Venkatrama Shastri, former Advocate General of Madras intervened. He met Sardar Patel and urged him to lift the ban. Shastri claimed RSS’ complicity in Gandhi’s assassination had no real foundation, and "charges against the RSS in some cases having been found unsustainable." Due to Venkatarama Shastri's efforts, the ban was lifted on 9 July 1949.[31]

The ban on the RSS however continued, and Golwalkar tried to negotiate with 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 to the RSS members.[28]

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,[32] wrote a constitution for the RSS that was to Patel's satisfaction. The ban was subsequently lifted on 11 July 1949.[33]

Political views and reception[edit]

  • Golwalkar lamented on the anti-British nationalism of pre-independence India. In his book titled "We or our Nationhood Defined," he criticized the vigorous anti-British character of the Indian freedom movement. In Golwalkar's own words:

    Anti-Britishism was equated with patriotism and nationalism. This reactionary view has had disastrous effects upon the entire course of the freedom struggle, its leaders and the common people.[13][14]

  • 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.[34] 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.[35]

  • According to Christopher Jaffrelot, despite the use of the term "race," Golwalkar's main purpose was not racial homogeneity, but cultural unity. However, Jaffrelot also makes reference to Golwalkar's racism. According to Jaffrelot, Golwalkar's viewed a national language—like Sanskrit—to be an expression of the race spirit; the German parallel would be volksgeist according to Jaffrelot. Jaffrelot characterizes Golwalkar's racism as a form of socio-cultural domination rather than being based on notions of racial purity.[36] According to Jaffrelot, the "racial factor" was—to Golwalkar—the most important indgredient for a nation, and in this respect Golwakar claimed inspiration from Hitler's ideology. According to Jaffrelot, Golwalkar applied this nationalist ethnic reasoning to Indian Muslims who Golwalkar felt were a "foreign body" embedded in and destabilizing Hindu society.[34] The minorities were meant to be "assimilated" through the removal of their signs of adherence to particular communities. 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." [37]

  • Golwalkar was vehemently opposed to the concept of a secular Indian state.[38] 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.[39]
  • According to Rohan Oberoi, both of Golwalkar's books "Bunch of Thoughts" and "We, or Our Nationhood Defined" are egregious for the racist views they espouse. According to Oberoi, in "Bunch of Thoughts," Golwalkar opines that Muslims and Christians in India are unpatriotic, but Golwalkar's hatred is not confined to Indian Muslims or Christians. According to Oberoi, Golwalkar describes the Chinese using the following language: "They eat rats, pigs, dogs, serpents, cockroaches, and everything. Such men cannot be expected to have human qualities." In "We", writes Oberoi, Golwalkar showers praise on the egregious Nazi campaign against Jews and Gypsies which took place in the 1930s in Germany explaining that this was "a good lesson for us in Hindusthan to learn and profit by." "There are only two courses open to these foreign elements," Golwalkar explains, according to Oberoi, "either to merge themselves in the national race and adopt its culture or to live at its mercy so long as the national race may allow them to do so and quit the country at the sweet will of the national race."[40]
  • According to Ramachandra Guha, Golwalkar had written, "In this land Hindus have been the owners, Parsis and Jews the guests, and Muslims and Christians the dacoits." Guha calls Golwalkar the "guru of Hate."[41]



  • 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. ^ "The guru of hate". 
  3. ^ Jaffrelot 1996, p. 52-58.
  4. ^ Noorani 2008, p. 18-23.
  5. ^ Śuklā, Narendra Modī ; anuvāda, Saṅgītā (2010). Jyotipuñja (Saṃskaraṇa 1. ed.). Dillī: Prabhāta Prakāśana. ISBN 9788173156953. 
  6. ^ "Narendra Modi on MS Golwalkar, translated by Aakar Patel - Part 1". Retrieved 20 June 2015. 
  7. ^ V. Sundaram (9 January 2006). "Salutations to Golwalkar - I". News Today. Retrieved 10 October 2014. 
  8. ^ Jaffrelot 1996, p. 40.
  9. ^ "Shri Guruji Centenary Reminiscences: The importance of not asking for anything". Organiser. 27 August 2006. Retrieved 7 October 2014. 
  10. ^ M.S. Golwalkar (1974). Shri Guruji Samgra Darshan, Volume 4. Bharatiya Vichar Sadhana. 
  11. ^ Shamsul Islam (2006). Religious Dimensions of Indian Nationalism: A Study of RSS. Media House. pp. 191–. ISBN 978-81-7495-236-3. 
  12. ^ Ram Puniyani (6 July 2005). Religion, Power and Violence: Expression of Politics in Contemporary Times. SAGE Publications. pp. 135–. ISBN 978-81-321-0206-9. 
  13. ^ a b Tapan Basu (1 January 1993). Khaki Shorts and Saffron Flags: A Critique of the Hindu Right. Orient Blackswan. pp. 29–. ISBN 978-0-86311-383-3. 
  14. ^ a b David Ludden (1 April 1996). Contesting the Nation: Religion, Community, and the Politics of Democracy in India. University of Pennsylvania Press. pp. 274–. ISBN 0-8122-1585-0. 
  15. ^ Śekhara Bandyopādhyāẏa (1 January 2004). From Plassey to Partition: A History of Modern India. Orient Blackswan. pp. 422–. ISBN 978-81-250-2596-2. 
  16. ^ Bipan Chandra (2008). Communalism in Modern India. Har-Anand. pp. 140–. ISBN 978-81-241-1416-2. 
  17. ^ Abdul Gafoor Abdul Majeed Noorani (2000). The RSS and the BJP: A Division of Labour. LeftWord Books. pp. 60–. ISBN 978-81-87496-13-7. 
  18. ^ Shamsul Islam (2006). Religious Dimensions of Indian Nationalism: A Study of RSS. Media House. pp. 187–. ISBN 978-81-7495-236-3. 
  19. ^ Ram Puniyani (21 July 2005). Religion, Power and Violence: Expression of Politics in Contemporary Times. SAGE Publications. pp. 134–. ISBN 978-0-7619-3338-0. 
  20. ^ Chitkara 2004, p. 263.
  21. ^ Sharma 2006, p. 44.
  22. ^ Tapan Bose (1 September 2014). "Modi's Kashmir Policy". Kashmir Times. Retrieved 2014-10-15. 
  23. ^ R. Upadhyay (July 2002). "RSS & Kashmir: Battle for Integration". The Kashmir Telegraph. Retrieved 2014-10-15. 
  24. ^ 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. 
  25. ^ Dayal 1998, p. 93.
  26. ^ "Into the sunset". Frontline. Retrieved 25 June 2015. 
  27. ^ a b Dayal 1998, p. 94.
  28. ^ a b c Andersen 1972, p. 675.
  29. ^ Goyal 1979, pp. 201-202.
  30. ^ "The BJP and Nathuram Godse". Frontline. 8 February 2013. Retrieved 25 June 2015. 
  31. ^ "Lifting of ban on RSS was unconditional". The Hindu. October 16, 2013. Retrieved 13 October 2014. 
  32. ^ "RSS to abandon politics" (PDF). The Hindu. 24 May 1949. Retrieved 2014-10-14. 
  33. ^ Jaffrelot 1996, p. 88-89.
  34. ^ a b Jaffrelot 1996, p. 55.
  35. ^ Roy, Arundhati (13 December 2008). "The monster in the mirror". Guardian. Retrieved 2014-10-08. 
  36. ^ Jaffrelot 1996, p. 57.
  37. ^ Jaffrelot 1996, p. 83.
  38. ^ Guha 2008, p. 19
  39. ^ William Dalrymple. "India: The War Over History". New York Review of Books. April 7, 2005.
  40. ^ "Welcome To The BJP (Bharatiya Janata Pustakalaya)". Retrieved 18 June 2015. 
  41. ^ "The guru of hate". Retrieved 18 June 2015. 

Further reading[edit]

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