K. B. Hedgewar

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Keshav Baliram Hedgewar
`Doctorji' (केशव बलिराम हेडगेवार)
Born (1889-04-01)1 April 1889
(Pratipada,Chaitra, Shukla Paksha, Vikram Samvat 1946)
Nagpur, British India
Died Script error: No such module "age".
Nagpur, British India
Nationality Indian
Occupation Physician, Political activist
Known for Founder of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh

Keshav Baliram Hedgewar (केशव बलिराम हेडगेवार) (1 April 1889 – 21 June 1940) was the founding Sarsanghachalak of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Hedgewar founded the RSS in Nagpur in 1925, with the intention of promoting the concept of a united India rooted in indigenous ideology.[1] He drew upon influences from the Congress Party to start the RSS as a reaction to the Malabar riots.[2]

Early life[edit]

Hedgewar was born on Pratipada, Chaitra, Shukla Paksha, Vikram Samvat 1946 (1 April 1889) in a Marathi Deshastha Brahmin[3][4][5] family in Nagpur. His parents were Baliram Pant Hedgewar and Revati. His father was an orthodox priest and they were a family of modest means. When Keshav was thirteen, both his parents succumbed to the epidemic of plague.[6] His elder brothers Mahadev Pant, and Sitaram Pant ensured that he received a good education.[citation needed]

When he was studying in Neel City High School in Nagpur, he was rusticated for singing "Vande Mataram" in violation of the circular issued by the then British government.[7]:40 As a result, he had to pursue his high school studies at the Rashtriya Vidyalaya in Yavatmal and later in Pune. After matriculating, he was sent to Kolkata by B. S. Moonje (National President of the Hindu Mahasabha) in 1910 to pursue his medical studies.[8][9] After passing the L.M.S. Examination from the National Medical College in June 1914, he completed a yearlong apprenticeship and returned to Nagpur in 1915 as a doctor.[10]

Formation of RSS[edit]

Hedgewar actively participated in Indian National Congress in the 1920s. But he got disillusioned with their policies and politics. The outbreak of the Hindu-Muslim riot in 1923 made him ponder over an alternate model of nation-building in India. He was deeply influenced by the writings of Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Vinayak Damodar Savarkar. He considered that the cultural and religious heritage of Hindus should be the basis of Indian nationhood.[11]

File:RSS meeting 1939.jpg
Hedgewar and his initial followers during an RSS meeting in 1939

Hedgewar founded RSS in 1925 on the day of Vijayadashami with an aim to organise Hindu community for its cultural and spiritual regeneration and make it a tool in getting the country free from foreign domination.[1][12] Hedgewar insisted on the term 'rashtriya' (national) for his exclusively 'Hindu' organization, for he wanted to re-assert the identity of Hindu with 'rashtriya'. This can be confirmed by the 'prarthana'(prayer) sung at the end of every shakha meeting, along with the slogans of Bharat Mata Ki Jai.[13] Hedgewar created a female wing of the organization in 1936.[14][15]

His initial followers included Bhaiyaji Dani, Babasaheb Apte, Balasaheb Deoras, and Madhukar Rao Bhagwat, among others. The Sangh was growing in Nagpur and the surrounding districts. And it soon began to spread to other provinces too. Hedgewar went to a number of places and inspired the youths for taking up the Sangh work. Gradually all his associates had begun to endearingly call him as 'Doctorji.'[16] Upon his urging, Swayamsevaks went to far-off cities like Kashi, Lucknow etc., for their further education and started 'Shakhas' there.[citation needed]

Political activities post formation of RSS[edit]

After founding the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in 1925, Hedgewar started the tradition of keeping the RSS away from the anti-British Indian Independence movement.The RSS carefully avoided any political activity that could be construed as being anti-British. The RSS biographer C. P. Bhishikar states,

After establishing Sangh, Doctor Saheb in his speeches used to talk only of Hindu organization. Direct comment on Government used to be almost nil.[17][page needed][18]

When the Congress passed the Purna Swaraj resolution in its Lahore session in December 1929, and called upon all Indians to celebrate 26 January 1930 as Independence Day, Hedgewar issued a circular asking all the RSS shakhas(branches) to observe the occasion through hoisting and worship of its own Bhagwa Jhanda(saffron flag), rather than the Tricolor (which was, by consensus, considered the flag of the Indian national movement at that time).[19][20][21][22] 1930 was the only year when the RSS celebrated 26 January and it stopped the practice from the next year onwards.[20] However, such celebration became a standard feature of the freedom movement and often came to mean violent confrontation with the official police.[20] Dr.Hedgewar's biographer C.P. Bhishikar states,

[In April 1930], Mahatma Gandhi gave a call for 'Satyagraha' against the British Government. Gandhi himself launched the Salt Satyagraha undertaking his Dandi Yatra. Dr. Hedgewar decided to participate only individually and not let the RSS join the freedom movement officially. He sent information everywhere that the Sangh will not participate in the Satyagraha. However those wishing to participate individually in it were not prohibited. This meant that any responsible worker of the Sangh could not participate in the Satyagraha.[23][24]

Hedgewar emphasized that he participated in the Civil Disobedience movement of 1930 in individual capacity, and not as a RSS member. His concern was to keep the RSS out of the political arena of the Indian independence movement.[25]

Hedgewar had endorsed the idea of militarizing society in accordance with fascist organizational arrangement. In January 1934, Hedgewar chaired a conference on fascism and Mussolini. In March, 1934 Hedgewar held a conference with Moonje and Gokhale in which the subject of discussion was how to organize Hindus militarily in accordance with the contemporary fascist states of Germany and Italy.[26] A 1933 secret report of British Intelligence titled ‘Note on the Rashtriya Swayam Sewak Sangh’ states that:

It is perhaps no exaggeration to assert that the Sangh hopes to be in future India what the ‘Fascisti’ are to Italy and the ‘Nazis’ to Germany.[26][27]

Death and legacy[edit]

His health deteriorated in later years of his life. Often he suffered from chronic back pain. He started delegating his responsibilities to M.S.Golwalkar, who later succeeded him as Sarsanghachalak of RSS.[7]:50 In January 1940, he was taken to Rajgir in Bihar for the hot-spring treatment.[18]:189

He attended the annual Sangh Shiksha Varg in 1940, where he gave his last message to Swayamsevaks, saying: 'I see before my eyes today a miniature Hindu Rashtra."[7][20]:25 He died on the morning of 21 June 1940 in Nagpur. His last rites were performed in the locality of Resham Bagh in Nagpur.[7]

Institutes named after him[edit]

  • Dr.Hedgewar Institute Of Medical Sciences & Research (Dhimsr) Amravati[28]
  • Dr.Hedgewar Shikshan Pratishthan Ahmednagar[29]
  • Dr. K.B. Hedgewar High School Goa[30]
  • Dr.Hedgewar Aarogya Sansthan, Karkardooma, New Delhi, Delhi 110032[31]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Taneja, S. P. (2009). Society and politics in India. Delhi, India: Swastik Publishers & Distributors. p. 332. ISBN 978-81-89981-29-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. N.V.Subramanian (29 August 2012). "All in the Family". News Insight. Retrieved 31 August 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Remembering RSS Founder Dr KB Hedgewar on his 123th Birthday on Yugadi".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Smyth, Douglas C. (1972). "The Social Basis of Militant Hindu Nationalism". The Journal of Developing Areas. 6 (3): 327. JSTOR 4189906.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Goodrick-Clarke,, N. (2000). Hitler's Priestess: Savitri Devi, the Hindu-Aryan Myth, and Neo-Nazism. New York, NY: NYU Press. p. 58. ISBN 0-8147-3110-4. Retrieved 5 October 2015.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. John Zavos (2000). The Emergence of Hindu Nationalism in India. Oxford University Press. p. 184. ISBN 978-0-19-565140-9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Pralay Kanungo (1 January 2002). RSS's tryst with politics: from Hedgewar to Sudarshan. Manohar. ISBN 978-81-7304-398-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Koenraad Elst (2001). Decolonizing the Hindu mind: ideological development of Hindu revivalism. Rupa & Co. p. 144. ISBN 978-81-7167-519-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Christophe Jaffrelot (1999). The Hindu Nationalist Movement and Indian Politics: 1925 to the 1990s : Strategies of Identity-building, Implantation and Mobilisation (with Special Reference to Central India). Penguin Books India. p. 33. ISBN 978-0-14-024602-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Kelkar, D. V. (4 February 1950). "The R.S.S.". Economic Weekly.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Malik, Yogendra (1994). Hindu nationalists in India : the rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party. Boulder: Westview Press. p. 158. ISBN 0-8133-8810-4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Moyser, George (1991). Politics and religion in the modern world. London New York: Routledge. p. 158. ISBN 978-0-415-02328-3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Basu, Datta (1993). Khaki Shorts and Saffron Flags: A Critique of the Hindu Right. New Delhi: Orient Longman Limited. p. 18. ISBN 9780863113833.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Jayawardena, Kumari (1996). Embodied violence : communalising women's sexuality in South Asia. London New Jersey: Zed Books. pp. 126–167. ISBN 978-1-85649-448-9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Hindutva's Other Half". Hindustan Times. 27 April 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. Partha Banerjee (1998). In the Belly of the Beast: The Hindu Supremacist RSS and BJP of India : an Insider's Story. Ajanta Books International. p. 42.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Bhishikar, C.P (1994). Sangh Vriksh ke Beej: Dr. Keshav Rao Hedgewar. New Delhi: Suruchi Prakashan.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. 18.0 18.1 Shamsul Islam (2006). Religious Dimensions of Indian Nationalism: A Study of RSS. Media House. pp. 188–. ISBN 978-81-7495-236-3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. Chitkara 2004, pp. 251-254.
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 Tapan Basu (1 January 1993). Khaki Shorts and Saffron Flags: A Critique of the Hindu Right. Orient Blackswan. pp. 21–. ISBN 978-0-86311-383-3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. Vedi R. Hadiz (27 September 2006). Empire and Neoliberalism in Asia. Routledge. pp. 252–. ISBN 978-1-134-16727-2.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. Ram Puniyani (21 July 2005). Religion, Power and Violence: Expression of Politics in Contemporary Times. SAGE Publications. pp. 141–. ISBN 978-0-7619-3338-0.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. Bhishikar, C.P (1994). Sangh Vriksh ke Beej: Dr. KeshavRao Hedgewar. Suruchi Prakashan. p. 20.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. Ram Puniyani (6 July 2005). Religion, Power and Violence: Expression of Politics in Contemporary Times. SAGE Publications. pp. 129–. ISBN 978-81-321-0206-9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. Christopher Jaffrelot (1996). The Hindu Nationalist Movement and Indian Politics. Penguin India. p. 74. ISBN 0140246029.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. 26.0 26.1 Hindutva's Foreign Tie-up in the 1930s, Casolari, Marzia, Economic and Political Weekly, Volume XXXV, No. 04, 22 January 2000, Pages 220-221.
  27. "Soldiers of the Swastika". Retrieved 30 June 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28. "Dr.Hedgewar Institute Of Medical Sciences & Research, Amravati".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  29. "Dr.Hedgewar Shikshan Pratishthan, Ahmednagar".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  30. "Dr. K.B. Hedgewar High School, Goa".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  31. "Dr.Hedgewar Aarogya Sansthan, Karkardooma, New Delhi, Delhi 110032".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading[edit]

  • Sinha, Rakesh (2003). Dr. Keshav Baliram Hedgewar (in Hindi). New Delhi: Publication Division, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India. ASIN B00H1YYO3M.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Rakesh Sinha's Dr.Keshav Baliram Hedgewar(in Telugu) by Vaddi Vijayasaradhi. ISBN 8123011865.
  • Bapu, Prabhu (2013). Hindu Mahasabha in Colonial North India, 1915-1930: Construction Nation and History. Routledge. ISBN 0415671655.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Basu, Tapan; Sarkar, Tanika (1993). Khaki Shorts and Saffron Flags: A Critique of the Hindu Right. Orient Longman. ISBN 0863113834.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Bhishikar, C. P. (2014) [First published in 1979]. Keshav: Sangh Nirmata (in Hindi). New Delhi: Suruchi Sahitya Prakashan. ISBN 9381500185.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Chitkara, M. G. (2004). Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh: National Upsurge. APH Publishing. ISBN 8176484652.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Curran, Jean Alonzo (1951). Militant Hinduism in Indian Politics: A Study of the R.S.S. International Secretariat, Institute of Pacific Relations. Retrieved 27 October 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Frykenberg, Robert Eric (1996). "Hindu fundamentalism and the structural stability of India". In Martin E. Marty; R. Scott Appleby (eds.). Fundamentalisms and the State: Remaking Polities, Economies and Militance. University of Chicago Press. pp. 233–235. ISBN 0226508846.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Jaffrelot, Christophe (1996). The Hindu Nationalist Movement and Indian Politics. C. Hurst & Co. Publishers. ISBN 978-1850653011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links[edit]

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