4 Jul 2016

Dr. Hedgewar (founder of the R.S.S) met Sri Aurobindo in Pondicherry

In January 1920, Dr. L.V. Paranjpe started the Bharat Swayamsevak Mandal. Doctorji [Dr. Hedgewar] was his chief colleague. Efforts began in the month of July that year to organise a corps of some 1000-1500 volunteers for the Congress session. Doctorji threw himself heart and soul into that task.

While such fervent efforts were afoot, the tragic news of the passing away of Lokmanya Tilak at Bombay on the night of 31st July came like a bolt from the blue. The entire nation was plunged in indescribable grief. And more so the people of Nagpur. With a heavy heart, Doctorji attended to the work for organising hartal, mourning and condolence meetings on the tenth day, and offered his tearful homage.

Consequent on Lokmanya’s demise, the organisers were faced with the task of finding another Extremist leader for the presidentship. It was decided that a deputation should go to Pondicherry and bring Babu Aurobindo Ghose for the session. Dr. Moonje accordingly set out for Pondicherry. Doctorji also accompanied him as a representative of the youth of Nagpur.

An incident that took place during the journey is worth recalling. Dr. Hedgewar was travelling in a third class compartment, while Dr. Moonje was in the first class. Dr. Hedgewar was looking after the needs of Dr. Moonje. When the train stopped at the station preceding Madras, Doctorji came to Dr. Moonje’s compartment and began arranging his luggage. But before he could complete it the train started moving. Just at that time the inspector came in for checking. Seeing the Doctorji’s third class ticket, the inspector demanded the difference in fare along with the penalty. Dr. Moonje patiently explained the situation to him. But the inspector was adamant. Dr. Moonje lost his temper and shouted, “Get out! We shall not pay a single pie. After all you are a mere servant of the railways, while we are the masters!” At this, the inspector also became furious and retorted, “Who are you to tell me? Remember, this is not a Muslim country. It is you who should get out!” Dr. Moonje’s black round cap, beard, and closely clipped hair on the head had given the inspector the impression that he was a Muslim! The two doctors laughed heartily at this faux pas.[1]

The doctor duo stayed in Pondicherry for four or five days. They met Babu Aurobindo Ghose and explained the crucial situation in the country. They pleaded with him to accept the reins of leadership. But to their great disappointment Aurobindo refused to leave Pondicherry.[2]

http://www.rss.org/Encyc/2015/8/8/334_12_29_25_Dr.Hedgewar_The_Epoch_Maker.pdf (p 23 of pdf)

[1] The detailed narration of the incident on the train gives some historical credibility to the more important event of Dr. Hedgewar’s meeting with Sri Aurobindo in 1920.

[2] The following passage is from a letter of Sri Aurobindo to Dr. Moonje stating the main reason why he could not accept the offer of the Presidentship of the Nagpur Congress:

The central reason however is this that I am no longer first and foremost a politician, but have definitely commenced another kind of work with a spiritual basis, a work of spiritual, social, cultural and economic reconstruction of an almost revolutionary kind, and am even making or at least supervising a sort of practical or laboratory experiment in that sense which needs all the attention and energy that I can have to spare. It is impossible for me to combine political work of the current kind and this at the beginning. I should practically have to leave it aside, and this I cannot do, as I have taken it up as my mission for the rest of my life. This is the true reason of my inability to respond to your call.

August 30, 1920
(Sri Aurobindo, Autobiographical Notes, CWSA, Vol.36, p 258)

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