Smriti-Mandir: The Multifaceted Genius of Shri Guruji
The last rites of the founder of the Sangh, Dr. Hedgewar were performed in the grounds of Reshambag in Nagpur in 1940. A simple Samadhi of Doctorji had been put up there. It was natural for everyone to wish that a temple-like structure be built there so that it may become a source of inspiration for the Swayamsevaks and others. Accordingly, a committee was formed with Shri Guruji as its Chairman. An altogether new aspect of Shri Guruji’s multifaceted intellectual insight came to light as the construction began. Everybody appreciated his in-depth knowledge of Bharatiya architecture, his aesthetic sense, artistic thought-process and his approach towards the concept of that Smriti-Mandir.
The Smriti-Mandir was inaugurated on 5th of April 1962 on the auspicious day of Varsha Pratipada (birthday of Doctorji). Shri Guruji addressed the Swayamsevaks and workers who had come for the occasion from all over the Bharat thus: “The making of Smriti-Mandir does not mean that we are a personality cult. We have never hailed him with victory shouts and showered flowers on him. Whenever we think about his life, we are reminded of the ideal of internal and external life pattern inspired by his ideal of patriotism. This Smriti-Mandir will not be a place of worship but a constant reminder of this inspiration.”
The Condolence of Shankaracharya to Bereaved Shri Guruji
Shri Guruji’s mother was extremely affectionate towards him. And it was but natural for Shri Guruji to be very much disturbed by her sad demise in 1962 (his father had expired earlier). In this state of mind, he received a condolence message from the Shankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetha Paramacharya, which comforted him a lot. The message read, “Your mother of flesh and bone is no more. But since time immemorial, you and good sons like you have been blessed by the holy Motherland, the Bharatmata. You are already serving the Motherland selflessly. Hence, it is impossible that you experience the pains of bereavement.”
The Chinese Invasion: A Far-Seeing Shri Guruji
Right from 1950 China had started making inroads into the north eastern frontiers of Bharat by secret construction of roads and encroachments. In 1951, Shri Guruji expressed his views in newspapers thus, “China is expansionist by nature and is very likely to attack Bharat soon.” The point of reference was that of the military activities of China in Tibet. Those days Shri Guruji many a times warned, “It has been a terribly blunderous act to gift away Tibet to China. This is one governmental blunder which even the British did not commit.”
Those very days, Pt. Nehru was busy visiting the country with Chau-en-lai and harping hand-in-hand the slogans of Hindi-Chini Bhai-Bhai and the doctrine of Panchsheel. It was quite natural for the common man to be carried away by these slogans. But in those days, Shri Guruji was the only leader who sounded the alarm about an impending attack. Later in November 1962, China openly attacked Bharat along the borders in Arunachal Pradesh and occupied 64,000 sq. km of our land along the borders. Then, Pt. Nehru confessed: “We were in a dream state.” But Shri Guruji did not sit quiet even at such a time. He constantly appealed for keeping the spirits high and extending every possible help to the government. Then Shri Guruji gave yet another vital call regarding the security of the nation. He appealed publicly that it was most necessary for Bharat to make a nuclear bomb immediately. Unfortunately, the appeal fell on deaf ears. Otherwise, we would have been free from the Chinese terror by now.
The guidance at this crucial time, also led the Swayamsevaks to be engaged in boosting the public morale and support to the government. Pt. Nehru had to acknowledge their timely contribution and he invited the Swayamsevaks of the Sangh to participate in the Republic Day parade of 1963, in spite of opposition from within the Congress. Needless to say, the march of a 3000-strong contingent of uniformed Swayamsevaks, in tandem with the band, was a major attraction of that parade.
That Ever-Inspiring Memorial
At about the same time, on the Makar Sankranti of January 1963, came the auspicious occasion of the birth centenary of Swami Vivekananda. Swami Vivekananda was a heroic Sanyasi who trumpeted the message of Bharat’s true spiritually-rooted cultural nationalism not merely in Bharat but on the world stage as well, loud and clear. The Sangh decided to spread his immortal message throughout the length and breadth of the country under the guidance of Shri. Guruji.
Besides, it was also decided to erect a grand memorial as an eternal symbol and source of inspiration for the people of Bharat at the very rocky spot off Kanyakumari, in the sea, where Swami Vivekananda sat meditating about the future of Bharat. Shri Guruji deputed the then Baudhika Pramukh Eknathji Ranade exclusively to look after this project. The Swayamsevaks collected donations throughout the country and got the support of all the parties, organizations and the government.
This memorial stands today as an epicenter of inspiration and a symbol of our national unity and identity. This step of Shri Guruji also helped remove the sense of shame and humiliation which arose from the defeat by the Chinese and once again rejuvenated national pride and self-confidence in the people’s mind.
Emotional Ties with Nepal
On the occasion of Shivaratri in 1963, Shri Guruji visited the famous Pashupatinath temple in Nepal. After this, an extremely cordial welcome was extended to him by the King of Nepal, Maharaja Mahendra. Prime Minister of Nepal Shri Tulasi Giri was also present there. The decisive defeat of Bharat in the 1962 war had made Nepal incline towards China. The King of Nepal also had some grudges against the Bharat government. Shri Guruji assured the King that he would inform all the points to the government in Delhi.
On his return from Kathmandu, Shri Guruji wrote letters to Sri Lal Bahadur Shastri and Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru. He gave a detailed account of his meeting with the King of Nepal to them and suggested that it was necessary for Bharat to have cordial and respectable ties with Nepal. He also emphasized that there was a strong need for taking Nepal into confidence regarding the aims and objectives of Bharat’s policies towards it.
As the danger of the expansionist intentions of China was looming large, Pt. Nehru immediately responded to Shri Guruji and in his letter of 1st March, consenting to most of his suggestions. Later, in 1965, when Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee met Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri, the latter said, “Shri Guruji had already accomplished three-fourth of my job of improving Bharat-Nepal relations, during his visit to Nepal, having made the atmosphere congenial for me.”
Fearless and Clear Analysis
In 1965, Pakistan again attacked Kashmir, The war, this time spread up to the entire north-western boundaries and Gujarat. The then Prime Minister, Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri invited Shri Guruji along with other eminent political leaders for deliberations. A special plane was sent to fetch him to Delhi from Maharashtra where he was touring. The meeting was arranged to discuss the main strategy to be adopted against Pakistan. Shri Guruji very forcibly opined that the security of Bharat can be guaranteed only by erasing the very existence of Pakistan and not by the elimination of the materials for war. He also suggested that Kashmir and all other regions, duly liberated from Pakistan’s occupation should be retained with India.
1971: World-Record of Indian Army
But the government failed to implement this suggestion. Consequently, in 1971, the atrocious army of West Pakistan again attacked East Pakistan and pushed one crore Hindus there into Bharat. The then Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi took a firm decision and the Indian army entered East Pakistan. Within no time, they humbled the Pakistani army and made it surrender. This was a rare feat in the war history of the world by the Indian army that they made 92,000 Pakistani soldiers to meekly surrender and re-settled the one crore Hindus back in Bangladesh. A non-extremist pro-Bharat government was constituted there and a new, independent state Bangladesh came into being. Shri Guruji wrote to Jagjivan Ram, the then defense minister, “The remarkable and total victory and of our army, achieved under your leadership, deserves to be recorded in golden letters.” In the Akhil Bhartiya Pratinidhi Sabha (All Bharat meeting) of the Sangh in March, a vote of applause about the victory was also passed.
The people of Bharat were happy that the leaders of the Pakistan had divided Bharat and now, Bharat had paid back in the same coin by dismembering Pakistan and an ally of Bharat is now present there. Later on, Shri Guruji would sometimes predict to his friends “If the present friendly Bangladesh turns to and extremist Islamic regime, we would have two independent enemies in the east and north-west. It would be dangerous from the point of view of national security to be trapped in such a position, where you have two independent enemies on two sides.” Now, as Bangladesh has become hostile towards Bharat, Shri Guruji’s point has been proved.