The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Payback time for Sangh sevaks
- PM attends annual gurudakshina ritual

New Delhi, Aug. 6: Sayyam se kaam lena chahiye, dhan ka laalach nahin karna chahiye, praja ke liye tyaag ki bhavna rakhni chaahiye (Everything should be accomplished with restraint, nobody should hanker after wealth and a ruler should be prepared to sacrifice anything for his subjects).”

Every BJP member — from the Prime Minister and his deputy to first-time MPs — today retreated into the anonymity of a swayamsevak at 5 Ashoka Road as they gathered for the annual gurudakshina ritual.

The simple ceremony — which entails making a cash offering in a sealed envelope to the RSS’ bhagwa dhwaj (saffron flag) — is performed in August every year after Guru Purnima. By making an offer from his earnings, the swayamsevak affirms his pledge to the RSS’ central concept that the organisation, not the individual, is supreme. Hence, the offer to the flag and not the portrait of founder member K.B. Hedgewar.

To underline that the RSS is a leveller, the gurudakshina is held anywhere — from a small shakha to a functionary’s office. But since the coming to power of the NDA, the function has been held in a minister’s office/residence for security reasons. Last year, the venue was the residence of human resources development minister M.M. Joshi. Today, it was junior rail minister Bandaru Dattatreya’s turn.

In keeping with tradition, a senior RSS official delivers a boudhik (intellectual enlightenment) which the swayamsevaks are expected to abide by. Today, joint general secretary Mohanrao Bhagwat delivered homilies on patience and sacrifice, which were reportedly heard in “pin drop” silence.

Bhagwat reinforced his central theme — the insignificance of materialism — by turning to Hindu mythology and recounting a story dating to the pre-Ramayana era. A boy was sent to a gurukul after he barely learnt to recognise his parents. When it was time for him to leave, he was supposed to make the mandated gurudakshina.

But the boy, who had lost touch with his family, had nothing to offer. To save the boy from embarrassment, the guru gave the boy a year to organise a dakshina of 1,000 cows.

The boy went to the king who was known for his generosity. But the king couldn’t help him as he had distributed a large part of his wealth among his subjects the day before. However, sensing the boy’s dilemma, the king turned to Kuber, the celestial treasurer. Kuber showered lakhs and lakhs of gold coins in the palace backyard.

The king told the boy he could take everything. But he showed the sayyam (restraint) Bhagwat was talking about and took just enough to buy the 1,000 cows his guru wanted.

Asked what the fable’s moral was, members said it was that despite holding public office, all the RSS wanted was a “symbolic dakshina”, not lakhs or even thousands.

Women were kept out of today’s ceremony. The RSS’ unwillingness to have women members is well known and it was only after the reforms movement in Maharashtra — its “karma bhoomi” — that the Sangh started a women’s wing.

This wing also holds a gurudakshina, and in the truest Hindu tradition, BJP women ministers and MPs do their bit for the Sangh a couple of days after the men. Last year, the function was held in the home of Delhi MP Anita Arya. The “enlightenment” was delivered by a local functionary. The RSS brass apparently thinks women are not worthy of their boudhik.

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