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Who is KB Hedgewar, the Man Pranab Called ‘Great Son of India’?

Keshav Baliram Hedgewar was named the founding Sarsanghchalak of the RSS.

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India
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Former President and the Congress veteran Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday, 7 June, visited the birth place of the RSS founding Sarsanghachalak Keshav Baliram Hedgewar ahead of his much-anticipated speech at the Sangh headquarters in Nagpur.

At the founder's birthplace, Mukherjee signed the visitor's book saying, "Today I came here to pay my respect and homage to a great son of Mother India”.

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Quoting sources, PTI reported that the visit was not part of Mukherjee's scheduled itinerary and an impromptu decision was taken by the former president to do so.

Following this visit, Mukherjee attended the annual traning camp at the RSS headquarters, where he witnessed the RSS cadre take part in a parade.

At the headquarters, he also garlanded the statue of the sangh founder, reported PTI.

Who is Hedgewar?

Born on 1 April 1889, Keshav Baliram Hedgewar was named the founding Sarsanghchalak of the RSS. He was born into a Brahmin family in Nagpur – the city’s Brahmins were known to have prospered under the rule of the Bhosle kings who opposed Mughal rule. He earned his medical degree from Calcutta's National Medical College in 1914, also earning the nickname 'Doctorji'.

Hedgewar was inducted into the Anushilan Samiti in Calcutta, which ran on the ideals of Bankim Chandra Chatterjee and was a staunch Hindu outfit. Thereafter, while he was an active part of the Congress, he vehemently opposed Gandhi’s idea of bringing together the Muslims to launch the Khilafat movement against the British. Hedgewar questioned the Muslim community’s intentions in honouring the nation, calling them “yavana snakes” according to The Caravan.

After a brief tryst with the Hindu Sabha engaging in “anti-Muslim triumphalism”, Hedgewar reportedly established the RSS in 1925, with the idea to promote a 'united India', while ascribing to the ideals that stemmed from his hometown Nagpur, The Caravan report adds.

He passed away on 21 June 1940, and his last rites were performed in his Nagpur's Reshim Bagh, which later came to be known as Hedgewar Mandir in his honour.

(With inputs from The Caravan)

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