Speaking at the inauguration of a book on Mahatma Gandhi titled Gandhi ko Samajhne ka Yahi Samay (This is the time to understand Gandhi), RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat spoke about how Gandhi contributed to the idea of India and how he was never ashamed of being Hindu.
The inauguration happened before an audience of 500 people at Delhi’s Gandhi Smriti on 17 February. The author of the book, Jaganmohan Singh Rajput, is former director of NCERT. Other than Bhagwat, former MP Subhash Kashyap was also invited to speak at the inauguration. Kashyap is former secretary general of the Lok Sabha and a noted constitutional expert.
Speaking about how Gandhi was never ashamed of being Hindu, Bhagwat said, “Gandhiji traveled by train and foot, he understood the needs, aspirations, pain and hope of the common man of India. The soul of that vision for India was purely India. That’s why he was never ashamed of being a Hindu. He said several times that he was a Kattar Sanatani Hindu. Believe in your faith, respect other faiths and live harmoniously.”
He also asked if anyone in the present time would atone like Gandhi if their agitation went wrong and created a law and order problem.
"If his ways of agitation digressed from their path and created issues, he always atoned for them. But (in current times) when something does go wrong during an agitation which then ends up creating a law and order problem, do the people responsible atone for it," Bhagwat said, adding that those who are play the frontrunner in protests usually pay the price as they are killed or jailed.
He then went on to say that while Gandhi's methods cannot be replicated, and added that Gandhi himself would not want his methods to be copied, they can and should be learnt from. "When Gandhi did something that did not bring desired results, he would rethink it and ask himself what he could have done wrong," he said.
"But for those who are behind (such agitations), it is only a matter of winning or losing," Bhagwat said.
Speaking about the contribution Gandhi made to the freedom struggle and beyond, he said, "Gandhiji did not only initiate the freedom struggle, the direction that is needed to change the future of a country, that direction has come out comprehensively through him. If you read Gandhi's Hind Swaraj you'll see he had a view of what India should do after getting rid of the British. This is the reason to remember Gandhi today. As we have gained independence but continue to face problems."
Describing Gandhi as a "saint", the RSS chief said he was the voice of India in his times and always emphasised on development which centred around human beings.