Half a century on the path of ‘Dharma’
Dharma, vouched Deendayal Upadhyayaji, is soul of any nation and it was this dharma that he wanted us, his countrymen, to uphold if India was to flourish as a nation. Dharma was equally, if not more, important for Swami Vivekananda.
“Hindu Dharma is the quintessence of our national life, hold fast to it if you want your country to survive, or else you would be wiped out in three generations"
- Swami Vivekananda
It is this adherence to Dharma and placing of nation and society before self that forms the bedrock of my association with the the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). It is this which initially kindled in me the desire to devote my life to the service of the nation and formed the basis of my attraction for the RSS.
It was May 1,1969, at the age of 14, I was initiated into the ideology of RSS. I had just topped the IX standard examination in my school and attended the shakha, during my holidays. At the neighbourhood park in Krishna Nagar, the shakha was on, with ‘charcha’ unfolding. The activities there drew my interest. Gradually, at the Shakha, I came in contact with Swayam Sevaks like Ravi Malhotraji, Hemant Vishnoi, Kuldeep Puri, Madan Khanna and Suryadev Tripathi. Our respect was mutual and Suryadev Tripathi, who was the head of the local shakha inducted me to its activities. Thus began my journey with one of the biggest voluntary movement in the world with over five million active members, logging 48 years so far.
It was during my initial association with RSS that prompted me to read Swami Vivekananda’s works. What impressed me about Swamiji was his exhortation that “They only live who live for others. The rest are more dead than alive.” The spirit of nationalism, of service, of sacrifice, of devotion to a higher cause and an omnipresent entity fired my attraction for the cause in the early days and it is precisely these ideals that motivate me and mould my action and thinking to this day.
My early days mentors Suryadev Tripathiji, Hemant Vishnoiji, Ashok Puriji and Madan Khannaji are still around and active. Meeting them occasionally brings back fond memories of those early days of RSS.
Within two years of initiation, I attended my first officers’ training camp (OTC) at Jalandhar in 1971. Many RSS intellectuals addressed us there, which impressed me a lot. I also had a chance to see respected Guru Golwarkarji from close quarters there. He gave learned and illuminating lectures on three consecutive days and spoke of the vital role the youth could play in society. His spiritual aura left a lasting impact on me.
On my return from the OTC, I was entrusted with the responsibility of running shakhas as mukhya shikshak and karyavaha for 10 years.
The next phase of my life began when I joined Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi Memorial (GVSM) Medical College in Kanpur for my graduation and post-graduation in medicine. There I came in contact with Vishnu Kumarji, a RSS Mahanagar pracharak, who motivated me further with his devotion to the cause of nationalism and building a new India. Soon, we had a shakha in the college, which linked me up to another one at IIT, Kanpur. The shakha in the medical college continued for years on end.
It was in Kanpur, I met and interacted with Rajju Bhaiyyaji and Ashok Singhalji and many seniors in RSS, who inspired and cemented my involvement with the Sangh further.
The period of Emergency was a challenging one, when we had to go underground to carry on with our activities. The goal was to keep the resistance movement and our multifarious activities intact. We used to bring out a cyclostyled paper, ‘Kaal Chintan,’ which was pasted on the walls of bathrooms and lecture theatres of the medical college to convey our message against the dictatorship of the then Union Government. This naturally brought us into bad books of the powers in place at that time.
The year 1977 stands out in my memory with the towering presence of Jayaprakash Narayanji on the national scene, and his message of ‘sampurna kranti’, which was resonating in all corners of the land. It was during this phase, just after emergency was lifted that we organised a visit to various villages from Kanpur to Amethi (the stronghold of Sanjay Gandhi), lecturing to people about governance, about democracy, about freedom of citizens and free society. Another major activity was launching a political campaign for the 1977 elections, covering Rae Bareli and Amethi. A pamphlet was brought out and distributed, listing the misdeeds and high-handedness of the leaders of that time. Our activity attracted a lot of media attention in Amethi and so rattled the powers that even made an attempt to kidnap a few of us. However, with the assistance of Ravindra Pratap Singh in Amethi, we managhed to return to Kanpur safely and eventually celebrated the victory of Janta Party in the medical college. To this day, I cherish fond memories of my days in Kanpur medical college and it is a great honour for me that people still recall those times that I spent with them.
With the completion of my medical education, my activities shifted back to Delhi and I started practicing as an ENT surgeon. The RSS assigned me the task of organising doctors’ shakha in Delhi to further the message of the organisation. From 1983 to 1993, I was actively involved in organising doctors at Jhandewalan and furthering the national cause among the medical fraternity.
The year 1993 marked my entry into politics, even though I had never consciously visualised a role for myself in this field. Mr B.L. Sharma ‘Prem’ sounded me out about contesting the Delhi Assembly elections as a BJP nominee. He along with Dr. Suresh Vajpayeeji, Prant Karyavah, Delhi RSS persuaded me that my name had been cleared by Atalji and Advaniji themselves. I had then no reason to refuse the offer. Thus began my journey in public service through politics, which continues to this day.
Dr. Harsh Vardhan with K. S. Sudarshan Ji who was the fifth Sarsanghachalak of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)
RSS leaders contributed to shape up my philosophy and vision. But the theory of Integral Humanism of Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyayaji etched in my mind and he remains my ideal leader in politics. Though I have had no privilege to meet him, but the profundity of his thoughts, actions keeps me inspired and motivated. Others who have influenced and guided my thoughts and actions are Rajju Bhaiyyaji, K.S.Sudarshanji, H.V. Seshadriji, Ashok Singhalji, Kushabhau Thakareji and Mohan Bhagwatji. Above all, of course, I owe a debt of gratitude to Atalji and Advaniji, for hand-holding me to politics.
Injured hand notwithstanding, Dr. Harsh Vardhan goes about organising medical relief for the victims of the 2001 Gujarat earthquake in Bhuj.
I have spent a lot of time in Kolkata working on preserving the legacy of Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee, who gave his life for Jammu and Kashmir’s integration with India. We were able to come out with the collected works of Dr Mookerjee and restore his house in Kolkata along with all memorabilia. One of my fellow-workers in the project was none other than the present Rashtrapati, Hon’ble Ram Nath Kovindji.
I have, from time to time, also been involved with the activities of Seva Bharati and the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP). On 26th January 2001, when a massive earthquake struck Gujarat, I led a team of 37 doctors to Bhuj to undertake medical relief and rehabilitation, at the urging of Advaniji.
Dr. Harsh Vardhan with Former Deputy Prime Minister Mr. L.K Advaniji
I continue to be actively involved to this day with the activities of the RSS, attending all important programmes. I am indebted to the Sangh for all that I have achieved in life will remain committed lifelong to advancing its objectives, message and spirit of service to the nation.
I consider my association with RSS as my strength and blessing of God.