Doctor Keshav Baliram Hedgewar was born on Varsha Pratipada, the Hindu new year day, 1st April 1889, at Nagpur. Even as a child he started questioning how a handful of foreigners could for so long rule over a vast and ancient nation like Bharat. No wonder that he threw away the sweets distributed on the occasion of diamond jubilee of queen victoria’s coronation when he was just 8 years old at that time. When studying in school he started participating in nationalist activities, and in fact unfurled the banner of independence during Dusserah at Rampayali in 1907. The intensity of his urge to free up the motherland grew steadily. IN 1908 he expelled from school for leading the students in raising ‘Vande Matram’. He had to move to Pune to complete his matriculation
Hedgewar opted for medical course in Calcutta, chiefly prompted by the prospect of getting first hand acquaintance with the underground movement. He soon became the core member of one of the leading revolutionary groups called anusheelan samithi and also plunged in to various social service activities.
He returned to Nagpur in 1916 as qualifying doctor. He did not (indeed never intended to) practice medicine despite dire poverty at home. Remaining a bachelor, he preferred to become a physician to kills the ills of the nation. By then he had established active contacts with stawarts like Lokmanya Tilak, Dr.Munje and Lokamanya M.S.Anay. He worked in responsible positions in the congress and Hindu Mahasabha till the early 1920’s.
Hedgewar’s public speeches of those days were sheer fire and brimstone. It was not long before he had to face court-trials. In one such trial, he defended himself declaring, “The only government that has a right to exist is a government of the people. The Europeans and those who calls the government of this country should recognize that the time for their graceful exit is approaching”. He was awarded one year’s rigorous imprisonment.
After release from prison, Dr.Hedgewar, while continuously immersed in social and political activities, intensified his quest for an understanding of the true nature of our nation for whose freedom struggle was being carried on. Political emancipation from foreign rule alone could not provide the cure for all the nations ills. Years of thinking had convinced Dr.Hedgewar that a strong and united Hindu society alone is the sine quaint for not only the all-rounded prosperity but for the very survival of Bharat as an independent sovereign nation. Social cohesiveness alone could ensure national integrity.
Dr.Hedgewar’s response to this challenge was the founding of the Rashtriy Swayam Sevak Sangh in 1925. The sweep and amplitude oof one great mind can be fulyy grasped only by minds with a like vision and imagination. Thus, in the early days of Sangh, it drew praise and approval from eminent stalwarts including Mahatma Gandhi, Savarkar, Subhash Chandra Bose, Madan Mohan Malaviya and many others. The first shakha of Sangh was started with a handful of youth at Nagpur. Gradually shakhas sprouted in other provinces. Soon there were vast number of ‘prachraks’ (whole time social workers totally dedicated to nation building activities) working for fulfillment of the Sangh mission. Dr hedgewar toiled night and day to lay a secure foundation for strengthening and growth of the Sangh. That tremendous work spanning fifteen years did take its toll and Dr.Hedgewar succumbed to illness on 21 June 1940 – at comparatively young age of 51.