RSS, Sage Narad & Positive journalism

India’s right-wing RSS is using the image of Sage Narad, India’s first journo, to promote ‘positive journalism’…writes  Mayabhushan Nagvenkar 

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat addresses during a programme organised on Sangh's foundation day and Vijaya Dashmi at Sangh's headquarters in Nagpur
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat addresses during a programme organised on Sangh’s foundation day and Vijaya Dashmi at Sangh’s headquarters in Nagpur

Narad, an ancient Indian sage who appears prominently in the Ramayana and was known for disseminating relevant information, spreading gossip and carrying tales that often led to fights, has been projected wrongly and should be held up as a “role model for positive journalism”, a top representative of an RSS-affiliate has claimed.

Pranav Bhonde, editor of the Mumbai-based Vishwa Samvad Kendra, a media training and publication centre that also acts as the publicity wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), claimed that that Narad, whose flits in an out of ancient Indian scriptures and epics like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, was also India’s first journalist.

“Narad rishi not only used to ferry information from one place to another, but he also had the sense to ferry relevant information. He would not ferry the information for personal benefit, but for the good of the people, the country and the religion,” Bhonde told IANS.

Bhonde’s organisation is in the process of organizing a series of events across the country and in Goa in May, to celebrate ‘Maharishi Narad Jayanti’. According to the lunar calendar, Narad’s birthday fell on May 5 this year. As part of the agenda, there will be a letter writing contest, felicitation of veteran journalist Gurudas Singbal and an interactive session that local journalists and editors are expected to attend.

“Maharishi Narad followed the basics tenets of journalism ages ago. The information he sourced and passed on to the people, was difficult to obtain then, when means of communication were rare,” Bhonde said, claiming Narad was omnipresent, as journalists are required to be, to source information.

“It is mentioned in the old epics and texts that whenever big incidents occurred, Maharishi Narad was invariably there. He did not miss anything. He is an idol for positive journalism. We are trying to establish this across the country,” he added.

The Vedic age sage, has been described in the old texts as having traversed across the “different worlds” and realms ferrying and sharing his repository of information with its inhabitants. Naradasmriti, a well-known ancient text which also serves as an aggregation of social mores and rules of conduct, has been credited to the sage, who appears in the Mahabharata to counsel the Pandavas over sharing Draupadi as a joint wife.

Ancient scriptures have also described Narad as a carrier of missives and instructions, as well as gossip from heavenly abodes to earthlings, giving his character something of a mischievous demeanor.

Bhonde, however, preferred to describe Narad as someone who quizzes personalities of eminence, much like the relationship journalists share with newsmakers of the day.

“You cannot say mischievous; his image in the Puranas is of someone who quizzes,” Bhonde said.

“Whether it is in the Puranas, Ramayana, Mahabharata or any other text, what Narad has done is communicate society’s ills to people who can address them and resolve issues which are stuck,” he added.