Mohan Bhagwat is an Indian veterinary doctor, author, and Hindu political activist, who is the sixth head, also known as the Sarsanghchalak, of the Hindu far-right voluntary organisation named the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). He hit the headlines in January 2024 after he became one of the few personalities invited by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to be present in the Garbha Griha of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya.
Mohan Madhukar Rao Bhagwat was born on Monday, 11 September 1950 (age 73 years; as of 2023) in Chandrapur, Bombay State (now Maharashtra), India. However, some sources claim that he was born in Sangli, Bombay State (now Maharashtra), India. His zodiac sign is Virgo. Bhagwat did his schooling at the Lokmanya Tilak Vidyalaya in Chandrapur. He then enrolled at the Janata College in Chandrapur, where he pursued a bachelor’s degree in science for a year. He later enrolled at Dr. Panjabrao Deshmukh Krishi Vidyapeeth in Akola to pursue a bachelor’s degree in veterinary sciences and animal husbandry. Thereafter, he joined the Nagpur Veterinary College, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in veterinary sciences. After this, he began pursuing a master’s degree in veterinary sciences but left his post-graduate studies mid-way in 1975 during the emergency.
Height (approx.): 5′ 6″
Hair Colour: White (semi-bald)
Eye Colour: Dark Brown
Family & Caste
Mohan Bhagwat belongs to a Marathi Karhade Brahmin family in Chandrapur, Maharashtra.
Parents & Siblings
His father, Madhukar Rao Bhagwat, was a civil engineer and a lawyer, who was among the earliest members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). He initially served as a Pracharak in Gujarat and went on to become President of the RSS in the Chandrapur district. He also served as the regional promoter of the RSS in Gujarat.
His mother, Malati Bhagwat, also known as Malati Bai, served in the women’s wing of the RSS. He has two brothers and a sister. He is the eldest among them. His brother, Chittaranjan Bhagwat, served as an officer in the Bank of Maharashtra in Pune. His other brother, Ravindra Bhagwat, is a lawyer in Chandrapur. His sister lives in Pune.
Wife & Children
Mohan Bhagwat is unmarried and has no kids.
His grandfather, Nanasaheb Bhagwat, was a close associate of K. B. Hedgewar, the founder of the RSS. He was also a lawyer who left his practice to join the RSS.
Mohan Bhagwat follows Hinduism. He has often advocated for the creation of a Hindu Rashtra and Akhand Bharat.
He resides at Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh Shri Hedgewar Bhavan, Reshimbagh Road, Nagpur – 440001, Maharashtra, India.
After completing graduation, he worked as an intern in a government hospital in Chamorshi under Chandrapur Zilla Parishad for six months. Following the completion of his internship, he was offered a job in the same hospital. He then worked there for one and a half years as a Veterinary Extension Officer (VEO) before quitting his job to pursue a master’s degree.
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)
Bhagwat left his postgraduate studies and became a member of the RSS in 1975. According to sources, his father played a pivotal role in influencing his decision to join the RSS. He joined the organisation at a time when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had put into effect an emergency in the country. From 1975 to 1977, i.e., till the end of the emergency, he took part in various underground activities and reportedly avoided getting arrested under the Maintainance of Internal Security Act (MISA) numerous times. It was during this time that he showed his organisational and leadership qualities to the appointment holders of the RSS. This led to him being appointed as the pracharak of Nagpur and Vidharba region.
He then relocated to Akola, Maharashtra, where he served as the district RSS pracharak. Later, he was ordered to go to Bihar, where he played a vital role in restructuring and expansion of the organisation. He also served in Gujarat for some time. In 1991, he was given charge of the physical training for RSS cadres as Akhil Bharatiya Sharirik Pramukh (All India Physical Education In-charge). He remained in the post 1999. In the same year, he was given the responsibility of drafting policies for the full-time RSS workers. He has also served as Akhil Bharatiya Pracharak Pramukh.
In 2000, Bhagwat was appointed as the General Secretary (Sarkaryawah) of the organisation. He replaced H. V. Seshadri to hold the post. He was re-elected to the post twice, i.e., in 2003 and 2006, respectively. On 21 March 2009, he was appointed as the Sarsanghchalak of the RSS. He became the youngest person to become RSS’ chief. An RSS official, in an interview, said,
The new RSS chief is a straightforward person with a clear vision that the RSS should stay away from party politics. His focus would be to strengthen the organisational structure.”
Under his leadership, the RSS has actively participated in various social and cultural endeavours, including advancing rural development, education, and healthcare. Bhagwat has also supported the “Swadeshi” (indigenous) movement, emphasizing the significance of self-reliance and nationalism in numerous public platforms. Bhagwat is well-known for giving speeches on national, economic, and moral issues. Some of his best-known speeches are National Security and the Role of Citizens (2017), Future of Bharat: An RSS Perspective (2018), and Spirituality in Modern Times (2019). Mohan Bhagwat has travelled extensively to various nations, including the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Nepal, Russia, Belarus, and Indonesia, mainly to engage with the Indian population and participate in conferences and events centred around Hinduism and Indian culture. As of 2023, the RSS has undertaken more than 1,60,000 social work projects worth Rs. 50 crore in different parts of India, especially in the Maoist-impacted areas in Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, and West Bengal. It is reported that the organisation’s presence on social media increased manifold because of his insistence.
As an RSS Chief, Mohan Bhagwat has written many books such as The Role of Youth in Nation Building (2014), Success Unlimited Using Power of Subconscious Mind (2018), M.S. Golwalkar – His Vision and Mission (2019), Yashasvi Bharat (2020), and Hamari Rashtriyata Aur Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (2023).
Mohan Bhagwat on numerous occasions has talked about India being a Hindu Rashtra. In September 2023, during an event hosted by RSS, Bhagwat said that India is a Hindu Rashtra whether people of other religions accept it or not. He, however, also stressed that Hinduism teaches us to form good bonds with people from other sects, respect their religion and culture, and live with them in peace and harmony. He further said that India being a Hindu Rashtra will not be a threat to any religion. In 2019, during a press conference, Bhagwat said that India’s status as a Hindu Rashtra is “non-negotiable.” He also said that RSS is not related to only one religion and anyone, who considers themselves an Indian, can join the organisation. Hindustan Times India Today
His Opinion on The LGBTQ Community
In January 2023, Bhagwat, while giving an interview, extended his support to the LGBTQIA+ community in India. He also recited some incidents mentioned in the Hindu scriptures and said that such people have been existing in the country for a long time. In October 2019, he expressed that the issue can be addressed without conflict, emphasizing that it should be regarded as a “variation” rather than an “abnormality.” He advocated treating individuals with different sexual orientations as equal human beings and integrating them into society. Reportedly, his stand on the issue has softened over time, and before 2014, the RSS did not support the community. Firstpost
His View on Population
In 2022, during a rally, Bhagwat gave his opinion on the population explosion in India. He said that while having a big population is good for the growth of the country, it poses a challenge as well. He also urged the Union government to formulate policies to channel population growth. His speech was later scrutinised by former chief election commissioner S. Y. Quraishi who claimed that it was a “balanced opinion” and “did not target one particular sect.” The Indian Express
Views on Hinduism And Other Religions
In 2017, while talking to the attendees at an event in Haridwar, Uttarakhand, Bhagwat talked about Hinduism and said that it was the only religion that existed before and all other religions and sects originated from Hinduism only. He also talked about the RSS’ stand on religious conversion and said that even though the organisation is against religious conversion, it is open to accepting anyone who wishes to become a Hindu. He further said,
Hinduism was the only true religion in the world and other religions were just sects which emerged from Hinduism. People hailing from other sects were originally Hindus who had drifted to these sects over the course of time. RSS does not support conversion but our doors are open for those who want to come back to Hinduism from other sects.” The Times of India
The Indian Way of Life
In 2016, while addressing the Rashtra Sevika Samiti, the women’s wing of the RSS, on their 80th anniversary, Bhagwat said that the only way to save this planet from destruction is by adopting the Indian way of life. He also stressed upon establishing the “Hindu thought in the character of Bharat.” He also talked about unifying and strengthening the Hindu society in India and outside. News18
View on Reservation
In 2015, Mohan Bhagwat gave a statement in which he criticised the provisioning of the reservation system in the country. He called for the establishment of a committee which could review the system and give its recommendation on whether the reservation is needed or not. He, in an interview, talked about it and said,
Form a committee of people genuinely concerned about the interest of the whole nation and committed to social equality… They should decide which categories require reservation, and for how long. Like autonomous commissions, this non-political committee should be the implementation authority; political authorities should supervise them for honesty and integrity.”
He, however, changed his stand on reservation in 2023. During an event, he extended his support to the reservation system. He justified the reservation given to marginalized sects, citing their victimisation for over 2000 years. He further added,
Until we provide them equality, some special remedies have to be there, and reservations is one of them. Hence, reservations have to continue till there is such discrimination. We at the RSS give all support to the reservations provided in the Constitution.” The Indian Express
Called Out Woke People
In October 2023, Mohan Bhagwat made the headlines after he called woke activists (those activists who are alert to racial prejudice and discrimination) selfish, discriminatory, and deceitful forces. During an event, he attacked the woke people and called them propagandists who were peddling the “Western agenda” in India. He also said that the actions of such people are hurtful to the growth of the country. He also accused them of spreading their propaganda through educational and cultural institutions. He spoke about it and said,
Though these forces wear the mask of some ideology or the other, and claim to be working for some lofty goals, their real objectives are something else… These destructive, all-devouring forces call themselves cultural Marxists or Woke, or the awakened ones. Their modus operandi involve taking control of the media and academia, and plunging education, culture, politics and social environment into confusion, chaos, and corruption.” The Indian Express
The “Pandit” Row
Mohan Bhagwat hit the headlines in 2023 after he, during an event, said that god did not create caste, it was the work of the “Pandits” for their gain. This led to an FIR being filed against him for hurting the sentiments of the Brahmin community. However, in his defence, the RSS issued a statement in which it said that Bhagwat’s statement was taken out of context. The Hindu The statement read,
He was speaking in Marathi and what he said should be understood in [the] right manner. Mr. Bhagwat had used the word ‘Pandit’ to mean vidvaan, or intellectuals, and he meant that all should deserve the same respect.”
Complaint Against Bhagwat For Hurting Religious Sentiments
In January 2023, a complaint was filed against Bhagwat by a YouTuber and right-wing author named Sandeep Deo. In the complaint, Sandeep claimed that while giving an interview, Bhagwat linked homo sexuality with Hinduism and made derogatory remarks against religious deities like Lord Krishna. Deo also wrote a blog post in which he accused Bhagwat of “justifying an unnatural act like homosexuality through Hindu theology.” The post read,
It seems as if the Sangh is playing into the hands of the invisible forces of the West! Due to the silence of Hindu society on this issue, I had to take this ‘legal stand’. I hope that Bhagwatji and the editors of both the magazines will understand the seriousness of this matter and will publish a rebuttal and apologise for this mistake to the Sanatan Vedic Hindu society.”
Dr Mohan Bhagwat Ji is requested to respect feelings of Hindus & issue a clarification. pic.twitter.com/b8nzVaIjtH
— M. Nageswara Rao IPS (Retired) (@MNageswarRaoIPS) January 24, 2023
All Indians Are Hindus
In December 2019, V. Hanumantha Rao, a senior Telangana Congress leader and former member of the parliament, lodged an FIR against Bhagwat after he, during an event, said that all the people staying in India are Hindus. Hanumantha Rao revealed that the reason for filing a complaint was that he felt that Bhagwat’s statement could lead to communal tension and might create a law and order challenge in India. Rao, in the complaint, wrote,
The statement of Bhagwat not only hurts the sentiments and beliefs of Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis etc, but is also against the spirit and tenor of the constitution of India.” The Indian Express
Allegations of Insulting The Indian Army
In February 2018, a lawyer from Bihar filed a complaint against Bhagwat for giving insulting remarks against the Indian Army in public. According to the complainant, Bhagwat claimed that in case of a war, the Indian Army will take six months to get battle-ready, whereas the RSS will be battle-ready within three days. He also said that if the constitution of India permitted the RSS could guard the Line Of Control (LOC) and fight the enemy there. Bhagwat said,
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is not a military organisation, but we have discipline like the military. If the country requires and the country’s Constitution allows, the RSS is ready to fight on the borders against the enemy.” National Herald
Complaint Against Bhagwat For Insulting Emperor Ashoka and Buddhism
In July 2016, a complaint was filed against the RSS Chief Bhagwat after an RSS mouthpiece published an article raising questions regarding Emperor Ashoka and his conversion to Buddhism. The article also said that after converting to Buddhism, Ashoka adopted non-violent ways of ruling and the Buddhists worked with the foreign invaders rather than fight against them. An excerpt from the article read,
Ashoka turned the entire empire into a giant monastery for promoting Buddhism. It was because of the Buddhist leaders of Magadha that Greek invaders returned to conquer India…Buddhist monks propagated seditious, senseless, anti-India ideas among their disciples that Buddhism did not believe in caste or nation. Whenever foreign invaders sympathetic to Buddhism attacked India, these Buddhists colluded with them, instead of fighting them bravely.” The Indian Express
A court later dismissed the petition against Bhagwat. In 2022, Brahmendra Singh Maurya challenged the court’s dismissal of the plea in a Lucknow court; however, the Lucknow court upheld the previous decision and ruled against Maurya’s plea. NDTV
Remarks On Increasing The Hindu Population
While addressing an event in Agra in 2016, Mohan Bhagwat gave a controversial statement asking Hindus to increase their population. He also said that no law disallows Hindus to increase their population as followers of other religions are doing the same. His remark received criticism from politicians. Mohan said,
Which law says that the population of Hindus should not rise? There is nothing like that. What is stopping them when the population of others is rising? The issue is not related to the system. It is because the social environment is like this.” The Times of India
Remarks Against Mother Teresa
In 2015, Bhagwat received criticism after he said, during an event, that Mother Teresa used to help the poor and the needy with the intent of converting them to Christianity. He also said that she worked in India with the hidden motive of conversion. Bhagwat said,
Mother Teresa’s service would have been good. But it used to have one objective, to convert the person, who was being served, into a Christian. The question is not about conversion but if this [conversion] is done in the name of service, then that service gets devalued. But here [at the NGO], the objective is purely the service of poor and helpless people.”
Questioning The Minority Status Given To Some Religions
In 2014, while attending a gathering, Mohan Bhagwat gave a speech in which he said that the RSS does not see Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists as different from Hindus and there is no need to give them minority status. He also criticised the government for giving them minority status. The Times of India
Remarks on Sexual Abuse and Marriage
In 2013, Bhagwat made the headlines after he gave a controversial remark about sexual assault and marriage. During an event, Bhagwat said that sexual abuse takes place in “India” and not in “Bharat.” He also said that when women follow the “Western lifestyle” they often get sexually exploited, whereas if they don’t follow that lifestyle, they remain safe. A week after this statement, he said that men should take the traditional role of being the bread earners whereas women should stay at home and be homemakers. He went on to say that men can “abandon” their wives when they violate the traditional agreement. India Today Bhagwat said,
A husband and wife are involved in a contract under which the husband has said that you should take care of my house and I will take care of all your needs. I will keep you safe. So, the husband follows the contract terms. Till the time, the wife follows the contract, the husband stays with her, if the wife violates the contract, he can disown her.”
Following his speech, he drew criticism from internet users as well as politicians belonging to different parties.
Bhagwat’s Claims of Speaking With Karkare
In an interview in 2012, Mohan Bhagwat claimed that just five days before the 26/11 Mumbai Attacks, he received a phone call from IPS officer Hemant Karkare, who was killed by terrorists in the Mumbai Attacks. Bhagwat said that Karkare told him that he was under a lot of pressure from the then Central government to frame the names of the right-wing activists in some of the bomb blast cases. He further added,
I told Karkare that the Sangh would not stand in the way of a proper investigation to book all those behind these acts of violence. But I do not think our people are involved, as the RSS is against violence. We have condemned these blasts in strong terms, and the RSS won’t support anyone indulging in such violence.” Hindustan Times
Allegations of Involvement in the Malegaon Blasts
In 2009, Dayanand Pandey, the prime accused of the Malegaon blasts, claimed in his confession that RSS leader Shyam Apte had told him that Mohan Bhagwat, along with another RSS leader, had received a huge sum of money from Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to conduct the blasts. Pandey, in an interview, said,
In August 2008, I had gone to Pune where I met with RSS leader Shyam Apte who told me about (Indresh) Kumar (Muslim wing leader of RSS) and Bhagwat taking money from ISI. Lt Col Srikant Purohit, after learning about this, had asked one Captain Joshi to murder the two.” Zee News
In 2012, Bhagwat said that the case was “unnecessary” for which he received criticism. In 2017, Sudhakar Chaturvedi, another key accused of the blasts, claimed that when the UPA was in power in power, it built up pressure on Maharashtra ATS to frame RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to appease “Muslim voters.” The Times of India
In 2017, Mohan Bhagwat received an honorary Doctor of Science (DSc) degree from the Maharashtra Animal & Fishery Sciences University during the convocation ceremony held in Nagpur.
- Mohan Bhagwat likes to read. In childhood, he loved reading detective storybooks written by the Marathi author Baburao Arnalkar. A friend of his also said that since the books were rare, they used to share a book and take out time from their schedules to read.
- In an interview, Mohan’s brother Ravindra said that Mohan got deeply involved in theatre and singing and brought many accolades after completing his formal education. He also claimed that the medals and awards were later showcased in their ancestral home in Chandrapur.
- Bhagwat can play drums and flute efficiently. He is also a good singer.
- Mohan became one of the most well-guarded Indians in 2015 after the Government of India granted him a permanent Z+ security cover of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF). The government gave him protection following threats to his life made by many banned Islamic outfits.
- He visited the Rashtrapati Bhavan in 2017 at the invitation of President Pranab Mukherjee. He became the first RSS head to be invited.
- In September 2018, during an event in Delhi, Mohan Bhagwat stated that the RSS has updated its views by removing certain outdated sections from M. S. Golwalkar’s “Bunch of Thoughts” to keep up with the changing situations.
- In the same year, a video of his went viral on social media in which he was seen teaching the RSS members how to use a lathi for self-defence.
- In 2019, a post went viral on social media in which it was written that Mohan had accumulated $56,800,000,000,000 as black money. However, many netizens later trolled the media houses that circulated the news.
- Mohan Bhagwat follows a vegetarian diet. He has often advocated for following a vegetarian diet. However, in 2015, Dilip Deodhar, an RSS researcher and author, claimed that before becoming the chief of the RSS, Mohan used to follow a non-vegetarian diet. The Economic Times He further talked about it, in an interview, and said,
Till he became the RSS Sarsanghachalak in 2009, Mohan Bhagwat used to enjoy non-vegetarian food. I have also seen Balasaheb Deoras having chicken and mutton openly till he became the RSS chief. Most RSS pracharaks consume non-veg food. There is nothing anti-Hindu about it.”
- He does not consume alcohol or tobacco.
- As the RSS chief, he set an age limit of 75 years for a chief to serve in the organisation.
- In 2020, Mohan supported the Narendra Modi-led Union government’s New Education Policy (NEP).
- Many times, fake news on social media has been circulated in his name. In 2022, a tweet from the X handle “Mohan Bhagwat” went viral which praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s work schedule; however, the tweet was fake and the RSS later clarified that no such tweet was posted by Mohan himself.
Similarly, in the same year, another tweet went viral in which Bhagwat had written praises for Rahul Gandhi, calling him the “Future Prime Minister of India.” Later, several fact-checkers proved the claim to be false.
- After becoming the RSS Chief, Bhagwat changed the uniform of the organisation by introducing khaki colour trousers instead of the traditional khaki shorts.
- It is claimed that Mohan looks exactly like the founder of the RSS K. B. Hedgewar.
- Mohan Bhagwat is multi-linguistic and is fluent in many languages including Hindi, English, Marathi, Bengali, and Sanskrit.
- After joining the RSS, Narendra Modi received training in the RSS under the guidance of Mohan Bhagwat’s father Madhukar Rao Bhagwat. Modi is also a good friend of Mohan.
- It is claimed that after Mohan Bhagwat came into power in the RSS, he worked on improving the negatively impacted ties between the BJP and the RSS.
- On 22 January 2024, Bhagwat was among the few individuals who were present alongside Prime Minister Modi during the rituals conducted in the garbha griha of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya.