Pune: Sambhaji Bhide, who shot into the limelight in the wake of Koregaon-Bhima unrest, has kindled curiosity in the minds of people for his maverick and enigmatic personality.
The octogenarian, who leads an ascetic life in a modest accommodation of 100-sq ft room, which has no fan and is filled with books and letters in Gaobhag area of Sangli, has a large following among youths. The former professor of Physics at Pune and Latur starts his day with 150 Suryanamaskars (sun salutations) and 64 squats early in the morning at Vishnughat on the bank of Krishna river.
He uses a bicycle for commuting locally and travels by state transport buses to towns and villages across the State. The former pracharak of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) came to Sangli as a pracharak 40 years ago. He left the RSS six years later to launch his own Shiv Pratishthan Hindustan.
Bhide refused to comment on ‘Elgar Parishad’ and he said that there was nothing that would have caught his attention. He narrated a Sanskrit phrase ‘Avyavasthit Chittanam Khatatopo Bhayankaraha’ meaning restless or disorganised mind engages itself in troublesome activities.
Bhide further added that as he works for Hindutva, he has cordial relations with many politicians including Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, Bhide added that he does not unnecessarily contact any of the political leaders. “There are many political parties and all of them are an integral part of Hindu society and as I work for the cause of Hindutva, I have cordial relations with many political leaders,” he added.
Bhide said that the case registered against him in Pimpri by a woman recently, connected with the recent unrest in Koregaon-Bhima, was false and there was no question of him giving a statement to the police.
Speaking about his educational background, the 85-year-old said that he was a student of Fergusson College and Pune University and worked as a professor for five years at SP College and Dayanand College in Latur.
Bhide refused to share details about his ongoing work and said that he immediately pursued his work after quitting a job as a teacher and added that the nature of his work has always been the same.
He also refused to reveal the exact number of his volunteers and took refuge in saying that just as no one can figure out the exact number of devotees of Lord Pandurang, he won’t be able to give a count of his volunteers.
Responding to a query based on the alleged reports of attacks on visitors of historical forts, Bhide warned that forts are not tourist spots but are centres of pilgrimage. Responding to a query whether he has issued a set of norms for fort visitors, he said, “There is no need to formulate a set of rules for children on how to behave with their respective parents.”
Attacking his opponents of purposely editing his videos to create an impression that he has no respect for Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj. Bhide claimed, “Even Lord Krishna had to face the blame stealing Syamantak. However, it was later disclosed that a plot was hatched by those who were jealous of him.”
Bhide stated that he has highest regards for Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj. He blamed people for intentionally editing his videos to create an impression that he has no respect for Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj and challenged those who are doing it to rather listen to his entire speech. He said that he and his followers observe Dharmaveerbalidan Mas - a month to commemorate the sacrifice of life of Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj.