Established in 1915, the Mahasabha (known previously as the Sarvadeshak Hindu Sabha) has been struggling to stay politically and socially relevant. Local forerunners to the Mahasabha had been sprouting across the country since the early decades of the 20th century when the All India Muslim League was formed in 1906 and the British announced separate electorates for Muslims under the Morley Minto Reforms. As a result of these developments, Hindu leaders realised the need to come together to form an organisation that would safeguard their interests. Over the years several small Hindu sabhas were formed in Punjab, United Provinces, Bihar, and Bombay Presidency. In April 1925 the Sarvadeshak (all India) Hindu Mahasabha was formally established and all the regional organisations brought under it. In April 1921 it changed its name to Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha.
Ever since its inception, the Mahasabha’s role in the freedom struggle has been read as rather controversial. While not supportive of British rule, the Mahasabha did not offer its full support to the nationalist movement either, abstaining from participating in the Civil Disobedience movement of 1930 and the Quit India movement of 1942.
Under the stewardship of V D Savarkar, the Mahasabha was opposed to Gandhi’s overtures to hold parleys with Muslim League president Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Congress’ efforts to integrate Muslims. It was evidently demonstrated when it did not actively support the Indian freedom movement against British rule and boycotted the Quit India Movement officially.