6. Abhas Chatterjee
In the hierarchy of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangha, Dr. Shreerang Godbole is only a Swayamsevak. One wishes he was the Sarsanghchãlak or the Sarkaryavãh. For, the ideological clarity, historical perception, understanding of national issues and intellectual awareness that he has exhibited in his two short write-ups, have been so sadly lacking in the top-brass of the organisation.
The RSS was started by its illustrious founder Dr. K.B. Hedgewar because of his prime conviction that Mahatma Gandhi’s efforts during the Khilafat agitation to coalesce Hindu and Muslim national aspirations into one, were misplaced and futile. Dr. Hedgewar had realized that Hindus had the right as well as need to pursue their national interests in their own homeland. He correctly perceived that Muslim intransigence born out of their loyalty to an alien culture and ex-ruler syndrome and their consequent separatist demand, were bound to come in conflict with Hindu national aspirations.
Dr. Hedgewar’s perception was well-founded on a millennium of history and authorities like Sri Aurobindo and Swami Vivekananda.1 He tried to organize Hindus into a dedicated, disciplined force which would acquire the strength to defend Hindu interests.
After 72 years, the organisation continues to adhere to the external symbiosis of a Hindu spirit: a saffron flag, an invocation to Bhãratamãtã, and annual guru-dakshiNã offerings. It describes India in its anthem as Hindubhoomi (the land of the Hindus) and her people a Hindu-rãshtrãñgabhûtãh (an embodiment of the Hindu nation).
Secularists of every hue also keep proclaiming the RSS to be a radical militant Hindu organisation and a majority of the Hindu society appears to believe so.
But conscious, perceptive Hindus cannot but see that the RSS has proved a paper-tiger. All its bombastic pronouncements have been ‘sound and fury signifying nothing’. Whether on Ayodhya or on Kashmir, on Article 30 or Article 370, on infiltration of Bangladeshi Muslims or enactment of common civil laws, on Sanskrit or Urdu, on Vande Mãtaram or cow-slaughter - the RSS has always taken a step forward only to take two steps backwards. Rather, it has made one appropriate noise and then retreated into its hole. On no issue has the RSS been able so far to mount a campaign resulting in successful protection of Hindu causes.
India’s Secularist rulers have been relentlessly undermining Hindu interests, Hindu solidarity and Hindu pride. Their laws, policies and programmes are invariably meant to help Islam make further inroads into India. The ground has been systematically eroded from under Hindu feet without any worthwhile resistance from any Hindu organisation, including the RSS.
On issue after issue, the RSS starts with a roar, then shrinks into a whimper, then grovels and finally gives up, defeated but careful to save its face by inventing excuses.
Godbole has pinpointed the basic cause of this pathetic failure of the
organisation, viz. ideological confusion vis-à-vis Islam. Lack of
a clear ideological vision is the hurdle on which the RSS flounders again
Hindu Ideological Vision
An organisation - be it the RSS or any other - that really wishes to lead the Hindu society rather than merely pretending to do so or politicking to put one of its front organisations into power, must first develop a clear national vision.
No other nation has suffered so much from Islam for so long without being overwhelmed by it, lost so many of its people to that creed yet survived in its original nationality. No other nation has such empyrean spiritual traditions with which to evaluate Islam and study its theology and practice. No other nation still remains a land of Sanãtana Dharma yet holds so many Islam-convert descendants in its homeland. If Hindus don’t spread knowledge about Islam, who would?
nation possesses the unique spiritual heritage that Hindus do. The light
of yogic spirituality and quest for Truth are unique gifts of Hindu rishis
to human civilization which we have to give to the world. This nation has
to bring to the world the message of tolerance and harmony, dharma and
spirituality, renunciation and service by spreading the Sanãtana
Dharma. A Hindu who denies himself this role even a hundred years after
Swami Vivekananda and keeps deluding himself by the notion of a “composite
Hindu-Muslim national culture”, is a sadly misguided soul.
The Sangh Parivar lacks the Vision
The RSS has obviously failed to develop this correct ideological vision. The anxiety that the top leadership of the Sangh Parivar displays to “assure Muslims” that “we are not against them”, “to bring Muslims into its fold”, to “start a dialogue” with Muslim leaders, to secure “a gesture from Muslims”, to arrive at “an amicable solution acceptable to Muslims” and so on, leaves little scope for doubt on this score. The RSS claims to be protector of Hindu interests, but keeps betraying utmost eagerness to avoid attacking the main threat to these interests, viz. the tenets of Islamic theology. The BJP leaves no stone unturned to become “acceptable” to Muslims. Its leaders thank Muslims for their votes after getting kicked by them on its back. The VHP assures the Muslims that “we do not demand the return of the thousands of places of worship that have been forcibly replaced with mosques” and requests them to “recognize the right of the Hindu society” to only three holy Hindu sites. Leaders of the Sangh Parivar make every effort, even at the cost of distorting history, to project Islamic rule as a period of peaceful coexistence of Muslims with Hindus. “We do not like to think of our Muslim Compatriots as heirs and followers of such invaders and tyrants,” says the RSS and wants Muslims to “volutarily hand over” Ayodhya, Mathura and Kashi to Hindus.
Ceaseless efforts to project a benign face of Islam, glorifying the so-called Sufi saints,2 going ga-ga over “secular” Muslims spotted by them, requesting Muslims “to separate religion from politics”, seeking their “co-operation in modernizing Muslim society”, finding justification from tenets of Islam in support of Hindu demands (Quran does not require Muslims to slaughter cows for sacrifice, Namaz is not permitted on ‘disputed’ sites and so on)3 proves beyond doubt that the Sangh Parivar lacks clarity of national vision. It has imbibed enough of the poison of Nehruvian Secularism to believe that no political movement is legitimate in India unless it enjoys the approbation of Muslims. Like the Congress since 1916, the RSS has also mentally accepted the Muslim right of veto on Hindu politics.
Instead of developing the correct historical perception that Hindu-Muslim conflict is basically a clash between two anti-polar civilizations, and that Hindus have legitimate national interests to pursue without bothering about Muslim reaction, the Sangh Parivar has got into the familiar secularist trap of seeking Muslim support for a Hindu cause.
obviously does not realize that this is like fighting a war with the enemy’s
approval. Its predecessor, the Indian National Congress, had tried this
and failed (in spite of the best efforts of no less a man than Mahatma
Gandhi) before 1947, and the Sangh Parivar is equally doomed to failure.
The Muslim Vote-Bank
Muslims are simply amused when the RSS shows sympathetic concern over their being vote-banks of the Congress. For, the Muslims know that vote-banking is the main pillar of their political strength. Ability to exercise a collective voting power, loosely referred to as a vote-bank, has given Muslims a political leverage far beyond what is deserved by their percentage in the population of India. Muslims have been a political community from the very beginning and are politically and communally conscious by tradition. This consciousness about what they perceive as their communal interest is reflected in India through their voting as a community.
Muslims are 12% of India’s population but command 14-15% of her votes because, unlike Hindus, they get themselves registered as voters during revision of electoral rolls not only exhaustively but also excessively (by duplication of names, exaggeration of age, fictitious additions etc.). As a proportion of valid votes polled in an election, the Muslim share is still higher at 16-18% because a much higher percentage of Muslims exercise their franchise than Hindus. On top of this, they generally vote collectively according to some definite plan decided in advance which they trust would serve their communal interests.4
By contrast, Hindus command over 80% of Indian votes, but are unable to form a vote-bank because, owing to inadequate political consciousness and lack of perception of community interests, they are unable to vote as a community.
The combined effect of these contrasting responses of the two communities leads to a democratic paradox in India. Elections generally end in results that accord with the wishes of the 12% Muslims while 85% Hindus fail to bring about a power - structure that would be favourable to them.
The existence of a Muslim vote-bank is thus a recognition of their political strength. Muslims have used their collective voting power to blackmail political parties (including BJP) into submission and forced them to toe pro-Islam lines. Far from being used by parties as the RSS imagines, Muslims have successfully managed to hold political persons and parties to ransom.
Muslims have never allowed a political party to take them for granted. Instead, they have dictated terms to parties and their candidates, dictated national policies and held sway over the course of enactment and operation of laws in India to “carry on the unfinished agenda” laid down by the Quran and the Suanah. Muslim bargaining with their vote-bank power is simple. Whoever, as a candidate and/or a party, would commit himself to further Islamic interests in the country - keeping Kashmir separated from the rest of India, turning a blind eye to infiltration from Bangladesh, allowing Ulemaic institutions to shelter ISI agents to carry out espionage and subversion, repealing TADA, promoting Islamic theology in the name of minority education, promoting Urdu and suppressing Sanskrit, denouncing the notion of having a uniform civil code in the country, allowing Islam to retain its hold over usurped holy sites of Hindus, spreading tentacles across the country through tabligh and so on - would be assured of bulk Muslim votes and consequent chances of electoral victory.
The RSS and its front organisation BJP have always been at the receiving end of the collective voting scourge of the Muslims. They cannot, therefore, help admitting that Muslim vote-bank functions in India, but ideological confusion makes them get a reverse image of things. They keep fancying that vote-banking is a sign of Muslim weakness, that party interests are served by Muslim vote-banks, and so on.
The acme of Muslim voting power was observed in U.P. in 1993 when they decided that their primary electoral goal was to counteract the nascent Hindu solidarity by defeating BJP in as many constituencies as possible, no matter who the eventual winner was. To achieve this goal, Muslims voted en bloc tactically in favour of the Congress in some constituencies and the Mulayam-Kansi combine is some others, depending on who had a better chance against the BJP.
This tactful exercise of voting prowess led to a stunning outcome suited to Islamic predilections - the BJP with 34% of the polled votes ended up with the same member of seats (176) as the Mulayam-Kansi combine which had got only 28% votes! The ruling power passed into the latter’s rabidly pro-Islamic hands.
Yet in its simple-minded ebullience, the RSS advises Muslims to stop being a vote-bank and offers to “treat them as human beings”. It only provokes derisive Muslim laughter.
be greater self-delusion? We wonder.
Can all “Religions” lead to God?
Inadequate insight into the contents of sacred Hindu texts have led many to misunderstand the spirit of catholicity and pluralism embodied in the Sanãtana Dharma of the Hindus. The RSS seems to be no exception.
It is true that Sanãtana Dharma believes that different paths may lead to God. Unlike the exclusivist claims of a creed of prophetic monotheism, which predicts eternal hell-fire for anyone who does not worship its own god, through its own prophet and according to the prescriptions of its own book, Hindu Dharma holds that “as rivers meandering through different courses lead to the same ocean, so humans following different paths according to their diverse natures, all lead, O Lord, to thee”.
Hindu Dharma does not therefore brand or denounce all other traditions and religions as being ‘ways of the Devil’, kufr, heathenism, and so on.
But a path can lead to God only if it is followed in purity, devotion and Truth. The God of Hindu Dharma lives in the innermost recesses of man’s heart and finding God is essentially a matter of attaining spiritual upliftment which depends not on what he believes but what he does with his body, mind and consciousness. In Hindu Dharma, a person finds God by establishing a communion of his soul (ãtman) with the Supreme Being when yogic spirituality has given him purity of body, perfect control of mind and a state of super-consciousness through devoted seeking of Self-Knowledge. Deep meditation or bhakti practised in perfect devotion and purification of inner self raises the yogi’s consciousness to its most luminous and intuitive state where his Self fuses with the Deity.
The Hindu proclamation that “different paths lead to God” certainly does not mean that any and every crass act can lead to God simply by calling it “religion”. Sanãtana Dharma makes ample distinction between dharma and adharma, between spiritual elevation and spiritual degradation. It is only along a path of dharma that one can achieve spiritual upliftment. Following a path of adharma of tãmasika vrittis (traits of darkness) or ãsurî vrittis (demonic traits) can only lead a person away from the God of Sanãtana Dharma. To suggest that adharma leads to God as much as dharma would indeed be a negation of the entire Hindu spiritual thought.
Some aggressive theologies like Islam have gained currency as “religions”. The secularist argument which RSS appears to have adopted is: Religion means dharma (in Hindi); Islam is a religion; dharma in all its forms leads to God; so Islam too must be leading to God.
Nothing could be more superficial or off the mark than this.
The point for the RSS to remember is this. God is a concept. And the concept is fundamentally different in a natural religion and in a prophetic monotheism. The God of the latter (i.e. Jehovah or Allah) who is like a tribal chief protecting his clan and expecting obedience from them, is endowed with all sorts of human weaknesses, prejudices and ambitions. He is in a way a finite being living in a particular place (the paradise), jealous of other gods, and anxious to be worshipped. He favours those who approach him through a chosen intermediary but dislikes the rest of mankind and wants them destroyed; he gets angry and is revengeful, and would decide on the day of last judgement whom to take in heaven and whom to cast into hell.
This “God” is not the same as the God (paramãtman) of Sanãtana Dharma who is an all-pervading cosmic intelligence (mahat) constantly evolving and devolving himself, sometimes manifesting himself in the form of this universe and sometimes absorbing the universe into himself, who is beyond time, space and cause-and-effect cycle, who alone is and who cannot be comprehended except by saying this is not he.5
The God of Sanãtana Dharma cannot be achieved except through perfect yogic spirituality, through the observance of dharma - in any of its myriad forms -, but certainly not through adharma.
Prophetic monotheism has no notion of the God of Sanãtana Dharma. The sole aim of monotheistic theology like Islam is to prepare its adherents as a community to pursue some material goals in life and to reserve seats for them in paradise after the eventual doomsday. Even in paradise, the burden of Islamic theology is that the believer would enjoy everlasting carnal pleasure with beautiful houris and handsome youth, eat the finest food and drink the finest wine. However, as Allah also resides in paradise, the ‘believer’ there would have attained God in some sense.
like ‘all religions lead to God’ are indeed nothing short of nonsense.
Making Jesus and Muhammad Hindu Gods
The RSS idea of including Jesus and Muhammad in Hindu pantheon to harmonize the followers of these prophets with Hindus is not just stale. It runs straight into the face of their exclusivist dogmas and centuries of history.
Even before Muhammad had fled to Medina, the Quraish of Mecca had offered to accept Muhammad and his Allah in their pantheon only if he would agree to retain at least their three main goddesses - Lãt, Manãt and Uzzã - as Allah’s daughters. Muhammad agreed and soon got a revelation from Allah sanctioning the compromise. Shortly afterwards, however, when his strong-arm deputies like Umar threatened to revolt on the issue, Allah’s messenger repudiated the agreement. He promptly got a fresh ‘revelation’ in which Allah told him that the three verses containing the earlier revelation had actually been a handiwork of Satan in the garb of angel Gabriel!6
In the face of the exclusionist doctrine of Islam which permits no deviation from the notion that Allah is the only God, Muhammad is the only (final) Prophet, Quran is the only Book, which considers nothing to be a greater sin than ‘adding partners to Allah’ or worshipping idols or questioning Muhammad’s status, which places destruction of Kufr (Paganism) in the land of its visitation as the highest goal, it is juvenile to suggest that accommodating Allah on the pedestal of Hindu deities could melt the heart of Islam.
The tolerant Hindu society has in fact tried throughout to imagine - even in the face of terrible evidence to the contrary - that Allah is a benign god worthy of veneration. Hindu scholars went to the extent of writing an Allopanishad in the 16th century. Sri Ramakrishna ParamahaMsa is said by his followers to have taken to Muslim way of worship for a few days and have had a vision. Mahatma Gandhi kept singing “Ishwar Allah tere nãm”.7 Temples of so many Hindu sects like Sai Samaj display the Islamic crescent moon and star on their meditation spot along with the Hindu aum and the Christian cross. And if pictures of Allah have not become an object of worship in ordinary Hindu homes, it is because the pictures would have been surely greeted by murderous attack, violence and arson by Muslim mobs on the poor worshippers.
All the Hindus initiative to deify Muhammad has, however, had no effect on the Muslim's spirit of jihad against the kafir.
As for Jesus, he is by and large already included in Hindu pantheon. It is common in many Hindu homes that a picture of Jesus would share the pooja-shelf with other Gods and Goddesses. Hindu monastic orders like Yogada Satsanga Society (of Swami Yogananda) regard Jesus as an avatar and includes an invocation to him in their daily prayers. The Ramakrishna Mission accords him a high place and celebrates Christmas. The birthday of Jesus is an important annual festival in the calenders of the Divine Life Society and Sathya Sai Ashram as well.
That the simple-minded Hindus have adopted Jesus as an object of worship without caring to study the Bible or Christological literature or analysing the realities of his life and creed, is a different matter. What is relevant in the present context, is that such accommodation has in no way induced any slackening in the missionary effort at conversions through propaganda, inducements and fraud of every kind.
time for Hindu leaders to realize that the boot is on the other foot. Making
Jesus or Muhammad a Hindu God is unlikely to impress adherents of their
creeds. They would, more probably, view such gestures as attempts to “defile
their faith” or “spoil its purity”. Such naive expressions of Hindu pluralism
would perhaps only make it that much easier for these aggressive theologies
to make further inroads into the lands of Hindu Dharma and culture and
Muslim Attitude to Pagan Ancestry
We find RSS literature overflowing with appeals to Muslims’ good conscience. “We do not like to think of our Muslim compatriots as heirs and followers of such invaders and tyrants,” it says. It wants the Muslim community “to voluntarily make up for the huge massacres, temple destruction and swordpoint conversions which its earlier generations inflicted upon Hindu Society”. It says that “Indian Muslims should join themselves with Rama and not with Babar” and exhorts them “to rise to the occasion of their own free will”, and so on.
All this indicates a pair of notions: (i) if Muslims of India could remember that their ancestors were Hindus before conversion to Islam they would become loyal to Hindu nationality and heritage; (ii) If Muslims of today are reminded how Muslims of yore (“your ancestors”, in RSS language) persecuted Hindus, they would be full of remorse, shame and guilt-conscience and consequently develop a benign attitude towards Hindus.
Both of these notions are, unfortunately, foolish presumptions born out of inadequate knowledge of the tenets of Islam, its theology, its history and the examples set by its prophet in his sunnah (practices).
The basic credo of Islam is that people who followed pre-Islamic Pagan religions were denizens of darkness (jãhiliya) and only those who forsake those cultures and surrender to Muhammad’s creed become Allah’s favourites. They alone are followers of the right path (Dîn) and are assured of places in paradise. Islam dictates a complete break from the past. There is no place in Islam for any empathy with one’s idol-worshipping (mushrik) ancestry. Idolators including Muslims’ ancestors are abominable creatures in the eyes of Allah who has ordained most terrible punishment for them in eternal hell-fire.
Muslims who kill their own kith and kin for the sake of their “faith” are in fact glorified in the Quran. Muhammad specially commanded those of his followers who killed their own senior Pagan relatives, or expressed willingness to do so, in the Battle of Badr. Abu Talib, the tolerant Pagan uncle of Muhammad who had made it possible for the latter to preach his dogma by protecting him throughout from the anger of the Meccan Quraish, was decreed by Muhammad to land in hell merely because he chose to remain himself a Pagan till death. According to Muhammad even his mother Amina had her place reserved in hell because she had lived and died a Pagan. That the poor woman had died 34 years before Allah decided to start sending ‘revelations’ to her son and had no chance of embracing the ‘only true faith’, was of no consequence.
Destroying one’s Pagan past, and establishing Islam on Pagan lands are the most sacred duties enjoined by the Quran and Sunnah on a follower of Muhammad.
When a Muslim recalls how Muslims of yore (his ancestors or otherwise) had slaughtered kafirs, destroyed their temples, broken their deities, plundered their wealth, burnt their books, violated their women, and enslaved their children, he gets a sense of pride rather than of shame. For in doing so, they had acted in true spirit of jihad as per injunctions of Allah, in accordance with repeated exhortations of the Quran and examples of the Prophet cited in the Hadis, in short, as good pious Muslims firm in their faith.
A Muslim would consider these to be acts of valour rather than atrocities, courage rather than cruelty, virtue rather than vice. For jihad is the most sacred duty enjoined on the faithful by the Quran, and jihadic conduct the highest form of piety in Islam.
The RSS has only to note the unconcealed pride and glee with which a long chain of Muslim historians and ‘holy’ men, including Indian-born fellows like Amir Khusro, have described the death and destruction brought upon the Hindus, and how in the Muslim scale of honour, the gorier the record of his persecution, the higher the place of the persecutor. Ghaznavi, Timur and Aurangzeb are, therefore, still the greatest heroes of Muslims.
A vital truth has escaped the notice of the RSS. Muslims of Bhãratavarsha would start returning to Hindu fold only when they realize how obnoxious a doctrine Islam is, how false and fraudulent, how degrading and dehumanising, how unethical and superficial. History has bestowed a role on the Hindu nation - to help Muslims discover that Islam is not a religion at all but a political doctrine propounded to serve one man’s imperialist ambitions, that the Quran embodies nothing but Muhammad’s own thoughts expressed in words attributed to Allah but meant to serve his political and (occasionally) carnal ends, that terrorism and mob-violence have been the stock-in-trade of this doctrine from the day of its birth, that Islam is a prison-house that deprives them of their freedom of thought, powers of reasoning and qualms of conscience.
When, and only when, Muslims find out the reality about Muhammad and his creed, they would start walking out of Islam and feel proud to return to their ancestral culture.
It is not whether Muslims know they are descendants of converted Hindus. It is whether they are proud of that conversion or ashamed of it. Muslim mind cannot change by the knowledge (say) that they are descendants of children born of rapes committed by Muslim soldiers on hapless Hindu women. It would change when they start feeling ashamed of being products of such a barbaric theology.
Anwar Sheikh, for example, was a typical Muslim in 1947. He even killed three (Sikh) Hindus in the back-streets of Lahore during the post-partition riots and felt proud of performing a jihadic act. But once he saw through Muhammad, his creed, his book and his god (Allah), Sheikh not only discarded Islam with contempt but is now a committed scholar producing powerful literature and defiantly fighting the Islamic thought-police.
Salman Rushdie became what he is and exposed the real character of the “revelations” in his The Satanic Verses not because he met an RSS man one morning who told him that his ancestors were Hindu. Rushdie did his deed because he had realized that the creed of The Apostle of Allah was a fake.
Taslima Nasreen is not Hindu. But she is no Muslim either. She ceased to be a Muslim not because she remembered her Hindu ancestry but because she was intellectually convinced that “the Quran needs to be re-written”.
can provide genuine nationalist leadership to Hindus unless it develops
a conviction - and the courage to back it up - that Islam is the villain
and its theology the scourge that has to be put in its proper place.
Sarva Panth Samãdar?
The RSS has recently launched through one of its front organisations what it calls the ‘Sarva Panth Samãdar Manch’.
Quite clearly, RSS bigwigs somehow felt uncomfortable with the secularists’ ‘sarva dharma samabhãva’ slogan but could not quite make out what was really wrong with the concept and whether they should discard it outright. So they ended up changing two words in that slogan and retaining the concept with a slightly modified name!
How is RSS’s slogan any different from the secularists’ slogan? Both of them mean exactly the same thing. Namely, Sanãtana Dharma (in its myriad forms and branches) is a religion, Islam and Christianity are also religions, the latter are therefore as worthy of respect as the former, Islam and Christianity should be regarded as much a part of our national heritage as the Sanãtana Dharma, the Rigveda and Bhagvadgita can claim no more reverence than the Bible or the Quran, Jesus and Muhammad should get the same veneration from us as Shri Rama, Shri Krishna, Buddha, Mahavir or Nanak, we should regard Islam and Christianity as benign spiritual traditions like Sanãtana Dharma, and so on.
The bewilderment of the RSS appears to have been caused by their failure to appreciate the meaning of “dharma” or evaluate the monotheistic doctrines.
The fundamental principle of Hindu spiritual tradition is the contrasting between dharma and adharma. The Lord incarnates himself again and again to uphold dharma and destroy adharma; dharma leads to moksha, adharma to birth in lower orders (yonis), “victory will be where dharma is”, “a mind enveloped by darkness (tãmasika buddhi) mistakes adharma for dharma”. If anything can be considered a blasphemy in terms of Hindu spirituality, it is to equate dharma and adharma, to suggest that one should adopt dharma-adharma-sambhãva.
But sacred Hindu texts do not leave any room for confusion as to what constitutes dharma and what its antithesis. The Bhagvadgita (Ch. 16) for example describes fully what characterize dharma or daivî-sampad and what adharma or ãsurî-sampad. Islam which preaches hatred, violence, aggression and plunder against the non-believers, which lauds slaughter, cruelty and retribution on grounds of difference in ‘faith’, which inculcates sectarianism in “God’s chosen people” and contempt for other humans, which panders to the baser instincts of man to achieve power and wealth, which provides little for man’s spiritual upliftment - such a dogma cannot qualify as dharma as perceived in Hindu tradition. It is out and out adharma.
dharma and adharma on the same pedestal by labelling them
both as “panths” and holding such ‘panths’ in equal respect thus amounts
to adopting a principle of dharma-adharma samabhãva, i.e.
equality of respect for virtue and vice, righteous and unrighteous, good
and evil. This would be ridiculous. It can only make a mockery of 5000
years of Indian spiritual thought. It cannot but sink the society - as
it has done for the last 50 years - to the lowest depths of viciousness
and moral bankruptcy.
Islam, the Source of Ghetto-Mentality
It is foolish to blame the Muslim leadership for the ghetto-mentality of their community. Muslims have a ghetto-mentality because Islam is a ghetto. It seeks to close the mind of its adherents against every breath of fresh air blowing from gardens of spirituality lying outside.
The whole basis of Islam is that Quran is the divinely revealed word of Allah which is exhaustive, immutable, eternal and universal. Nothing can be added to or taken away from it. “When Allah and the Prophet have decided a matter for them, what say can the believers have in it?”, says the Quran (33:36).
If chemistry, astronomy, geography or bio-genetics prove anything which is contrary to the Quran (even that the earth moves round the sun), Islam demands that such knowledge should be shunned. Then there is the example of the Prophet whose opinion and conduct, whose sayings and practices on every issue are models for the believers, because he is considered ‘an ideal man’ sent by Allah. So the best that a Muslim can ever aspire to become is just another Muhammad with all his cruelty, causality, clannishness and bigotry.
Finally, Islam’s cardinal principle is that the kafirs are dirty creatures, objects of Allah’s hatred, whose wisdom is Devil’s mischief, whose shadow even would pollute a Muslim’s house. This persuades Muslims to withdraw themselves as far as possible from the learning, values, philosophies and company of kafirs.
thus from avenues of science, rationality and logic, adherents of Islam
are reduced to frogs in the well. Suspicious of all outside influence,
fearful of the light of knowledge, they grope in the darkness of Islam.
The predicament of some Muslim leaders is understandable. Should they continue
promoting ghettoes, or risk their necks by discarding injunctions of the
Quran and the Hadis?
Betrayal of the Ayodhya Movement
The ideological muddle of the RSS was starkly exposed by its ambivalent conduct of the Ayodhya movement.
It started by taking up the emotional nationalist urge of liberating the holy Hindu site of Ramajanmabhoomi (RJ) from alien occupation and restoring it to the Hindus. The call found spontaneous emotional response from Hindus. A clear national vision would have told the RSS that the Babri mosque had no business to stand on the RJ and its demolition was a rightful aspiration of the Hindu nation. But the RSS never developed this conviction. It soon started talking of “making a new Rama temple on RJ” instead of “liberating” it. It diverted attention by making bricks, sanctifying them through worship (Rãma-shilã-poojan) and so on. It avoided facing the basic issue - no temple can be built unless the original site is liberated and restored to Hindus.
Soon the Sangh Parivar was taking recourse to new subterfuges. They said that the mosque was not a mosque at all but a temple(!), that they wanted to ‘renovate’ it and not pull it down, that they wanted to do so because it was a temple, and that it should be called a “disputed structure” instead of Babri mosque and such other nonsense.
As time passed, the Sangh Parivar was hedging further. They said they wanted to build a temple on RJ but only by “amicably shifting” the mosque. They talked of acquiring the site through legislation, building a temple without damaging the mosque, ‘relocating’ the mosque with respect and Muslim co-operation, making construction only on surrounding land (77 acres) and so on. Stalwarts of the Sangh Parivar were also giving undertakings in courts and political fora that they would protect the Babri mosque!
The President of the VHP proclaimed the nonsense that Babar was a tolerant ruler who did not demolish temples, that it was his general Mir Baqi who built the Babri mosque without Babar’s knowledge and that ‘offering namaz on a disputed site is forbidden in Islam’. The Sangh Parivar tried to fool the Muslims, and begged that RJ be handed over by Muslims as “a gesture of goodwill”.
But the Hindus still went with them.
When the fateful day of 6th December 1992 came, the Sangh Parivar was in a state of pathetic self-contradiction. The assemblage of Hindu youth fired with nationalist zeal was not prepared any more to play the RSS game of merry-go-round on RJ. As they started bringing down the offending structure, the RSS arrayed its volunteer corps who tried their best to resist the Hindus and protect the mosque! Luckily, they failed.
As Babar’s mosque was demolished, Hindus rejoiced while RSS stalwarts sat with sullen faces; Vajpayee cried, ‘Satyãnãs kar diyã’, the Sangh Parivar started hiding its face behind excuses. They disowned the act and the heroes who had performed it. They frowned at the spontaneous joy of Uma Bharati and Sadhvi Ritambhara. They all but apologized for it.
And that was the end of the Ayodhya movement. The Sangh Parivar simply dropped a movement which they had promised would be the greatest mass movement in human history. While RJ continued to remain in the hands of anti-Hindu secularists, the Sangh Parivar started bemoaning that the Rama Temple cannot be built till they capture political power in Delhi. They meekly agreed to surrender to a secularist judiciary the right to decide whether the RJ belonged to the Hindus at all.
The midstream jettisoning of the Ayodhya movement has been the most severe blow to Hindu interests since the Partition. It has demoralized Hindus, confused them and created doubts in their minds about the legitimacy of their aspirations. It has left the Hindu society even more directionless and less self-confident than ever before. It has pushed the nascent Hindu movement back by almost a century. As the 20th century comes to a close, the Hindu nation finds itself pushed back to the position where it had stood almost 90 years ago on the eve of the partition of Bengal in 1905.
The RSS betrayal of the Hindu
society was complete.
Intellectual Bankruptcy is the Bane of the RSS
Why has the RSS landed itself in such a pathetic hole?
The answer is straightforward - the organisation lacks an intellectual base. When Dr. Hedgewar laid stress on organisation in 1925, he may have been right. But his successors got so obsessed with saMgaThana (organisation) that they totally neglected scholarship and intellect. They forgot that ideology is the foundation of a political movement and scholarship and intellect are the bricks that make that foundation. Freedom of intellect was probably seen as an obstacle in the way of obedience and discipline (just as in Islam) and therefore detrimental to organisation.
RSS meetings generally include what they call a bauddhik (an intellectual discourse) and have bauddhik pramukhs at different levels to conduct them, but their lectures are generally quite hackneyed, superficial and uninspiring. More significantly, it is forbidden in the so-called intellectual sessions to ask questions at the end of the lectures.8
Suspicious of liberty of thought, the RSS thus produced a generation of “uneducated” leadership - people who never cared to read either the Bible or the Quran and the Hadis or the life of Muhammad or the history of Islam or of Christianity. Neither did they try to study in depth the Hindu sacred literature. These leaders knew next to nothing either about Hinduism or about the prophetic monotheism, about the psyche that has guided this nation or its enemies, the ethical values that India stood for and those its invaders sought to impose on her. They lacked insight into India’s hoary history or the dimensions of her struggle against invading civilizations.
Hardly anything of notable scholarship has been produced by the RSS ‘bauddhik’ brigade. In 25 years of its existence the Deendayal Research Institute inspired by the Sangh has published hardly anything that can be called a work of solid Hindu scholarship. Guru Golwalkar’s Bunch of Thoughts makes critical references to the behaviour-pattern of present-day Muslims without showing any awareness of what forms their psyche and what role Islamic theology plays in this.
For the overwhelming majority in the Sangh Parivar, including most of its bigwigs, the intellectual equipment remains limited to some lay-man perceptions which are either too superficial to help formulate ideological convictions, or too much at variance with realities to help explain emerging events.
Unfortunately, while Dr. Hedgewar was pursuing his nationalist ideals during 1925-40, Gandhi’s charisma had widespread appeal to Hindu sentiments. Majority of Hindu were swept off their feet and began to share his misguided vision of a composite Hindu-Muslim nationality. Torrents of contrary evidence were pouring in, but Hindus gullibly followed Gandhi’s line.
forties, Jawaharlal Nehru was providing an intellectual clothing to the
Gandhian viewpoint. The RSS, suffering from intellectual impoverishment,
was unable to counter the Gandhi-Nehru onslaught or equip the Hindus to
reject its ideas. Instead, the Sangh was sucked into the thought-stream
of a perverted secularism. Since then they have largely obeyed the secularist
track-rules, except for making occasional noises to the contrary.
Loss of Ideology is Loss of Way
A part from Hindu society, the main loser from the ideological failure of the RSS has been the RSS (or the Sangh Parivar ) itself. For all its boasting about being the largest voluntary organisation in the world (500,000 swayamsevaks, 40,000 shakhas and all that), the RSS is now virtually a dead institution unable to force the secularist system to bend to the Hindu viewpoint on a single issue - from Kashmir to Urdu, from infiltration to Vande Mãtaram, from uniform civil code to cow-slaughter, from Mathura-Kashi to TADA. It is like a lifeless monster of enormous proportions rather than a throbbing little bee with a sting.
In the midst of hundreds of new dals, vahinis, manches, gosthis etc. floated by the Sangh and thousands of sachivs, pramukhs and upa-pramukhs and the like nominated therein, an utter lack of inner strength, conviction and commitment characterizes all its activities. Having seen the working of the VHP, Bajrang Dal, Vanavasi Kalyan Kendra and the like from close quarters, I found only a massive form without any content, a yawning void behind a lofty facade. Programmes are launched with fanfare, there is hectic activity to get media publicity, but the office-beares merely go through the motions without any commitment, and the end-result is zero.
Talk to them in private, and you will know that the cadre of swayamsevaks is deeply frustrated. Bright idealistic young men who had sacrificed lucrative material careers and joined the Sangh out of genuine nationalist urge, feel cheated. What the Sangh is doing fails to touch their inner chords. Some of them get disillusioned and quit, others carry on with the rituals and wonder what is it all about.
In the absence of a solid ideological commitment to guide them, many Sangh office-bearers have been infected by Mandalism and Dalitism during the last 6 years. With the normal quota of petty jealousies and vested interests, RSS is making a career for them now.
Look at the shakhas of which RSS brags as running 40,000 across the country. The unpleasant truth is that, thanks to their unimaginative functioning, they now evoke little response in the minds of Hindu youth and not even 4 or 5 swayamsevaks attend an average shakha. Even the largest shakha in Bihar draws no more than a dozen. But the show goes on.
In December 1993, my son (18) used to go past an RSS shakha every morning. He always saw the poor pracharak performing all by himself in front of his saffron flag. For a few days, an obese Sikh boy was seen working out with the pracharak obviously because the former’s father thought the boy should lose some weight. Soon the boy was not to be seen again. Then came the climax. It was a bitterly cold, foggy morning. The grass was wet with dew and the sun was not yet up when my son passed by. He told me sadly what he had seen at the shakha. The saffron flag was up on the pole. The poor pracharak was again busy doing his usual drill by himself, while a shaggy street puppy stood there looking up at the pracharak’s face and vigorously wagging its skimpy tail!
In another local shakha, the prachrak himself told me, some Mohammedan youths would defecate at night at the point where the saffron flag was to be erected. The pracharak would just clean the mess in the morning with a shovel, put up the flag again and start doing his acrobatics!
Organisations generally reach a stage when the organisation itself becomes more important than the idea it was supposed to promote. The vehicle becomes more important than the goal. The RSS too has reached that stage. Serving the interests of the Sangh Parivar now surely ranks higher than serving the Hindu nation. A tendency to weave a cocoon around itself is on the increase. Meet some RSS bigwigs, and you would find them talking about what happened in the Sangh meeting somewhere, how a family was drawn to it, how Guruji said what to whom and how Deorasji responded, how the Sangh Parivar is a well-knit family, and so on. An unwillingness to face the failures or to objectively discuss unpleasant realities, cannot be missed. On the contrary, point out the failures, and pat comes the reply, “Aren’t we alone doing something for the Hindus? Who else is doing anything at all?”
Constant ambivalence, appeasement of Muslims and repeated self-contradictions has damaged the credibility of the RSS among thinking sections of the Hindu public. Specially after the RJ betrayal, Hindus have lost interest in the Sangh Parivar while the swayamsevaks have lost inspiration. It is no wonder that all their subsequent programmes - Swadeshi, Go-rakshã, Mathura-Kashi - have turned out to be damp squibs. They had started with roars, but all of them have ended in whimpers.
BJP, the political front of the RSS, has by now been in power for varying periods in seven north Indian states. There has been nothing in the policies and actions of any of these Governments to indicate that they are ideologically different from Nehruvian Secularism. Before they had come to power, the Delhi BJP made much noise about presence of 3 lakh Bangladeshi Muslim infiltrators in the national capital and took credit for deportation of 127 of them, but once in power the Khurana Government totally forgot about the whole thing and talked of issuing green cards to the infiltrators! In Rajasthan, the Shekhawat government bestowed a lavish Rs. 6.7 crores on beautifying the dargah of Muin-ud-din Chishti at Ajmer, which had been built after demolishing hundreds of Hindu temples. Kalyan Singh in U.P. enhanced the hajj grant to twice the level at which Mulayam Yadav had kept it and retained Urdu as an official language. Patwa and Shanta Kumar did nothing that was even remotely Hindu.
But the cake certainly goes to A.B. Vajapayee’s 13-day Government at the Centre in 1996. In order to appease pro-Islam elements, it dropped from its agenda items like scrapping of article 370, building the RJ temple, removing the discrimination against Hindus inherent in article 30 of the Constitution, and expelling infiltrators. It did not even appoint a Commission to study and draft a Uniform Civil Code in pursuance of repeated specific directions from the Supreme Court.
party can be so shamelessly devoid of ideological commitment was a stunning
revelation to many.
Failure of the RSS Movement:
For the Hindu nation, failure of the RSS movement has been a veritable disaster. This Hindu national movement has hardly made any progress during the last 80 years. It has floundered again and again because its leaders lacked proper historical perspective and clarity of vision. With RSS failing to strike a chord in increasing number of Hindu minds, the nation is left leaderless as well as directionless. As already pointed out, midstream abandonment of the Ayodhya movement has so demoralized and confused the Hindu society as to push back its national resurgence spirit by almost a century. An emerging Hindu consciousness, a feeling of restlessness among thinking Hindus that was evident in the 1980s, has suffered a serious setback.
Worse still, only a tiny fraction of the Hindu society has the political perception to see that the Sangh Parivar is no less steeped in Nehruvian Secularism than the Congress. The majority continues to place its faith in the Parivar and feel that its interests are secure - notwithstanding evidence to the contrary - just as it had done in the Congress during 1930s and 1940s.
Secularists of every hue continue to spread the lore that RSS is a powerful, radical Hindu organisation, and most Hindus keep believing it. The secularist trick of thus lulling the Hindus into a false sense of complacency has proved quite successful. Just as Savarkar failed to get Hindus behind him because of Mahatma Gandhi, so small pockets of wakeful Hindus are today unable to gather wider support because the public continues to believe that RSS is there to protect their interests.
The overall Hindu situation remains, consequently, a peculiar amalgam of frustration and smugness, demoralization and optimism.
Continued Hindu faith in the RSS has forestalled the emergence of a genuinely Hindu alternative, whereas the Sangh Privar has started imaging itself as the rightful guardian of the Hindu society and views the possible emergence of a “competitor” with unease. At the same time, Hindus continue to be taken for granted and the ground continues to slip from under their feet, week after week, month after month, year after year. In the words of the Upanishad, the RSS acts as “people who are ignorant but imagine themselves as wise and learned”, while the Hindu society under its care is reduced to “blind men led by the blind”.
breath of life almost out of the RSS, decomposition of its body may take
a few years. Where does that leave the Hindu society at the close of the
20th century is the question to ponder.
The writer became well-known when as an IAS officer in Bihar he protested strongly and loudly against politicians interfering in administration and bullying the bureaucrats for bending laws in their favour. Finally, he resigned in utter disgust at the doings of Laloo Yadav and his gang. His letter of resignation is a classic, particularly in respect of Indian secularism perverting India’s political parlance. He has now settled down at Ranchi in Bibar and is actively engaged in social welfare activities. His book, The Concept of Hindu Nation, was published by Voice of India in 1995. The Hindi version of this book has been brought out in 1996.
1 Shri Aurobindo said in 1923: “I am sorry they are making a fetish of this Hindu-Muslim unity. It is no use ignoring facts; some day the Hindus may have to fight the Muslims and they must prepare for it. Hindu-Muslim unity should not mean the subjection of the Hindus. Every time the mildness of the Hindu has given way. The best solution would be to allow Hindus to organize themselves and the Hindu-Muslim unity would take care of itself, it would automatically solve the problem. Otherwise we are lulled into a false sense of satisfaction that we have solved a difficult problem when in fact we have only shelved it.”
While framing the Rules and Regulations of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission, Swami Vivekananda had written in 1897-98: “For whoever goes out of the Hindu religion is not only lost to us, but also we have in him one more enemy. It is well-known in history what great harm was done during the Muslim regime by the renegades who became enemies and destroyed their own hearth and home” (Ch. Plan of Work for India, Rule 15).
2 It is well-known that most of the Sufis were fanatic Muslims, they acted as ‘eyes and ears of the Islamic army’, and went places ahead of the latter and gathered intelligence. They persuaded Muslim rulers to destroy Hindu shrines and build mosques on them. The most hailed of the Sufis, Muin-ud-din Chishti had his dargah built after destroying a Shiva temple atop the Ajmer hill. Another Sufi, Amir Khusro’s gleeful description of the destruction of the Somanath jyotirliNga, and his comment that “Hindu women used to rub their vaginas on the lingam” should tell what stuff these Sufis we made of.
3 The presumptions are not true. The Quran does not exclude cows from among animals that may be slaughtered for sacrifice, certainly no ‘kafir’ site, temple or no temple, is barred from Muslim take-over. In fact, Islam believes all land on earth to rightfully belong to Muslims as per Allah’s desire and a kafir enjoying a land is a squatter anyway. So there can never be a “disputed” land between Islam and the Kafirs. Forcibly taking over kafir land, destroying their temples, and erecting houses of Allah thereon are in fact highly commanded virtuous acts is Islam. Prophet Muhammad himself did it at Kaaba and then at scores of other places in Arabia.
4 During preparation of photo-identity cards in T.N. Seshan’s time as Chief Election Commissioner (1995) it was noticed all over Bihar that amongst Hindu voters, hardly 45-50% people got themselves photographed (or their cards made) whereas among Muslims the figure was above 90%. In any typical polling booth on an election day, Muslim voters in the queue far exceed their proportion in the voters’ list. Exit poll would also show that most of them had voted for the same candidate.
5 Even the concept of piety and morality are different in Hindu Dharma and in Islam. Hindu morality is based on values that have been evolved over ages by rishis and savants as being helpful for inner purification and peace, harmony and cohesion in society. Islamic morality is based on externalities prescribed in the Quran and Hadis. If they say ‘don’t blow your right nose first’ then it is immoral in Islam to blow the right nose first. In Islam, piety lies in “faith” in the Prophet and the Book and conduct towards fellow-believers. In Hindu Dharma, piety involves spirituality.
6 These three verses were thereupon dropped from the Quran and came to he known as the Satanic Verses.
7 Mahatma Gandhi’s support of the Khilafat agitation had taken the form of putting copies of the Vedas and the Quran on the same throne taken out in a procession. Muslim theologians were furious over this ‘insult’ to the Book of Allah.
I know many swayamsevaks who feel quite frustrated by this prohibition.
But the frustration has not found expression earlier than Dr. Godbole in
such cogent form.