COMMENTARY
 
Hindu Nationalism Threatens Indian Secularism
The Nation
April 19, 1998
“Germany has shown how well-nigh impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by,” wrote Guru M S Golwalkar in his book We or Our Nationhood Defined. The 1938 book, written by one of the most respected chiefs of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), forms the basis of the Hindutva ideology of “one nation, on people and one culture” of the BJP, which traces its origins to the RSS. After half century of its independent existence, India, under the BJP-led rule, is ready for the practical manifestation of Golwalkar’s ideology of Nazism. BJP’s belligerence is as transparent as Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

Golwalkar wrote: “From this standpoint sanctioned by the experience of shrewd old nations (meaning primarily Germany), the Hindu, the people in Hindustan, must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence Hindu religion, must entertain no ideas but those of the glorification of the Hindu race and culture; i.e., they must not only give up their attitude of intolerance and ungratefulness towards this land and its age-old traditions, but must also cultivate the positive attitude of love and devotion instead; in one word, they must cease to be foreigners or may stay in the country wholly sub-subordinated to the Hindu nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less preferential treatment, not even citizens’ rights.” (p. 52)

The BJP was founded in 1980 as a result of split in the Janata Party. The split had taken place as the then Janata leadership decided that all those in the Janata ranks who had links with the RSS (National Volunteer Corps) should leave the party. Thus, led by Atal Behari Vajpayee, the current prime minister and former leader of the Jan Sangh, another offshoot of the RSS, many Janata leaders quit the party and formed the BJP. Vajpayee has always taken pride in his association with the RSS, regarding which one of his recent comments was that this Hindu fundamentalist outfit “was being misrepresented and was good for national discipline.”

“The BJP is not master of its own house and ultimately it is the RSS, a fascist organization, which runs the show,” a resolution drafted by the Congress Party earlier this month said. “This political duplicity will, at some point of time, reach a flashpoint.” The concern of the Congress makes sense. Even most of the Indian analysts believe that Vajpayee, who is commonly known as a moderate, is a mask hiding the hardcore Hindu nationalists of the BJP, who are directed by the RSS. . Vajpayee’s past credentials also prove that the real person in him also may be a diehard RSS activist, which he was in the initial part of his long political life.

As Minister for External Affairs in the Morarjee Desai’s regime, he was constrained in the free pursuit of RSS policy because the Janata Cabinet contained other elements. Within the given constraints, however, he tried to make the policy of non-alignment ‘genuine’ by moving closer to Israel. The reason was that, for his Guru Golwalkar, one of the admirable models of the “shrewd old nations”, besides Hitler’s Germany, was the Zionist community, which has maintained its separate identity. Admiration of Hitler and the Jews in the same breath may seem strange but there is a rationale behind such an approach: both Nazis and Zionists have been fanatically racist, which is what the RSS wants Hindus of India to become.

The BJP’s miraculous political rise since the mid 1980s confirms that the RSS has finally succeeded in its aim. The RSS was founded in 1925 by Dr Hedgewar. Referring to the circumstances in which the RSS was born, the official biographer of Dr Hedgewar, Bhishikar writes, “In those days, the idea of territorial nationalism held sway in the country.

Even well-educated workers had developed strong feelings that all those who live within the geographical boundaries of this country, whatever their sentiments, constitute the nation.” –C P Bhishikar, Keshav: Sangh Nirmata (Hindi, p 30). This was considered by the founder of the RSS to be “slavish mentality, a kind of self-forgetfulness on the part of Hindus.” Dr Hedgewar took upon himself what is described as "the task of liberating Hindu society of this demoralized, degenerate state and organize it to assert as exclusively constituting the nation.” The first, most comprehensive statement of this idea was afterwards made by Guru Golwalkar in his book We or Our Nationhood Defined, which was treated as the ideological manifesto of the RSS until the late 1960s, when its place was taken by a more elaborate compendium of Golwalkar’s ideas, Bunch of Thoughts.

To Golwalkar, Hindus alone constitute and have built up values of patriotism in the subcontinent. “As the child of this soil, our well-evolved society has been living here for thousands of years. This society has been known, especially in modern times, as the Hindu society. This also is a historical fact. For it is the forefathers of the Hindu people who have set up standards and the traditions of love and devotion of the motherland.

They also prescribed various duties and rites with a view to keep aglow in the people’s mind for all time to come, a living and complete picture of our motherland and devotion to it as a divine entity. And again it is they who shed their blood in defense of the sanctity and integrity of the motherland. That all this has been done only be the Hindu people is a fact to which our history of thousands of years bears eloquent testimony. It means that only the Hindu has been living here as the child of this soil. All our great personalities right from the hoary ages down to modern times have, by their life and example, only confirmed the continuity of this scared bond.” (Bunch of Thoughts, pp 11-23).

The non-Hindus, according to this concept, cannot be loyal to this nation. Golwalkar says, “They are born in this land, no doubt. But are they true to its salt? Are they grateful towards this land which has brought them up? Do they feel that they are children of this land, its traditions and that to serve it is their great good fortune? Do they feel it a duty to serve it? No. Together with the change in their faith, gone are the spirit of love and devotion for the nation (Bunch of Thoughts, pp. 127-28).

The non-Hindus, it is theorized by the RSS ideologues, have made no contribution to India’s culture and civilization or to its political or economic development. Nor can they ever make. According to the RSS mouthpiece, The Organizer, not only Muslims and Christians but also Jains and Buddhists have made no contribution to the social life of India.

Headquartered in Nagpur, the RSS leads a grouping of India’s four main hard-line Hindu nationalist parties, collectively called Sangh Parivar. These include the BJP, formerly known as Jan Sangh, which is RSS’s political front, the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the last one is the RSS’s propaganda and attack wing, which operates along with another outfit called Bajrang Dal. Militants belonging to Bajrang Dal and the VHP had led the Babri mosque demolition and now wish to demolish two other mosques at Mathura and Kanshi.

The BJP President, L.K. Advani, along with some over 40 other BJP leaders, were in 1996 charge-sheeted by the Lucknow High Court for their involvement in the December 1992 demolition of the Babri mosque. That, even then, Vajpayee appointed Advani as the home minister sufficiently explains how much clout the RSS, whose deep connection with Advani is no secret, has in the present government setup in India.

The RSS shares its symbol of Swastika with the Nazis. Its leaders were so inspired by Italian Fascism and German Nazism that not only they chose to write a similar chapter in Indian history but they also traveled to Italy and Germany prior to the First World War to see for themselves what great advances the two nations under dictatorial leadership had made. Even though he does not associate himself with the RSS, Bal Thakeray, the Shiv Sena’s supremo, has for years been openly admiring Hitler from India’s financial capital, Mumbai. Similar voices should soon come out from the country’s political capital, Delhi, as well.