COMMENTARY
 
Followers of the Führer
The Nation
April 22, 1998
“To keep up the purity of the Race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic Races, the Jews. Race pride at its height has been manifested here,” wrote Guru Golwalkar, the chief of Rashtriya Swayamsevk Sangh (RSS), in his 1938 book, We or Our Nationhood Defined (p35).

The Bharatiya Janata Party, currently ruling India, is the political wing of RSS, the 75-year old extremist Hindu organization, whose nationalist ideology is rooted in Adolf Hitler’s concept of the purity of the Aryan Race. The April 6 resolution of Congress, India’s oldest party, also said a ‘fascist’ and fundamentalist organization that wanted to turn India into a Hindu theocracy controlled the Hindu nationalist government. “The BJP is not master of its own house and ultimately it is the RSS, a fascist organization, which runs the show,” reported the AFP. In its election manifesto, the BJP had pledged to establish a ‘one people one nation and one culture’ order in India, in line with its Hindutva ideology.

The Hindutva idea was first floated by Maharashtrian Brahmin Vinayak Damodar Savarkar in his 1923 book Hindutva: Who is a Hindu? Savarkar led the pre-partition communal Hindu Mahasabbha movement. His main argument in Hindutva was that the Aryans who settled in India at the dawn of history already formed a nation now embodied in the Hindus. Their Hindutva, according to him, rests on three pillars: geographical unity, racial features and a common culture.

Savarkar rejected any form of nation-state based on an abstract social contract and thereby comprising individualized citizen dwelling within the country’s administrative tiers. He emphasized the ethnic and racial substance of the Hindu nation. “The Hindus are not only a nation but race-Jati. The word Jati, derived from the root Jan (to produce), means a brotherhood, a race determined by a common origin, possessing a common blood. All Hindus claim to have in their veins the blood of the mighty race incorporated with and descended from the Vedie fathers. (Hindutva: Who is a Hindu, pp.84-5).

Dr. Keshav Baliran Hedgewar founded the RSS after reading Hindutva and visiting Savarkar. The RSS founder had received his political initiation from Balkrishna Shivram Moonje, a leader of racist Hindu movement Hindu Sabha and aide to its founder Bal Gangadhar Tilak. Parallel to Hindu Sabha movement at the start of this century, there was another racist Hindu movement of Swami Dayananda called Arya Samaj, which, with its Shudhi and Sangthan movements, wanted to revive the centuries-old Aryan Hindu order in the subcontinent by eliminating all other minorities; most importantly, Muslims.

“Savarkar codified the ideology of Hindutva after borrowing its ethnic nationalism from the West. Hedgewar undertook to implement it by providing Hindu nationalism with a social model of the Hindu nation and, more immediately, with a social organization, the RSS,” writes historian Christophe Jafferelot in his 1996 book, The Hindu Nationalist Movement in India, p 44.

Dr Hedgewar, who founded the RSS in 1925, took upon himself “the task of liberating Hindu society from the demoralized and degraded state and organize it to assert as exclusively constituting the nation, “ writes C P Bhishikar, the official biographer of the RSS founder, in Keshav: Sangh Nirmata (Hindi, p.30). Dr Hedgewar did not believe that Indian culture was an amalgam of various traditions. He was inspired by the works of racist German writers such as Bluntschli, Gettel and Burgers.