The message from ABPS-2019 is that supporting traditional institutions that have stood the test of time and remain relevant today is central to the RSS philosophy
The resolution passed by Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha (ABPS) this year on the institution of family highlights an issue that we have neglected out of fashion or out of tune with the present atmosphere. However, it is not for the first time that the RSS leadership has gone against the tide. If we were to study its resolutions over the years, we find that in most cases it has proven to be correct.
RSS has consistently followed a reformist agenda, but not aggressive hard push for reforms. It has criticised caste system and opposed conversions. It has been openly talking against conversion of vulnerable members of the Hindu society, as it believes that the agencies pushing for conversions not only change the way of worship but culture and view towards the nation. The Meenakshipuram mass conversion of 1981, in fact, turned out to be a watershed moment for the Hindu society, with RSS and its associates leading to an unprecedented massive Ekatmata Yatras across Bharat leading to the reawakening of the Hindu society in a big way in 1983. Realising conversion is also promoted due to caste issues and issues like untouchability, it exhorted Acharyas and saints to come on the road, literally, and visit Dalit ghettos, villages and asked the Hindus to rise above the old orthodox thinking.
Way back in 1983, the Akhil Bharatiya Karyakari Mandal had passed a resolution on conspiracy to set a Church at Nilakkal—a sacred spot of pilgrimage for the entire Hindu people. It said, “Such a church within the eighteen holy hills complex of the famous Sabarimala Temple would obviously prove to be a constant source of hurting the Hindu religious sentiments.” It went on to state, “RSS considers as highly reprehensible the acts of the Government such as providing police protection to the trespassers, assaulting the peaceful, revered Sanyasins who entered the area for doing penance, and beating up and arresting the respectable members of the ladies' delegation to the Chief Minister at Guruvayur. It is tragic that the Kerala Government should have become instrumental in insulting and injuring the three points of Hindu religious honour viz., the Temple, the Sanyasins and the Motherhood.” This agitation of Guruvayur led to the arrests of more than 3,500 swayamsevaks and sympathisers and their manhandling and torture in police-lock-ups, police raids and illegal searches of Sangh Karyalayas, forcible closure of Shakhas at some places.
In 1998 it passed a resolution with reference to Sivagiri Mutt take-over and Kerala Hindu Religious and Charitable Institutions and Endowment Act, and expressed grave concern over the "Hindu Religious and Charitable Institution and Endowment Bill" presented before the Kerala Legislative Assembly, which intended to empower the Government controlled Devosam Board to take over not only temples but also independent and autonomous Mutts and Ashrams including those with headquarters outside the state, despite near unanimous opposition from the non-Marxist parties and organisation.
In the same vein, the ABPS-2019 passed a resolution about Sabarimala Temple. The resolution says that it places on record its deep respect for the collective sentiments expressed by all the devotees and appeals them to continue the struggle to protect the temple traditions with utmost restraint and sobriety. The Pratinidhi Sabha urged the Kerala Government to honour the beliefs, sentiments and democratic rights of the devotees and not perpetrate violence upon its own people. It hoped that the court will comprehensively consider all these concerns in the review and other petitions. The ABPS also calls upon the people to support ‘Save Sabarimala Movement’ in every respect.
The resolution this year about Bharatiya family system is a crucial thought to the evolution of our nation as Bharat. The resolution rightly points out that the family system is the precious contribution of our society to the humanity. Due to its uniqueness it says, “Hindu family functions as the basic unit which connects an individual to the nation taking the journey towards Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam. Along with being a complete system of social and economic security, family also is an important medium of inculcating samskars and imparting values to the new generation. The multi-centred character of the Hindu society is the main reason for its eternal existence and the family system is one of the effective and important centres. These days, our family system that epitomises the sacred cultural heritage seems to be disintegrating.
RSS notes that the principal reasons for the breakup of the family system are the increasing influence of the materialistic mindset and self-centeredness. The tendency to keep children in hostels at a very young age is growing. Due to the absence of emotional security of the family, the feeling of loneliness is growing in the young generation. As a result, drug addiction, violence, heinous crimes and suicides are reaching alarming levels. Growing numbers of old age homes, in the absence of the social security of the family, is worrisome.
RSS leadership underlines a need for comprehensive and immense efforts to sustain the lively and value-based nature of our family system. It then goes on to provide easy solutions to sustain this wonderful family system.
We can look away from these key inputs by RSS only at our own peril. Indians have succeeded the world over because of our strong institution of the family. If we allow it to collapse, we may end up with lakhs of youth who could be officially on drugs to overcome depression as we see in the Western world. We have to learn good qualities of the West rather than ape them blindly even in their follies.
In 2009, the ABPS had passed a resolution on the dignity and respect for women. It said the ABPS sees it as regretful that women are being increasingly subjected to indecent behaviour, eve-teasing, sexual exploitation, abuse and other despicable crimes. It is deeply distressing that in addition to female foeticide, dowry violence etc; they are subjected to sexual abuse at workplaces, public places and even homes too.”
RSS has consistently followed a reformist agenda but not aggressive hard push for reforms. It criticised the caste system. Its influence resulted in Hindu saints and savants passing a resolution in Vishwa Hindu Parishad in 1966 declaring that no Hindu is fallen and all Hindus are children of the same mother, thus brothers. A landmark event that saw Gurus and saints from nearly all Hindu traditions, sects and sampradayas coming together on a single platform in 1000s of years of Indian history. Realising conversion is also promoted due to caste issues and issues like untouchability, exhorted Acharyas and saints to come on the road, literally, and visit Dalit ghettos, villages, asked Hindus to rise above old orthodox thinking.
To promote unity and harmony within Dharma fold, RSS has promoted the celebration of national icons like Dr Ambedkar, Narayan Guru, Savarkar, Guru Gobind Singh, Bhagwan Mahavir, Bhagwan Buddha, anniversary of Aurobindo, Malaviya, Krishnadevaray, Rabindranath Thakur. The call to celebrate 550th Prakashotsav of Shri Guru Nanak Dev ji is in the same vein.
RSS has consistently raised issues that were overlooked by mainstream political parties and institutions. Of 270+ resolutions passed by the RSS since 1950, 29 were dedicated to Hindu religious and cultural issues. These do not include resolutions on Ram Mandir. Issues brought up in resolutions also tell us how RSS has been at the forefront of struggling for Hindu rights under a misrepresented secularism popularised by irreligious or people masquerading as secular by playing pro-minority and anti-majority games. Message from ABPS this year that supporting traditional institutions that have stood the test of time, and remain relevant today, is central to RSS philosophy.
(The writer is a well-known author. His latest book is ‘RSS 3600 Demystifying Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh)