The recent visit by German Ambassador Shri Walter J. Lindner to the RSS headquarters in Nagpur created an unnecessary controversy. He is not the first Ambassador or foreign diplomat to visit the RSS offices either in Nagpur or Delhi. These visits are considered routine and a welcome exchange of ideas over a cup of tea or a meal. However, he is the first Ambassador to make such a visit public.
In Bharat, a clique has flourished, largely with the support and patronage of the ruling dispensation during the Congress regime, known as ‘left-liberals’. I don’t know who coined this oxymoronic term. In practice, the people who adhere to this school of thought have been highly illiberal and intolerant of people with views that differ from theirs. These forces have consistently tried to condemn, defame, oppose and ostracise the RSS by spreading canards and unfounded lies about its philosophy and history. But by the grace of the Almighty and relentless efforts of RSS workers, RSS’ reach, spread and influence in Bharatiya society, pan Bharat, has only grown and continues to do so. On the other hand, this clique has been losing its grip on the narrative and the consciousness of the public and, in fact, is increasingly criticised and ostracised for their elitist and discriminatory take on Bharat.
The very idea of Bharat, envisaged by the makers of Bharat and aptly represented in our Constitution is that of plurality, celebrating diversity, coming together and having healthy discussions with an open mind. The ‘illiberal-left’ is absolutely opposed to it. When former President of Bharat Dr Pranab Mukherjee was invited to address the RSS cadre, this very clique criticised him for accepting the invitation. Dr Mukherjee has a long experience of public life and is a learned, veteran politician. Inviting him to address the RSS workers, in spite of the fact that he was with the Congress Party throughout his public life, demonstrated the openness of RSS, while the forces who opposed it were exposed for their illiberal—intolerant mindset. Their intolerance was also on display when they doggedly opposed the invitation of RSS functionaries to Jaipur Literature Festival.
Shri Walter J. Lindner with RSS Sarsanghachalak Shri Mohan Bhagwat in Nagpur
Recently, an article condemning the visit of the German Ambassador to Nagpur came to my attention. The article was merely an aggregation of lies presented in a ‘scholarly’ fashion, a regurgitation of other articles in the same vein that have been part of a calibrated propaganda against the RSS.
One of the lies was that RSS reveres Hitler. Nothing can be further from truth. I have been actively involved with the RSS for four decades. Never have I heard any senior office-bearer of the RSS glorifying Hitler or Nazism. On the contrary, I have, umpteen times, heard references about Israel, their heroic patriotism, national unity and commitment. During those days, I had read and always recommended the novel ‘Exodus’ by Leon Uris that depicts the thrilling and inspiring story of the beginnings of the state of Israel, a dream come true after 18 centuries.
Shri Narayan Hari Palkar, a veteran RSS Pracharak and author of the first authentic biography of Dr. KB Hedgewar (the founder of RSS), has authored a book in Marathi on the victorious accomplishments of Israel – ‘Israel: From Torture to Strength’. Whereas in my college days in RSS the book I read on Hitler was ‘Nazi Bhasmasuracha Udayast’ meaning ‘The Rise and Fall of the Demon Nazi’.
This illiberal clique in media and intelligentsia relentlessly quotes the book ‘We and Our Nationhood Defined’ authored by Shri MS Golwalkar. The said book was first published in 1938 when Shri M.S. Golwalkar was not an office-bearer of the RSS. It doesn’t represent the RSS views. Furthermore, this book was a translation of a Marathi book by Shri Babarao Savarkar, elder brother of Shri VD Savarkar, and not authored by MS Golwalkar.
In an interview to ‘Economic Times’ (September 8, 2016), Satyaki Savarkar, grand nephew of Nathuram Godse and Veer Savarkar, had said, “the relationship between Nathuram Godse and RSS Sarsanghachalak then, M.S. Golwalkar had soured over the latter taking credit for translating Babarao Savarkar’s book ‘Rashtra Mimansa’ in English.”
Shri M.S. Golwalkar gave a detailed interview to a journalist Saifuddin Jilani in 1972 where he clearly elaborated RSS’ view on minorities, particularly Muslims. These so-called academicians and scholars never mention or quote this interview because this is an inconvenient truth that contradicts their propaganda, even though it is on record. I reproduce an excerpt here for the benefit of readers.
“Dr Jilani: Much has been said about ‘Indianisation’ and a lot of confusion has arisen over it. Could you please tell me how to remove the confusion?
Shri Guruji: ‘Indianisation’ was, of course, the slogan given by Jana Sangh. Why should there be such confusion? ‘Indianisation’ does not mean converting all people to Hinduism. Let us all realise that we are all the children of this soil and we must have our allegiance to this land. We belong to the same society and share common ancestors. We also share common aspirations. Understanding this is ‘Indianisation’ in the true sense. Indianisation does not mean that one should be asked to quit his religious system. We neither said this, nor we are going to say so. Rather, we believe that a single religious system for the entire human society is not suitable.”
During a recent held lecture series RSS Sarsanghachalak Dr Mohan Bhagwat said, “As the people, Rashtra, we all have a Hindu identity. Some people feel pride in referring to themselves as Hindus and there are others who do not feel that same sense of pride. Due to some material considerations or political compulsions, some may not want to say they are Hindus publicly but do so in private. And there are those who have simply forgotten. All these people are our own, they belong to Bharat. Just as in exams we attempt easier questions first before proceeding to the difficult ones, so it is with our work. We have first chosen to approach those who consider themselves Hindus (culturally). This is because we consider no one as our enemy in the world, or in the country. There may be those who have declared us their enemies, but whilst we may defend ourselves, we have never wished to finish them. On the contrary we aspire to take them along with us. This is the reality of Hindutva.”
He further said: “Dr Ambedkar had also said in the Constituent Assembly that because of our infighting, foreigners won and ruled over us. I am mentioning the spirit behind what he said. You can read his actual words. He said that in Parliament we are sitting in opposite camps but that is a compulsion of the system. At the end, all of us are one. If we won’t create this feeling of fraternity, then one cannot guarantee what our future would be like. The Sangh works for the feeling of fraternity and the only basis for this fraternity is ‘unity in diversity’. The world terms this traditional thought process as ‘Hindutva’. That is why when we say our nation is a ‘Hindu Rashtra’, it in no way conveys that we don’t need Muslims. The day it will be said that Muslims are not required, it won’t remain ‘Hindutva’.”
Dr. Hedgewar’s biographer writes that he was an unflinching patriot and a self-made person. He had very good relations with people from different walks of life and differing, often opposing views. His thoughts and actions were based on ‘Swa-Bodh’— self-consciousness and self-realisation. He had great respect for Lokmanya Tilak. After the demise of Tilakji in 1920, Dr Hedgewar accompanied Dr. Munje to Pondicherry to meet Yogi Aurobindo to take up the leadership of the Congress. In 1921 when Berar Prant Congress Working Committee, headed by Lokanayak Ane, was mulling over passing a resolution to condemn the revolutionary movement for independence, Dr. Hedgewar intervened and persuaded them not to do it. He was equally close to revolutionary activities, and the varied groups in Congress - Tilak-supporters and Gandhi-supporters, Hindu Mahasabha leaders and even social reformers and social workers.
He had cordial relations with Dr. Munje, V.D. Savarkar and Mahatma Gandhi. He would occasionally invite them to address the swayamsevaks, but he took every care that the decisions in RSS are taken by the swayamsevaks only after discussion and consensus and are not influenced by these leaders. Dr. Munje and Shri Savarkar were not part of the RSS. In the first meeting in 1925 when the RSS was founded, Dr. Munje was not part of it. So, Dr. Munje’s opinions had no bearing on the RSS. In fact, Dr. Hedgewar was critical about Dr. Munje attending the round-table conference in London.
In a meeting in Pune addressed by Dr. Hedgewar, a person arrogantly countered him asking, “Who is that fool who says Bharat is a Hindu Rashtra?” Dr. Hedgewar without quoting any book or scholar (Shri V.D.Savarkar’s book ‘Hindutva’ was already there), calmly but firmly said, “I, Dr. Hedgewar, say that Bharat is Hindu Rashtra.” In 1937 Dr. Hedgewar arranged a tour of Veer Savarkar in Vidarbha for a month and accompanied him. Savarkarji was impressed by the Sangh work. He appreciated RSS and expressed his willingness to become a swayamsevak of RSS. However, Dr. Hedgewar politely suggested that his blessings were sufficient for the fledgeling organisation.
It is the tradition of Bharat that there can be various interpretations of a scripture or theme. Bhagwad Gita has been interpreted in various ways by different scholarly, learned people. The same is true for Hindutva also. Lokmanya Tilak gave a definition that whoever follows the Vedas is a Hindu. “Pramanya Buddhirvedeshu Upasyanam Aniyamah”
But this excluded Jains and Buddhists who are very much a part of Bharat.
Then Swatantryaveer V.D. Savarkar gave a broader definition saying that all the people living in this land from the Himalayas to the Indian Ocean, who treat this land as their fatherland and holy land are all Hindus.
Aasindhusindhuparyanta Yasya Bharatbhumika|
Pitrubhu Punyabhushchaiva Sa Vai Hinduriti Smrita ||
This definition excludes Bharatiya Christians, Muslims and Parsis.
Shri Guruji gave a still broader definition that Bharat as the motherland, common ancestors and common traditions give a unique identity to the people living in Bharat for centuries. This identity is Hindu. In the Bharatiya context, the people are the ‘nation’, not a ‘state’. We were one people irrespective of different rulers or states.
In the book ‘The Indian Ideology’ the author Perry Anderson has quoted Mahatma Gandhi saying: “India was one undivided land made by nature, in which, we were one nation before they came to India, ancestrally indeed fired with an idea of nationality unknown to other parts of the world.” The author further writes: “There was something unique about the antiquity of the subcontinent and it’s tremendous impress of oneness, making its inhabitants throughout these ages distinctively Indian, with the same national heritage and the same set of moral and mental qualities. Indeed a dream of unity has occupied the mind of India since the dawn of civilization.”
This unity, a uniqueness known to the world as Hindutva (Hinduness) should be felt, realised and manifested in all walks of social life. This is realisation of Hindu Rashtra (people). This has nothing to do with a theocratic state. Rather, a theocratic state is alien to Hindutva and Bharat.
Now, about ‘Bunch of Thoughts’. It was a compilation of M.S. Golwalkar’s (Shri Guruji’s) thoughts expressed at various places on different occasions and under disparate circumstances from 1940 to 1964. His thoughts expressed after 1964, till 1973, are not included in it.
Present Sarsanghachalak Dr. Mohanji Bhagwat during his speech recently in Delhi has said about ‘Bunch of Thoughts’ that: “Things are said in the context of certain circumstances and specific incidents. They are not eternally true. Guruji’s eternal thoughts have been published under the title ‘Shri Guruji: His Vision and Mission’. We have kept all those things in this which are eternally relevant while removing those which pertained to certain specific circumstances.”
Often, the chapter titled ‘Internal Challenges - Christians, Muslims and Communists’ from ‘Bunch of Thoughts’ is mentioned. In today’s context, it should be interpreted as Christian Evangelism, Jihadi Muslim Fundamentalism and Naxalism or Maoism. Their activities are a threat to the very idea of Bharat envisaged by the Constitution makers. Not all Christians but some churches and missionaries are involved in evangelical activities and wrongful conversions and they have been successful in getting the tacit support of certain members of the Christian community in the name of religion. This is why the first anti-conversion law was enacted in 1967 in Madhya Pradesh and Orissa when they were ruled by Congress. The clause simply said that conversion by force, fraud or allurement will not be permitted which was vehemently opposed by Churches and missionaries. Similarly, not all Muslims in Bharat but some Muslim organisations are involved in propagating and spreading Jihadi Fundamentalism in the name of Islam and they succeed in getting support from some members of the Muslim community in the name of religion. The subversive and divisive activities of Maoists and urban Naxals are now exposed to the public. Have you ever heard of a communist organisation condemning the brutal attack and killing of Bharatiya security forces, while combating Naxals and Maoists, performing their duty to protect the people and the state? The same people create a hue and cry when Bharatiya security forces are successful in nabbing or curbing the subversive activities of Naxals and Maoists. Warning Bharatiya citizens about these three anti-national activities is important and necessary.
RSS is not a banned organisation. Though the government had banned it at times, illegally, for no valid reason, the same Government has had to lift the ban unconditionally. RSS is not a secret organisation. Its daily activities (Shakha) are carried out in the open where anybody can walk in and participate. It has a pan Bharat presence and is consistently growing in spread, strength and influence. There are natural curiosity and eagerness to know about its goal, methodology and philosophy.
A few years ago a delegation of Communist Party of China was on a visit to Bharat and they expressed their desire to meet RSS persons. I was in Delhi when this meeting was arranged. We exchanged our views on different issues over a cup of tea. They requested us not to publicise this meeting. I don’t think they wanted to hide it from their masters in China, but they may have been worried about how the ‘left-illiberal’ media and intellectuals in Bharat would react to this.
All people with open minds are welcome. Truth is the illiberal-left intelligentsia and media who vehemently oppose the RSS have never tried to meet RSS members to know and understand what the RSS is. The German Ambassador did it. The openness of the German Ambassador Shri Walter J. Lindner should be welcomed.
(The writer is Sah Sarkaryavah of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh)