August 11, 2019

Exposing the RSS

R Arun Kumar

THE official organ of the RSS, Organiser (August 4, 2019, Vol 71, No 6), has come out with a cover story, ‘Exploring RSS’. It was in support of the Nagpur University’s decision to introduce a BA course ‘RSS and Nation Building’ in its history syllabus. The cover story extols the role of RSS in ‘nation building’ and argues that, since it is the ‘biggest voluntary organisation’ in the world, it is necessary for everyone to study and learn from its history. A student should be free to study any aspect of history and that may include RSS. But this study should not be one-sided, but should really ‘explore’ the organisation and all its facets. In fact, many studies exist on RSS and many more are sure to be conducted. Many scholars in their quest to ‘explore’ through their studies, have ‘exposed’ the RSS.

In one of the articles in Organiser, Prof CI Issac writes: “In no way, RSS is a political or a parochial or a religious organisation. Transparency is the watchword of this organisation”. Let us see what AB Vajpayee, an RSS pracharak himself and the former prime minister of the country, had got to say about the RSS in an article he had written in Indian Express, forty years ago (August 3, 1979): “The RSS, claiming to be a social and cultural organisation, should have taken greater pains to demonstrate that they did not seek a political role.” Calling for a “clear enunciation by the RSS that by ‘Hindu Rashtra’ it means the Indian nation, which includes non-Hindus as members,” Vajpayee said the RSS should, alternatively function “only as a Hindu religious-cum-social cultural organisation”. This in itself shows that RSS is not a cultural organisation as it claims to be, nor is it ‘transparent’ in its dealings.

In another article in Organiser, Virag Pachpore claims that RSS believes, India has a “continuous cultural tradition, woven attractively by people speaking different tongues, wearing diverse clothes, having different food habits, and so on. But there has been an underlying flow of unity in this diversity that is flowing uninterrupted through the ages making this the most ancient nation of the world. This unity is expressed by the numerous colourful diversities”. That the RSS is averse to the very concept of diversity is exposed by many genuine scholars who had explored it in depth.

In the April issue (2019) of Caravan magazine, there are a set of articles that detail the RSS activities in various parts of the country. In an insightful article, Mohan Bhagwat, the present sarsanghchalak of the RSS was quoted as making it clear that ‘Guruji: Vision and Mission lays down the view about Muslims currently prevalent in the RSS’. “In a chapter in that book titled ‘Hindu – the Son of this Motherland’ it is written: “Actually, ‘Bharati’ is a substitute term for ‘Hindu’, but today there is a lot of confusion in the usage of the ‘Bharatiya’. This word is now being used as a substitute of the word ‘Indian’, which results in the inclusion of other groups like Muslims, Christians and Parsis etc in this terminology. Therefore, this word ‘Bharatiya’ tends to confuse us when we want to speak only about this specific society. Only ‘Hindu’ can express this feeling and meaning that we want to convey, truly and in full”. Further, the article quotes from another chapter, titled ‘Our Identity and Nationality’, in which Golwalkar writes: “living principles of the Hindu society are the living system of this nation. In short, this is ‘Hindu Nation’”.

Quoting from RSS endorsed biography of its first sarsanghchalak, Hedgewar, the article notes: a “biography by RSS loyalist CP Bhishikar, noted that Hedgewar referred to Muslims as ‘yavana snakes’ – using the Hindi term for Greeks, often applied to foreigners in general – and argued that they were ‘anti-national’”. These excerpts from RSS itself clearly point to its blind hatred towards other religious communities and expose their viewpoint that ‘Muslims, Christians and other minorities are not part of this country’. So much so for their belief in the concept of diversity!

Along with Hedgewar, BS Moonje, who had interacted with the fascist dictator Mussolini and was greatly inspired by him, was one of the five people who had attended the foundation meeting of the RSS. Moonje and Hedgewar are together in their hatred for Muslims. Another article in the same issue of the Caravan, notes how Moonje ‘identified and financed Hedgewar’ when the latter was a school student, noticing his ‘prowess in street fighting’. “Twenty swyamsevaks were given training in the use of lathi, sword, javelin and dagger….Soon after the camp….a communal riot was engineered, where the well-trained “Hedgewar boys” distinguished themselves in trashing the Muslims”. This is the history of ‘tolerance’ preached by RSS right from its initial days!

If somebody has hopes that RSS has ‘evolved’ over the years and ‘mellowed’, there is a book (Cellars of the Inferno: Confessions of an RSS Pracharak) written by a former RSS pracharak Sudeesh Minni, who later got disillusioned and resigned from it. This article states Minni extensively quoted from several RSS documents and from his ‘interactions with credible sources within the Sangh hierarchy’, to explain the ‘hidden politics’ of RSS. Similarly, Nidhish KV, a 23-year old RSS cadre was quoted recalling the physical training given at his local shakha, where a senior leader asked them to, “imagine the faces of communists and Muslims while practicing punching and kicking, as well as using lathi. He told me that imagining our enemies like that would make me more ferocious….We were told that we need to fight Muslim extremists who trap our sisters, and the communists who support them. In some of our meetings, pracharaks and other seniors told us how we should in turn, seduce Muslim women”.

Dhirendra K Jha, another scholar-journalist also extensively ‘explored’ the RSS and had recently published a book titled, Ascetic Games. He deals with how the RSS and VHP established by it have politicised and criminalised Hindu religion. He interviewed many sadhus, religious leaders and RSS cadre for his book and exposes RSS and its Parivar.

Sadhus from various akharas play an important role as people consider them as flag-bearers of Hindu spirituality. Jha quotes Raghunandan Das, the mahant of Satsang Ashram temple at Swargadwar in Ayodhya to expose how VHP used these very sadhus for its nefarious designs. “The VHP has trained the sadhus of Ayodhya to achieve anything through crime….In the name of temple movement, the VHP singlehandedly destroyed the tranquility of Ayodhya. Violence, money power and political influence were used openly by it to get favourable mahants installed in the temples here. Goons in the garb of sadhus became powerful. Old and vulnerable mahants became victims. The dignity that the sadhus of Ayodhya have lost, because of the VHP’s direct or indirect interference in deciding successions in temples here, can never be reclaimed”.

Jha identifies a different stream among today’s sadhus – those, RSS pracharaks, who had become sadhus with a specific purpose. It is through this ‘infiltration’ that RSS and VHP are able to attain a great command over various religious bodies that influence Hindu believers. He quotes a report ‘Haridwar Makes History’, published in the Organiser (August 1, 1982), which mentioned that ‘the VHP got 100 of its men initiated as ‘sanyasins’ as part of its newly launched ‘Sanskriti Raksha Yojana’. “In fact, (the) project marked a dramatic turn in Hindu history when the sanyasins will go to the doors of all Hindu people, irrespective of caste or class status, for preaching of Dharma (religion), instead of the people coming to them”, the report said. Jha concludes that these newly initiated ‘sanyasins’ were deployed in different parts of the country to work among the laity as well as religious leaders.

Jha digs out the history of Satyamitranand Giri, the swami who had constructed the famous Bharat Mata temple in Haridwar (1983) and aligned religion with nationalism. “On the occasion of the consecration….Prime Minister Indira Gandhi performed an arti before the statue of Bharat Mata….Interestingly, instead of being based on the tricoloured Indian national flag, the Bharat Mata temple flies a triangular saffron dhwaja similar to the VHP’s flag. The temple features Savarkar and RSS founder KB Hedgewar in a section commemorating Bharat Mata’s illustrious sons and daughter – as its signboard describes the display”.

Satyamitranand Giri, who himself was a swayamsevak in his student days, initiated a number of RSS cadre into Hindu monastic orders as sadhus. They in turn have further initiated still more RSS cadre as sadhus, thus contributing to RSS-infiltration. Jha quotes Vijay Kaushal Maharaj, a Vrindavan-based pracharak-turned-sadhu: “There was a time, and not so long ago, when sadhus and the Sangh used to speak in different languages as the priorities of the two were vastly different. Sadhus with an RSS background used to have more clarity with regard to challenges the Hindu religion faced and they were more concerned about issues related to national security and national pride than other members of the community. In course of time, however, the situation has changed. Interactions in the last few decades have flattened out all distinctions among sadhus. Now most of the sadhus, irrespective of whether they come from an RSS background or not, speak the same language”. Jha states that the ‘political motivation of the majority of sadhus today is straightforward: to make India a ‘Hindu Rashtra’.

As Jha rightly points out, the role of RSS through its presence among the sadhus has turned a certain section of sadhus into a ‘spiritual machine’, foot-soldiers to ensure the emergence of ‘political Hinduism’ in place of secular India. This was something that was ‘hard to imagine even a few decades ago’. It is this ‘spiritual machine’ that had worked for the election and re-election of BJP government along with other factors.

RSS is using all kinds of religious symbols, festivals and gatherings, like the Kumbh Mela to promote its ideology. The animosity and hatred spread by these organisations in the garb of religion is well documented by Jha. Such exposes should be used by all patriotic Indians to save the country from the divisive venom spread by the RSS. RSS, BJP, VHP and their entire Parivar can only be defeated by exposing them, socially, culturally, ideologically, politically and economically. Study of history and learning from experiences are very important in this multi-pronged struggle.