Important notes from a student's journey
from Shishu Mandir to Hindu University
My studies took place in the school Vidya Mandir, run by the school from the nursery to the 11th from the classroom. Whatever was happening in these 12 years was normal for me. When we have grown up in a particular environment for a long time, then we can not see its shortcomings. Listening to the same type of things around you, accept it as true. This is my speed too. The words of the RSS mouthpiece, his books and his thinkers were heard in the classrooms of Vidya Mandir. Seeing when you become communal, you do not know. First of all, you will be proud of being a Hindu. Then it will be told that you are superior to the other religions. After that it is argued that in the past we had developed all the technicalities, but the terror of the Muslims surpassed us. Jung is spoken against Christian missionaries to save Hindu religion. Students are brought in camps and branches, where their mind is filled with hatred and violence. Things that do not have any connection with history and scientifically are part of everyday conversation. As such, today there are so many problems in the country because Nehru declared independence at 12 o'clock, impotency from masturbation, man can succeed only when he maintains a fair distance from the woman, etc.
I do not know myself when I was listening to all this when I became the enemy of Gandhi, Nehru and the leftists. The word hindered the word because I was told that they believe that the person who has a gun can power it on his own. I began to consider myself as a descendant of Manu. Always flagging the saffron flag on the school of the union of politics of national symbols. We were told that this is our real flag. Every morning, in the morning prayers, Golwalkar, the big picture of Savarkar and his glorification brought me closer to him. When the judgment of the Allahabad High Court was to come in the Ram temple case, we were forced to teach Hanuman Chalisa 108 times for the people.
After coming to Banaras Hindu University, when I came in contact with modern ideas and talked to friends from different schools, then I understood the agenda of the RSS schools. After coming to the University, when I started reading them, it was understood that under what dangerous agenda our generation is being rioting. Racism and patriarchy's garbage is being muddled in their minds. There is no culture of communication here, education is given on the strength of the pedestal. A teacher by whom I was harassed for two years, when I asked my questions, they started rubbing pole. Then I thought what kind of education system it was, whose foundation lay on fear, but later understood that the foundation of RSS politics is a fear. From the first grade I have come to hear that human beings must be scared by God, parents and teacher. There is a ritual, in which the creatives and critical thinking inside students are killed.
Under the thoughtful strategy, the politics of 'Hindutva' was erected in this country through these infant temples. In 1946, Golvarkar established the first RSS school in the name of Geeta School. After the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, RSS was banned in 1948. The real face of the public had come to the fore. The Saraswati Shishu Mandir model was brought to Anan-Phanan and in 1952, the first baby temple was started from Gorakhpur. Vidya Bharati was founded after the Janata Party government came in 1977 and at large level the RSS started interference in school education. By joining the Sangh through all the social work, the Jana Sangh and the BJP have been trying to prepare the ground for the first time. In 1997, on the path of 'Param Vaibhav' published by the RSS publication of RSS, there is mention of more than 30 organizations created by the Sangha who are working on different issues of Hindutva with different identities.
There have been many such documents that prove that in India, there is also a huge amount of foreign assistance to spread communal violence and the agenda of Hindutva. According to the 'Holy cow' Ajay Blessing of the frontline on July 11, 2014, between 1994 and 2000, only more than five million dollars has been funded from the US. This funding was done through the India Development and Relief Fund (IDRF). A detailed report on the grant received abroad for the association and its subsidiaries was brought out in the name of 'Hindu Nationalism in the United States', through the South Asia Sitizens Web Portal, which can be read down completely.
According to a report printed in the Economic Times, 40,000 schools are being run by Vidya Bharati across the country, in which more than 40 lakh students are enrolled. There are millions of teachers in these schools who go to the branches every morning. This teacher is also the head of his family. The aim of school education is to create a rational citizen who is sensitive towards his rights and society. The person of the independent mind can do better in his field and establish a democratic society, but the schools run by RSS narrow down the mind of the student and stop his personality development possibilities.
Such organizations stand as a big challenge in front of Indian democracy. It is true that everyone has the right to practice their ideology, but can it be allowed to push the people to the violence of the society? The values derived from our independence movement are in danger today. Abuse is happening in the secular society. For ninety years, those who spread hatred in society are in power today. Courses going faster. The books are becoming more and more communal. The civil society we were in the process of becoming a community is now becoming rioting.
The authors are students of Banaras Hindu University
RSS Hidden Agenda
Hindutva And The Dalit-Bahujans: Dangerous Portents
By Yoginder Sikand
Hindutva, the unique Indian form of Indian fascism, is the modern incarnation of Brahminism. Although it projects itself as the defender of the 'Hindu' community against imagined 'enemies', such as Muslims and Christians, it is actually premised on an unrelenting hostility towards the vast majority of the so-called 'Hindus' themselves-Dalits, Shudras and tribals. The very basis of what is today called Hinduism is the caste system, which is specifically geared to preserving and promoting 'upper' caste hegemony that is based on the systematic exploitation and oppression of the so-called 'lower' castes. Hindutva, therefore, is not to be characterized as 'Hindu communalism' as such, as it does not represent the interests of all so-called 'Hindus' as such. As numerous writers have pointed out, a more apt description of Hindutva is that it is the contemporary form of Brahminism. In other words, Hindutva may be defined as Brahminical fascism.
This being the case, Hindutva cannot be countered simply through pious appeals to 'Hindu-Muslim unity'. The fatal mistake that secularists have consistently been making is to see Hindutva as simply 'Hindu communalism'. Consequently, they have been trying, ineffectively, to combat it simply by invoking a common ethical impulse that they argue underlies the different religions. Since Hindutva represents the contemporary agenda of Brahminism, it poses an immense threat not just to the Muslims of the country, but equally, or perhaps even more so, to the vast majority of the so-called 'Hindus' themselves-the Dalits, Shudras and tribals, who, taken together, form more than 70 per cent of the country's population as a whole-the Bahujan Samaj. Clearly, Hindutva aims at preserving and promoting 'upper' caste rule and 'lower' caste slavery, inspired by a vision that draws on the cruel laws that the Brahminical scriptures prescribe for the 'lower' castes. As Shamsul Islam rightly notes, the
Hindu Right aims at 'denying [.] Dalits of all human rights', and the same applies for its implications for other members of the Bahujan Samaj. The most effective way of countering Hindutva is, therefore, to mobilize these marginalized groups against the Hindutva forces by exposing the grave threats that the Hindutva agenda poses for them. In other words, highlighting the menacing implications of Hindutva for the Dalit-Bahujans is the surest way to combat Hindutva, for it is they who are today being so assiduously used by 'upper' caste forces as foot-soldiers in their pogroms against Muslims and Christians, thus threatening to drive the country to the brink of civil war. The Dalit-Bahujans account for the vast majority of the Indian population, and if they are able to see through the Brahminical designs behind the Hindutva project, Hindutva would die a natural death.
This booklet is a critique of Hindutva from a Dalit-Bahujan perspective. It focuses on what Hindutva means for the Dalit-Bahujans, showing how it is essentially geared to preserving and promoting 'upper' caste Hindu rule and suppressing the stirrings of revolt that are now becoming increasingly visible among the 'low' caste majority.
The Historical Roots of Hindutva
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) was established in 1925 by K.B.Hedgewar, a Maharashtrian Brahmin. Initially, almost all its members were Brahmins, and even today, its top level leaders are almost entirely from the 'upper' castes, particularly Brahmins. The RSS was founded at a time when Maharashtra was witnessing a powerful movement of revolt among the 'lower' castes against 'upper' caste tyranny led by such stalwarts as Mahatma Jotiba Phule and Dr. Ambedkar. The establishment of the RSS at this time was hardly coincidental. Rather, it is apparent that the rise of 'lower' caste consciousness and protest against 'upper' caste hegemony was a key factor in the setting up of the RSS. The spread of the RSS in other parts of the country can also be explained on similar lines. Feeling increasingly threatened by the growing awareness and militancy among the 'lower' castes, 'upper' caste leaders found in the ideology of Hindutva a convenient way to co-opt the 'lower' castes and to divert their wrath from their real oppressors (the 'upper' castes/classes) onto imagined enemies in the form of Muslims, Christians and communists. By appealing to the notion of an imagined 'Hindu nation' and 'Hindu community', Hindutva ideologues (almost all Brahmins) sought to deny the existence of internal caste and class contradictions among the so-called 'Hindus'. This denial aimed at drawing the 'lower' castes behind the 'upper' castes, and to destroy 'lower' caste movements of protest against 'upper' caste hegemony. Accordingly, the plight of the 'lower' castes was sought to be explained away as a result of alleged Muslim or Christian 'persecution', while the 'Hindu' period of history was glorified as a 'golden age'. In this rewriting of history, the oppression of the 'lower' castes that saw its genesis in the so-called 'golden age' was completely ignored. So, too, was the inconvenient fact that the oppression of the 'lower' castes is specifically mentioned and prescribed in all the Brahminical scriptures.
Yet, the projection of the notion of a united 'Hindu nation' was only at the level of rhetoric. In actual fact, the proponents of Hindutva sought to carefully preserve the exploitative caste-class system by conveniently remaining silent on it. And this continues to be the case till today. Not surprisingly, the Hindutvawadais have never taken up any militant struggles for the rights of the Dalits, for distribution of land to the poor, for the rights of workers and tribals and so on. Instead, they have consistently supported the interests of the capitalist-feudal-Brahminical elites. Not surprisingly, the core support-base of the Hindutva movement since its inception onwards has consisted of landlords, former rulers of princely states, industrialists, merchants, priests-'upper' castes in general, all of whose interests are diametrically opposed to the Dalit-Bahujans', and whose hegemony is based on their systematic subjugation.
That Hindutva fundamentally aims at the preservation of the Brahminical system, based as it is on the exploitation of the 'lower' caste majority, has been pointed out by numerous scholars. In his incisive study of the Hindutva phenomenon, titled Saffron Fascism, Shyam Chand, a Dalit scholar and activist who served for many years as member of the Haryana Legislative Assembly, quotes from a secret circular sent out by the RSS to its preachers. It clearly indicates the sinister Brahminical strategy of using the Dalit-Bahujans to attack the Muslims and Christians, while at the same time aiming to keep the Dalit-Bahujans under the permanent slavery of the 'upper' castes.
Excerpts from Secret Circular No.411 issued by the RSS:
[.] Scheduled Castes and Other Backward Classes are to be recruited to the party so as to increase the volunteers to fight against the Ambedkarites and Mussalmans.
Hindutva should be preached with a vengeance among physicians and pharmacists so that, with their help, time expired [sic.] and spurious medicines might be distributed amongst the Scheduled Castes, Mussalmans and Scheduled Tribes. The newborn infants of Shudras, Ati-Shudras, Mussalmans, Christians and the like should be crippled by administering injections to them. To this end, there should be a show of blood-donation camps.
Encouragement and instigation should be carried on [sic.] more vigorously so that the womenfolk of Scheduled Castes, Mussalmans and Christians live by prostitution.
Plans should be made more foolproof so that the people of the Scheduled Castes, Backward Classes, Musslamans and Christians, especially the Ambedkarites, become crippled by taking in [sic.] harmful eatables.
Special attention should be given to the students of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes so as to make them read the history written according to our dictates.
During riots the women of Mussalmans and Scheduled Castes should be gang-raped. Friends and acquaintances cannot be spared. The work should proceed on the Surat model.
Publication of writings against Mussalmans, Christians, Buddhists and Ambedkarites should be accelerated. Essays and writings should be published in such a way as to prove that Ashoka was opposed to the Aryans.
All literature opposed to Hindus and Brahmins are [sic.] to be destroyed. Dalits, Mussalmans, Christians and Ambedkarites should be searched out. Care should be taken to see that this literature do [sic.] not reach public places. Hindu literature is to apply [sic.] to the Backward Classes and Ambedkarites.
The demand by the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes for filling in the backlog vacancies in services shall by no means be met. Watch should be kept to see that their demands for entry and promotion in government, non-government or semi-government institutions are to be rejected and their service records are destroyed with damaging reports.
Measures should be taken to make the prejudices amongst Scheduled Castes and Backward people more deep-rooted. To this end, help must be taken from saints and ascetics.
Attacks should be started with vigour against equality, preaching communists [sic.], Ambedkarites, Islamic teachers, Christian missionaries and neighbours [?].
Assaults should be made on Ambedkar's statues with greater efforts.
Dalit and Muslim writers are to be recruited to the party and by them essays and literature opposed to the Dalits, Ambedkarites and Mussalmans written and preached [sic.]. Attention is to be paid to see that these writings are properly edited and preached [sic.].
Those opposed to Hindutva are to be murdered through false encounters. For this work the help of the police and semi-military [sic.] forces should always be taken."
In the face of this circular, no more evidence is needed to show what Hindutva actually bodes for the Dalit-Bahujans. It circular very clearly indicates that Hindutva aims essentially at preserving the oppression of the Dalit-Bahujans, in addition to the Muslims and Christians, on which the entire edifice of Brahminism stands.
The Dalit-Bahujans and Contemporary Hindutva
Today, the Hindutva movement is actively engaged in wooing the Dalit-Bahujans, threatened as the 'upper caste/class elites are by the growing assertiveness of the 'lower' caste masses against 'upper' caste hegemony. In areas where the Dalit-Bahujan movement has not taken strong root Hindutva groups have been successful in bringing large numbers of Dalit-Bahujans into their fold. Copying the Christian missionaries, the RSS has set up a large number of schools in Dalit localities and tribal areas. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) regularly sends out so-called sadhus and priests to preach among the Dalits and tribals in order to incorporate them into the 'Hindu' fold and prevent their conversion to other religions. Fed on Hindutva propaganda, the Dalit-Bahujans are instigated to attack, rape and loot Muslims, and now Christians, in the name of defending 'Hinduism'. This strategy was well exemplified in the case of the Babri Masjid affair, when, faced with the announcement of reservations in government services for the Backward Castes, the Hindutvawadis launched a murderous anti-Muslim campaign all over the country to scuttle the Mandal report by instigating Dalit-Bahujans to attack the Muslims, thus cleverly diverting their attention from the burning question of caste oppression and 'upper' caste hegemony. For the Hindutvawadis, the Dalit-Bahujans serve their classical role as servants of the 'upper' castes and foot soldiers to unleash murderous pogroms against Muslims. The most recent case is that of Gujarat, where Dalits and tribals were instigated by Hindutva forces to embark on a virtual genocide of Muslims in the state.
Through the process of Hinduisation that the Hindutvawadis are so carefully promoting among the Dalit-Bahujans, the Dalits and tribals achieve an illusory sense of upward social mobility (as 'valiant' Hindus), while the caste-class structure of oppression remains firmly intact. In fact, that is precisely the purpose behind the entire Hindutva project-to co-opt the Dalit-Bahujans, to destroy the movements for the assertion of their rights, and to quash their protest against the system of caste-class exploitation, by diverting their wrath from their actual oppressors (the 'upper' caste-class exploiters) onto carefully constructed 'enemies' in the form of Muslims, Christians, Naxalites, Communists and so on. At the same time as the Dalit-Bahujans are being actively recruited into the Hindutva movement, killings of Dalits and tribals by 'upper' castes continue to escalate, particularly in states where Hindutvawadis have acquired a strong hold. Many of those behind these killings are known to be active Hindutvawadis themselves. This is no mere coincidence. Rather, it is a direct and logical outcome of the Hindutvawadi agenda itself. As Shamsul Islam perceptively notes, 'The Hindu Right which is ruling India presently is totally unconcerned about these mounting atrocities against the 'Untouchables' [.] It should surprise nobody that the states where the maximum cases of caste atrocities are taking place are states where either the RSS/BJP have a substantial social base or are being ruled by them'.
In order to win the Dalit-Bahujans to their fold, the Hindutvawadis, who fiercely opposed Dr. Ambedkar during his own lifetime, are now seeking to turn him into a harmless icon, projecting him as a great servant of Hinduism and an enemy of Islam. In the Hindutva appropriation of Ambedkar, Ambedkar's radical critique of Hinduism is totally ignored. This sudden expression of love for Ambedkar is completely hypocritical and has, of course, nothing at all to do with any appreciation of Ambedkar's own sharp denunciation of Hinduism. It owes entirely to the awareness of the growing importance of Ambedkar and his message among the Dalit-Bahujan masses. Hindutva doublespeak on Ambedkar comes out sharp and clear in a leaflet said to have been issued by the VHP's Gujarat unit shortly after having used the Dalits to launch on a virtual genocide of Muslims in the state.
'THE SECOND OPEN LETTER OF TRUE RAM SEVAKS'
"Let the Ambedkarite Harijans who oppose the Hindutva ideology understand. We will not allow them [to] mix with even the soil of Hindustan. Today, time is in our hands. Hindutva is the ideology of true Hindus [and] it never accepts the Harijans who are the offspring of the untouchable Ambedkar.
The Ambedkarite Harijans, Bhangis, Tribals and the untouchable Shudra castes who believe in Ambedkar do not have any right to give speeches or criticize the Hindutva ideology in Hindustan, because as a dog raises its leg and urinates whenever there is a question or discussion related to the Hindutva ideology these Ambedkarites, Harijans, Bhangis, Adivasis and other untouchable low castes sling their dirt on the Hindutva ideology or show their caste [their low birth] by speaking abusively about it.
Now Hindutva has become aware [sic.] and it is time to teach these Ambedkarite untouchable Harijans a lesson. Not even the Miyans [Muslims] can come to their aid now. Understanding the Hindutva ideology requires a large heart. What will these untouchable Ambedkarites, who raise their leg and urinate, understand of the Hindutva ideology?
The fact that the Honorable Narendra Modi has gained a large victory in Gujarat has been because of the Hindutva ideology, not because of the untouchable Harijans [or because of] the Ambedkarite ideology. Narendrabhai has gained victory single-handedly in Gujarat because he explained the true ideology of Hindutva [..]
Vishwa Hindu Parishad,
11 Mahalaxmi Society, Paldi, Karnavati-380007.
Hindutva, the Manusmriti and the Constitution of India
Although this is rarely spoken about explicitly, from time to time Hindutva leaders issue statements that clearly indicate that their entire project is geared essentially to the preservation of 'upper' caste rule, and that the Dalit-Bahujans must be shown 'their place'. Top Hindutva leaders are on record as arguing that the Hindu Rashtra of their dreams would, in emulation of the classical Hindu state that they so ardently espouse, be ruled according to the draconian Bible of Brahminism, the Manusmriti, that consigned the 'lower' castes and even 'upper' caste women to the most cruel form of slavery that humankind has ever devised. The Manusmriti is the principle code of law of Hinduism, laying down the rules for the different castes and sanctifying the system of caste-based exploitation. As V. Raghavan, a noted Brahmin authority on Manu writes, 'Manu has determined Hindu conduct for all time'.
The founding fathers of Hindutva, almost all of them Brahmins, regarded the Manusmriti as a sacred scripture that needed to be revived and imposed in the 'Hindu Rashtra' that they so tirelessly advocated. V.D.Savarkar, founder of the Hindu Mahasabha and inventor of the term 'Hindutva', argued that, 'Manusmiriti is that scripture which is most worship-able after the Vedas and which from ancient times has become the basis of our culture, customs, thought and practice. This book for centuries has codified the spiritual and divine march of our nation. Even today the rules which are followed by crores of Hindus in their lives and practice are based on the Manusmriti. Today Manusmriti is Hindu Law'.
Similarly, in his The RSS Story, K.R.Malkani, a top RSS ideologue, was honest enough to confess that Golwalkar, the second supreme of the RSS, 'saw no reason why Hindu law should break its ancient links with the Manusmriti'.
In his Bunch of Thoughts, Golwalkar, quoting from the Rig Veda
and echoing Manu, had in fact gone so far as to empathically declare, 'Brahmin is the head, Kshatriya the hands, Vaisya the thighs, and Shudras the feet. This means that the people who have this four-fold arrangement, the Hindu people, is (sic) our God'.
Reflecting this dogged devotion to Manu, the RSS mouthpiece Organiser carried an editorial criticizing the Indian Constitution shortly after it was promulgated, complaining, 'In our Constitution there is no mention of the unique constitutional development in ancient Bharat. Manu's Laws were written long before Lycurgus of Sparta or Solon of Persia. To day his laws as enunciated in the Manusmriti excite the admiration of the world and elicit spontaneous obedience and authority. But to our constitutional pundits that means nothing' (Organiser, 30 November, 1949). Shortly after this, the Organiser carried a piece revealingly titled 'Manu Rules Our Hearts', written by a certain Sankar Subba Aiyar, a retired Brahmin high court judge. Aiyar frankly confessed that, 'Even though Dr. Ambedkar is reported to have recently stated in Bombay that the days of Manu are ended it is nevertheless a fact that the daily lives of Hindus are even at the present day affected by principles and injunctions contained in the Manusmriti and other Smritis. Even an unorthodox Hindu feels himself bound at least in some matters by the rules contained in the Smritis [.]'.
In recent years, Hindutva leaders have issued shrill statements denouncing the present Constitution of India as 'anti-Hindu', and have called for a 'Hindu Constitution' to replace it. For them, it is the Mansumriti that should form the basis of the Indian Constitution. This is hardly surprising, given that the Manusmriti has traditionally been regarded as the normative Brahminical legal code. Golwalkar's and Savarkar's advocacy of the Manusmriti was by no means an exception or aberration. Recently, the RSS mouthpiece Organiser (10 May, 1992) carried an article titled 'Hindu Advocates Demand Rewriting of the Constitution to Remove Discrimination Against Hindus and Preserve Bharat as the Hindu Homeland'. Reporting the proceedings of this event organized by the VHP at Madurai it quoted a certain V.K.S Chandri, advocate-general of Uttar Pradesh, as declaring in his keynote address that 'the Manusmriti rendered justice for all'. 'Manu', he claimed, 'took the entire mankind and its needs for ages and evolved his Code. Manusmriti was for all times and ages, and for all mankind'.
Likewise, Chandra Shekarendra Saraswati, the Shankaracharya of Kanchi, one of the pontiffs of Brahminism and known for his ardent support of sundry 'Hindu' causes, passionately appeals for the Manusmriti as the legal code, which he rightly sees as integral to the classical 'Hindu' (read Brahminical) polity. Nostalgically recalling the days of unadulterated Brahminical rule, he writes:
What in this respect was unique in the olden days was that basic to all our administration there was the dharmashastra functioning, as it were, as the Constitution for the whole country. Of all the Dharmashastras, the Manu Dharmashastra is said to have provided clear, specific guidance to the kings of yore [.] None of the kings attempted to change the rules laid down in the Manu Dharmashastra-rules presenting the essence of Dharmashastras propounded by selfless rishis. There was no question of any amendment to such rules'.
After glorifying the Manusmriti, he goes on to suggest that it still has continuing relevance today, and stridently opposes those who 'believe that our way of life according to the Shastra requires to be reformed to suit the times'.
Accordingly, he attacks the present system of universal adult franchise and democracy and indirectly advocates reviving the spirit of Manu by arguing:
It is better to have these [parliamentary] representatives elected by those who have had some education, some property and some sense of responsibility to understand the political currents and cross-currents and thus acquire a qualification to exercise their votes. The qualification for voting must not be confined to particular caste, religion and economic status, but must combine all these aspects.
The last sentence probably suggests that only well-off, propertied and 'educated' 'upper' caste Hindus should possess the right to vote.
Likewise, in the Shankaracharya's proposed dharmic set-up not everybody would have the right to stand for election. He writes that candidates should have four qualifications-they should be revenue-paying owners of land, should own a house, should be between 30 and 60 years of age, and, most importantly, should be well-versed in the Dharmashastras. While the first two conditions effectively debar the poor (the vast majority of the Dalits, Tribals, Backward Castes, Muslims, Christians and Buddhists) to stand for election, the last qualification restricts that right solely to the Brahmins, who alone, according to the Dharmashastras, have the right to study them.
When confronted with such irrefutable evidence that Hindutva essentially aims at revival of Manu's Code, Hindutva spokesmen usually vehemently deny any such intentions, arguing, instead, that these are the views of only certain individuals and that they cannot be said to represent the Hindutva movement as a whole. This clever face-saving device is simply a means to mislead the increasingly assertive Dalit-Bahujan masses. Actions speak louder than words, and although from time to time some Hindutva ideologues may issue statements decrying any intention to revive Manu's Code [while at the same time some of their colleagues insist that the Code be revived], the entire Hindutva project as such is geared to the preservation of the system of caste exploitation which is provided religious sanction by the Manusmriti and the Brahminical tradition as a whole. In response to Dalit opposition to Hindutva, some Hindutva leaders go so far as to dismiss the charge of reviving Manu Raj as completely fanciful, but this is done only to confuse their critics and to stamp out any opposition to their agenda. Some Hindutvawadis might even go so far as to verbally criticize or disown Manu, although this is entirely hypocritical and is actually intended to preserve the spirit of Manu's Code while appearing to oppose it. Although in this age of democracy it may not be possible for the Brahminical elites to revive every aspect of Manu's Code because the Dalit-Bahujans would stiffly resist such an attempt, it is clear that the Hindutva project is aims essentially at preserving and promoting the spirit of the Manusmriti, if not the letter of the law itself.
Manu's Code: What Does it Mean for the Dalit-Bahujans?
The Manusmriti forms the basis of Brahminical law, and lays down elaborate rules for the cruel subjugation, humiliation and oppression of the Dalit-Bahujans.
Extracts from the Manusmriti
The great sages approached Manu, who was seated with a collected mind, and, having duly worshipped him, spoke as follows:
Deign, divine one, to declare to us precisely and in due order the sacred laws of each of the [four] castes [varnas] and of the intermediate ones.
But for the sake of the prosperity of the worlds he caused the Brahmin, the Kshatriya, the Vaisya and the Shudra to proceed from his mouth, his arms, his thighs and his feet. But in order to protect this universe, He, the most resplendent one, assigned separate [duties and] occupations to those who sprang from his mouth, arms, thighs and feet.
To Brahmins he assigned teaching and studying [the Veda], sacrificing for their own benefit and for others, giving and accepting [of alms].
The Kshatriya he commanded to protect the people, to bestow gifts, to offer sacrifices, to study [the Veda], and to abstain from attaching himself to sensual pleasures.
The Vaisya to tend cattle, to bestow gifts, to offer sacrifices, to study [the Veda], to trade, to lend money, and to cultivate land.
One occupation only the lord prescribed to the Shudra, to serve meekly even these [other] three castes.
The Brahmin, Kshatriya and the Vaishya castes are the twice-born ones, but the fourth, the Shudra, has one birth only.
On account of his preeminence, on account of the superiority of his origin, on account of his observance of restrictive rules and on account of his particular sanctification, the Brahmin is the lord of [all] castes.
Let the three twice-born castes, discharging their [prescribed] duties, study [the Veda], but among them the Brahmin [alone] shall teach it, not the other two; that is an established rule.
As the Brahmin sprang from [Brahman's] mouth, as he was the first-born, and as he possesses the Veda, he is by right the lord of this whole creation [.] A Brahmin, coming into existence, is born the highest on earth, the lord of all created beings, for the protection of the treasury of the law. Whatever exists in the world is the property of the Brahmin. On account of the excellence of his origin the Brahmin is, indeed, entitled to all.
Whatever law has been ordained for any [person] by Manu, that has been fully declared in the Veda, for that [sage was] omniscient.
Knowledge is the austerity of the Brahmin, protecting is the austerity of the Kshatriya, his daily business is the austerity of the Vaisya, and service [of the 'upper' castes] the austerity of a Shudra.
Let [the first part of] a Brahmin's name [denote something] auspicious, a Kshatriya's be connected with power, and a Vaisya's with wealth, but a Shudra's [express something] contemptible. [The second part of] a Brahmin's [name] shall be [a word] implying happiness, of a Kshatriya's [a word] implying protection, of a Vaisya's [a term] expressive of thriving, and of a Shudra's [an expression] denoting service.
Kshatriyas prosper not without Brahmins [and] Brahmins prosper not without Kshatriyas. Brahmins and Kshatriyas, being closely united, prosper in this [world] and in the next. But to serve Brahmins [who are] learned in the Vedas, householders and famous [for virtue] is the highest duty of a Shudra, which leads to beatitude. [A Shudra who is] pure, the servant of his betters, gentle in speech and free from pride and always seeks refuge with Brahmins, attains [in his next life] a higher caste.
The whole world is kept in order by punishment [.] [So] let him [the king] act with justice in his own domains, chastise his enemies, behave without duplicity towards his friends, and be lenient towards the Brahmins. The king has been created [to be] the protector of the castes and orders, who, all according to their rank, discharge their several duties. Let the king, after rising early in the morning, worship the Brahmins who are well-versed in the three-fold sacred science and learned and follow their advice [.] Though dying [with want] a king must not levy a tax on Srotriyas (priests) and no Srotriya residing in his kingdom must perish from hunger.
A king, desirous of investigating law cases, must enter his court of justice, preserving a dignified demeanour, together with Brahmins and with experienced councilors [.] A Brahmin who subsists only by the name of his caste or one who merely calls himself a Brahmin may, at the king's pleasure, interpret the law to him, but never a Shudra. The kingdom of that monarch who looks on while a Shudra settles the law will sink [low] like a cow in a morass. That kingdom where Shudras are very numerous, which is infested by atheists and destitute of twice-born ('upper' caste) [inhabitants], soon entirely perishes, afflicted by famine and disease.
[The king] should carefully compel Vaisyas and Shudras to perform the work [prescribed] for them; for if these two [castes] swerved from their duties, they would throw this [whole] world into confusion.
A Kshatriya, having defamed a Brahmin, shall be fined one hundred [panas]; a Vaisya one hundred and fifty or two hundred; a Shudra shall suffer corporal punishment.
A once-born man (Shudra) who insults a twice-born ('upper' caste) man with gross invective, shall have his tongue cut out, for he is of low origin. If he mentions the names and castes of the ['twice-born'] with contumely, an iron nail, ten fingers long, shall be thrust red-hot into his mouth. If he [a Shudra] arrogantly teaches Brahmins their duty, the king shall cause hot oil to be poured into his mouth and into his ears.
A low-caste man who tries to place himself on the same seat with a man of high caste shall be branded on his hip and be banished, or [the king] shall cause his buttock to be gashed.
If out of arrogance he [a Shudra] spits [on a superior] the king shall cause both his lips to be cut off.
If he [a Shudra] lays hold of the hair [of a superior] let the [king] unhesitatingly cut off his hands.
He who strikes [a Brahmin] even with a blade of grass [.] shall appease him by a prostration. But he who, intending to hurt a Brahmin, threatens [him with a stick and the like] shall remain in hell for a hundred years; he who [actually] strikes him [shall remain in hell] for a thousand years.
A Chandala (the 'lowest' caste), a village pig, a cock, a dog, a menstruating women and a eunuch must not look at the Brahmins when they eat.
Let him [a Brahmin] not dwell in a country where the rulers are Shudras [.] nor in one swarming with men of the lowest caste [.] Let him not give advice to a Shudra [.] for he who explains the sacred law [to a Shudra] or dictates him to a penance will sink together with that [man] into the hell [called] Asamvrita. Let him not recite [the Vedas] indistinctly, nor in the presence of Shudras [.]
When he [a Brahmin] has touched a Chandala, a menstruating woman, an outcast, a woman in childbed, a corpse or one who has touched [a corpse], he becomes pure by bathing [.] Let him not allow a dead Brahmin to be carried out by a Shudra while men of the same caste are at hand, for that burnt offering which is defiled by a Shudra's touch is detrimental to [the deceased's passage to] heaven.
A Brahmin who unintentionally approaches a woman of the Chandala or of [any other] very low caste, who eats [the food of such persons] and accepts [gifts from them] becomes an outcast, but [if he does it] intentionally he becomes their equal.
The dwellings of Chandalas and Svapakas [people of very 'low' caste] shall be outside the village [.] and their wealth [shall be] dogs and donkeys. Their dress [shall be] the garments of the dead, [they shall eat] their food from broken dishes, black iron [shall be] their ornaments, and they must always wander from place to place [.] At night they shall not walk about in villages and in towns. By day they may go about for the purpose of their work, distinguished by marks at the king's command, and they shall carry out the corpses [of persons] who have no relatives-that is a settled rule.
A man of low caste, who, through covetousness, lives by the occupations of a higher one, the king shall deprive of his property and banish. It is better to [discharge] one's own [appointed caste] duty incompletely than to perform completely that of another; for he who lives according to the law of another [caste] is instantly excluded from his own [.] Let a [Shudra] serve Brahmins, either for the sake of heaven or with a view to both [this life and the next], for he who is called the servant of a Brahmin thereby gains all his ends. The service of Brahmins alone is declared [to be] an excellent occupation for a Shudra, for whatever else besides this he may perform will bear him no fruit.
No collection of wealth must be made a Shudra, even though he be able [to do it], for a Shudra who has acquired wealth gives pain to Brahmins.
He who has associated with outcasts, he who has approached the wives of other men and he who has stolen the property of a Brahmin becomes [after death] a brahmarakshas [fierce devil].
It is declared that a Shudra woman alone [can be] the wife of a Shudra, she and one of his own caste [the wives] of a Vaishya, those two and one of his own caste [the wives] of a Kshatriya, those three and one of his own caste [the wives] of a Brahmin [.] Twice-born ('upper' caste) men, who, in their folly, wed wives of the low [Shudra] caste soon degrade their families and their children to the state of Shudras. According to Atri and to [Gautama] the son of Uthaya, he who weds a Shudra woman becomes an outcast [.] A Brahmin who takes a Shudra wife to his bed will [after death] sink into hell; if he begets a child by her he will lose the rank of a Brahmin.
A [man of ] low [caste] who makes love to a maiden [of] the highest [caste] shall suffer corporal punishment.
The property of a Brahmin must never be taken by the king, that is a settled rule; but [the property of men] of other castes the king may take on failure of all [heirs].
Let the king corporally punish all those [persons] who either gamble and bet or afford [an opportunity for it], likewise Shudras who assume the distinctive marks of twice-born [men].
Never slay a Brahmin, though he [may] have committed all [possible] crimes [.] No greater crime is known on earth than slaying a Brahmin. A king, therefore, must not even conceive in his mind the thought of killing a Brahmin.
A Brahmin, be he ignorant or learned, is a great divinity, just as the fire, whether carried forth [for the performance of a sacrifice] or not carried forth, is a great divinity. Thus, though Brahmins employ themselves in all [sorts of] mean occupations they must be honoured in every way, for [each of] them is a very great deity.
[The king] should order a Vaisya to trade, to lend money, to cultivate the land or to tend cattle, and a Shudra to serve the twice-born castes [.] A Brahmin who, because he is powerful, out of greed makes initiated [men of the] twice-born [castes] against their will to do the work of slaves, shall be fined by the king six hundred [panas]. But a Shudra, whether bought or not bought, he may compel to do servile work, for he was created by the Self-Existent (swayambhu) to be the slave of a Brahmin. A Shudra, though emancipated by his master, is not released from servitude; since that is innate in him, who can set him free?
A Brahmin may confidently seize the goods of [his] Shudra [slave], for, as that [slave] can have no property, his master may take his possessions [.] That sinful man, who, through covetousness, seizes the property of the gods or the property of Brahmins feeds in another world on the leavings of vultures.
The Brahmin is declared [to be] the creator [of the world], the punisher, the teacher [and hence] a benefactor [of all created beings], to him let no man say anything unpropitious nor use any harsh worlds.
This is the 'glorious' Manusmriti that Hindutvawadis so passionately praise and advocate as the basis of the 'Hindu Rashtra' of their dreams.
Constitution Review and the 'Hindu Constitution':
A Dalit-Bahujan Perspective
The present Constitution of India, framed by Dr. Ambedkar, himself a Dalit, clearly has its own limitations. It is, in essence, a liberal bourgeois document. Yet it also affords the Dalit-Bahujans vital spaces and opportunities closed to them by Brahminical law, including, particularly, the Manusmriti. The notions of equality, freedom, democracy and secularism contained in the present Indian Constitution, all of which are integral to the project of Dalit-Bahujan emancipation, are vehemently denied in Brahminical law. This explains why Dr. Ambedkar publicly burnt the Manusmriti in 1928 in a symbolic protest against the entire Brahminical tradition.
Dalit-Bahujan intellectuals have argued, and rightly so, that the long-standing Hindutva demand for scrapping the present Constitution and replacing it with a 'Hindu' Constitution, is aimed essentially at doing away with even the limited opportunities and spaces that the Indian Constitution provides the oppressed castes, and to re-impose the varnashrama dharma or the rule of caste. For, as Sangeetha Rao, a leading Dalit ideologue, argues, Ambedkar's Constitution is, in spirit, vehemently opposed to the law of Manu, and that is the main reason why Hindutvawadis wish to scrap it. The 'Hindu Constitution' that they wish to replace the present Constitution, would, in Rao's words, provide legal sanction to 'Hindu fascism', 'Brahminical dictatorship' and the 'Manuvadi Vyavastha' (the Manu-ite social system)'. Rao writes that behind the Hindutva demand for a Presidential system of governance and for a 'Hindu Constitution' is the actual goal of establishing the 'Brahminvadi or Manuvadi system', for the 'social, political and economic democracy' that Dr. Ambedkar championed is completely opposed to the 'system based on 'Manu-ism'. As Rao sees it, the 'Hindu' system of government that the Hindutvawadis are crusading for is nothing but the 'caste system', the rule of the 'upper' castes and the permanent slavery of the Bahujan Samaj. He writes that the 'Hindu Constitution' that the Hindutvawadis advocate aims at clamping down on democracy and further suppressing the Dalit-Bahujans, because, as he argues,
The Hindu social order does not recognize the necessity of representative government composed of the representatives chosen by the people [.] It is nothing short of Hindu fascism. It is reflected in the statement of Sangh Parivar mafia leader Ashok Singhal, 'A lasting government will be a Hindu government. If the people do not like it they can go to the country of their choice. Otherwise, they will be at the mercy of Hindus'.
Rao sees the close collaboration between the 'upper' caste elites and western imperialists, the sharp curtailment of social welfare programmes, the Hinduisation of the education system, the non-implementation of anti-untouchability laws and the sharp increase in atrocities on Dalits in India under BJP rule as all part of the wider Hindutva agenda that aims at the firm suppression of the Dalit-Bahujans and the reinforcement of 'upper' caste hegemony, faithfully following the commandments and underlying spirit of the Manusmriti.
Another leading Dalit spokesman who has subjected the Hindutva project to incisive critique is Ram Khobragade. In his Indian Constitution Under Communal Attack, Khobragade links the destruction of the Babri Masjid with the Brahminical Hindu and anti-Ambedkar agenda of Hindutva, and argues that the Hindutvawadis:
[In] the heart of their hearts bitterly hate Dr. Ambedkar, who made their religion thoroughly naked [.] Dr. Ambedkar was the architect of the modern social order of this country, and this very thing these Manuvadis, the protagonists of the Manuvadi social system could not digest. Consequently, on his 37th Mahaparivaran Day [6 December, 1992, when they destroyed the Babri Masjid and unleashed a wave of bloody attacks on Muslims all over the country] they showed to the entire world that henceforth India would be governed not by the Constitution of Dr. Ambedkar but by the social order created by Manu, and by other religious scriptures created by various rishis-the supporters of the varnashram caste system.
Likewise, another Dalit spokesperson, R.D.Nimesh, argues, the Hindutvawadis' opposition to the Constitution stems from the fact that the Constitution allows some limited possibilities for Dalits to take to education and better employment, which in itself is a direct contradiction of the varnashrama dharma that the Hindutvawadis seek to revive.3 'In the name of establishing Hindu rule', he argues, the Hindutvawadis actually seek to impose the 'Brahminical law of caste exploitation'. This view is echoed by Lalloo Prasad Yadav, former chief minister of Bihar, who argues that, 'There is the hand of Manuvadi, fascist and casteist forces behind the move to change the Indian Constitution'.
Of course, this actual intention is not stated openly, for in the present political system, which the Hindutvawadis so despise, the Dalit-Bahujans, well over 80 per cent of the population, constitute such a vital force that cannot be ignored. Hence, the Hindutva opposition to the Constitution is camouflaged in different terms-as an effort to promote 'Hindu' 'cultural authenticity' or to do away with legal guarantees for religious minorities, such as their right to administer their own educational institutions, regulate their personal affairs in accordance with their own personal laws and so on.
While critiquing the present Constitution as 'anti-Hindu', the Hindutvawadis seek to replace it with an authoritarian set-up that would more effectively serve the interests of the 'upper' castes and western imperialist forces. Thus, the communist leader Harkishan Singh Surjeet argues that in calling for a review of the Constitution and suggesting a presidential system of government in place of the present parliamentary system, the Hindutvawadis seek 'the perpetuation of bourgeois-landlord rule'. Surjeet adds that, 'The RSS has always been in favour of a unitary authoritarian state structure in the image of its own organisational structure, based on the principle of one leader, all the rest working as followers'. The Hindutvawadi demand for a presidential system is a major step in this direction.
Similarly, Prabhat Patnaik, a noted Indian economist, writes that behind the Hindutva demand for the rewriting of the Constitution is the aim of 'abridg[ing] democracy in order to consolidate the collaborationist bourgeois state. It is no accident that the need to amend the Constitution is being felt by the very government [the present BJP-led regime] whose pursuit of pro-imperialist policies is marked by unprecedented vigour'. Patnaik sees the Hindutva efforts to do away with parliamentary democracy and replace it with American-style presidential rule as a response to the growing participation of the lower caste/class masses in elections as a means for the assertion of their rights, which is now threatening the rule of the 'upper' caste/class minority who now find parliamentary democracy a major challenge to their entrenched hegemony. At the same time, Patnaik argues, the western imperialist-imposed 'globalisation' that the Indian ruling classes have so willingly embraced also demands the 'rolling back' of democracy to smoothen the way for multinational corporations to loot the country.
Behind the Hindutva critique of the Constitution in the name of doing away with its allegedly 'anti-Hindu' elements one can discern a cleverly thought out Brahminical strategy of attacking the very spirit of the Constitution that lays down the principles of equality, democracy and social justice that are so stridently opposed to the Brahminical tradition. This explains how and why the entire Constitution, including its fundamental values of equality, democracy, social justice and freedom that are specifically mentioned in its preamble and later elaborated upon in the document, is branded as 'un-Hindu' by many Hindutva writers. One of these is a certain Bengali Brahmin, Abhas Chatterjee. In a booklet titled The Concept of Hindu Nation, published by a hardcore Hindutva publishing house Voice of India, Chatterjee goes so far as to claim that, 'Leave other things alone, even the preamble of the Indian Constitution does not contain any Hindu idea. It enumerates no principles based on Hindu ethos and ideals'. Likewise, another Brahmin scholar, P.N. Joshi, president of the Rashtriya Hindu Manch, writes in a book tellingly titled Constitution: A Curse to the Hindus, that 'Pakistan is an Islamic country. It is governed according to Islamic law. India is a Hindu Rashtra. Here it ought to be Hindu law'. Naturally, he does not elaborate on what misery Hindu law would bring to the vast majority of the Indians themselves-the 'lower' castes, whose cruel oppression was given religious sanction precisely by the Hindu law that he so passionately advocates.
Since the entire edifice of Brahminism and Brahminical law rests on the permanent subjugation of the Dalit-Bahujans as servants of the 'upper' castes, it is hardly surprising that Hindutva ideologues are vehemently opposed to reservations in jobs and in the state and national legislatures for the 'lower' castes that are provided for in the present Constitution. This is one of the major reasons for their demand that the present Constitution be scarpped or 'reviewed'. For electoral purposes the Hindutva brigade may not openly oppose reservations, but leading Hindutva spokesmen have repeatedly spoken out against them as allegedly 'dividing' the Hindus and promoting 'casteism', as if reservations were responsible in any way for creating the caste system in the first place.
According to the Brahminical scriptures the duty (dharma) of the 'lower' castes is simply to slave for the 'upper ' castes without any hope for recompense. For 'lower' castes to take to any other profession would be a violation of the iron law of dharma and would be a grave challenge to the Brahminical religion. That is why in the Ramayana Rama is said to have struck off the head of the Shudra Shambukh for having so much as dared to engage in tapasya and thereby threaten to ascend to heaven in his physical body. As an 'ideal' Hindu king, Ram, as Dr. Ambedkar notes, was an 'upholder of the varna vyavastha', or the caste system that spells out permanent servitude for the Shudras as their dharma. Hence, for the 'upper' caste devotees of Rama today the 'lower' castes must not deviate from their jati dharma or caste duty of slaving for the 'upper' castes. The reservations in government jobs for the Dalit-Bahujans that the present Constitution provides is a flagrant violation of this principle, and this explains, partly, the vehement demand of Hindutva forces to replace it with what they call a 'Hindu' Constitution, which would guarantee permanent 'upper' caste privilege and 'lower' caste slavery.
Reservations are only one aspect of the present Constitution that Hindutvawadis are vociferously opposed to and for which they label it as 'anti-Hindu'. In fact, the entire gamut of laws that flow out of the basic premises of the present Constitution that can be used in favour of the Dalit-Bahujans in their struggle against 'upper' caste/class hegemony is seen by Hindutva forces as 'un-Hindu', thus explaining their opposition to the Constitution itself. As Hindutva ideologues view it, the law is not what the Constitution says it is but, rather, what the pontiffs of Brahminical Hinduism, arch-defenders of the caste system and Brahminical privilege, say it should be. As Ashok Singhal, general-secretary of the VHP, declares in no uncertain terms, 'What the dharmacharyas pronounce as dharma, we will also accept as law' (The Pioneer, 4 December, 1992). Lest anyone labour under any doubt as far as what this would mean for the Dalit-Bahujans, we have it from authority of all the classical and defining texts of Brahminism that the caste system and the subjugation of the Dalit-Bahujans are an integral and inseparable component of dharma. As scholars of 'Hinduism' have pointed out, in the Brahminical texts, the sanatana dharma or 'eternal religion' is not defined as a single, universally applicable concept. Dharma, as reflected in the notion of varnashrama dharma, is caste and context specific, and depends on one's caste (varna) and stage of life (ashram). The dharma of the Brahmin is to study, teach the 'upper' castes and to receive donations. The dharma of the Shudra is simply to serve the 'upper' castes. It is this dharma that contemporary Hindutva aims to revive, despite its denials to the contrary. As Abhas Chatterjee writes, the state that the Hindutvawadis seek to construct would 'not only accord the highest place to sanatana dharma but [would] also protect its values, project its glory in the world, and make it its source of inspiration'. At the same time, Chatterjee calls for the scrapping of the present Constitution, arguing that, '[W]e have to change almost all laws and policies' and replace them by those rooted in the sanatana dharma. Dalit-Bahujans must shudder at this menacing prospect.
The RSS-VHP's 'Hindu Constitution':
What it Means for the Dalit-Bahujans
Shortly before the demolition of the Babri Masjid in December 1992 and the ensuing massacre of Muslims all over the country engineered by the Hindutvawadi forces, the VHP issued a declaration calling for a so-called 'Hindu' Constitution for India. At a meeting in October 1992, the VHP's so-called Sant Samiti ('Committee of Saints') set up a four-member commission, headed by a certain 'Swami' Muktanand Saraswati, to rework the 'anti- Hindu' Constitution. Subsequently, Muktanand issued a detailed critique of the present Constitution, with the long, yet revealing, title of Bharat Ki Ekta Akhandata Bhaichare Evam Sampradayak Saddhbhav Ko Mitane Vala Tatha Bharat Mai Bhukhmari, Berozgari, Bhrashtachar Aur Adharm Ko Badhaney Vala Kaun? Vartaman Indian Samvidhan ('Who is Responsible for Destroying India's Unity and Integrity, Brotherhood and Communal Harmony and for Spreading Hunger, Unemployment, Corruption and Irreligiousness ? The present Indian Constitution').
As the title of the book itself so clearly suggests, Muktanand sees all the ills of India as a product of the very Constitution of the country itself. Accordingly, he argues, 'the entire Constitution itself is anti-people (lok drohi)'.
He equates the Constitution with a pile of garbage ('yeh samvidhan kudey kachrey ka dher matra hai', he writes).
Presumably, this 'garbage' also includes the outlawing of untouchability and caste discrimination and the various, albeit limited, democratic provisions that the Constitution makes for women, backward castes and the poor to make amends for the centuries of oppression that they have had to suffer under Brahminical rule. This is clearly hinted at when Muktananda declares that the Dalits, Tribals and Backward Castes should not be granted any reservations in government services nor any other from of special treatment, on the flimsy ground that, 'this would breed the feeling of separatism'.
He also claims that it violates the principle of secularism or what he calls in Hindutva jargon as panth nirpekshita. Referring to the tribals, he asserts: 'Only those rights of the tribals should be protected which nature has granted them'. Apparently, he wishes to see the tribals lost forever in the dense, wild jungles, never to be allowed to participate in the governance of the country.
A true Hindutvawadi, Muktanand sees democracy as dangerous and vehemently opposes it. Thus, he writes, 'Rule by representatives is a very expensive and backbreaking system for a poor country like India'. He argues that, 'The chapters on the legislature, parliament, the president's powers, the union judiciary, and comptroller and auditor general of India in section 5 of the Constitution (Articles 52-151) have absolutely no relationship whatsoever with the Indian context'. He does not, however, explain why this is so and nor does he offer any alternative. Echoing a pet theme in Hindutva discourse, Muktanand castigates the Constitution for not having made a Uniform Civil Code mandatory. Thus, in an interview to the fortnightly Frontline (January 29, 1993), he asserts: 'There should be uniform laws for everybody'. Yet, in the same breath, he contradicts himself by declaring: 'The state should not interfere in religious and personal matters. There should be no laws regarding marriage'. If the state should not lay down laws regarding marriage and other personal matters, promulgating a Uniform Civil Code is inconceivable since civil codes deal essentially with personal, family matters, but the contradiction escapes Muktanand. If the state were to be ruled by the likes of Muktanand and were, therefore, not to interfere in religious and personal matters, obnoxious practices like untouchability, sati and child marriage would not be outlawed. The present Constitution has banned these customs, and perhaps this is one of the reasons why Muktanand has branded it as adharmik (irreligious).
In late 1993, the Delhi-based weekly Mainstream carried a lengthy three-part interview with Muktanand Saraswati (16 October, 23 October, and 30 October, 1993). The interview covered a range of issues, focusing particularly on Muktanand's views on Dalits, Shudras, Tribals, Muslims and women. It clearly reveals Muktanad (and the Hindutvawadis more generally) to be a fierce defender of the caste system, Brahminical privilege and the oppression of the Dalit-Bahujans and women. The interview provides a chilling view of the Brahminical fascist order that the Hindutva camp seeks to impose on the country in the name of 'Hindu' unity. It very clearly indicates that in the 'Hindu Rashtra' of Hindutva dreams, not just Muslims and Christians, but the vast majority of the so-called 'Hindu' population, too, would be subjected to horrendous oppression.
Excerpts from the Interview with Muktanand Saraswati
Q: Do you think the caste system is scientific?
A: The caste system is scientific if it is based on an 'occupational society'. It is scientific because of specialization and the division of labour. If a person is a teli (oil-presser) by caste (birth) but he does not follow his caste occupation, then the caste system will break.
Q: So, would that be adharmik (irreligious)?
A: If the caste system breaks that would certainly be adharmik (emphatically). Take the case of this fool (kambakht) Jagjivan Ram. Despite having been a Minister he called himself a Harijan. This is bad. You were the Deputy Prime Minister and still saale [a term of abuse] you are a Harijan! Still you want to benefit from reservations for Harijans! Those who want reservations say 'Let us remain Chamars'. So, if you are a Chamar, how can you get the facilities of a Brahmin? You will get the facilities of a Chamar. You want facilities in the name of Chamars, but you want to become a Shankaracharya. How is this possible? [.] Saale, you want facilities in the name of Chamars, but want to sit besides a Brahmin. We won't let you sit (emphatically).
Q: Is it possible to revive the caste system today?
A: By the caste system I mean that the individual should be the centre of the mode of production. For instance, a carpenter is an expert at this work, and his son receives training in this craft from childhood itself and also becomes an expert. So this occupational division of labour is what we desire. Some people ask if it is possible to revive the caste system in this age of industrialization and we say yes, it is possible.
Q: You say you are opposed to consumerism and to wealth as the criterion for measuring one's status. If we take the criterion as dharma, what should the social structure be in a dharmic state.
A: In a dharmic state, everyone should know his duties. Each should follow his own dharma.
Q: What is the dharma of a Chamar?
A: His dharma is to make shoes.
Q: The Manusmriti certainly does not give equal status to Shudras. It advocates pouring molten lead in their ears.
A: Have you read the Manusmriti? There is no such thing written in the Manusmriti. If somebody advocates this today won't you say it is wrong? Today, in some Delhi schools children of parents who do not know English are not allowed admission. Is this better than Manu's law? You are not bothered about the law that is existing today but without any reason you are concerned about the law that was there in the past. If something happened in the past, it may have happened.
Q: The Sant Samaj wants to establish a dharmik society.
A: According to the place (desh), time (kal) and person (patr) we shall decide what should be done.
Q: Will you impose the Manusmriti?
A: We can implement many provisions of the Manusmriti, and we can leave out many other provisions.
Q: Will you impose Manu's laws regarding the Shudras?
A: There are no such laws. You are wrongly informed.
Q: What do you feel about untouchability?
A: The Muslim and Christian invaders killed our intellectuals, burnt our literature and libraries. Thereafter, these customs came into being and the illiterate people started following them. Then the intellectuals came to the fore once again and began interpreting the traditions in a different way so as to project their real essence.
Q: Can caste Hindus take food from 'untouchables'?
A: There is nothing which stops sadhus and Sikhs from taking food even from Bhangis (sweepers).
Q: But can Sanatani Hindus who are not sadhus do the same?
A: Those Sanatanis who lead a family-life (grihasta), they are not allowed to do so. On the other hand, the sadhus are allowed because they are alone and their actions do not affect others. But a person who lives with his family, he lives with 25 people, he cannot force them to do what he thinks is right. Similarly, if 24 of them think that eating with Bhangis is fine, they cannot force the person who does not share their views to do the same. If they want [to eat with Bhangis] they can go and live elsewhere. There is no law on sati, child marriage and untouchability in Hindu society. It is a question of personal choice, and we have given them a loophole, a safety valve-if you want [to practice these customs], you can. There's no harm.
Q: You mean to say that those who want to practice untouchability should be allowed to do so?
A: Yes, they should be allowed.
Q: And those who don't want to?
A: They should not be forced to practice untouchability.
Q: If a Brahmin priest says he doesn't want 'Untouchables' to enter his temple, should they be allowed to go in?
A: They should not. It is his temple so why do you want to enter it?
Q: Is this rule valid for all temples?
A: Temple is something which is private and not a social-affair in Hindu society, unlike tirtha and melas. In the operation theatre of the hospital not everybody is allowed because it has to remain pure. Similarly, our temples are places of meditation for which you require the same sort of vibrations within a limit. In such temples even Brahmins cannot go near the idols. Only the priests can go there to keep the vibrations intact.
Q: [T]he Puri Shankaracharya has said that Untouchables cannot enter temples?
A: It is not true. The Puri Shankaracharya has said nothing like this. To enter temples you should be clean and have a pure mind, but as for the Shankaracharya, even though he is no more, if he did not want everybody to enter his temple why should he have been forced to allow that? He did not forbid this for other temples.
Q: Is there any harm if a lower caste man becomes the priest of the proposed Ayodhya temple?
A: Is there any harm if a totally ignorant person is made an engine driver of a train? I shall appoint the priest of my temple according to my own wishes, not yours. Priests are appointed on the basis of their abilities. Reservations cannot be extended to all spheres. If this is done there will be a deluge of incapable people.
Q: But Brahmins have hundred per cent reservations in the priesthood.
A: In all electrical projects why are all the engineers only electricians? Why not economists? A person who is trained in a specific field, he alone can work in that field.
Q: So, Lalloo Yadav's plan of making Dalits as Shankaracharyas is wrong?
A: It is the height of stupidity (maha murkhta hai).
A: Is making someone a Shankaracharya the same as making a clay toy? A Shankaracharya requires technical expertise. Laloo Yadav has no right to depute anybody as a Shankaracharya because there is a system for that. If Laloo declares that your father should not remain the head of your family and in his place appoints somebody else, is it correct? How is it possible?
Q: What are you views on reservations for the SCs, STs and OBCs?
A: This is a question solely of votes. No one wants to give them reservations, nor can they get them. Never can they get them [emphatically].
Q: But should they get reservations?
A: There is no question of it. Why should they get reservations? Why should they remain as SCs and STs? Why do you want to make them a reserved category for eternity? On the one hand you say that a carpenter (Badhai) should be made a Brahmin, and on the other hand you put him in the reserved category. The result of this will be that children of the Brahmins will go to the scheduled communities to be adopted by them. There is a village called Pasna in Allahabad district where V. P. Singh made some good houses for the Harijans on his own land. Ten Brahman families live there. Who are they? They are the adopted sons of the Chamars. To get houses they claim to have been adopted by Kallu Singh [a Chamar].
Q: So, there should be no reservations?
A: Whether or not there should be reservations is not a question at all.
Q: How will the lower castes progress? A: There are no low castes. Why will there be any progress when the criterion is that he who consumes more is considered higher than he who consumes less? You devise a new criterion.
Q: You say that the caste-system is scientific and dharmik and you also say that caste-based reservations would strengthen the caste-system, so you should actually support reservations! A: No my support or opposition does not make a difference but yours will. If the caste-system should not exist, there should be no reservations.
Q: But, if the caste system should exist?
A: Then reservations may have some relevance but reservations should be only on economic and not caste basis.
Q: You say that you are opposed to money or consumption as a criterion for measuring one's status because this is adharmik. So why are you advocating economic basis for reservation? Is this not adharmik?
A: No, nothing is adharmik. Everything is dharmik if it is scientific.
Q: What do you say about the killing of Dalits by caste Hindus?
A: This is not because of a Savarna-Harijan conflict, only newspapers say this. In reality this is not so because if the Savarnas were to do this they would not remain alive because all their work is done by the Harijans. If they were to persecute the Harijans then who will make their ploughs, take out their oil, make their cloth and work in their fields? The killing of Harijans is because of vote-bank politics.
Q: What do you feel about Ambedkar, especially since he wrote what you call the anti-Hindu Constitution?
A: Ambedkar did not make the Constitution, he merely borrowed from the Constitutions of other countries. [He reads something aloud]. You people do not study anything at all. If you ask any question about Ambedkar you must first study everything about him. Why do I seem like an intellectual to you? It is because I have proof, quotations and references of everything I talk about. You took Ambedkar's name and I told you everything about him.
Q: What do you think about what Ambedkar has written about Hindu society and religion?
A: What he has written may be right in its own context. But, it is not necessary that everybody should agree with his views.
Q: What good and bad points do you find in his writings?
A: I have not read all his writings, that's why I don't know what he has written. But whatever he has written, he has written according to his own understanding.
Q: Which books of Ambedkar have you read?
A: I have not read any book written by Ambedkar.
Q: So you are not familiar with Ambedkar's views?
A: His views were his own. In our country we have freedom of thought.
Q: What do you think about Ambedkar's denunciation of Hinduism and adoption of Buddhism?
A: He did not leave the Hindu religion and adopt the Buddhist religion because there is no such thing as Hindu dharma. There is only a Hindu society. Ambedkar adopted only a different system of prayer and not a different religion.
Q: You have been quoted in Frontline (January 29, 1993) as having said that if Muslims can marry four wives then Hindus should be allowed to marry 25.
A: No, I did not say anything like this. You have read wrong. Show me the proof. Rithambhara says that the policy for Hindus is 'We two and our two' [a couple with two children] , while for Muslims it is 'We five and our 25, or our 75' [a man with four wives and with 25 or 75 children], and so she says that why shouldn't Hindus be allowed to marry 75 women?
Q: What should be the status of women in Hindu Rajya?
A: It should be what it should be In Islam there's no place for women. A woman should be a woman, she should be a mother. In our scriptures it is written that women and sanyasis have been exempted from earning their livelihood because if a woman stays at home she can give proper guidance to her children. Our scriptures say that in childhood her father would look after her, when married her husband, and when old her son. And people will look after the sanyasis. But this tradition cannot work today because no longer are good values cultivated, and people are obsessed with accumulating wealth.
Q: What do you feel about the practice of sati (sati pratha)?
A: There was no sati pratha. The word pratha means something which is continuous. If a woman, after her husband's death, does not want to live and wants to commit sati, let her. What is wrong in dying?
Q: Is sati a dharmik act?
A: Dharma means what you feel your duty is and you should do precisely that. Everybody has his own dharma, which is different from that of the others. Society cannot decide whether or not one should commit sati. Only the woman can. If she decides to commit sati she does so because she thinks it to be her dharma. It cannot be a rule for everyone. Today there are women prostitutes and models but prostitution and modelling is not a role for all women. If a girl is a cabaret dancer it is because of her choice and not because of a rule. Similarly, sati is not a rule and a woman can decide about it herself.
Q: Isn't it against humanity?
A: Is not prostitution against humanity? Yet, it still carries on. Society deteriorates because of prostitution but sati does not lead to social degeneration. Sati leads to the expression of a person's good qualities, determination and her inner feelings for her husband. She feels oneness with her husband and this should be appreciated. Nobody will appreciate a woman marrying 25 husbands. But, if a woman loves her husband and he dies and she does not want to live anymore then we should respect her feelings. Her inner feelings do not destroy our social system. No one can be forced to commit sati and incidents of sati are very rare. To make an issue out of it is stupidity. It is not an issue of a social evil.
Q: What are your views on widow remarriage?
A: Why should she [remarry]? Those who want to can and those who do not want to need not.
Q: But is it a crime if a widow remarries?
A: It is a crime. It is a very big crime. If a woman has intercourse with more than one man serious disorders would result. AIDS is a result of this, with a woman having intercourse with 27 men and vice versa. If you have the right to advocate eating mutton, I should also have the right to denounce it. You may have the right to say that sati pratha should not be allowed, but I should also have the right to say that sati pratha should be allowed.
Q: Is this what democracy is meant to be?
A: No, views should be free. When I don't agree with you why should you agree with me? I say that no one else but I can enter my temple and you say that everybody can enter your temple. You people are getting after those who have passively tolerated [your domination] for centuries and now having reached the saturation point we say that we won't tolerate this any longer and now you exclaim that we have become intolerant and violent! All these years you have advocated peaceful coexistence to legitimise your oppression. This intellectual war in the clouds is very dangerous and. we must save ourselves from this and seek positive solutions.
Q: According to Hinduism should women be allowed to work outside the house?
A: This is not right because as a result of this the structure of the family gets destroyed. The whole world has realized this.
Q: Frontline has quoted you as saying that the state should not pass any laws concerning marriage and the family...
A: Why should there be a law for these things?
Q: But, should not the state interfere if a man wants to marry 25 women?
A: Why should you form a law for this? The man will bear the consequences of his actions, why only 25, you can marry 2000 women if you want.
Q: Should there be no law against this?
A: Either the law should be universally applicable or there should be no law at all. And, there should be no such laws as a result of which people feel restricted in personal matters. If you want to marry 25 wives and this has no impact on the economy you should be free to do so.
Q: Should there be no law against child marriage?
A: In the Hindu system there is no law about the age of marriage.
Q: What about the Sharda Act [that forbids child marriage]?
A: Bhai Saheb, you keep making these Acts but they don't affect us. If we have to practice child marriage, we shall do so.
Q: Do you think child marriage is a good thing?
A: It is relative, not absolute.
Q: If a girl who has had a child marriage later wants to leave her husband?
A: It is the problem of those who have had child marriages. Why should we bother about that? Hindu society is free.
Q: Does not the Hindu religion say anything about it?
A: No, it does not say anything about it. It only says that if a man is unjust to his wife, the neighbours should correct him.
Q: If society believes that child marriages are not wrong then is there no need to oppose them?
A: There is no need. If the parents get their children married off in childhood, then let them do it. What is the harm in it? If they face some problem after that it is their own concern. Society will also be concerned about that but the law has nothing to do with it. Society shall never accept anything which is wrong.
Q: Should a woman be allowed to divorce her husband?
A: According to the Hindu Dharmashastras marriage is a sacred bond and it cannot be broken. The woman is not only a wife but also a steerer of the family.
Q: In the past when you say dharma ruled did women have inheritance rights?
A: There was no question of that. This issue has arisen only now.
Q: According to dharma should women be granted these rights in today's context?
A: The present system is 100 per cent adharmik and is one which destroys society instead of unifying it. By giving inheritance rights to women the unity of society gets broken.
Q: What do you feel about inter-caste marriages?
A: It makes no sense to say that marriages should be inter-caste or intra-caste. There are two kinds of societies-open and controlled. A shopkeeper's daughter in a controlled society has been brought up in a particular cultural environment but if she gets married to a farmer she will be able to adjust only if she gets married at the age of five or six [before her mind is moulded in a particular way].
Q: Do you mean to say that child marriage is good?
A: There is nothing good or bad about it. I am just analyzing with an open mind. For me there is nothing good or bad. If there has to be inter-caste marriage it has to be performed at a very young age. If a 20-year old daughter of a shopkeeper gets married to a farmer, her in-laws would tell her to milk the buffaloes. She will not only break her own hands and feel and injure the buffalo but also break the pot! So go ahead and perform inter-caste marriages! (sarcasm) In India there are 16 kinds of marriages. One of them is arranged marriage which people adopted because they found it appropriate for society. Another kind is love marriage (swayamvar). But who performs swayamvar? Only the haramkhor (crooks), the unemployed, robbers, etc.. This is because they have no cultural traditions and they have to grab from others and eat. Those who have to work to survive do not practice swayamvar.
Q: What do you feel about inter-caste marriages?
A: A girl should get married to a person who belongs to a family having the same traditions as hers otherwise she won't be able to adjust. She can get married to a person of any caste she wants or she can divorce 27 times a day if she wants but you cannot make a law prohibiting or enforcing inter-caste marriages for everybody. If a person gets married outside his caste he cannot force his caste to accept this when he is not willing to listen to his caste. You can resort to inter-caste marriages but you will have to face the consequences. If a Brahmin marries a Chamar woman and dumps her on his parents then naturally there will be conflict because the Chamarin will live like a Chamar in a Brahmin's house. He can take his Chamarin and go wherever he wants to. No one will stop him. But if he wants to live in society he should consider the society's emotions also. If he cannot surrender before society how will society do the same?
Q: But don't you think that inter-caste marriages can increase social unity?
A: No, in fact inter-caste marriages are a great hurdle to social unity because each caste has its own tradition.
Q: The VHP has spoken about 30,000 masjids and mazars which were allegedly Hindu shrines. Does the Sant Samiti [of the VHP] want only three mosques or 30,000 shrines back?
A: These demands have arisen because India was divided on a religious basis by the fundamentalist Muslims (mazhabi musalman) but all Muslims should have gone to Pakistan. In India Muslims should not be allowed to maintain their separate religious identity. Here they should live as Indian nationals and not as Muslims [...] The government has made a law that Muslims and Christians can teach communal books in their schools, but not others. Muslims say that the monuments built by Babur and Aurangzeb should remain intact-this is anti-Indian. Hindus are not a single community, but there are several castes, and Muslims and Christians can become such castes. They should be given a place in the caste system.
Q: But what about the 30,000 masjids and mazars?
A: They are built on the Hindu shrines which were destroyed. They need to be remodelled in the same way as after independence we removed the statues of George V, Queen Victoria and renamed roads and parks which had been named after British rulers. Similarly, we must do away with every remnant of Mughal imperialism. We must explain to the Muslims that this has nothing to do with them. And, the Hindu or Muslim who does not understand this is a traitor. It is a not a question only of 30,000 mosques, all vestiges of Mughal imperialism-whether the name of a city, village, road, building, anything, whatever represents the barbarism of Mughal imperialism-should be removed from this country.
Q: The Lal Qila and Taj Mahal also?
A: You think about it. Like we removed the vestiges or British imperialism we must do the same with Mughal imperialism.
Q: Do you support destroying mosques and mazaars as a matter of policy?
A: Their destruction happens only as a reaction to the Muslims' destruction of temples. Hindus never attack mosques in an organised way. A few boys break mosques just for the fun of it.
A: Not hooliganism. Just for fun sake (aise hi mauj masti mein).
Q: What about the Buddhist and Jain temples that the Hindu kings destroyed?
A: We have not seen any such instances in history. If a Hindu King did this we call him a devil.
Q: If Buddhists and Jains start demanding that their temples which the Hindus destroyed be returned to them?
A: Do not ask me such hypothetical questions.
Q: The Jains have started demanding that the Udaygiri caves which were converted into Vishnu temples be returns to them.
A: Who snatched the caves from them?
Q: The Gupta Kings.
A: But now who stops them from going there?
Q: But they want to control it themselves.
A: Who should give it to them?
Q: The Hindus.
A: But, Jains are part of Hindus.
Q: You attack the Muslim rulers for having destroyed Hindu shrines but ignore similar crimes committed by Hindu kings as in the case of the Mahabodhi temple. Did not the Hindu kings destroy Buddhist and Jain temples?
A: They might have demolished. How are we bothered? As for the Mahabodhi temple, it is a political creation. The only dispute is who will collect the offerings. The offerings have been collected by the Brahmins from the very beginning, and now the Buddhist bhikshus want to collect them. It is not a dispute between Shiva and Buddha.
Q: People are apprehensive that the Hindu- Muslim conflict will intensify.
A: This won't happen because the BJP has caught our line completely, and Muslims in large numbers are flocking to the BJP. They now say that those who hesitate to sing Vande Mataram and those who call the Ganga a witch are our enemies, and that they have distanced themselves from Mughal imperialism.
Q: Is this the Hinduisation of the Muslims?
A: It is the nationalization of the Muslims
Q: But you say that only Hindus are true nationalists.
A: What is the meaning of Hindu Rashtra? Muslim Rashtra has some meaning. Hindu Rashtra has no meaning at all.
Q: But then the RSS will be without any programme since its main aim is to establish a Hindu Rashtra.
A: No, Hindu Rashtra has no meaning.
Q: What do you mean by this?
A: Hindu Rashtra means what is written in this book. [He offers us a book written by him in highly Sanskritised Hindi and asks us to read it out aloud].
Q: What you have written is in highly Sankritised Hindi so how will ordinary people understand it?
A: It has not been written for ordinary people but for people like you to read. We do not say all these things to common people.
Q: What do you say to the common people?
A: We'll tell the common man when he comes to us. You are not a commoner [...] I feel happy that my views are neither without foundation, nor with any vested motives nor backward.
Q: Should everybody have the right to vote?
A: I feel that everyone should get equal rights which means that hathi ko man bhar aur chinti ko kan bhar (an elephant should get a maund of food and an ant should get a mere grain). A person should be satisfied according to his capability, need and status.
Q: Big industrialists, whom you term as exploiters, are big contributors to Hindu organizations.
A: It is their own business because they get income tax concessions if they contribute for welfare activities.
Q: You claim that Muslims are appeased but then why are they so poor?
A: Muslim society is not based on progressive ideas. They send their children to madrasas to study the Qur'an. They have many children whom they can't educate so naturally they are poor. This is despite the fact that the government has given them many facilities, they don't have to pay fees, they get free books.
Q: Don't you feel bad that many innocent Muslims have been brutally killed?
A: No innocent people have died. They died because they were ignorant. All those who died were guilty.victims in Bombay?
A: They were all innocent and they were all guilty.
Q: But what about the innocent?
A: None of them was innocent and none of them was guilty. They were all ignorant.
Q: Don't you feel bad about the killings?
A: Why should I feel bad? People keep dying (log to marte jate hi rehtein hain).
Q: How do you react to the charge that you people are indulging in vote-bank politics?
A: We are engaged in reawakening society but our opponents will never recognise this because of vote-bank politics. Today I met Rajju Bhaiyya (Rajendra Singh, at the time general-secretary of the RSS) and the last thing I told him was that all this talk for the sake of vote-banks, this is good because everybody wants to build his own vote-bank. I said to him that everybody has conjured up his own plank to build up his own vote-bank. So, if you have also done so, what is wrong? It is fine.
Muktanand's views on the Dalit-Bahujans, women and Muslims provide ample evidence of the authoritarian, fascist Brahminical regime that the Hindutva project seeks to impose on the people of this country. Clearly, as his views suggest, Hindutva aims at the continued and permanent suppression and subjugation of not just the Muslims and Christians alone, but the Dalit-Bahujan masses as well. And Mukatanad is not alone in this, echoing as he does the views on numerous leading spokesmen of the Hindutva cause. This being the case, the struggle against Hindutva must not be restricted to simply preaching Hindu-Muslim unity (although that might have its strategic uses). Rather, the battle is really for the minds and hearts of the Dalit-Bahujan masses, who form the vast majority of the Indian population. They must be warned of the grave consequences that Hindutva poses to them, for only then can Hindutva be actually countered.
Hindutva today poses a major threat to the all the marginalized communities in the country-Muslims, Christians, Buddhists and Sikhs, as well as the Dalit-Bahujans and women, that is, the vast majority of the people of India other than the 'upper' caste/class exploiters, defenders of the system of caste, class and patriarchal oppression. Only a sustained campaign to build a broad-based platform of unity between these oppressed groups can effectively stop the bloody juggernaut of Hindutva from hurtling the country into the throes of interminable civil war.
 Shamsul Islam, Untouchables in Manu's India, New Delhi: Media House, 2002, p.17.
 Quoted in Shyam Chand, Saffron Fascism, New Delhi: Unity Publishers, 2002, pp.143-44.
 Shamsul Islam, op.cit., , p.10.
 'VHP's Derogatory Language Against Ambedkar' (for the full text of the leaflet see
 Quoted in Shamsul Islam, op.cit., p.13.
 V.D. Savarkar, Savarkar Samagar, quoted in Shamsul Islam.op.cit., p.13.
 K.R.Malkani, The RSS Story, New Delhi: Impex India, 1980, p.73.
 This quote appears in the first edition of the book, published in 1966, but curiously disappears in subsequent editions.
 Quoted in Shamsul Islam, op.cit., pp.13-14.
 Chandra Shekarendra Saraswati, 'The Unique Election Method in Uthiramerur', Bhavan's Journal, 30 November, 1989, p.26.
 Ibid., p.33.
 Ibid., p.22.
 For a detailed dicussion of Chandra Shekaendra Saraswati's views on democracy, see Yoginder Sikand, 'Manusmriti versus Constitution of India', Mainstream, 17 April, 1993, pp.16-17.
 Taken from Shamsul Islam, op.cit..
 See, for instance, Bojja Thakaram, Constitution and the Coup d'Etat, Hyderabad: Janapada Prachanuranalu, 2000, p.17.
 Sangeetha Rao, 'Why To Review the Constitution', in Constitution's Review: A Conspiracy, New Delhi: SCEWATSTAMB, n.d., p.25.
 Ibid., p.x.
 Ram Khobragade, Indian Constitution Under Communal Attack, New Delhi: Gyan Publishing House, 2002, p.9.
 R.D.Nimesh, 'Desh Ko Vartman Bharatiya Samvidhan Ki Avashyakta Kyon?', in Constitution's Review: A Conspiracy, New Delhi: SCEWATSTAMB, n.d., p.45.
 Quoted in P.D.Mathew, Do We Need a Constitutional Review?, New Delhi: Indian Social Institute, 2000, p.25.
 Harkishan Singh Surjeet, 'Golden Jubilee of Indian Republic', in Review of the Constitution: Real Issues and Hidden Agendas, Hyderabad: Prajasakti Book House, n.d., pp.20-21.
 Prabhat Patnaik, 'Significance of the Move to Amend the Constitution', in Review of the Constitution: Real Issues and Hidden Agendas, Hyderabad: Prajasakti Book House, n.d., pp.23-25.
 Abhas Chatterjee, The Concept of Hindu Nation, New Delhi: Voice of India, 1995, p.35.
 P.N.Joshi, Constitution: A Curse to the Hindus, New Delhi: Rashtriya Hindu Manch, New Delhi, 1990, p.26.
 B.R.Ambedkar, 'The Riddle of Ram and Krishna', quoted in Ramendra, Why I Am Not a Hindu and Why I Do Not Want Ram Rajya, Patna: Bihar Rationalist Society, 1995, pp.46-47.
 Chatterjee, op.cit., p.47.
 Mukatanad Saraswati, Bharat Ki Ekta Akhandata Bhaichare Evam Sampradayak Saddhbhav Ko Mitane Vala Tatha Bharat Mai Bhukhmari, Berozgari, Bhrashtachar Aur Adharm Ko Badhaney Vala Kaun? Vartaman Indian Samvidhan, Vrindavan: Akhil Bharatiya Sant Samiti, Haridwar: Sarvodaya Satsang Ashram, n.d.
 Ibid., p.7.
 Ibid., p.61.
 Ibid., p.33.
 Ibid., p.6.
 Ibid., p.14.
 Ibid., pp.51-52.
 The commitment of the Hindutvawadis to a common civil code is obviously suspect. Their vehement opposition to the Hindu Code Bill that sought to introduce limited reforms in Hindu law is well known. In his The RSS Story (op.cit., pp.70-71), K. R. Malkani confesses that:
Shri Guruji [Golwalkar, the RSS supremo] went so far as to say that Muslim Law could continue separately, without being replaced by a Uniform Civil Law, as laid down in the Directive Principles of State Policy. When subsequently asked whether uniformity of law would not promote national integration, he said, 'Not necessarily'.
 Quoted in Sikand, op.cit., p.16.
Looking Back at the Colonial Origins of Communal and Caste Conflict in India
BY STEVEN WILKINSON ON 21/02/2017 •
Ajay Verghese’s The Colonial Origins of Ethnic Violence looks at the colonial past to understand why some parts of India suffer from communal conflict while others suffer from caste conflict.
Policies followed by the British were diverse over the country, and the repercussions of these policies can still be felt in the communal violence or caste violence that an area experiences today. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
In the past two decades, economists and political scientists have increasingly turned to India’s colonial past to understand the present. Scholars such as Abhijit Banerjee, Lakshmi Iyer, Dave Donaldson and Shivaji Mukherjee have shown how colonial indirect rule and land administration policies, often implemented with little consideration of local conditions, explain how levels of conflict and economic development vary so much across South Asia today. The very randomness of these colonial policies makes them ideal ‘natural experiments,’ it appears, for estimating the true effects of different kinds of government interventions.
The latest work in this area by a political scientist, Ajay Verghese’s The Colonial Origins of Ethnic Violence in India, looks to the colonial past to understand why some parts of India seem to suffer from communal conflicts while others suffer from high levels of caste conflicts. Generations of historians have pointed to religious divide-and-rule policies as perhaps the most distinctive and damaging aspect of British colonial rule. But Verghese’s revisionist thesis emphasises the role of the colonial administration, after 1857, in highlighting caste identities in its provincial governments and policies, most importantly in its land settlement and land administration policies. These provincial policies, he says, led to an increase in caste polarisation and conflict in British India. The cross-cutting nature of these caste cleavages also had at least one unforeseen benefit, however, by helping to defuse larger religious conflicts in the provinces between Hindus and Muslims. In princely India, by contrast, Verghese argues that rulers sought religious legitimacy and also practiced religious discrimination in their administrations, therefore increasing long-term religious grievances and conflicts but in doing so, also helping to reduce caste conflicts. Independence did not represent a sharp break with these patterns, but rather helped to entrench them. Areas that that had been part of British India continued to have higher levels of caste conflict, while former princely states had higher levels of communal conflict.
The Colonial Origins of Ethnic Violence in India
Stanford University Press, 2016
The most important evidence for Verghese’s thesis comes from his careful historical analysis of two pairs of cases, the former princely state of Jaipur and the British territory of Ajmer in present-day Rajasthan, and the former princely state of Travancore and British district of Malabar in Kerala. He argues that Jaipur had high levels of Hindu-Muslim tension and conflict before independence, but low levels of caste conflict, and that these levels continue today. Ajmer on the other hand had very low levels of communal conflict before 1947 but higher degrees of caste conflict, and these patterns too have continued after independence. The story in Kerala is much the same. He argues that the British in the Malabar region de-emphasised religion and highlighted caste inequalities and identities, which continue to dominate politics today, while the princely state of Travancore highlighted religious identities and discrimination, which continues to dominate politics in that area. Such differences explain, for instance, why the RSS and BJP have done better in Travancore, and why Naxals are more prevalent in Malabar.
There is a lot to like in this book. Verghese is surely right to highlight the fact that different identities were important at different levels of the colonial Indian state, and that, through the prism of the 1930s and partition, we tend to assume that religion was much more central to colonial policy than it might have been, and that we are too ready to discount the importance of caste and other identities. One other very appealing aspects of the book is the way in which Verghese integrates so many different kinds of evidence – fourteen months of archival research and fieldwork, careful historical and case studies, as well as large-n analysis. Verghese also anticipates some of the possible counter-arguments to his analysis, for instance why the former princely state of Bastar has such high levels of tribal and Naxal conflict despite seemingly possessing the (princely state) factors that elsewhere in the book associates with religious conflict.
But, as is often the case with revisionist arguments, Verghese sometimes pushes the evidence a bit too far in support of his thesis. First, outside the province of Madras, where the post-1910 backward caste revolution and Justice Party rule in the 1920s and 1930s make a clear case for the importance of caste identities, it is hard to sustain his overall thesis that caste was more important than religion at the provincial level throughout British India. We can in fact point to a very large number of British provincial policies, from separate electorates in provincial governments, to religious reservations in state police and civil service employment, to language policies declaring the use of Urdu versus Hindi, which did focus on religion rather than caste, and which therefore help to explain the large amount of conflict along religious lines in British India. The UP administration, as Francis Robinson, Paul Brass and others have explored, recruited many staff on the basis of religious preferences before independence – Muslims, with 14% of the population, were guaranteed a third or more of the positions in the police and civil service – but had far fewer preferences on the basis of caste. The same was true in most other provinces. The legislative debates from provinces like Bengal, Punjab, Bihar, and CP before independence also have a lot more questions about religious proportions in government service, and religious conflicts, than they do about caste cleavages, which again suggests that these identities were more important than caste identities to politicians and their constituents. Hindu-dominated elected governments in Congress provinces after 1937 were accused of favouring their co-religionists in a very similar way to the rulers in princely states, as publications such as A.K. Fazlul Huq’s, Muslim Sufferings under Congress Rule (Calcutta, December 1939) make clear.
A second issue is that teasing apart caste from communal motivations in order to prove that princely India equals religious conflict and British India equals caste conflict, is harder than it seems. Verghese’s argument that the Malabar was an area of relative communal peace before independence, for instance, will likely come as a surprise to readers, because the Mappila rebellion of 1921 has frequently been characterised as one of the worst instances of Hindu-Muslim conflict before independence. Verghese recognises that the Malabar is a problematic case for his argument, and he therefore goes to considerable lengths to show that the rising was at its core driven by caste and economic concerns. He uses the fact that many Muslims were low caste converts, that many landlords were Hindu upper castes, and that some low caste Hindus were involved in the uprising (albeit in the initial stages) to argue that, “At its core, the Mappila unrest was agrarian…in essence an expression of long-standing agrarian discontent, which was only intensified by the religious and ethnic identity of the Moplahs and by their political alienation.” This caste interpretation may be plausible, but he provides no conclusive evidence to show that this is the only reading possible for events that clearly had a variety of economic, caste, agrarian and religious motivations, nor for his contention that communal tensions dramatically declined in Malabar after 1921 and 1947, while caste identities remained salient.
A related question, while we are on the subject of categorisation, is how we can we squeeze the fluidity and complexity of history into the hard categories of social science and especially statistical analysis. In his Bastar chapter – my personal favourite – Verghese argues that the exceptionally high violence in pre-1947 Bastar was not really an exception in terms of his overall characterisation of princely India, because Bastar had actually been run for much of the pre-1947 period directly by the British. The British controlled the region’s forests, exploited the natural resources and the tribal populations and, when it suited them, took over the princely state directly for long periods on some pretext or other. Thus, the distinction between the British and the princely is not as clear as we may think. Some British territory was clearly administered differently and with more of a nod to local precedent, interests, rulers and customs than others and on the princely side some areas like Bastar clearly had much less autonomy than others, and were administered directly or indirectly by the British for long stretches.
But if we do accept that distinctions such as British-princely, indirect rule-direct rule, or Zamindari-Ryotwari-Mahalwari land systems are really continuous variables, with lots of regional and local differences in policy and implementation, rather than hard-and-fast categories, then is the recent large-scale use of such variables in statistical analysis –including by Verghese in this book – defensible? In truth, as Verghese’s qualitative analysis makes clear, some states such as Hyderabad had enormous autonomy, others much less so, while in other states rulers were autonomous for some periods but were under heavy British supervision or even direct rule for others, in a way that makes statistical dummy variables seem inappropriate.
Ajay Verghese. Credit: University of California, Riverside, website
A third point, in any study that wants to establish continuity with the past, is the question of whether we are we sure we have got the past right? Verghese seems confident on the basis of his archival work that he has his facts about the past correct, and that others do not. He argues that scholars such as the historian Ian Copland, who have argued that Ajmer was as communally sensitive as Jaipur before independence are just wrong: “Ajmer had only two minor riots prior to Partition” while Jaipur experienced several more riots than listed by Copland. Verghese himself however has missed a few riots in Ajmer. In addition to the two ‘minor’ riots he lists in 1923 and 1936, by my count there seem to have been at least three more in Ajmer before the end of 1947 – one in 1926, a riot in May 1928 in which 25 Muslims were injured, and one in December 1947 in which more than 50 persons, mainly Muslims were reported killed December 1947. In addition there was a reported Hindu-Muslim riot over a Holi procession at Bhinai, outside Ajmer, listed in the 1912 administration report. There may, of course, be more cases. So overall it is hard to see Ajmer as a complete bastion of communal peace prior to India’s independence, and without that clear difference the ‘continuity’ argument that Verghese makes between levels of communal peace before and after 1947 in Ajmer starts to look more doubtful.
One final question is about the role of post-1947 politicians in determining the pathway that these different regions have taken? If we focus so much on past colonial policies in explaining outcomes such as caste and communal conflicts, or the number of roads and schools in a region, does that absolve the post-1947 politicians, parties, and agents of the state from blame, and what does that mean in terms of our agency to change things in the present? Verghese properly acknowledges this tension, but one thing I would have liked to see more of in the book is a more explicit consideration of how much he thinks the historical institutions he explores gave post-1947 Indians, and Indians today, the freedom to change things, and reduce levels of conflict, Naxal and caste violence today.
Steven Wilkinson is Nilekani Professor of India and South Asian Studies and Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at Yale University.
RSS's poisonous secret agenda
Ref. : (Aajka Surekh Bharat, Nagpur, Oct. 2000, P-44, Original in Hindi, the English version, as follows --It is universal that RSS's attitude towards Muslims is hostile ever. RSS treat Muslim as their bitterest enemy. Though RSS express their equality views towards Dalits (for getting political benefits), yet they ever used to conspire against them (Dalits). Some days before, a poisonous RSS's secret agenda document was leaked by mistake and as such the fact of RSS's inner vicious mind has been exposed. It is clear from this agenda that as to how RSS want to target and finish Dalits. At first, this agenda was published in "New Age" weekly, of Communist party's mouth piece, dated 18th to 24th June 2000. The same was also published in second instance in "Lotmat", Marathi Daily from Nagpur, dated 15th July 2000. The correspondent of this daily, Mr. Shrinivas Khandewale was threatened of life by RSS. A case was also filed against him. This agenda doesn't bear any date and signature.
The agenda code number is – 411/ND/3003/R.S.S. – C.O.-3."Dear missionary brothers – According to this agenda, we are giving you responsibilities and as such we request you to accomplish the same. You memorize the agenda by heart and later on, tear it off. This work must be done confidentially and excellently. There are 34 points, as follows :
1. Collect weapons and explosive as much as you can to kill Dalits.
2. Make harmony with Amedkarites, Dalits, Muslims and make them hostile to Ambedkarite-Mahars. Create hostility among Dalits.
3. Make senior officers as staunch Hindu, so that they may harm Dalits.
4. Order to medical representative (MR) is to provide expired medicines in Dalits, Muslims and Tribal areas to kill them without knowing anybody.
5. Compel Dalits to chant Jai Shriram and Om mantra.
6. Boycott to those who comment against Hindutva. Threat them for.
7. Addict Dalits of drug, wine, gambling, prostitution, lottery and other such bad habits.
8. Dalit students who are reading in schools should be given harmful food, so that they may be paralyzed at their mental and physical health.
9. Entice and Compel Dalit, Muslim and Christian girls to become prostitute.
10. Teach false history in schools so as that Hindutva shall prevail.
11.During riot, rape Dalit, Muslim and Christian girls in group without any mercy, for no any kind of acquaintance/favor may prevail.
12. During riot, kill as maximum Dalits as you can with aid of government apparatus, police etc.
13. Chruches, Buddhavihars, Mosques were earlier Hindu temples and subsequently were grabbed by Yawan, Hun, Kushan. Such kind of literature should be created and propagated.
14. Create literature so as to defame Bouddha, Christian and Muslim.
15. Destroy Brahmin defaming literature. Or if it is available, stop it to come in people.
16. Scrap record of Dalits and OBCs so that they would remain away from promotions.
17. Show people the miraculous episodes of Hindu gods and goddesses through electronic media repeatedly.
18. Propagate blind beliefs in Dalits by way of hypocrite and pseudo saadhu, saadhvi, Buwa, Maharaj, Baapu, Amma, etc.
19. Keep on converting Bouddha, Jain, Sikh, Christian into Hindus.
20. Make pre-planned attacks on Dalits, Muslims and Christians and discourage them mentally
21, Oppose Mandal commission and confuse people in this regard.
22. Encourage disputes in the middle of Dalits.
23. Damage Ambedkar statues and apply tar on the face of the statues.
24. Regularly read Chanakya's book.
25. Deceive Muslim and Dalit girls, drink them and take their naked photos.
26. Continue Malnutrition among tribals and make them weak by giving poisonous food.
27. Use gullible and ignorant OBC to have our political gain.
28. Prohibit Dalits and OBCs to enter the Hi-Fi electronic media, i.e. Internet, IT, Computer Technology and other such areas.
29. Take Dalit and Muslim writers in our favor by giving money and insist them to write against Dalits and Muslims.
30. Order our rich and businessmen to exploit Dalits.
31. Keep watch on Dalit organizations and work to divide them.
32. Kill in encounter those who oppose Hindus.
33. Conduct meetings in your middle in regular intervals.
34. Preach Hindutva in chanting slogan of Jai Shriram relentlessly.(Note.: Memorize the above-said by heart and burn this agenda paper.)
Posted by Brijendra
RSS scouts for its own Dalit figures
NEW DELHI: Unknown till a few months ago, the late Rohit Vemula, Kanhaiya Kumar and Jignesh Mevani have now emerged as the faces of the Dalit cause on the national front.
They led their own agitations, but their cause converged and with that, they made common enemies—the BJP and the Sangh. To counter the trend, the RSS, which is running its own programmes for Dalit integration, is considering promoting leaders from the community with a “nationalistic” outlook.
The identification of these Dalit thought leaders is likely to be from the non-political platform so that they have greater acceptance among the people. A discussion on the issue will gain traction once the BJP and the RSS leaders meet.
Sources said both the BJP and the RSS were strategising on ways to counter the opposition’s “misinformation” campaign on Dalits. “Some leaders in the Sangh believe that leaders from the Dalit community should be developed who could provide an alternative discourse from the Left dominance,” a source said.
Sources added that Vemula (who died in January 2015), Kumar, and Mevani are supported by the Left and Liberal groups, who always paint the RSS in a bad light. Hence, there was a need to create set of our own leaders among the Dalits. They will help channelise the angst in the community, which has been stirred up due to recent violent incidents involving gau rakshaks (cow vigilantes), sources said.
To buttress the point, the source cited Dalit figures such as Milind Kamble, a Pune-based entrepreneur who set up Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and was an ABVP activist. Last year, the chamber organised a function on B R Ambedkar’s views in Delhi which was inaugurated by the Prime Minister. Kamble has emerged as a dominant voice among the community due to his business model and his message of creating jobs, instead of asking for them.
The BJP in April nominated Narendra Jadhav, a scholar who has written on Ambedkar, to the Rajya Sabha. Jadhav was a member of the Planning Commission during the UPA regime, and was also a member of Sonia Gandhi’s National Advisory Council. He was earlier the chief guest at a function to launch a Sangh-linked magazine’s special issue on Ambedkar.
RSS leaders said that they have been working among the Dalits for years, and they have been successful in building trust among the members of the community. The Sangh, however, appeared concerned as new leaders are mostly “supported” by the Left intellectuals. They fear it could create a wedge between the community and the Sangh’s outreach.
File photo of members of the Christian community protesting in Raipur against attacks on churches. Credit: PTI
On May 25, 2016, Saradi Bai, an elderly Christian woman from Bhadhisgaon village in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar district, died a natural death. But in the days that followed, an chain of unnatural, divisive events flooded the tribal hamlet. Soon after she died, the local unit of Bajrang Dal, a militant Hindutva organisation active in several parts of India, led a campaign to deny her a rightful burial. Led by local Hindutva activists, the group said that Christians could not be allowed to carry out their religious rituals, bury her in a casket or place a cross in her grave. They argued that any Christian ritual is a violation of section 129 (C) of Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 (PESA), which gives the gram sabha “the power to safeguard and preserve the traditions and customs of the people, their cultural identity and community resources and customary mode of dispute resolution”.
In the last two years, the sudden burst of Hindutva aggression in the region, especially under the stewardship of the Bajrang Dal, has unnerved Christians. But denying basic burial rights to an elderly woman left the minority community flabbergasted like never before. With no other alternative, Saradi Bai’s family were forced to seek police intervention. After hectic negotiations through the day, the Bajrang Dal allowed her to be buried in a coffin but without a cross on her grave. It also said that no Christian burials will be allowed in the village henceforth.
This event that polarised the village on religious lines prompted around 200 Christians of the village to appeal at the constitutional offices of the sub-divisional magistrate (SDM), tehsildar, police and sarpanch asking for a separate burial ground for Christians. “The sarpanch refused to accept our application, while the SDM and others are yet to respond,” said pastor Pilaram Kawde of Bhadhisgaon while talking about the state government’s apathy.
Meanwhile, Saradi Bai’s husband Sukhdev Netam died on June 6, leading to yet another round of similar events in the village. “They (Bajrang Dal activists) declared that they did not recognise the authority of the police, tehsildar, SDM or anyone else,” said Kawde. Netam was finally buried while the police kept guard. This time, the Bajrang Dal went a step ahead and threatened to kill if the community tried to bury Netam.
The communal attacks against Christians in the village began around September last year. Kawde laid the foundations for a prayer hall on his own land, for which he has all the papers. However, the panchayat, under the influence of the Bajrang Dal according to Kawde, refused to give him a no objection certificate (NOC). “The panchayat orally refused to issue a NOC for construction. I asked them to give me the order in writing. When they failed to do so for several days, I resumed construction. I was then given a written notice citing sections 55 (1) and 55 (2) of the Chhattisgarh Gram Panchayat Act 1993 saying I cannot be allowed to construct a place of worship for Christians because ‘people of big-big castes and religions live in this village, and every Dusshera even the Roopshila Devi Ma joins the celebrations,’ and that the panchayat has the right to demolish the prayer hall,” Kawde said.
This attack on the Christian community in the Adivasi-dominated Bastar region is not an isolated one. Kawde claimed that Christians in many other villages have been prevented from burying their dead, fueling a demand for separate burial grounds among the community.
Several other narratives of this kind were brought to light in a recently published fact-finding report by the All India People’s Forum (AIPF), a collective comprising a few political, non-governmental and student organisations. The AIPF team comprised former Madhya Pradesh MLA Sunilam, former Jharkhand MLA and CPI(ML) member Vinod Singh, All India Progressive Women’s Association secretary Kavita Krishnan, Brijendra Tiwari of the All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU), Amlan Bhattacharya of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), and lawyers Aradhana Bhargava, Ajoy Dutta and Amlendu Choudhary. The team was assisted and accompanied by Bastar-based researcher Bela Bhatia and Dantewada-based activist Soni Sori.
The report, which also documented many testimonies of people highlighting large-scale human rights’ violations by the police and state-sponsored vigilante groups, raised several such incidents where Christians have been systematically targeted by Hindutva groups in southern Chhattisgarh, also the hotbed of the Communist Party of India (Maoist)’s operations.
The fact-finding team found that that at several villages in Bastar – including Karmari, Bade Thegli, Sirisguda and Belar – section 129 (C) of the Chhattisgarh Gram Panchayat Act have been wrongly invoked by the supporters of Hindutva to restrict access of Christians in villages where they have been living for centuries.
Following PESA’s enactment in 1996, the Panchayati Raj rules applies to the scheduled areas like Bastar. Originally an empowering Act to give the Adivasi-run gram sabha the powers to take its own decisions, the Hindutva groups, in the last few years, have used PESA’s provisions to equate Adivasi customs and traditions with the Hindu religion in order to prohibit non-Hindu practices.
Apart from section 129 (C), they have often used section 55 of the same act, which has provisions to prevent land alienation in scheduled areas, stipulating that prior permission of the panchayat is needed to build new houses, change the design of the houses and so on, according to their political convenience.
Bajrang Dal or land mafia?
Most victim testimonies in the report suggest a nexus between the regional land mafia and the Bajrang Dal. In most cases, the Bajrang Dal has attacked spaces which the Christians use for social gatherings. For instance, in the Karmari village of Bastar, Christians were stopped by the Bajrang Dal from constructing a community hall in their rightfully-owned ancestral land. The gram panchayat gave an NOC for the hall, but made a U-turn when construction actually started in June 2015. “…I was summoned by the gram panchayat to explain the construction. I told them I had the NOC and that I wanted to construct a community bhawan because Christians do not have a hall for social gatherings like marriages and so on. The panchayat leader told me I was not allowed to construct the building. If the governor and other authorities upheld my right to construct, they said they could call the Bajrang Dal to get me beaten up,” said pastor John Masih of Karmari.
He added that when he went ahead with the construction the Bajrang Dal held a rally, pressurised other villagers to participate and gheraoed the police station. The SDM stopped the construction after the protest. But when he showed all the documents, the collector issued a letter of permission for the construction.
Refusing to budge, the gram sabha held a meeting in September 2015, ostensibly to discuss drought relief. Masih said that the panchayat leaders mobilised the crowd to stop construction of the hall. Met with a violent protests at the construction site, Masih ran away. “But two women – Ludri and Phulo Baghel – who were working at the site were badly beaten with bamboo sticks, kicked and punched. They surrounded us and did not let us go out of the village,” said Masih.
The police did not come to the site despite several calls. Masih said when they finally came, it named only four assailants in the FIR while he had given 12 names. The accused persons are out on bail now. Masih said that he was told by the sub-inspector of the station that he cannot protect them because ‘one community’ is increasing too much.
Despite several complaints at higher offices, the officials have not been able to start construction at the designated site. In this period, the gram panchayat passed a communally-charged resolution invoking section 129 (C) that reads like this, “To stop forced conversion by outside religious campaigners and to prevent them from using dergogatory language against Hindu deities and customs, Karmari gram sabha bans religious activities such as prayers, meetings, and propaganda of all non-Hindu religions.”
The report also talked to victims of similar attacks by the Bajrang Dal in Ara village of Balrampur in northern Chhattisgarh, Karkapal and Mudhota villages in Bastar. Son Singh Jhali, the lawyer who is handling a number of such cases, explained how a mob of around 25 Bajrang Dal activists vandalised a church in Ara.
“On June 5, 2016, the mob led by Chhotu Jaiswal, Sonu Gupta, Bipin Gupta, Chhotu Gupta and others attacked the church during Sunday prayers. They vandalised the church; beat up the pastor, his wife and three others. They made a video of the attack and circulated it on social media…The pastor and his wife were illegally detained for two and half days…No FIR was registered against the assailants – instead a case (with charges of conversion, rioting, etc.) has been registered against the pastor who still languishes in jail,” said Jhali.
“There are several false cases of rioting against Christian pastors. In fact, any complaints against those who attack Christians are immediately followed by counter-complaints,” he added.
Similarly, pastor Abhimanik narrated a 2014 incident in his village Mudhota. “A mob of 35 entered the church and beat up everyone, including women and children, and told them to become Hindu or else prepare to be killed.” The pastor said that following this round of violence, the police organised a meeting between the two groups. But the meeting was hugely skewed in favour of the Bajrang Dal, which had mobilised around 400 of their activists as opposed to only 70-75 Christians.
The meeting was supposed to be held in the presence of the police, but the police did not come. “They (Bajrang Dal activists) then attacked the Christians, chased them into the jungle; several were badly injured,” he said. The pastor said that the mob did not let the police and the ambulance enter the village. When the injured finally managed to reach the government hospital without an ambulance, the doctors refused to treat them because “the hospital (staff) was threatened and under pressure”.
In a similar situation, he accused the police of favouring the Dal activists. Following this incident, the pastor said, Christians were refused to draw water from the village tube well. “On November 3, 2014, a meeting was called at the collector’s office…The Bajrang Dal demanded that the Christians do ‘ghar wapsi’ (reconversion to Hinduism). The collector tried to reason with them but they claimed that ‘ghar wapsi’ had the sanction of section 129 (C) of the Gram Panchayat Act.”
The report also documented the attack on Christians in Karkapal village of Jagdalpur. Pastor Munne Lal Pal narrated how despite necessary permission to build a boundary wall in their traditional graveyard, the Bajrang Dal demolished it, citing that the land has been encroached upon. “They kicked and danced on the graves, raising Jai Shri Ram slogans…Three graves were also flattened. The authorities present did nothing to stop the attackers.” He said that the police did not file our complaint till some 60 pastors and hundreds of community members protested at the police station.
The report said that many Hindutva groups have attacked Christians in several other villages. In Tumasnar village of Kanker, they were beaten up for standing up to extortion activities by Bajrang Dal members during Hindu festivals. In this village, the Christians allege that a Hindutva group has been telling villagers to boycott the Christians socially and economically, threatening them with violence if they did not comply. In Sirisguda of Bastar, Christians were stopped from using the government ration shop. The proprietor of the shop was threatened by the Bajrang Dal members. The panchayat secretary, who is a BJP activist, refused to acknowledge the food inspector’s intervention in the matter. Later, many Chrisitans were beaten up for filing a complaint at the inspector’s office. Such was their boycott, that the gram sabha passed a resolution on May 17, 2014 saying that non-Hindus cannot live in the village. However, the Bilaspur high court deemed the gram sabha order unconstitutional.
Similarly, in Parapur village of Bastar, many Christian women were beaten up brutally for allegedly doing “witchcraft” on Hindus.
The high court order
The police, according to the report, is strongly complicit with the Bajrang Dal’s activities against Christians in Bastar. The state administration has failed to take any commensurate action. The report notes that the Hindutva groups operate with a great degree of impunity under the BJP-led state government.
The violence unleashed by the Hindu right in Chhattisgarh has manifold consequences. One, it seeks to subvert the laws that empower Adivasi groups and give them decision-making powers. Two, the incidents suggest a gradual overtaking of community organisations like gram sabhas by Hindutva groups like the Bajrang Dal, resulting in a false, ahistorical branding of tribal heritage as part of the ‘Hindu’ culture. Three, the physical violence unleashed by the Hindu right on non-Hindus living in Bastar for centuries is matched with the stronger degree of social and economic violence, pushing the minorities to live in a climate of insecurity and fear. Four, more often than not, the Hindutva campaign is a larger story about land grab and displacement of Christians. Five, the incidents reveal how the relief systems have been duly subverted in Chhattisgarh.
As attacks on Christians are on the rise in Chhattisgarh, the only silver lining for the minority community is a Bilaspur high court order on October 16, 2015 which took note of the Hindu right’s efforts to foment communal violence in Adivasi villages. In the case Chhattisgarh Christian Forum and others versus State of Chhattisgarh and others, the high court said, “…the impugned resolution shall not come exercise of fundamental right to preach and propagate of religion and their faith.” (sic)
The high court decision to uphold the constitutional right of people to practice their own religion and prevent communal interpretations of PESA has given some hope to the minority community in Chhattisgarh. Yet, the state government has a lot to answer for the unruly mobs that enjoy immense impunity under the BJP regime.
Badshah vs. Raja: Modi Parable Continues Sangh Efforts to ‘Return Dalits to Hinduism’
The prime minister’s veiled reference to Raja Suheldev’s story pointed to the right-wing’s efforts to appropriate a popular medieval Dalit leader’s legacy and project him as a ‘cow protector’.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the 2nd Year Anniversary celebrations of MyGov, in New Delhi on Saturday. Credit: PTI
New Delhi: The national newspapers on Sunday carried, as expected, the big news of Saturday evening – Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s categorical reprimand to the self-styled “gau rakshaks” at a packed town hall-like event in New Delhi.
The news has its own importance. After all, in the wake of his own remarks on “pink revolution” (cow killing on a mass scale), Modi was addressing the ongoing vigilante violence of cow protectors, directed first at Muslims and now at Dalits, for the first time. A much awaited reaction from the head of state.
However, almost all the print and broadcast media based out of Delhi missed out on an important reference that the prime minister made to emphasise his point – even though it has a direct bearing on the coming Uttar Pradesh assembly elections.
Before calling some cow protectors “anti-social by night and gau rakshak by day”, Modi narrated the story of ‘Badshah and Raja’.
He said, “Purane zamaane mein aap ne dekha hoga Badshah kya karte the. Apni larai ki fauj ke aage gai rakh dete the. Raja ko parishani hoti thi ki var kare to gai maregi aur paap lagega. Isi uljhan me woh haar jate the.” (You must have sen in the olden times Badshah used to put a herd of cows in front of his army. It put the Raja in a dilemma. That if he proceeded to fight he needed to kill the cows and thereby be sinned. He lost the war in this dilemma.)
Even though he stayed away from making any direct reference to who that particular ‘Badshah’ was and who that ‘Raja’ was, those who follow the politics of Uttar Pradesh vis-à-vis the state’s Dalit voter base – and also those who identify themselves as gau rakshaks – would know who was who.
The ‘Badshah’ Modi referred to was none other than Ghazi Saiyyad Salar Masud and the Raja, a Dalit Hindu king, Suheldev. Modi made a veiled reference there to the war of Bahraich in the 11th century. That battle may be of minor significance in recorded history, but has its own importance in popular history, particularly in UP.
The prime minister knows the importance of this incident in the Dalit politics of UP, especially since the 1960s. Not just the BJP and its fount, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), but also the Congress, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Samajwadi Party (SP) and others had tried owning Raja Suheldev from time to time to wrest Dalit votes. The story is also useful to consolidate Hindu votes.
Though all parties use Suheldev to their advantage, the events of the last few years indicate that the RSS-BJP have made use of his name, and particularly the “Badshah and Raja” story, to reach out not only to Dalits but also to give a hero to the gau rakshaks from among the Dalits and help “return Dalits to Hinduism”.
Who was Raja Suheldev?
Mirat-e-Masudi, a 17th century Persian historical romance, also referred to as a biography of Sayyiad Salar Masud (he was the nephew of Mahmud of Ghazni), mentions Suheldev as a chieftain of the Shravasti area, near present-day UP’s Bahraich district. According to some accounts, he belonged to the lower caste Pasi community.
According to the Delhi-based Indus Research Centre, Suheldev “was the son of Mangal Dhwaj and disciple of Balak Rishi whose ashram was located in Bahraich.”
The Hindu right wing-influenced research centre, whose stated objective is to set up an “Indo-centric research centre” and “provide research support to elected representatives and the activists”, certainly knows Suheldev’s importance in the “local imagination” and “caste memories” of UP. The centre gives credence to Suheldev’s story by attempting to provide some historical veracity to it. It does this by giving a blow by blow account of an 11th century event in an essay that has an authoritative tone despite not citing any evidence other than hearsay.
It eulogises the king for upsetting the advance of the army of Mahmud of Ghazni by “either beheading” Masud or by inflicting on his throat an arrow that led to his death “under a mahua tree” by Lake Suryakund, held sacred by the Hindus for its healing properties.
The essay titled ‘The Forgotten Battle of Bahraich’ also refers to attempts by many castes and sub-castes in UP to own Suheldev. “In the popular culture and memory, he (Suheldev) is known as one among the Pasi kings but is claimed by several other castes as well, most notably by the Bhars. He is also claimed to be a Kshatriya of the Nagvanshi lineage or a Bais/Vais Kshatriya by some. This is not surprising due to the obvious difficulty of projecting the modern day caste identities in the history and also due to the division and assimilation of castes and formation of new castes over the period,” writes the essay’s author Abhinav Prakash, an alumnus of Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University.
He claims, “During the invasion by Salar Masud, regions of Lakhimpur, Sitapur, Lucknow, Barabanki, Unnao, Faizabad, Bahraich, Sravasti, Gonda, etc. were ruled by a confederacy of 21 Pasi chieftains under Raja Suheldev.”
Though history books say Suheldev was finally killed by Mahmoud’s army, the essay calls it a “claim” and states the popular history as saying, “However, it also seems that Suheldev survived the battle and constructed several water tanks in and around Shravasti to commemorate his victory. The Chandradeo of Kannauj (claimed to be an old foe of Suheldev) later subverted him as the defeat of the Muslim army re-ignited the old rivalries.”
Prakash’s essay doesn’t corroborate Modi’s story but he does rue two things – one, that “not much work has been (done) on the historical event which halted the victorious march of the Islamic imperialism”; and two, a site held sacred by the Hindus was turned into a dargah in Masud’s memory.
“What has happened is that the place has become the place of pilgrimage during the Urs of ‘Bale Miyan’ or ‘Ghazi Miyan’ towards the end of May in Jyeshtha month. It is the process of acculturation which has Islamised the Hindu folk tradition.”
“But the memory of the great king has persisted in the popular local imagination and caste memories,” he says.
On Saturday, Modi tried to invoke that “popular local imagination”. He also used it to send out a vital message to the gau rakshaks about Suheldev, a Dalit. In the last few decades, Suheldev has been projected by the Hindu right wing outfits, particularly in UP, as a cow protector. Perhaps therein lay the reason why the prime minister, who kept quiet when the cow protectors attacked Muslims, chose to speak out when they went after the Dalits.
That the ‘Badshah and Raja’ story is known among the ranks of BJP-RSS was corroborated by a BJP member from Kanpur Dehat to this correspondent on Sunday, “Everyone knows this story. Masud planned to put a herd of cows in front of his army to defeat Suheldev. He knew that Suheldev would not attack the cows. But Suheldev got to know about it and he ordered his army to clandestinely let loose the cows in the night before the war. He thereby became a hero by not only saving the sacred cows but also by killing Masud.”
The politician, who preferred to remain anonymous, said, “In 2001, an organisation called Maharaja Suheldev Sewa Samiti was formed by some of our like-minded people. Events like nautankis and plays are regularly organised on his great victory over Mahmud of Ghazni in various parts of UP with help from the BJP.” He added, “Our party is not the only one doing it. Almost all parties talk about Suheldev for political reasons. When Mayawati came to power, she built many statues of Suheldev in the state.”
Right wing sympathisers also accuse mainstream historians of “ignoring Suheldev”.
“Oral history has been an important part of India for centuries. But our professional historians refused to look at them. Even though worldwide oral history is being recognised, our historians have vested interests and are partisan towards it,” RSS member Rakesh Sinha told The Wire. He gave an example of the claimed “partisan attitude” of the historians, “For instance, in the Nehru Memorial Library and Museum, it has given space to oral history by recording interviews of people related to partition. But those are people these historians want to support. If tomorrow I point out about Suheldev, I will be told it has no historical evidence.”
Folk tales as history
Said well-known medieval historian and former JNU professor Harbans Mukhia in response, “These stories have their own importance, but professional historians will have to look at them as mere folk tales. As a historian, I am mandated to work on the basis of evidence, dates, logic, cogency and the many layers that spring out of an event. In the absence of it, they are mere folk tales.” He underlined, “You have to see that battle of Bahraich from the overall perspective. There is written evidence that he finally couldn’t stop Mahmud’s army from advancing further into UP.”
The professor added, “It is because of this reason (lack of evidence and logic) that there is a wide gap, not just in India but elsewhere too, between professional history and popular history.”
His explanation of the formation style of the armies of various Muslim invaders also debunked Modi’s ‘Badshah and Raja’ story of “putting a herd of cows before it”.
“Before Babur invaded India, the formation of the army of the other Sultans while approaching their enemy was in mass form. Hundreds of foot soldiers and horses and elephants would clash. In a war, mobility or the ability to swiftly go from one place to another is vital. So by putting a mass of men and animals together, it was a tactic to restrict the enemy from moving swiftly and thereby overpower it,” he explained.
“After Babur came,” he continued, “many things changed. He divided his army into five segments – right, left, centre, vanguard and reserve. While the vanguard would first attack the enemy, the soldiers in reserve would take over once all the other four segments of Babur’s army and also the enemy’s army would exhaust themselves. The Rajas lost out to Babur’s army because of this tactic. The Rajput kings later learnt this tactic.”
“Also,” he related, “Babur brought guns with him which were put in front of an invading army. Basically, huge stones were thrown at the enemy with the help of these huge guns. Gunpowder was used to push the stones through the barrel.”
Such stories may be good for history books but to suit the political game, parties in UP would rather stick to Modi’s ‘Badshah and Raja’ story. Additionally, the Hindu right wing outfits have also been using this “caste memory” to push Dalits to “return to their ancestors’ roots.”
Though it is difficult to say how regular these “homecoming” events are, a report from March 2013 said, “A total of 180 people belonging to 36 families of eight villages under Jaunpur district of Uttar Pradesh returned to their ancestors’ roots at a homecoming ceremony on March 17. The function was organised under the banner of Shravasti Naresh Rashtraveer Suheldev Dharma Raksha Samiti. Over 500 people from ten adjoining villages also attended the function.”
Raosaheb Kasbe: The RSS won’t be able to internalize Ambedkar
The Ambedkar and Dalit movements expert on ongoing fight to appropriate Ambedkar’s legacy and how young India can embrace his modernist views
Raosaheb Kasbe, maharashtrian dalit intellectual photographed in Nashik, Maharashtra, on April 15, 2015. Photograph: Abhijit Bhat
SC panel chief dubs RSS ‘anti-Dalit’
Weeks after RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat courted a controversy by calling for a committee to look into “which categories require reservation and for how long,” the Chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, P.L. Punia, has dubbed the Sangh “anti-Dalit.”
“Mr. Bhagwat has said this two-three times. The RSS and the BJP are anti-Dalit and anti-reservation. They [the government] have no commitment to the pending Bill on reservation in promotion, too. The constitutional amendment Bill is pending, why don’t they push for it,” he asked in a conversation with The Hindu. He is also a Rajya Sabha member of the Congress.
“The Prime Minister’s speech on terminating interview for Group B, C and D jobs smacks of obsession with ‘merit.’ They talk about Dr. Ambedkar. Mr. Bhagwat praised Dr. Ambedkar in his Dussehra speech. But he did not say a word about his previous comment on reservation. He made no clarification. And the BJP hasn’t said once that it disagrees with him — they have just said they agree with the present policy.”
The BJP strongly disagreed with this view. “The PM has made it clear that none can finish quotas till he lives. Our party chief Amit Shah has also upheld quotas as they exist. Even the RSS chief had said these may continue for a 100 years. Mr. Punia’s comments are motivated,” BJP spokesperson Bizay Sonkar Shastri said. “He is in a constitutional position. He should clarify whether he is acting as SC Commission chief or a Congress spokesperson.”
Mr. Punia had days ago strongly reacted to Union Minister Gen. (retd.) V.K. Singh’s “dog” analogy in the deaths of two Dalit children in Haryana, and has called for cases to be registered against him under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and the IPC.
Asked whether there should be exclusion of the creamy layer among Dalits from the purview of reservation, Mr. Punia said this did not seem legally possible but he did not have any personal objection to it. “The creamy layer concept was discussed in detail by the Supreme Court in the Indra Sawhney case. It said creamy layer exclusion would apply only in relation to OBCs. So, legally speaking, the SCs are a special class and different from OBCs,” he said. “But so far as my personal opinion is concerned, I don’t have a problem in the exclusion of the very well-to-do, who have benefited from the reservation in the past.”
Asked about Congress leader Jitin Prasada seeking a debate on Mandal and asking for quotas for the poor among the upper castes and a focus on the most backward castes, Mr. Punia said: “Our 2014 manifesto said we can consider other proposals without prejudice to the existent 50 per cent quota for the SCs and STs and the OBCs. All Congressmen are committed to this. This is both my individual and party position.”
New book on RSS reveals political push, constitution
In a soon-to-be released ‘RSS: A View to the Inside’, authors Walter K Andersen and Shridhar D Damle have concentrated on the evolution of the Sangh’s world view and organisation among other aspects. india Updated: Jul 30, 2018
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
RSS volunteers march during an event to mark the Hindu New Year in Allahabad on March 18.(AFP File Photo)
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) constitution, the existence and full details of which are not well known, even to many volunteers, states that it is “aloof from politics and devoted to social and cultural fields only”.
But the rapid growth of affiliated groups, penetrating almost all areas of society, has prompted the RSS to take an interest in influencing politics and government decision-making, says a new book.
In their soon-to-be released ‘RSS: A View to the Inside’, authors Walter K Andersen and Shridhar D Damle have concentrated on the evolution of the Sangh’s world view and organisation; how it made a conscious effort to boost the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) electoral fortunes ahead of the crucial 2014 Lok Sabha elections; and the convergence and divergence with the government since then.
The fact that the RSS has a constitution is known to its leaders and close observers, and parts of it have appeared in a few books about the Sangh.
But the organisation has largely remained ambivalent about it, and its full text is often hard to find.
A senior functionary told Hindustan Times that despite being drafted in 1949, “not many within the organisation know the contents of the constitution” because it is “not publicised much”.
The body was compelled to write its constitution after it was first banned following the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi in 1948.
According to the authors, the RSS conducted protracted negotiations with then home minister Vallabhbhai Patel to lift the ban in 1949.
Among other things, it pledged to prepare a written constitution, which would explicitly state that the RSS would not involve itself in political activities and the organisation’s activities would be devoted entirely to cultural work.
The preamble of the RSS constitution states that owing to the “disintegrated condition of the country, it was considered necessary to have an organisation, to eradicate the fissiparous tendencies arising from diversities of sect, faith, caste and creed and from political, economic, linguistic and provincial differences, amongst Hindus; and to make them realise the greatness of their past.”
The RSS constitution states that Swayamsevaks are free, as individuals, to join any party, institution, or front, political or otherwise, except such parties, institutions, or fronts which subscribe to or believe in extra-national loyalties.
On why little is known about RSS’s constitution, Andersen said: “There is an ambivalence regarding the RSS constitution and most members have not read it. We had some effort to get a copy of the current 1972 constitution. As to why it is of such ambivalence within RSS, I think a major reason is that RSS operates on a face-to-face basis, and not through a set of written rules.”
Even as RSS has steadfastly refused to admit its role in electoral politics, the book suggests that 2014 was a significant marker in its history. It says just as in 1977 the Sangh had thrown its weight behind the Janata Party (a group of parties including the Jana Sangh) to take on the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, it took a similar decision to oust the Congress from power in 2014.
“A senior BJP figure told us that on only two occasions has RSS fully engaged in parliamentary elections: once in 1977 for the Janata Party and then again in 2014 for the BJP. This does not mean that the RSS has not been involved in other elections, but those two elections were the only ones in which it permitted its pracharaks and other high-level officials to take part in the campaigns,” the book says.
The book dwells on the Sangh’s views on issues such as the Ram temple; foreign policy, particularly China; education; the BJP tying up with the People’s Democratic Party to form a government in Jammu and Kashmir and its collapse; campaigns on cow protection and ghar wapsi; and economic policy, especially labour reforms and foreign investment. It argues that the Sangh plays the role of a mediator between its different affiliates, which include the BJP and the specific organisations which may be at the forefront of certain campaigns.
Three decades ago, Andersen and Damle co-wrote ‘The Brotherhood In Saffron: The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Hindu Revivalism’, widely considered the most authoritative book on the organisation.
On the issue of the constitution, Alok Kumar the international working president of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, an affiliate of RSS, said Sangh does not focus much on the constitution because it is “run like a family and on trust.”
“We adhere to it and hold elections regularly (as is prescribed in the constitution), but RSS has grown organically. You will be surprised to know that the name of RSS and the importance of the flag were not discussed in the meeting where it was founded,” he said.
BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP Rakesh Sinha said the RSS organisation has always been based on its own constitution.
“The critics of RSS have reduced themselves to propagandists and use selective facts to perpetuate their narrative that RSS is undemocratic and anti minorities. RSS, like Britain, which had in the past an unwritten constitution, evolved conventions and rules. Since late ’40s, it has a written constitution which has been mentioned even by critics like DR Goyal, but contemporary critics deliberately show ignorance.”
From Hedgewar to Mohan Bhagwat, what game is RSS playing in India?
Mohan Bhagwat’s speeches at a conclave in New Delhi have led a wave of mixed emotions across the country
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat speaks on the 2nd day at the event titled 'Future of Bharat: An RSS perspective', in New Delhi, Tuesday, Sept 18, 2018
September 20, 2018
Gulf News Web Report
India’s RSS and it’s changing perspectives
By Malavika Kamaraju, Features Editor
The three-day conclave by one of India’s leading ideological entities, The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (National Volunteer Organisation or RSS) that was held from Sep 17-19 in New Delhi has sent a wave of mixed emotions across the country as the RSS’s chief Mohan Bhagwat espoused values and viewpoints that took a surprisingly different turn from what is an entrenched belief system of the RSS for the nine decades of its existence.
Rooted in an ideology that leans to the extreme right, the RSS has always been unapologetic about its inflexible desire to redefine India’s nationhood, its religious identity and its Constitutional complexion of secularism to suit its idea of what India’s history should be.
Addressing a large audience comprising people from many walks of life, Bhagwat spoke on the many issues the RSS is intricately linked with, with the aim of re-educating people on what the organisation stands for.
In this context, it is worth juxtapositioning some of the opinions expressed by Bhagwat at the event and the overall stance of the RSS that has prevailed down the nine decades of its existence. Bhagwat’s freshly minted opinions come at a time when the national polls are due in May 2019 and the ruling party, BJP, is under attack for its lacklustre performance on the crucial indicators of national wellness since it assumed power in 2014.
Some of the most divisive issues confronting India today include its communal divide, state of economy, threat to freedom of expression, RSS’s concept of Hindutva (that is entirely divergent from the Constitution-defined role of religion in an individual’s life) and the nexus between RSS and the BJP and its combined agenda for Indian democracy.
Volunteers of the Hindu nationalist organisation Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) take part in Path-Sanchalan, or Route March, during a day-long camp in Ahmedabad, India March 4, 2018. (Reuters)
ON MUSLIMS OF INDIA
“Hindu Rashtra doesn’t mean there’s no place for Muslims. If we don’t accept Muslims, it’s not Hindutva. Hindutva is Indianness and inclusivity.”
“The cultural identity of all Indians is Hindutva and the present inhabitants of the country are descendants of this great culture.”
“We say ours is a Hindu Rashtra. Hindu Rashtra does not mean it has no place for Muslims. The day it is said that Muslims are unwanted here, the concept of Hindutva will cease to exist.
One of the leading lights of the RSS, the fomer Sangh chief M.S Golwalkar referred in his book to Muslims, along with Christians and Communists, [as] enemies of the Hindu Rashtra.
Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar
According to archival material available online, in its mouthpiece Organizer, an editorial (titled ‘Whither’) that is dated August 14, 1947 (a day before India declared its independence from British rule) said:
“Let us no longer allow ourselves to be influenced by false notions of nationhood. Much of the mental confusion and the present and future troubles can be removed by the ready recognition of the simple fact that in Hindusthan only the Hindus form the nation and the national structure must be built on that safe and sound foundation…The nation itself must be built up of Hindus, on Hindu traditions, culture, ideas and aspirations.”
Indian Muslim women rest inside Jama Masjid in New Delhi. (AP)
ON THE LGBT COMMUNITY
“One must accept them (homosexuals) so that they are not isolated in the society simply because their or orientation is different from ours. Everyone is a part of this society, times have changed and these issues should not have been blown out of proportion.”
“Same-sex relations and same-sex marriages are not natural. This is why we do not support them. The Indian tradition has never approved of these relationships.”
ON THE INDIAN CONSTITUTION
“Constitution is the consensus of the country... We respect all symbols of freedom, and the Constitution is also one such symbol.”
The RSS has historically viewed the Indian Constitution with deep reservations. According to many reports, the RSS rejected the Constitution when it was formally passed on November, 26, 1949, and referred to the Manusmriti, a canonical ancient Indian text that outlines an individual’s and state’s duties, rights, laws, conduct, virtues, etc. According to the RSS, Manusmriti “had the admiration of the world” and thus should have been adopted as the Constitution of India.
A file photo of RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat (C) during the RSS function.
ON COW VIGILANTISM
Mohan Bhagwat at the conclave: “It’s a crime to take law into one’s own hands.” “We have to reject the double-speak as there is no talk of violence by cow smugglers.”
Mohan Bhagwat in 2017: “Nothing should be done while protecting cows that hurts the belief of some people. Nothing should be done that is violent. It only defames the efforts of cow protectors... The work of cow conservation should be carried out while obeying laws and the Constitution.”
Mohan Bhagwat in 2016: “Cow is our mother and Gau Rakshaks (cow protectors) are good; they work within the constitutional framework.”
Police inspect the site of a mob attack in Rajasthan’s Alwar district, in which a man transporting cows was beaten to death. (Archive)
NEXUS BETWEEN RSS and BJP
“From its inception, the RSS has decided to keep itself away from politics and political competition.”
“It is a myth that Nagpur (RSS headquarters) runs the government. We do not have any impact on government policies.
Mohan Bhagwat in 2016: “We have faith in swayamsevaks (volunteers) in government. Have patience ..
(It is a well-documented and historically established truth that the BJP is regarded as mentee of the RSS and is a conduit for its political agenda.)
DIVIDED THEY STAND: Are the RSS and BJP truly at policy cross-roads?
By Chiranjib Sengupta, Hub Editor
Mohan Bhagwat just concluded a quick crash course on how to win friends and influence people.
Or so it would seem from the very public display of its so-called liberal and progressive credentials by the chief of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) or the National Volunteer Organization – the ideological mentor of India’s ruling BJP.
Over a three-day conclave titled “Future of Bharat: An RSS perspective” that ended on Wednesday, Bhagwat sought to couch the RSS in a liberal and forward-looking avatar. From projecting the RSS as a devout defender of the Indian Constitution to welcoming a plurality of vision by accommodating minorities, speaking out against lynch mobs and fighting for gay rights, Bhagwat struck a discordantly futuristic note for an organization that in 2015 espoused for Ghar Wapsi or a mass conversion of minority community members to Hinduism.
Here is a quick glance at the professed polices of the RSS as explained by Bhagwat, compared to the position of the BJP on the same policies:
Bhagwat battled hard during the conclave to portray a liberal RSS, commenting on the first day that the aim of the organization was to bring together the entire society. “Hindutva [Hinduness] means inclusivity and accepting Muslims is a part of it. Hindu Rashtra [Hindu Nation] doesn’t mean there’s no place for Muslims. If we don’t accept Muslims, it’s not Hindutva,” he said, adding that the RSS does not approve the word “minorities” as it considers all to be equal citizens.
How the BJP sees it: With increasing cases of violence against minorities and often public denunciation of them by a section of BJP leaders, the RSS position is in marked contrast to the BJP.
Policemen accompany the Dalits protestors as they stage a protest against the violence in Bhima Koregaon area of Pune, in Mumbai (File photo)
While pitching for the protection of cows, Bhagwat criticized those who break the law in the name of cow vigilantism, asserting that there should be stringent punishment in such cases. The issue cropped up in the conclave in the backdrop of lynching by cow vigilantes in several states across India, that have killed dozens of people.
How the BJP sees it: Most senior leaders of the BJP have been eerily silent on the issue, while some have even appeared to felicitate vigilantes accused of lynching.
BJP National President Amit Shah greets his supporters as the party begins its campaign in the poll-bound state, in Hyderabad, Saturday, Sept 15, 2018. (PTI)
POLITICS OF POLARIZATION
The RSS chief clarified at great length that politics should be aimed for the welfare of people - and power was the mere medium for it, not the other way round. “If this happens then what JP (Jayaprakash Narayan), (Mahatma) Gandhi had expected… then this question will not arise. Shamshan [Hindu crematorium], Kabristan [Muslim graveyard], saffron terror all these issues will not come up. These crop up when politics is practised for power and not for welfare of people,” he said, in an oblique critic of the BJP’s model of governance – which has been accused of exploiting its massive mandate across Indian states to wield enormous power.
How the BJP sees it: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had used the words “Shamshan, Kabristan” during his election campaign for the Uttar Pradesh last year. The critique from Bhagwat is seen to underscore the accusations of politics of power by the BJP.
INDIA WITHOUT CONGRESS PARTY
Bhagwat lashed out at those who demand an India free of opposition parties, notably a “Congress-Mukt Bharat” or Congress-free India. Bhagwat underlined that the RSS stood for a “Yukt” (inclusive) India: "Those who oppose us are also ours," he said. Bhagwat also said that the RSS does not dictate to its workers to support any particular political party, underlining an apparent schism with the BJP. He said the RSS "only supports policies" and whoever implements them automatically gets its support. "We do not favour a political party."
How the BJP sees it: BJP president Amit Shah and Modi had famously called for a “Congress-Mukt Bharat” last year, as the BJP gained in a string of provincial state elections.
Shortly after the Indian Supreme Court scrapped the Section 377 to decriminalize homosexuality, the RSS chief joined the bandwagon to welcome the demise of the 157-year-old law. “Times are changing and the society has to take a call on such issues,” Bhagwat said, adding that the LGBTQ community is very much part of the society and they should not be isolated. He hastened to add that gay rights weren’t the only pressing issue which needed to be debated in India.
How the BJP sees it: The party has generally maintained that gay relationships are not “compatible with nature,” while there was no official reaction from the party following the court verdict.
What is the RSS?
By Karuna Madan, Correspondent
A primer to understanding the guiding philosophy and working model of the world’s largest volunteer organisation
Q. What is the RSS? Who are its members? Who is its leader today?
A. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is a right-wing, Hindu nationalist, volunteer organisation that is widely regarded as the parent organisation of ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
According to official website of RSS, men and boys can become members by joining the nearest ‘shakha’ (branch), which is the basic unit. Although RSS claims not to keep membership records, it is estimated to have six million members. Mohan Bhagwat is current chief of RSS.
Q. Who founded it and when?
A. RSS was founded on September 27, 1925, by Keshav Baliram Hedgewar, a doctor in the city of Nagpur, British India. It claimed a commitment to selfless service to India. Today the organisation is the world’s largest voluntary missionary organisation.
Q. What does it do?
A. RSS was formed to provide impetus to character training through Hindu discipline and to unite the Hindu community to form a Hindu nation. The organisation promotes the ideals of upholding Indian culture and the values of a civil society and propagates the ideology of ‘Hindutva’ (essence of being a Hindu as in conforming to a religious identity), to strengthen the majority Hindu community.
Q. Why is it controversial?
A. The RSS has distinctly divergent views on India’s secularism, its Constitution and the role of the Hindu religion in the country’s polity and socio-cultural narrative.
The RSS was banned once during British rule, and then thrice by the post-independence Indian government – first in 1948 when a former RSS member Nathuram Godse assassinated Father of Indian Nation Mahatama Gandhi; then during the emergency (1975–77); and for a third time after the demolition of Babri mosque in the state of Uttar Pradesh 1992.
Following Gandhi’s assassination, many prominent RSS leaders were arrested, and RSS as an organisation was banned on February 4, 1948. A ‘Commission of Inquiry into Conspiracy to Murder of Gandhi’ was set, and its report was published in 1970. Justice Kapur Commission noted that “RSS as such was not responsible for the murder of Mahatama Gandhi, meaning thereby that one could not name the organisation as such as being responsible for that most diabolical crime, the murder of the apostle of peace.”
Q. What is behind the three-day conclave held in New Delhi?
A. From September 17 -19, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat held a lecture series in an unprecedented outreach programme for the 93-year-old organisation. The programme was aimed at dispeling myths about the outfit.
During the three days, Bhagwat spoke on ‘Hindutva’ and the role of RSS in the Hindu society, the importance of social harmony, the outfit’s views on contemporary issues of national importance including nationalism, increasing intolerance to dissent and the role of women in Indian society.
Q. What is the relationship between the RSS and the BJP?
A. Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS), commonly known as Jan Sangh, was a right wing political party that existed from 1951 to 1977 and was the political arm of RSS. In 1977, it merged with several other left, centre and right parties opposed to rule of Congress and formed the Janata Party. After the Janata Party split in 1980, it was re-formed as BJP, which is currently India’s largest political party by primary membership and representation in Lok Sabha (Lower House of Parliament). BJP draws its ideology from RSS.
RSS: An ambitious agenda for the future
Dattatreya Hosabale’s appointment as the Sangh’s general secretary comes at a time when the RSS is planning to expand its organisational footprint, and has to reconcile diverse views within the family
By Walter Andersen
UPDATED ON APR 13, 2021
The Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha (ABPS), the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)’s parliament, at its annual meeting, selected a set of senior officials who will manage ambitious goals that will impact the functioning of the RSS over the next decade and beyond. The most prominent among them is the new general secretary charged with the day-to-day operations of the RSS, the 66-year-old Dattatreya Hosabale, formerly one of its six joint general secretaries. Three of the remaining five joint general secretaries are new and, like Hosabale, relatively young and likely to serve for 10-15 years to implement the RSS’s ambitious agenda. The RSS has an unwritten understanding that officers should consider retiring at about 75.
Hosabale’s years at the national level have given him a close familiarity with the broad range of activities — and internal debates — within the 34 members of the RSS family of affiliated organisations that cover fields as diverse as education, labour and politics, among others, and with their senior personnel, including the prime minister, himself a former RSS full-time worker, as well as the senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leadership, the large majority of whom are RSS members.
Hosabale himself replaces the 73-year-old Suresh Bhaiyyaji Joshi who moves to the Karyakari Mandal, the executive council of the RSS, as does Ram Madhav, a former spokesperson of the RSS who was seconded to the ruling BJP in 2014 as a national general secretary. Joshi, following four three-year terms as general secretary, opted to retire for health reasons. National officials of the RSS — which demands an arduous travel schedule to give them an opportunity to adopt policies that meet the wishes and demands of the grassroots — require good health and now, even more so, given the group’s future ambitious agenda.
Decisions in the RSS and its affiliates are by consensus, and so the national leadership needs to have a comprehensive understanding of important issues at the local level, such as the current debate over agricultural reform, where there are significant differences of opinion within the RSS. This form of decision-making has made the RSS both cautious about change and remarkably free of internal fissures.
Hosabale, like Joshi and most national RSS functionaries, is a full-time RSS pracharak, multilingual and with a college education, a Master of Arts in English Literature. He has been affiliated with several activities of the RSS — as a member and later organising secretary of its student branch, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (while active, he was imprisoned for opposing the 1975-77 Emergency); then in 2003 as the RSS’s joint intellectual secretary (Sah Baudhik Pramukh), in charge of the daily discussions held in the thousands of its daily meeting places across the country; and then as joint national secretary of the RSS in 2009 when Mohan Bhagwat was selected to head the RSS.
During Hosabale’s two-day September 2018 visit to the Washington DC area, he demonstrated a desire to hear diverse political opinions about South Asia and its place in the world. I was asked to organise briefings for him on United States (US) foreign policy at my institution, the School of Advanced International Studies of Johns Hopkins University, as well as chair a meeting on Capitol Hill at which he spoke on international relations from the perspective of the RSS. Many of the participants were pleasantly surprised by his request for briefings from a range of American foreign policy experts. One frequent comment to me from the various audiences was that he seemed open to new ideas.
Mohan Bhagwat’s annual Vijayadashmi speech in October 2020, which is meant to highlight the organisation’s mission for the future, set the ground for the RSS agenda over the next decade or so. It gave primacy to overcoming the Covid-19 pandemic and supported the government’s lockdowns as necessary. India was praised for fulfilling its historic notion of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (the world is one)” by dispatching serums and medical equipment to other countries. But the situation has since deteriorated with the second wave of Covid-19 hitting India.
Bhagwat’s speech pointed out the adverse economic and educational consequences of the lockdown and praised the RSS family of organisations for providing food, shelter, and medicines on a massive scale. The RSS leadership was aware of the adverse consequences of the pandemic on its activities. Its daily shakhas (meeting sites) closed nationally when India locked down and only began to reopen in November 2020; the ABPS report in March 2021 claimed that some 90% were functioning, though the number of members participating is still relatively low. Its affiliated school system, the largest private school system in the country, was also shut down and is only beginning to be reopened. Its sewa (welfare) activities still require massive effort, especially with the recent surge of the pandemic. ABPS recognises that domestic and national security require reducing the threat.
Running through the document is a barely disguised sense that the pandemic had its origins in China and that Chinese assertiveness in eastern Ladakh may have been timed to exploit a perceived Indian weakness.
The effort to revive — and expand — the RSS presence has resulted in a plan to establish shakhas in every region and every mandal (local administrative centre) within three years. This requires a special effort in the south and in rural areas where the RSS is relatively weak. It will also need to expand officer training to prepare for the anticipated growth in demand (over 6,000 full-time workers now serve in the RSS, its affiliates and overseas).
Still another effort at expansion is the campaign to raise money for the proposed Ram Temple in Ayodhya, an effort led by the affiliated Vishwa Hindu Parishad. Thousands of RSS members have been recruited to help. That effort has captured public attention, with a doubling of the initial goal of ₹1,100 crore. And another key mobilisation effort is directed at the forthcoming 100th anniversary of the founding of the RSS in 1925. The RSS also intends to involve itself in efforts to address the scarcity of water and improve soil quality with a range of pilot projects from April 13.
Both the Vijayadashami speech and the reports of the proceedings of the most recent ABVP conclave focus on strengthening the family, which the RSS considers the source of stability. This range of activity plays to Hosabale’s organising capacity and is certainly a reason that the senior leadership turned to him and other activists selected to lead the RSS over the next several years.
Walter Andersen is a recently retired member of faculty at the School of Advanced International Studies of Johns Hopkins University, and the co-author of The Brotherhood in Saffron: The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Hindu Revivalism and The RSS: A View to the Inside
The views expressed are personal
The works and analysis of Comrade Nambiar...
also known as @DasBolshevik,
Leaked RSS document that calls for violence against Dalits, Communists, and Minorities
(Copy of Secret Circular No. 411/RO/303/11/RSS/C03, Translated from Tamil text, which appeared in Viduthalai Sunday Edition 26-3-1995; Thamizhaga Parayar Kural of April 1995; Namathu Urimai Murasu of April 1995 and Thiravida Samayam of May 1998) Sindusthan Times (Bulletin No.1 (English)/1998), pp. 47 to 51 This is the policy of RSS the mother of BJP
A copy of secret circular No. 411/RO/303/11/RSS/C03 is produced here below.
To local leaders
In addition to the old duties the following new duties are given. Certain instructions are modified. Teach these to patriots and volunteers. Send your reactions to the head quarters. After imparting these instructions to the members destroy these papers by burning.
1. Intensify activities to gather firearms and gunpowder.
2. To fight against the movements of Muslims and Ambedkarites, win over the SC/ST-s and the backward communities.
3. Propagate the ‘Hindutva’ concept among govt. officers.
4. ‘Hindutva’ concept should be promoted among medical practitioners. Instigate the doctors to use time-barred and fake medicines between SC/ST and Muslim patients. Inject poison into infants, born to SC/ST-s and shudras,npretending blood transfusion, so that they will be made invalids.
5. Arrange to chant the words ‘OM’ and ‘Jai Sreeram’ in places where infants of SC/ST-s and OBC’s are living.
6. Boycott functions, which oppose Hindutva and Brahmanism and pseudo secularism.
7. Instigate and encourage dealers who sell toddy, arrack, narcotics, lottery tickets, and gambling to promote their activities in areas where
SC/ST-s and OBC-s live in concentration. In addition to renovating old temples and building new temples, promote organizing religious functions and pujas in government offices. Plunder the mosques of Muslims and the worship places of non-Hindus.
8. Encourage SC/ST/OBC and Muslim women to practice prostitution.
9. Arrange to damage the physical and mental development of the school going children of the OBC/ST children of the OBC/SC/ST-s specially the children of the Ambedkarites by feeding them food and eatables mixed with poison with the help of teachers, volunteers and food vendors.
10. More and more of OBC/ST children should be admitted in our schools and they should be taught pro-Hindutva history.
11. Speed up instigating riots against Muslims, Ambedkarities and Buddhists. Such riots should be organized in places far away from where our
community people live, using new local gundas. Instigate police and Para-military personnel to attack those who are anti-Hindus.
12. During riots, SC/ST/Muslim women should be gang raped mercilessly, irrespective of your friendship or acquaintance. In this respect follow SuratModel.
13. Continue the work of burying idols and relics near the places of worship of non-Hindus, deep below in the soil, as you have been doing in the past. Approach the headquarters to substantiate that the churches, Muslim mosques and memorials are old Hindu temples.
14. Take initiative to bring out publications opposing Islam and Buddhism. Coin new false stories to substantiate that Ashoka was not a
15. Anti-Brahmin literature, publications and newsletters or movements of backward communities, Ambedkarites and communists should be destroyed.Continue to oppose entry to such literature in public places and in governmentlibraries. Propagate our literature on Ambedkar between OBC/SC/ST-s.
16. As has been said earlier, let the stagnation of SC-s and ST-scontinue.
17. Distribute in a big way, stickers and Calendars with pictures of Rama and tracts on Rama.
18. Propagate superstitions between OBC/SC/ST-s. For this purpose, continue to avail the services of Sadhus and swamis.
19. Continue to convert Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs to Hinduism. Introduce the worship of Rama in Jain temples. In this work, follow the Patna model. Report the progress in this matter to the head quarter.
20. We should attack communism, Communists SC/ST-s and shudras.
21. We should continue our rebellion against Mandal Commission commendations.
22. Provoke caste-riots among different caste-groups, particularly between SC/ST-s and OBCs.
23. Continue to break the statues of Ambedkar.
24. The Chanakya rule should continue.
25. Indiscriminate love marriages should be organized among OBCs and Ambedkarites. We should show our organs to their women. We should kiss them. Weshould arrange screening dirty blue films, and promote use of narcotic drugs by them.
26. Continue mal-nutrition among SC/STs. As stated earlier, poison the toddy and arrack-drunk by them. Continue to poison the food taken by them.
27. We should strengthen our control on newspapers. The ‘Hindutva’concept should be taught to the editors of local newspapers and they should been encouraged to publish articles, opposing Islam, opposing Mandal Commission recommendations, supporting Hinduism and supporting puja of Rama.
28. We should enroll more and more of OBCs/ and ST members in such of the political parties, which support ‘Hindutva’. Before admitting them into these parties, they should be properly screened as usual.
29. We should win over Muslim writers, Muslim religious heads and OBCs who are opposed to Mandal Commission recommendations. We should propagate the concept of pseudo-secularism.
30. Businessmen and Pawnbrokers should work in such a way that the economic progress of non-Hindus is destroyed.
31. Continue to watch the activities of non-Hindus, who oppose “Hindus and Brahmins” and report about them to the head quarters.
32. Continue to kill those who oppose Hindus and Brahmins. As advised earlier, dispose off such dead bodies leaving no evidence of such murders.
33. Let full-moon day (Paurnima) meetings of volunteers continue.
34. Let the‘Whistling’ continue.