Susai Anthony International Institute of Tamil Culture and Civilaisation USA
The first hypothesis is that the ideology of Hindutva from India will preserve the secular, pluralistic, and inclusive characteristics of the Indian Constitution and thereby protect the fundamental rights of the citizenry of India. It is a sacred duty for all who wish to uphold the principles enshrined in the Constitution.
The second hypothesis, which develops from the first, is that the ideology propagated by the Hindutva lobby is in stark contrast with the ideas underlying India’s Constitution. These two sets of concepts cannot coexist or overlap in India.
The general public has not seen the fallacies inherent in Hindutva’s arguments or their inferences. There are hundreds of books and reports available on this topic. Why the need for this report now? The special need for this paper is that the time is ripe for unraveling Hindutva ideology and the general public is weary of being made use of by unworthy organizations which seek to hide their real objectives. There have been many exposes by academia over the years, but they have made little headway in dispelling the myths. The current need for dramatic action was made public by the efforts of over 750 activists from 18 states (Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal, Delhi, Harayana, Uttar Pradesh, Manipur, Gujarat, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, J & K, Punjab, Maharashtra and Chattisgarh) who passed an important resolution on the need to ‘Counter… Fascist Forces’ and ‘Defend the Idea of India’ in a conference at New Delhi on 25-26 October 2008. The Conference concluded that ‘the urgency to intervene in defense of democracy, secularism and justice has never been more pressing than in the conditions prevailing in the country today’. ‘The rise of communal fascism,’ the conference resolution continued ‘has emerged as a threat not only to its immediate victims but to the very long-term survival of India as a unified nation of diverse religious, linguistic and ethnic groups. The mysterious and condemnable acts of terrorism that have shaken different parts of the country have engendered a climate of fear, insecurity and fuelled the politics of communal division.’ Among the specific proposals of the conference was the call for a ban on the RSS, the Bajanag Dal and the Vishva Hindu Parishad for terrorist, anti-national activities and seizure of their national and international assets as well as for a White Paper on the terrorist activities of these organizations.
The Hindu Mahasabha, a sort of secret society operating vicariously through the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), has provided the concepts to inspire, guide, and promote the Hindutva lobby. The activities of Hindu Maharastra, however, have not been subjected to public scrutiny. In fact, copies of the Hindu Mahasabha’s constitution and bylaws, minutes of their meetings, and other communications are not available in public libraries. Regardless, copies of speeches and writings of their leaders are available for us to build a road map to understand their motives and modus operandi. There are also many investigative reports from the UK and the USA available for research scholars to understand the ways of Hindutva.
The world Hindutva is made up of two words: Hindu + tattva meaning ‘Hindu principles.’ In its simplistic form, it means a glorified form of Hinduism; and in its specific form, it means ‘One Nation, One people,’ the nation being India and the people being Hindus, i.e., India for Hindus. In 1925, the proponents of Hindutva developed the core principles which have not been sufficiently challenged.
The mission of Hindutva, in a nutshell, is to reestablish the supremacy of one race (Brahmin caste) by insisting on varnashram (caste system), by imposing Sashtra (Vedism), by creating a common language (Sanskrit), by devising a common culture (Bharatya Sanskrit), and by enacting common laws based on Manu and the Vedanta. The result would be to turn India into a theocracy and to ensure the dominance of Brahmins (10%) over non-Brahmins (90%). To appreciate the enormity of this power, let us look at the Indian population estimates. The latest (2008) estimate showed India had 1,197.995.898 people. The idea of 10% of the people controlling a majority of the people is outrageous, since the study of history plays a vital role in formulating current administrative or political policies, Hindu nationalists have found it advantageous or even necessary to advance their political agenda to distort historical facts intentionally.
The aim of right-wing organizations look outwardly fragmented, but the strategies of the organizations are inextricably linked. The results of this linkage are strong enough to rip the nation apart. As mentioned earlier, the ideology of the Hindu Mahasabha (Hindu Great Organization started in 1907, and laid the foundations for these organizations. An organization that actively promotes Hindutva ideology is the Rashtria Swamyamsevak Sangh (RSS) (Association of National Volunteers). The Sangh Parivar, a collective name for most of the associated organizations promotes militant Hinduism by creating the organizations based on undemocratic and authoritarian structures with training in paramilitary, radical, and violent activities. The Sangh Parivar is far more brutal than the Lashkar-e-Toiba or Harkat-ul-Jehad-i-Islami. It uses powerful symbolism to their propaganda efforts. It is presumed ostensibly that the symbol of Ram would induce Hindus to become bold and prevail over the enemies – Muslims and other minorities. Sanskrit was introduced as the official language of the RSS in 1949 thus starting the process of Sanskritization.
The word ‘fundamentalist’ is generally used to refer to a person belonging to a religion or an organization that is concerned about preserving its basic tents, a set of dogmas, or reestablishing its roots. Hinduism is not a rule-based religion. It has no dogmas to speak of and therefore, there cannot be fundamentalist Hindus like there are fundamentalist Muslims or Christians. On the other hand, Hinduism as a religion is closely tied to its caste system. If a person is trying to preserve the caste system, he/she can be called a fundamentalist in this specific sense. In reference to RSS zealots, it is not farfetched to use the descriptions ‘militant’ or ‘extremist’ Hindus given the training received and tactics used to achieve their goals in communal riots. Hindutva followers want to establish for India a Hindu Rashtra (Hindu Nation or “Hindudom’), and therefore it is also fitting to call them extreme Hindu ‘nationalists,’ a word popularized by B. D. Graham. Presently, Hindutva is synonymous with ‘(mono) cultural nationalism.’
Extreme Hindu nationalists are different from Hindu traditionalists. On the one hand, Hindu traditionalists are those concerned about preserving the Hindu religious beliefs along with its hierarchical social order and fostering the study of the Hindi and Sanskrit languages and literatures. On the other hand, extreme Hindu nationalists are those who not only are concerned about Hindu values and social order, but who want to mould society promoting the unity (sangathan) of Hindus as a political entity. The philosophical distinctions between these two groups are not clear to most Indians.
It is hoped that the immigrant Indians living abroad and the American and the British public who are concerned about India will find this paper informative and useful. Learning the facts will enable them to decide whether contributing to militant organizations is the right thing to do. There are about 200 plus Hindu temples flourishing in the USA, which have been established in the last twenty years or so. Members of these temples enjoy a degree of religious freedom which their compatriots deny to the minorities in India. Many collect funds as non-profit and taz exempt entities only to fund the Hindutva agenda in India. Funding the RSS to incite communal hatred and commit violent crimes against Muslims and Christians is both illegal and unethical. Such temple contributions are not meant for these atrocities but as yet no-one demands accountability from the temple organizing committees.
To stem the rise of anti-religious and anti-communal riots in India, one must accept the fact that India is a land of many cultures, many religions, and many languages. All of us, other than extreme Hindu nationalists, must oppose the idea of advocating the supremacy of one religion or one race over others. The primary focus of this paper is on the RSS. The RSS has historically viewed itself and continues to consider itself as a cultural organization, not as a political party. What this means is that it does not put up candidates for elections although it has been closely associated with parties that do. It is hoped that by a better understanding of the RSS, the reader will gain a clearer picture of the Sangh Parivar as a whole. Almost invariably the RSS leaves some traces of its organizing of communal violence wherever it takes place in India. A major factor contributing to the prevalence of Hindutva or finding tacit approval of it by the general public will realize the gravity of the havoc perpetuated or planned to be unleashed on Indian society by the Hindutva lobby. India needs all its people, speaking different tongues, worshipping god in different styles, and making up a whole tapestry of one society to join hands to proclaim unity in diversity.
The first report of the anthropological survey of India conducted by the government of India from 1985 to 1992 was an eye-opener to us all. The survey was designed, administered, and was analyzed by leading Indian experts in various disciplines, from the government, the universities, and research institutes. the first report – based on solid data and not on myths or legends – demolishes the supremacy of Brahmins over others genetically or anthropologically. The report found that Indian people do not posses any differences among themselves either on the bases of caste, religion, langugae, or culture within the same regions. For example, there is a no distinction between Brahmins and Sudras in Tamil Nadu, or any other state for that matter, yet, there is genetically some difference between Brahmins from Tamil Nadu and Brahmins (Pandits) from Jammu and Kashmir. These findings dispel Hindutva’s ideal that Brahmins are somehow genetically superior to other Indians.
…. to be continued