"THE SANGH PARIVAR AND THE NON-HINDUS"
SHRI RAMESH PATENGE
SHRI RAMESH PATENGE
Born in 1947 at Pune, Shri Ramesh Patange did his M.A. with Economics and Politics from Bombay University. He is currently the Editor of the Marathi weekly "VIVEK" published from Mumbai. A senior activitist, thinker and ideologue of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, he is deeply involved in the Dalit problems and is a leader and one of the founders of the Samajik Samarasata Munch (Social Integration Forum). While he has a number of remarkable articles at his credit, his recent Marathi book "Me Manu Ani Sangh" (I, Many and Sangh) is a graphic account of his unique and wonderful experience in Sangh. A run-away success in Hindi also, the Marathi book has gone for fourth printing within a period of one year.
This booklet brings out thoughts expressed by
him in a meeting of senior RSS officers on the vital subject of "Outlook of
the Sangh towards the Non-Hindus".
"THE SANGH PARIVAR AND THE NON-HINDUS"
When we discuss the attitude of Sangh towards the non Hindus, the first question that immediately arises in mind is whom should we call non-Hindus? There are sects and movements in Hinduism who call themselves non-Hindus. For instance Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains are unwilling to be included among Hindus, in Hinduism and the Hindu society.
It is mainly the lure of the special protection and special rights and privileges available to religious minorities of this country which is responsible for this situation. As an extreme example, the case of the Ramakrishna mission can be cited here. This Mission went to the court of law on the plea that they should not be included in the Hindu society since they were Ramakrishnaites and not Hindus. The plea was of course rejected by the court in a ruling of historic importance. The court said that the followers of the Ramakrishna mission were Hindus. From the RSS point of view, we regard all the sects as Hindus. They are all different branches of the Sanatana Dharma and though their modes of worship are different, they are offshoots of the same culture and therefore culturally they are Hindus. Cultural ties bind them together.
In the legal definition which Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar has given in the Hindu Code Bill, Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains are included among Hindus. The Hindu Code Bill is therefore applicable to them all. If any of them challenges it, then the onus of proving that the Bill does not apply to them rests on the concerned sect. Dr Ambedkar looked upon them all as different facets of Hinduism.
Then who are the people in our country who can be called non-Hindus? The Muslims, Christians, Parsis and Jews are the religious groups following their own respective method of worship easily qualify for inclusion in the category of non-Hindus. From among them the bulk of the Jewish population migrated to Israel after that country came into existence. The number of Jews now living in India is very negligible.
The Parsees are found on the West Coast of the country and their habitat is limited to Gujarat and Bombay. Though the Parsees are not Hindus and have their own method of worship, they have identified themselves with the nation in terms of culture, language and dress styles. They have made rich contribution to the country's patriotic struggles with foreign powers and were pioneers in the area of industry and trade. They have not raised any problem before the country in the name of religion.
"In 1943, the suggestion (to ask for separate registra- tion in various legislatures) was emphatically spurned in a representation signed by nearly 2000 leading Parsis, and affirming that `out interests are safe in the hands of sister communities'. Recalling this epi- sode, Shri R K Sidhwa, a prominent Parsi member of the Constituent Assembly, said that if minorities were encouraged to think in terms of permanent safeguards, `there will be a kind of perpetual instinct in the mind of the minority community representatives that the safeguards are to remain forever, and it will be diffi- cult for these small communities to come nearer to major communities.... The ultimate phase of political life of all Indians should be one nation, no community."
Shri Sudarshan adds, "This, verily, is the call of Hindu Rashtra."
Shri K S Sudarshan, Joint General Secretary of the RSS. (Why Hindu Rashtra?)
The same unfortunately cannot be said of Muslims and Christians who have a turbulent history of expanding their religions by proselytisation. The Muslim invaders converted large number of Hindus by brute force. The Christian missionaries followed suit. The stories of terrorism and atrocities perpetrated by Muslims and Christians while forcibly converting Hindus in Bassein and Goa chill the spine even today. This history will always be present in our mind while thinking of these religions. Nobody can wish it away.
We have to comprehend the problems of Muslims and Christians which are the problems of non-Hindus. The erstwhile Hindus who were converted to Islam and Christianity not only were forced to change their modes of worshi. They had also to change their dress, their names, their culture, their value system and their lifestyles. Their conversion, had it been purely religious, would have been confined to their mode of worship as had happened in the case of China. When China embraced Buddhism, only the mode of worship of the Chinese people changed. Their dress habits, their names, their language, their social, cultural and moral values continued to be the same. Here, in our country, the conversion to Islam and Christianity did not mean only change of faith; it simultaneously meant change in nationality, and that was the root cause of all their problems. According to Dr. Ambedkar by joining Islam or Christianity, the Depressed Classes would `not only go out of the Hindu religion, but also go out of the Hindu culture..... Conversion to Islam or Christianity will denationalise the Depressed Classes'. (D H Keer, Dr Ambedkar, Life and Mission (2nd ed.),pp 278-9, Mumbai: Popular Prakashan, 1962.)
Ours is an ancient and enduring national civilisaation . We call it the Hindu civilisation. It covers modes of worship and prayer, philosophy, religion, culture. They all are comprehensively called Hindu. When our 'converted brothers' who were like us before conversion, take anti-national stands, it creates grave problems. The change in dress habits, languages and values of life after conversion produce fissiparous tendencies which in turn are followed by demand for separate states. Demands are voiced for secession from the country. An important aspect of our country's history is that whenever Hindus in any of its parts are pushed into minority, that part or province secedes from the country. Afghanistan, Baluchistan, North-West provinces, West Punjab and East Bengal broke away from India because Hindus there were pushed into minority by Muslims. The same scenario is emerg- ing in Kashmir and North-East. Muslim majority areas in the country pose a threat to the unity and integrity of our country. We have made constant efforts to awaken our people to this ex- tremely serious danger. These efforts have prompted the so-called secularists in our country to conduct vile propaganda against us, purveying falsehoods and innuendos that we are anti-Muslim and anti-Christian.
We inherit a rich and ancient civilisation called the Hindu civilisation. We have our own distinct way of life, customs and traditions, philosophy and literature and religion. We call this comprehensive civilisation the Hindu nation. When a convert from Hinduism to Islam or Christianity takes a hostile stand against this civilisation, it created a plethora of problems. Our history indicates that in the provinces where Hindus are rendered in minority there develops divisive and secessionist tendencies. The most salient instance in point is the Christian majority districts on north-east borders. Kashmir has Muslim majority and the Kashmir problem has over the years developed frightful dimensions.
It is necessary to arouse and awaken the people to this serious danger notwithstanding the propaganda by secularists that we are anti-Muslims and anti-Christians. The problem of Muslims and Christians is not merely a problem of faith and mode of worship. Their modes of worship and philosophy may be different. They may worship Allah or Christ, their faith, purely religious faith is no concern of ours. Hinduism accepts multiplicity of the mode of salvation. In Vivekananda's words, Hinduism is Parliament of Religions. According to Hinduism, even the crudest and most disorganised worship of any deity ultimately goes to the Absolute.
Guruji Golwalkar too has laid repeated emphasis on this point in his articles and interviews. In an interview given to Dr Gilani, he says, "According to the philosophy and teachings of Hinduism, all people following different modes of worship like Muslims, Christians and others are equal. Realisation of the Absolute is the universal goal of all religions and every man has the right to seek salvation in the way he chooses. It is not that Hinduism alone is the way to salvation. I would like to tell you here an anecdote relating to the former Shankaracharya of Shringeri, Dr Chandrasekhar Bharati. Once an American approached him and said, "I want to change my religion by conversion to Hinduism. I am not happy with Christianity".
The Shankaracharya replied, "I don't mind your converting to Hinduism. But tell me, why are you fed up with Christianity? Have you ever been an honest and sincere Christian? First, try to be one. Practice Christianity for some time without any reservation and if you still remain unhappy with it, I will make you a Hindu. We are not itching to drag non-Hindus to Hinduism. We do not believe in conversions. Conversions take place because of political and pecuniary benefits it brings. We abhor conversions. We say, this is our way of life. Accept it only if you are convinced of reaching the goal by going along with it."
The Christian and Muslim problem transcends the barriers of faith and worship and tends to create social and political tensions in an anti-national perspective. It is not that only we are aware of it. Many luminaries have underscored this great danger. I will give here two instances. Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar in his book, 'Thoughts on Pakistan', has said in clear and unambiguous terms that if Muslims were allowed to remain in India they would be a perpetual source of menace to us and therefore the Muslim population in India should be transferred to Pakistan. Dr Ambedkar was to give a lecture on this subject at the Caste Eradication Association Conference scheduled to be held at Lahore in 1936, but since the meeting did not take place, the speech was published in the form of a book, viz., `Annihilation of Caste'. Tribals and animists, he further said, would not pose any problems for the Hindu society. They are neglected by the Hindu society and are forced to live like savages. That was bad. But if these tribals and animists were converted to Islam or Christianity they would be a menace to Hindu nation. History tells us that whenever in any region of India, non- Hindus emerge as a majority, may they be Muslims or Christians, that region developed secessionists tendencies and even seceded from India as in the case of Pakistan and Bangladesh. In North- East, large scale conversions to Christianity have posed a similar problem and about Kashmir the less said the better. We can't ignore the fact that Muslims and Christians nurture anti- national tendencies.
To bring non-Hindus into the mainstream politics is exceedingly a difficult task. In the past such efforts were made particularly in the field of spirituality. Guru Nanak and Sant Kabir strove for such integration, but their efforts proved futile. Whether Kabir was a Hindu or Muslim is a matter of controversy. However, his devotees are Hindus and Muslims do not follow his teachings, nor do they revere him.
In the political sphere, Mahatma Gandhi made efforts to bring Muslims in the mainstream. He advised Hindus to regard Muslims as 'younger brothers' and concede to them their various demands. This attitude of Gandhiji is known as the appeasement policy. It was a grand and resounding failure. Muslims' demands went on growing and culminated in the partition of the country. In the context of this appeasement policy, Guruji Golwalkar used to refer to the story of Bakasur in the Mahabharata. Bakasur's demands constantly grew and the time came when he required a cartload of food, a man and a bull. Finally this appeasement came to an end when Bhim destroyed Bakasur. Problems are required to be solved on our strength, not by abject appeasement. Bakasur's story need not be taken literally. There is no question of destroying everybody who makes demands on us. The moral of the story is that we should not resort to spineless surrender to solve such problems.
Muslims who had supported the demand for Pakistan remained in India. The Christian movement for secession did not have complete success. It was difficult for these people to join the mainstream nationalism. The concept of secularism emerged to accommodate them. This concept was however confusion worse confounded from the word go. Was it eschewing of the religion or accommodation of all religions? Was it pragmatism or materialism? That was at the theoretical level. At the practical level, in actual operation, it came to mean appeasement of minorities. Some people floated phrase majority communalism in this context. Majority communalism is a ridiculous expression. Majority in any country forms the core of the respective nation. How can it be communal? Secularism gave the right of veto to minorities. Minorities used this veto to oppose uniform civil code, family planning, ban on cow slaughter, ban on religious conversions. Because of this use of veto, the basic problems remained unsolved.
There have been many efforts and experiments to tackle the problem of non-Hindus at the national level. The efforts were design and implemented by those who call themselfs secularists.
"In the first place, it should be admitted that every possible attempt to bring about an union between the Hindus and the Muslims has been made and that all of them have failed." (Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, Writings and Speeches, Vol. 8 p 305.)
New experiments are now very much warranted. We should all bear one important thing in mind. Now there is a force called Hindutva. Henceforth this problem will have to be tackled by the Hindu society in the context and perspective of Hindutva. Hindutva is now a force to reckon with in this country. It occupies a top position in the social and political reference books. It occupies a position of priority in all walks of national life. The political transformation will occur in this country on the basis of Hindutva only. All national problems will have to be solved with reference to Hindutva and the Muslim and the Christian problem is on the top of the list.
When we consider the Muslim and the Christian problem, three different solutions appear before us. They are 1) to massacre them 2) to drive them out of the country 3) to convert them all to Hinduism by an act of Parliament. These methods appeal to different people in different ways. They cite the examples of Bosnia or some countries in Africa where ethnic cleansing was sought to be effected by violence and massacres. People who want these types of methods in our country are negligible. Massacres are totally alien to the temper of Hinduism. Violence and bloodshed do not fit in the Hindu religious outlook which sees God in every living being. We cannot therefore even think of the brutal methods mentioned above.
It is inconceivable to even think of driving out non-Hindus from this country. They belong to the same Aryan race and their forefathers lived in this country. Their racial and cultural roots are deep in the soil of this country. There are very few non-Hindus who have come from other countries. It would be perfectly justified if they are sent back to their countries. The question of driving out Indian Christians or Indian Muslims simply does not arise. They are part of this land. Paris, whose roots are in present-day Iran are accepted as honourable citizens of this country. There is no reason why Hindus will not give the same treatment to non-Hindus who have temperament.
Mass conversions of Muslims and Christians are beyond the pale of practicability. Doors of course should be kept wide open to those who want to return to Hinduism, their original religion. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad at its session at Prayag has passed a resolution that Hindus converted to other religions can come back to Hinduism. The idea of compulsory reconversion to the Hindu fold should however be discarded. Procedures should be simplified for conversion only of those who out of their free volition wish to return to their ancestral religion. Others should be allowed complete freedom of faith and mode of worship and efforts should be made to assassimilate them in our cultural and national main- stream with their religious freedom intact.
What is the need of thinking of this problem from the Hindutva point of view here and now? Thinking about the matter we have to keep three points in mind.
Our civilisation is inclusive and comprehensive. From time immemorial it has absorbed and assimilated countless thought pro- cesses, religious sects, philosophical nuances, races, castes and languages. This process of absorption continued till the advent of Muslims and Christians. Unfortunately the Muslims and the Christians did not assimilate in our cultural life. This was our cultural defeat. The formation of Pakistan was not only our political defeat but more seriously also a major cultural re- verse. We are proud of our cultural heritage and to strengthen and enhance it is our bounden duty. The cultural defeats should spur us to greater and greater efforts to bring non-Hindus in our cultural mainstream, to assimilate them in our great and glorious civilisation.
About our cultural tradition, we must bear in mind that the population of non-Hindus in our country is 16%. That means among every 100 Indians, 16 persons are non-Hindus. It is not in our interest that majority of those 16 non-Hindu people are hostile to our culture and they seek inspiration from foreign lands. Their hostility to our cultural tradition will produce permanent tensions, conflicts, riots and will involve threats to life and property. Democracy has come to stay in our country and in a democratic form of Government all citizens have equal rights, adult franchise and right to contest for legislative seats. The dependence of foreign countries on the part of Muslims and Christians will create conditions of political instability and it will not be in the interest of anybody. In the light of these three points we must chalk out a strategy to tackle the problem of non-Hindus from the Hindutva point of view. We must take into account our own strength and social and political environment around us. Today we are occupying a centre of power and non-Hindus for this reason may seek a dialogue with us. In July, 1996, some Muslim intellectuals had a similar dialogue with Sudarshanji. The reports of this dialogue have appeared in all newspapers and also in Vivek. You all must have read them. This dialogue in a way indicated that non-Hindus are now in a mood to try to comprehend thoughts and attitudes.
In view of this analysis we will have to undertake only certain tasks in hand. First and foremost to educate the people we will have to educate and train up our own people, swayamsevaks, workers, karyawahs in the perspective of the problems of non-Hindus and the needs and techniques to absorb them in our cultural mainstream. In educating the Muslims we will have to break the bubbles of their three illusions viz. 1) The global Islamic fraternity (Pan-Islamism) 2) They were once rulers of this country and 3) The Congress or the Janata Dal will protect them.
Pan-Islamism or Islamic brotherhood is a great illusion. Massacres of Muslims took place in Bosnia, American bombers pulverised Iraq, Russian forces invaded Afghanistan and Pakistani Army organised progroms of Bangla Muslims. No united Muslim resistance was seen. Muslim unity is a mirage; it will ever remain a mirage. Muslims' outlook is not global but purely national. Although there are many Muslim countries, each is proud of its own heritage, and its prepare to defend it. So is the case with Christians.
Muslims think that they have ruled this country for some time. That is not true. There were Turks, Afghans, Iranians and for a long period Mughals who were masters in this country. They fought among themselves. The Muslims in India today need to remember that they were converted to Islam by Muslim rulers of yore.
The third illusion of Muslims relates to political parties. No political party in India can extend effective protection to Muslims. Only the Hindu society can provide protective cover to Muslims. Political parties tend to exploit them for their political advantage and subject them to squalid bargaining. Vote- bank politics is extremely dangerous for Muslims.
"It needs to be pointed out that India remains a secu- lar state, not because one-fifths of the population is Muslim, Sikh or Christian, and, therefore, obviously has a vested interest in secular constitution, but because nine out of ten Hindus do not believe in violence against the minorities. If all the Hindus had been zealots, no law-and-other machinery in the world could have prevented the massacre of Muslims who are scattered in villages and towns all across the country." M J Akbar, India - The Siege Within. (Penguin, UK, 1985, p 24)).
Christians too need this type of enlightenment although among them the separatist tendencies are not as pronounced as they are among Muslims. Converted Christians have attraction for Western cultural traits, languages, dress and life styles. They are taught to despise and run down Indian culture. Foreign missionaries are enemies of local Christians. They by various intellectual tricks and chicanery, strive to sow the seeds of disloyalty and separation among Christians. There is need to explain this to Christians without mincing words.
While seeking to enlighten Muslims and Christians in this way, we should tell them that the change of religion does not change their forefathers, ancestors and their culture. While conceding to converts freedom of modes of worship they should be told in no uncertain terms that they should not change their dress form, their language, their cultural traditions and their life styles. G M Saheed, a leader from Sind, used to say that his national hero was not Mohammed-Ibn-Qasim, the first Muslim invader of India, his national hero was Dahir, the Hindu king of Sind who was killed by Qasim. He also repeatedly said that he was Pakistani only for 40 years and Muslim for 1300 years, but he was a Sindhi for 5000 years.
A the cultural level joint programmes need to be organised. Mutual visits to each other's families and households would also be a cementing factor. Culture creates harmony and binds men to one another. Cultural programmes develop common cultural outlook. It would go a long way in bridging the cultural chasms if festi- vals like Id, Holi and Xmas were celebrated at the cultural level.
Social and humanitarian service is an important means of forging unity. We have a spirit of service and we undertake numerous relief works in calamities and to alleviate social distress. Service to the sick and ailing has provided very cheerful experiences. Such services are offered to Christians and Muslims, wherever the need arise.
The structure of a society is shaped by leadership. Leadership is of three kinds. Political, religious and intellectual. Political leadership can be divided into three types; born leadership, leadership produced by circumstances and leadership foisted on society. Among Muslims leadership is either foisted on them or it is produced by circumstances. No farsighted leader emerged among Muslims in this century. Mohammad Ali Jinnah's leadership was the handiwork of the British and the Congress. The life of Jinnah requires deep study.
"Ever since Mahatma Gandhi decided to support the obscurantist and revivalist Khilafat Movement in the Twenties all politicians have continued to woo the Maulanas and the Muftis. It is time the nation decided to support and encourage a new and forward-looking leadership among the Muslims." (Muslim leadership: Died, 6 December 1992. Rest Without Peace. Sultan Shahin. Asian Age, December 7, 1996.)
Efforts will have to be made to produce national leadership among Muslims. Religious leadership should emerge from among the respective people themselves. Intellectual leadership must be invested with nationalist thoughts. Communists and secularists shaped intellectual leadership among Muslims to facilitate propagation of their ideologies. Barring a few exceptions like Muzaffar Hussein and Wahiuddin Khan there are no nationalist intellectual leader among Muslims.
The responsibility of different organisations in the parivar is enormous so far as the problems of non-Hindus are concerned. According to us, the interpretation that Hindutva means anti- minorityism is completely wrong. But we will have to prove this through our actions. Our meaning of Hindutva must be shown through our programmes, and thought by the member institutions in the Sangh parivar. The Sangh work through Shakha is limited to the Hindu society, at least today. At present there is no plan to accommodate non-Hindus in the Sangh Shakha. At present there is no need has arisen for such a plan.
The member institutions in the parivar have to accept the terminology of their particular fields. Even though Hindutva is the basic ideology of all institutions. It has to be presented according to the needs of the specific terminology. Presentation of Hindutva and its phrasing will change from field to field. Yet our image in the society will be of Sanghwalas.
While working in the parivar fields, the respective identities of the constituents must be taken into account. The concern of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) is students. ABVP looks at them as students. It does not discriminate between Hindu and non-Hindu. Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) concerns itself with the workers. Therefore there the identity as a worker gains priority. The BMS does not inquire whether the worker is a Hindu or non-Hindu. BJP, thinking about the government will look at the people as citizens of the country. It also does not differentiate between Hindus, Muslims, Christians.
Since every field is recognized separately, the Hindutva ideology has to be expressed in such a way that all the people can be carried with it; that it can protect the common interests of all. This work is going on for decades in the Sangh Parivar. Time has come to proceed forward with more effort and devotion. Harmony will be possible only through the Sangh Shakhas. This is our experience. Yet, Samajik Samarasata Manch is established keeping in mind the need of the hour. Some Sangh workers have been asked to pay special attention to Dalits. Similarly organisations in the parivar should pay special attention to non- Hindus. They must to be brought closer with efforts through special contacts.
We will have to exhibit the correct Hindutva through our behaviour. Only thoughts do not change anybody's opinions. Therefore, Hindutva will have to manifest not only through intellectual demands but also contacts, cooperation and cohabitation. The Hindutva manifesting through our behaviour will bring about the right psychological transformation. There are a number of examples of such transformation in parivar work.
Finally, I will tell you an enlightening story. The other day I was talking on this subject to Ramanbhai Shah of the BMS. There is a union worker called Shaikh. Earlier he was in a communist trade union and now has shifted to our bandwagon. A communist told him, "you have gone to dangerous people. They will throw you out into the sea". Shaikh replied, "I have been with you for several years, but I never got the affection, prestige and honour I have received here".
"But your flag is green and theirs is saffron. What about it?" the Communists queried.
"What of it?", replied Shaikh. "When an orange
is green in colour it is sour but when it ripens into saffron it is sweet".