RSS – unwilling parent
Both in 1997 and in 1998, the writer with her husband and daughter sat on the streets outside her poll-center feverishly assisting people to look for their names on the voters’ list. Prior to the polling day, the family spent ten grueling days banging on doors, house after house, building after building, handing out voting slips first for the AIADMK and then for the DMK. There was cheer in the heart then and a fierce hope that finally things may be beginning to change for the Hindus. Every swayamsevak and every RSS karyakarta worked for what they believed was their election.
In 2009, still a fierce loyalist of the RSS, I cast my vote for the local BJP candidate with reluctant discipline, great unwillingness, and even greater distaste; all my family did the same. But we didn’t care any more if he won or lost because one, we had lost faith in the BJP to serve even half a Hindu cause; and two we were convinced the BJP would get a drumming at the hustings. As Aurobindo put it in Bhawani Mandir, “Our beginnings are mighty, but they have neither sequel nor fruit”. The BJP had stopped delivering; there was no sequel to December 6 and no fruit after RSS labour; there was only wishful thinking. Hindu fury which erupted against Muslim offence over the Amarnath yatra, did not yield benefits for the BJP even in Jammu. The RSS must ask itself why. The Somnath-Ayodhya BJP rath of the 1990s decade is today only a rocking horse.
“The wish to be reborn we have in abundance, there is no deficiency there. How many attempts have been made, how many movements have been begun, in religion, in society, in politics! But the same fate has overtaken or is preparing to overtake them all. They flourish for a moment, then the impulse wanes, the fire dies out, and if they endure, it is only as empty shells, forms from which the Brahma has gone or in which it lies overpowered with Tamas and inert”. (Aurobindo in Bhawani Mandir)
The Hindu nation must rue the day Aurobindo abandoned our Kurukshetra in 1909; the RSS must take some visibly decisive step to stem the rot in the parivar if Hindus have to stop thinking the RSS too has deserted the war; or that Aurobindo’s lament about great beginnings and empty shells, true as they are of the BJP today, may become just as true of the RSS if it fails to act now. But if the RSS has to act, there has to be a re-orientation of its goals, its methods. It is not course correction that is required of the RSS; it is altering the course itself. The RSS has not lost direction, it is still plodding along on the same path as it had marked for itself in 1925; it needs new goals and new roads.
Gandhi’s leadership of the INC and the so-called freedom struggle was nothing more than attempts to get the British to sanction self-rule, even as India remained a colony of the British Empire. Gandhi’s freedom struggle was never a march for complete political independence as envisioned by Tilak and Aurobindo. Gandhi’s INC therefore was battling neither the British Government nor the Muslim League.
Hedgewar, in the wake of the Moplah massacre realized that the INC did not have the capacity to handle jihadi Islam and that the direction in which Gandhi was leading the INC was certain to have tragic consequences for the Hindus. It was this realization which forced Hedgewar to create the RSS but given the Muslim League’s political orientation and political objectives, it is puzzling why Hedgewar did not fashion the RSS as an effective Hindu militant political instrument to deal with the Muslim League.
Hindu nationalists are left with the baffling question, how if the Muslim League had political objectives, was Hindu society going to handle the threat without a political instrument. Gandhi declared the INC was not a Hindu party and did not serve Hindu interests while Hedgewar created a Hindu socio-cultural outfit that had neither political objectives nor a militant orientation; in retrospect, it is obvious that neither the INC nor the RSS was equipped to stave off the bloody vivisection of the Hindu nation in 1947.
To put it bluntly, both Gandhi and Hedgewar, two most powerful Hindus of the time, heading two very powerful organizations, did not aim to stop the Muslim League or jihadi Islam in their tracks. Their cadre – the leaders and members of the INC and the swayamsevaks of the RSS were not intended to be armed soldiers in Kurukshetra fighting to defend the Hindu nation from jihadis and Christian colonialists. While Dr. Hedgewar’s RSS spoke of the Hindu rashtra, there was no conception of a Hindu Rajya. Hedgewar therefore did not fashion the RSS as an instrument of Hindu polity.
Dr. Keshav Baliram Hedgewar passed away in 1940 and Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar, a sanyasi in the Ramakrishna Mission order, succeeded him as sarsanghachalak or chief of the RSS. The RSS under the venerable sanyasi, remained a Hindu socio-cultural organization even during the tumultuous years prior to vivisection. Both Keshav and Madhav, like the God after whom they were named, refused to pick up arms. It is to be hoped that Mohan, yet another name for the same God, has the karmic quotient to steer Arjuna to victory..
In the wake of the bloody vivisection in 1947 and the continuing trauma of Hindus in J&K and the by now total disempowerment of the Hindus under the Nehru dispensation, Golwalkar realized that the time had come for the RSS to create an instrument to protect Hindu political interests; in fact, create an Arjuna. While Hedgewar picked a sanyasi to succeed him in the RSS, the sanyasi picked a militant Hindu from the Hindu Mahasabha, Dr. Syama Prasad Mukherjee who had also served in the cabinet under Nehru, to create the Jana Sangh. Not surprisingly Dr. Mukherjee challenged Nehru in his own personal fiefdom in J&K. His death in June 1953 when in custody in J&K was post-independent India’s first political assassination executed by state power.
Having removed Savarkar from the political arena and from public life, Nehru’s removal of Syama Prasad Mukherjee did not come as a great surprise. Tottering under the sustained campaign by Nehru’s Congress as Gandhi’s assassins, the RSS suffered a second blow with Dr. Mukherjee’s murder in custody. The tentative attempt by the RSS to create a fighting arm suffered a major setback and the Jana Sangh had little to show for itself as a Hindu party in the virulently anti-Hindu Nehruvian years.
The Bharatiya Jana Sangh went into a limbo after Dr. Mukherjee’s death. Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya, thinker and scholar, was also not a kshatriya. Integral humanism cannot and therefore did not put a Hindu face to Indian polity; neither did it make the effort to study the ideal nature of polity to protect the Hindu rashtra. Hindu intellectualism had no clear and well-defined goal. It produced nothing of value by way of political doctrines and theories to serve the Hindu nation.
Hedgewar, Golwalkar, Deen Dayal Upadhyaya and even other intellectuals in the parivar may all be described as social thinkers, but they had no political orientation and were therefore not political ideologues in the same mould as Aurobindo and Savarkar. At least, their political philosophy did not set pursuit of state power to protect and defend the Hindu nation from all threats to its national character. They did not think state power was important; not as important as social transformation. The RSS made social transformation and capturing state power as naturally mutually exclusive goals. RSS ideologues believed in and promoted the idea that politics like power and money corrupts; and so an ordinary swayamsevak is not imparted the training to handle big money, big power and big politics.
It may even be said that there was fastidious distaste for politics and a superior resolve that the RSS has to do nation-building without taking recourse to politics. One is not sure when this pernicious trend emerged within the RSS but the thought that swayamsevaks must desist from politics and must not be tainted by political ambitions has taken deep root in the psyche of the ordinary RSS swayamsevaks and karyakartas. The largest voluntary cadre in the country, the most disciplined force, characterised by remarkable selflessness embodying physical-labour-as-worship is however, as a national force, singularly unable to deal effectively with the twin threats to Hindu national identity and character – jihadi Islam and the evangelising church.
It is not enough to want to ‘become’ a Hindu rashtra or to assert we ‘are’ a Hindu rashtra without the commensurate wherewithal to defend it and if need be, remove forces that threaten it. Little Sri Lanka showed the world what a determined state can do to uproot the last vestiges of forces threatening national security. In India the RSS has to battle not only external threats to national security but also both external and internal threats working in tandem to radically change the national character and ethos defined by the majority native populace.
The BJP went to the polls in 2004 without a Hindu agenda; in 2009, it went to the polls without any agenda. It had one of the best election manifestos but intentionally refused to speak about the manifesto; the issues in the manifesto were never made the political agenda or the talking points during the election campaign. Making Advani the Prime Minister was the only palpable agenda of the BJP in 2009; the Hindu nation is not obliged to fulfill this agenda where the person projected as the leader has not been projected as a leader of the Hindus with a verifiable track record. If anything, Advani’s track record proved the opposite.
Not only was there bitter and acrimonious in-fighting among the leaders in the BJP, quarrels which they did not care to hide from the people who they expected to vote for them, there was bitter and acrimonious quarrels even among the parivar siblings. In the last decade, the RSS has allowed these quarrels and in-fighting to worsen and get out of control. When the BJP went to the polls, none of the issues plaguing the parivar had been resolved. There was no visible coming together of the entire parivar as a united collective, with the fire of determination to capture Hindu state power enthusing the ordinary Hindu voter. The BJP and the VHP were at loggerheads, the BJP and the Swadeshi Jagran Manch were also at loggerheads when the BJP was in power between 1998 and 2004; the SJM, as a parivar offspring, crated to study and formulate an alternate economic model for the nation, had little to show for itself between 2004 and 2009 except to hold street demonstrations against FDI in retail as though FDI in retail was the only bone of contention in the entire retail debate or the only economic issue.
Serious and well-motivated parenting demands sustained physical and mental energy; if the parenting has been careless, then to deal with a wayward offspring calls for a physically fit body and an ever-young mind which is always learning. This much the Hindu nation has the right to expect of its leaders. The previous segment listed the tasks ahead of the Hindu nation. The RSS must first introspect if it is ready to face these Himalayan challenges to the survival of the Hindu nation. Mens sana in corpore sano. Does the RSS have it? We are a very long way away from infusing kshatriya blood into Hindu society. We need a healthy body first. The RSS has to heal itself before it heals the wounds to the body of the Hindu nation.
Radha Rajan is Editor, www.vigilonline.com
Pity the Nation", by Khalil Gibran
Pity the nation that is full of beliefs and empty of religion.
Pity the nation that acclaims the bully as hero,
and that deems the glittering conqueror bountiful.
Pity the nation that raises not its voice
save when it walks in a funeral,
boasts not except among its ruins,
and will rebel not save when its neck is laid
between the sword and the block.
Pity the nation whose statesman is a fox,
whose philosopher is a juggler,
and whose art is the art of patching and mimicking.
Pity the nation that welcomes its new ruler with trumpeting,
and farewells him with hooting,
only to welcome another with trumpeting again.
Pity the nation whose sages are dumb with years
and whose strong men are yet in the cradle.
Pity the nation divided into fragments,
each fragment deeming itself a nation.