My tryst with RSS— 2
Link of Part-1: Please go through the first part before reading the second part of this article.
The word fascism is used quite loosely in our political and intellectual discourse. Some renowned intellectuals try to paint a very dismal and harrowing picture of RSS. This misrepresentation is many a time deliberate attempts to malign the work which RSS painstakingly goes on doing.
It was only when I sincerely started reading the daily newspaper after std 11th. Part of the credit goes to my Uncle who got 3–4 mainstream English & Hindi dailies. It is tough to reconcile the emotion when your faith trembles with a certain jerk. I learned that I was part of a communal and “fascist” organization. Yes, it did break me to an extent. I could not fathom the next step. While I was still to consume my set of answers from Veerender Singh Ji(My shakha head, who worked closely with Shri Ashok Singhal Ji) an event back in my village shook me to the core. Almost all the Dalit community in my area converted to Christianity. This was not it, a very callous attitude of other Hindus in the village is what pained me. They were only busy bashing the converts rather than acting swiftly to absorb them back. This constant internal conflict heralded a very different me. I never knew that for me it would be one of the most defining times of my life(till now).
What should I do? Seeing them go to church every Friday was an uneasy experience. Moreover, this was a very local event with no media outrage as such. Why would the media be concerned if the villagers are not even thinking of this as a major issue?
I was, to put it lightly, very furious and frustrated. I was a very small kid of 16–17 years and literally had to accept the changing reality. I held regular talks with my uncle who is in RSS and also other RSS members. I could feel the intensity of pain they were going through in the aftermath of this event. It was only after a few months that they decided to train a Swaymsevak to take lead and organize a public chanting of mantras relating to Lord Shiva. I am pleased and proud to say that this mission was a success and this “Shiv-Stuti” is still ongoing in my village and nearby areas. And yes, all the people converted back to Hinduism and now go for “Shiv-Stuti” on Friday rather than going to the church. This local event with a local solution without any chest-thumping was achieved by people like Upendra Tyagi, Krishna Prasad, and other Swaymsevaks. It was the combined effort of Sangh and Gayatri Pariwar volunteers that made it possible. It wasn’t as easy as I wrote it down here in a few words. They toiled for months and months, taking out targeted reach-out campaigns. One Swaymsevak who ran a small Kirana-Shop used to close his shop in the night and afternoon for participating in this drive. It may look very trivial but a person earning a few bucks and yet sacrificing a chunk of it only for one cause- “We need to get our people back”. A divine sense of oneness which I talked about in the last article.
This event, as I mentioned earlier, did leave a deep impression on me, though the question related to fascism remained unanswered. It was only over the last 4–5 years that I realized the modus operandi of some intellectuals. It is simply to whitewash their sins of the past that they point towards Sangh. Along with Shakha, my reading habit improved during my college days. I took courses in Sociology of Religion, History, Philosophy of Plato, and other engaging ones. Slowly I read many examples starting from Meenakshipuram where Sangh played a pivotal role in our society. I won’t quote each one of them here but the silent work of Sangh speaks a lot. If anyone finds time then they can go through at least 2 beautiful books- “Jyoti Jala Nij Praan Ki’’ & “Manu, me and RSS”. But somewhere I feel that it’s impossible to document Sangh’s work in totality. It can only come out as a personal experience. You won’t find the episode of my village in any of the Sangh’s own literature.
Till now, I was very much clear about the role of Sangh and allied organizations in our society. They provide a strong shield through which none shall pass and attack the society. I was almost on cloud 9 and I thought I have immense clarity of thought and purpose now. Part of the credit goes to IIT Delhi colleagues who were not well versed in such matters. This euphoria was short-lived. One day in Shakha, I was asked to read Shri Sitaram Goel Ji’s work. I never knew this was going to be the second most defining moment of my life till now. The intellectual masterpiece of Sitaram Ji absorbed me. I read 3 of his books in very quick succession. I read his critique on Sangh on some pro-Hindu web portals. From one web portal to another, I was seeing my clarity getting hit with a solid stick again. Debates around nationalism, nationhood, and tradition were a major thorn that was bursting my fictitious clarity. Suddenly I came to know that Sangh in its goodwill, will actually destroy the diversity of this land. In a way, it will homogenize us and we will lose all originality.
But something within me made me persist, the sociology and history courses in college came to rescue me from this unending confusion. Parallelly I continued my visits to different places in India. Our team hosted J Sai Deepak Ji in IIT Delhi where he emphasized the need to travel across the length and breadth of this nation. The video is still available on Youtube for everyone to see. His words were so true.
If I wouldn’t be traveling and meeting the genius people on the ground along with my readings and courses, I would certainly be lost till eternity. I won’t detail each and every step but will only give you the conclusions which I came at.
“The onslaught of Abrahamics/Aggressors on Pagans was devastating. It changed the whole contour of right and wrong. For the first time, human civilization was in a binary of true and false. Tradition is not truth or lie, it’s tradition and therefore it flourishes with all diversity. For the very first time, pagans faced an organized onslaught that categorized people as following the true path or not. There is a long history of this which culminated, sadly, in almost the vanishing of the pagans and victory of aggressors. Undoubtedly, this terror was also unleashed on Bharat. A long 1000 year history of wars, wounds, and defeat(and some wins as well).”
Although we are proud to have survived 1000 years of terror but there is also an acceptance of defeat at the socio-political level. Some spillover effects are also in the cultural sphere. Some amount of our culture took the beating as well. This is a harsh reality.
But yes, the good part remains- We survived, and therefore in some sense, we won. Even today when Al-Aqsa is converted into a mosque, we hear no pagan voice. On the contrary, we have Hindu civilization which mobilized to crush the symbols of oppression i.e the Babri demolition. We will be naive to look at it from the lens of right and wrong. The event is much beyond the narrow confines of right and wrong. It is the first time a significant assertion of identity by pagans, divided by traditions but united by a larger identity, demolishes the oppressive monument. This was where the answer to my intellectual conflict lied- Bharat was and is a nation. The definition and nature of it is not similar to the western notion. Loosely it can be said that geo-cultural identity always existed which from times immemorial made this territory one in many senses.
From chanting the rivers across Bharat in Pooja to the characters of Ramayana & Mahabharata, this land was in some ways uniquely one and yet diverse. From Chanakya’s call to save Bharat to Chatrapati Shivaji’s Hindavi Swarajya- all speak in tandem about this.
Our societal framework itself gives us an idea about the larger identity that always existed. A Varna as we know can have different Jatis. Mobility amongst various Varnas and Jatis was allowed in many cases. This porosity and mobility were allowed mostly to the “Hindus” or say “Sanatanis”. A Jew or a Parsi could not have their way through this porous and mobile nature as the Hindus could. A proportionate sense of differentiation between Hindus and say Jews/Parsis were always there. It is therefore quite evident that a larger pan Bharat identity always existed and as Chandra Prakash Dwivedi Ji in his epic series on Chanakya says- “Whenever we lose this national consciousness, we were and will be ruled”. Deeendayal Ji also reiterated it in his work- Integral Humanism, He says “The basic cause of the problems facing Bharat is the neglect of Its ‘National Identity”.
Coming back, this is exactly what Sangh does. It adds this layer of Hindu identity on top and other local identities must also flourish within. But for the aggressors, we are always one. If we lose this, then that will be a recipe for self-disaster. It is not hierarchical but concentric.
A Hindu Rashtra can never remain prosperous, powerful, and preach the world without all its limbs being intact and connected. I as an individual might have an identity but that cannot stop me from connecting with my brothers and sisters in Kanyakumari or Kashmir. This is not an artificial construct but a very organic cohesion that has existed for a long. If we have to rise, we have to rise with all our diverse traditions and customs along with the larger umbrella identity. Rashtra + Dharma, i.e both territorial integrity and dharmic credibility, has to go hand in hand. We can’t negotiate one for the other. In some sense, this is our Yuga Dharma. RSS has not made any revolutionary change but only stayed focused on this process which always existed but yes we need to recognize the genius of Dr. Hedgewar Ji on this. Many other organizations follow the same trend. Devoid of the understanding of present circumstances, realities, and challenges- culture cannot sustain itself.
As our PM Narendra Modi Ji said — “If there is an Auranzeb, Shiva Ji will also stand up to challenge him.”
My belief in the Sangh and its working style stayed firm after this intellectual encounter.
This is the broad contours of how RSS operates and with what vision. Nitpicking one or two events along with cut/paste statements will only confuse because the organization itself has many limbs which I will talk about later.
I will take it forward from here in the next part.