Home ] Up ] Two Nation theory ] Accept us ]


Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh 

By C R Thomas

rss1.jpg (81082 bytes)

India is moving back to the political centre: the flirtation with Hindu extremism is melting and the Congress Party, rejuvenated if still shambolic, senses a comeback in a general election that will probably come before the end of the year. To everybody's astonishment Sonia Gandhi has not promoted a front-man for her political ambitions. She is the undisputed leader, a would-be Prime Minister. The Hindu right will assault her with all the venom it can muster, attacking the very notion of an ill-educated foreign-born non-Hindu, whose Hindi is dreadful, seeking to lead one billion Indians.

The voice and inspiration behind the anti-Sonia campaign will be the furtive, fearful and fanatical Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, whose initials - RSS - conjure up images of a military-orientated group of young hotheads lead by older, sophisticated strategists with an extremist, long-term agenda. And that just about sums up the RSS, the pre-eminent organisation behind Hindu revivalism and orthodoxy - if orthodoxy can be feasible in a movement like Hinduism, with its lack of hierarchy, structure or organisation. It has no bishops, mullahs or rabbis to promote a political/religious ideology, but Hinduism does reach into the soul of India and any ideological exploitation of it, however limited its reach, has profound repercussions.

The destruction of the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya in December 1996 was one example. The recent persecution of Christians in Orissa and Gujarat is another.

The shadow of the RSS passes over all such events. So what is the RSS? Who supports it? It grew out of Hindu-Muslim communal conflict in the 1920s, and continues to feed on that powerful poison. It hated Mahatma Gandhi for his supposed appeasement of Muslims: Natharam Godse, the Mahatma's assassin, had been associated with the RSS although he was not a member at the time. The RSS furiously denounces anybody accusing it of links to the murder, although it was banned immediately after it.

That proscription was later lifted, but it has been banned twice since then: during the Emergency in the mid-1970s, and after the destruction of the Babri Mosque. Those proscriptions have forever given the RSS the aura of a menacing organisation. Yet today it wields substantial influence over the federal Government, a coalition headed by the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party - a testimony to how far hardline Hindu politics has come. Only the fragility of the coalition has prevented the RSS from fully exploiting its position.

rss2.jpg (21214 bytes)

At the heart of the RSS philosophy is a belief in a golden Vedic age and the dream of establishing a Hindu state. Its rallies are a chilling sight: ranks and ranks of young men in white shirts, khaki shorts and matching socks, stand to attention with long sticks held in the left hand - symbolising weapons - while listening to inspirational readings from ancient texts or the rhetoric of hate from one of the organisation's many excellent orators. The notion of Christian infiltration of the Hindu fold through proselytising missionaries has fired the faithful of late: at least it made a change from Muslim-bashing.

The RSS believes in a supposedly casteless motherland. Its cohesion is its strength: in 75 years it has had only four sarsanghchalaks - the supreme leader. The current incumbent is Professor Rajendra Singh. Like his predecessors, he will appoint his successor. The position is almost mythical in the eyes of the devoted, and the incumbent practically a living god. Beneath him boils a cauldron of activity, including the teaching of martial arts in ancient Sanskritic language. The RSS has ample funds collected from members and supporters at home and world-wide. The ethos is simple: discipline, character, patriotism. It articulates the concept of Hindutva, roughly translating as Hinduness. That one word harnesses an attitude to what it means to be an Indian, which in RSS-speak means being Hindu.

The RSS actively seeks the sympathy of the armed services: many retired senior officers belong to the Bharatiya Janata Party, its political wing, because they are attracted by the notion of devotion and discipline. In 1993 the RSS launched an organisation specifically to promote the interests of retired military personnel. Many former senior officers are brought in to promote soldierly qualities among RSS youth and to teach them at residential military schools.

The power and influence of the RSS can be gauged through its educational schemes. Through a separate organisation run under RSS auspices it operates 13,000 schools with 74,000 teachers and 1.7 million students. The aim is to counter what is perceived to be the impact of Western education and television. It concentrates on five subjects: physical education, yoga, music, Sanskrit and moral/spiritual education. Before a child starts school the parents must attend two weeks of training, to ensure that what the child is taught at school is echoed at home.

In law, the upper bureaucracy, among farmers and even among tribals, the RSS wields influence. Its attitude to women is summed up by its definition of their role: a woman must "inspire her father, brother, husband and son on the righteous path as a good daughter, sister, wife and mother."

Women supporters hold regular drills in uniform. Their role was crucial in cooking food for thousands of Hindus who headed for Ayodhya in 1996 - an operation conducted with military precision, even down to knowing how to pull down a sturdy 16th century mosque with nothing but pickaxes and ropes, without leaving a brick standing nor incurring a single injury.

The RSS strategy is long-term: as mainstream politics continues its decline towards anarchy its nationalistic message becomes increasingly attractive. It represents one of the most far-reaching developments in mainstream Indian politics since independence. But so far it has failed to consolidate its appeal among the mainstream. The next general election, when the BJP will almost certainly be trounced, should prove that. This will be seen by the RSS, however, as merely another unimportant event in its march towards a glorious new Hindu age.

C.R. Thomas is a British journalist covering India

RSS - The "Sangh"

What is it, and what is it not?

by Partha Banerjee

"Jesus is junk. It is high time for Hindus to learn that Jesus Christ symbolizes no spiritual power, or moral uprightness. He is no more than an artifice for legitimizing wanton imperialist aggression. The aggressors have found him to be highly profitable so far. By the same token, Hindus should know that Jesus means nothing but mischief for their country and culture."1

The above was recently said by a prominent leader and theorist of RSS or Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (National Volunteer Corps), in a treatise on Jesus Christ.


Dr. K. B. Hedgewar floated the organization in 1925 on the Hindu holy day of Vijaya Dashami (the triumphant tenth day of the moon) in the Maharashtrian city of Nagpur. According to Hindu mythology, this is the day when in a holy war, Lord Rama, the God king, triumphed over Ravana "the demon king". The Sangh and its offspring organizations such as the BJP have successfully used the name of Rama as a ploy to garner Hindu votes and drum up anti-Muslim hatred. In addition to the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, the RSS, Jana Sangh (now known as BJP), and VHP or Vishwa Hindu Parishad have been implicated in numerous communal riots all over India.2 RSS now has two other important offshoots Bajrang Dal (a militant auxiliary of VHP) and Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram, the organization targeted to include the tribals in its fold.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the parliamentary leader of BJP, is a lifelong member of RSS, more commonly known as the "Sangh". Most leaders and active members of BJP are products of the Sangh and steeped in its Hindu supremacist doctrine. Vajpayee was a full-time RSS worker before he was "released" for BJP (formerly Jana Sangh) activities. In one of his Hindi poems, Vajpayee proclaims: "Hindu Hindu mera parichay"-my only identity is Hindu. This may remind us of his campaign speeches during the recent Indian elections, "Is it a crime to be a Hindu in this country?"3 One can perceive the same Hindu Vajpayee only with refined rhetoric and a display of moderation-very similar to the recently toned-down functioning style of BJP itself.


The meteoric rise of BJP is now all but certain to usher in an era of more social and political pressures for the traditionally oppressed-the "untouchables", the religious minorities, and women. BJP's ally Shiv Sena (SS) and its leader Bal Thackeray have been openly supportive of racist and oppressive social codes. Thackeray said that democracy is not for India and what Indians need is a "benign dictatorship." BJP's important home minister Advani is now actively touting a presidential form of government replacing the present prime ministerial system-an alarming proposition that foreshadows an authoritarian rule.

BJP leaders like Vijaya Raje Scindia, the queen-mother of the royal family of Gwalior favor the now-outlawed "sati" system ("sati" was a horrible practice where the widow was burnt along with her dead husband) and the degenerate Hindu caste system where Brahmans and other upper castes remain the leaders of the society, keeping the lower castes and "untouchables" in abject poverty, subservience, and death. Even though M. S. Golwalkar and Balasaheb Deoras, the second and third supreme leaders of the RSS, spoke against the caste system in its "degenerate form", they did not espouse its abolition.4 The theory and practice of caste differences is very much in vogue in RSS and its offshoot bodies, although, in order to bring together Hindus of all castes under its artificially-created "unity platform", a unifying theme of hatred for Islam and other "foreign" religions has been deliberately brought in. "Lower caste" legendary heroes such as Birsa have recently been included in the RSS Ekatmata Stotra (the verse of unification) to garner support among the dalits, "forest-dwellers", and other oppressed classes of the society.5


In order to learn about the BJP, the rising star of Indian politics, one must examine the RSS with an open mind. Most secular and progressive Indians, and those who do not have any particular political faith, either do not know much about the RSS and its modus operandi or because of a preoccupied mind, refuse to recognize them. To me, this ignorance or rejection is the very thing that has allowed the rapid growth of the Sangh organizations. We must defeat the RSS in its own game-its supremacist-divisive Hindutva doctrine must be countered with the secular and all-inclusive version of Hinduism which is the religion of Sri Chaitanya, Ram Mohan Ray, Ramakrishna Paramhansa, and Bhakt Kabir. The Sangh Parivar's doctrine of separatism and supremacy must be exposed by drawing parallels between them and other social-religious fundamentalist groups that fiercely fight with each other. Only then, their global bigotry and deceit can be truly assessed and dealt with.

Mahatma Gandhi was murdered by an RSS member-and that is the common belief

On the 30th of January 1948, within less than a year of the Indian independence, Nathuram Godse, a Hindu zealot from the western Indian state of Maharashtra, shot and killed Mahatma Gandhi at a prayer meeting in Delhi. Nathuram Godse was a prominent member of the RSS and a close associate of its founder Dr. K. B. Hedgewar. Just before the assassination, however, Godse "left" the RSS and joined another Hindu supremacist group Hindu Mahasabha.

So, why was the Sangh not convicted in Gandhi assassination?

RSS was never officially implicated and convicted in the murder of Mahatma Gandhi because, among other reasons, Nathuram Godse could not conclusively be proven to be an RSS member. This apparently bizarre conclusion was possible because of RSS' non-existent membership roster and the absence of any internal documented proceedings of Sangh activities or meetings. At the time of the assassination, the Sangh did not even have a constitution-this was after twenty three years of its public existence! 6

RSS mobilizes workers into its different fronts. Other than the BJP, the Sangh mentors its cadres for its education front Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP). Industry-based cadres are sent to organize the labor front, Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), and the more gray-haired and often rich workers from the business world move into the powerful well-financed religious wing, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) or the World Hindu Council. Although very much in the fray of capturing unions through electioneering (and hooliganism), both ABVP and BMS claim to be non-political.7

RSS, Shiv Sena, and their admiration of fascism

Dr. Hedgewar, the RSS founder, propounded the idea that national unity would only come about if it was declared that all non-Hindus in India, such as Muslims and Christians, do not form a part of the nation. This was because, in his opinion, non-Hindus deny Hindu traditions, ideals, and culture. Hedgewar indoctrinated this idea into his hand-picked protégé Madhavrao Sadasivrao Golwalkar (more commonly known as Guruji-"the teacher"), again from Nagpur.

The most comprehensive statement of this exclusionary idea was made in Mr. Golwalkar's book "We or Our Nationhood Defined" published in 1938 8. The pamphlet-like book has so many laudatory references to Hitler and his theories of racial supremacy that it became embarrassingly uncomfortable for the RSS to continue its publication and was soon withdrawn from circulation.

It would be worthwhile to cite a few excerpts here:

"German race pride has now become the topic of the day. To keep up the purity of the race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic races-the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole-a good lesson for us in Hindusthan (i.e., the land of Hindus) to learn and profit by."


This is the lesson the "Guruji" wants Sangh volunteers to learn: "From this standpoint sanctioned by the experience of shrewd old nations, the non-Hindu peoples in Hindusthan must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence the Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but the glorification of the Hindu race and culture, i.e., they must not only give up their attitude of intolerance and ungratefulness towards this land and its age-old traditions, but must also cultivate the positive attitude of love and devotion instead; in one word, they must cease to be foreigners or may stay in the country wholly subordinated to the Hindu nation claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment, not even citizen's rights." 9

The Hindu Mahasabha leader Savarkar, a much-respected personality in RSS circles, proclaimed,

"If we Hindus grow stronger in time Moslem friends ...will have to play the part of German Jews."10



"We or Our Nationhood Defined" was replaced by Golwalkar's "Bunch of Thoughts", now the Sangh "Bible", in which an attempt has been made to clothe the RSS's fascistic concept of nationhood in a religio-cultural garb.11

The RSS and Hindu Mahasabha have always been fiercely anti-Muslim and anti-Christian. Golwalkar went as far as to raise an objection when Abdul Hamid and the Keelor brothers were honored by the Indian government for their patriotism and gallantry during the Indo-Pak war. Golwalkar did not want any non-Hindu soldiers to be honored however much they might have sacrificed for India.12

The fiercely anti-Muslim attitude of the RSS goes to the extent of dubbing even Urdu as a foreign language. "The import and significance of the word 'Urdu' is so derogatory to national self-respect that it suppresses all emotional upsurge in favor of the language. How and why should we own a language the very name of which constantly reminds us of our political subjugation? Hindu ancestors passed on Sanskrit and Hindi to their descendants. They had nothing to do with the transmission of Urdu".13

The Sangh family's political ally Shiv Sena even today hail Hitler and Nazi Germany. Shiv Sena's godman Bal Thackeray often eulogizes Hitler at public gatherings and in interviews. In its quest for political power, the Sangh naturally does not want to be a part of this "nuisance" any more. However, it is yet to come out with a censure of Thackeray.

First RSS, Jana Sangh, then BJP-then a turn of luck

In 1951, RSS floated the Jana Sangh, its political wing, now known as the BJP, to counter the rising public hatred resulting as a fallout of RSS' involvement in Gandhi's assassination. It also wanted to have its voice heard in the first Indian elections of 1952. M. S. Golwalkar put Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, an ultra-nationalist and famous orator from the Bengal Hindu Mahasabha, in charge of the Jana Sangh. Dr. Mukherjee was allegedly murdered by the Congress Party or Sheikh Abdullah's14 party in a jail in Kashmir, and later, Sangh activist Deendayal Upadhyay became the president of the Jana Sangh. The unassuming and mild-mannered Upadhyay 15 was also assassinated, again, allegedly by political rivals. Atal Bihari Vajpayee then took over as the Jana Sangh president and carried the mantle for a long and lonely decade. Jana Sangh came close to obliteration during the heydays of Congress under the leadership of Jawaharlal Nehru and subsequently his daughter Indira Gandhi. It was only the proclamation of the totalitarian Emergency rule by Indira Gandhi in 1975 that gave a second breath of life to Jana Sangh through its opportunistic alliance with other national opposition parties. Imprisonment of forgotten personalities like Vajpayee and L. K. Advani on Indira Gandhi's orders elevated them to national stardom. Indira Gandhi, under the mistaken impression that her popular support was strong, called for general elections in 1977. She and her Congress party were nearly wiped out, largely due to a massive people's movement led by socialist leader Jaya Prakash Narayan, and a hodgepodge coalition formed the government. Vajpayee and Advani assumed important portfolios of the foreign affairs and information-broadcasting ministers, respectively (a third unknown BJP person Brijlal Verma assumed the important communication ministry portfolio-even to many Sangh workers' surprise-this happened when another Sangh stalwart Nana Deshmukh 16 declined the offer). Until then, few could dream of such a turn of luck for these two career politicians and for the BJP the new incarnation of the Jana Sangh.

"Guru-Dakshina", and tons of soft money too!

Other than the enormous amount of money collected at the Guru-Dakshina (charity for the guru, in this case, the saffron flag) day every year (which goes largely unreported, and hence untaxed), RSS also reportedly generates huge sums of money from its members and sympathizers abroad 17. Other than contributing to election funds of BJP, they say, immigrant Sangh sympathizers pay their "Guru-Dakshina" at various branches of the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), the overseas version of RSS 18. Money is also reportedly pumped in and out by other organizations such as the Overseas Friends of BJP (OFBJP), VHP of America, and the Hindu Student Council or HSC of America. Traditionally conservative but apolitical Hindu temples in USA and Europe are now targeted by the Sangh in order to mobilize second-generation Indian-American youth through organization of VHP-sponsored Hindu summer camps and various religious conventions of HSC. Under the guise of cultural education, a whole generation is being indoctrinated to be blind, separatists, and bigots. Many Indian immigrants, ignorant of the relationship of the VHP and HSC with BJP and RSS, are being used to further the fascist-like sociopolitical agenda of the Sangh Parivar.

The Rama Movement of the 90's-Vajpayee still wants the temple

Unlike many other religious fundamentalist movements across the globe that have a well-defined vision of the society they want to build, the Sangh's vision of the Hindu Rashtra (nation) is purposefully vague. As RSS seeks to extend its reach, its Hindu revivalist mission finds itself tangled with a number of serious obstacles. The RSS' brahminical version of Hinduism has little support among the poor and the lower castes, and its assertion of Hindu supremacy ignores deep-rooted caste, class, ethnic, linguistic, and regional loyalties. Against the backdrop of these difficulties, the Sangh came up with two objectives to forge its ambitious Hindu nationalism: (1) the tenet of hatred toward the Indian government and (2) drumming up hatred toward the minority Muslim population in India. The Rama Janmabhoomi campaign and the concurrent nationwide communal riots orchestrated by Sangh militants (where Muslims were the victims of murders, rapes, and destruction of property in overwhelmingly disproportionate numbers) fulfilled these two objectives. The Sangh Parivar now depicts itself as a nationalist movement besieged and confronted by a "socialistic and atheistic" state that pampers the minority communities-although the Sangh knows well how Muslims and other minorities in India have traditionally suffered as second-class citizens in political and economic life. 19

Thus, in the nineties, RSS, VHP, and BJP forged the strong Hindu revivalist Rama platform that dwelled on the issue of the "historic" birthplace of Lord Rama in Ayodhya in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Their contention was that the mosque, known as Babri Masjid (after the Islamic ruler Babar) was built upon the ruins of a Hindu temple that was supposedly been demolished by "Muslim" invaders. This temple, the Sangh says, was built to mark the holy birthplace of Rama, the God king. The Sangh contends that a temple with pillars had indeed been there since the eleventh century.

However, even an avidly pro-BJP Belgian columnist Koenraad Elst, in his book argues, 20

"When that building (the temple) was destroyed, we do not know precisely, there are no descriptions of the event extant anywhere. Mohammed Ghori's armies arrived there in 1194, and they may have destroyed it. It may have been rebuilt afterwards, or it may only have been destroyed by later Muslim lieutenants. So it is possible that when Mir Baqi, Babar's lieutenant, arrived there in 1528, he found a heap of rubble, or an already aging mosque, rather than a magnificent Hindu temple."

Other archeologists plainly assert that there has not been a single piece of evidence for the existence of a temple of either brick, stone or both. 21

The fact is, Uttar Pradesh (U.P.) also has the largest number of parliamentary seats and is important enough to sway the outcome of the elections for one party or another. BJP has long concentrated to carry the state. The Rama movement of 1990-92 culminated in the forcible demolition, by Sangh militants, of the mosque on December 6, 1992, and consequent massive communal riots that claimed thousands of lives all over India-especially in North India and Bombay. 22 Repercussions followed in adjoining Pakistan and Bangladesh, where reactionary Muslim fanatics gathered strength out of this incident, and destroyed Hindu temples, lives and property.

The BJP managed to worm its way into a short-lived coalition government in U.P. in 1995, paving the way for a big win in the 1996 elections. In early 1997, after a long impasse, BJP and Mayawati-Kansiram's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP, a splinter party of "lower castes") forged another coalition government in the state where a power sharing deal was cut-the small contingent of Mayawati's party would be given the chief ministership for the first six months, BJP would then have its own chief minister, and so on. In late 1997, however, BSP withdrew its support but the BJP managed to hang on to power in U.P. by means of massive "horse-trading" and use of muscle-power and money. The "new inductees" were subsequently rewarded with ministerial portfolios. The BJP chief minister had to create numerous portfolios to appease the "disgruntled" lawmakers. RSS, for its part, blessed these practices from its Nagpur headquarters.

Vajpayee and other BJP leaders still support the long-promised Rama temple on the demolition site. This is a centerpiece of the Sangh pledge to the conservative upper caste Hindus. Does Vajpayee want to ignore the RSS whip from the Nagpur headquarters? Not very likely. 23 Viswa Hindu Parishad (VHP) is also keen to create another bloody movement to "free" Mathura in U.P., the so-called site of Lord Krishna's birth an objective Mayawati-Kansiram's party (the BSP) does not favor.

BJP government's nuclear tests create new tension

On May 11, 1998, the Indian state conducted three nuclear tests in Rajasthan. Prime Minister Vajpayee affirmed the position he took in the parliament in March that "our party feels India should have the bomb since it will place the country in a strong position vis-a-vis the outside world." It appears that this action by the BJP government is intended to send a jingoistic message to China, Pakistan, and to the entire world. 24 By most accounts, Pakistan is on the verge of having nuclear weapons, and Vajpayee government's above actions will only expedite it. Is a nuclear war brewing in the Indian subcontinent? The CIA reported, truly or falsely, that one such serious threat was averted only recently. 25 Nevertheless, after the May 11 incident, a subcontinental nuclear war is no longer an unlikely scenario.

Is RSS really fascist?

Why is the RSS labeled as fascist by some circles and how much justification is there? Why call anybody a fascist? Before RSS or BJP is called fascist, we need to describe their ideas. Let's explain what fascism is, and compare these ideas with what the "Sangh Parivar" practices. 26

The word "fascism" describes a set of overlapping and sometimes contradictory beliefs that first became fashionable in continental Europe in the 1920s. According to Dr. Mark Trisch of Johannes Gutenberg Universitaet, Germany 27, the following set of ideas (in varying combinations) fostered by a party or organization would brand it fascist:


(1) Calling for a return to the "ancient traditions of the race"

(2) A hierarchical, militaristic, corporate social organization

(3) A cult of leadership

(4) Calls for national self-reliance

(5) Calling for "full employment"

(6) Aggressively nationalistic foreign policy.

According to Dr. Trisch, although it is the combination of all these that makes for trouble, the first three seem to be the most important.

Do the RSS, and its sister organizations such as the BJP or VHP foster these ideas? Unfortunately, they do. A return to the ancient so-called "glorified Bharatiya traditions" of the Hindu race is their number one creed. Every single day, RSS, in its militaristic shakhas or gatherings, preaches to its workers and sympathizers that the "oldest nation of Bharatvarsha" was the "greatest" on earth and that its inhabitants were "happy, prosperous, and religious". The Sangh leaders never forget to mention that all the ills of India began when, due to the "disunity of the Hindu race", Muslim and then British aggressors invaded and took over this "holy land". The long term goal of the Sangh Parivar is of course to bring back that "past era of glory" by creating an "Akhand Bharat" (i.e., an Undivided India ranging from "Himalaya to Kanyakumari" and "Gandhar to Brahmadesh" (i.e., from Tibet in the north to the southern tip of India, and from Afghanistan in the west to South East Asia including Burma, Laos, Thailand, and Cambodia)-culturally and politically. This dream of "unity" is to be reached by organizing Hindus from all around the globe.

The RSS is indeed a hierarchical, militaristic organization that actively practices regimentation. 28 RSS has a "Sarsanghchalak" (Supreme Leader) who is never elected (for that matter, no other leaders are elected-there is no system of internal elections in the organization)-the supreme leader's commands are obeyed without question. Further, Dr. Keshavrao Baliramrao Hedgewar, the founder of the Sangh and Madhavrao Sadasivrao Golwalkar, the second and most well-known supreme leader of RSS, are remembered in Sangh circles with a sense of divinity and admiration that reaches the level of God-worshipping. Indeed, these two men are officially given the status of Avatars (reincarnation of God) by the RSS. Pictures of these two Sarsanghchalaks are distributed and sold by RSS offices and bookstores and decorate walls of workers' homes. Stories, often exaggerated, about their lives are discussed at RSS camps and gatherings on a regular basis, essays are written on their lives and works and the best ones are awarded prizes. 29 Portraits of the present Sarsanghchalak Rajendra Singh ("Rajju Bhaiya") is now promptly posted on RSS' Internet homepage by active workers in the USA. 30 Similarly, Shiv Sena's new official homepage, on its title page, now has the picture of its supremo, Balasaheb Thackeray.

This is what the Shiv Sena homepage declares about its leader: "People from all parts of Hindustan have only one hope. "Hon'ble Shivsenapramukh Shri Balasaheb Thackeray is our only hope. He is our national Leader" they say."

National self-reliance is preached by the RSS: the Sangh has now actively taken up the issue of self-reliance and put forth a program called the "Swadeshi Jagaran Manch"-a platform to champion the idea of total economic self-reliance. They decry the US investments in India and pro-US fiscal treaties such as the GATT and NAFTA-RSS' opposition to American investment might well have been a headache for the US government (and the) CIA in deciding between the faltering Congress or rising BJP to be covertly pushed as the next ruling party of India. 31

But the international investors can now breathe a sigh of relief as this call for national self-reliance has proved to be just a politically expedient move without any real will behind it as evident by what the BJP in fact did vis-à-vis the multinational Enron power project.

Full employment for labor (but without any real power or control over the workplace) has been a centerpiece of RSS and BJP actions implemented through the activities of Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh or BMS, one of the largest labor organizations in India. BJP's ultra-right ally Shiv Sena has come up with plans to support the Hindu labor force in the state of Maharashtra. The irony here is that the Shiv Sena was originally floated by national and international vested-interest groups to crush the once-powerful trade unions of Bombay back in the 1980's and has operated a protection racket ever since. In recent months, American pop-singer Michael Jackson and eminent Indian film playback singer Lata Mangeshkar and actor Dilip Kumar participated in huge Shiv Udyog Sena 32 -sponsored concerts purportedly to raise funds for the Hindu laborers of Bombay.

An aggressively nationalistic foreign policy has always been at the forefront of RSS propaganda. Much toned-down by the BJP now, during the Jana Sangh days, it was much more overt. America was never well-liked by Sangh members-the United States has always been portrayed as the very image of immorality and profanity on earth. However, a previous Jana Sangh president and one of its most famous orators Balraj Madhok was an ardent pro-American who had a small but powerful following in his days. But he could not make RSS, and consequently Jana Sangh, openly pro-American. This was largely due to the opposition of the all-powerful Golwalkar and leaders like Vajpayee the latter being a supporter of non-alignment with a less vociferous objection against the then USSR (this was however a strategy for them to internationally undermine and isolate China-the Sangh's one main enemy). RSS' and Jana Sangh's (and now BJP's) foreign policy stands on the dictum of anti-Pakistan and anti-China hatred-and for that matter, hatred against any Islamic or socialist countries or alliances. George Fernandez, an important minister in the current BJP government, has proclaimed China to be India's number one enemy (May 1998). Israel now has become a hot favorite of the Sangh Parivar-Vajpayee, Advani, and other BJP leaders have frequented the country to show their support for the ferociously anti-Arab nation. Attempts have often been made, allegedly, to iron out the Sangh's previously bitter relationships with USA via the mediation of Israel. Note the irony here-a Hitler-admiring organization is having a mutual love-fest with the one nation that has the most reason on earth to despise anything that even remotely seeks of Hitler and the Nazi party.

What now?


Congress' fortune has plummeted. The party that many arguably say won Indian independence from the British and later degenerated into a party of corruption, inefficiency and anarchy, is now much weaker than before. Sitaram Kesari, the previous Congress president, withdrew support in late 1997 to the left-leaning United Front government paving way for a mid-term election and the new BJP-led coalition government at the center. RSS' Vajpayee is now the prime minister of India 33. Congress is breaking up again and its more conservative section is leaning towards BJP. Some well-known Congress leaders such as Buta Singh, Maneka Gandhi, Sukh Ram, K.C.Pant are now supporting the BJP government.

Clearly, BJP now seems to be the party of choice of the upper caste conservative Hindus-the traditional kingmakers of India-and the political equilibrium seems to have shifted in their direction. How much effort BJP makes to implement the Hindu supremacist ideas of RSS and to what extent, if any, it resists them, remains to be seen. To the poor and ever-oppressed of India, one dark chapter of rule is now being replaced by another one.

To these Indians, who have been trampled upon by the Brahmins and other upper castes and social patriarchs for ages, the only hope is the true consolidation of a third force-a force of the untouchables, religious minorities, women, poor laborers and marginal peasants. The recent developments show that such a possibility, before it really crystallized, was destabilized mostly by outside forces through inevitable Congress sabotaging and due to internal squabbling. BJP has suddenly become the hot favorite of the big industrialists of India-the big businessmen put out huge newspaper advertisements in 1998 in favor of the party culminating in its victory.

Who is going to reap the harvest of all this? Other than the national and international power-brokers and anti-India agents, it will no doubt be the saffron supremacists of the "Sangh Parivar".


1 Sita Ram Goel. 1994. Jesus Christ An Artifice of Aggression. Voice of India, New Delhi.

2 See appendices for more details.

3 New York Times, May 1996. Also, see Appendix VI.

4 During the seventies, I remember the socialist leader Jaya Prakash Narayan calling all Brahmans to give up their "holy threads" a symbol of their so-called superiority. However, the then Sarsanghchalak Balasaheb Deoras opposed this call -- Deoras said that all non-Brahmans should wear holy threads instead. Obviously, he knew that the Hindu Brahman would never accept that measure.

5 See Chapter 5 on the Ekatmata Stotra.

6 What is the truth about Godse's RSS connection? ... Godse himself had stated before the Court: "I have worked for several years in RSS and subsequently joined the Hindu Mahasabha..." (Godse, Gopal: "May it Please Your Honour: Statement of Nathuram Godse"). The most significant is the revelation by his brother about the last moments of his life: "On reaching the platform they recited a verse of devotion to the Motherland: "Namaste sada vatsale matribhume..." [This is the RSS prayer sung even today - author]. The above is quoted from D. R. Goyal: Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh . Radha Krishna Prakashan. New Delhi. 1979.

7 To know more about ABVP, BMS, and other Hindutva organizations, see Chapter 3.

8 M. S. Golwalkar. 1938. We or Our Nationhood Defined. Bharat Prakashan, Nagpur.

9 This rhetoric reminds us of the anti-immigrant decree of Pat Robertson, the leader of the Christian Coalition of USA a personality much despised by the RSS and VHP people of America. The Republican governor of California, Pete Wilson, won the recent elections in the state upon this anti-alien, anti-immigrant plank known as Proposition 209-a measure that denies all human rights to illegal immigrants and their children and some benefits even to legal immigrants.

10 Savarkar's presidential address to RSS members in Nagpur on 28 December 1938. Indian Annual Register, 1938 (1939), Vol. II, Calcutta.

11 This section has been paraphrased after Des Raj Goyal, Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, Radha Krishna Prakashan, New Delhi, 1979.

12 Swatantra Bharat. December 24, 1965. Lucknow. Cited in D. R. Goyal. Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, Radha Krishna Prakashan, New Delhi, 1979.

13 The Organiser (RSS English weekly). February 2, 1962. New Delhi. The Sangh Parivar is fervently pro-Hindi.

14 Sheikh Abdullah was the Kashmir chief minister for a long time since its inclusion in India. He was also close to Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Indian prime minister.

15 Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay was one of the most intelligent, scholarly, and ethical leaders RSS has ever produced. My father knew him well. I remember how shocked he was when Upadhyay was brutally murdered on a train he was traveling by himself. Among others who paid tribute after Upadhyay's death, the eloquent Communist Party leader Hiren Mukherjee called him "ajatashatru" the one with no enemies.

16 Nana Deshmukh, popularly known as Nanaji, is another Sangh leader much respected for his organizational skills and little personal ambitions. Nanaji knew me through my father. I even ran into him during my 1997 trip to New Delhi. Once he asked me to write a paper on Rabindranath Tagore's social views (The Nobel-laureate poet Tagore was a skilled and benevolent zamindar or land owner. He also established two great universities named Shanti Niketan and Sri Niketan the latter being a vocational school). Nanaji paid me for the essay. My father translated it from Bengali to Hindi.

17 See Appendix IV for a description of RSS work overseas.

18 The political activities are often masked by religious activities at Hindu temples, teaching of Sanskrit to youngsters, private gatherings, etc.

19 This section is paraphrased after Amrita Basu's article "Women and religious nationalism in India: an introduction", Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars, December 1993.

Also see Dr. Gopal Singh's report, Minorities Commission, 1983 (Source: Emergency Assessments, Vijay Prashad, Social Scientist, September-October 1996, p. 61).

20 Koenraad Elst. 1991. Ayodhya and After Issues before the Hindu Society. Voice of India, New Delhi.

21 The Statesman Miscellany. September 12, 1993, Calcutta.

22 Granta, Spring 1997. New York and London.

23 Vajpayee has some history of defying orders from RSS. In the sixties, he defied RSS' Golwalkar's insistence that an unknown Bachhraj Vyas be selected as the Jana Sangh chief instead of the popular leader Deendayal Upadhyay.

24 Vijay Prashad and Biju Mathew, from a letter written to India Abroad and other Indian newspapers in USA.

25 CIA's Robert Gates "confirmed" that India and Pakistan headed toward a nuclear confrontation in April/May, 1990. Gates visited India and Pakistan to dissuade the governments from such confrontations. Intelligence Newsletter 4/1/93.

26 Also read, Achin Vanaik, Communalism Contested, Vistaar Publications, New Delhi, 1997. Vanaik prefers to call the Sangh Parivar a "pre- or potentially fascist" group. p. 279.

27 Per Indology mailing list discussions on the Internet, December 1995.

28 See Chapter 2 on the activities of a Sangh shakha.

Moreover, RSS and BJP have also been linked with Ranabir Sena, a private army for big landowners that has most recently been responsible for the killing of sixty-one poor people in Lakshmanpur-Bathe village of Bihar's Jehanabad district on Dec. 1, 97. The angry people in the village recently did not allow Vajpayee to visit the killing fields.

29 I too was once awarded a first-prize for an essay I wrote about the founder of the Sangh. The prize was another biography of Dr. Hedgewar!

30 A meeting of prominent RSS workers was held on November 9 and 10, 1929. It decided against the 'cumbersome clap-trap of internal democracy' and opted for a centralized authority-based structure... The principle was called "Ek Chalak Anuvartitva" (following one leader) and was explained to the swayamsevaks by V. V. Kelkar who told them that it was on the lines of the traditional Hindu joint family system and was most appropriate for an organization wedded to reviving and rejuvenating the Hindu way of life. It is rather difficult to distinguish this arrangement from what has been called the "Fuehrer Principle" followed by the Fascists in Italy and Nazis in Germany in the decade leading up to WWII. Quoted from D. R. Goyal: Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh . Radha Krishna Prakashan, New Delhi. 1979.

Recently, in an interview carried in the Panchjanya, a magazine with close RSS connections, Ms Uma Bharati, the BJP MP from Khajuraho and president of the party's Yuva Morcha, has quoted the RSS chief, Professor Rajendra Singh, to say that despite the number of police stations in the country, and thousands of policemen, Muslims cannot be safe if they have enmity with the Hindus. Source: The Hindu, January 18, 1998.

31 To know more about RSS' fiscal policies, see Chapter 3.

32 Shiv Udyog Sena is the commerce front of the Shiv Sena.

33 Vajpayee became the Indian prime minister in 1996 for 13 days his minority government resigned rather than face a vote of confidence on the floor of the parliament. The only legislation the BJP government managed in those days were some silly but nonetheless chilling restrictions on the broadcast media. The current BJP govt. is now extending the task by manipulating with the Prasar Bharati.


Bajrang Dal

HINDU ,Dalit, Muslims, INDIA , 

Fascism, Nazism, GenocidesHuman rights

Indian fascism :Intro,Myths, Organizations, Cultural Fascism,Babri Masjid, Bombay Riots , Role of Govt. 

Images  Posters  Cartoon  Audio & Video   News & Events  What'sNew E-Zine About US

Discuss The Topic Further On Our Public Bulletin Board 

To subscribe our newsletter and to get future update notifications, Join our mailing list! Enter your email address below, then click the button

1 Add this page to Favorites * Share it with a Friend : Make it your Homepage!

Your suggestions  will keep us abreast of what do u like to see in these pages.

FAIR USE NOTICE: Opinions expressed in the articles are those of the contributors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the publishers. This Web contains copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making these available in our efforts to advance understanding of human rights, democracy and social justice issues. We believe that this constitutes a `fair use' of the copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. If you wish to use these copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond `fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
Last updated: February 23, 2000 .