What is this Hindu Rashtra


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On Golwalkar's Fascistic Ideology
and the Saffron Brigade's Practice


Sitaram Yechuri

" Seen together with the earlier-toted intolerance against the minorities, this understanding maps out the vision of purges that may well put to shame Nazi fascism if the Saffron Brigade succeeds in establishing its concept of a Hindu Rashtra. "

Yechuri, Chapter 8

" [T]he Saffron Brigade all along opposed and continues to oppose today the linguistic re-organisation of States... Its current slogan, "Hindu, Hindi, Hindusthan", portends what its political project holds for the future of crores of non-Hindi speaking people of India."

-- Yechuri, Chapter 5

Table of Contents


Chapter 1 Introduction
Chapter 2 Organisational Double Face
Chapter 3 Deliberate Distortions
Chapter 4 Rejecting Science and History
Chapter 5 Appropriating Aryans
Chapter 6 Rabid Intolerance
Chapter 7 Inspiration from Fascism
Chapter 8 Hijacking Hinduism
Chapter 9 Manu's India
References References


Considerable controversy has been generated, once again, around M.S.Golwalkar's book, We or Our Nationhood defined (Bharat Publications, 1939, Re. 1). The controversy centers on the embarrassment of the Saffron Brigade which finds its real mission of establishing a Hindu Rashtra being exposed in all its fascistic glory by this book. Thus, puncturing its efforts to mislead the Indian people by posing as adherents of democracy becomes important. Various advocates of the Saffron Brigade, in various tones, assert that it was not Golwalkar who actually wrote this book; that it was not republished after 1942, and so on. Interestingly, however, not one of them makes any substantiative point by retracting any position that Golwalkar has taken.

For the benefit of those who say that this book was not written by Golwalkar but was merely a translation of the Martha work Rashtra Meemansa by Babarao G.D. Savarkar, brother of V.D. Savarkar ( as claimed by a senior official of the RSS-run Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Research Center, New Delhi, in Jansatta. January 7, 1993) here is a quote from the preface written by Golwalkar on March '), 1939 to the first edition of the book:

" In compiling this work, I have received help from numerous quarters, too many to mention. I thank them all heartily; but I cannot help separately naming one and expressing my gratefulness to him. Deshbhakta G.D. Savarkar. His work Rashtra Meemansa in Marathi has been one of my chief sources of inspiration and help. An English translation of this is due to be shortly out and 1 take this opportunity of directing the reader to that book for a more exhaustive study of the subject. The manuscript of this book was ready as early as the first week of November1938, but its appearance earlier, however desirable, was not possible due to many difficulties." (Golwalkar, 1939, p.4).

The authorship thus being beyond dispute, we can say quite certainly that the book was neither barred from re-publication nor withdrawn after 1942 (on the basis of such a claim by the same RSS, official in lansatta, the editor of Navbharat Times went to the unethical extent of appending a comment to one of my articles that the RSS claims that it has withdrawn this book ! ). We have in our possession the fourth edition of the book published in 1947 (Golwalkar, 1947). Certain advocates of fascistic Hindu Rashtra themselves, however, concede this and admit the fact that the book was re-published in several editions after 1942 (Modak, 1993).The fourth edition in certain places modifies the offensive language used in the first (for example, 'idiots' is replaced by 'misguided', etc.) but the content remains the same. Such modification, however, was considered so marginal that the author does not mention it in his preface; neither is it discernible unless closely scrutinized. An important omission from the latter edition was the foreword to the book by one 'Lok Nayak' M.S.Aney. The reasons are not far to see. Aney says:

"I also desire to add that the strong and impassioned language used by the author towards those who do not subscribe to his theory of nationalism is also not in keeping with the dignity with which the scientific study of a complex problem like the Nationalism deserves to be pursued. It pains me to make these observations in this foreword"
(Golwalkar, 1939, p. xviii).

Such views could not have been allowed to be propagated at a time when the RSS was reaping most of the benefit of the growing communal tensions and strife preceding Partition. The inflammatory propaganda value of the book could not be undermined.

The disinformation 1 that the advocates of the Saffron Brigade are now spreading is to conceal their ideological foundations, as Golwalkar's book continues to be the clearest expression of the real nature of the Saffron Brigade's mission today.

The RSS 'Bible' We can do no better than quote a very sympathetic account of the RSS, J.A. Curran's Militant Hinduism in Indian Politics - A Study of the RSS:

"The genuine ideology of the Sangh is based upon principles formulated. by its founder, Dr. Hedgewar. These principles have been consolidated and amplified by the present leader in a small book called WE OR OUR NATIONHOOD DEFINED, written in 1939. "WE' can be described as the RSS 'Bible'. It is the basic primer in the indoctrination of Sangh volunteers. Although this book was written twelve years ago, in a national context different from the contemporary one, the principles contained in it are still considered entirely applicable by the Sangh membership" (Currant, 1979, p. 39. Emphasis as in the original).
The importance of this book for the RSS must be seen also in relation to Golwalkar's role in its history. Golwalkar assumed the reins as the RSS chief in 1940. Two years prior to that, in 1938, he was appointed RSS general secretary by Hedgewar. Incidentally, the RSS Sarsanghchalak (chief) is always nominated by the outgoing one. He continues in his post till his death. So much for their "democratic" credentials! Golwalkar served in this capacity till 1973. His role, particularly in the first phase, from 1930 to 1954, has been summed up thus: "It (Golwalkar's leadership) remains a historical source today for the RSS and its 'family', called upon to suit specific times and audiences (particularly, during riots). It is also exceptionally helpful for our understanding of precisely what the triumph of Hindutva will mean for our country." (Basu, Datta, Sarkar, Sarkar and Sen, 1993, p. 25) Golwalkar's abiding influence has been in providing the Saffron Brigade with an ideological formation, not merely in terms of ideas and principles but also in terms of establishing an organizational structure to achieve the aim of a fascistic hindu Rashtra. This is demonstrated sharply in the period following the withdrawal of the ban imposed on the RSS after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. (The ban was in effect from February 4, 1948 to July 12, 1949.) The RSS, eager to negotiate the withdrawal. of the ban, adopted a course of deceitful compromises. Curran notes:
" Golwalkar's announcement soon after legality had been restored, that he had given no agreement or assurances to the Government was an ineffectual attempt to maintain face'. The provisions for elections within the organization and the promise to denounce communalism and to maintain a tolerant attitude towards other communities were quite contrary to past Sangh practice and obviously had been accepted because of Government insistence. However, these provisions have not been observed; 'm practice, the Sangh membership has consistently ignored them." (Curran, 1979, pp. 31-32. Emphasis as in the original).
Forced by the Government, the RSS adopted a constitution (which till date is not available for public scrutiny). Article 3 states: 'The aims and objects of the Sangh are to weld together the diverse groups within the Hindu Samaj and to revitalize and rejuvenate the same on the basis of its Dharma and Sanskriti, that it may achieve an all-sided development of the Bharatavarsha' (quoted by Curran, 1979, p. 35). But Curran himself adds:
"The Constitution gives no hint of a militant and intolerant advocacy of a hindu state. There is a basic difference between the formal profession of aims embodied in the constitution and actual plans of the Sangh. The Sangh abjures secrecy of ends and means, but the, incompatibility of the tolerant Hindu philosophy of the constitution and the fanatically pro-Hindu and anti-non-Hindu aims instilled in the membership is clear. The proclaimed philosophy is a pale and often deceptive reflection of the real objectives of the Sangh... Too open an expression. of Sangh ideals would undoubtedly result in repression of RSS activities. The Sangh leaders are too shrewd to risk an open struggle with the Government while the odds heavily favour the latter' (Curran, 1979, pp. 35-36. Emphasis as in the original).

 It is in line with this that Golwalkar in September 1949 publicly voiced in Lucknow the RSS criticism of the Indian Constitution which he termed "UnBharat". There is a similarity indeed here with the present leaders of the VHP who describe it as "UnHindu".


Organisational Double Face

Apart from such tactical maneuvers, Golwalkar undertook certain organisational initiatives. Following the agreement with the Government on the withdrawal of the ban, Golwalkar went on to establish the now infamous Sangh Parivar. The strategy was clear. The RSS would in the public eye confine itself to "cultural activity" while its affiliates would branch out into the various sections spreading the message of "Hindu Rashtra". These seemingly independent tentacles were welded together by the RSS. This organizational network is today there for all to see. Golwalkar's important initiative, however, comes in the attempt to organize the Hindu religious leaders in mid-1964 "to discuss ways in which various Hindu sects and tendencies could sink their many dif-ferences, work together and establish contacts with Hindus residing abroad. Thus was laid the foundations of 'the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, and an RSS pracharak, Shivram Shankar Apte, became its first general secretary. The subsequent career of the VHP, today the most " formidable of the RSS affiliates, demands a separate study" (Basu, Datta, Sarkar,Sarkar, Sen, p. 50). Another organizational measure taken by him was to utilise this organizational structure of the "family" to create apolitical front which would be always under the leadership and control of the RSS. In 1951, he sent cadres to help Shyama Prasad Mukherjee to start the Bharatiya Jan Sangh, whose later incarnate is today's BJP. Among those who were sent were Deen Dayal Upadhyay, Atal Behari Vajpayee, L.K.Advani and S.S. Bhandari (This fact is mentioned in Basu, Datta, Sarkar, Sarkar and Sen, 1993, p. 48.) It is precisely for this reason that when Advani was arrested after the December 6, 1992 events, it was S.S.Bhandari who was BJP's chief spokesman. Thus, Golwalkar's role in evolving the present ideological foundations for the Saffron Brigade cannot be underplayed. The entire organizational structure was to establish a political goal, and this was unambiguously articulated in the book We or our Nationhood de fined. Hence the abiding importance of this book for the Saffron Brigade. A proper understanding of the contents of this book and the intentions

of the Saffron Brigade is necessary for all: patriots who do not wish to see India slide into the morass of darkness and medieval theocracy. Golwalkar begins his entire exercise by seeking to understand the word "Swaraj'. He begins by questioning what is "Swa", meaning "We". In the prologue to the book he says:

"We stand for national regeneration and not for the haphazard bundle of political rights - the state. What we want is Swaraj; and we must be definite what this 'Swa' means. 'Our kin doin' - who are we?" (Golwalkar, 1939, p. 1 9 3).
The entire book is an elaboration of the thesis that 'we' means the Hindus and hence Swaraj means the Hindu Raj or Hindu Rashtra.


Deliberate Distortions

The basic purpose of the book was to establish that India was always a Hindu nation and continues to be one. By India here Golwalkar means the "lands from sea to sea". In fact, the map on the cover of the book gives the outline of his geographic limitations of India which expands from Afghanistan to Burma and includes Sri Lanka. Golwalkar attempts to achieve this purpose through an ingenious distortion of both history and science. First, the entire diversity of culture, traditions, language and customs of the peoples who inhabited India over centuries is sought to be straitjacketed into a monolithic 'Hinduism'. Secondly, an external enemy is created (that is, `external' to Hindus), the hate against whom is used to whip up `Hindu' consolidation. Golwalkar here relied heavily on the experience of Hitlerite fascism. Georgi Dimitrov, the indomitable anti-fascist who led the struggle of the international working class, had said:

`Fascism acts in the interests of extreme imperialists but presents itself to the masses in the guise of a wronged nation and appeals to outraged 'national' RSS as such a sentiments" (Dimitrov. 1972. p. 11).
To present the champion, it was necessary to create a false consciousness that the Hindus have been and are deprived while, at the same time, gener- ate hate against the Muslims (taking the cue from Hitler's rabid, anti- Semitism) to the effect that they are responsible for this. This was the precise purpose of the book. The present-day activities and propaganda of the Saffron Brigade are based precisely on these two points that Golwalkar provided as the ideological input. To achieve this, it has, perfected the Goebbel-

 sian technique (Goebbels was Hitler's Propaganda Minister) of telling big enough lies, frequently enough to make them appear as the truth. Its necessary to note, at this stage, that the external enemy was not identified by the RSS as the British, against whom the Indian people were then in struggle. The hate against the Muslim community was sought to be spread much deeper than against the British by the RSS precisely because the Indian people could not be united for their 'Hindu Rashtra' against the British, since their anti-British feel- ings found expression the growing strength of the united freedom movement. It is for this precise reason that the RSS never nailed down the British as its enemy. For that matter, it virtually boycotted and at times opposed the freedom struggle. Even sympathetic accounts of the RSS (The Brotherhood in Saffron by Walter K. Andersen and Shridhar D. Damle, 1987, amongst others) detail the virtual absence of the RSS in the freedom movement and the consequent concessions it gained from the British. Even Nanaji Deshmukh raises the question: "Why did the RSS not take part in the liberation strug- gle as an organization?" (Deshmukh, 1979, p. 29). In fact, the Bombay Home Department, during the 1942 Quit India movement, observed:

" ... the Sangh has scrupulously kept itself within the law, and in particular, has refrained from taking part in the disturbances that broke out in August 1942..." (quoted in Andersen and Damle, 1987, p. 44).
This urge to establish a 'Hindu Rashtra' drove the RSS to be a virtual ally of the British. The freedom struggle and the Congress were regarded as a diversion from their objective. The animosity grew particularly ;After the AICC announced that free India would be a secular, democratic republic (at the Karachi Congress, 1931). This was seen, and correctly from their point of view, as the very antithesis of the RSS conception of a Hindu Rashtra. Mahatma Gandhi, the tallest of devout and practising Hindus, was assassinated because he along with the majority of Indian people embraced secular democracy - rejecting the RSS ideology. Golwalkar, however, had to establish certain points in order to validate his thesis. First, it was necessary to establish that Hindus and Hindus alone were the original inhabitants of India. This, Golwalkar does by the simple recourse to assertion. He states:
"We Hindus - have been in undisputed and undisturbed possession of this land for over 8 or even 10 thousand y ears before the land was invaded by any foreign race' and therefore, this land, 'came to be known as Hindusthan, the land of the Hindus" (Golwalkar, 1939, p. 6).
There is a deliberate total silence on the entire wealth of investigations of

ancient Indian history including the possibility of the name Hindusthan originating from people outside India who described this land as the land of the Indus river. Having asserted this, he proceeds to prove' that Hindus did not come here from anywhere else. This is absolutely central to Golwalkar's political project since, if this cannot be proved, then logi- cally the Hindus would be as much of a 'foreign race' as anybody else who came to this land. A remarkably perfidious exercise is employed to prove this point. All through this book Golwalkar uses the term "Hindu" and "Aryan race" synonymously. He thus sets out to show that the Aryans did not migrate to India from anywhere but originated here. All histori- cal evidence to the contrary is dismissed as the "shady testimony of Western scholars" (Golwalkar 1939, p. 6). The RSS guru, however, had to contend with Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak's theory of the Arctic origin of the Vedas. However, Golwalkar, unable to reject the thesis of a popular leader, who was also a Hindu, comes up with the incredible assertion that the Arctic zone was originally that part of the world which is today called Bihar and Orissa,

"...that then it moved northeast and then by a sometimes westerly, sometimes northward movement, it came to its present position. If this be so, did we leave the Arctic Zone and come to Hindusthan or were we all along here and the Arctic Zone left us and moved away north- wards in its zigzag march? We do not hesitate in affirming that had this fact been discovered during the lifetime of Lok. Tilak, he would unhesitatingly have propounded the proposition that 'The Arctic Home of the Vedas' was verily in Hindusthan itself and that it was not the Hindus who migrated to that land but the Arctic Zone which emigrated and left the Hindus in Hindusthan" (Golwalkar,1939, p. 8).
Lunatic logic indeed! Granting the benefit of doubt, that Golwalkar was unaware of the advances in geological sciences and plate-tectonics (which today fairly accurately allow us to map the movement of various land masses over centuries), we ask the simple question: Even by the logic of his own argument, if the Arctic zone moved away from Bihar-Orissa, how could it leave behind the people who were inhabiting that land mass ? When the land mass moves, it moves along with everything on it. People cannot be left hanging in a vacuum only to drop down when and where Golwalkar wishes ! Such perfidy is employed to "establish" that the Aryans originated in India and did not immigrate from anywhere else. This is central to the political aim of establishing a fascistic Hindu Rashtra.

 In order to achieve an internal consistency for such an incredible theory, Golwalkar had to resort to a gross distortion of history. Presenting the "glory of Hindu civilisation" till the time of the Mahabharata he says that later,

".. we have another gap of many centuries, which the accredited history has not been able to fill. But we can surmise that the nation lived its usual life without any serious occurrence. Then came Buddha and the great Emperors of the Gupta Dynasty, Asoka, Harshavardhan, Vikramaditya, Pulakeshi, and others of whose rule of peace, power and plenty, we obtain incontrovertible evidence. The invasion of the 'world-conqueror' Alexander was a - mere scratch. In fact he cannot be said to have invaded the country at all, so hasty was his retreat" (Golwalkar, 1939, p. 9).

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Last updated: January 15, 2001 .