Betrayal of Indian nationalism


Keshav Baliram Hedgewar, founder of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh PHOTO/The Hindu Archives

Muslims opposed the British rulers. The Sangh Parivar collaborated with them. Who is “anti-national”?

Gandhi ne asj jang ka ailan kar diya,/

Baatil se haq ko dast-o-garebaan kar diya.

Hindustaan mein ek nai rooh phoonk kar/

Azadi-e-hayaat ka samaan kar diya.

Parwurdigaar ne ke woh hai aadmi shinnas,/

Gandhi ko bhi yeh martaba pahchaan kar diya

(Gandhi has made a declaration of war…

Betwixt Truth and Falsehood a deadly battle starts.

Infusing a new spirit into the Indian hearts,/

For independence complete he has prepared the path.

God, who is the judge of men, in His wisdom great,/ Has rightly chosen the mahatma as the shepherd of our flock.)

This stirring poem was written by Maulana Zafar Ali Khan during India’s movement for independence. He predicted accurately: “Woh din aane ko hai azad jab Hindustan hoga,/Mubarkbaad isko de raha saara jahan hoga.” The day is fast approaching when India will be free,/The whole world will greet her on this triumphal feast.” (K.C. Kanda, Masterpieces of Patriotic Urdu Poetry, Sterling Publishers, New Delhi, pages 449, Rs.350.)

Can the Sangh Parivar, in all its varied outfits—the Hindu Mahasabha and the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS)—cite a single poem, by a member or supporter, on India’s inclusive nationalism with its rich composite culture?

India’s freedom movement was enriched by the enthusiastic participation of all its communities: Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Parsis and some others. All spoke for India amid voices of separate rights and even religious revivalism. The Sangh Parivar was not a movement for religious revivalism but for political ascendancy and power over all others—in the name of religion.

The RSS was established by Keshav Baliram Hedgewar, a former Congressman, at Nagpur in September 1925 on Vijaya Dasami Day. Enough is known about its chequered career since. But one fundamental question concerning its very raison d’etre has not been addressed as pointedly and in as much depth as it deserves. Why on earth was the RSS set up at all? The answer to this question explains its entire career to this day. Remember, the freedom movement led by the Congress under Gandhi’s leadership was at its height in 1925. The Liberals of old disagreed with the new technique of civil disobedience and insisted on constitutional methods. Patriots like Bhagat Singh rejected both and opted for violence.

Why RSS?

The RSS was not set up because it disagreed with the three—Gandhi, Liberals and terrorists—or with the methods they advocated. Its aim was not to provide vigour and speed to the freedom movement. It was to promote the cause of a Hindu state at the end of British rule. Its technique was to collaborate with the British, meanwhile, and carefully avoid a confrontation with the alien rulers. In doing so, it did not merely part company with the freedom movement. The RSS opposed it, as did the Hindu Mahasabha. Both rejected Indian nationalism at the very outset. Its themes, its ideology, and its secular, democratic ideals were rejected and sneered at, especially its flag.

It was inherent in its ideology and its techniques, while distinguishing itself from Indian nationalism, not only to espouse Hindu nationalism but to belittle other communities, chiefly Muslims and Christians, and spread hate against others. This technique continues with fanatical zeal to this day. The RSS was never banned by the British. It was banned three times after Independence by the government of India.

This explains the futility of those who expected the RSS or its political outfits—the Jana Sangh and the Bharatiya Janata Party—to moderate and turn Indian. They would lose the very reason for their existence.

Frontline for more

Comments are closed.