How the RSS operates within India’s Constitution as an organizational structure

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(Late) Emeritus Professor Richard Bonney

Faculty, Modern History at the University of Leicester; Director of the Centre for the History of Religious and Political Pluralism

The following are the objects of RSS as enshrined in its constitution:

To eradicate the fissiparous tendencies arising from diversities of sect, faith, Caste and creed and from political, economic, linguistic and provincial differences amongst Hindus;

To make them realize the greatness of their past;

To inculcate in them a spirit of service, sacrifice and selfless devotion to the society;

To build up an organized and well-disciplined corporate life and

To bring about an all-round regeneration of the Hindu samaj on the basis of its dharma and its samskriti.

Article 3: The aims and objects of the RSS are to organize and weld various diverse groups within the Hindu samaj and to revitalize and rejuvenate the same on the basis of its dharma and samskriti, so that it may achieve an all-sided development of Bharatvarsha.

Article 4: The Sangh, as such, has no politics and is devoted purely to cultural work. The individual swayamesvaks may, however, join any political party, except such parties as believe in, or resort to, violent and clandestine methods to achieve their ends; persons owing allegiance to such parties or believing in such methods shall have no place in the Sangh.

Such are the aims of the RSS as defined in its constitution,1 as deposited with the Indian government in 1949 and drafted for the first time in that year. Between its foundation on Vijaya Dashmi Day (September 27, 1925) and its first prohibition by the Indian government on February 5, 1948, following the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, it seems that the RSS operated without a written constitution. For some, it needed none, since it was a creation of God Himself for the glory of the Motherland and the emancipation of humanity.2 Acceptance by the government of a written RSS constitution was a prior condition for its restoration to legitimacy on July 9, 1949. On this we have the evidence of Balasaheb Deoras, the representative of the RSS in negotiations with the government during the imprisonment of Golwalkar, its leader, made in July 1949: “Sardar Patel had said the Government would think about lifting the ban provided they were given a written constitution of the RSS as it functioned before the ban. Accordingly the Constitution was drafted by an expert, Shri T. R. V. Shastri, and was sent to the Government by Guruji [Golwalkar] in the first week of April 1949.”3

“The RSS as it functioned before the ban”: the constitution submitted to the Indian government was not supposed to have been the description of a new structure but of the existing structure of the movement. Article 7 of the RSS constitution stated that “a shakha shall constitute the primary unit of the Sangh”. The scheme of division of the country, described in this article is “the enduring testimony to the organizational genius of the founder of the RSS”, Dr. Keshav Rao Baliram Hedgewar.4 An HSS5 website in the UK, operational in February 2004 but no longer active, emphasized the purpose of the shakha:6

In Sanskrit, shakha means branch’. As a branch of [the] Sangh, each shakha seeks to promote the cause of Hindu unity while accommodating the needs of the particular location. The shakha envisions that swayamsevaks regularly assemble at a set place and time. Activities focus on two aspects: physical, with various exercises performed and sports played, and intellectual, with discussions and lectures on historical, religious, or current topics. Further, swayamsevaks always interact in groups, promoting leadership, teamwork, and presentation skills. The shakha generally includes a group rendition of patriotic songs. Hindu festivals and holidays are celebrated within the larger framework of promoting Hindu identity and Hindu unity, not as sectarian observances. The shakha is not a mandir surrogate, and Sangh is not a panth or sampradaya. As an exemplar of Sanatana Dharma, Sangh leaves spiritual matters to the discretion of the individual swayamsevak. Thus, through the shakha, the mission of Sangh is accomplished, to revitalize the Hindu[s], one swayamsevak at a time.

The swayamsevak is termed the “self-inspired member of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh”.7 RSS membership has increased rapidly since 1975, when the number of its shakhas — called by Dr Hedgewar the “power-house which would supply electricity to run a hundred and one types of activities for national prosperity”8 — was between 7,500 and 8,500. By 1985 there were approximately 20,000 shakhas, and in 1993 India Today estimated the number at 30,000. The RSS annual report for 2004 states:9

As per the information available about the status of our work till January 2004, there were 48,329 Shakhas in 33,758 places; 8,197 weekly meeting places and 7,581 monthly meeting places. When compared to the figures last year during the Pratinidhi Sabha, there is a rise of 2,383 Shakhas in 1683 places. There is increase in the rate of growth of Shakhas as well as there is improvement in the stability of Shakhas…

Our Swayamsevaks are engaged in a penance for the last 79 years [i.e. since the foundation of the RSS in 1925]. [The] favorable atmosphere in the country shouldn’t send us into a deep slumber of sweet dreams; it should instead motivate us to further the pace of our activity. [The] atmosphere is favorable and conducive for us to move forward continuously and make our activity omnipresent and all-inclusive in a planned and sustained way. Let us seize this opportunity and influence the society with our activity, ideas and ideals at the earliest.

The report, however, does not seem to have been for a full year. Subsequently, it was announced that the number of RSS shakhas had increased from 63,791 in 1994 to 64,107 in 2004.10 This would place the membership of the RSS in training at between 320,535 and 641,070 in that year, depending on whether one takes the lower figure of 50 members per shakha or the higher figure of 100 members per shakha quoted by Tapio Tamminen and other commentators. Clearly, the total membership of the RSS (comprising those who have been trained as well as who are in training) is much higher, and runs into several millions.11

It is unlikely to be the figure of 22.5 million cited in a list of religious organizations at Adherents.com, since although this took 75 as the multiplier (the midpoint between 50 and 100 members), it relied on an excessively high figure of 300,000 shakhas. Conversely, it made no allowance for 75 years of history and the variation in the number of shakhas over time (i.e. those who had been trained rather than were in training):

The RSS ethos and elements of its organization have been replicated in the lands of the Indian diaspora, so the total world-wide membership is even higher. Active membership of the RSS is taken to mean those who have attended three three-week-long training camps (known as Sangh Shikhsha Vargs (or SSVs) in successive years.12

The SSVs fill the RSS reservoir with fresh generations of swayamsevaks yearly. Some people have vague idea about the intellectual content SSV provides to its trainees. I have seen the curriculum of this year [1996]. It starts with the role of the SSV, history of the RSS, Hindu rashtra, ancient glory of India and its downfall, the continuous struggle in Indian history, weakness of today’s society, RSS’s concept of revitalization, sangh methodology, its flag, prayer and pratigya, social change, seva mission, the lives of the late Dr Hedgewar and Shri Guruji [Golwalkar], cultural nationalism, contribution of Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Swami Dayanand, Ram Krishna Param Hans, Swami Vivekanand etc, uniqueness of Indian culture, distortions [that have] crept in[to] Indian history, swadeshi, etc. A swayamsevak, who goes to a three-year training of RSS, develops [an] unshakeable faith in the RSS ideology and methodology and a life-long missionary is produced.

Douglas Spitz Snr comments:13

The RSS organization sees itself as a hierarchical family. Its basic unit is the local shakha (branch). The shakha meets daily and consists of 50–100 members (swayamsevaks [or] volunteers). Although the typical shakha includes all age groups from young boys to men over forty, the majority of participants are usually 15–25 years of age. A shakha meeting lasts for one hour, during which RSS ideology and values are inculcated by means of Sanskrit prayers of devotion to the Motherland (Bharat Mata), traditional Indian group games, traditional Hindu physical and martial arts drills, and group discussions of ideal moral qualities as well as ways to serve the Motherland. Participation in the highly-structured shakha meeting and its rituals has the character of an act of religious devotional service (bhakti) to holy, all nurturing Bharat Mata and the great Hindu family. Shakha participation also develops close personal bonds between swayamsevaks as well as ties of loyalty to RSS ideals and leaders. In accordance with the overriding concepts of Hindu brotherhood and unity, Caste distinctions are not recognized in RSS activities, and the Caste system as it is today is frowned upon as an institution whose inequities divide the Hindu community. While most RSS swayamsevaks are from the higher and middle Castes, untouchables are encouraged to join.

The RSS organizational structure is hierarchical and centralized. At the apex of the pyramid is the Sarsangchalak (Supreme Guide), who is presumed to have ‘guru-like’ charismatic powers. In public matters he speaks, usually after consultation with senior RSS members, for the whole organization. Central RSS headquarters are in Nagpur, Maharashtra, with regional, state, and local divisions reaching down to the shaka base. The key link is the structure and the core cadres of the RSS organization are the pracharaks (missionaries). Usually recruited in their twenties and unmarried, they are full-time workers who have undergone a rigorous selection process. Normally highly-educated, they live austerely and can be shifted around within the organization or loaned out to the various RSS-affiliated organizations. Within the RSS organization there is constant feedback between the lower and higher levels. State and all-India festivals and other public events regularly bring swayamsevaks and pracharaks from different localities together with upper leadership levels. This reinforces the feeling that the RSS is a great, all-Indian family.

The growth in the size of the RSS, and its world-wide links such as with the HSS in the UK, have made it a formidable organizing force for the Hindutva cause. It calls itself “the largest vibrant NGO of the world”.14 Four issues arise with regard to its position in the Indian constitution and within Indian society. Is it genuinely committed to India’s secular constitution? Is it not predominantly anti-minority in ethos, and ready, through its subordinate organizations, to use violence to gain its aims? Can it really be said to be a “cultural” organization, as claimed by its constitution? Finally, does it not seek to operate as a “state within the state”, with its members operating under overlapping affiliations with extreme right-wing political parties as well as in the civil service, judiciary, police, and so on?

Each of these questions is made much more difficult to answer because of the all-pervasive cult of secrecy within the organization. At the time of the first ban on the RSS, Sardar Patel, the Home Minister, talked of the “danger inherent in an organization run in secret on military or semi-military lines”. On 1 July 1948, he wrote that “the activities of the RSS constituted a clear threat to the existence of the Government and the State”. A government communiqué of July 11, 1949 recorded the RSS’s assurances which led to the lifting of the ban. They concerned democratic functioning internally, “eschewing secrecy and abjuring violence”.15

It is difficult to discern the ‘true’ views of the RSS leadership, or its responsibility for provoking communal riots for two main reasons. It keeps no register of members, and therefore there is no conclusive way of establishing whether a particular individual is or is not connected with the organization unless he admits to membership. Secondly, in perpetrating acts of violence the RSS tends not to operate under its own name but under the cover of front organizations.16 These too tend not to have membership lists, and the degree of their subordination to the RSS is deliberately left unclear. However, in the RSS’s own self-depiction, the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram (VKA), “far from being an apolitical NGO” was founded by Bala Saheb Deshpande in 1952 to “stop the conversion of tribals to Christianity”. “As much an RSS outfit as any other, the VKA, like all RSS affiliates, is organized and run by trained RSS workers.”17

Is the RSS genuinely committed to India’s secular constitution?

The RSS claims that it is, and points to its adherence to Article 51A of the Constitution.18 It is very doubtful whether it does adhere to the spirit, rather than the letter of this article of the Constitution, which, for example, requires one to “value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture”. It only does so in so far as it proclaims that Hinduism is a “commonwealth of many religions”.19 (Christianity and Islam, in contrast, are to be exposed as “ideologies of imperialism employing imperialist methods to subvert Hindu society”.)20 The commitment is to “assertive Hinduism”,21 with Hinduism taken as the equivalent of nationalism.22

Partition in 1947 is regarded as the “greatest misfortune for the Motherland”,23 while Pakistan remains a part of the Motherland still to be regained.24 The RSS is thus the proponent of a single,25 undivided, cultural nationalism.26 Hindu Sangathan is seen as the “remedy to India’s ills”: if the Mother is the country, the Father is India’s unified culture.27 “A country cannot be defeated politically unless it is defeated culturally.”28

Neena Vyas wrote in The Hindu on May 10, 2002: “A close look at Golwakar and a comparison with what the RSS, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal are saying almost every day establishes the fact that the views of the Sangh Parivar are no different from those of Golwalkar.”29 For Golwalkar, the second leader of the RSS, the Hindu nation (Rashtra) formed “the bedrock of our national edifice”, while “the only real, abiding and glorious national life in this holy land of Bharat has been of the Hindu people”.30 The Indian constitution contained “absolutely nothing which can be called our own. Is there a single word of reference in its guiding principles to what our national mission is and what our keynote in life is? No!” He sent a memorandum to the first session of the National Integration Council in 1961. It read: “Today’s federal form of government not only gives birth [to], but also nourishes the feelings of, separatism[;] in a way [it] refuses to recognize the fact of one nation and destroys it. It must be completely uprooted, [the] constitution purified and [a] unitary form of government… established.”

The oath of the RSS which is mandatory for every Swayamsevak and the prayer with which every shakha of the RSS starts are sufficient to show the hollowness of the RSS claim to support the national constitution.

The oath states: “I most solemnly take this oath, that I become a member of the RSS in order to achieve all round greatness of Bharatvarsha by fostering the growth of my sacred Hindu religion, Hindu society and Hindu culture.”31 Making a complete break from the Constitution of India, the prayer asserts, “Affectionate Motherland, I eternally bow to you/ O Land of Hindus, you have reared me in comfort / O God Almighty, we the integral part of the Hindu Rashtra salute you in reverence / For your cause have we girded up our loins / Give us your blessings for its accomplishment.”32

Golwalkar wrote in his Bunch of Thoughts (1966): “Our leaders have set up a new flag for our country. Why did they do so? It is just a case of drifting and imitating. Ours is an ancient and great nation with a glorious past. Then, had we no flag of our own? Had we no national emblem at all these thousands of years? Undoubtedly we had. Then why this utter void, this utter vacuum in our minds?”33 Even during the freedom struggle, when most of the country adopted the Tricolor as a symbol of resistance to the British rule, the RSS never accepted it. Golwalkar declared in 1946 that the saffron flag, which represented the great Hindu culture, “was the embodiment of God. We firmly believe that in the end the whole nation will bow before this saffron flag”.

Finally, Golwalkar also makes clear his disdain for India’s federal constitution:34

“The remedy lies in rooting out all tendencies towards separatism, all sentiments denying the firm faith in the oneness of the motherland and shaking free form all words and actions calculated to produce ideas contrary to the realisation of the oneness of our national life.”

“Towards this end the most important and effective step will be to bury deep for good all talk of a federal structure of our country’s Constitution, to sweep away the existence of all ‘autonomous’ or semi-autonomous ‘states’ within the one State, viz., Bharat and proclaim ‘One Country, One State, One Legislature, One Executive’ with no trace of fragmentational, regional, sectarian, linguistic or other types of pride being given a scope for playing havoc with our integrated harmony. Let the Constitution be re-examined and re-drafted, so as to establish this Unitary form of Government… Let our present leaders of the affairs of the state take courage in both hands, take a realistic view of things, envisage the dangers of disruption staring us in the face, face the misguided opposition of such ill-informed people as may happen to stoop to such opposition and, with a firm hand, change the present ill-conceived federal structure to the only correct form of government, the unitary one.”

The RSS position on the Constitution of India was revealed by Rajendra Singh, its leader from 1992 to 2000, in an article published on 14 January 1993: “Certain speci[ficit]ies of this country should be reflected in the Constitution. In place of India that is Bharat, we should have said “Bharat that is Hindustan”. Official documents refer to the “composite culture”, but ours is certainly not a composite culture. Culture is not wearing of clothes or speaking languages. In a very fundamental sense, this country has a unique cultural oneness. No country, if it has to survive, can have compartments. All this shows that changes are needed in the Constitution. A Constitution more suited to the ethos and genius of this country should be adopted in the future.”35

Is the RSS not predominantly anti-minority in ethos, and ready, through its subordinate organizations, to use violence to gain its aims?

The claim is vehemently rejected by the RSS: “Not a whisper of hatred of anyone is heard in the camp or routine activities of the swayamsevaks[;] only the positive image of the Mother country is made to occupy the entire mind and heart of the swayamsevak… “Man-making” is the prime job of the RSS…”36 Golwalkar rejected the claim that the RSS teaches hatred of non-Hindus:37

This is one of the most irresponsible and despicable charges against [the] Sangh. The whole world is aware of the utter catholicity and tolerance of the Hindu culture. The Hindu, even in his dreams, cannot hate a person merely because he happens to belong to another faith. How can [the] Sangh, which is dedicated to rejuvenation of such a sublime culture, be ever conceived of as teaching hatred?

According to Golwalkar, it was the Communists who believed in violence and practiced it and wanted to destroy the Constitution: “It is our detractors who are violent. Look at their violent language and their violent threats.” The claim of many commentators that the RSS was behind communal violence was equally vehemently rejected:

Their imagination seems to run riot! The charge is ridiculous in the extreme. The riots are not of recent origin. Such disturbances have taken place in our country even before the RSS was born. There were the gruesome Mopla killings and Baluchistan riots. At Nagpur too there were riots during 1923. In fact, there have been no riots since 1927 in Nagpur, after the RSS grew strong there. If the RSS were to have engineered riots, then no non-Hindu would have been living there, its headquarters, by now. The disturbance that took place about two years ago in Nagpur was in that part of the city where we have no branch. Even the government admitted that we hastened to calm the situation. A strong RSS alone, instead of being the cause for riots, can permanently put a stop to them.

However, Golwalkar’s assertions ignore the phenomenon that Professor Paul Brass has called “the institutionalization of riot systems” in India. Thus, contrary to the impression one might gain from some studies which largely ignore the RSS-Bajrang Dal factor in riot ‘production’, their role has been, and continues to be, central both in instigating communal riots and in carrying out the violence. In Gujarat in 2002, all the evidence “indicates beyond a shadow of doubt that the Sangh Parivar (the umbrella organization of all militant Hindu organizations) was well-prepared and well-rehearsed to carry out the murderous, brutal, and sadistic attacks on Muslim men, women, and children”.39

For Golwalkar, “the main reason for Hindu–Muslim tension is that the Indian Muslim is yet to identity himself fully with India, its people and its culture. Let the Indian Muslim feel and say that this is his country and these are his people, and the problem will cease. It is a matter of changing his psychology”.40 He argued that “all over the country, wherever there is a masjid”, Muslims felt that it was their “own independent territory”. The attitude of Muslims was “offensive” and “anti-national”, Golwalkar claimed, adding:41

How is it that they dare to carry on these offensive and anti-national practices openly? It is because our Government… overtly and covertly supports them. Though the High courts have upheld the fundamental right of the citizens to go in procession with band in all public roads, the Government, under the cover of discretionary powers vested in the executive for regulating processions in the interest of peace and order, often prevents the Hindus altogether from taking out processions in streets where masjids happen to he situated. That could set the premium on those who want to violate peace. And peaceful citizens, in the enjoyment of their inherent rights as citizens, are the prey of such violations. The law-abiding citizens are told to restrict themselves, and those who are out to indulge in violence are given a free hand to do what they like. This is in a way admitting, though indirectly, that within the country there are so many Muslim pockets, i.e., so many “miniature Pakistans”, where the general law of the land is to be enforced only with certain modifications and the whims of the miscreants have to be given the final say. This acceptance, indirect though it may be, implies a very dangerous theory…

Although he ruled out violence “between one citizen and another”, Golwalkar was prepared to allow a place for violence when “an extreme situation obtains”.42 In a learned disquisition on the nature of communalism, he tried (unconvincingly) to demonstrate that the RSS did not fan communalist attitudes and communalist violence.43

Both the propaganda and the discriminatory violence against Muslims in Gujarat in 2002 demonstrate that Golwalkar’s arguments remain highly influential in the RSS–Bajrang Dal hierarchy and rank and file. The Concerned Citizens’ Tribunal for Gujarat, 2002, noted that the general meeting (Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha) of the RSS, held at Chennenahalli, near Bangalore, on March 16–19, 2002, reflected the organization’s role and thinking on the Godhra and post-Godhra incidents:44

On the eve of the meeting of its leaders, the RSS gave a clean chit to Shri Modi’s role during the Gujarat carnage. Describing the violence after the Godhra incident as a “natural reaction of Hindus”, the RSS asserted that no government could have controlled the “upsurge”. While expressing the view that the “natural reaction” [read gruesome and unprecedented violence] was unjustifiable, the RSS spokesperson Shri M G Vaidya said, “[the] whole [of] Hindu society irrespective of Caste, creed and political affiliations, reacted violently against what had happened at Godhra” (The Times of India, 16 March).

At the conclusion of the conference, two days later, with over 2,000 innocent Muslims having been brutally killed, not to mention the other indignities heaped on the community in Gujarat, the RSS thought it fit to lecture to Indian Muslims on their “extremist leaders” and “Hindu-baiters”. A resolution adopted at the three-day conference of the Sangh, said: “Let Muslims understand that their real safety lies in the goodwill of the majority.” Although a few Muslim leaders interpreted jihâd as not supporting terrorism, they had not been able to influence the extremist elements, it said. “The Sabha wants to make it clear that it does no credit to the Muslim community to allow itself to be made pawns in the hands of extremist leaders,” the resolution added.

Describing the Godhra incident as “horrible and ghastly”, the RSS delegates said it was imperative to present things in the proper perspective. “The reaction to the incident was spontaneous. The entire Hindu society had reacted. It was unfortunate that a number of people died in the violence.” (Shri Vaidya quoted in The Hindu, March 18). Ten days later, the RSS restated its position and further elucidated the advice given in Bangalore. Shri Vaidya demanded that Muslims “re-interpret and define” the words kafir (infidels), kufr (the philosophy of infidels) and jihad (holy war against infidels). When asked how, in his view, Muslims could earn the goodwill of Hindus, Vaidya said they must condemn the activities of those who professed to carry out a jihad against “idol-worshippers”. He said the RSS did not consider all Muslims terrorists, but “many terrorists happened to be Muslims” and claimed that they were pursuing “jihâd, which is an Islamic cause” (The Indian Express, March 28). The RSS spokesperson used the occasion to advise Christians, too. Christians should also accept that there is salvation outside the Church, too. “Nobody should indulge in mass conversions and nobody should claim to offer a superior spirituality.”

The mere description of the Bajrang Dal, formed as the RSS youth wing in 1984, as “the warriors of the Hindutva Revolution”, from its own official website, is sufficient to show that their activity is not purely pacific: “We as members of the Bajrang Dal, swear in the name of Lord Hanuman to always remain prepared to protect our country, religion and culture.”45 Though claiming that it “does not believe in violence or any unlawful activity”, the Bajrang Dal asserts that “Hindu society” and the Hindu faith “have been kicked and insulted by various forces for the last 1,400 years”, with more than 3,000 temples demolished and the fraudulent or forced conversion of many Hindus; it seeks to resist such “unholy forces” by “democratic means”.46

Nor does the firearms training received by Bajrang Dal activists, as recorded by the Times of India on June 13, 2001 (and triumphantly proclaimed on the website of the organization), portend an era of peaceful coexistence.47 Other forms of militant activity include the provocative trishul diksha or trishul distribution activities, meetings whereby activists receive offensive weapons which can be used in subsequent sectarian attacks ordered by the Bajrang Dal.48 The website of the Bajrang Dal has a violently anti-Muslim diatribe under two photographs of beheadings apparently carried out by Muslims:49

ISLAM = TERRORISM!

FIGHT ISLAM AND PROTECT YOUR COUNTRY AND FREEDOM

The organization threatened Hindu girls in the state of Uttar Pradesh who “dated” Muslim boys that their noses would be cut off. This threat was necessary to prevent marriages between the two groups.50

Cross-religious marriages are to be stopped at all costs so as to prevent any “threat to the integrity” of the Hindu nation. The Census figures are inspected regularly by the RSS, which places its own spin on the figures, alleging a Hindu “decline” at the expense of Islam and Christianity that has yet to happen.51 In a speech on March 7, 2001, K. S. Sudarshan, the then leader of the RSS, advocated the “Indianization” of Islam and Christianity. He stated that Muslims and Christians “should sever their links with the Mecca and the Pope and instead become swadeshi”. He also stated that Christians should “reinterpret their scriptures” in a manner more in keeping with Hindu cultural norms. Catholics took special exception to this; the Archbishop of Delhi pointed out that the Catholic church in India is 2,000 years old (the traditional dating is from the Apostle Thomas), and that although the spiritual head was the Pope, the day-to-day administration of the church was entirely in Indian hands. The RSS also published an article entitled “Foreign Missionaries, Quit India: RSS” in its weekly newspaper, The Organizer (December 31, 2000), in which it (absurdly) attacked missionary-backed Christian institutions in the country as a “threat to Indian security”.52

There is also a clear Caste/class bias in the RSS strategy and the methods used by some of its cadres go well beyond the law. The RSS secret circular 411, published by Shyam Chand, noted that53 “Scheduled Castes and Other Backward Classes are to be recruited to the party so as to increase the volunteers to fight against the Ambedkarites and Mussalmans”. The circular also said:

  • Hindutva should be preached with a vengeance among physicians and pharmacists so that, with their help, time expired [sic] and spurious medicines might be distributed amongst the Scheduled Castes, Mussalmans and Scheduled Tribes. The newborn infants of Shudras, Ati-Shudras, Mussalmans, Christians and the like should be crippled by administering injections to them. To this end, there should be a show of blood-donation camps.
  • Encouragement and instigation should be carried on [sic] more vigorously so that the womenfolk of Scheduled Castes, Mussalmans and Christians live by prostitution.
  • Plans should be made more fool-proof so that the people of the Scheduled Castes, Backward Classes, Mussalmans and Christians, especially the Ambedkarites, become crippled by taking in [sic] harmful eatables.
  • Special attention should be given to the students of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes so as to make them read the history written according to our dictates.
  • During riots the women of Mussalmans and Scheduled Castes should be gang-raped. Friends and acquaintances cannot be spared. The work should proceed on the Surat model.54
  • Publication of writings against Mussalmans, Christians, Buddhists and Ambedkarites should be accelerated. Essays and writings should be published in such a way as to prove that Ashoka was opposed to the Aryans.
  • All literature opposed to Hindus and Brahmins are [sic] to be destroyed. Dalits, Mussalmans, Christians and Ambedkarites should be searched out. Care should be taken to see that this literature do[sic] not reach public places. Hindu literature is to apply [sic] to the Backward Classes and Ambedkarites.
  • The demand by the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes for filling in the backlog vacancies in services shall by no means be met. Watch should be kept to see that their demands for entry and promotion in government, non-government or semi-government institutions are to be rejected and their service records are destroyed with damaging reports.
  • Measures should be taken to make the prejudices amongst Scheduled Castes and Backward people more deep-rooted. To this end, help must be taken from saints and ascetics.
  • Attacks should be started with vigor against equality-preaching Communists [sic], Ambedkarites, Islamic teachers, Christian missionaries and neighbours [?].
  • Assaults should be made on Ambedkar’s statues with greater efforts.
  • Dalit and Muslim writers are to be recruited to the party and by them the essays and literature opposed to the Dalits, Ambedkarites and Mussalmans written and preached. Attention is to be paid to see that these writings are properly edited and preached [sic].
  • Those opposed to Hindutva are to be murdered through false encounters. For this work the help of the police and semi-military [sic] forces should always be taken.

Can the RSS really be said to be a ‘cultural’ organization, as claimed by its constitution?

K.N. Govindacharya, a longstanding RSS member, calls Hindutva “the quintessence of Indian nationalism”. He comments on the cultural role of the RSS:55

The RSS is just like a school which inculcates patriotism, dignity of physical labour, social awareness, sense of social responsibility and discipline in one hour in what we say [is a] ‘shakha’. Then, that swayamsevak strikes a balance between his family, social responsibilities as per his choice and preferences. He gets involved in some kind of nation-building activity in some sphere of national life. Therefore, the RSS work is confined to imparting these sanskaras56 to the swayamsevak in our shakhas. The RSS is fully satisfied with its contribution to the nation.

Govindacharya denies that the RSS is a religious organization. Rather:

It is a socio-cultural organization. When we say, it is a Hindu organization, we ascertain that Hindutva or Hindu-ness is not a religion. Therefore, Hindutva and Hindu should not be compared, and kept at par with any religious organization. Hindutva is not a religion. Hindutva is the quintessence of Indian nationalism, which is equally applicable to every person. If s/ he is religious, then, s/he can profess any mode of worship. Hindutva cannot be treated at par with any kind of mode of worship.

In June 1993, the RSS had to justify its cultural strategy of seeking a Hindu Rashtra in order to escape from the ban imposed by the government in the aftermath of the destruction of the Babri Masjid at Ayodhya. The phrasing is particularly interesting:57

The RSS by conviction attaches to the term Hindu’ the cultural and civilizational meaning accorded by history. The answering association [the RSS] submit[s] that the term Hindu’ was synonymous with the inhabitants of Bharat. Bharat was and is even now referred to as Hindustan and its subjects Hindus by culture and nationality…

The RSS holds on to the cultural concept of Hindu and says that all Muslims, Christians and Parsis are by culture Hindus, although their methods of worship are different, for example Shaivites or Vaishnavites.

The answering association [the RSS] submit[s] that this integrative and inclusive concept of Hindu by RSS can hardly be construed as separatist or as distinguishing between Muslims and Hindus. In fact, the RSS ideology holds the Muslims as part of and not distinct from Hindus…

It is submitted that the term Hindu is thus an inclusive concept not limited to any community or a religion and therefore cannot exclude Muslims or Christians and in fact, includes them as Hindu. It is in this sense of the term Hindu that the RSS regards Bharat as culturally a Hindu nation. This is the meaning of Hindu Rashtra expounded by RSS.

Golwalkar also denied that the RSS was a political organization, but his argument was hedged with caveats:58

It is not political in the sense that it does not participate in day-to-day elections, the race for power and all that. It is a cultural organization, which emphasizes the oneness of the country and the people. If there are any things, which appear to be detrimental to the oneness of the country, we try to express our views and educate the people about them.

Why was it, then, that Golwalkar often expressed himself on political issues? He replied: “There are many matters which are not merely political. It may well be that a matter has cultural as well as political import.” There were, he argued, two ways of carrying out a national program. One was through the exercise of state power; the other, was by changing the people’s “We have chosen the latter path,” he pronounced. The basic work “social rejuvenation”, called by commentators “cultural homogenization”. The path of cultural homogenization carried with it the assertion that non-Hindus were either weak in their sense of national identity or else “anti-national” in ethos:59

We have no objection to God being called by any name whatever. We, in the Sangh, are Hindus to the core. That is why we have respect for all faiths and religious beliefs. He cannot be a Hindu at all who is intolerant of other faiths. But the question before us now is, what is the attitude of those people who have been converted to Islam or Christianity? They are born in this land, no doubt. But are they true to their salt? Are they grateful to this land which has brought them up? Do they feel that they are the children of this land and its tradition, and that to serve it is their great good fortune? Do they feel it a duty to serve her? No! Together with the change in their faith, gone is the spirit of love and devotion for the nation.

Does the RSS not seek to operate as a “state within the state”, with its members operating under overlapping affiliations with extreme right-wing political parties as well as in the civil service, judiciary, police, etc.?

The RSS, it has been said, “has no permanent friends and no permanent enemies. It has only permanent goals. These goals are that India must become great and it must not lose its identity.”60 The RSS proclaims that it “seeks to play the role of the Life Force (Prana Shakti) in the body of Indian society… The RSS has taken to the mantra of Hindu Unity… All such walls of separation as unsociability, Casteism, discrimination, provincialism, linguism, etc. are automatically washed away by this all powerful current of Hindu unity”.61 The goal of penetrating Hindu society and its institutions is stated openly on the RSS website:62

The aim of the Sangh is to organize the entire Hindu society, and not just to have a Hindu organization within the ambit of this society. Had it been the latter, then the Sangh too would have added one more number to the already existing thousands of creeds. Though started as an institution, the aim of the Sangh is to expand so extensively that each and every individual and traditional social institutions like family, Caste, profession, educational and religious institutions etc., are all to be ultimately engulfed into its system. The goal before the Sangh is to have an organized Hindu society in which all its constituents and institutions function in harmony and co-ordination, just as in the body organs. While this is easily perceived at the conceptual level, the institutional outer form of the Sangh is also necessary for internalization of this habit of organized living, but without making it a creed.

On March 6, 1978, the RSS submitted an affidavit in a court of law in Nagpur while contesting a decision of the National Charity Commissioner, Nagpur.63 In paragraph 9 of the affidavit it was submitted that “the RSS propagated a distinct political philosophy to the effect that India was and is a Hindu Rashtra”. Paragraph 14 of the affidavit continued: “in so far as politics is concerned, it is made clear that [the RSS] does not indulge in politics i.e. day-to-day politics, though [the] Sangh has a political philosophy within its wide sweep of cultural work. It is possible for [the] Sangh to change this policy and even participate in politics.” The true intentions of the RSS were made clear in paragraph 17 of the affidavit, which stated conclusively:

It is clear that the work of the RSS is neither religious nor charitable but its objectives are cultural and patriotic as contra-distinguished from religious or charitable. It is akin to political purposes though RSS is not at present a political party in as much as the RSS constitution… bars active political participation by the RSS as such as a policy.

Golwalkar made it clear that political activists who were RSS members were “performers” (nat) who were meant to dance to the tune of the RSS: “We know this also that some of our Swayamsevaks work in politics. There they have to organize according to the needs of work public meetings, processions etc., have to raise slogans. All these things have no place in our work. However, the actor should portray the character accepted to the best of his capability. But sometimes Swayamsevaks go beyond the role assigned to an actor as they develop over-zealousness in their hearts, to the extent that they become useless for this work. This is not good.”64 On the other hand, since no other organization but the RSS was “devoted to the wholesale regeneration’ of the cultural life of the nation, Golwalkar asserted in 1956 that the RSS “could not be drawn into politics… it could not play second fiddle to any political or any other party…” It could not function effectively “if it was to be used as a handmaid of political parties”.65

Lal Krishna Advani, the former Deputy Prime Minister in the BJP-led coalition which governed India between 1998 and 2004, has argued that an “unbreakable bond” exists between the RSS and the BJP “based on moral principles”.

Reminding his opponents about the roots of his party, he stated at a BJP camp in Coimbatore on March 17, 1990: “We walked out of the Janata Party Government because we were told to dissociate ourselves from the RSS. The forces, which are bent on raising the issue once again should be reminded that the BJP was born after that very experiment.” Arguing that the ties between the RSS and the BJP were akin to that of the Nehru-led Congress Government with Gandhian philosophy, Advani asked his opponents rhetorically: “Did anyone question the Nehru Government on [its] Gandhian philosophy?”66

While in the case of the Bharatiya Jan Sangh the linkage was only ideological, in the case of the BJP the linkage was both ideological as well as historical. Advani continued: “There has been a conscious effort on the part of the Swayamsevaks who are working in the BJP to make each one understand the ideological base to which we belong, and our connections with the sister organizations like the VHP, the ABVP, the BMS, the Seva Bharati and the Kalyan Ashram which are all based on the inspiration from RSS… We have to intensify our efforts, we have to project the viewpoint of the RSS, which is not being reflected, so that with the instrumentality of the BJP in politics it gets more acceptance…”

As A.G. Noorani comments, this statement put “paid to all the talk about ‘separate’ organizations. It is a clear admission that the BJP is but a political instrument of the RSS and so is the VHP, one of its ‘sister organizations’.”67

There are clear indications that, as the BJP enjoyed power as the leading party in a governing coalition, so the RSS tightened its grip on selection procedures for BJP candidates. In the 2003 Madhya Pradesh state elections, 90 per cent of the 223 BJP candidates were RSS cadres, it was reported.68 In the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, it was decided that two ‘direct’ representatives of the RSS would be nominated to all BJP candidate selection committees. According to RSS activists, the leadership had also indicated that “at least one winnable seat in every district of northern and western States should have a committed RSS activist as the candidate”. This was considered an unprecedented initiative from the RSS, which had not normally intervened directly in the candidate selection process in earlier elections.

The thrust of the RSS leadership’s instructions was to secure more “committed members” in the BJP Parliamentary Party. To ensure this, the leader of the Sangh Parivar proposed to play a more pro-active, decisive role in the candidate selection process at the State and regional levels. “The RSS top brass, including Sarsanghchalak Sudershanji, are clear that all this import[ing of candidates from other parties] should not get to a situation where the BJP Parliamentary Party is filled with members who do not have a fundamental commitment to the Sangh’s political blueprint,” an RSS activist based in Meerut said. Another RSS leader commented that BJP candidates should have “political and ideological commitment, along with winnability [sic]”.69

The extent to which the RSS has permeated the institutions of the state is revealed most clearly in Gujarat and explains the continuing failure of the victims of the violence in 2002 to secure judicial redress. On January 3, 2000, the then Gujarat chief minister lifted a 14-year old ban on government servants joining the RSS, a decision he was compelled to revoke in March after the protests that it generated. A few days after the ban was initially lifted, the RSS held a massive pledge camp (sankalp shivir) on the outskirts of Ahmedabad in which 30,000 persons participated. The entire state machinery was put at their disposal: trucks and municipal services were provided and ground taxes, water rates and electricity costs for the 5-acre plot were waived. Keshubhai Patel, the then Chief Minister of Gujarat, was seen flanked by Union Home Minister Lal Krishna Advani on the occasion. Over 5,000 Gujarat government employees participated in the RSS training camp as well as over 20 ministers of the Patel government.70 The RSS pledged to have established an RSS branch in every Gujarat village by 2005.71 When commenting on the withdrawal of the order permitting government employees to participate in RSS activities, Haren Pandya, the Gujarat Minister of State for Home Affairs, commented:72

We were considering this issue since last year. On June 17, 1999, we wrote a letter to the Union home ministry. We wanted some clarification on the ban on the RSS. We got the reply on 13 July 1999. That letter from the home ministry quoted the judgment of Justice Bahri and clarified that according to the judgment the RSS is not involved in unlawful activities…

Why don’t people look around? Ban or no ban, there are so many government officers who are going to shakhas. Whenever action has been taken against them, court judgments have mostly gone in their favour. We had done our homework. We never thought the issue would get blown out of proportion like this.

Pandya resigned from the Gujarat government on July 6, 2002. One of the more moderate members of his party, Pandya was very critical of the manner in which Modi handled the communal violence in the State. BJP president Rajendrasinh Rana issued a show-cause notice to Pandya asking him to explain why he deposed before the Concerned Citizens’ Tribunal on the communal violence (Frontline, 30 August 2002). An anonymous Minister reportedly told the Tribunal that on the night of 27 February (the day of the Sabarmati Express massacre at Godhra), Modi, the new Gujarat Chief Minister, convened a high-level meeting and instructed top police officers not to obstruct the “Hindu backlash”. Modi also allegedly told the officers that there would be “justice for Godhra’ during the bandh called by the VHP on February 28. In a public reply to Rana’s letter, Pandya denied making any such deposition. While submitting his resignation, Pandya said, “I don’t want the party to suffer because of one person’s whims.”

On March 26, 2003 at 7.40 a.m., Haren Pandya was assassinated by two unidentified assailants and the case as to his deposition before the Concerned Citizens’ Tribunal remains sub judice. Pandya’s father, Vitthalprasad D. Pandya (himself a member of the RSS between 1942 and 1959 and a supporter of the BJP), refused to let Modi garland his body. “Why have you come here with your security and gunmen? You could not even protect my son. We don’t need your sympathy,” he told Modi. His family blamed the Chief Minister for having failed to provide Pandya with any security after he resigned from his post as Minister. “If you couldn’t protect my son, what security are you going to provide the rest of Gujarat?,” Vitthalbhai asked Modi. The leader of the Opposition in Gujarat described it as a “political murder”, but this was discounted by Prime Minister Vajpayee, who denied that the murder resulted from any “political enmity”, implicitly between Pandya and Modi. Nevertheless, Pandya was a man who knew too much and had had to be removed.73

Notes

  1. This article was redrafted in the light of the publication of the apologetic work by M. G. Chitkara, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. National Upsurge (Delhi: APH Publishing Corporation, 2004), the most recent self-projection of the RSS. Ibid, 328: ‘a written Constitution was adopted on 1 August 1949. Thereafter it has been amended, as and when the contingency arose. Initially, the constitution consisted of 25 articles. An amended Constitution, consisting of 21 Articles, came into being on 11 March 2000.’ This amended Constitution is not reproduced in the volume. Ibid. 329: ‘for about 24 years it had no written constitution.’ F. Seedat, ‘A Study of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh as a political force’, unpub. M Phil. Dissertation (Pune University, 1980), 69–70, 76. Alok Kumar, ‘Courts on Government servants’ participation in RSS’, Organizer (12 Mar. 2000): <www.hvk.org/hvk/articles/0300/26.html>
  1. Chitkara, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, 330.
  1. Deoras later led the RSS from June 1973 to March 1994. B. N. Varadpande, ‘The third Sarsanhchalak was firm yet pragmatic’: <www.hindubooks.org/ afl/ch8.htm>
  1. Seedat, ‘A Study of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’, 52. www.rediff.com/ news/2000/mar/09rss1.htm Tapio Tamminen comments: ‘each shakha is further divided into four age groups: 6–10, 10–14, 14–28 and over 28 years. The age groups are further divided into gatas (groups), which are composed of a common age group, and the members tend to live in a particular locality. Above the shakha in the pyramid of RSS is the “mandal committee” (formed from participants from three or four shakhas). And then representatives from 10 to 12 mandals form a nagar (city) committee. Above the city committees there may be zilla (district) and vibhag (regional) committees, but most of the daily work takes place at the city level. There are also the prantiya pratindhi sabhas (state assemblies) and the Akhil-Bharatiya pratinidhi sabha (central assembly), but they have no real power. At the top of the organization is the sarsanghchalak. In the RSS constitution he is called the “guide and philosopher”. Sometimes he is also called “guru” or even avatar (the incarnation of Vishnu).’ Tapio Tamminen, ‘Hindu revivalism and the Hindutva Movement’, Temenos 32 (1996), 221–238. Web version at: <web.ask.com/searchcp?q=shakha+50&t=shakha+50&c ache=00* 5x0jwp&url=http://www.abo.fi/comprel/temenos/temeno32/ tamminen.htm&page=&ws=1>
  1. The Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh claims to be a voluntary social and cultural charitable organization. The aim of Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) is to propagate and promote Hindutva, the eternal (Sanathan) and universal (vishwa) principles of Hindu Dharma, Hindu culture and Universal brotherhood. Webpage active in Feb. 2004 but no longer so: www.hskonline.co.uk/hss/ html/maincontent/wings.html
  1. <www.hskonline.co.uk/hss/html/maincontent/shakha.html>
  1. Chitkara, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, 402. Ibid, 225: ‘…a missionary with a national vision…’ Ibid. 9, where the RSS is termed ‘exclusively a people’s movement initiated and taken forward by the people…’ Ibid. 318 for the term in the RSS Constitution, which defines him as ‘any male Hindu of 18 years or above, who subscribes to the Aims and Object[ive]s of the Sangh and conforms generally to its discipline and associates himself with the activities of the shakha…’ Ibid. 322: ‘it is essential that the swayamsevaks should implicitly obey the command of the Sarsanghachalak. The Sangh should not reach a stage where the tail should wag the body. That is the secret of success of the Sangh.’
  1. Ibid. 399: The shakha is described as ‘the technique of [the] Sangh’, ‘a crucible for moulding’ the individual, creating in Golwalkar’s words ‘men of mettle and character’ ready to accept ‘the emerging national challenges’. Ibid. 226: ‘Shakha is for creating social consciousness… the shakha embraces a system and a working plan for [the] total transformation of human beings into noble citizens in all respects, physical, mental and spiritual… these are rightly to be called “Temples of Learning”… The most significant thing about this Shakha-Temple is it installed the deity of “Mother India” instead of any god or goddesses, not in the temple place but in the heart and soul of those who went to worship… The uniqueness of the technique lay in its emphasis on the active participation in national affairs by each and everyone in society…’ Ibid. 23: ‘self-effacement with team-building and team spirit is [a] must for national resurrection… When persons begin to work as missionaries of national resurrection, the chief impediment that comes up at every step is the absence of national consciousness and the spirit of organized life among our people.’ Ibid. 330, 335: ‘the man-making training that you receive in Sangh is exactly the same as Swami Vivekananda had dreamed of for the youth of our country.’
  1. Summary of the annual report presented by the Sarkaryavah of the RSS Sri Mohan Bhagwat to the Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha (ABPS) of the RSS ‘currently in session at Jaipur. The ABPS session will continue till 14 March 2004’. Circulated by Ramesh Subramaniam on 13 March 2004 as message 110 on an RSS e-mail list: <www.groups.yahoo.com/group/rss2/ messages/104?expand=1>
  1. <www1.mid-day.com/news/nation/2004/july/88461.htm>
  1. It is unlikely to be the figure of 22.5 million cited in a list of religious organizations at Adherents.com, since although this took 75 as the multiplier (the midpoint between 50 and 100 members), it relied on an excessively high figure of 300,000 shakhas. Conversely, it made no allowance for 75 years of history and the variation in the number of shakhas over time (i.e. those who had been trained rather than were in training): <www.adherents.com/Na/ Na_548.html>
  1. Chitkara, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, 285, for the first SSV in the UK held at Bradford in 1975. Dina Nath Mishra, ‘Making of a Missionary’ (18 July 1996). 47 camps attended by 15,000 trainees and 5,000 managers, trainers and leaders had been organized in 1996: <www.indiafirstfoundation.org/archives/articles/arc_dnm/1996/july1896. htm>
  1. Douglas Spitz Snr, ‘The RSS and Hindu militancy in the 1980s’, Festscrift in Honour of Charles Speel, ed. T. J. Sienkewicz and J. E. Betts (Monmouth, Ill., 1997). Web version at: <www.department.monm.edu/classics/Speel_Festschrift/spitz.htm>
  1. Chitkara, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, 79, 167–173. For the HSS in the UK: Ibid. 294.
  1. <www.secularindia.net/article27.html>

16 Seedat, ‘A Study of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’,

  1. Chitkara, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, 266–267
  1. Ibid. 68, 126.
  1. Ibid. 58. Ibid. 282, where Golwalkar asserted that ‘so far as sects [sic] like Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism are concerned, they are all, in fact, included in the vast concept of “Hindu”’.
  1. Ibid. 308.
  1. Ibid. 55. Neither militant nor aggressive, but certainly assertive: Ibid. 370.
  1. Ibid. 45, 56.
  1. Ibid. 44.
  1. Ibid. 109.
  1. Ibid. 317.
  1. Ibid. 67.
  1. Ibid. 107.
  1. Ibid. 1.
  1. Neena Vyas, ‘Golwalkar and the BJP’, The Hindu (10 May 2002): < w w w . h i n d u o n n e t . c o m / t h e h i n d u / 2 0 0 2 / 0 5 / 1 0 / stories/2002051002041200.htm>
  1. ’In the first place, [the] feeling of burning devotion to the land, which, from times immemorial, we have regarded as our sacred Matrubhoomi[;] in the second place, the feeling of fellowship, of fraternity, born out of the realisation that we are the children of that one great common Mother; in the third place, the intense awareness of a common current of national life, born out of a common culture and heritage, of common history and traditions, of common ideals and aspirations; this trinity of values or, in a word, Hindu Nationalism, forms the bedrock of our national edifice.’ Golwalkar, Bunch of Thoughts, ch 11 (‘for a virile national life’): <www.hindubooks.org/bot/p2-ch11.htm>
  1. Chitkara, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, 250, for the RSS oath before Independence.
  1. Different translation in Chitkara, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, 105, 434.41
  1. Shamsul Islam, ‘Need to Indianize the RSS’, The Hindu (23 Oct. 2000): <www.hindu.com/thehindu/2000/10/23/stories/05232524.htm> <www.www.secularindia.net/KnowTheRSS1.html>
  1. <www.hindubooks.org/bot/p3-ch18.htm>
  1. Chitkara, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, 282: ‘how can Hinduism be ever anti-Muslim?’, he asked rhetorically. <www.vhp.org/englishsite/e.Special_Movements/dRanjanambhumi%20 Muti/ayodhyaafterdec6.htm>
  1. Chitkara, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, 232–233.
  1. <www.hindubooks.org/bot/appendix.htm>
  1. Chitkara, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, 279, asserts, from the evidence for 1968 and the first three months of 1969, that the Muslims were responsible for instigating the majority of the riots. This is grossly misleading with regard to the post-Independence riot evidence as a whole.
  1. Professor Paul Brass, cited in After Hindutva: towards the Recovery of the Indian Polity?, ed. Richard Bonney (Leicester, 2004).
  1. Chitkara, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, 280. <www.hindubooks.org/bot/appendix.htm>
  1. <www.hindubooks.org/bot/p2-ch16.htm>
  1. ’When, say, an extreme situation obtains in which the limits of oppression have been reached, the people are undergoing acute suffering, the rulers have become autocrats, veritable monsters, and all peaceful avenues of changing them have been clogged — violence in such circumstances would be justified.’ <www.hindubooks.org/bot/appendix.htm>
  1. ’Communalism appears in several forms. The non-Hindu groups arraying themselves against the Hindu people — in whose life-stream the Bharatiya nation finds its true expression — are in a way communal. There are communalists in Hindu Society itself, who originally came into existence in the form of creeds as a manifestation of the many-sided Hindu genius, but who later on forgot the source of their inspiration and creation and began to consider themselves as being different from Hindu samaj and dharma, and who on that premize demand separate and exclusive political and economic privileges, and to achieve those demands proclaim themselves to be different form Hindu Society and take to various agitations. Neo- Buddhists and Sikhs are of this type. The third form of communalism is of groups like Dravida Kazhagam and Davidra Munnetra Kazhagam who, on the fallacious assumptions of racial distinctness, claim separation, and who to achieve their ends spread hatred, enmity and violence against the rest of society. The fourth type consists of those who rouse controversies in the name of “touchability” and “untouchability”, “Brahmin” and “non-Brahmin” and fan hatred, enmity, selfishness, and demands for special privileges. There is the fifth type, the communalism of linguistic groups, who indulge in spreading aversion, rivalry and hatred against other linguistic neighbours. The term “linguistic minorities” is born out of this tendency. The sixth type of communalism is one of narrow provincial feelings and of adopting unhealthy attitudes towards people from other provinces. South and North, Punjabi and non-Punjabi, Marathi, versus Kannada, Gujarati versus Marathi, Bengal–Bihar–Orrisa difference are of this type. There is the seventh type of communalism which aggravates differences of Caste, creed, language, etc., and fans mutual hatred to achieve electoral ends. This is the most dangerous type rampant all over the country, of which many political parties, including the party in power [Congress], are guilty. So long as this-the political-type of communalism exists, it is well-nigh impossible to eradicate any other form of communalism. If only this seventh type of communalism is eschewed, then shall we find it less difficult to deal with the other forms.’ www.hindubooks.org/bot/p2-ch15.htm
  1. Sections 4.2 and 4.3 of the conclusions, on hate speech and hate writing: <www.sabrang.com/tribunal/vol2/prepvio.html>
  1. www.hinduunity.com/bajrangdal.html
  1. Ibid.
  1. Ibid. The associated website <www.hinduunity.org>, which on 10 Dec. 2004 described itself as ‘promoting and supporting the ideals of the Bajrang Dal: VHP, Youth Wing Bharat’. An associated page <www.hinduunity. org/bewaregirls.htm> at the same date had the following ‘WARNING TO HINDU & SIKH GIRLS! THE MUSLIMS WON’T REST UNTIL THEY CONVERT YOU TO ISLAM! £10,000 REWARDS ARE BEING GIVEN TO MUSLIM YOUTHS BY ISLAMIC ORGANIZATIONS IN U.K. TO ANY MUSLIM BOY WHO CAN CONVERT HINDU OR SIKH GIRL. THEY ARE ON THE PROWL FOR GULLIBLE HINDU GIRLS. BEWARE! BE CAREFUL OF BEING TRAPPED INTO HAVING RELATIONSHIPS WITH MUSLIM BOYS IN YOUR SCHOOL AND COLLEGE. THE LOVE THEY SHOW IS LOVE BASED ON AN ULTERIOR MOTIVE: TO GET YOU TO ACCEPT ISLAM. HINDU GIRLS HAVE SUFFERED DIRE CONSEQUENCES FROM THESE MUSLIM MEN WHO PROMIZE TO LOVE THEM BUT TREAT THEM LIKE DOGS! IF YOU MARRY A MUSLIM MAN AND YOU WILL LOSE YOUR IDENTITY, YOUR RELIGION, YOUR CULTURE, THEY WILL STOP YOU FROM MEETING YOUR MOTHER AND YOUR FATHER AND YOU WILL EVENTUALLY BE BARRED FROM MEETING ANY FAMILY MEMBER. THE CHOICE IS YOURS!’
  1. <www.hindu.com/2004/10/22/stories/2004102210431300.htm>The Report of the Concerned Citizens’ Tribunal, Gujarat 2002, has damning evidence of the ‘training’ offered to new recruits of the Bajrang Dal: Harvest of Hatred…, ed. Richard Bonney (Delhi: Media House, 2004), 131–132.
  1. <www.hinduunity.com/>
  1. <www.news24.com/News24/World/News/0,,2-10-1462_1627288,00. html>
  1. The RSS has been concerned that as a result of Christian and Muslim proselytizing the percentage of the Kerala Hindu population from 1911 to 1991 fell from 66.63 to 58.15, while the percentage of Christians rose from 15.41 to 20.56, and that of the Muslims from 12.68 to 21.25. Commenting on these statistics an RSS writer warned that, “in the next decade Hindus will be a minority, it appears”’: Organizer, 24 March 1991, 15, cited by Douglas Spitz Snr, ‘The RSS and Hindu militancy in the 1980s’. The initial misreporting of the growth rate of the Hindu population as a decline to 20.3 per cent during 1991–2001 from 25.1 per cent during 1981–91 was seized upon by the RSS. These results, RSS spokesman Ram Madhav claimed to The Indian Express, were not surprising ‘‘because our people have been studying demographic patterns and profiles and have been giving us reports from time to time.’’ The official Census report has ‘‘only confirmed what we have been saying for a long time—that there is a continuous fall in the population of Hindus since 1961, and a corresponding rise in the Muslim population.’’’ <www.indianexpress.com/full_story.php?content_id=54692>
  1. ’Foreign Missionaries, Quit India: RSS’: <www.hvk.org/articles/1200/186.html>

U.S. International Religious Freedom Report for 2003, released 18 Dec. 2003 by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor: <www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2003/24470.htm>

  1. Shyam Chand, Saffron Fascism (Panchkula: Unity Publisher, 2002), 143–144. Circulated by Yogi Sikand on IndiaThinkersNet on 21 Feb. 2004.
  1. In one of the fallouts of the hatred unleashed by the rath yatra led by Shri LK Advani for the Ramjanmabhoomi and following the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, on the night of8–9 December 1992, a predominantly Muslim basti in Surat was subjected to a concerted attack, during which at least one dozen women were gang-raped by trishul-carrying mobs. Even a Hindu woman, also a resident of the same locality, was not spared. <www.sabrang.com/tribunal/vol2/womenvio.html>
  1. Interview with Rediff, 22 Nov. 2000: <www.indiaabroad.rediff.com/news/2000/nov/22inter.htm>
  1. Literally ‘making perfect, purification, cleansing’, derived from the Sanskrit word sanskr meaning ‘to form well, to put together’. Sanskara has come to refer to a ceremony, which is performed as a purification rite for an individual or family. According to Hindu belief, ceremonies are performed at two levels: shrauta and grihya. Shrauta ceremonies are performed on a grand scale, with more than one priest and a large number of people in attendance. Grihya ceremonies are small and private, performed at home with or without a priest. Sanskaras are grihya. <www.gurjari.net/ico/mystica/html/sanskaras.htm>
  1. Reported by Vikram Singh, a Swayamsevak of the RSS for 57 years: <www.voi.org/books/tfst/chii40.htm>
  1. <www.hindubooks.org/bot/appendix.htm>
  1. <www.hindubooks.org/bot/p2-ch11.htm>
  1. Chitkara, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, 305.
  1. Ibid. 151.
  1. <www.rss.org/New_RSS/Mission_Vision/Why_RSS.jsp>
  1. Shamsul Islam, ‘Is the RSS a cultural and nationalist organization? What does the RSS archival material say?’: <www.www.secularindia.net/article28.html>
  1. Shamsul Islam, ‘The failed swayamsevaks’, The Hindu (7 July 2001): <www.hindu.com/thehindu/2001/07/07/stories/05072524.htm> <www.aiccindia.org/resources/resources_RSScultural.html>
  1. Chitkara, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, 395.
  1. R. Upadhyay, ‘RSS–BJP relationship: what is new and why this war cry?’, South Asia Analysis Group, paper 153: <www.saag.org/paper2/paper153.htm>
  1. Prime Minister Vajpayee had stated in Lucknow on 30 Dec. 1997 that ‘everyone knows that the VHP and the BJP are different organizations’. A. G. Noorani, ‘A common enterprise’: <www.geocities.com/Indianfascism/fascism/sangh.htm>
  1. Circulated on IndianThinkersNet on 12 Nov. 2003 (RSS cadres defined as those who had attended all three RSS training camps in the past).
  1. Venkitesh Ramakrishnan, ‘RSS plans a larger role this time’, The Hindu (10 March 2004): <www.thehindu.com/2004/03/10/stories/2004031006181100.htm>
  1. <www.ahmedabad.com/news/2k/mar/9rss.html>
  1. <www.education.vsnl.com/vrhope/news5.htm> ‘After the 1969 riots, RSS shakhas (units) increased from less than 30 to 45 in 1973. Now they have reached to over 1,500 and [the RSS] are aiming at a target of 2000 in the next three years. Besides shakhas, RSS organizes health relief and income generation welfare programmes on a regular basis in more than 200 locations in the state.’ Ghanshyam Shah, ‘Caste, Hindutva and Hideousness’, Economic and Political Weekly, 13 April 2002: < w w w. e p w. o r g. i n / s h ow A r t i c l e s. p h p ? r o o t = 2 0 0 2 & l e a f = 0 4 & filename=4333&filetype=html>
  2. <www.indiaabroad.rediff.com/news/2000/mar/08haren.htm>
  3. Dionne Bunsha, ‘An ex-minister’s murder’, Frontline (12–25 April 2003): <www.thehindu.com/thehindu/fline/fl2008/stories/20030425001904900.htm>

Dionne Bunsha, ‘Probe or persecution’, Frontline (18 May 2003): ‘“I am of the firm opinion that this was an intentional political murder. This talk of a terrorist plan is absolutely absurd’, said Vithalbhai Pandya. “The day after I said at the condolence meeting that it was a political murder, Advani announced that the ISI and Dawood Ibrahim were involved. The CBI inquiry had just begun. We have faith in the CBI. But when a responsible person makes an immature statement, it can derail the inquiry,” he said. On the arrests, he said, “The murderer may have killed because of money. But the real political culprit must be arrested. No real inquiry can be made until the person in power steps down. They are making arrests just to show people that action is being taken. Everyone understands what is happening. But no one can speak.”’

<www.countercurrents.org/comm-bunsha180503.htm>

‘“Modi wants to defame Haren’s name because of political reasons. He wants to prove that Muslims have killed him but it is far from truth. Modi is the motivator of the intentional political murder of Haren,” V.D. Pandya said in a statement to the Nanawati commission.’

<www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_19-7-2003_pg7_56>

74. <www.hinduunity.com/bajrangdal.html>