The Kannada language author of the path-breaking novella Kusumabale, and writer of several short stories, Devanura Mahadeva, one of Karnataka’s most prominent public intellectuals has now brought us The RSS-The Long and Short of It, a work endorsed by renowned author, Geetanjali Sree with an introduction and afterward by Ramchandra Guha and Yogendra Yadav respectively. This book, translated by S.R. Ramakrishna into English is now available.

[Devanur Mahadeva, The RSS- The Long & Short of It– available in English; Price Rs 199; to obtain a copy of the book, contact publishers Abhiruchi Prakashan Mysore -99 80 56 00 13]

Respected for his work with not just Dalits and Adivasis, but forging links with seminal struggles for democratic and minority rights, the publication of this pamphlet in July first drew the predictable abuse from the trolls and their mentors, in a failed attempt to discredit the author and the book. Devanur Mahadeva is a particular sore eye for the right because of his vocal advocacy of inter-faith harmony. Recently, when a socio economic boycott of Muslims selling halal meet was sought to be incited, Mahadeva displayed his public commitment to constitutional values by going to a market in Mysuru to buy halal meat!

How the RSS and HMS endorse caste

The text begins with quotations from MS Golwalkar and VD Savarkar, two major ideologues who have shaped political Hinduism, Hindutva. The quotations, earlir analysed by Sabrangindia, show Golwalkar not just justifying the caste system and its in-built hierarchies, on the grounds that they have scriptural sanction, but uncritically rooting for a society based on this brazen inequity. There is also Savarkar urging worship of the Manusmriti, notwithstanding the fact that its endorsement of caste and gender inequalities is so antithetical to the Indian Constitution. The Savarkar quote chosen by Mahadeva is revealing:

Manusmriti is that scripture which is most worshipable after Vedas for our Hindu Nation and which from ancient times has become the basis of our culture-customs, thought and practice. This book for centuries has codified the spiritual and divine march of our nation. Even today the rules which are followed by crores of Hindus in their lives and practice are based on Manusmriti. Today Manusmriti is Hindu Law. That is fundamental.”

Golwalkar, the RSS’ major ideologue –with publications like We Or Our Nationhood Defined (the first, 1947 edition is available on Sabrangindia) and Bunch of Thoughts, calls the federal system of a union of states “poisonous”, urging instead a unitary political system based on the homogenising principle of “One Country, One State, One Legislature, One Executive’’.

Read Sabrangindia’s Exlusive, In Defence of Caste & against Cross-Breeding, 2016 in which, Golwalkar is defending Caste. In the course of a speech given in Gujarat, he then said:

“Today we try to run down the Varna system through ignorance. But it was through this system that a great effort to control possessiveness could be made…In society some people are intellectuals, some are expert in production and earning of wealth and some have the capacity to labour. Our ancestors saw these four broad divisions in the society. The Varna systemmeans nothing else but a proper co-ordination of these divisions and an enabling of the individual to serve the society to the best of his ability through a hereditary development of the functions for which he is best suited. If this system continues a means of livelihood is already reserved for every individual from his birth.”

[M. S. Golwalkar cited in Organizer, January 2, 1961, pp. 5 & 16. He had been invited in 1960 to address the students of the School of Social Science of Gujarat University on December 17, 1960]  

While none of this is unknown, per se, the political coming of age and to power of the Sangh,  has dimmed its wider dissemination, of late. Timely as this work then is, is the fact that Devanura Mahadeva draws our attention to the banality of what passes for thinking in the RSS. While the seminal political text to guide the re-organisation of the Indian state is We Or Our Nationhood Defined, efforts by the RSS to post facto “disown” it when they own up in toto to Golwalkar, takes is to his second work, Bunch of Thoughts. This is a book of Golwalkar’s entitled Bunch of Thoughts. Mahedeva writes, “If you look inside this book for anything that could be considered a ‘thought’, or ‘chintane’, you will find absolutely nothing. What it offers is only a set of random, dangerous beliefs, and that too from a bygone time.” (Having read the book several times myself, I entirely concur with this judgment). The RSS’s ideology is so narrow-minded that, as Mahadeva remarks, “forget about anyone else, no sensible Brahmin even can accept this devilish view of the past that the RSS presents”.

Mahadeva is a self-proclaimed defender of the Indian Constitution. For all the lip service leaders of the RSS and BJP pay to that document, in truth they are deeply averse to its core tenets such as pluralism, caste and gender equality, freedom of speech, and federalism. Mahadeva goes so far as to suggest that “the more they damage the Indian Constitution, the more victorious they feel.”

He continues: “To destroy the Constitution, the RSS and its affiliates are committing unspeakable acts. They are playing games they shouldn’t be playing. And not just one or two! They are waging a war to overturn the federalism that binds the states and the union government, and that constitutes the bedrock of the Constitution.”

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