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Golden gloss on khaki knickers
By Ram Puniyani

In October 2000 Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh completed seventy-five Years of its existence. This occasion is being used in many a ways by the leadership of RSS. On one hand it reiterated its Hindutva line and gave different advises and intimidation to the minorities that they should regard Ram and Krishna as their icons, they should break their religious affiliations to the 'foreign' Churches and go in for swadeshi churches, should accept the Hindu culture, should Indianize themselves, and that Christianity is more of a politics rather than a religion. On the other hand it started a Direct To Home campaign in order to improve its image in people's eyes. In last three years its image has got sullied (or is it that its REAL image has come to surface?) due to the blatant role of its progeny in the anti- Christian violence. As such RSS activities against the minorities and the creation of anti-Minority atmosphere are linked to its actions and a large section of people are realizing the anti-minority character of this organization. In order to reassert its retrograde ideology it has decided to go from house to house with the leaflets glorifying its 'nationalism' 'patriotism' and what not.

Even a cursory glance at the leaflets makes it clear that it has no remorse for the outcome of its 'Hate Campaign.' On the contrary by falsifying the facts and projecting its non-existing relationship with freedom fighters, leaders of Anti-Brahmin movements like Dr. Ambedkar, it is trying to put a respectable gloss on its despicable ideology and actions. The leaflet is an exercise in the falsification of events, manufacture of non-events in to its foundations and also to get certification from those who are really respectable today and who not only refused to identify with this organization but also criticized its ideology and actions in subtle and overt ways.

To begin with, it glorifies its founder Dr. Keshav Baliram Hedgewar as an important leader of freedom struggle who was imprisoned due to his participation in different agitations for freedom. This is just the beginning of lessons as to how to surpass Goebbles in a game, which he invented in the service of fascist politics. Hedgewar is projected to have actively participated in the different agitations launched by Congress. As a matter of fact he participate only in a single agitation (1930) and his motives were to wean away the activists of Congress for the communal politics which he was espousing. We don't have to look at any outside source for this basic fact. One of his biographies was published by his follower, C.P. Bhishikar (Sanghvriksha ke beej, The Seeds of the RSS). Says this swayamsevak Bhishikar: '[In 1930] Mahatma Gandhi had called upon the people to break different laws of Govt. Gandhi himself launched Salt Satyagrah by undertaking Dandi March. Dr. Saheb (Hedgewar) sent message everywhere that Sangh will not participate in the Satyagrah...This meant that any responsible worker of Sangh could not participate in satyagrah. (p. 20), and again 'Dr. Saheb had the confidence that with the freedom loving, self sacrificing and reputed group inside with him there, he would discuss the Sangh with them and win them over for its work'. Thus it is clear that neither did RSS participate in this struggle nor Dr. Hedgewar went to jail in this last instance to further the cause of Non-cooperation, the aim of Congress leadership. 

Congress leadership in due course realized the disruptive nature of the activities of RSS (and also of course its twin Hindu Mahasabha and its opposite parallel the Muslim League) and its agenda of sowing the seeds of discord between different communities and passed a resolution forbidding Congress members from becoming the members of these organizations.

Attitude of RSS towards the movement for freedom struggle becomes clearer in the writings of M.S. Golwalkar, the Second Supremo. (Shri Guruji Samgra Darshan, Vol. IV, p. 39-40). Golwalkar points out that RSS volunteers should not participate in the struggle, he approvingly quotes his mentor Dr. Hedgewar here, stating that going to jail will disturb the family life and will also cause disruption in the routine activities of RSS. He goes on to state (p.41), 'In 1942 also there was a strong sentiment in the hearts of many at that time too but the routine work of Sangh continued. Sangh did not do anything directly.' Bhishikar's book also makes it clear that Hedgewar did not comment anything against British rule. This non-participation was even ideologically formulated by MS Golwalkar, as per whom fighting against British is reactionary and he accused the Congress for reducing the national struggle to 'mere' anti-British movement. Golwalkar writes, 'Being anti British was equated with patriotism and nationalism. This reactionary view had disastrous effect upon the entire course of the independence struggle, its leaders and the common people' (Golwalkar, Bunch of Thoughts 1939). 'Golwalkar believed that the British not be given any excuse to ban the RSS. On April 29, 1943 Golwalkar distributed a circular that 'We discontinue practice included in the governments order on military drill and uniforms to keep our work clearly within bounds of law, as every law abiding institution should'...' (Quoted in A G Noorani, Frontline, 1 Dec. 1995). Obviously, with this ideological formulation the Sangh Parivar did not and could not fight against the British. 

The RSS equated its nationalism with being against Muslims and hence its constant harps against the national leadership for 'appeasement of Muslims'. Lajpat Rai one of the columnists in a letter to Times of India (Jan 18, 94) points out 'RSS kept away even from Naval revolt because they (mutineers) used guns against the British and the RSS considered fighting against British as 'disastrous' and 'reactionary'. 
It is just 'fortunate' this leaflet steers clear of the role of present Prime Minister, the proud Swayasmsevak's role in the Quit India movement as very recently his role was exposed in an in depth investigation in Frontline Feb. 20, 1998. (Manini Chatterjee and V K Ramchandran.). 

Vajapayee in one of the articles had claimed that he participated in the Quit India Movement and was jailed. This investigation nails the lie of his participation in Quit India Movement in 1942. The controversy around his role in the Bateshwar incident comes out very well here. He had given a confessional statement in the court which helped in his release from the jail for his being just the onlooker of the assembly which went on to damage the government property. At that time he was a dedicated and active member of RSS. In his confession he wriggles out of active participation. ' I along with my brother followed the crowd, I did not cause any damage. I did not render any assistance in demolishing the government buildings'. His statement provided an accurate description of the events on which prosecution could build its case very well. But all these facts do not matter as far as RSS is concerned. Through the vast reach of its Shakhas and section of communalized media it can gloat over its non-existing role in freedom struggle and patriotic and nationalist credentials, which are totally false and baseless.Though RSS leaflet gives credit to RSS for saving Kashmir, saving democracy in India it also reminds its followers that it is none else than RSS which spearheaded the Ramjanmbhumi campaign (which eventually led to Babri demolition and massive anti- Muslim pogroms), it also reminds its obsession with cow as the symbol of cultural nationalism (another name for North Indian upper caste culture), it also gives the signals of its anti-Minority thrust by equating the colonial rule with the invasion by Muslim kings in India (both have entirely different characteristics, the British powers coming here for establishing markets and for plunder of raw materials while the invasion of Muslim kings and Mughal rule was the fight between different kings for the hegemony of the territories and they settled here and became the integral part of society and its dynamics), it does go on to remind that the insurgency in North-East is due to the conversions. Also it states that strength of the Nation is Hindu unity etc. This fist hitting the minorities in this document is covered with velvet gloves. But the accusations are all the same there, the accusations which have formed the base of anti-minority myth, hatred and violence.The most manipulative part comes when it tries to extract 'certificates' of good conduct by being associated with Bhagat Singh, Dr. Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi, who himself happened to fall to the bullets of a follower of Hindutva ideology, an ideology which RSS is propagating with gusto. One fails to understand why RSS is so desperate to put the certificates from these National heroes who had nothing in common with the goals and agenda of RSS. 

The concoction that it helped in the work of Bhagat Singh will probably go down as the most blatant lie, which RSS can ever manufacture. RSS was formed in 1925, and for a long time its poison was restricted to Maharashtra. Bhagat Singh embraced the gallows in 1931 and his group was more active in North India. While RSS was propagating Hindu Rashtra and Hindu unity, singing praises of Hindu kings and supporting the zamindars, Bhagat Singh was talking of a socialist India, he was banking on workers and peasants, he staked his life in anti-British activity, while RSS, initially a Brahmin- Bania outfit hid behind the curtains of 'Organizational work' whenever there was a need to confront the British might. It sheepishly or deliberately never opposed the British rule in practice and even in theory. It aimed all its guns against Muslims, eulogized the Hindu princes of riyasats and drew heavy support from the landed aristocracy. There is a polar contrast between Bhagat Singh and his colleagues' mission who formed Hindustan Socialist Republic army and were deeply influenced by Marxism while for RSS even today Marxism and Socialism rank as the biggest dangers to the Hindu Rashtra, their secret and open agenda.

As far as Ambedkar commenting that Swayamsevaks don't believe in caste is just a small part of the story. One has to see the Ambedkar and RSS relationship, I mean the lack of it in totality. Ambedkar humiliated by the Brahminical Hinduism vowed that he was born a Hindu but he will not die a Hindu. He went on to burn Manu Smiriti as a symbol of subjugation of Shudras and women. Same time Mr. Golwalkar wrote in praise of Manu as the first ever lawgiver of the human race whose laws are valid eternally. The contrast between Dr. Ambedkar and the present RSS supremo Mr. Sudarshan is something totally revealing. Dr. Ambedkar burnt Manusmriti and went in to be Chairman of the drafting committee of Indian Constitution. Mr. Sudarshan states that Indian constitution should be scrapped and be replaced by the one based on Hindu Holy Scriptures. And the Hindu Holy Scripture, which lays down the laws, is of course Manusmiriti itself. But still RSS does need to be 'complemented' for its shrewd use its retrograde ideology to its advantage.

About Mahatmaji's comments about RSS there is much more to it than presented by this leaflet. Pyarelal, Mahatmaji's Secretary recalls an interesting episode throwing light on this. Gandhi's attitude towards RSS in 1934 may have been non-committal but against this we need to place his unqualified denunciation of the organization some years later, which have been recorded by him. In the wake of 1946 riots, a member of Gandhi's entourage had praised the efficiency, discipline, courage and capacity for hard work shown by RSS cadres at Wagah, a major transit camp for Punjab refugees. 'But don't forget', answered Gandhiji, even so had Hitler's Nazis and the Fascists under Mussolini.' He went on to characterize the RSS as a 'communal body with a totalitarian outlook'. (Pyarelal, Mahatma Gandhi: The Last Phase, Ahmadabad, p 440). Gandhi categorically declared that 'the way (to national independence) does not lie through akharas...if they are meant as a preparation for self defence in Hindu-Muslim conflicts, they are fore-doomed to failure. Muslims can play the same game, and such preparations, covert or overt, do cause suspicion and irritation. They can provide no remedy' (G.D. Tendulkar, Mahatma, Vol. III, Bombay, 1945 pp.130-134). The propagation that it is because of the efforts of Hindus that India has gained the status of Jagat Guru, Teacher of the world, defies all the logic. Now the wisdom of the world is a collective effort of different communities and no one nation or community has got such a status as 'world teacher.' The knowledge, understanding and culture is a multifactorial, multi-centered process and any one group claiming such a status is either suffering from a genuine inferiority complex or is out of its mind. There cant be a third explanation for this raving assertion of the RSS and its progeny. This type of statement becomes much more painful today when we realize that at most stages in the history, India was not free from caste oppression, at most known times in history women did not have an equal status, at no time was it a land of milk and honey for all as claimed by the leaflet. On second thought probably it all sounds a deliberate glorification to distract the attention from the glaring poverty, hunger, disease and misery prevalent in our country today. And RSS as an upholder of the ideology of 'status quo' needs all the arguments to lull the demands for justice and Human rights and so these fabrications of the glorious past and the status as world leaders.
(Dr. Ram Puniyani is Secretary of EKTA, Committee for Communal Amity)

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