Preventing a calamity
An open letter to RSS sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat on why a
Hindutvavadi should not be prime minister of India
BY SHAMSUL ISLAM
Shri Mohan Bhagwatji, Namaskar,
I was not
surprised to read your comments in newspapers that it was not
necessary to be a secular person to
occupy the office of prime minister in a democratic, secular India. As
per the press reports, you wondered why a Hinduvadi could not become
prime minister of India.1 I
am sure you understand better than me that being a Hinduvadi is not
the same as professing the Hindu religion. Our national leaders like
Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel, Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhas Chandra Bose,
Rammanohar Lohia, Rajguru, Sukhdev and many, many more were Hindu by
faith but not Hinduvadi. In fact, Mahatma Gandhi, a great practitioner
of the Hindu religion, was brutally assassinated for not being a
Hinduvadi by a gang having allegiance to the Hindu Mahasabha and RSS.
Surely by Hinduvadi you mean a believer in Hindutva, a kind of
political Hinduism outlined by Vinayak Damodar Savarkarji in his book Hindutva2 and
later developed by RSS ideologues like MS Golwalkar. You will agree
with me that the RSS, currently under your command, has been a
prominent flag-bearer of Hindutva since its inception in 1925.
I feel that before arriving at the conclusion that
there is no harm in allowing a person who believes in Hindutva to
become prime minister of India, we have to understand what Hindutva
is. You will agree with me that we need to understand whether Hindutva
is compatible with principles of democracy, justice, egalitarianism
and secularism. In this connection, please allow me to scrutinise some
of the original documents and sources which legitimately belong to the
RSS or its brother organisations like the Hindu Mahasabha. If you find
that I am dishonest in referring to these or misrepresenting facts,
you will be at liberty to initiate defamation proceedings against me.
Does Hindutva stand for a two-nation theory?
Bhagwatji, I would like to refresh your memory that
both the originator of Hindutva, VD Savarkarji, and its flag-bearer,
the RSS, earlier and under your command too had and has unequivocal
faith in the two-nation theory: that Hindus and Muslims are two
different nations. While the Muslim League under the leadership of
Mohammad Ali Jinnah resolved to have a separate homeland for Muslims
of India in the form of Pakistan in 1940, Savarkar propagated as early
as 1937 that Hindus and Muslims were two different nations. While
delivering his presidential address to the 19th session of the Hindu
Mahasabha at Ahmedabad, Savarkarji unequivocally declared:
"As it is, there are two antagonistic nations living
side by side in India, several infantile politicians commit the
serious mistake in supposing that India is already welded into a
harmonious nation, or that it could be welded thus for the mere wish
to do so. These were well-meaning but unthinking friends take their
dreams for realities. That is why they are impatient of communal
tangles and attribute them to communal organisations. But the solid
fact is that the so-called communal questions are but a legacy handed
down to us by centuries of cultural, religious and national antagonism
between the Hindus and Moslems… Let us bravely face unpleasant facts
as they are. India cannot be assumed today to be a unitarian and
homogenous nation but on the contrary there are two nations in the
main: the Hindus and the Moslems, in India."3
Sir, has this not been the cardinal principle of your
organisation also? The RSS, following in the footsteps of Savarkarji,
always rejected the idea that Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians
together constituted a nation. Your English organ, Organiser,
on the very eve of independence (August 14, 1947), editorially (titled
‘Whither’) underlined its belief in the two-nation theory once again
in the following words: "Let us no longer allow ourselves to be
influenced by false notions of nationhood. Much of the mental
confusion and the present and future troubles can be removed by the
ready recognition of the simple fact that in Hindusthan only the
Hindus form the nation and the national structure must be built on
that safe and sound foundation… the nation itself must be built up of
Hindus, on Hindu traditions, culture, ideas and aspirations."
Bhagwatji, please help our country to understand how
the believers in Hindutva are different from pre-partition Muslim
Leaguers who once played a prominent role in dismembering India.
Does Hindutva respect the national flag and
Sir, it may not be out of context to ascertain your
attitude towards the national flag which represents a democratic,
secular India. It is important to hear this from the head of
organisations which swear by Hindutva. I would like to draw your
attention to the following statement which appeared in the English
organ Organiser, again on the eve of independence: "The people
who have come to power by the kick of fate may give in our hands the
tricolour but it never (sic) be respected and owned by Hindus. The
word three is in itself an evil and a flag having three colours will
certainly produce a very bad psychological effect and is injurious to
Can those who denigrate the national flag in such foul
language be allowed to rule this country?
Sarsanghchalakji, lay persons like me need to know
from practitioners of Hindutva like you what you think of democracy. I
would like to draw your attention to a statement made by the second
sarsanghchalak of the RSS and its most prominent ideologue to
date, MS Golwalkar. As per the RSS archives, Golwalkarji, while
addressing a group of 1,350 top-level cadres of the RSS in 1940,
declared: "The RSS, inspired by one flag, one leader and one ideology,
is lighting the flame of Hindutva in each and every corner of this
Learned Bhagwatji, this slogan of one flag, one leader
and one ideology was also the battle cry of fascist and Nazi parties
in Europe in the first half of the 20th century. What they did to
democracy is well known to this world. Can those who believe in such
totalitarian designs be allowed to rule our country?
Does Hindutva stand for casteism?
you will agree with me that the RSS and its brother organisations
who want Hindutva rule in India hated the Constitution of India which
was drafted under the guidance of Dr BR Ambedkar. When the Constituent
Assembly of India had finalised the Constitution of India, the RSS was
not happy. Its organ, Organiser, in an editorial
on November 30, 1949, complained: "But in our Constitution there is no
mention of the unique constitutional development in ancient Bharat.
Manu’s laws were written long before Lycurgus of Sparta or Solon of
Persia. To this day, his laws as enunciated in the Manu Smriti excite
the admiration of the world and elicit spontaneous obedience and
conformity. But to our constitutional pundits that means nothing."
Bhagwatji, it may not be a secret to you that
Savarkarji remained a great protagonist of casteism and a worshipper
of Manu Smriti throughout his life. The institutions of
casteism and untouchability were the outcome of Manu’s thought, about
which Savarkar said the following: "Manu Smriti is that scripture
which is most worshippable after the 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 Manu Smriti. Today Manu Smriti is Hindu law."6
Sir, the kind of civilisation that the RSS under your
command and under Hindutva ideology wants to build by enforcing the
laws of Manu can be discerned through a glimpse at the laws prescribed
by Manu for Dalits/untouchables and women. Some of these dehumanising
and degenerate laws, which are presented here, are self-explanatory.
The laws of Manu: On Dalits/untouchables
Ø For the sake of the prosperity
of the worlds, (the divine one) caused the Brahmin, the Kshatriya, the
Vaishya and the Shudra to proceed from his mouth, his arms, his thighs
and his feet.
Ø One occupation only the lord prescribed to
the Shudras, to serve meekly even these (other) three castes.
Ø A once-born man (a Shudra) who
insults a twice-born man with gross invective shall have his tongue
cut out, for he is of low origin.
Ø If he mentions the names and
castes (jati) of the (twice-born) with contumely, an iron nail,
ten fingers long, shall be thrust red-hot into his mouth.
Ø If he arrogantly teaches Brahmins their duty,
the king shall cause hot oil to be poured into his mouth and into his
Ø With whatever limb a man of a low caste does
hurt to (a man of the three) highest (castes), even that limb shall be
cut off; that is the teaching of Manu.
Ø He who raises his hand or a stick shall have
his hand cut off; he who in anger kicks with his foot shall have his
foot cut off.
Ø A low-caste man who tries to place himself on the
same seat with a man of a high caste shall be branded on his hip and
be banished, or (the king) shall cause his buttock to be gashed.
Ø Let him
never slay a Brahmin though he may have committed all (possible)
crimes; let him banish such an (offender), leaving all his property
(to him) and (his body) unhurt.
The laws of Manu: On women
Ø Day and
night women must be kept in dependence by the males (of) their
(families) and if they attach themselves to sensual enjoyments, they
must be kept under one’s control.
Ø Her father protects (her) in childhood, her husband
protects (her) in youth and her sons protect (her) in old age; a woman
is never fit for independence.
Ø Women must
particularly be guarded against evil inclinations, however trifling
(they may appear), for if they are not guarded, they will bring sorrow
on two families.
Considering it the highest duty of all castes, even weak husbands
(must) strive to guard their wives.
Ø No man can completely guard women by force but they
can be guarded by the employment of the (following) expedients:
Ø Let the (husband) employ his (wife) in the
collection and expenditure of his wealth, in keeping (everything)
clean, in (the fulfilment of) religious duties, in the preparation of
his food and in looking after the household utensils.
confined in the house under trustworthy and obedient servants are not
(well) guarded but those who of their own accord keep guard over
themselves are well guarded.
Ø Women do not care for beauty nor is their attention
fixed on age; (thinking), "(It is enough that) he is a man", they give
themselves to the handsome and to the ugly.
Ø Through their passion for men, through their mutable
temper, through their natural heartlessness, they become disloyal
towards their husbands, however carefully they may be guarded in this
Ø (When creating them) Manu allotted to women (a love
of their) bed, (of their) seat and (of) ornament, impure desires,
wrath, dishonesty, malice and bad conduct.
Ø For women, no (sacramental) rite (is performed) with
sacred texts thus the law is settled; women (who are) destitute of
strength and destitute of (the knowledge of) Vedic texts (are as
impure as) falsehood (itself); that is a fixed rule.
I would like to remind you that a copy of the Manu
Smriti was burnt in protest in the presence of Dr BR Ambedkar during
the historic Mahad agitation in December 1927.
Sir, you will agree with me that Golwalkarji was the
most prominent theorist of the RSS and he, like Savarkarji, believed
that casteism was a natural, integral part of Hinduism. In fact,
Golwalkar went to the extent of declaring that casteism was synonymous
with the Hindu nation. According to him, the Hindu people are none
but: "The virat purusha, the almighty manifesting
himself… [according to the ‘Purusha Sukta’] the sun and moon are his
eyes, the stars and the skies are created from his nabhi [navel]
and Brahmin is the head, Kshatriya the hands, Vaishya the thighs and
Shudra the feet. This means that the people who have this fourfold
arrangement, i.e. the Hindu people, is (sic) our god. This supreme
vision of godhead is the very core of our concept of ‘nation’ and has
permeated our thinking and given rise to various unique concepts of
our cultural heritage."7
Sarsanghchalakji, the truth is that Hindutva is
nothing but an ideology which stands for totalitarianism, casteism and
injustice. I would conclude with the words of Dr BR Ambedkar who said:
"If Hindu Raj does become a fact, it will no doubt be the greatest
calamity for this country… It is a menace to liberty, equality and
fraternity. On that account, it is incompatible with democracy. Hindu
Raj must be prevented at any cost."8
Bhagwatji, the reality is that Hindutva is dangerous
not only for minorities but also for the vast majority of Hindus,
especially Dalits and women.
I eagerly look forward to your response to the issues
raised in this letter.
Delhi, June 25, 2012
(Shamsul Islam is associate professor at the
department of political science, Satyawati College, University of
1 See The Indian Express, New Delhi, and The
Hindu, New Delhi, dated June 21, 2012.
2 Savarkar, VD, Hindutva, Delhi, Bharti Sahitya
Sadan, 1989 (first edition 1923).
3 Savarkar, VD, cited in Samagra Savarkar Wangmaya
Hindu Rashtra Darshan (Collected Works of VD Savarkar), Vol. 6,
Poona, Maharashtra Prantik Hindu Sabha, 1963, p. 296.
4 Organiser, August 14, 1947.
5 Golwalkar, MS, Shri Guruji Samagra Darshan
(Collected Works of Golwalkar in Hindi), Vol. 1, Nagpur, Bhartiya
Vichar Sadhana, 1974, p. 11.
6 Savarkar, VD, ‘Women in Manu Smriti’ in Savarkar
Samagra (Collection of Savarkar’s Writings in Hindi), Vol. 4, New
Delhi, Prabhat Prakashan, 2000, p. 416.
7 Golwalkar, MS, We or Our Nationhood Defined,
Nagpur, Bharat Publications, 1939, p. 36.
8 Ambedkar, BR, Pakistan or the Partition of India:
Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, Writings and Speeches, Vol. 8, Bombay,
Govt. of Maharashtra, 1990 (reprint of 1946 edition), p. 358.