Calling Sangh organizations to account: When Cults replaced Ideals - I
Two recent events provoke critical scrutiny of Hindu organizations and what is perceived as Nagpur’s inability or unwillingness to deal with the rise of cult-figure individuals within the RSS parivar, or closely associated with it, and the corresponding diminishing of idealism and the end of peoples’ movements –
1) A day-long seminar organized by Hindu Dharma Rakshana Samiti in Chennai on the Communal Violence Bill; and
2) Internet news that a certain foul-mouthed American PIO will be touring India in November to promote his second book
The driving force behind both events is Personality Cult 1and his sycophants, supported and legitimised by the Chennai RSS, which, because of Cult 1, has since 2004 been functioning like an independent NGO, conducting its affairs as if on par with Nagpur, if not cut off from it. This gentleman is charged with spawning several Chennai-based organizations with the sole intent to wield control over all intellectual activity within the RSS parivar in Tamil Nadu and set himself up as an alternate power centre.
In the guise of promoting the book authored by the American PIO, Cult 1 has actually played facilitator to legitimise the Harvard Jesuit Francis Clooney who, as the Vatican’s agent for penetration into high Hindu dharmic institutions, is active in Tamil Nadu, especially Chennai. This American PIO author or Cult 3 has sought and received endorsement for his book from Clooney, something from which Cult 1 and his power-house the Chennai RSS are going to find very difficult to wriggle away.
Cult 1, because of his penchant to create new organizations, is charged with being responsible for weakening the VHP and splitting the Tamil Nadu VHP vertically into two.
The VHP, for its part, instead of going on the warpath and confronting the gentleman, chose the easier but less noble path and created for its part Cult 2, a gentleman ‘outside the Sangh’. Thus, the VHP allowed itself, without protest, to be diminished by Cult 1.
The VHP Cult is emerging as some kind of Messiah, enthusiastically promoted by a section of American PIOs who think that because of his activism in Indian courts, Cult 2 is the answer to all problems. The total dependence of the International President of the VHP on Cult 2 indicates that the VHP is no longer a combative societal grassroots outfit and is content to outsource its agenda to individuals and to allow courts to decide the Hindu fate.
The very designations International President and International Secretary-General indicate that the VHP has moved away from its initial inward looking objective.
The rise of Cult 2 within the VHP has caused the VHP to neglect its self-identity as being the driving force behind Hindu mass movements; there has been no Hindu mass movement for over a decade after the Ramjanmabhumi movement fizzled out when the NDA came to power in Delhi. Muslims use state power to move speedily towards their politico-religious objectives, while Hindus use state power (or any other power) to grandstand to the world their commitment to secularism.
Now the VHP has no demonstrable street or societal power only because it has come to rely upon individuals instead of strengthening the organization, and because the VHP has conceded to the courts and to the Muslim community the right to decide not only the size of the Sri Ram temple, but also the question of ownership of the janmabhumi, instead of seizing the initiative and moving resolutely towards building a grand temple as promised.
The writer suspects that Cult 3, who is closely networked with Cults 1, 2 and the Convener of HDAS, is closely involved with Hindus embarking on the dangerous mission called inter-religious dialogue and participating in international multi-religious conferences.
Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati is the common thread connecting all three cults, and the HDAS was created to serve as an international platform for the towering ambitions of Cults 1 and 3 to play at international politics of religion.
Cult 1 and HDAS are charged with promoting this obnoxious PIO author, Cult 3, in RSS circles, in the HDAS, and other organizations created by Cult 1. Notwithstanding the fact that there is well-concealed turf war among them, there is also convergence of interest among the three Cults to silence those not amenable to their control or those unwilling to be cast in the role of adoring acolytes (read slave labour). Swami Dayananda Saraswati is to Cults 1, 3 and American NGOs like HAF what Anna Hazare is to Kejriwal and the Bhushan duo.
The time has come to call all of them to account.
They control among them – the VHP, Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha, Dharma Rakshana Samiti and subsidiaries, (defunct) Thinkers’ Meet, Global Foundation for Civilizational Harmony, Vivekananda International Forum, and the now defunct Vigil Public Opinion Forum. Cults 1 and 2, the VHP, HDAS, DRS, and other organizations, with all the resources available to them, with all the power they have arrogated to themselves, in spite of occupying all the intellectual and organizational space that ordinary Hindus think is Hindu in character, must now be asked to explain -
1) Why has the grand Ram Mandir as envisaged and promised to the Hindus of the country not come up yet on the Ramjanmabhumi?
2) Why did not even one organization or all of them collectively come forward to protect the hundreds of street temples that were destroyed in wave after wave in Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka?
3) Do they understand the politics of public spaces which however is well understood by the Abrahamic cults?
4) Do any of them know the origin and background of the Supreme Court order which allegedly asked for street temples to be removed?
5) Why have they not challenged the horrific demolition of street temples, in what is obviously a move in the war of politics of public spaces in the courts or bring people to the streets in protest, or stand behind the people who did come to the streets to save temples from the municipality bulldozer and who were prepared to confront government authorities?
6) Why did not any of these organizations and individuals challenge the Supreme Court order to open the vaults of the Sri Anantha Padmanabhaswamy Temple? Why didn’t these organizations and individuals even question the idea and raise the issue in public opinion forums that the courts can intrude, with scant respect for customs and tradition, into temple affairs?
7) Why was there no mass movement protesting the Supreme Court order? After all they have proclaimed themselves to be a samiti to protect dharma, they are a Sabha of Hindu religious leaders, they are opinion makers and they are expert litigants?
8) Why are they unable to stop the rapidly mushrooming churches and mosques in the four southern states of the country, driven by foreign funds and the Abrahamic move in politics of public spaces - spaces from where temples have been forcibly removed?
9) Why, in spite of knowing how foreign funds coming to the Abrahamic cults and their NGOs are destroying Hindu religion, Hindu society and Hindu temples, have these experts and opinion makers, religious leaders and intellectuals controlling these organizations not undertaken an aggressive public campaign and launched mass movements against foreign funds and all issues threatening the Hindu face and ethos of the nation?
10) Why has the VHP not replaced Pujya Swami Laxmananda Saraswati of revered memory with another sanyasi in Kandhamal of the same calibre and with the same single-point focus to stop religious conversion by missionaries and to bring back to the native faith those that were lured and bribed to become Christians?
11) Why have these organizations and individuals failed to produce even one expert who should have come up by now with district-wise preliminary reports or tentative estimates about possible changes in the religious demography of the country on the basis of Census data of 2011?
There are several other deeply perturbing questions, but they can all begin by submitting an account of their activities by answering the above.
The rise of these cults within the Hindu community has not stopped the rise of anti-Hindu and anti-nation NGOs and political activists who owe their growth in equal measure to Sonia Gandhi’s ascent in the INC, and to these powerful Hindu organizations which have not served one tangible Hindu cause in the last 20 years, and to somnolent and non-thinking Hindus who sleep through it all.
The decline in the capacity of the RSS and VHP to influence the polity is in direct proportion to the rise of the cult phenomenon. The only thing that gives hope that Hindus have indeed not lost all sense of self-worth and collective dignity is the reaction of individual Hindus to anti-Hindu and anti-nation pronouncements by the NGO and human rights industry.
Human rights activists get their just desserts
Had these organizations and personality-cults served the Hindu nation by putting in place a new and dynamic Hindu idiom in political discourse, there would have been little or no space for Christian political concepts like self-determination, human rights and freedom of religion. It was left to valiant individuals to send strong signals of disapproval.
Prashant Bhushan’s hubris clouded his common sense. He ought to have known, from what happened to Swami Agnivesh in Ahmedabad, to Arundhati Roy, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, and Yaseen Malik that Hindu patience with anti-national pronouncements on Kashmir had ended. Prashant Bhushan was thrashed by angry Hindus in his chambers in the Supreme Court for his Varanasi declamation.
Even Sri Sri Ravishankar was not spared criticism for his insensitive political activism in Srinagar and for the ill-considered encomiums he heaped upon Christian charity to high dignitaries of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue (PCID) in Mumbai.
Sri Sri accepted the hospitality of arch jihadi Syed Geelani during his stay in Srinagar and even posed for pictures with the man, but nary a word on Kashmiri Hindus whom Geelani and all jihadi Sunni Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir had terrorised, genocided and driven out of the valley.
On September 26, in Varanasi, Prashant Bhushan held forth expansively to the press on solutions to Islamic secessionism in Jammu and Kashmir –
§ We are holding on to Jammu and Kashmir with the help of the army
§ We should ‘persuade’ the people of J&K to integrate with us
§ We should withdraw the military from the state of J&K
§ We should end the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act
§ If despite all our persuasion, the people of J&K still want to secede, we should hold a plebiscite in the state and allow the state to secede if that is what the people of J&K really want
In April 2011, a ten-member team including the usual suspects in non-government political activism –Swami Agnivesh, Prashant Bhushan, Seema Mustafa, JNU professor Kamal Mitra Chenoy, film maker Syed Mirza and Zaheer Ali Khan, Editor, Daily Siyasat, went to Srinagar to express solidarity with the newly formed Kashmiri jihadi youth brigade - stone-pelters, street hooligans and their proud mommies.
Swami Agnivesh, donning the role of spokesperson for this anti-national, civil society mob, later addressed the media to the effect that the violent protests against the Indian army in 2010,which included beating up and thrashing army personnel and pelting them with killer stones, was an indigenous movement and had nothing to do with Pakistan or LeT.
The ten-member group was at pains to emphasise that the new wave of jihad against the army was ‘indigenous,’ to drive home the point that this was the voice of the people of Kashmir and had to be taken as an expression of the wishes of Kashmiri people – to tear apart the Hindu nation again.
Within a month of his anti-national media press conference in April, Swami Agnivesh went to Srinagar again in May 2011, this time to participate in a seminar to discuss a proposal to declare Srinagar’s Mughal Gardens a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Not restricting himself to participating in the seminar, Agnivesh, like Sri Sri before him, found time for a photo op with Syed Geelani.
Using the occasion to sound his views on Kashmir again, Agnivesh called upon the Indian government to heed the voice of the people of Kashmir. For good measure he called upon the Government of India to talk to Naxal terrorists too, and as piece de resistance termed the Amarnath Yatra a fraudulent religious act.
Agnivesh is nothing if not persistent. Earlier, in March 2011, he took with him a convoy of Naxal-friendly journalists to Naxal-infested Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh, to investigate (sic) reports of police atrocities. Angry villagers, including a large number of women widowed by Naxal terrorism in Chhattisgarh, shouted angrily at Swami Agnivesh and pelted eggs on the convoy vehicles for good measure, forcing the Chhattisgarh police (whose ‘atrocities’ this officious gang was investigating) to escort Agnivesh & co. out of Dantewada.
Enraged by Swami Agnivesh’s offensive statement to the press about the Amarnath Yatra, a Hindu sanyasi, Mahant Nityanand, knocked off Agnivesh’s turban from his head in Ahmedabad, at a public meeting against corruption in May 2011, in what can only be construed as a telling metaphor for Agnivesh using consumptive discourse to knock off J&K from the body of the Hindu nation.
Prashant Bhushan’s seditious comments on J&K too were caught on video, making it impossible for him or for Team Anna to deny them.
Knowing well that Prashant Bhushan’s remarks could jeopardise Arvind Kejriwal’s grand design for Team Anna to rule the country vicariously, Anna Hazare did the next best thing – he distanced himself and his team from Prashant Bhushan’s statement and speedily announced maun vrat, a cunning Gandhian political instrument to pre-empt problematic questions from shrewd observers.
The real problem however, is not Prashant Bhushan or Swami Agnivesh; the problem is Hindu failure to ask how and why anti-Hindu intellectuals dominate the country’s political discourse. The real problem is Hindus themselves.
Consumptive polity and pervasive Hindu ineptitude
A country’s polity derives from the people’s collective sense of nation and nationhood. Hindus constitute the majority populace of the nation and political orthodoxy demands that Hindus should have influenced and controlled the polity and the idiom of political discourse.
While the Abrahamic cults of Jesus and Mohammed determine the polity of the countries and continents they have already overrun and occupied with bloody violence, in Hindu majority India, Hindus have themselves permitted the shameful state of affairs where politics of minority-ism determines the discourse on nation and nationhood. Politics of minority-ism derived from Gandhi’s de-Hinduised political activism in the pre-independence years and Nehru’s anti-Hindu governance and administration after 1947.
The bells tolled for the Hindu nation in January 1915 when Gandhi returned to India from South Africa. Not a single Hindu from within the INC or outside the INC, including Aurobindo, Rajaji, Munshi, Malaviya, Patel, Bose, Savarkar and Hedgewar could stop Gandhi as he drained the INC and the larger Hindu society of all spirit and initiative even as the Muslim League went from strength to strength culminating in vivisection of the nation in 1947. If Gandhi is guilty for actively causing vivisection, illustrious Hindus of the time are just as guilty for their failure to stop Gandhi well before 1947 and Nehru after independence.
After Tilak passed away and Aurobindo decided to do spirituality, there has been no powerful Hindu thinker to correct the Gandhian discourse on nation and nationhood.
Gandhi was propped up as future leader of the INC by Gokhale and the Imperial British government in London even when Gandhi was in South Africa, for very far-sighted and well-thought out reasons. Most Hindus within the INC accepted his leadership without question, while those that questioned Gandhi or expressed serious differences with him, like Bose, N.B. Khare, Rajaji and K.M. Munshi, were expelled or forced out of the Congress. Others like Dr. Hedgewar and Dr. B.S. Moonje distanced themselves quietly from Gandhi and the INC and travelled a different path.
RSS adhikaris who have made Chennai their base and have made the Chennai RSS look like Gandhi’s INC, must note this point and face the truth that today, rather than confront the RSS or some of its adhikaris, thinking Hindus and Hindus with a deep sense of commitment to serve Hindu society and nation have distanced themselves from the RSS and continue to work “outside the Sangh”. If silence of the Hindus was a mistake in Gandhi’s time, it is a mistake now.
Vivisection of the Hindu nation became a certainty because the Indian National Congress led by Gandhi was no match for the Muslim League. The Muslim League articulated clearly the Muslim objective to rule the whole of India after the British withdrew; failing which they declared their intention to do everything to tear the Hindu nation apart.
The INC was a weak and dispirited political entity with no thinker to give it a sense of purpose because the Hindus in the INC with neither the intelligence nor the courage to stand up to Gandhi were no match for the Muslims of the Muslim League. Gandhi and his sycophants, and later Nehru and his sycophants, thus came to occupy all the political space.
Even the RSS was unable to stop Gandhi and later Nehru and his brand of anti-Hindu polity called Nehruvian secularism or politics of minority-ism. The RSS must face up to this truth too.
Until the sudden appearance on the horizon of the Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha in 2003 for reasons shrouded in mystery, the RSS and its most important sibling, the VHP, were the only organized Hindu bodies committed to protecting Hindu interests. As the VHP gathered strength and mobilised Hindus to unite in the cause of liberating Ramjanmabhumi from Muslim occupation, and made organized and well-publicised ‘ghar vapsi’ or return of Christians and Muslims to the native Hindu faith an important and new agenda, the hopes of every Hindu rose at the prospect of a new vehicle finally taking shape to protect Hindu interests.
Thinking Hindus now began to expect the RSS to restore the balance of influence in the country’s polity in favour of Hindu nationalists and thus correct the prevalent anti-Hindu political discourse.
Foreign-funded Christian and Marxist NGOs, and activists of the likes of Prashant Bhushan, Sandeep Pandey, Nirmala Deshpande, Arundhati Roy and Teesta Setalvad, politicians like Digvijay Singh and Mani Shankar Iyer, and judges like Markandey Katju and some others occupy dominant space in political discourse because, contrary to popular Hindu expectations, in all these years the RSS has failed to produce and promote even one thinker from among Hindus with the capacity to alter the language and idiom of political discourse so radically that it would be extremely difficult and even impossible for any government, judiciary and administration to say or do anything that offends Hindu sensibilities or goes against Hindu interests.
The point cannot be laboured enough that political thinkers must be associated with political vehicles for ideas to be realized as functioning political principles and ideology. Thinkers who work alone or are forced to work alone, no matter how brilliant, actually serve little purpose. Nagpur must begin to ponder if declining RSS influence in the country is because it has not produced or owned up to political thinkers.
At the heart of the faulty Indian political discourse is Gandhi’s pronouncement that the country belongs to all who reside in its territory – Muslims, Christians, Beni-Israelis, Parsis and Hindus. Considering the direction in which Gandhi was leading the INC, for the Abrahamic cults, ‘belong’ included destroying Hindu dharma through demographic aggression and claiming territory through separatism and secessionism.
It was left to Savarkar to articulate in unambiguous language that those residing on the territory of the Hindu nation, for whom the land was not both punya bhumi and pitru bhumi, while they could ‘belong’ to the nation, however could not claim the territory with a view to alienating it from Hindus and Hindu dharma.
But Savarkar cried in the wilderness and unlike the Muslim League which owned up to the Khilafat Committee and absorbed Committee members within its ranks, the RSS did not own up to, absorb or even make common cause with the Hindu Mahasabha with its explicit Hindu face and clear-headed political orientation.
The absence of radical political thinking and political objective, and therefore the failure to articulate the character and content of the political dimension of Hindu Rashtra by the RSS, is beginning to show. As concerned as some Hindu nationalists by the direction (or the lack of it) in which Hindu organizations are moving even now, and in the face of resurgent Christian evangelism and Islamic jihad, Belgian historian and scholar Koenraad Elst wrote ‘Hindu activism outside the Sangh’.
This is a blunt critique of RSS inability to own up to and retain Hindu thinkers and doers within the fold – a critique which, while it analysed and detailed the reasons for why much of contemporary Hindu thinking and activism is happening outside the RSS fold, nevertheless does not deny and even commends the undeniable merits of the RSS in other areas of national life.
The writer personally would not have used the word ‘activism’ which is associated with shrill advocacy and unjustly excludes serious thinking. However, the phrase ‘outside the Sangh’ by Dr. Elst is telling, because just as the RSS failed to own up to Savarkar and the Hindu Mahasabha during the critical 1930s and ‘40s decade, the RSS is failing even now to own up to path-breaking and radical Hindu political ideas which, if launched into national mainstream politics, can serve to correct the consumptive anti-Hindu political discourse.
(To be continued …)
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this writing are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of League of India, its Editorial Board or the business and socio-political interests that they might represent.
This article was first published on Vijayvaani website here