PROUD OF ITS
By Victor Banerjee
Seventy five years ago, to this
Bijoya Dashami day, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh was formed. Today, its
relevance, in a society that is still caste-ridden and consumed by the
subliminal brainwash of multinational commerce and globalization, is questioned
by everyone that suffers under the hilarious delusion that Nehru and Gandhi were
responsible for making Hindus “secular”.
Distinguished editors write caveats that are always
full of insight and well researched. Although by definition a caveat is a
caution or warning that the notifier be given a hearing, yet it usually helps
stall rather than alter a situation. Laid back individuals like myself who love
to read newspapers over scrambled eggs and percolated coffee at breakfast and
review it during a paid-for lunch at work, seldom act beyond discussing it while
stirring the soup to cool it. In the evening, lulled by the callousness of
another day of sameness, we cast the issue upon a stack in a proscribed corner
of our homes, for consignment to the kabariwalla at the end of the month.
Eminent columnists can justly claim to know more about
and have greater insights into all the problems that our societies confront. But
they are not the sole proprietors of commonness. The knock at K.S. Sudarshan of
the RSS and the simplistic interpretation of what the man said makes you wonder
if columnists address the same people as Sudarshan does everyday. In other
words, those who, in the name of a ludicrous “democracy”, are conned to put
a stamp on a cow or lantern or bicycle or rose to elect goons and hoodlums to
Parliament, to the utter disgrace and disgust of the rest of the nation. As for
the sop we continually offer missionaries, it would take no major journalistic
scoop to unveil some of the detestable activities of modern-day Christian
missionaries, in the name of Jesus who, given half a chance, would probably cast
them out of his temple.
My cop out with such political incorrectness, like
yours, is that some of my best friends are Christian or Muslim. Ask them
sincerely, and they too will endorse the hypocrisies of today’s evangelism and
mismanagement of church properties and funds. Our leaders and the press,
paranoid about the foot-in-mouth disease, are forever on the defensive: shameful
of our pantheistic heathenism and caught on the self-righteous backfoot.
Bollywood, for the moment, desists from depicting all Christians as deeply
religious alcoholics and all Muslims as secular saviours of the community.
There is no such pussyfooting in China, England or in
the United States when it comes to defending the faith in their countries. It is
not considered prejudice, nor bias. However, the West also has the
proprietorship in a specific definition of “human rights” that the eastern
bloc, Africa and Asia are fast learning to incorporate into their ethos if they
want their bogies attached to the economic gravy train: our only priority. One
never needs to condemn a faith but nor should one shy away from pointing a
finger at an individual who uses it for the wrong ends or whose means of
achieving an end are honestly questionable. I have publicly condemned our
politicians’ rath yatras and their pathetic disacknowledgment of any
responsibility for the destruction of the Babri Masjid, for the same reason. I
also think Mulayam Singh’s shooting down of unarmed rowdies was a horrific
example of how little we value life.
If one flips through the pages of Madhavrao
Golwalkar’s (Guruji’s) Bunch
the RSS handbook so to speak, one might be pleasantly surprised to discover that
most of the work is simple commonsense and morally upright. Something you can
safely hand to your children. Golwalkar’s book is not, and the RSS ideologies
are not, nearly as inflammable and fundamentalist as is popularly dished out by
respectable intellectuals to an impressionable public which has also been taught
to believe that Gandhi and Nehru and other imports and clones from the British
educational system are the ones responsible for making us xenophobic Hindus
Every Hindu, Christian, Muslim and Buddhist who
lives below the poverty line and at the mercy of floods, droughts and cyclones
will tell you that the RSS is more sinned against than sinning. I
know from personal experience in Orissa and Uttarkashi that while governments
were still sleeping, tucked under the warmth of ill-gotten wealth and
sycophantic worship from acolytes, the RSS was out in a matter of hours, if not
minutes, with organized rescue operations. Even when the fashion of “relief
work” has moved on to newer calamities, the RSS continues its work silently.
Every international agency, whose Christmas cards we charitably purchase and
distribute, will vouch for the fact that the RSS does more work in devastated
parts of India than any government agency, from Arunachal to Dwarka and Kashmir
to Kanya Kumari.
Today the RSS is cursed. It is responsible for the
Babri Masjid and Hindutva and every other item on the Bharatiya Janata
Party’s “covert” agenda. Anyone, who has known the RSS, will tell you that
it never needed the BJP to give it muscle. On the contrary, the members of the
RSS are the ones who lent their muscle to the BJP, when the party came
begging for it in pursuance of its “nationalistic” ideals and an akhand
Bharat. Atal Behari Vajpayee was an RSS member first and a Jan Sangh man
later. Just because he writes and speaks Urdu, as most of his generation do, a
language quaintly associated with Muslims to the sad cultural detriment of the
Hindu Hindi-speaking belt, Vajpayee is given the stamp of approval for being a
liberal and not a fundamentalist Hindu. Claims he can justly endorse in spite of
his longstanding allegiance to the RSS that we consider a plague.
Shyamaprasad Mookerjee and Vallabhbhai Patel are fondly
referred to as “great nationalists” that Sudarshan has no business
identifying with because they had nothing in common with what is preached now.
Shyamaprasad was a close friend of the family and I know different. The fact is
if Patel had toed the line then and not spouted much more than Sudarshan dares
utter today, Nehru would not have become prime minister. Perhaps Sudarshan
should have referred to Veer Savarkar who led the Hindu Mahasabha and was the
first to define the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 as a “war of Independence” but was
also manipulatively shunned by those aspiring to govern a partitioned India. He
was later prosecuted by the Congress and tried for Gandhi’s murder, for his
was a “cult of violence”, like Aurobindo Ghosh’s and Subhas Chandra
Bose’s. To get Savarkar and the rest of the accused, the government extended
the “Bombay Public Security Measures Act” (yesteryear’s TADA), with
retrospective effect, to cover Delhi, before constituting the special court.
That the partition of India killed more people and caused more bloodshed than
the tragic holocaust in Europe is something seldom talked about or remembered,
even though its ramifications shed innocent blood to this day.
So what about our favourite whipping boy, Nathuram
Godse? A small quote is bound to leave you
thinking. After his retirement, Justice Khosla,
who presided over the appeals after the high court had passed its sentence,
wrote the following: “The highlight of the appeal before us was the discourse
delivered by Nathuram Godse in his defence. (He made no appeal against his
conviction under Section 302 nor against the death sentence.) The audience was
visibly and audibly moved. There was a deep silence when he ceased speaking.
Many women were in tears and men coughing and searching for their handkerchiefs.
I have no doubt that had the audience of that day been constituted into a jury
and entrusted with the task of deciding Godse’s appeal, they would have
brought in a verdict of “not guilty” by an overwhelming majority.”
The history of the 20th century will soon be researched
and history books revised and it won’t need the BJP or the RSS to do it. A
century later our great grandchildren shall have a better perspective on what is
happening in India today. They shall judge us fairly and squarely. God knows we
must try and develop a greater understanding amongst the peoples who constitute
“the wonderful mosaic that is India”, if we expect to receive a pat on our
dead backs for having moved the country forward and made the right choices.
Yes, we can all get hot under our collars and argue
over this piece like the seculars we profess to be. We can call ourselves
nothing else for fear of its colour sticking to us. Eventually, we shall
collapse on our steaming sofas with a Rooh Afza on-the-rocks to nostalgically
contemplate Balmoral’s reaction to Diana’s affairs and Charles’ greying
temples or ruminate over a ubiquitous cigar and a night in the Lincoln Bedroom.
Let us stop throwing stones at the Missionaries of
Charity one day and the RSS the next, when we don’t lift a finger ourselves to
serve humanity. Donating money is easy, giving time a whole different ball game.
Wheareas the RSS may stick in your throat every
time you mention it, find an alternative for all the good work it does.
Try and create an army of disciplined selfless social workers, like it has, in a
world where the ladies of the “Time & Talents Club”, the “Spastics
Society”, the “Friends of the Trees”, the “World Wildlife Fund” and
the “Calcutta Foundation” flounder for support and membership even though
they are embryonically connected to all the moneybags that buy and sell
India’s future every day.
I know I am sticking my neck out by writing to remove
some of the misgivings that we nurture about the RSS, but as Nathuram said to
the jailer before he was hung, and I quote, “I must have a cup of coffee
before I swing”. So it’s on to breakfast and today’s headlines. Death
tolls? Mere statistics; our nation’s caveat? Ignore it.
And, by the way, for those who might be interested, I
am not, nor was I ever, a member of the RSS.