In a series of lectures in Vigyan Bhavan in 2018 Mohan Bhagwat spoke in a language due to which many insiders and many commentators outside the Sangh felt that it is a major moment for RSS and it is changing drastically. The RSS supremo went to the extent of reciting the preamble of Indian Constitution and upheld secularism and socialism. In the recent interview to its mouth pieces, Panchjanya and Organiser, this month, the language has changed to what can be said to be ‘Golwlakar 2.0’.
Golwalkar’s “Bunch of Thoughts”, which is not much quoted by the Sangh ideologues these days, argues that Muslims, Christians and Communists are internal threat to the Hindu Nation. In his other book, ‘We or Our Nationhood Defined’, this ideologue asserts that we are a Hindu nation from times immemorial and the minorities should be given the same treatment what Germans gave to the Jews and other weaker sections of society in Germany.
Now when Bhagwat says that threat is not from outside but from inside, he is repeating Golwalkar’s formulation. In his earlier pronouncements he had been trying to gain legitimacy to the extent that a section of Muslim elite went to have dialogue with him. Now in the present circumstances it seems that Bhagwat wants to show RSS agenda in its blunt form. So, he states that ‘Hindu’ has been on war from last thousand years and now ‘Hindu’ has woken up. As per him there is no harm to the Muslims living today in Bharat. If they wish to stick to their faith, they can. If they want to return to the faith of their ancestors, they may. It is entirely their choice”. Also, they have to give up their sense of superiority. He covers a wide range of topics from cruel Muslim invasion to illegal immigrants to accommodating transgenders among others.
As per him there is nothing to fear for Muslims, only they should become used to occasional beatings in trains like Asim Hussain; they should become used to boycott on the pretext of Corona jihad or land (Shaheen Bagh, Haldwani) or UPSC jihad among others. There is a consistent theme in his pronouncements and that reasserts the RSS understanding of ‘Hindu Nation from times immemorial’! Was this the identity and religion of the people living here all through? Was the South Asian community a homogenous mass living under one Republic or monarch? The present concept of Nation state is just a few centuries old and earlier there were pastoral groups, followed by Kingdoms, which were at loggerheads with each other. It was not Hindu versus others.
Just a small example will suffice: Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, for establishing his kingdom, had to defeat Chandra Rao More, another Hindu king. His armies plundered in Surat and Bengal. In Bengal, Maratha army plundered recklessly including the rich trader Jagat Seth.
In his battle against Aurangzeb, he had Muslim Generals like Ibrahim Gardi and Daulat Khan. Aurangzeb had sent his top officer Raj Jaisingh to contain Shivaji Maharaj. So, what is this ‘Hindu is at war from 1000 years’ proclamation? It is basically history related to diverse kingdoms and not people. Again, it was Rana Sanga who invited Babar to come to join him in battle against Ibrahim Lodi. In Bhima Koregaon battle, the Peshwas’ army had Arab Muslim mercenaries; in another instance, Rana Pratap had thousand Pathan soldiers in his army which took on Akbar in Haldighati.
The real struggle had been at the social level, the upper caste domination and atrocities against the lower castes, so very well pointed out by Swami Vivekananda. Kings’ administrations were mixed and people interacted at social level giving rise to our culture, which had admixture of best of the traditions irrespective of from which religion they came. The whole edifice of RSS ideology is to hide the caste/varna atrocities of our history and to deflect to the battle of Kings and rule of different Muslim kings, particularly Mughals. So, in their projection, on one side there are Muslim aggressors and other side “Hindu”! It is an illogical way of presenting history.
RSS adorns the garb of representing Hindus, and puts itself as ‘Hindu’, who has woken up. As ‘Hindu’ has been at war and woken up during the last two decades and is in ‘hyper state’ in the last eight years is to be accepted and not to be feared of as per Bhagwat. This ‘waking up’ has stepped up the violence against Muslim-Christian minorities. This woken up Hindu is represented by the likes of Dara Singh (killer of Pastor Graham Staines) or Shambhulal Regar who killed Afrazul or those who have been indulging in lynching of Muslims on the pretext of cow beef. As Bhagwat is stating that Muslims have nothing to fear, bulldozers are delivering justice to them, while another set is intimidating Christian missionaries, particularly in Adivasi areas.
Human Rights Watch report 2022, points out that home demolitions are being used more and more brutally against Muslims in India. Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen states that the exercise of CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) is weakening the Muslim minority and strengthening the Hindu majoritarianism. As far as Muslim superiority is concerned, some communal thinkers among Muslims, the elite sections did try to generalize the ‘we Muslims were the rulers’; this was parallel and opposite to ‘This has been a Hindu Rashtra’. The atrocities, beef lynchings, love jihad intimidations are not due to the ‘superiority’ feeling among Muslims. It is enfoldment of agenda of hate constructed by the Hindu majoritarianism.
Why has the language of Sarsanghchalak changed from his 2018 speeches in Vigyan Bhavan? There may be many reasons for Bhagwat to be more forthright than sugarcoating his agenda earlier. Many state elections are due in 2023 and General Elections are due in 2024. The polarization around identity issues seems to be the main instrument in its hands. Amit Shah has already blown the conch for next elections, saying that Ram Temple will be ready by January 2024. Bhagwat is operating on the same wavelength. The massive response to Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra may be another factor.
Another point may be to put forward a subtle defense for those spewing hate like Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur (who said ‘sharpen your knives’) or likes of Yeti Narsinghanand (who said ‘40% Hindus will be killed if a Muslim becomes PM’). It may be a signal for its other foot soldiers to carry on their work irrespective of the criticism they face and odd court ruling which may be critical of their actions. His insinuation about ‘balance of population’ is also unwarranted as the fertility rate among women, including Muslim women, is falling.
‘Hindus society has awakened: Natural to be aggressive’, this ‘Bhagwat speak’ totally contravenes the greatest Hindu of 20th Century, Mahatma Gandhi, who gave the call for peace and non-violence, compassion and love.