American journalist Pieter Friedrich’s summary article in the Medium and his full article and video on the RSS is replete with misinformation and insinuations about Hindutva, RSS, Modi, and India in general. The RSS march in Hyderabad on 25 December 2019 conjures up Nazi images in Pieter’s mind. He finds support for his imagery in the tweets of Swain and Kandasamy. Pieter wonders why other rallies were banned. He is obviously unaware that permitting or banning a march, is decided by the state government which is ruled by a regional party. Consequently, Pieter should question the Chief Minister Rao — once a cabinet minister in the left-backed Congress-led government at the Centre.
Pieter begins ‘’the RSS is probably the world’s oldest and largest paramilitary group’’. Webster’s dictionary defines paramilitary as “forces formed by a government’’. Sharma (2008:3) notes that the purpose and functions of paramilitary forces ‘’are like those of a professional military force but which are not regarded as having the same status’’ and provides a detailed description of 15 paramilitary forces in India. The RSS is not listed. Is the RSS then, an anti-government organization- a militia, guerilla or insurgency group? A list of such groups, including 102 insurgency organizations in India is provided by global security. The RSS is not listed. Consequently, Pieter designating the RSS as a ‘’paramilitary group’’ is fallacious.
What then is the RSS?
If the RSS is not a paramilitary group then what is it? The RSS is like the Boy Scouts. The motto of the Boy Scouts is ‘’to contribute to the education of young people in achieving their full physical, intellectual, emotional, social and spiritual potentials as individuals, as responsible citizens and as members of their local, national and international communities’’. The RSS too was conceived ‘’as a kind of educational body’’ for ‘’character-building experience’’ (Anderson and Damle, 1987:2). As in the Boy Scouts, physical exercises are a part of a routine in the RSS shakha (the bottom of the hierarchy). Surya Namaskar (Sun/ Yoga postures) are routinely undertaken in the RSS shakha just as in Boy Scouts in India. Like the Boy Scouts, the RSS also trains its volunteers to play a constructive role in society by developing their life skills, evidenced by the work of its outfit Sewa Bharati. For character-building, the RSS imparts moral education ingrained in the cultural tradition of India. There is no formal membership of the RSS and anyone can join a shakha including Muslims and Christians or leave it, if they so wish. After all, Indian Muslims (and by implication Christians) are descendants of Hindus as Nehru told in an interview. The contribution of the RSS to nation-building was recognized by Nehru. He invited the RSS to march in the Republic Day parade. Mahatma Gandhi and Ambedkar too praised the work of the RSS. The former President of India and a veteran Congress Party leader Pranab Mukherjee recently addressed a gathering of RSS volunteers.
If the wearing of a uniform and exercising with a lathi (stick) have led Pieter to believe that the RSS is a paramilitary organization then he better studies the Boy Scouts organizations across the world. They undergo firearms training which the RSS does not. Accordingly, Pieter should be more worried about the Boy Scouts in America rather than the RSS. Pieter’s other objection is why women are allowed in a separate women’s wing in the RSS. It is because as in Girl Guides ‘’girls are best served by a program designed specifically for Guides, and facilitated by women’’. Similarly, ‘’girls only’’ schools are allowed in the USA as overwhelming evidence demonstrates that such schools benefit girls in multiple ways. Before concocting stories of gender discrimination within the RSS-fold, Pieter may like to eradicate gender and racial discrimination in the USA.
The RSS is a voluntary organization of persons with a common belief system underpinned by the Hindu value system (Anderson and Damle, 1987). According to Golwalkar, it has four elements: invincible physical strength, character, intellectual acumenand fortitude (Anderson and Damle 1987:74). Can Pieter tell us what is wrong with this value system? If interested, he can read relevant sources to know the Hindu value system in detail.
Why is the RSS hated?
The roots of RSS hatred could be traced to pre-independence years. The British found that opposition to their rule came from the Hindu community. To weaken the Hindus, it was necessary to divide them. The caste-system which was a society accepted division of labor and worked fine before the British arrived was used to create a division. Similarly, the Hindu-Muslim religious divide was exploited. Islam, Christianity, and Communists have an agenda to spread their faith or ideology internationally. Accordingly, the British and these multi-national groups (MNGs) ganged-up against the RSS as it aimed to unite Hindus.
Post-independence, the only change was Nehru replaced the British. Nehru’s election-winning formula was ‘’ divide Hindus and unite Muslims’’ and so also that of other parties who describe themselves as secular. The strategies included: engineering language, caste, communal, political violence and secular vs communal debates. It worked for 70 odd years till Modi challenged it successfully in 2014. Modi’s win at the national-level was wholly unexpected for the MNGs and Nehruvians positioned themselves as a ‘’centrist party’’. Modi’s tough stand against Pakistan meant both inside and outside enemies united against Modi who was fast emerging as a global leader. Unable to take on Modi electorally, the MNGs, Nehruvians, and Pakistan unleashed information warfare against Modi and his mentor the RSS, as is reflected in the national and international media.
The MNGs consider that those who do not subscribe to their world-view are the ‘’others’’. These ‘’others’’ need to be converted or killed. Inside the MNGs too, each group fights with the other to increase their adherents. It has resulted in horrible bloodshed among the competitors, Islam and Christianity, writes Armstrong (2014) — a former nun. China’s Communist party persecutes both Christians and Muslims. Interestingly, though outside India the MNGs are at each other’s throat, within India, they work in solidarity against the Hindus. With nearly a billion adherents, Hindus become an attractive religious/ideological market to capture. Naturally, the RSS with its aim to unite the Hindus becomes the villain for MNGs and for political reasons to the Nehruvians and Pakistan. Interestingly, after documenting in detail the violence perpetrated by Islam, Christianity and the Communists, Armstrong (2014) considers Buddhism (a religion of the Hindu pantheon) as the noble path.
MNGs insist on ‘’regimentation, conformity and control’’ while Hinduism encourages freedom of choice and pluralism. Hindus have never ever forced their world-view on others and naturally expect similar reciprocation which the MNGs deny. MNG’s are obsessed with their faith/ideology, Hinduism thinks beyond — to the welfare of entire humanity.
Hindu Kings welcomed non-Hindus and provided them full religious freedom as ancient history tells us. But as the ‘’guests’’ grew in numbers, they started imposing their world-view on the ‘’host’’ in various ways. Politically, they formed a vote-bank to influence political outcomes, for example, the Congress Party (Nehruvians) woes Shahi Imam to garner Muslim votes en-bloc. The Goa Church Priest gives a hateful address to parishioners against the BJP. At the religion-level, three strategies are employed: reviling religion and abusing gods and saints, preaching excellency of their faith and using converts as examples (Sharma, 2017). Once they get critical mass as in the North-East, for example, they agitate for independence! At the social-level, they fuel conflict within the Hindu society exploiting the caste-system. At the individual level, they resort to violence against Hindus. At the intellectual-level, the Marxists, for example, create a narrative that Muslim rulers were good for India. Similarly, the colonial rulers invented the Aryan Invasion Theory to consolidate power. Furthermore, the plight of Hindus rarely gets media attention as the MNGs have infiltrated media over the years with political patronage provided by Nehruvians. They tarnish Hindus projecting them as barbaric and innocent Muslims and Christians as the victims.
But do the goals of the MNGs, and Nehruvians lust for power create harmony or conflict in the society? The violence in communist countries is well-documented. What the Muslims and Christians think of each other can be seen from Pew Research. The situation in Islamic countries and Christian fundamentalism is no different. The ideological/religious havoc the MNGs have unleashed on the world for centuries robs not only the ordinary people in their fold but also the rest of the world of peace.
The Hindus stand in stark contrast. Over many centuries Hinduism assimilated many faiths and traditions and considered these faiths to be just different ways to explore the Ultimate Reality. This broad-minded attitude, however, runs counter to what the MNGs profess. It probably gives them a feeling of unease that if the Hindu Thought gains currency the world over, their ‘’business’’ would be lost. Consequently, they unite in their attack on Hinduism. They consider Hinduism to be their principal adversary given that demographically it is among the top five world religions.
As the Hindus have been besieged by these forces for centuries, a need for self-preservation arose. The RSS addressed this need hence its rise over the years. Would Pieter deny the right of self-defense to Hindus and Hindu organizations? But the rise of the RSS creates roadblocks for the MNGs objectives. Naturally, they hate the RSS.
The RSS Parivar
Pieter then notes that under the umbrella of the RSS are the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP -student wing), the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP-political wing), the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP- religious wing) and the Bajrang Dal (youth wing of the VHP) and that Hindutva underpins these subsidiaries. Did Pieter check the websites of these organizations? Barring the VHP, there is no mention of Hindu or Hindutva in their mission /philosophy /constitution or the history. The BJP proclaims its philosophy to be integral humanism. But is Pieter not interested in such details as it runs counter to the narrative he wants to push?
Pieter conveniently excludes 32 more affiliates of the RSS. A complete list of 36 organizations within the RSS is provided by Anderson and Damle (2018). These organizations work in areas such as health (Arogya Bhavan), labor unions (Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh), farmers (Bhartiya Kisan Sangh), social service (Bhartiya Vikas Parishad and Sewa Bharati), Education (Bhartiya Shikshan Mandal), rural development and research (Gram Vikas and Deendayal Shodh Sansthan), consumer issues (Grahak Panchayat), cooperatives (Sahakar Bharati), social cohesion (Samajik Samrasta) and tribal welfare (Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram) among others. Some of these are registered organizations and have their own websites. Similarly, the Annual Report 2019 of the RSS also provides useful details. Pieter does refer to the book of Anderson and Damle but conveniently ignores the multifarious activities of the RSS. Why?
Next, Pieter shows a slide with the picture of Bharat Mata (Mother India)and Swami Vivekananda and asserts that common to the ideology of the Sangh Parivar is the ideology of Hindutva. The display of Vivekanand’s picture is not to be taken lightly. Later he links RSS with the Nazis and thereby attempts to malign the icons of Hinduism. Vivekanand is an ideal for the RSS but he was a monk and had nothing to do with the RSS.
Pieter cites the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) that Hindutva holds ‘’non-Hindus as foreign to India’’. Malhotra (2004) notes ‘’This Commission itself exists largely to protect the freedom of Christian evangelists to convert internationally. Rarely, if ever, has it condemned Christian countries over freedom of religion or investigated allegations against the proselytizers’ practices’’. Pieter highlights that Amnesty International also considers that the RSS aims to establish a Hindu Nation. But human rights organizations like the Amnesty or Human Rights Watch drew flak from a Nobel Lauriat ‘’who considers them as the great curse of this world’’.
Pieter considers it alarming that the RSS Chief Bhagwat calls India a Hindu Nation. Pieter needs to first understand the concept of the Hindu Nation of the RSS.
Hinduism, Hindutva, and a Hindu Nation
While Christianity and Islam are religions, Hinduism is not. It is a way of life and refers to Hindu philosophy and worship practices. The Hindu philosophy with many strands, often challenging each other, developed over 5,000 or more years by debates, discussion and disagreements. Hindu worship practices are also diverse. As both the philosophy and practices are pluralistic, the secular and democratic tradition is ingrained, inherent and inseparable from Hinduism. It provides freedom of choice. It is flatly atheistic (Cooper 2003) and ‘’because of the importance it gives to the values ingrained in all religions, it — along with Buddhism — is often referred to as the most secular religion in the world’. Consequently, humanity would or should embrace Hinduism. Christianity and Islam are regimented religious paradigms. They believe in proselytizing. The mass conversion of subjugated people was for political messaging rather than to achieve spiritual coherence (Armstrong, 2014). They want to impose their world-view on others sowing the seeds of conflict as a conversation with a Christian missionary reveals.
Hinduism (actually not an ‘’ism’’ but an open architecture) is a subset of Hindutva. While the former is concerned with the philosophical and religious (worship-related practices), the latter refers to the ‘’totality of the cultural, historical and above all the national aspects along with the religious one, which mark out the Hindu people as a whole’’ (Savarkar 1969: v). Hindutva covers the entire gamut of the history of Hindus and the struggles they endured, the sociology, the psychology, and the development of science and art over the millennia. Hinduism is not a fossilized thought either. It is ever-evolving and continuously adapting to change. It refers to the outlook or a perspective on life. Naturally, Hindus are proud of both Hindutva and Hinduism. Aren’t Americans proud of their history and culture? The concept of Hindutva (includes Hindu values) is an all-inclusive concept precisely contrary to what Pieter and his ilk are trying to convey. Instead of holding a biased view, Pieter should have asked what humanity can learn from this ancient Indus valley civilization (Hindutva for short) that has survived continuously for several millennia while other civilizations perished in a few hundred years. But that would require in-depth research. Mud-slinging is easy.
The concept of Hindu Nation is very different from that of a Christian Nation or Islamic Nation. As Golwalkar clarifies, ‘’our concept of Hindu Nation…..is essentially cultural’’. In the cultural concept, proselytizing, and empire-building is not intended. Hindus have never ever harbored ambitions to subjugate other countries or people and spread the Hindu empire or nation as the Christians or Islamists have over the years through religious crusades.
The RSS uses the term Hindu Rashtra — there is no equivalent English term for Rashtra (could be closer to a Hindu country, not a Hindu Nation). A nation is different than a country. A country has political boundaries but a nation can ignore political boundaries and spill-over into multiple states or countries. Consequently, by translating ‘Rashtra’ as ‘’nation’’, Pieter subtly tries to push a narrative that the RSS and Hindutva have an objective like the Third Reich or that of a Pan Islamic or Pan Christian world. Probably, the word ‘’nation’’ is deliberately used to malign the RSS. Savarkar (1969) seems to have translated Rashtra into Nation probably due to a lack of equivalent English words to capture the meaning. This is similar to the word Murti in Sanskrit. Its translation as ‘’idol’’ has created havoc. The concept of the Hindu Nation of the RSS is one of the emotional ties with the Hindu culture. No wonder the landmass of India is referred to as Mother India (Bharat Mata) by the RSS.
Furthermore, Golwalkar, explains “there are some who imagine that the concept of Hindu Nation is a challenge to the very existence of the Muslim and the Christian co-citizens and they will be thrown out and exterminated. Nothing could be more absurd or detrimental to our national sentiment. It is an insult to our great and all-embracing cultural heritage.”
Pieter then refers to the work of Anderson and Damle but provides an incorrect link. Again, Pieter does not provide any reference list at the end of his article nor full in-text references with author, date and page number for a direct citation as is the convention. Is this deliberate or just a piece of sloppy work? Again, by labeling Golwalkar as the ‘’supreme leader’’ instead of ‘’RSS Chief or Head’’ he subtly draws a connection to Hitler or Kim Jong-un.
Pieter invokes Suzanne Arundhati
Suzanne Arundhati Roy — a far-left activist in India, (her husband had no qualms in illegally grabbing tribal land though), considers RSS to be a ‘’ deep’’, ‘’parallel’’ state that functions alongside the ruling government. ‘’Deep state’’ description is a product of Suzanne’s pathological dislike of Hindutva. Why did she and Pieter not find the ‘’ deep state’’ alarming when PM Manmohan Singh, was taking orders from the National Advisory Council (NAC), an extra-constitutional authority or Nehru dynasty scion Rahul tearing off public decisions made by Manmohan Singh cabinet?. Is it because some of the members of the NAC had far-left ideology? Binayak Sen, who was facing sedition charges was advising the NAC!
Pieter dubs as ‘’pogrom’’ the 2002 Gujarat communal riot. The word ‘’pogrom’’ refers to the organised massacre of helpless people. India witnessed pogrom only twice: Sikh massacre in 1984 and exodus of Kashmiri Hindus in the 1990s– both during the left-backed Congress party rule. Pieter then cites an article of Noorani, (a known Hindu/RSS phobic) from Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper to assert that BJP without RSS is hollow. We can advise Pieter that by using sources from Pakistan he can prove almost anything against India. The BJP is a cadre-based party like the Communist Party in India, so it’s no great revelation. RSS cadre is not exclusively for the BJP. If the pseudo-seculars want help for nation-building RSS would happily provide it.
Pieter then provides statistics of how many ministers in the Modi cabinet are from the RSS as though he is revealing a top-secret. The organic link between the RSS and the BJP is well known. But when the pseudo-seculars were in power many communists were in the ministry, for example, Krishna Menon as Defence Minister — allegedly responsible for India’s 1962 defeat in China war. Nehru’s education minister Maulana Azad ensured that academia in India became a bastion of communists. Similarly, in Indira Gandhi’s government — many communists held important ministerial positions. Pieter has no issues when anti-India Communists infest the congress government and education system. His objection is to the RSS doing it. Why should people from a foreign and ‘’exclusivist’’ ideology are okay but not those from a domestic and ‘’inclusivist’’ ideology of the RSS? Furthermore, the ministers with an RSS background are not hiding their organic link with the RSS as the communist ministers did by joining the congress — a centrist party. Accordingly, they are neither loyal to their own ideology nor to India.
Pieter notes ‘’at the core of the RSS’s ideology is the idea that only Hindus hold a birthright to India, and so the country should be a Hindu Rashtra (nation)’’. But in the RSS definition of Hindus, those converted to Islam and Christianity are included so long as they are loyal to India. The communist, for example, was ‘’ disloyal[ty] to their own country implicit in their allegiance to the Kremlin’’ (Masani 1951:35) or the role of Tablighi Jamat in spreading COVID19 or the North-East independence movement referred to earlier.
Pieter is ok with the Oath of Allegiance to the United States but not ok if RSS expects similar allegiance to the Hindu Nation? Why? If Pieter thinks that the word ‘’Hindu’’ denotes religious affiliation he is seriously mistaken since Hinduism is not a religion. Furthermore, Hindutva refers to a sum total of many facets of Hindu civilization as indicated earlier.
Modi government programs (ModiCare,bank accounts, housing for all, for example) are implemented without any discrimination. Modi rescued Muslims trapped in Yemen. It was RSS Pracharak Vajpayee who made Abdul Kalam, India’s President while left parties opposed his candidature. Modi has also received the highest civilian awards from major Islamic countries which debunks ‘’Modi hates Muslims argument’’. Ordinary Muslims in India love and vote for him which is causing heartburn to the MNGs and Nehruvian.
Pieter notes that officially India is a secular democracy so pushing the Hindu nation agenda does need legislative and judicial action. In Europe, secular democracy was required to separate the authority of the Church over the government. As Hinduism is not an organized religion, the concept of secular democracy is irrelevant in India (Sharma 2017), precisely why the word ‘’secular’’ was not included by the makers of India in the Indian Constitution implicitly accepting that Hinduism is inherently secular. The pseudo-secular left-backed congress party added the word during emergency. India is secular because of its Hindu majority. Contrast this with Muslim majority countries where minorities are persecuted as per the USCIRF. Christian majority countries like Slovenia recently banned Islam. The treatment of Uighur Muslims in communist China is well-known.
CAA, Article 370, Ram Temple
Pieter cites Malik, a Marxist journalist who considers that Modi is implementing the RSS agenda which includes removal of Article 370, giving green light to build a Ram Temple on disputed land, slapping the CAA which makes religion as a basis for acquiring citizenship, and the NRC requiring every citizen to prove citizenship.
Malik and Pieter conveniently omit to mention the abolishment of triple talaq by Modi empowering Muslim women. Compare this with the left-backed Congress Party nullifying the ‘’Shah Bano verdict for divorced Muslim women’’ by legislation. Was that ‘’progressive’’? Can Pieter and Malik answer?
Article 370 was a temporary provision in the Indian constitution but the pseudo-seculars for political advantage continued it essentially allowing discrimination, for example, denial of job reservation for the Dalits, non-applicability of anti-corruption laws, and denial of property rights to women. If removing such inequalities is RSS agenda should it not be welcomed?
The CAA and NRC protests are essentially against the RSS agenda, Pieter assets, and thereby admits that protesters used the CAA/NRC as a cover. By showing the slide of Muslim women protesting at Shaheen Bagh he conveys the impression that while the protests were peaceful, the police were brutal. He spreads outright lies that police were killing children! Pieter conceals that in Phase 1, protesters burned public buses, police vehicles and a police station in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. The Delhi protesters were found to be Bangladeshi illegal Muslim immigrants. In Phase 2, the protesters pelted stones and petrol bombs at police and ran for cover inside a nearby university. After firm Police action, in Phase 3 Muslim women and children began tactical peaceful protests. Pieter uses the Phase 3 pictures and thereafter police action in Phase 1 and 2 insinuating that police brutalized innocent and peaceful protesters. The police were lenient towards Shaheen Bagh protests though roads were blocked for more than two months causing inconvenience to millions of commuters, school children, ambulances and others.
Pieter thereafter makes an outlandish allegation that police brutalized protesters and used chemical weapons. Probably, he labels ‘’tear-gas’’ as a chemical weapon. Tear-gas is commonly used across the world to control rioters including in Pieter’s California! Is Pieter confused between India and his home country? Pieter emphasizes that 30 ‘’people’’ died. Notice that he uses the word ‘’people’’ instead of ‘’rioters’’.
Pieter hides that the Ram Mandir verdict was given by the Supreme Court based on archaeological evidence. Pieter appears to be ignorant of Uzbek invader Babar in the 15th century built a Mosque destroying the Ram Temple. If Hindus were indeed violent, why would they wait for over 100 years for the Court to settle the dispute? A team that included a Muslim archaeologist K. K. Mohamed found irrefutable evidence of a Ram Temple underneath the Mosque but the left-liberal cabal headed by Irfan Habib twisted the narrative to perpetuate the conflict. One would think that the left-liberal are a curse on humanity as they continue to thrust their bankrupt ideology using violence, and false propaganda.
After the anti-CAA riots, Chief Minister Yogi told that rioters have been identified and compensation (badla) would be recovered for damaging public property. Pieter gives it a spin that Yogi vowed revenge which was ‘’ manifested in targeted violence against Muslims throughout the state’. The video link that Pieter provides as evidence is probably a compilation made by him. He notes that 20 people died in anti-CAA protests but hides from the readers that the rioters set buses and police vehicles on fire and that the violent protests were funded by an extremist organization.
Pieter uses allegations made by rioters as the Gospel truth! The ‘’word’’ of the Guardian newspaper is the only evidence that Pieter uses. In the past, the Guardian has been accused of spreading fake news. Furthermore, if police brutality worries Pieter then he better try to reform the police in his home country first.
He then cites Meera Kamdar whose definition of pogrom is different from that of Websters or other dictionaries. For Meera, when 50 odds mostly Muslims are killed it amounts to a pogrom. But Delhi riots saw 26 Muslims, 13 Hindus and 5 unknown were killed yet Kamdar can see only Muslim casualties and Pieter merrily accepts her version as it suits his narrative. Why did Meera and Pieter not report the horrific deaths of Ankit Sharma and Ratanlal ? A Muslim councilor is already arrested.
International organizations and the RSS
Pieter asserts that ‘’violence is the inevitable result of the RSS’s domination of the streets’’. Can Pieter tell us why was there communal violence in India before the formation of the RSS in 1925? Also, why, barring in 2002, Gujrat, witnessed communal riots almost every year in the left-backed Congress party but was in peace under Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) regime?
Pieter then shows a slide with logos of the UN, Amnesty International, US State Department, and Human Rights Watch asserted that they all consider RSS to be an extremist Hindu organization that is implicated in violence against Christians and Muslims. The UN report that he cites was a 1997 provisional agenda item submitted by one Mr. Abdelfattah Amor who was invited by the pseudo-seculars’ government. That the UN took no further cognizance of the Amor report demonstrates its worth. The pseudo-seculars have a dubious history of such machinations against political rivals. It imposed an emergency in 1975–76 putting the entire opposition in jail and lobbied with the US President to continue the US visa ban on Modi. After Modi won the February 2002 election from a constituency with a sizeable Muslim population, the pseudo-seculars were after his scalp as their electoral arithmetic that kept them in power was getting challenged.
Pieter’s case against the RSS becomes ludicrous given his complete ignorance of the ground-level electoral politics in India. Pieter refers to a 1999 report of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch about the killing of Graham Steins- a Christian missionary. If the killing of Christians is rampant why does he cite a two-decades-old report? The US Department of State (USDS) Report described RSS as an ‘’extremist’’ group alleges Pieter, but the report only points to allegations by Christian missionaries against extremist Hindu groups. There is no mention that RSS is an extremist group. The Steins murderers have been sentenced to life in prison but no RSS affiliated organization was found to be involved despite the Church accusations. Furthermore, the USDS listed terrorist organizations are either Islamic, Christian or Communists. Even the FBI list of extremist groups does not contain a single Hindu organization. Probably, pained by this reality, Pieter makes a despicable attempt to somehow paint the RSS to be such an organization. However, the CIA which itself is accused of promoting terrorist organizations does describe the VHP and the Bajrang Dal as ‘’ militant religious organizations’’ and the RSS as a ‘’nationalist organization’’. It is like a thief finger pointing to the other as the thief!
Pieter and the Art of Misinformation
Pieter makes a preposterous allegation that the RSS and its affiliates are implicated in ‘’assassinations, bombings, and even pogroms against Christians, Muslims…’’. In support, he cites Lankesh, Pansare, Dabholkar and Kalburgi killing. The killing happened in the left-backed Congress Party ruled states. Is the state government not responsible for law and order? Why does Pieter absolve them? Furthermore, in none of these killings, the RSS (or its affiliates) hand has been established. Lankesh was a communist, consequently, her supporters would blame Hindutva forces. But her brother pointed a finger at the Naxals too. She was a Naxal sympathizer — a far-left outfit responsible for violent killings for many years.
Pieter thereafter refers to the Aseemananda case with a link (to The Caravan magazine) which does not work! For Pieter’s information, Aseemanand and others have been acquitted by the Court. Hindu-phobic media outlets like the Caravan the Wire, NDTV, and others, specialize in the art of misinformation. Consequently, what they publish does need a fact-check.
Pieter asserts that ‘’anti-minority pogroms are one of the RSS’s most tried and trusted tactics; in fact, it’s linked to over a dozen such massacres’’. He refers to The Times, London news, without providing a link, that in 1947, Golwalkar in league with Jammu’s Hindu Maharaja massacred 237,000 Muslims. Interestingly, the BBC timeline on J&K does not mention this massacre but does mention that in 1990 almost all Hindus fled Kashmir which Pieter does not. Why?
Pieter refers to the 1969 Gujarat riots and takes at face value, the allegation made by the then Congress Chief Minister Desai against the RSS. The link he provides mentions that while Modi was held accountable for 2002 riots Desai and Congress were not likewise. Obviously, Pieter did not read the source he cites!
He notes ‘’the next two decades brought a series of massacres. From 1970 to 1989, riots in Bihar, Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Uttar Pradesh left thousands of Muslims dead. The RSS persistently protested its complete innocence, but witnesses and investigations all implicated the paramilitary and its subsidiaries’’. Pieter is happy to believe these versions. Did any Court in India find the RSS guilty? Pieter hides that many Hindus were also killed in the riots in these years, and also that the pseudo-secular governments ruled at the Centre and in the states. Yet, Pieter blames the RSS! He cites a dubious organization that reports that the Madan Commission found 142 Muslims and 20 Hindus were killed in Bhiwandi riots. But the original report (paragraph 103.139) notes a total of 78 persons were killed, of which 17 were Hindus and 50 were Muslims. The report does not mention the RSS if one checks using word search.
Pieter notes in the Ram Temple issue, RSS finally played its hand openly. ‘’ The VHP launched a campaign to reclaim the ground on which the mosque stood, alleging that it is the location where the Hindu deity Ram was born’’. Did Pieter not verify the Ayodhya verdict? He notes ‘’according to a UN investigation, the Sangh “infiltrated the crowd” without providing a link to the investigation. Probably, he is referring to the Amor Report. Pieter notes that ‘’the Indian government responded by briefly banning the RSS, VHP, and Bajrang Dal’’ but conceals that the ban was quashed by a judicial tribunal as the same article mentions. He also hides that two Islamic organizations were banned too.
Pieter provides a flashback to 2002 Gujarat riots and gives false information that ‘’up to 2,000 (or more) Muslims lay dead’’. No link in support of these figures is provided. The government stated in the Parliament that 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus were killed. Pieter cites a report from ‘’Tehelka’’, a dubious weekly known for anti-Hindu stance, which is since closed as its founder Tejpal is in jail for sexual assault.
Pieter considers ‘’ it’s no surprise that the RSS is responsible for such shocking violence considering its ideological ties to European fascism’’ because a Norwegian assassin said so! The article’s author, Eviane who cites the assassins quote is a ‘’far-right extremism’’ researcher on consultancy projects of Aziz Foundation. She is frequently interviewed by Al Jazeera.
RSS founders “took ideological inspiration from — and even engaged in direct contact with — the rising Fascist movements”. Pieter thinks it is because Mussolini, Hitler, and the RSS founders were contemporary! But does being a contemporary makes one a fascist? Gandhi was also contemporary. Citing Savarkar’s 1923 book Hindutva, Pieter asserts that the idea was ‘’Indian subcontinent to be turned into an ethnostate of Hindus — for Hindus, and only for Hindus — … for unifying the “Hindu Race.” Pieter conceals the definition of a Hindu given by Savarkar. ‘’A Hindu means a person who regards this land of Bharatvarsha [an ancient name for India] from the Indus to the seas as his father-land as well as holy-land that is the cradle land of his religion’’. Obviously, converts to Christianity or Islam would be included as India is also their father-land. If they also accept that India as their holy-land too, they satisfy both the criterion of Savarkar’s definition which Golwalkar also reiterated.
Hindus have no problem if the MNGs considers Jerusalem/Macca/Leningrad as holy-land as Jews in India would. For an Indian Hindu besides Varanasi, Angkorwat (Combodia), Pashupatinath (Nepal) or Lahore (the City of Rama’s son Luv) would be holy places too. Similarly, the first mosque of Islam in Saudi and India’s oldest Mosque was both built-in 7th CE. Accordingly, Muslims should not have any problem in accepting India as their holy-land besides the Saudi and similarly, for Christians, as Thomas — one of the 12 disciples of Jesus — is buried in India.
Given the above, in the interest of world peace and harmony, only one change is required in Christianity and Islam. They should abandon the doctrine of conversion. But will they and would the conflict manufacturers Marxists allow them? Their strategy has all along been to fuel a conflict if there is one or manufacture one if there is none.
RSS and the Nazis
Because the RSS was established in 1925, the same year in which Hitler wrote the Mein Kampf the two are connected asserts Pieter! Furthermore, in April 1925, Hitler founded the SS — to protect the racial purity of a Germans; and in September 1925, in India, Hedgewar founded the RSS. Discerning readers would notice what Pieter is insinuating with the ‘’SS’’ and the ‘’RSS’’ acronyms to establish a tenuous and laughable connection. Similarly, he shows the Hindu sacred symbol ‘’swastika’’ along with Hitler’s picture in the slides.
The RSS was established on the backdrop of the racial arrogance of the British and the Khilafat Movement which followed widespread communal riots (Anderson and Damle, 1987). The RSS does not aim to establish a Pan-Hindu nation and rule the world, as do the Nazis, Christianity, Islam, and the Communists. Can Pieter show any evidence in any of the books authored by Golwalkar or Savarkar or others that there is any aim on the part of the RSS or any Hindu organization to establish a Hindu nation beyond the borders of India? Even in the ancient history of India can Pieter find it? Pieter should know that Christianity and Islam are proselytizing religions, Hinduism is not. Pieter needs to study basic Hinduism but his aim appears to be to misinform the gullible about the RSS. Furthermore, the MNGs have an inherently totalitarian tendency to impose their world-view on others while Hinduism is spiritual democracy. Accordingly, the MNGs would be the real fascists, wouldn’t they? Bolt would describe them as ‘’left fascists’. ‘’What we call liberalism….is in fact a descendant and manifestation of fascism’’ (Goldberg 2007:2). Branding Sangh as a fascist organization was a canard spread by the socialist when Dr. Hedgewar was visiting Benaras and this continues to date.
Pieter then notes that ‘’Hedgewar insisted…the subcontinent should be called “Hindustan’’. But Gandhi and Nehru too used the word ‘’Hindustan’’? Pieter takes offense to Golwalkar’s statement ‘’to offer one’s all, even his dearest possessions, at the altar of [the] motherland is the first and foremost duty of every son of this soil.” But similar were the views of European ‘’ thinkers like Aquinas and Ptolemy…[they] combined patriotism with the theological virtue of charity…. The love of common good and love of country that Machiavelli portrays as being at the core of civic virtue is in fact the love of liberty and the laws that protect it’ (Viroli, 2003:8).
Furthermore, Hindutva abhors exclusivity. Oxtoby notes ‘’A third Christian expectation concerning “religion” is the notion of exclusive membership. That God should demand loyalty and tolerate no rivals is part of the faith of Judaism, passed on to Christianity and Islam’’ (Sharma, 2008:21). Consequently, while the world should be wary of the Christian or Islamic notion of a ‘’nation’’, it should welcome the concept of ‘’Hindu Nation’’ summed up in the humanistic doctrine ‘vasudhaiva kutumbakam’’ — the whole world is one family — thus burying all conflicts upfront. But this would anger the conflict generator theologies and ideologies, though it is a sure solution to world peace. Yakub Masih (2017 see preface) a Muslim and a philosophy professor rightly sums up Hinduisms’ ‘’advaitic principle of difference-less Brahman can serve the purpose of harmonizing all religions’’.
Pieter then narrates Golwalkar’s life story and cites Dr. Moonje’s praise of Mussolini in the 1930s. But before the world knew fully about Hitler and Mussolini, many world leaders met and praised them. Mahatma Gandhi also met Mussolini and addressed Hitler as ‘’Dear Friend’’. Consequently, to thrust an accusation of fascism on the RSS leadership appears to have been done with an ulterior motive. Similarly, in the next paragraph, Pieter ascribes many unreferenced statements to Savarkar.
Pieter cites Savarkar again ‘’ Indian Muslims — “like Jews in Germany” — were unlikely to assimilate into national life because they allegedly identified “themselves and their interests” more “with Muslims outside India than Hindus who live next door.” But this statement by Savarkar appears to be prophetic. Besides the Triple Talaq and the Shah Bano case, for example, Muslims oppose the Uniform Civil Code in India but accept it in other countries, spit at doctors who treat them for Corona, block the public road at Shaheen Bagh inconveniencing school children, commuters and ambulances. Is Pieter aware of the Gazwa-e-Hind doctrine? Would he accept Gazwa-e- America?
Pieter notes Golwalkar ‘’claimed that non-Hindus like Christians and Muslims were “internal threats.” But Gandhi also said ‘’ Musalman, as a rule, is a bully’’? It is suggested Pieter read Malhotra (2011) which provides a detailed account with evidence of how this prophetic statement of Golwalkar is materializing. The recent Tablighi’s event in Delhi would serve as an example. It resulted in the super spreading of Coronavirus.
Pieter reviews the rise of Mohan Bhagwat and Modi under Golwalkar. Golwalkar abandoned in Bunch of Thoughts, his initial admiration of the Nazis contained in We or Our Nationhood Defined, as more information about Hitler became available. It is, however, a problem for Pieter as it dilutes the narrative he wants to push. Does Pieter believe that thoughts once formed should never ever change? Lincoln’s thoughts on slavery also evolved over time and Churchill and Hitler too had some traits in common.
Both Hinduism and the RSS have rapidly adopted to modern times (Klostermaier 2010, Anderson and Damle 2018) unlike the fossilized MNGs with their outdated world-view. No wonder science, mathematics, and arts all flourished simultaneously under Hindutva for ages but it took 350 years for the Vatican to admit that Galileo was right, 70 years for the USSR and China to bring some openness, while many ask whether Islam is incompatible with modernity?. Grow up Pieter, ever-evolving Hindutva is far better than these Neanderthals.
Pieter notes ‘’ With Shah at the helm, it’s no surprise that people like Arundhati Roy are warning that the CAA/NRC combine “eerily resembles the 1935 Nuremberg Laws of the Third Reich’’ which eventually led to the Holocaust. Suzanne is the Queen of Misinformation. India has over 15 million illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. These Muslims would have a much better life in China and the US. Why not Suzanne and Pieter fight for this? Also, would Pieter ask the US government to remove laws that exclude the Muslim majority?
Finally, the RSS starting an Army school worries Pieter. Actually, the RSS is helping the Indian Army which is facing an acute shortage of personnel. Why not Pieter agitate against the US government requirement that youths register for military service?
Pieter concludes ‘’under the RSS regime in India today, the fascist vision of the founding fathers of the Hindu nationalist movement is swiftly being implemented with deadly consequences and, the longer that the RSS rules the roost, the deadlier those consequences will be’’. Empirical evidence is otherwise. Elected BJP government is ruling Gujarat over 20 years but has Gujarat become a fascist state? Or has India under Modi in the last six years? Pieter and MNGs are paranoid as Modi won second time with a thumping majority severely affecting their designs to convert or destabilize India.
Pieter admits his fundamentalist Christian parentage but wants us to believe that at 18, he transformed into a non-fundamentalist Christian. Also, could Pieter explain why Hindus should not have the right to defend their culture, value system, and theology? Who are the MNGs to impose their world-view on others? Why not they abandon religious/ideological conversion agenda and promote world peace? Pieter and the MNGs better worry about racism in the US, killing of civilians in airstrikes, discrimination against Muslims, attacks on Sikhs, pedophilia in Christian establishment, violence in Islamic countries, and the treatment of Muslims in China.
On the side, it is the US and China who plunged humanity into GFC and Corona respectively not by RSS pracharak Modi’s India.
Give us a break mate!
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Anderson, W. and S. Damle. 2018. The RSS: A view to the inside, Penguin Random House, New Delhi.
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Cooper, D. (2003) World Philosophies: An historical introduction, Blackwell Publishing, USA
Goldberg, J. 2007. Liberal Fascism: The Totalitarian Temptation from Mussolini to Hillary Clinton, Doubleday/Random House, New York.
Klostermaier, K. (2010) A survey of Hinduism, SUNY Press, Canada.
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Masih, Y. 2017. A Comparative Study of Religions, Motilal Banarasidass, New Delhi.
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Sharma, A. 2008. ‘’The Hermeneutics of theWord “Religion” and Its Implications for the World of Indian Religions’’ in Sherma and Sharma (ed) Hermeneutics and Hindu Thought: Toward a Fusion of Horizons, Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
Sharma, A. 2017. The Ruler’s Gaze, Harper Collins, India.
Sharma, M. 2008. Paramilitary Forces of India, Kalpaz Publications. Delhi.
Viroli, M. 2003. ‘’The Legacy of Republican Patriotism’’, in Viroli (ed.) ‘’ For Love of Country: An Essay On Patriotism and Nationalism’’ Oxford Scholarship, Oxford University Press. U.K.
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Milind Sathye is an Australian academic.