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March 6, 2006

M.S. Golwalkar: Conceptualizing Hindutva Fascism

by Ram Puniyani

Beginning this twenty Fourth February, RSS combine has undertaken programs
in different parts of the country to celebrate the centenary year of RSS
second Sarsnghchalak (supreme dictator), Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar, known in
Sangh circles as Shri Guruji. What are going to be the implications of this
celebration? To answer this, we will have to delve into the work of
Golwlakar, who penned a small book, 'We or our Nationhood Defined' (We…),
which gives an outline of his ideology and later his articles were published
as a compilation, 'Bunch of Thoughts'. In both these books and also in
various other outpourings of his, he denigrates democracy and pluralism on
one hand and upholds fascist concept of nationhood and sectarian version of
culture on the other. His writing is most intimidating to the minorities in
particular. He was the chief of RSS for 33 long years and was instrumental
in giving RSS a direction, which assumed menacing proportions in times to
come, and strengthening the foundations of the 'hate minorities' ideology
resulting in the consequent waves of violence, undermining the democratic
norms in the society. He can also be 'credited' with giving the sharp
formulations which laid the ideological foundation of different carnages in
the country.

Golwalkar praises Lord Manu as the greatest law giver mankind ever had. It
was the same law giver Manu's book, which was burnt by Dr. Ambedkar in his
pursuit of getting justice for the dalits. In current times, Golwalkars'
successor also demanded a throwing away of Indian constitution, to be
replaced by the one which is based on Hindu holy books, implying Manusmriti,
of course.

His formulations of Hindutva Fascism are so blatant that even his followers,
the RSS combine, is running for cover and claiming that this book, having a
naked hatred for minorities and eulogies for the likes of Hitler, We…, was
not written by him. They avoid owning these ideas. But one knows that this
book *was* penned by him. In an affidavit submitted to the charity
commissioner, Rajendra Singh, a later Sarsanghchalak pleaded, "With a view
to give a scientific base to propagate the idea-India being historically
from time immemorial a Hindu nation-the late Shri M.S. Golwalkar had written
a book entitled 'We or Our Nationhood defined', which was published in
1938." (Quoted in Islam, Undoing India: The RSS way) J.A. Curran in his
classic study, RSS: Militant Hinduism in India Politics- A study of RSS:
points out "The genuine ideology of Sangh is based upon principles
formulated by its founder, Dr. Hedgewar. These principles have been
consolidated and amplified by the present leader (i.e. Golwalkar) in a small
book called "We or our nationhood defined". It is a basic primer in the
indoctrination of Sangh volunteers… (Curran 1979, p.39). Since its
quotations have been brought to the notice of people, RSS publishing houses
have stopped republishing this book. What does Golwalkar say in this book?

In this book he rejects the notions of Indian nationhood, India as a Nation
in the making. He rejects the idea that all the citizens will be equal. He
goes on to harp the notions of nationhood borrowed from Hitler's Nazi
movement. He rejects that India is a secular nation and posits that it is a
Hindu Rashtra. He rejects the territorial-political concept of nationhood
and puts forward the concept of cultural nationalism, which was the
foundation of Nazi ideology. His admiration of Hitler's ideology and
politics is the running thread of the book and he takes inspiration from the
massive holocaust which decimated millions of people in Germany. He uses
this as a shield to propagate his political ideology. It is this ideology
which formed the base of communal common sense amongst a section of the
population. "German national pride has now become the topic of the day. To
keep up purity of the nation and its culture, Germany shocked the world by
her purging the country of the Semitic races, the Jews. National pride at
its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well-nigh
impossible it is for races and cultures having differences going to the
root, to be assimilated into a united whole, a good lesson for us in
Hindustan to learn and profit by." (We…, 1938, p.37)

In the Sangh circles this book is regarded as their Gita. The implications
for Indian minorities are presented here in a forthright manner. Today the
swayamsevaks brought up on this Gita, do believe in all this but the
language of expression is being made more polished so that the poison is
coated with honey and administered with ease. Golwalkar goes on to assert,
"From the standpoint sanctioned by the experience of shrewd nations, the
non-Hindu people in Hindustan must either adopt the Hindu culture and
language, must learn to respect and revere Hindu religion, must entertain no
idea but the glorification of Hindu nation i.e. they must not only give up
their attitude of intolerance and ingratitude towards this land and its age
long traditions, but must also cultivate the positive attitude of love and
devotion instead; in one word, they must cease to be foreigners or may stay
in the country wholly subordinated to the Hindu nation, claiming nothing,
deserving no privileges, for less any preferential treatment, not even the
citizen's rights." (Ibid p.52).

When the Hindutva politics came up in the late 1980s, in the beginning an
unsuspecting observer could not comprehend from where has the concept of
Hindu nation come up suddenly, why such an intense hatred for minorities, a
glance at We… and one becomes clear that those fed on this ideology cannot
but be what they are, cannot do anything else than what they did and have
been doing since 1990, the Babri demolition, the anti minority violence and
an open violation of democratic ethos of the country. These ideas were
translated into the stories of atrocities of Muslim kings, the myth of
Hindus owning this land from times immemorial and a lot of such make believe
concoction. Irrespective of the fact the freedom movement rejected this
ideology and its formulations, it was kept alive through the ideological
indoctrination work in the RSS shakhas going on ceaselessly.

Golwalkar was also faced with some of the 'naive' swaymasevaks wishing to
participate in the national movement, more so after the massive Quit India
movement was launched. That time Golwalkar was the RSS chief and he
dissuaded the people from participating in the movement, and some of them
who participated did it in their personal capacity, some of them now claim
that they also participated. (e.g. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who was onlooker in
the anti British movement, was arrested but wriggled out of the jail and
later claimed to have participated in the movement.) As matter of fact
Golwalkar was very contemptuous towards the anti British movement. There is
no mention of presence of RSS in the anti British movement even in most of
the sympathetic accounts written about it. Even Nanaji Deshmukh, the
foremost leaders of RSS puts this question, why did RSS not take part in the
liberation struggle as an organization? (Deshmukh, Victim of Slander, Vision
Books, 1979, p.70) Since Golwalkar propounded religion based nationalism,
there was no place for anti British stance. "The theories of territorial
nationalism and of common danger, which formed the basis of our concept of
nation, had deprived us of the positive and inspiring content of our real
Hindu Nationhood and made many of the 'freedom movements' virtually
anti-British movements. Anti Britishism was equated with patriotism and
nationalism. This reactionary view has had disastrous effects upon the
entire course of freedom movement…" (Bunch of thoughts, 1996, p.138). In a
frank defense of British colonialist he reminds the people of RSS pledge,
"We should remember that in our pledge we have talked of freedom of the
country through defending religion and culture. There is no mention of
departure of British in that." (Shri Guruji Samgra Darshan, Vol 4, p. 2)
With allies like this British could merrily pursue their policy of divide
and rule!

No wonder British never repressed RSS. Also the collusion between Religion
based nationalism and colonialism can be understood from such statements.
Later the World saw that in tune with this pro imperialist ideology,
Golwalkar was to support the US aggression on Vietnam and his successor
Sudarshan defended the US aggression against Iraq.

The murder of Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi by a Hindutva follower
Nathuram Godse not only shocked the whole nation; it led RSS followers to
celebrate this event by distributing sweets. While RSS followers were
celebrating, and the links of Godse with RSS became apparent, RSS was banned
and Golwalkar was arrested. They denied that RSS had any links with Godse.
At that time it was easy to claim so as RSS had no written constitution and
membership lists, enrollment register etc. Godse was RSS Pracharak and later
he joined Hindu Mahasabha and was editing a newspaper, Agrani (leader), the
subtitle of the paper was Hindu Rashtra. In the court he denied any links
with RSS. Later his brother Gopal Godse, who was also an accomplice in the
murder, in an interview given to Times of India (25 Jan 98) stated that his
brother Nathuram spoke a deliberate lie in the court, "The appeasement
policy followed by him (Gandhi) and imposed on all Congress governments'
encouraged the Muslim separatist tendencies that eventually created
Pakistan…Technically and theoretically he (Nathuram) was a member (of RSS),
but he stopped workings for it later. His statement in the court that he had
left the RSS was to protect the RSS workers who would be imprisoned
following the murder. On the understanding that they (RSS workers) would
benefit from his dissociating himself from the RSS, he gladly did it."

In the wake of the murder of Gandhi, RSS was banned and Golwalkar was
jailed, from where he wrote a letter to the Government of India offering to
cooperate with the government in 'dealing with the menace of Communism' in
return for being released from the jail. Incidentally it was also the period
when US was on the witch hunt of communists world over. Today, the
global USagenda of demonization of Islam, and Muslims world over
matches with the RSS agenda, coincidence again? Is this running parallel in the matching agenda US and RSS policies a mere coincidence?

For him the notion of Hindu Rashtra remained supreme and he could never
reconcile to the secular values of Indian constitution. Time and over again
he kept on harping on how *UnBharat* the constitution is and how Manu's
rules are more desirable and profound one's. The partition of India and the
consequent tragedy was registered through the Hindutva eyes, "Even to this
day there are many who say, 'now there is no Muslim problem at all. All
those riotous elements who supported Pakistan have gone away once for all.
The remaining Muslims are devoted to our country. After all they have no
other place to go and they are all bound to remain loyal…It would be
suicidal to delude ourselves into believing that they have turned patriot
overnight after the creation of Pakistan. On the contrary, Muslim menace has
increased a hundredfold by the creation of Pakistan, which has become a
springboard for all their future aggressive designs on our country." (Bunch
of Thoughts, Bangalore, 1996, p. 177-78)

The way to look at Indian communities as Hindus and Muslims as uniform
monoliths continues to be exhibited all through. Further he also goes on to
label Muslims, Christians and Communists as internal threats to Hindu
nation. And this is the 'ideological fodder ' of RSS shakhas and its
practical unfoldment is visible in the regular occurrence of attacks against
Muslims and Christians. With collapse of Soviet Union, the venom against
communists has been given a different turn. And in the third category
secularist have also been added up as a threat to Hindu nation.

It was Golwalkar again under whose stewardship the RSS gave birth to other
organizations to play the divisive role in different arenas of social and
political life. He was instrumental in helping bring up Bharatiya Jansangh,
Akhil Bhartiya Vidayarthi Parishad, Bharatiya Majdoor Sangh, Vanvasi Kalyan
Ashram and Vishwa Hindu Parishad, amongst others. The infiltration of RSS
cadres in different wings of state apparatus; army, police, bureaucracy,
judiciary, education and media was another move initiated by Golwalkar, the
effects of which are visible prominently from last two decades.

While secular democratic elements, activists have a long road ahead, we need
to take care that in the already vitiated atmosphere, the communal divide is
not accentuated further by this move of RSS and we put forward the values of
humane plural and democratic society and dispel the ideologies which have
been playing a very divisive role in the society.
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