Bharata – the official Sanskrit name of India, has different theories of the name’s origin. This term is derived from the Sanskrit root “bhr” which means to bear. The literal meaning of Bharata is often cited as ‘to be maintained’ (of fire).
The philosophies surrounding the origin of our beloved nation’s name are many. However, what matters the most is what it means to us.
What does Bharat, Hindustan or India actually mean to you?
I can clearly recall that as children, we were taught that ‘India is a land of many religions and languages’. It was one of the best examples of unity in diversity. Even in those early ages of childhood, there was a sense of pride that emboldened us whenever we thought of being a part of such a nation which ushered in the immense diversity that it has been blessed with.
The land of beautiful cultures, customs, delectable cuisines and an all-embracing legacy, became a nation where democracy and equality were prominent.
Then entered the RSS – and the scenario changed dramatically!
What is the RSS anyway?
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, shortened as RSS, is an Indian right-wing, Hindu nationalist, paramilitary volunteer organisation, often regarded as the parent organisation of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Now, let’s take a look at the RSS’ mission:
“For the welfare of entire mankind, Bharath must stand before the world as a self-confident, resurgent and mighty nation. Even at the inception, the Sangh was viewed by its founder not as a sectoral activity, but as a dynamic power-house energizing every field of national activity. Expressed in the simplest terms, the ideal of the Sangh is to carry the nation to the pinnacle of glory through organizing the entire society. Verily this is the one real national as well as global mission. If ever there was one.”
The organisation has mentioned this mission on its website. But, by the looks of its line of work, the organisation’s real mission seems to be a bit conflicting to what it has officially stated.
RSS – India’s ally in disguise?
This RSS that talks so highly of persevering the nation’s heritage and helping it stand as a self-confident, resurgent and mighty nation – is the same RSS that left India vulnerable in front of the colonial rule, when the nation needed it the most.
Rather than being a part of the mass movements for India’s freedom from the British Raj, the organisation opposed them at every step. As a matter of fact, if there had to be some examples of those Indian organisations that remained subservient to the colonising power, even when the entire nation was fighting for its freedom, then they have to be the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha.
Running under the guidance of Syama Prasad Mookerjee, the Hindu Mahasabha, boycotted the Quit India movement in its totality, riding shotgun for the RSS in siding with the British.
Later, it was with the backing of the RSS only that S P Mookerjee founded the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (which later evolved into the BJP) in 1951, after leaving the Hindu Mahasabha.
And, so, formed an eternal bond between the RSS and the BJP – a bond that needs no validation.
Howbeit, the question that remains to be answered is – whether RSS is actually an ally of India or merely an enemy disguised as an ally?
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The India of RSS’ dreams
The mention of RSS is incomplete without the mention of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar. The person who coined the term ‘Hindutva’ – what RSS is claiming to restore at present – V D Savarkar is also commonly known as ‘Veer’ Savarkar.
But, was he really a veer? Or, again, was it a façade? A façade to masquerade a coward as a veer?
A coward who was scared of other religions, who was so insecure of them, that he lost faith in Hinduism’s intrinsic power and gave the nation an idea to fight for Hindu unity.
I really wonder, if Hindu unity was ever in danger? It never was! It can never be.
Hinduism is beyond the fear of being lost. It is above all this. It is a religion that is so secure that forceful conversions were never a part of its tradition until a few years back.
Well, coming back to the concept of Hindutva, as outlined by Veer Savarkar: Who is a Hindu, saw religious boundaries as national ones, with Islamic and Christian traditions considered as an illegitimate, foreign presence.
Till 1920s we were all ok with other religions, but just because a so-called activist had a profile-raising idea by calling for a Hindu Rashtra, suddenly the land of religions finds the presence of Islam and Christianity illegitimate and foreign?
What was the India of this man’s dreams really? A nation where just Hinduism prevails? A nation where violence is given priority? A nation where assassinating another human, another ‘Hindu’ is fair, just because his ideology doesn’t match with yours?
Veer Savarkar even though acquitted by the court, was the prime conspirator in the assassination of the Father of the Nation – Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. What was later termed as an act of emotional insanity, was actually Savarkar’s master subterfuge to kill Gandhi by using Godse as a ploy.
And today the RSS, burdened with the shame that this man brought to the party, aims at regaining the glory of India by reinventing itself as a cabal of pretentious-patriotists bugged by jingoism. An organisation that never really cared for the nation, today claims to keep the nation’s interests before all others. How ironic!
Preserving Hinduism. Really?
Have you really pondered what RSS has ever done for the Hindus, besides polarising them and using them for electoral gains? What has been the real achievement of the organisation so far? Did it help the Hindus stay united – as per it claims? Not really.
In truth, the spell of hatred cast by the RSS in the nation has taken such a horrid form that it has even started dividing Hindus through casteism.
The religion which means so much for this organisation is being destroyed by it, but there’s hardly anyone to notice.
Today we see IIT, IIM graduates giving wings to the voices of right wing radicals. What about the education they received? Did it all come down to finding happiness in minorities being crushed? Why are those lessons of ‘unity in diversity’ long forgotten now? Were they all to be reserved for the books?
The psyche of the common man has changed. Fuelled by hatred, there are many who hail BJP and RSS for all that they have been doing.
Hindus have always been the ones with a very large heart. The god-fearing community that it is, it has always believed in non-violence. However, today, we have been brusquely communalised, and to such an extent that even highly educated, middle-class and upper middle-class people have been stirred with this hatred.
I doubt if so much of hatred existed even in the ugliest of times that India had seen, during the pre-and post-independence eras of the1940s.
Mahatma Gandhi, the man who devoted his entire life to build up weaker sections, today gets labelled as minority appeaser. But he was not born to please or appease anyone. He was born to give the nation the equality it needed the most at that time. Probably because he knew that if India will become an all ‘Hindu Rashtra’, it will do more bad than good for the nation.
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Then there is another legendary leader who has been disparaged by the RSS time and again, Jawaharlal Nehru. A well-educated visionary that he was, Nehru was way ahead of his time. He was a self-professed atheist. While he didn’t go to any temple, he never forced his beliefs onto others. Perhaps, his philosophy was to believe in karma, and all that he wanted to do was to keep religion out of politics. Something that the country, and this entire world, is in grave need today.
A look at Europe and America will reveal a lot about the problems that even the most developed economies in the world have to encounter when they try to become majority oriented countries. When the minorities in these communities feel insecure, there is hardly anything that these countries could ever achieve.
As the great Roman historian, Gaius Sallustius Crispus, once said – “Harmony makes small things grow, lack of it makes great things decay.”
India, just like any other nation, needs to stay united. It needs harmony, more than ever. And that’s why it doesn’t need RSS – for as long as RSS will be there – India will continue to be unmade by the zealots.
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NEWSD and NEWSD does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.