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Today, the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said that all inhabitants of Hindustan are Hindus. Not very original of him of course, but no less false than all the Hindutva ideologues before him who tried this same word play.
The word ‘Hindustan’ comes from the Farsi (Persian) word for the Sindhu river. Not equivalent to the Hindu faith at all. Ironically, the word Hindu too owes itself to this same Persian genealogy – even as the Batras today want to rid Indian language textbooks of words of Persian (‘foreign’) origin.
In the wake of this RSS declaration, I made an observation today, that RSS is to Hinduism what ISIS is to Islam. Both seek to manipulate religious identities to create theocratic nations. And both are pretty scary.
The many responses I got from RSS supporters of course reinforced my view – when they informed me that if only RSS had even a fraction of the strength the ISIS has, they would kick the likes of ‘anti Hindus’ like me and all Muslims out of India, that India would no longer be secular, etc…
But this post is for those who felt my observation was ‘over the top’. I beg your consideration for a bit – pause and consider the facts below.
ISIS says it’s creating an ‘Islamic Nation’. Doesn’t RSS want to create a Hindu Nation?
ISIS is grabbing territory. Doesnt RSS want to grab territory, create an ‘Akhand Bharat’ – as described in Dinanath Batra’s textbooks now being read by Gujarati schoolkids with Modi’s blessings? I recall this lovely moment in Anand Patwardhan’s Jang aur Aman, where the saffron clad Shiv Sena supporters in Mumbai sell maps of the world covered entirely in saffron; and then the scene cuts to Pakistan. Where Anand meets a young man who points to the map of the world – yes, covered all over in green – and the young man says ‘We wish. We wish.’ Mirror image wishes and dreams…
Where has RSS massacred people, I am asked? Now, that’s a no-brainer, for anyone patient enough to read the history of what happened in the wake of the Mandir agitation, the Gujarat 2002 pogrom, Muzaffarnagar… Read Babu Bajrangi;s accounts of having enjoyed ripping open a pregnant woman’s belly, and ask yourself how different that is from the ISIS beheading people? Read his words in the transcript of the Tehelka sting tape titled ‘After Killing Them, I Felt Like Maharana Pratap’, where he declared “…ek woh pregnant thi, usko to humne chir diya thha b*******d sala…there was this pregnant woman, I slit her open, sisterf****r… they (Muslims) shouldn’t even be allowed to breed… I say that even today… Whoever they are, women, children, whoever… Nothing to be done with them but cut them down. Thrash them, slash them, burn the bastards…the VHP is an organisation… a Hindu organisation… Our politics should be limited to killing Muslims, beating them up…Maza aata hai na, saheb…”. So, well, how can one say the RSS is any less bloodthirsty and depraved than the ISIS?
The ISIS is destroying historical treasures ….mmm… Babri Masjid demolition anyone?
As for views on women, the RSS loves dress codes, enforcing ‘shyness’, banning mobiles and jeans, and so on… And in India itself, we can all too often see the Muslim fundamentalists speak in the exact same voice as RSS on women’s freedoms and rights. In Golwalkar’s Bunch of Thoughts, the chapter ‘Call to the Motherhood’, asks Hindu women to avoid being ‘modern’. According to Golwalkar, women who enjoy the freedom and equality of modernity, lack in virtue and think that ‘modernism lies in exposing their body more and more to the public gaze’! This is more or less exactly what Gurumurthy of the RSS has been spouting recently. Wouldn’t the ISIS just lap up this stuff?
Golwalkar also led the Sangh in opposing the Hindu Code Bill (which was the first, flawed and incomplete, step towards giving Hindu women equal rights to men), claiming that granting of rights to women would “cause great psychological upheaval” to men and “lead to mental disease and distress” (see Paula Bacchetta, Gender in the Hindu Nation: RSS Women as Ideologues, p.124).
Yes, well, RSS lacks the same firepower that ISIS has thanks to the arms provided some time ago by the US. And RSS is yet to command enough support in India to achieve its dreams – in fact its dreams have been very firmly rebuffed by India. But that’s not for want of efforts by the RSS. It’s the vision, after all, that counts. If the ISIS makes us shudder, let’s remember that’s what RSS dreams for India:
Take the RSS founder Golwalkar’s view of what he called ‘Hindu-sthan’ (which is what Mohan Bhagwat is pushing today):
M. S. Golwalkar, in We or Our Nationhood Defined, 1938, p. 47-48, said “… the foreign races in Hindu-sthan must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but those of the glorification of the Hindu race and culture, i.e., of the Hindu nation and must lose their separate existence to merge in the Hindu race, or may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu Nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment not even citizen’s rights.”
Again, on p 35, he said, “German race pride has now become the topic of the day. To keep up the purity of the Race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic Races – the Jews. …Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for Races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindusthan to learn and profit by.”
And it wasn’t only Islam or Christianity, the Hindutva ideologues had a special animus for Buddhism, because it was the religion Ambedkar had exhorted Dalits to adopt in rejection of Hinduism. Savarkar, in his Six Glorious Epochs of Indian History described Babasaheb B R Ambedkar, as a person who “hates the Hindu religion”, and vilified Buddhism in ancient times as ‘treacherous’ and anti-national’ because it challenged Hinduism; he justified Pushyamitra Shunga’s persecution of Buddhists as “just punishment for treachery…not religious persecution.”
A dream of a nation where other faiths will live as second class citizens or be evicted for ‘treachery’ – is it very different from what ISIS is trying now to achieve?

Just for fun, and to better understand the extent of difference between RSS’ Hindu-sthan and the Hindustan we now inhabit, let us see what RSS had to say about the tricolour flag (that they – not we – are willing today to vilify and kill people for ‘disrespecting’)?
The RSS mouthpiece Organiser, on 14 Aug 1947, said of the flag: “The word three is in itself an evil and a flag having three colours will certainly produce a very bad psychological effect and is injurious to a country.”
And Savarkar, the man whom the RSS wants to award a Bharat Ratna, he of the many apology letters to the British, what did he have to say about the flag?
“It can never be recognised as the National Flag of Hindusthan … the authoritative flag of Hindusthan our Motherland and Holyland, … can be no other than the Bhagava (saffron flag)… . to deliver expressly the message of the very Being of our Race… . It mirrors the whole panorama of our Hindu History. … Hindudom at any rate can loyally salute no other Flag but this Pan-Hindu Dhwaja, this Bhagava Flag as its national Standard.” (A G Noorani, Frontline, Volume 21 – Issue 22, Oct. 23 – Nov. 05, 2004)
The ISIS speaks airily of unfurling the ‘flag of Allah’ (whatever that fiction may be) from the White House. Doesn’t the RSS’ Bhagwa Dhwaj bombast emanate the same odour of majoritarian hatred?
I rest my case, with the hope and firm conviction that the RSS won’t ever, be able to run amok in our corner of the world as the the ISIS is now running amok in the Middle East. But to ensure that, we have to recognize the RSS for what it is. To those not yet convinced, please read more about the RSS, read what their own founders have written.
A friend has been telling me recently about being invited to RSS meetings by ‘very nice women’. She is wary of their agenda, but glad of the tea and company, and reassured by the fact that they’re all modern educated women who speak of ‘restoring India’s ancient glory’ but dont openly support dress codes and homophobia. She was troubled by what I told her of the RSS, and quick to assure me that she would never support this kind of majoritarian hatred or misogyny… but is still reluctant to say no to the nice women. This post is for her. And others like her. To remind that it was millions of nice people who brought Hitler to power. Don’t be one such nice person…