Mohan Bhagwat’s statement articulates RSS belief in unity in diversity

Rajiv Tuli writes: India never considered diversity as an opposition, nor did it consider the foreigner an enemy.

RSS Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat’s address at a book release programme organised by the Muslim Rashtriya Manch is a hot topic for discussion. In this address, he spoke of Hindu-Muslim unity and all Indians being Hindus. This statement may be surprising to most contemporary politicians but it should not be. Come election time, the so-called minorities are intimidated to cast their votes in order to keep the BJP out of power and some political parties have developed popular rhetoric around “the anti-minority character” of the BJP and the Sangh. Surprisingly, in all this noise, there is no voice of the real Muslim leadership — or maybe it is not allowed to be raised and heard.

This is not the first time that an RSS chief has expressed this sentiment. Bhagwat himself echoed the same sentiment during the lecture series held at Vigyan Bhawan in Delhi in 2018. His statement that the Hindu nation is incomplete without Muslims generated discussion even at that time. Prior to this, in 1997, the then Sangh chief Rajendra Singh had also said in an interview that “[the] Sangh considers all the people living in the land of Bharat as Hindus. Any citizen who considers this country his motherland, whose forefathers were Hindus and who has respect for the centres of faith and values of this land of Bharat, is a Hindu”. The second Sarsanghchalak, Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar, used to say in his speeches, “If in India we have Shaiva Hindus, Vaishnava Hindus and Arya Samaji Hindus, why can’t we have Mohammadiya Hindus or Christian Hindus? Nationality does not change by changing the way of worship.”

In 1905, for the first time, the British divided a state in India based on religion. The strong opposition that move generated not only forced the administration to withdraw it in 1911 but the British also had to shift their capital from Kolkata to Delhi.

The Muslim society of India is different from that of other countries. Music and idol worship are prohibited in the Quran, but Indian Muslims sing Qawwali and worships at mazars — practices and customs of definite Hindu origin. There are two very interesting findings in a recent Pew Research Center report: A large number of Muslims in India consider the Ganges to be as sacred as Hindus do and they also believe in the principle of karma.

Nevertheless, it is also true that the Partition of India took place on the basis of communalism. A large section of the Muslim society of that time had voted in favour of the creation of Pakistan. One of the reasons for this was the disorganisation of Hindu society. The condition of Hindu society today is much different from that time.

In his address, Bhagwat also reminded us that India is, has always been, a Hindu nation. It does not need to be turned into one. Also, the Khilafat movement culminated in the formation of Pakistan. He also reiterated that it is a historical truth that in India, Islam arrived with the invaders. Referring to the recent incidents of lynching, he also questioned the silence of the Muslim leadership.

The Sangh is unparalleled in its devotion to the national interest and its dedication to service. It wholeheartedly follows Rabindranath Tagore’s historic statement in Swadeshi Samaj: “The establishment of unity in diversity is the underlying religion of India. India never considered diversity as an opposition, nor did it consider the foreigner an enemy. Without sacrificing what is one’s own, without destroying anyone, it is its basic dharma to give equal place to all in a larger structure. Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and Christians will not fight and kill in the land of Bharat, they will be able to find harmony here. That harmony will not be non-violence but exclusively Hindu. Their body may be foreign, their soul will be Indian.”

Indian society should openly welcome and discuss the Sangh chief’s statement and the sentiment underpinning it. The commitment of the Sangh to national interest is beyond doubt. Instead of using the so-called “minority politics” to see them through the election, it is imperative for all factions to become a participant in the national ideological flow.

This column first appeared in the print edition on July 14, 2021 under the title ‘Unity in diversity’. The writer is a member of the Delhi State RSS Executive. Views are personal

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