Suppose you want to go and buy Shorts for yourself and you are particularly interested in buying Khakhi colored ones. You have to be pretty careful so that you don’t end up buying something which remotely resembles RSS’s style ‘nekar‘. Unless you actually want to.
For the uninitiated, RSS or Rashtriya Swyamsevak Sangh is a Non-Governmental-Organization in India which generally deals with terms like Nationalism, Hinduism and few other -isms. How much do you know about it, also defines your political leanings, according to some. Without going into too much nitty-gritty of its history, I would directly state my state of confusions with them as an organization and me as an Indian individual.
From what I know, RSS believes that India was, once upon a time, united from Afghanistan to Myanmar, popularly called ‘Akhand Bharat’. That time was when India was truly ‘Sone ki chidiya’ and it was the hub for education, science, culture and literature. When we were prosperous and gay, the other world, specifically Europe, was not as flourishing as it is today. There were still reeling under the ‘dark ages’ and far from being civilized under a common rule/government and mostly lived in tribes. RSS, also believes that since India has been invaded by foreign forces, namely Islamic armies of Central Asia and then Europeans sailors and eventually Britain, we have got corrupted, our cultures have been damaged, our literature has been burnt, our temples have been ransacked and many people who used to be ‘Hindus’ have been converted into Abrahamic religions by force or fear or bribery. Moreover, some people from within RSS and ideologically affiliated to them like Purshottam Nagesh Oak, have claimed that many palaces/mosques/forts currently in India, which appear to be made during Islamic rule, were mostly Hindu places and temples which were taken over and renovated as to look like they were the art works of rulers. The rulers who were mostly illiterate and more interested in vices instead of making Mahals for a pity thing called Love.
Apart from the above, they have felt strongly, that after the Independence, the governments, particularly Congress, have appeased the minority religions for personal gain, propagated false stories about India’s past and in turn, have made the people forget about their origins, their culture, their religion and their duty towards the nation. Thus, they have taken it upon themselves, the responsibility, to take India forward through a social movement, which might last centuries, towards the same glory days, Indians used to see before they were conquered. They call themselves, proudly I must add, ‘Hindu nationalists’. And they’re pretty serious about it.
Now let me be serious too. Here’s a little revelation: I come from a family of hardcore RSS supporting people. Both paternal and maternal family has had connections with them. My immediate to immediate ancestors were regulars to ‘Shakhas’ and they also truly believe in whatever RSS believes in. So, whatever I am today, that is borderline whatever-istically-nihilistic-ally-atheist-ically-still-a-Hindu some of my opinions have surely been influenced by my family. I have seen (didn’t read them all though) books which talk about the cultural corruption we Indians have gone through because of foreign invasions of about 1000 years. I have seen pictures in those books which interpreted from various Dan-Brown-Styled symbology studies that most of the so-called Hindu-Islamic architecture was a clever copy paste job of Islamic symbols over the already existent palaces/temples to make them look like they were freshly erected during their era. PN Oak was the forerunner of this cause where he propagated and preached about his findings that govt. is just appeasing the minority to garner votes and keeping the public little confused and mostly fooled. Keeping the general public under a bit of inferiority will help the government to rule without much opposition for a longer duration of time. And he believed in certain other things too, along with the other people from that organization, that India was the epitome of everything before the conquests happened. Our science was supreme. We knew plastic surgery (you might have read about Sushrutha). We excelled in Ayurveda and Yoga. Our languages like Sanskrit had a heavy influence on the Europe and Western World. And this influence is so much that I will just throw some words and their English names: Caspian Sea – Kashyap Sagar, Mexico – Makshik (Copper and Iron Pyrite mineral which is Silver-Gold in color. Also, Mexico has several Silver Mines), Vatican – Vatika (Swamy39 will confirm), Anatomy – Anaatmi, and you already know it Taj Mahal – Tejomahalaya, etc. There is also a theory that there is a Shivling under Mecca. (Hehe) Well, I know about Proto Indo Aryan Languages and their evolution/spread/impact but I am still stating what RSS believes in without any bias. Apart from that, I myself have seen mutilated idols at many places, like Qutub Minar and Hampi’s temples to name a few. Now, if you have read all of the above (kya baat!), you would assume that I am one of those Virat Internet Hindoos who wear Saffron colored bands across the foreheads and flash small trishuls or something whenever enraged and bark at anyone when they make slight hint of fun of Hinduism and Modi Ji. Well, I am not. Yes, I am not.
Let me tell you that I have never myself attended any ‘Shakha’. I have never been asked to do so, by my supposedly RSS affiliated hardcore family. Instead they have encouraged me to be curious and ask questions about things I didn’t understand. I have never been asked or forcefully dragged to any temple. In my family it self, there have been close to zero restrictions on womenfolk for doing anything. There are of course cries of discomfort when one got late but that was same for everyone and more related to discipline than anything. I was made aware about the interpretations of history, that it mostly favors the winner. In spite of being Hindu Brahmins who happen to be actual priests at many temples, literally, I have never been told to attend any pooja, do fasts and there have been absolutely no insistence on learning any Bhajan.
Now I have few confusions in my mind about what RSS is and what people assume it to be since always and more so after 2014 General elections, everyone has been divided everyone into Left Wings, Right Wings, No Wings and whatever wing groups. From what I know, RSS is essentially a patriotic bunch of people who indulge in 2 things. One that is more popular in the media that they go overboard and claim things which cannot be proven easily about great achievements of our great country. Second, which gets nominal attention, that they also volunteer in social causes like Blood Donations, setting up disaster management camps and provide food and shelter to people in times of floods, draughts, etc. Some people who take RSS’s ideology on face value take pride in things Indians did without knowing anything. These are the same people who forward you mails/messages which say ‘Forward this to 15 people or bad luck is around the corner’. Now when we have understood the purpose of RSS, that is to keep the jwala of Patriotism, the love for the country and its people, there are many elements within RSS who speak more than they should and become Moral & Cultural Police. Their job is to just teach about what they think is wrong in this country. They have no right to act on the ideology physically. People are mature enough to understand that and if they are not, educate people. Since your interpretation is something, others have their own interpretations. Hostility won’t do good to anyone. Second, I don’t know what my political ideology is. Whether I am a Right Wing because I praised Modi for few things or whether I am left wing as I checked my symptoms online on a website which tells you what you are through some quizzes. For RSS, they can do their job as long as they want but they must understand that cultural mishaps of our country happened for various reasons and not all the mishaps have been bad. The rich fusion we now have is not bad at all. The patriotism they take pride in, sometimes becomes Xenophobia and thinking becomes one-dimensional which helps nobody. There are some people who find patriotism itself a waste of time, so it clearly proves that our society is full of various exclusive notions and opinions. Putting everyone in same bracket and covering everyone under same umbrella won’t do. More so, if you think some damage has been done to out culture, it would take centuries to gain back that glory, if there was as much as you believe. (And I guess you already know that and already on it). Another thing, most of the leader you have are bald, old and look like they didn’t get proper breakfast in the morning. You guys also need to chill a bit. Bring fresher faces, who know what they are talking about. Show things you believe in with proper conviction and remove those voices which talk about divide, rather than course correction, if it is required.
Concluding, what my family told me and what I usually see on news, don’t coincide always. RSS will continue to work as a brotherhood and some people will just hate them as they think they are regressive. I guess, they are not regressive but their methods aren’t updated well enough with modern times. RSS should not be custodian of so called Indian culture but just a guiding light, as BJP claims it to be. And people should be free to follow or unfollow them.
P.S.: Apology for the overcooked over-roasted overdone title.
Some recommended reading stuff:
- RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat asks why all inhabitants of Hindustan are not known as Hindus http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-rss-chief-mohan-bhagwat-asks-why-all-inhabitants-of-hindustan-are-not-known-as-hindus-2009725
- A Shorts History http://www.livemint.com/Opinion/BZ9SU3VsTDLTSwmeDIWlzO/Dj-View–A-shorts-history.html
- A bit of Apbransh (अपभ्रंश) study http://www.encyclopediaofauthentichinduism.org/articles/30.2.htm