RSS and its regressive ideas.
The clout of the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh), the Hindu nationalist organization, is increasing in India ever since the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) came to power. The organization, being a long-time mentor of the ruling party, appears to be enjoying its heyday.
The RSS, being a Hindu organization, is as regressive as the Hinduism is. I, being a person who was associated with the organization during my college days, am well aware of it’s functioning and ideology. They glorify the three words- Hindi, Hindu and Hindustan and advocate a monolithic culture. They strongly refute the Aryan-Dravidian classification and accuse the Britishers and the left-wing academicians of misleading the people by peddling lies. They say that all the Indians have one soul (ekatma) and strongly advocate unity amount all the Hindus. Though the RSS is known for propagating Muslim hatred, it is not done overtly and most of their efforts are concentrated on bringing about unity among the Hindus. Its main aim is to transform Hindus into a strong community so that they can withstand any potential onslaught from any of the organized Abrahamic religions, especially Islam.
The organization, though aspires to bring about unity among the Hindus, does not appear to be making any efforts to include Dalits and other oppressed castes in its mission. In fact Dalits appear to be not interested in RSS’s mission. How can Dalits, after bearing the brunt of the rigid caste system that dehumanized and stigmatized them for generations, be expected to join the RSS’s mission to unify Hindu community? In fact an overwhelming majority of RSS activists are caste Hindus, especially Brahmins. In the RSS people don’t ask you about your caste. However, I heard many Brahmin members of the RSS speaking highly about their ‘Gotras’ and taking pride in being born into a ‘superior’ Gotra. The Gotras enable Brahmins in the organization identify and connect with their fellow Brahmins easily and effortlessly. This behaviour of Brahmins results in the exclusion of others who either don’t have any Gotras or have inferior Gotras. They say that Gotras signify the fact that we are all the descendants of our ancient sages (Rishis) such as Vishwamitra, Bharadwaja and Agastya. What about the people who don’t have superior Gotras which are named after the supposedly wisest Rishis? What about the Dalits who don’t have any Gotras to spell out? As per my research, only Brahmins have Gotras and other castes, don’t have them. Even if they have them, they are just fake and are adopted by the other castes to assume false social prestige.
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica,
Gotra originally referred to the seven lineage segments of the Brahmans (priests), who trace their derivation from seven ancient seers: Atri, Bharadvaja, Bhrigu, Gotama, Kashyapa, Vasishtha, and Vishvamitra. An eighth gotra was added early on, the Agastya, named after the seer intimately linked up with the spread of Vedic Hinduism in southern India. In later times the number of gotras proliferated when a need was felt to justify Brahman descent by claiming for one’s line a Vedic seer. In later times, the Kshatriya and the Vaishya (merchant-traders) also adopted the concept of gotra in a fashion, by assuming for their groups the gotra of their adjacent Brahman gotras or those of their gurus (spiritual guides), but this innovation was never very influential.
These Gotras also signify the deep rooted patriarchal mindset of Hinduism as they apply only to the male members of a family. Perhaps that is why in most of the RSS’s formal gatherings women are excluded and they have a separate organization called ‘Rashtra Sevika Samithi’. Even in those gatherings where women get an opportunity to participate, they are addresses as ‘Matas’. The term ‘Mata’, as everyone is aware, connotes a woman’s maternal responsibilities and reduces her to the position of a child-bearing machine. In fact the regressive RSS appears to be reluctant to give women any significant role in nation building except giving birth to children and bringing them up as ‘nationalists’.
When it comes to language, the RSS advocates the revival of the dead language called Sanskrit. I observed some Brahmin members of the RSS taking pride in their ability to speak Sanskrit which was largely unintelligible for others. Most of the Hindu scriptural literature is incomprehensible for the ordinary Hindu folks, just because it is in Sanskrit and even the translations, to a great extent, sound complex to understand. The incoherent chanting of the Vedic hymns by the Brahmin priests in marriage ceremonies is already a but of ridicule among many Hindus and non-Hindus alike. However, there is no effort that is being made by the RSS to bring the Hindu scriptural literature closer to all the classes of the Hindu society by presenting it in a simple and lucid language.
The overarching motive behind RSS’s activities appear to be promoting competitive communalism among the Hindus. They are obsessed with the supposedly bad and expansionist behavior of the Abrahamic religions, especially the Islam and the Christianity. They blame Christianity for religious conversions. They feel that the Dalits are being allured with material things to embrace other religions and refuse to accept the fact that the Dalits, who underwent the agony of apartheid-like discrimination, are embracing Christianity mostly willingly. They don’t even make any major attempt to bring about any reform in Hinduism, especially the eradication of caste. They know that the citadel called Hinduism mostly stands on the foundation called caste system, and when they attack the system or try to bring about any reform in the system the entire citadel will collapse within no time. In fact, they can’t even muster up enough courage to do so, because the moment they try to do it they will be repelled by the caste Hindus.
When it comes to science, RSS exaggerates the achievements of our ancient Indians. No doubt there are many Indians such as Patanjali, Aryabhatta, Sushrutha, Charaka, Varahamihira and Bhaskara, whose contributions to science are recognized all across the world. However, they also go to the extent of saying that Vedas are embedded with the state of the art technologies such as aviation and atomic technologies. They also say that the ancient Indian surgeons mastered the art of transplant surgeries including head transplants.
On Oct 25, 2014, speaking on the occasion of inaugurating a hospital in Mumbai, Prime Minister Modi stated, “Mahabharata says Karna was not born out of his mother’s womb. This means people then were aware of genetic science. There must have been a plastic surgeon who fixed an elephant’s head on Ganesha”. One need not feel surprised at the words of Prime Minister Modi. He, being a product of the RSS, grew up hearing such myth-laden things.
The RSS, in-spite of claiming itself as the largest Non Governmental Organisation in the world, does not have any thing to say about livelihood issues. During my college days, when I was a member of the organization, I attended many training classes and was part of many ‘Pathasanchalans’ . But I rarely heard the leaders of the RSS speaking about bread and butter issues. In a country like India, where an overwhelming majority of the people are living in poverty, bread and butter issues must take predominance. In the words of Swami Vivekananada, ‘man is guided by his stomach. When a man walks, his stomach goes first and head afterwards. It takes ages for the head to go first’. However, RSS does not seem to realize the fact that there is no use in preaching about religion without teaching people how to earn their livelihood.
The very existence of the RSS appears to be the result of the expansionist behavior of the Abrahamic faiths, especially Islam. It is true that Islam is also a very regressive religion which is bent on taking this world back to stone ages. The entire Muslim community is in the tight grip of its clergy and they are obsessed with Mullah, Madrassa and Matam. When someone criticises Islam and points out the need for a reformation in it, the entire Muslim community reacts with rage and many hardcore Muslims even take to streets to indulge in violence. If we look at the Islamic world, it is in utter chaos and infested with unending violence. Now the question arises as to whether the RSS, by promoting competitive communalism among the Hindus, wants even the Hindus to become like Muslims?