The Ideology of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh / #RSS is both Hate-Ridden and Supremacist
First published in SABRANGINDIA
At a recent talk show by an international television channel, the former spokesperson of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and present general secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Ram Madhav, firmly asserted that the ideology of the RSS was neither supremacist, nor dominant or aggressive. Leave alone fascist.
Quoted on the show were two foundational documents of the RSS, authored by MS Golwalkar, reverentially referred to as ‘Guru Golwalkar’. He is an inspirational figure for both, India’s prime minister and Ram Madhav, the general secretary of the BJP. Golwalkar was the second sarsanghchalak (leader paramount) of the outfit who expanded the organization after he was given charge by its founder, KB Hegdewar. The two documents authored by Golwalkar referred to on the Al Jazeera Head to Head show, telecast on December 25, 2015 are Bunch of Thoughts (1960 edition) and We Or Our Nationhood Defined (1939).
A rational way to test Madhav’s claims is by looking at the literature spawned by this million-member organization. Another is to test ideas and thoughts with utterances and actions; which is to evaluate the remarks being made by RSS-BJP heads in and out of this government since it rode to power in May 2014. Those in government are sworn to the Indian Constitutional mandate of a Republic based on the non-negotiable principles of equal citizenship and non-discrimination. As critically, Indian nationhood is composite and not based on any faith or religion. Are these non-negotiable principles what govern the party that rules India with a majority today?
We will test the claims of Ram Madhav with the literature, officially claimed by the RSS.
The official website of the RSS has a version of the e-book, Bunch of Thoughts. The second text, We Or Our Nationhood Defined M. S. Golwalkar (first edition in 1939) has been orally disowned by some in the RSS-BJP, even if copies are freely available on the internet. It is not anymore available on the official RSS website. We at Communalism Combat have an, exclusive photocopy of an earlier, 1947 edition.
For the purposes of this article, I shall look only at Bunch of Thoughts, not yet disowned by the RSS in which, at the outset it rejects the Indian Constitutional understanding of Indian nationhood articulated in the Indian Constitution.  From start to finish this foundational and guiding document that governs the worldview of the ruling party in India today is at loggerheads with the basic doctrine of the Indian Constitution, equality in citizenship and composite, territorial nationhood.
RSS and the Guru, Both are Anti-Indian Constitution
The RSS and by ideological and organisational association, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that rules India today are fundamentally against the concept of Indian nation-hood, Indian citizenship as defined by the Constitution of India. At Page 119 of the Bunch of Thoughts, the RSS’ foundational doctrine, the author has completely debunked the ‘absurdity of the concept of territorial nationalism’. Golwalkar says, “They (we presume by this the RSS means the Leaders in the Constituent Assembly) forgot that here was already a full-fledged ancient nation of the Hindus and the various communities which were living in the country were here either as guests, the Jews and Paris, or as invaders, the Muslim and Christians. They never faced the question how all such heterogeneous groups could be called as children of the soil merely because, by an accident, they happened to reside in a common territory under the rule of a common enemy. ”
RSS Unashamed about its Aim: Overturn the Constitutional Mandate
“….We have been sufficiently fooled uptil now by their exhortation that we Hindus, who are having a great philosophy of human brotherhood, catholicity of spirit and so on, should not narrow ourselves by the talk of Hindu Nationalism and all such ‘communal’, ‘medieval’ and ‘reactionary’ ideas! We must be able to see through the game and revert to the truth of our nationalism as an ancient fact and the Hindus being the national society of Bharat, so clearly restated by our revered founder when he decided the word ‘Rashtriya’ for our organisation. We must once again stand up in our true and full stature and boldly assert that we shall elevate the Hindu National Life in Bharat to the peak of glory and honour which has been its birthright since hoary time. (Page 127, Bunch of Thoughts, MS Golwalkar)
It is enlightening to derive an understanding of the multi-faith perspective of the RSS, be it its attitude towards Buddhism, Islam or Christianity. The latest Census figures show Buddhists at 0.70 per cent of the Indian population, Muslims at 14.23 per cent, Christians at 2.30 per cent. (We now have a category of ‘Others’ that do not declare their religion in Census records which is at 0.89 per cent). Despite these figures, the RSS outlines Muslims, Christians and Communists as three grave internal threats. Not supremacist or majoritarian, Mr Ram Madhav?
The RSS on Buddhism
The RSS on Buddhists follows the same pattern, castigation for betrayal of the Sanatan Hindu, caste Hindu faith. In Section VIII, The Vision of Our Work, Buddhists are put in their ‘Hindu’ place. “The Buddhist Age too has the same message for us. After Buddha, his followers here degenerated. They began to uproot the age-old national traditions of this land. The great cultural virtues fostered in our society were sought to be demolished. The links with the past were hammered away. Dharma was at a sad discount. The whole social fabric was being rent to shreds. Devotion to the nation and its heritage had reached such a low pitch that the Buddhist fanatics invited and helped the foreign aggressors who wore the mask of Buddhism. The Buddhist sect had turned a traitor to the mother society and the mother religion.” (Page 72, MS Golwalkar, Bunch of Thoughts)
The Declared RSS Aim
We are to believe, in the uniqueness of the Hindu Rashtra concept as outlined in Bunch of Thoughts,where the pre-requisite is that notions of “religious minority” are given up.
“The answer to the so-called problem of ‘religious minorities’ can be found only in the historically correct, rational and positive approach of Hindu Rashtra. Otherwise, the so-called minorities are bound to become more and more hardened in their separate shells of religion and turn into a dreadful source of disruption of our body-politic. So, all that is expected of our Muslim and Christian co-citizens is the shedding of the notions of their being ‘religious minorities’ as also their foreign mental complexion and merging themselves in the common national stream of this soil. As far as the national tradition of this land is concerned, it never considers that with a change in the method of worship, an individual creases to be the son of the soil and should be treated as an alien. Here, in this land, there can be no objection to God being called by any name whatever. Ingrained in this soil is love and respect for all faiths and religious beliefs. He cannot be a son of this soil at all who is intolerant of other faiths. (Page 133, MS Golwalkar, Bunch of Thoughts)
Three Internal Threats says the RSS: Muslims, Christians, Communists
In consonance with this supremacist and hegemonic worldview that completely ignores any structural inequalities like caste-driven exclusions, within Indian society, or even within ‘Hindu’ society, the RSS and therefore the current Indian political dispensation views three segments to Indians as ‘threats’ to the nation. The ‘Hindu nation’ as the RSS sees it, has three specific ‘internal threats.’ Who are these? One, the Muslims; Two, the Christians; Three, the Communists. Read on.
“The Nation And Its Problems XVI. Internal Threat, 1. THE MUSLIMS: It has been the tragic lesson of the history of many a country in the world that the hostile elements within the country pose a far greater menace to national security than aggressors from outside…First, let us take the case of Muslims….. Even to this day, there are so many who say, “Now there is no Muslim problem at all. All those riotous elements who supported Pakistan have gone away once and for all. The remaining Muslims are devoted to our country. After all, they have no other place to go and they are bound to remain loyal.”
Let Facts Speak
But what are the facts? Is it true that all pro-Pakistani elements have gone away to Pakistan? …
Even today, Muslims, whether in high position of the Government or outside, participate openly in rabidly anti-national conferences. Their speeches carry the ring of open defiance and rebellion. A Muslim Minister at the Center, speaking from the platform of one such conference, warned that unless the Muslim interest was well protected the story of Spain would be repeated here also, meaning thereby that they would rise in armed revolt. “” This is what the RSS and by close organisational bondage, the ruling party the BJP thinks of Indian Muslims
Here are some more of the gems from this archaic and problematic text:
“2. THE CHRISTIANS: Many leading Christian missionaries have often declared unequivocally that their one single aim is to make this country ‘ a province of the Kingdom of Christ’. The Archbishop of Madurai has said, as reported in Vedanta Kesari of Madras that their sole aim is to fly the flag of Christ over the whole of Bharat. Even during the recent “Eucharistic Congress” at Bombay, Cardinal Gracias bewailed that after centuries of proselytising in Bharat the Catholics were only six million and the overwhelming majority remained Hindus.
The Impartial Verdict
Their activities are not merely irreligious, they are also anti-national. Once I asked a Christian missionary why they abused our sacred scriptures, gods and goddess. He said frankly, “Our aim is to knock out the faith from the heart of the Hindus. When his faith is shattered, his nationalism is also destroyed. A void will be created in his mind. Then it becomes easy for us to fill that void with Christianity.” (Pages 148-164, MS Golwalkar, Bunch of Thoughts, Part Two, Chapter VI, The Hindu Nation)
It was in a sense a tragedy, then that 18 months after the NDA II government was formed, no Indian electronic (television) channel has dared to bell the RSS’ cat and debate or question the crucial issue of its inherent anti-Constitutional foundationals which has (today) control of the Constitutional apparatus. It is also a fact that since the interviewer was direct and uncompromising, ‘gladiatorial’ as he himself has described his style over the past week, elicited the predictable abuse by trolls on social media of the Hindu ‘nationalist’ (sic) kind. This has just further demonstrated their inability to respect dissent and debate the inherent and dangerous contradictions between India, its Constitution and the foundational principles of the RSS. There apparently remains an innate inability to take on board, any questions, disagreements or dissent.
 India, also known as Bharat, is a Union of States. It is a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic with a parliamentary system of government. The Republic is governed in terms of the Constitution of India which was adopted by the Constituent Assembly on 26th November, 1949 and came into force on 26th January, 1950. The Constitution provides for a Parliamentary form of government which is federal in structure with certain unitary features. The constitutional head of the Executive of the Union is the President. As per Article 79 of the Constitution of India, the council of the Parliament of the Union consists of the President and two Houses known as the Council of States (Rajya Sabha) and the House of the People (Lok Sabha). Article 74(1) of the Constitution provides that there shall be a Council of Ministers with the Prime Minister as its head to aid and advise the President, who shall exercise his/her functions in accordance to the advice. The real executive power is thus vested in the Council of Ministers with the Prime Minister as its head