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Outreach For Indianisation And Harmony

by Rinku Khumukcham
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By M.R. Lalu
The initiatives of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to mend its relations with the minorities have frequently been there in India’s social discourse. Critics often come out questioning the right wing group’s self-appointed intervention on the Hindu issues declaring its views as the ultimate opinion of the community. Hinduism is a blend of diverse socio-spiritual views standing in unison in certain areas while it doesn’t hesitate to disagree on matters that hold conflicting political relevance and lopsided economical exuberance. India recently witnessed the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat making statements on issues that a large section of the Hindus consider unnecessary and uncalled-for. His controversial remarks on Gyanvapi row did not go well among all sections of the Hindu society. His “why look for shivling in every mosque” was a rhetoric that had startled many Hindu groups and spiritual leaders. A discontent among the rank and file was silently brewing and social media was flooded with comments for and against his remark.
The Sangh has long been trying to bring the disgruntled minorities to the table for an ideological debate. The organisation feels dialogue between the adversaries can bring solutions and dispel disagreement. In its vivid perception about the minorities especially Christianity and Islam, the RSS has genetically developed an idea that both the religions are not Indian enough as they prefer to connect their civilisational lineage with the countries where they originated. The Sangh sees this as the prime reason behind the ideological tussle between the Indic religions and the Abrahamic religions. It keeps insisting them to return to their ancestral Indian heritage, which according to the Sangh is the common ancestry of all. It cherished this idea of Indianisation of the Indian branches of Abrahamic religions for long. One of its most prominent ideologues P. Parameswaran began this initial thought process in Kerala in the mid nineties. His focus was mainly on the incredible share of Christian population in the state, to which he appealed to Indianise or to streamline their practices in tune with the spiritual climate of India.  
Bhagawat says all Indians are Hindus as their cultural ancestry is Sanatana Dharma. This is a conflicting view for the Hindus as well as those who follow the Abrahamic traditions. You will see him criticise religious conversions in the same breath. Now the thickening question is, if all Indians are Hindus, then why should there be a pandemonium while Hindus are being converted to other religions. Debates on Hindu-Muslim unity began to gain momentum recently as the country witnessed outright aggression between the communities and the ruling BJP is blamed for its tapping dividends out of the ongoing colossal conflict. Amid various contentious issues such as the Gyanvapi mosque row and Krishna Janmabhoomi in Mathura, the Sangh is seen vehemently following its agenda of stitching a coalition with the minorities. An ideological togetherness is invariably difficult. Moreover, the wounds of partition had further deepened the crisis and many occasional conflicts continued post independence. There were many fenced issues between the two communities but the Ayodhya agitation and the Godhra riots had intensified the predicament. Therefore, it believes that it should focus on highlighting a common ancestry and help the country rise in response to its call for unity.
More than anybody the Sangh understands what it means to be in a denial and disagreement with the twenty percent of the country’s population. The organisation with its millions of members and a massive organisational network known as the Sangh Parivar is identified as the biggest stakeholder of Hindutva. With its towering support it has been able to establish the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which in a short duration rose to become the largest political party and now the country’s ruling dispensation.  A Sangh ideologue J.Nandakumar gives a vivid justification on its efforts of Indianisation of minorities. He calls India a Dharmic civilization and the multiple belief systems flourishing in India should be tantamount to the Dharmic traditions that it has been following from the ages of sages. He believes that India’s civilisational core is based on its pluralistic existence and the post colonial thrust on secularism was an attempt to bury its ancestrally inherited habit of plurality. According to him, with its ability to circumscribe the variety into one essential unity, India had encapsulated an extremely purer form of coexistence and the confrontations, if there were any, were the result of a semitic theological invasion that opposed the beauty of plurality.  A Dharmic civilization recognizes religious practices as different ways and means of spiritual purity and the knowledge that they are able to garner would transform an ordinary society into an ideal conglomeration of universal acceptance.
The fact is that ‘Unity in Diversity’ or ‘Hindu Universalism’ propounds and prays for the wellbeing of the global humanity or treats the globe as a family for the multiplicity to flower and flourish. The ideological notion that India will be meaningfully propagating throughout its G20 presidency would be from the Vedic ethics and that should be seen as an effective synchronization of diverse thoughts into one logically formulated version of togetherness. With the Vedic adage “Vasudaiva Kutumbakam” or ‘world is one family’, India’s diplomatic outreach is much more meaningful than any effort that would seek global unity. Since Dharma is believed to be at the core of India’s civilization, extreme religious beliefs palpably proclaiming their hegemony over the rest would shake the amiability in societies. And the RSS for that matter is enduring to wipe out the mistrust among the minorities about its ideological weaponry. Trying to integrate the minorities into India’s inherent Dharmic heritage needs intense dialogues.
The Sangh is probably trying to eradicate the misapprehension that it has been subjected to for decades. The latest interaction between the leaders of the saffron camp and the Muslim intellectuals is known to have shared concerns on the notion of the Muslims identifying a Hindu as Kafir and defaming him to be an unacceptable entity.  There is a deliberate narrative emanating from the hypocrisy of the Indian political spectrum that the Muslims in India are frequently persecuted by the majority under the blessings of a majoritarian government. Random skirmishes between the two communities can be quoted to justify this view. But such narratives are unmindful of the aggression of an exclusive mindset that takes weapons to slit innocent people’s throats and terrorise the public through organised rioting. So India’s deceptive past had occasions wherein violence between the two communities had been a reality. But such issues cannot be termed as the choreographed versions of majoritarian aggression alone. Almost every issue of hostility was an outcome of an ideological conflict that sprung up from a disagreeable insistence of one ideology on the other. A larger positive message through consistent dialogue is welcome. But to chisel out conflicting beliefs from both the sides needs honest groundwork. The BJP in its recent National Executive Meet made fresh appeal to its cadre for an open and honest approach to include the minorities. But the ruling party failed to elect a Muslim candidate to the parliament and the trust deficit between both sides is still evident. A fresh outreach shedding the thorny memories of the past should be of everyone’s interest.  
(Freelance Journalist/Author of “India @ 75- A Contemporary Approach”)


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