Biting the Ambedkar Bullet: RSS Revisionism

by Asang Wankhede

 

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Biting the Ambedkar Bullet: RSS Revisionism

The article written by Kumar Ritwik as a response to Prem Ayyathurai’s ‘March of the Bhagwa Brigade’ published in Glasnost, is saddening and has raised misconceptions regarding the entire history of India. Rest assured, the author has vacuously refuted Ayyathurai’s claims by stating incorrect facts about the RSS, Savarkar, Hedgewar, and has also misinterpreted and misrepresented Ambedkar in every sense. My response is intended towards refuting the author’s fallacies, as well as to bring out the naked truth of the RSS, the BJP, and like minded individuals, trying to bite the Ambedkar bullet with Hindutava teeth in a race to ‘own’ the legacy of Babasaheb and his name endorsed vote bank.

 

Respelling the Bhagwa Myth

The author’s statement about the increasing popularity of the RSS in villages and cities, especially among the youth of the country is baseless and dubious; as a matter of fact the RSS remains the single most ‘hated’ organization across the country. For instance, in Nagpur where the Sangh’s Headquarters are situated (at Reshimbag), the RSS is opposed outright by majority of the sections of the Dalit, Muslim, and Hindu communities, for their moral policing culture and goon-like activities in the city. Being a native of Nagpur, I have witnessed, first hand, stark criticism of the Sangh’s ideology by Dalit-Ambedkarite organizations, notwithstanding the same from Muslim, Christian, and other Hindu communities. This opposition is unparalleled and evident in both, social and print media. Remarks made by Sanghchalak’s on the demolition of the Babri Masjid, or the RSS mouth piece ‘Panchjanya’ justification of the Dadri lynching, and many more, have been met with opposition and criticism, even by so-called supporters of the Sangh.[1]

In the third paragraph of his article, the author, while mentioning about the RSS having organizations like ‘Muslim Rashtriya Manch’ and forty other similar affiliated organizations, is ignorant of the fact that the Sangh has long before conceded and clarified that it “neither controls nor commands” these 40 organizations.[2] The united, progressive governance of Hindu-Muslims remains a delusion, as the central ideology of the RSS is to establish ‘Hindutava’ and nurture a Hindu Nation, which will never be accepted by Muslims. The author’s injudicious statement on the close relationship between the RSS and Muslims further creates a mockery of the situation, as RSS justifies the killing of “sinners” who slaughter cows, while beef remains the staple diet of Muslims. The antithesis of ideologies can never allow actual unification of the Sangh and Muslims, and only superficial joiners may exist. If the RSS wants to show its alleged change of attitude towards Muslims, I assert that they should make a Muslim a Sanghchalak, and stress for making a Dalit shankaracharya. Radical as it may seem, it is the only way to check the untainted soul of the Sangh towards the cause of Muslims and Dalits in the country. The politicization and nationalization of Shivaji started way back in nineteenth century, and Hedgewar’s projection of Shivaji as a demigod or the protector of ‘Hindavi-Swaraj’ was a way to capture the existing patriotic and nationalist feelings in then Maharashtra, which helped the RSS establish and nurture the idea of Hindu nationalism.[3] The use of the RSS Chaddi by Ayyathurai was quite clear, but the author’s reply tries to make an economic case for wearing the Chaddi. The vague ‘Swadeshi’ days are gone, and the government, with its corporate and MNC-friendly, anti-union, anti-welfare agenda[4] is out rightly supported by the RSS, which it earlier opposed, as it enables the Sangh to stress for developing and sustaining its own ‘cultural agenda’, in short, to establish a Hindu Rashtra by developing an infallible and dominant Hindu culture. Therefore, the livelihood argument is unsustainable, as otherwise even factually it has no substantial benefits to the Indian economy.

 

The ‘Owning’ Ambedkar Dilemma

A Dalit vote bank is the single largest determinant for any political party’s fate in elections. Also, in order to ‘unify’ Hindu society, the RSS cannot abandon large fragments of the Hindu depressed classes, as there is a direct threat of conversion to other religions. After the revolution started by Ambedkar, by embracing Buddhism on 14th October 1956, there has been a steady inclination of depressed classes towards abandoning Hinduism and embracing Buddhism, Islam, Sikhism, and Christianity. RSS chief, Bhagwat’s statement that, “Ambedkar believed in the Sangh ideology”[5] is antithetical to Ambedkar’s movement and is false. Such flawed statements not only degrade Ambedkar’s movement and thought, but also create dumb illusions in the mind of the reader. Hear it! Ambedkar hated the caste system, Hindu Raj, the Manusmriti and Hinduism. He wanted to annihilate it! However, Bhagwat’s statement uncovers an important riddle, which the RSS and the BJP have encountered time and again, the riddle of accommodating Ambedkar’s thought in their Hindutava ideology. It is the inability of the RSS to digest Babasaheb’s critical views on the Hindu religion, which raises discontentment and contradictions. Bhagwat and his companions know that the moment they accept the ‘true’ Ambedkar, they would have to annihilate the Hindu religion, burn their Manusmriti, give up their Vedas and Shastras. For the RSS, to accept Babasaheb’s ideology is the equivalent of placing the very Sangh to its grave and taking a bullet, point blank, destroying its existence. It throws wide open the hollowness of their struggle for Dalit rights, and public interest. Therefore the easy way out is to wear Ambedkar as a majestic cloak to hide the bare radical thoughts, and secretly use the black cap draped conscience, to employ Manu to change the democratic and social structure of Bharat.

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Accommodating Ambedkar without taking his Bullet:

Ambedkar thought of reforming Hinduism from within, hoping that the upper caste Hindus will give up untouchability and caste discrimination. But having struggled for temple entry, equal rights and opportunities for depressed classes, social inclusion of untouchables, he was met with resentment and opposition. Seeing no way out, Ambedkar threw the ‘bomb shell’ of conversion to Buddhism. I quote Ambedkar’s criticism of Hindu raj:

“If Hindu Raj becomes a reality then it would be the greatest menace to this country. Whatever may Hindus say, actually it does not make a difference that Hinduism is a danger to Independence, Equality and Brotherhood. Thus it is an enemy of democracy. We should make all out efforts to stop Hindu Raj from becoming a reality.”[6]

It seems that the author has not read the books, which he cites; as such ignorant views would never arise from a full reading of those texts.

I also clearly oppose the statement, where the author states, “view of unity of culture that exists in India, is in absolute agreement with the RSS view of ‘One Nation, One Culture’”. The author doesn’t get the point here: Babasaheb’s conception of one nation and one culture was an idea of egalitarian society, on which his entire struggle is based.  Also, one should never forget that RSS has always been allergic to democracy. When the Constituent Assembly finalized the Constitution, the RSS in its editorial demanded the Manusmriti to replace the newly made constitution.[7] The dream of the RSS has always been to see “one flag, one leader and one ideology of Hindutva.”[8] The laughable irony is the lie, which the RSS, Congress, and every other political party tell, while endorsing Ambedkar within their respective ideologies. The opportunist RSS tries to sell Ambedkar’s legacy by portraying him as a Hindu reformist, whereas Babasaheb ‘Annihilated’ and challenged the infallibility of the Vedas, the Shastras, and Manu, and was categorically opposed to the Chaturvarna system. Soon after India adopted Constitution, the RSS mouthpiece showered Babasaheb with arrows of hatred and went to the extent of disowning the constitution by publically stating “Manu Rules our Hearts”.[9] The author should have also quoted “Riddles in Hinduism” by Ambedkar, where he destroyed every myth and enigma within Hinduism.

 

Untruth of Brahmanical Hegemony

The author seems to equate Ambedkar and the RSS on their opposition to the imposition of the Brahmanical idea over Hinduism, where he forgets that out of the 7 Sarsanghchalaks (Supreme Leader) since its inception, 6 were Brahmin by caste, and one individual was a Rajput (Upper caste).[10] RSS rather cherished the idea of keeping intact the core group full of upper caste individuals (primarily Brahmins). Golwalkar’s ‘Guruji’s’ shameful theory of cross-breeding among Keralite Hindus, shows his belief in existence of superior races and inferior races in India (particularly Namboodri Brahamnas being superior). He not only supported the Aryan agenda, but also supported the Nazi ideology of race superiority and purity of race.[11] Hence, it is baseless to argue the similarity of thoughts of Ambedkar and RSS, as it is evident that the Congress and RSS are now on a revisionist agenda to lure Dalit voters by projecting ‘Babashaheb’ as one of their own. Social democracy and social reform was the centerpiece of Ambedkar’s social and political struggle since a democratic form of government presupposes a democratic form of society. The formal framework of democracy is of no value, and would indeed be a misfit, if there were no social democracy.[12]

 

Savarkar, the Sangh and India’s Independence struggle

Considering Vir Savarkar’s struggle against the Brahminical identity and caste system and Ambedkar’s struggle against the caste system, there stands a fundamental difference in both ideologies. Where Savarkar argued for dissolution of caste into a single Hindu identity, called for major reforms for abolishment of untouchability and inter-marriages, he wanted to establish Hindutava on the basis of rationalism and revitalize Hinduism, devoid of all the problems. Ambedkar on the other hand fought not only against caste system but also denounced the Hindu religion itself. Therefore, to put in context, the work of Savarkar and Ambedkar was intended to solve the social problems but to meet very different ends.[13] Ambedkar opposed Savarkar’s Hindu nation theory and was of the opinion that, “Mr. Savarkar wants the Hindu nation to be the dominant nation and the Muslim nation to be the subservient nation under it.”[14] The endorsement of Savarkar by the RSS is in order to again revise its earlier hostilities with Savarkar, when he was the leader of Hindu Mahasabha. Bhartiya Jan Sangh (BJS), led by ex-Hindu Mahasabha member Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, was in fact established by the RSS in aversion to the Savarkar-led Hindu Mahasabha. The fact that both the Jan Sangh and the Hindu Mahasabha contested for the same political seat shows the non-conducive ties between the two blocks. It is equally ironic to see the claims of RSS and BJP as heirs of Savarkar’s legacy, who died as a lonely man.[15]

The Author, regrettably and mischievously misstates the history about participation of the RSS in India’s Independence struggle by citing the enormous contribution of Veer Savarkar and Dr. Hedgewar. The truth is that Savarkar was implicated by the British government for his activities at the India House and was convicted for his activities against the British government and was sent to Kala Pani in the year 1911, fourteen years before the formation of the RSS. The author’s attempt to pass off the arrest of Savarkar, for his personal contribution to India’s struggle for Independence, as the RSS’ is an abuse to his legacy and creates a delusion in the mind of readers, as the RSS as an institution always distanced itself from the struggle for India’s independence. Dr. Hedgewar was arrested for supporting Satyagraha in his own personal capacity and never allowed Sangh to participate in Satyagraha or Independence Movement.[16] The author stating wrong historical facts itself defeats his case for dispelling the so-called Bhagwa myth.

He forges upon PM Modi’s ‘usual’ usage of words to depict the ‘ancient’ legacy of ‘Bharat’. The true identity of this nation was established only when India adopted the Constitution. The ancient civilization, which the author proudly indicates as the genesis of Bharat, raises an important question of understanding: what is ‘Your’ Bharat (the RSS conception of Bharat) and ‘Our’ Bharat (the conception of people of the Republic of India). The republic established Constitutional morality as the highest virtue to strive for, and it gave every citizen the right to equality, abolished untouchability, gave freedom of profession, speech and expression, and the right to life and personal liberty. What did your Bharat give? It gave untouchability, suppression of human intellect, injunction on voyage, complete social exclusion of Shudras and untouchables? I quote Ambedkar to further substantiate my point, “In every Hindu the consciousness that exists is the consciousness of his caste. That is the reason why Hindus cannot be said to form a society or a nation”[17]. The fallacious boasting of the ancient civilization by the RSS is nothing but murky, illusionist propaganda to misspell the truth.

The author quotes PM Modi’s Red Fort speech, where the PM, as a ‘Swayamsevak’, proclaimed himself as the ‘Pradhan Sevak’ of the country. I thank the author for claiming this openly, as it admits to the equation between the RSS and the BJP. It is a matter of caution for all of us to think and rethink the fact that our PM’s identity as the head of the state is superseded by his identity as a ‘Swayamsevak.’ However, the hypocrisy of the situation is that we are indeed being ruled by the government that takes moral decisions of eating what type of meat,[18] decides that watching porn is immoral,[19] considers lynching of a citizen for consuming beef as an accident,[20] equates killing of cows to raping a girl,[21] and strives to revive our culture in order to correct the wrongs of western culture.[22] Indeed, we are ruled by the Government of India on its face, but the equation does the actual work.

The use of authoritative words like “hardest working nationalist organization”, “Successful in widening its ideological base” etc., is misleading, as the RSS is far from a being nationalist organization and is a Hindu nationalist organization. Further, it is the radical propaganda, which attracts young lads and directs them to resort to violence and accept radical Hindutava, without questioning the very form in which it is proposed by RSS. The opium of ideological lacuna is the reactive element, which marks the ideological expansion of the RSS. However, the power of the organization or ‘Sangh’ of the RSS is commendable, as they have survived on the basis of the same for ninety odd years, and we the people shall learn the miracles which the power of ‘Sangh’ can perform, the breaking of Babri or the survival of the institution are some examples.

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Targeting culture through education and the ‘mandate’ lie

The worshipping cult seems to have overpowered the author’s ability to reason, where he seems to have forgotten that the radical changes, which the RSS proposes in the textbooks, through the HRD Ministry, are indications of a larger goal of achieving cultural supremacy. Hitler too attempted to bring cultural change by targeting the education system, as it is a direct mean to control the youth of the country and establish supremacy of ideology. The trends suggest that the outcome would be devastating, as rewriting history to suit ideological needs and establishing society in line with the Sangh’s rulebook: the ‘Manusmriti.’ This would reestablish the dogma of discrimination and suppression, which the constitution prohibits. When the RSS can go to the extent of proposing that Islam created untouchability, the change in curriculum to praise the cult seems more harmful than beneficial.[23]

Ayyathurai’s statistics are correct and were cited to indicate that the self-appraisal of BJP about the ‘mandate’ given by the people is wrong, as the question here is not of numbers. The author misses the point here. No government has a right to establish police raj and rule of majoritarianism in the country, which denies and suppresses constitutional rights and values, even if they have a full, unanimous mandate.

 

Introspect

Ideological acceptance is the highest virtue to establish control over thoughts and conscience. ISIS is a reality, as Nazism once was. The facade of history orders us to learn from our mistakes and not commit them again. As every other human, we are being naive and ignorant about the winds of change in the social, cultural, and political spheres in India. Dissent is being suppressed and it is the right time to mull over past mistakes and our discontentment, as the deceptive agenda of development has blinded us and will, in no time, hold us liable to choose sides, which we should refrain from choosing.

 

(This article is a response to “Dispelling the Bhagwa Myth” by Kumar Ritwik, previously published on Glasnost.)

 

[1] http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2015-09-24/news/66854880_1_mohan-bhagwat-caste-rss

[2] http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/the-unmaking-of-india/

[3] Thomas Blom Hansen, The Saffron Wave: Democracy and Hindu Nationalism in Modern India, pp, 109-110 (PUP 1999).

[4] http://m.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/modi-government-is-determined-to-dismantle-the-twopronged-welfare-paradigm/article7244983.ece

[5]http://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/indianews/article-2953752/Ambedkar-believed-Sangh-ideology.html

[6] B.R. Ambedkar, Pakistan or Partition of India, Page 358 (http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/pritchett/00ambedkar/ambedkar_partition/)

[7] http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/the-unmaking-of-india/

[8] M.S. Golwalkar’s Speech at RSS Resham Bagh headquarters in Nagpur in 1940

[9] ‘Manu Rules Our Hearts’ in Organiser, February 6, 1950, p.7

[10]K. B. Hedgewar , Laxman Vaman Paranjpe , M. S. Golwalkar , Madhukar Dattatraya Deoras , K. S. Sudarshan , Mohan Bhagwat (Brahmins) and Rajendra Singh (Rajput)

[11] Chetan Bhatt Liberation and Purity: Race, New Religious Movements and the Ethics of Post Modernity, pp. 206-210. See also http://www.countercurrents.org/commgatade170207.htm

[12] Owning Ambedkar sans his views (http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/comment-article-from-ananya-vajpeyi-owning-ambedkar-sans-his-views/article7583272.ece) see also http://www.firstpost.com/politics/lying-about-ambedkar-rss-revisionism-on-his-124th-birth-anniversary-2193513.html

[13] http://www.countercurrents.org/dalit-sivaraman250903.htm

[14]Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, Thoughts on Pakistan

[15] http://www.thehindu.com/op/2004/09/21/stories/2004092100241400.htm

[16]Bhishikar, C.P (1994). Sangh Vriksh ke Beej:Dr.KeshavRao Hedgewar. (Suruchi Prakashan, New Delhi) See also Ram Puniyani (ed.),  Religion, Power and Violence: Expression of Politics in Contemporary Times

[17] Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, Annihilation of Caste (http://ccnmtl.columbia.edu/projects/mmt/ambedkar/web/section_6.html)

[18] http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/rss-mouthpiece-defends-dadri-vedas-order-killing-of-sinners-who-kill-cows/

[19] http://www.theguardian.com/culture/2015/aug/05/india-lifts-ban-on-internet-pornography-after-criticisms

[20]http://indianexpress.com/article/india/politics/dadri-lynching-an-accident-dont-give-it-a-communal-twist-says-union-minister-mahesh-sharma/

[21] http://www.huffingtonpost.in/2015/07/03/india-bangladesh-beef_n_7719068.html

[22]http://www.huffingtonpost.in/2015/09/11/mahesh-sharma-culture_n_8120222.html see also http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-modi-government-rss-plan-to-cleanse-india-of-western-culture-roadmap-to-be-prepared-2123479

[23] http://www.mainstreamweekly.net/article6008.html http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/sunday-story-sangham/  see also http://www.firstpost.com/politics/return-of-saffron-schoolbooks-whos-behind-iranis-plans-1557779.html

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One thought on “Biting the Ambedkar Bullet: RSS Revisionism

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