RSS says Dalit icon BR Ambedkar never represented any caste, favoured religion and was pro-Vedic

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has many records to set straight, especially from its past. The Hindu nationalist organisation, perhaps in order to appeal to the younger generation, seems to be on a record-straightening mission denouncing everything it once said or did — whether it's the organisation's "debated" contribution to India's struggle for Independence, its supposed love for British rule, its hatred for Mahatma Gandhi or Dr BR Ambedkar — a Dalit icon, whose policies and call for a uniform Hindu Code that the RSS once "vehemently opposed".

In the latest of the many "correct the past" assertions, the RSS recently stated that contrary to what is believed, Ambedkar was never opposed to the Vedic religion and didn't represent any caste, an article in The Times of India said. According to Krishna Gopal, general secretary, RSS, Ambedkar "...had immense faith in Vedic religion but was opposed to the discrepancies that occurred later..."

Gopal also called Ambedkar a "patriot" and as someone who "...could not envisage the society without religion." Even though Ambedkar has become a symbol of Dalits, according to Gopal, "Ambedkar never represented any caste".

A framed photograph of Bhimrao Ambedkar. AFP

This comes as a huge surprise since Ambedkar, very clearly, in his essay, Annihilation of Caste (as a similar report points out) says that to bring a change, you have to apply "dynamite to the Vedas and the Shastras, which deny any part to reason; to the Vedas and Shastras, which deny any part to morality. You must destroy the religion of the Shrutis and the Smritis. Nothing else will avail. This is my considered view of the matter. (sic)"

The Shrutis (that which is heard) here refers to the Vedas and a handful of other early texts whereas Smritis (that which is remembered) refer to texts such as such as the Mahabharata and the Ramayana.

That's not all, according to The Economic Times, offered similar indictment of the earliest Hindu text in at least three other of his works — Riddles in Hinduism-Caste in India (1916), Annihilation of Caste (1936), Who were the Shudras (1946) and The Untouchables (1948). In fact, he adopted Buddhism because of his anti-Veda stand.

But this is not the first and only aspect of Ambedkar's personality or life that the RSS has tried to clarify. The RSS lately has been putting a lot of effort in finding similarities between its core ideologies and that of Ambedkar.

In a 2015 opinion piece published in The Hindu, RSS ideologue MG Vaidya, who was recently at the centre of controversy for calling an end all reservations in India, denounced author Ramchandra Guha for claiming that RSS and its associated bodies opposed Ambedkar between 1949-51 and the Hindu Code Bill.

"How can the RSS be held responsible for all those opposing the Hindu Code Bill. Are shankaracharyas members of the RSS? Those who are associated with Hindu religious activities can testify to how difficult it is to bring all shankaracharyas, mahantas and mathadhipatis on one platform," Vaidya wrote.

In fact, Vaidya went on to say that it was because of the RSS that in 1964, all the shankaracharyas, mahantas and mathadipatis came on one platform declared that untouchability is not sanctioned by Hinduism.

The RSS recently went on to say that the Dalit caste was, in fact, a creation of foreign rulers who invaded India right from Muslims to the British. Ambedkar however, denounced a similar version of the idea in his unpublished speech Annihilation of Caste.

If the recent incidents are any indications, there have been an increasing resentment among Dalits against RSS and its associated parties including its political wing, the Bharatiya Janata Party especially keeping in mind two latest incidents like the suicide of Rohith Vemulla and the lynching of seven members of a Dalit family for skinning a dead cow in Una.

RSS' attempts to connect with Ambedkar, is believed to be politically motivated especially with state Assembly elections right around the corner in five states in order to polarise Dalit voters in favour of BJP. The party and organisation's strategy, says a DNA report, is to remove the "Dalit" tag from the community and prevent "Dalits from breaking away from the mainstream Hindu society".

Published Date: Jan 24, 2017 17:14 PM | Updated Date: Jan 24, 2017 17:14 PM

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