RSS' narrow Hindutva not rooted in reality, but similar to radicalisation sweeping through Islam

Mohan Bhagwat, the self-proclaimed voice of Hindus, should visit western Uttar Pradesh soon. He would find a different kind of "ghar wapsi" taking place in the region.

Tired of hatred, of vicious communal propaganda, of animus triggered by politics, Jats of the region are becoming what they always were — farmers. Two years ago, they were consumed by the Hindutva project that led to riots in Muzzafarnagar and adjoining areas, to divisive jumlas like "love jihad". In a fit of rage, they allowed themselves to "become Hindus instead of kisans".

But now, they are coming back home to a secular India, one where Hindus and Muslims coexist in peace, identify themselves by their karma, not dharma.

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat. Reuters file image

This ongoing "ghar wapsi" by the Jats, who are also regretting their participation in the 2013 riots in the region, underlines an important point. The RSS' project of using Hindutva as a tool to shape India's society and politics will never succeed. In the end, Hindus will rise above the divisive agendas forced upon them, and go back to their liberal, secular roots.

Considering that even Hindus refuse to get swayed by the RSS, it is comical to watch Bhagwat force the Hindutva project on other religions as well, with his argument of "everyone who is born in India is a Hindu".

Speaking at an event in Madhya Pradesh on Wednesday, Bhagwat had said, "Everyone born in the country is a Hindu — of these some are idol-worshipers and some are not. Even Muslims are Hindus by nationality, they are Muslims by faith only. Just as the English live in England, Americans in America and Germans in Germany, Hindus live in Hindustan," he said.

Consider this argument again, with its inherent contradictions. To rephrase his own words, everyone living in America is an American, not a Christian; everyone living in Germany is a German, not a Catholic or a Protestant. But everyone living in India is a Hindu, not an Indian or a Hindustani.

No, Mohan Bhagwat, you are wrong. Everyone who lives in India is an Indian, a Bharatwasi, a Hindustani. Just as every Hindu doesn't wear khaki shorts, doesn't attend RSS shakhas, and doesn't follow the Hindutva ideology, every Indian does not follow the same religious ideology. We are a country of various religions, faith and beliefs, but we are one nationality.

It's a pity that the RSS doesn't get two things straight: One, it doesn't speak for all Hindus of India; it's just a fringe organisation that espouses a socio-political thought that has been rejected many times over by Indians. And two, to quote poet Rahat Indori's famous lines: Sabhi ka khoon hai shaamil yahan ki mitti main, kisi ke baap ka Hindustan thodi hai.

India belongs to everyone who lives here; it's a country of Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Muslims and every person who calls himself an Indian.

The narrow RSS philosophy of Hindustani = Hindu is obviously rooted in the irrational idea that nations are homogeneous units that were born overnight. Its ideologues and cadres can't accept the fact that nations are always a work in progress, they change and evolve continuously. As the poet Iqbal argued, the only sign of a living community is that its fate changes every morning and evening.

But in their minds, Bhagwat and his followers have set a cut-off date for India's evolution, perhaps some imaginary date when a Donald Trump-like figure closed the borders and announced nobody would henceforth be allowed to enter India. So, everyone who became part of India after this imaginary cut-off date is either an outsider or an invader. And, because the prevalent way of life till this imagined "sealing of borders" has been branded as Hindutva by the RSS, it expects everyone to relinquish their individual identities and chant with garva that they are Hindu, not Hindustani.

This obsession with seeing India as their Hindutva fief is, unfortunately, almost similar to the mania that is sweeping Islam, birthing radical regimes like the ISIS. Just like the Hindutva hardliners, the ISIS bigots too want everyone to accept just one particular brand of religious ideology, surrender their individuality to the hegemony of one faith. In many ways, the Hindutva project of the RSS is similar to al-Baghdadi's dream of a Sunni Caliphate where the individual exists only to follow the tenets of a faith and the diktats of its self-proclaimed messengers.

Bhagwat should know that the obsession with using religion as a force to unite the majority and subjugate the minority has brought many countries to the brink of disaster and misery. It has ruined the lives of millions across Central Asia and Europe.
Thankfully, a majority of Indians are wise enough to see the perils of embracing divisive politics and narrow definitions of religions and nationality. They will never accept the RSS and its specious arguments of every Indian being a Hindu.

To understand the folly of his argument, look no further than western UP, where village after village is resonating with the same slogan: Jat ho ya Mussalman, har bhai sirf kissan. (We brothers are neither Jats nor Muslims, but just farmers).

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Updated Date: Feb 09, 2017 15:06:08 IST

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