Since August 2019 Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has started a relentless campaign against Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Whether it’s in United Nations (UN) conference or any other multinational forum, Imran Khan doesn’t miss a chance to malign RSS. Writes Aniruddh Subhedar
Evading questions on Taliban, Pak Prime Minister Imran Khan Niazi is blaming RSS to cover up his terrorist connections. For RSS, its work among the common people speaks, and that is the foundation of the Sangh functioning. Misquoting the Sangh leadership out of context is not going to yield any result. Instead of repeating the same rant and exposing himself, Imran Khan should focus on the internal situation in Pakistan.
Since August 2019 Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has started a relentless campaign against Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Whether it’s in United Nations (UN) conference or any other multinational forum, Imran Khan doesn’t miss a chance to malign RSS. His only allegation against RSS is that “RSS is a Nazi organisation”, that “the founding fathers of RSS were inspired by Nazi Germany” and “Hindutva is a racist/Nazi ideology”. Khan has repeatedly made these allegations since August 2019. Khan’s recent speech in the UN is the latest of them.
This smear campaign against RSS started after Modi Government took the historic decision of repealing Article 370 from Jammu & Kashmir on August 5, 2019. Very next day, on August 6 2019, Imran Khan addressed the joint session of Pakistani Parliament and blamed the ideology of RSS, compared it with the Nazis. He also said that the founding fathers of the RSS like Golwalkar and others wanted to “ethnic cleanse” Muslims.
In his speech in UN General Assembly, on September 27, 2019, he went a step further. He said that RSS is an organisation inspired by Adolf Hitler; it believes in “racial purity and racial superiority” and “ethnic cleansing” of Muslims. He alleged that “this is openly stated” by the ‘founding fathers of RSS—Golwalkar and Savarkar’. Instead of providing any substantial proof for these serious and highly objectionable allegations, he said, “Just Google them (Savarkar and Golwalkar), and you’ll find out”.
Since then Imran Khan has repeated the same allegation as many times as possible. He repeated it in his interview to CNBC on the sidelines of World Economic Summit, Davos (January 2020), again in February 2020 in his interview to VRT News of Belgium. On his own admission, in PoJK’s Assembly (in February 2020) Khan has admitted that after August 5, 2019, whichever international forum he has been to he personally met each country’s head of the state and the global media and told them about this “Nazi ideology”. To name a few: BBC, CNN and the board of NYT. Apart from that, he has repeatedly posted such statements in social media too.
Given the seriousness of the allegations, it was expected from Imran Khan to provide some evidence or proof to back his assertions. But in the last one year nothing of that sort has come. Hence, it becomes imperative to set the record straight in this matter.
Origin of the allegations
Those aware of the political discourse in India would hardly find anything new in these allegations. They have been repeated ad-nauseam against Sangh. And like almost every other anti-India idea, these allegations too have originated from Communist propaganda machinery. Without fail, Indian Communists are always at the forefront of providing ammunition to the enemy side. In the case of Pakistan, this relationship goes way back. When the Muslim League made its demand for Pakistan in the 1940s, it didn’t have any convincing argument to make a strong case. It was Communists who helped the League with ‘intellectual-sounding’ arguments like “Right of self-determination of nationalities”, etc. Looking at the current scenario, it becomes clear that this camaraderie is still intact. Again Pakistan is making a case based on the arguments provided by the Indian Left. For more than two decades now Indian Leftists have been making these accusations. Pakistanis lifted them from Left’s armoury and without even cross-checking whether these arguments hold water or not, without even rechecking the basics (Imran Khan didn’t even know the correct pronunciation of the word ‘Savarkar’) they swallowed them hook, line and sinker. So confident was Imran Khan about these assertions that he has repeatedly asked world leaders that ‘they just need to Google about RSS’ founding fathers’ without knowing even the founder of RSS. This confidence has stemmed from the online resources provided by the Communist-fascist intellctuals.
As suggested by Imran Khan, if it takes just a Google-search to reveal the ‘hidden truth’ about Veer Savarkar and Golwalkar Guruji, then it should definitely be put to the test.
When ‘Was Savarkar a Nazi’ or ‘Was Golwalkar a Nazi’ is Googled the very first page in Google search shows the articles with same titles authored by Belgian Indologist Koenraad Elst. It’s an abridged version taken from Elst’s much detailed book ‘The Saffron Swastika’.
Elst discusses these allegations at length, quotes from primary sources and brings out many obscure references too. It would be advisable to read his work on this subject and to understand the political scenario during World War II.
Like many other allegations, time and again Savarkar has been accused of being a Nazi sympathiser and a racist. And like all those allegations this one too doesn’t stand scrutiny. In his Magnum Opus, ‘Hindutva’ Savarkar writes “After all there is throughout this world so far as man is concerned but a single race, the human race, kept alive by one common blood, the human blood. All other talk is at best provisional, a makeshift and only relatively true. Nature is constantly trying to overthrow the artificial barriers you raise between race and race. To try to prevent the commingling of blood is to build on sand… Truly speaking all that one can claim is that one has the blood of all mankind in one’s veins. The fundamental unity of man from pole to pole is true, all else only relatively so”.
This is as far from Nazism as it can get. ‘Hindutva’ is one of the important texts in the evolution of Hindu nationalist movement. It’s incumbent upon every critic of Savarkar to at least read these passages before accusing Savarkar of Racism.
Elst goes further and quotes Savarkar’s deputy and vice-president of Hindu Mahasabha Nirmal Chandra Chatterjee’s various statements during WWII. In unambiguous terms, Chatterjee declared Nazism an evil which must be fought. In February 1941, Chatterjee said: “Our passionate adherence to democracy and freedom is based on the spiritual recognition of the Divinity of man. We are not only not communal, but we are nationalists and democrats. The Anti-Fascist Front must extend from the English Channel to the Bay of Bengal.”
Chatterjee declared in March 1942: “In the conflict of ideologies the Hindus have made their position perfectly clear. We hate Nazism and Fascism. We are the enemies of Hitler and Mussolini. We are longing and struggling for our own emancipation and we want to repel any dictator who would try to reduce sections of humanity to slavery to serve the whims of his own megalomania.” And in December 1943: “We are wholeheartedly anti-Fascist. Every anti-Imperialist must be anti-Fascist.”
Underlining Savarkar’s role Chatterjee said in November 1944: “Due to Veer Savarkar’s call thousands of young men joined the Army and Navy and Air Force and shed their blood for resisting Nazi tyranny.”
As has been pointed out by Elst a person with the Nazi/Fascist mindset in the times of World War II would surely support Hitler and Fascism, but Savarkar, on the contrary, supported anti-Nazi forces.
Imran Khan is embarrassingly uninformed when he calls Savarkar a Nazi. Savarkar wholeheartedly congratulated Jews for overcoming the sufferings and tyranny and creating a new nation, Israel, for themselves. He compared it with “that glorious day in their history when Moses led them out of The Egyptian bondage and wilderness”. It’s not without reason that the Consul General of Israel, David Akov, visited the birthplace of Savarkar in 2016 on Savarkar’s birth anniversary.
Out of his copious writings, all the allegations against Golwalkar Guruji boil down to just two of his statements, nibbled out of context from his book ‘We: Or Our Nationhood Defined’. Published in 1939 this book was the maiden work of Guruji. Before discussing these statements, it would be apt to read what veteran Sangh ideologue late Devendra Swarupji wrote about it. Writing in Panchajanya dated May 19, 2002, Shri Swarup writes: “…Golwalkar ji’s book ‘We: Or Our Nationhood Defined’, which wasn’t even published after 1947, and which Guruji himself renounced calling it outdated, has become the most important document of the Leftist propaganda machinery against Sangh… What Sangh has renounced has become the Gita of Communists.”
Indeed, anyone having firsthand experience of RSS knows that unlike as portrayed by Leftist writers, this book is not some prescribed reading material for RSS volunteers. Quite possible many even hear of this book for the first time through the rumour mongering of this Leftist cabal. The real work of Sri Guruji is not in books and writings but in his untiring efforts to spread Sangh in every part of India and and all walks of the national life.
The two oft-quoted sentences of Guruji are:
“From this standpoint, sanctioned by the experience of shrewd old nations, the foreign races in Hindusthan must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but those of the glorification of the Hindu race and culture, i.e. of the Hindu nation, and must lose their separate existence to merge in the Hindu race; or may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu Nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment—not even citizen’s rights.”
And, “To keep up the purity of the race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic races—the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for Races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindusthan to learn and profit by.”
Regarding the first statement, it must be remembered beforehand that by this time, the term ‘race’ did not have an exclusively biological meaning. It was often used to denote ‘people’, ‘nation’ or ‘community’. It was in this sense that Guruji used this term; otherwise “merge in the Hindu race” has no meaning. Secondly, when this book was written, the system of ‘separate electorates’ existed in India, which gave undue privileges to minority communities based on religion. It was creating a nation within a nation in India at the cost of Hindus (amply exemplified during the pan-Islamist Khilafat Movement which led to large scale massacre of Hindus). Guruji’s statement was made against this backdrop. He wanted to end these anti-national tendencies undermining the interests and very existence of Hindus. For those who denied this he proposed no privileges (not ‘ethnic cleansing’, as alleged by the Leftists). Indeed, as these tendencies went on unchecked for decades, India was vivisected.
Guruji’s statement was made in a different political scenario when things changed after 1947 Guruji himself declared it “outdated”. In fact, he is the one who provided dynamism to the meaning of being Hindu by saying, ‘common anscestry, culture and patriotrism’ are the three basic tenets of Hindutva. that is why Sangh openly supported a Muslim, APJ Abdul Kalam, for the post of India’s President. Imran Khan’s Pakistan doesn’t give this right to even Muslim sects like Ahmedias, leave alone non-Muslim citizens of Pakistan.
Coming to the second statement, with a clever sleight of hand, this statement can be presented as a laudatory reference to Hitler and even his Holocaust. But a careful reading, unsullied by prejudice, will tell that Guruji was giving an example of Germany that how two antagonistic nations cannot live in the country side by side. He considered it an excellent example to “learn” from, not ‘emulate’. This book was written before 1939; it’s impossible that these statements of Guruji referred to the Holocaust because till then, the truth of Hitler and concentration camps were not even known to the world. Especially in India, any bad-press that Hitler received was easily considered as propaganda of the British colonial masters. Never in this book or other writings did Guruji support atrocities on Jews, or racism of Nazis.
Savarkar wholeheartedly congratulated Jews for overcoming the sufferings and tyranny and creating a new nation, Israel, for themselves. He compared it with “that glorious day in their history when Moses led them out of The Egyptian bondage and wilderness”. It’s not without reason that the Consul General of Israel, David Akov, visited the birthplace of Savarkar in 2016 on Savarkar’s birth anniversary
If Guruji were really an admirer of Hitler, there would surely have been some statements to this effect at least when Hitler was at his zenith; but there is absolutely none. And therefore this whole polemic against Guruji is solely based on these two misrepresented statements. In fact, as Elst points out, in this very book Guruji considered Western democracies a favourable model, not Nazi Germany. Anyone who has read Elst’s works knows that he has been quite vocal about his criticism of RSS and especially Golwalkar Guruji, but on this particular issue there is simply no basis of declaring Guruji as Nazi sympathiser.
Some people can oppose this argument of ‘two antagonistic nations cannot live in a country’ but not Pakistan. The very basis of Pakistan is the two-nation theory of Jinnah. Pakistan, its Prime Minister, its membership in the UN, everything owes its existence to this very theory. Guruji recognised the rift between the two communities but nowhere had he supported partition or advocated ‘ethnic cleansing’. He was warning Indians that if the Hindu-Muslim issue is not resolved correctly, it will have severe consequences. Looking back at the history of Pakistan’s creation and the blood-shed it caused Guruji was correct in his assessment.
A careful reading of Guruji’s writings tells that he never wanted to mimic Western systems; his sources of inspiration were Indian. Sangh still has this Indian outlook, and it can be seen in any randomly picked book or speech of RSS ideologues. The current Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat, in his speech in Meerut (February 25, 2018), said, “The world has done many experiments for last 2000 years but the conflicts and sorrows of the world have not ended, violence is still going on as before. Hence people around the world think that India has a path which can provide comfort not only to body and mind but to the soul as well”. Explaining this ‘path’ (Dharma) he quoted a Sanskrit shloka:
” विद्या विवादाय धनं मदाय शक्ति: परेषां परिपीडनाय.. An evil person, devoid of humanity, uses knowledge to create arguments, wealth for insolence and power to torment others. Whereas a person with humanity uses these three to spread knowledge, help others, and to protect the people. This humanity is what we call Dharma”.
Any person, even superficially aware of Indian thought systems, can tell that these views are not even remotely Fascist or Nazi but truly rooted in Indian spirituality. But some commentators in newspapers termed even the above humanitarian words of Shri Bhagwat as “advocating genocide like Hitler did of Jews”! This gives an idea of how malicious is the anti-RSS propaganda.
For Sangh, its work among the common people speaks, and that is the basis of its acceptance among masses. Misquoting Sri Guruji or Bhagawatji is not going to yield any result. It would be better if Imran Khan focuses on internal situation in Pakistan. Recently a Hindu temple was not allowed to be built in Islamabad, girls from minority communities are regularly abducted with impunity. Just a few days ago huge mobs were shouting ‘Kafir Kafir, Shia Kafir’ in the streets of Pakistan. Imran Khan would do well to solve these issues instead of wasting time on a futile campaign to malign RSS based on the communist propaganda.
Aniruddh Subhedar is a research scholar
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