If it is an indication of course correction, we will welcome it in good faith. Otherwise we should wait before denouncing it as lip service, or mere eyewash in the aftermath of Nupur Sharma episode, avers Syyed Mansoor Agha

RSS Chief Mr. Mohan Bhagwat’s speech on Thursday, June 2, earned headlines for his questioning Hindutva fanatics, “What is the need to look for a ‘Shiva Ling’ in every mosque? Why escalate the quarrel?” If his followers listen to him and transform his words into reality, his declarations, “RSS was not in favour of launching any other movement on these issues (of Kashi and Mathura); and that we are not against Muslims”, will usher into big relief for the nation, restore her reputation and heal many wounds.

Deviating from the historical approach of the Sangh, he pitched for harmonious relations with native Muslims. If it is an indication of course correction, we will welcome it in good faith. Otherwise we should wait before denouncing it as lip service, or mere eyewash in the aftermath of Nupur Sharma episode.


Let us see first what he said broadly in his half an hour discourse, studded with fascinating assertions. He opened his talk with great stress on humanitarianism and forbearance. He underlined the ‘Hindu traditions’ of accommodating diversities of faith and culture. However, one can feel a mismatch between spoken words and the reality on the ground. Not to go far. The recent campaigns by Sangh elements against Azan, Friday prayers in the open or spilling over on the roads during larger congregations, are glaring examples of anti-Muslim tendencies. The UP CM was heard saying with pride, “We did not allow last Friday prayers in Ramazan on roads this time.”


However, the RSS supremo told his audience: “What happens in mosques is also a form of prayer. Okay, it has come from outside. But Muslims ‘who have accepted it’ are not outsiders. Even if their prayer is from outside, and they wish to continue with it, we are fine with it. We are not opposed to any form of worship.” He also asserted, “Hindus are not opposed to Muslims. The Muslims are the progeny of the same Hindu Rishis, Monies as we Hindus are. If they (Muslims) want to come back, we will welcome them with open arms but if not, we believe in 33 crore Devi Devtas, let theirs be one more.” Surely if such broadmindedness ushered, it will prove a single medicine for most social ills of Indians.

Surely Hindu masses are not opposed to Muslims. Then who are those who opposed half an hour weekly Friday prayer in the open? Who is the head of the administration? Who are those who gave an open call in public to exhume women’s bodies and mistreat the corpses? They all claim to belong to the Hindutva ideology.  


Pitching for coherence in our diverse society, Mohan Bhagwat Ji expressed his belief in “progress of all with our own progress.” He declared that the motive of Sangh as a Hindu outfit is, “to embrace all and not to hurt anybody as tormenting is wickedness. The motive is to integrate with all and not disconnect from any. To be strong is important but it should not be to harm anybody, instead protect the weaker and extend help to others.”  

During his discourse, he told RSS cadre, that all Muslims are not of foreign origin. They are originally from here. We should take them as ours and not others. He also exhorted to take care of everyone’s feelings and sentiments. No extremism, but pursue others against fanaticism. 


Interestingly he also defended the idea of what is termed as Jihad in Arabic. He stressed that to defend ourselves we have to be strong and in the process, we may also have to sacrifice ourselves.

He extensively quoted from the scriptures to support his contentions. We know the ideals of good conduct are there in Hindu holy books but are not exclusive beauties confined to “Hindu Dharma.” It may be pointed out the characteristics of the “Hindu mentality” (mansikta), the Hindutva wanted to develop are diametrically opposed to these values. Wild enthusiasm up to belligerence replaces humility as a most required quality when the question comes to dealing with ‘others’. A reputed RSS ideologue, Dattopant Thengri Ji, has extensively dealt with the subject in his booklet, “Hindu Mansikta”. 


Of course, Hindu masses have been tolerant and respectful to Muslims, especially Sufis, Ulama, and Imams or even a Namazi. But the Ideology of Hindutva does not endorse such a soft attitude and hence even their graves are being targeted. Respect and good faith had been integral in our culture. Till recently many Hindu ladies used to donate mustered oil to lit earthen lamps in Masjids. Many used to donate ropes, and buckets to extract water from well for ablution. Now all this has gone. Unfounded fears dissipated the bonds of respect. We are now a divided nation on the lines of religion for political reasons, thanks to one century of provocations against the Muslim faith, practices, and personalities. Using moral teaching merely for sloganeering and chanting pious phrases from holy books is of no use until brought into practice, as Mohan Ji also underlined the importance of “Dharamacharan” i.e. “conduct according to the religion.”

Unfortunately, the very foundation of RSS is inclusive of hardcore Hindus. No room for others. Even not for people like Gandhi Ji, who was considered the best Hindu of his time, but was eliminated because of his advocacy for non-violence and pursuing a moral approach in some matters.


There may be little doubt that ‘Hindutva’ (not Hinduism) has an inbuilt tendency of demeaning others, especially believers in monotheism (Muslims and Christians). There may be some historical reasons, but as Bhagwat Ji acknowledged, Muslims of today are not responsible for past atrocities if any. That was the era when one killed his own close relatives in the lust for power. To add a religious angle is pure wickedness. The glittering virtuous linings, Bhagwat Ji talked about, in his speech belonged to traditional Hindu culture and not that of “Hindutva” philosophy.


His silence at some recent incidences also creates curiosity. After Akhalq was murdered (September 2015) on the suspicion of beef in his home, if Bhagwat Ji had questioned, “What is the need to look into every tiffin box, every fridge”, and had alerted to political leaders not to pat the backs of the lynching accused, several other victims could be saved from the cruel hands of “gau rakshaks” (cow vigilantes). Had he asked fringe elements, why oppose halal meat, and dispute headscarves, that is their choice of meal and way to dress, and had he given a call to respect diversity, his stature would have been taller.


However, taking into account the limitations of an individual, we should passionately wait and watch the outcome of his 2 June remarks. Let us recap his July 2021 remark, “Those, indulging in lynching, are against Hindutva.” I do not remember any major incidents of bullying or lynching reported since then? Also after his call “Why look for Shivling in every mosque,” the uproar to march to “thousands of mosques” is not in the atmosphere. We believe in Allah, capable to upset, what seems certain, and making easy what we think impossible.


However, we need to do our part with wisdom. Sure the mentality of hatred, violence, and cruelty is deep-rooted, and may not ease out soon. These evils have been nurtured as a political weapon to assert Hindu hegemony. One can doubt if the politicians will listen to him at the hustling of elections? Let us also see whether he will be able to carry with him 1500 strong Pritinidhi Sabha, the representative body, which deals with policy matters and is constituted of a hardcore cadre. Can they swallow the discourses of their Chief who can stay in office for a whole lifetime?

[The author is President of “The Forum for Civil Rights”. [email protected]]

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