21. S.D. Laghate
21. S.D. Laghate
I have come across the booklet ‘Time for stock taking: a swayamsevak speaks’. Since responses are invited on the opinions expressed therein, I am writing this piece. I fully agree with the views expressed by Dr. Shreerang Godbole in the booklet and I think concepts about Islam and Muslim problem should be made clear to every intelligent Hindu so that he may not be beguiled by propaganda which has gained authenticity and support from the powers that be.
However, with due respect to Dr. Godbole I humbly suggest as per the following. Some basic facts should be well-digested before launching attack on the Sangh Parivar on this account. Sangh was established to unite Hindu society. Dr. Hedgewar insisted on keeping its activities confined to that single objective with devotion. Whatever changes may have taken place in the recent years in Hindu society, the need to unite it has not diminished a bit. Dr. Hedgewar stated that all problems will be solved once the objective of Hindu unity is achieved. RSS should not waste its energy by going after solving one problem after another, dividing its attention from the main objective.
Islam may be, and certainly is, a problem with Muslims as stated by Dr. Godbole, but for Hindus it is a problem with Hindu society. Unaware of their own worth, Hindus are deluded to conversion by other faiths or to have high esteem for them.
Therefore RSS insists on arousing Hindus to value their own heritage and to judge other faiths and themselves too on that basis. Solving problems including Muslim problem, should not be given priority.
RSS wants to work for Hindu unity without creating enemies - sarvesham avirodhen - even among Muslims.
Dr. Hedgewar did not see Sangh as an instrument aliened from Hindu society to serve it. He wanted the Sangh to be one with the entire society and not a part of it. He never aspired to achieve a distinctive identity for the RSS as a service project or as the ‘Guru’ for Hindus. He wanted the society itself to act in unison, taking inspiration from Sangh workers. Though Sangh is progressively attracting more public response, it should not get confused about its role.
This is the basic feature which distinguishes the Sangh from other Hindu organisations. A precaution in this approach is that workers should not waste their energy in criticizing their own Hindu brothers. Everybody has his limitations and failings. We should own him with all his limitations and failings, support him in his endeavours towards the cause and guide him to adopt better ways. According to Swami Vivekanand the most significant evil in Hindu society is that they do not allow their brother to rise, they pull his legs. They fight among themselves on flimsy grounds. Many a Hindu organisations have been working for certain Hindu causes, but they failed because they fell into the trap of correcting and criticizing fellow Hindus instead of concentrating on constructive work by gaining sympathy of the society in general.
Speciality of Hinduism has been that it accepts all varieties of thoughts, at the same time keeping in mind the only and the ultimate truth. It does not insist on specification but states the truth in terms relevant to the audience and occasion to command, first of all, respect from them, step by step.
Thus, we should speak about Muslim problem, whatever its dimension and intensity today, as one of many problems faced by Hindu society and not launch ‘jihad’ against it, though Hindu-baiters try their best to instigate. Our arguments should address to the situation. Rigidly sticking to gospel is not the Hindu way. There is an inherent danger of losing grip on the main problem in dwelling on a single one separately.
RSS is in business to solve the problem of lack of unity in Hindus. Solving Muslim problem is not of that importance. RSS has to have only some approach towards Muslims and it should be inviting one, not arrogant. Without strong and united Hindu force, neither Hindu masses nor Muslims are going to listen to its rhetoric, and when Hindutva will gain enough force, nobody will dare to neglect its opinion. It is obvious that Hindutva forces have not reached such a stage yet. Let us not try to divert our attention from our singular aim, of gaining strength.
Dr. Godbole admits that VHP is trying to reconvert Muslims and Christians to Hindu fold which in theory means that ultimately Sangh Parivar believes in reconverting them to Hindu fold. If there seems to be some deviation in public utterances of RSS leaders they are for public consumption. It is an attempt to get foothold in conscience of the public still under spell of vicious propaganda. Writers like us are there to correct the impression whenever possible.
Hindu disposition is not for dividing people into two confronting camps like believers and non-believers, haves and have-nots etc. Hindu way of life is to create new vistas to accommodate variety of life-styles and opinions. They give a long rope and many opportunities to the inquisitor and believe that, if sincere, the inquisitor will ultimately come around to the right path. Therefore a strategy of four stages is envisaged: ‘Saam, Daam, Dand and Bhed’. We have to choose out of these four means, keeping the strength of our society in mind. Generally, leaders have unrealistic ideas about strength and weakness of society or they are highly adventurous. Such leaders have caused a deep scar on the confidence of Hindu society. Need of the hour is to achieve first and then talk about concepts leading to that achievement, not the vice versa. RSS leaders have shown remarkable acumen so far in this regard.
Whatever shortcomings of Islam and Christianity theoretically, they did not collapse within a century like Communism. If we know about their vulnerability and failings, we should also pay more attention to points of strength which have sustained them over centuries and by which they are still reigning supreme in the vast world today. Ignoring this hard fact will not bring us any nearer to success. Our strategy should be based on balanced judgement. They fight unitedly against enemy, though between themselves they are not exactly friendly.
Hindu is not beguiling, aggressive or cruel like them. He is known for his mildness because he is sure of his bearings and his staunch belief in the dictum that truth will ultimately prevail. Why should we act in a way derogatory to our nature?
The truth is that Hindus should unite to propagate the Sanatan Dharma. Let there be many ways of expressing it. Let us emulate their strategy, not their philosophy.
Shri Laghate had sent a copy his Response to Dr. Shreerang Godbole whose rejoinder is reproduced in the lines that follow.
1) Thank you for your letter dt. 6-12-96 and the copy of your response to ‘Time for Stock Taking’ published by ‘Voice of India’. In sending a response, you seem to be an exception. I had sent copies of my booklet to all the state and local level RSS functionaries and some related intellectuals. They are all silent. It may interest you to know that I had sent a copy of my original letter (to Shri Sudarshanji) to Shri Dattopant Thengadi for his specific answers, with the additional question: if you truly feel that all religions are worthy of equal respect, will you advise the VHP to give up its campaign of ‘paravartan’? This ‘tallest intellectual of the Sangh Parivar’ has not cared to reply! One cannot run with the hare and hunt with the hound. In his vague reply sent to me, Shri Sudarshanji seems to be rankled by my description of Hindu leaders as stubbornly ignorant and asks me how I reached this conclusion. Shri Sudarshanji’s statement shows Hindu leaders in poor fight. It simply means that they are deliberately misleading their followers. Knowledge is the cure for ignorance. What is the cure for pretence? In your covering letter, you say that as a swayamsevak, it is not right to raise controversy against the organisation. Let us be clear. The RSS is the means, Hindu welfare is the end. The means can never be greater than the end.
2) You say that the RSS is in the business to solve the problem of lack of unity in the Hindus and solving Muslim problem is not of that importance and should not be given priority. This line of thinking is simply incomprehensible to me. Could a similar thinking have been responsible for the inertia of RSS leaders in preventing partition of India? (The laudable relief work done amongst the refugees is an entirely different matter.) The Muslim (or Islamic as I see it) problem will not go away simply because Hindus are consolidated. It can go only with the demise of Islam in the hearts and minds of its adherents.
3) One need not be so overawed by the sacrifices made by Hindu leaders that one should shy away from pointing their mistakes. I myself have the highest regard for all the great sacrifices made by RSS leaders. That does not prevent me from showing their mistakes as I see them. Hindus have paid a terrible price for not questioning their revered leaders like Tilak (Lucknow Pact) and Gandhi. At least, these leaders could be excused for doing what they felt was right (though sincerity of purpose is no excuse for ignorance). Apparently, they had not studied Islam through its basic texts. But Shri Sudarshanji refuses to admit any such ignorance. You too say that some deviation in the public utterances of RSS leaders is for public consumption. I had been under the impression that saying one thing and doing another is a prerogative of Catholics and Communists (Islamists are honest in this respect). You seem to have contracted this disease from them. Thanks for correcting my impression Nevertheless, do not forget that one day the mask might become the face.
I hope you do not take my bluntness amiss. I cannot help it. Mincing words is not my forte.
Dr. Godbole had sent to Shri K.S. Sudarshan a copy of his rejoinder to Shri Laghate. He received a postcard in which Shri Sudarshan said that ‘there can be different ways of analyzing and solving any problem’, and advised him (Godbole) ‘not to use harsh words towards those who might disagree’. Dr. Godbole’s reply to Shri Sudarshan is reproduced below:
1) I have received your postcard in response to the letter I wrote to Shri Laghate. I sincerely thank you for always taking time off from your busy schedule to reply to me.
2) I am however disappointed that you seem to be concerned with the style and not the substance of my letter. I shall be happy to change my style if that helps you to squarely face the issues raised by me.
3) The process of educating Hindus about Islam started as a trickle with Dayananda, Vivekananda, Savarkar, Ambedkar, Kurundkar and A.B. Shah. A seminal contribution has been made in our times by those two outstanding spokesmen for Hinduism - Ram Swarup and Sita Ram Goel. What a pity that not a single RSS name figures in this list! In fact, I do not recall a single ‘bauddhik’ on Islamic thought-patterns (emotional talks on Muslim behaviour patterns can hardly be called ‘bauddhiks’ in the true sense of the term). Is this not a subject for Hindu youngsters? What alarms me is that the RSS platform is nowadays regularly hijacked by ‘tablighis’ like Mualana Wahiduddin who misguides Hindus about Islam and all it stands for. They are aided in their efforts by the pseudo-saintly ‘sarva panth samadarists’ in the Sangh Parivar.
4) I wish you would not dismiss my questions by saying there are different ways to analyse and solve the Muslim problem. Granted there are different approaches. The question is - are all approaches valid? Was Gandhiji’s espousal of the Khilafat valid? As a Hindu leader, you are expected to a take a specific stand on Islam.
5) I pray that you give specific answers to the following specific questions:
a) Do you truly feel that all religions are worthy of equal respect?
b) If so, will you disown the VHP’s ‘paravartan’ campaign?
c) If not, will you disown the Sarva Panth Samadar Manch?
d) If you disown neither, pray enlighten me as to how the activities of the two can be reconciled? This is beyond my limited intellect.
6) My questions may seem repetitive but I cannot help if you choose to ignore them. Sooner or later, the RSS rank and file (educated on Islam by Voice of India, if not by their own leaders) will haunt you with such uncomfortable questions. So it is no use ducking them.
Footnotes: The writer is an important member of the Sangh Parivar. He gives his address as that of the Vishva Hindu Parishad headquarters in New Delhi.