The Guru Of Hate
By Ramachandra Guha
28 November, 2006
column generally deals more — much more — in appreciation
than in depreciation. However, it is obligatory on the historian to
also (occasionally) notice individuals whose influence on history was
malign rather than salutary. One such person was the Hindu ideologue
M.S. Golwalkar, whose birth anniversary his followers are marking this
Born in February 1906, Golwalkar
studied and then taught briefly at the Banaras Hindu University (hence
the appellation "Guru", which he carried for the rest of his
life). He joined the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh as a student, attracting
the attention of its founder, Dr. K.B. Hedgewar. When the elder man
died in 1940, Golwalkar became the sarchangchalak of the RSS. He headed
the organisation until his death some three decades later.
Golwalkar was a man of much
energy and dynamism, under whose leadership the RSS steadily grew in
power and influence. His ideas are summarised in the book Bunch of Thoughts,
which draws upon the lectures he delivered over the years (mostly in
Hindi) to RSS shakhas across the country. This identifies the Hindus,
and they alone, as the privileged community of India. It disparages
democracy as alien to the Hindu ethos and extols the code of Manu, whom
Golwalkar salutes as "the first, the greatest, and the wisest lawgiver
Angels and demons
The early chapters of Bunch
of Thoughts celebrate the glories of the Motherland and its chief religion,
this a prelude to the demonisation of those Indians who had the misfortune
of not being born into the Hindu fold. Golwalkar writes that the "hostile
elements within the country pose a far greater menace to national security
than aggressors from outside". He identifies three major "Internal
Threats: I: The Muslims; II: The Christians; III: The Communists".
A long chapter impugns the patriotism of these groups, speaking darkly
of their "future aggressive designs on our country".
On January 30, 1948, Mahatma
Gandhi was murdered by Nathuram Godse. Although Godse was not a member
of the RSS at the time of the murder, he had been one in the past. And
there were reports that in several places RSS members had celebrated
his act by distributing sweets. As a precautionary measure, Golwalkar
and other RSS workers were put in jail.
Secret documents that this
writer has recently seen strongly suggest that even if the RSS was not
directly implicated in Gandhi's murder, its main leader was not entirely
averse to such a happening. Thus, on December 6, 1947, Golwalkar convened
a meeting of RSS workers in the town of Govardhan, not far from Delhi.
The police report on this meeting says it discussed how to "assassinate
the leading persons of the Congress in order to terrorise the public
and to get their hold over them".
Two days later, Golwalkar
addressed a crowd of several thousand volunteers at the Rohtak Road
Camp in Delhi. The police reporter in attendance wrote that the RSS
leader said that "the Sangh will not rest content until it had
finished Pakistan. If anyone stood in our way we will have to finish
them too, whether it was Nehru Government or any other Government...
" Referring to Muslims, he said that no power on earth could keep
them in Hindustan. They should have to quit this country... "If
they were made to stay here the responsibility would be the Government's
and the Hindu community would not be responsible. Mahatma Gandhi could
not mislead them any longer. We have the means whereby [our] opponents
could be immediately silenced".
Six weeks later, Gandhi was
assassinated, and Golwalkar and his colleagues put in jail. Released
a year later on a bond of good behaviour, they retained a dogged commitment
to their ideas. Golwalkar himself argued that "in this land Hindus
have been the owners, Parsis and Jews the guests, and Muslims and Christians
the dacoits". He asked, maliciously: "Then do all these have
the same right over the country?"
Golwalkar saw Muslims, Christians
and Communists (among others) as threats to the nation. Other Indians
saw him and his ilk as a "Danger to our Secular State". The
words in quotes served as the title of an essay on Golwalkar written
in 1956 by the Bombay columnist D.F. Karaka. The RSS leader, noted Karaka,
"thinks in terms of Hindu India and only Hindu India". As
one who had many criticisms to make of the Prime Minister of the day,
the columnist nonetheless believed that "it is necessary for all
of us whatever our differences are with Mr. Nehru to stand firm with
him on this point, namely, that ours is a secular state and that whether
we are Hindus, Muslims, Parsis or Christians, freedom of religion, which
is guaranteed to us under our Constitution should not be allowed to
be crucified at the altar of the RSS — the organisation from which
came the man who murdered Mahatma Gandhi".
Karaka's column was sparked
by the celebration by the RSS of the 50th birthday of Madhav Sadashiv
Golwalkar. In this, the year of his 100th birth anniversary, all I need
do is endorse Karaka's words. For, Golwalkar was a guru of hate, whose
life's malevolent work was — as Jawaharlal Nehru so memorably
put it — to make India into a "Hindu Pakistan". That
project has not succeeded yet, and may it never succeed either.
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