1. G.V. Ashtekar
At the outset, I must acknowledge the truth in the objections raised by Dr. Shreerang Godbole. I also take this opportunity of expressing my deep respect and reverence about the work done by Voice of India for awakening Hindu scholars for the new outlook as well as for presenting them with the perceptions and facets of Hindutva which had remained elusive for centuries.
I firmly believe that the leadership of the RSS which has consented to this new step, do know these facts very well. However, as per the typical RSS way of functioning, there have been no explanations on this stand.
On this point, I think, we have to first take into consideration the following factors:
-6th December 1992 changed political and social concepts, equations and ideas nearly all over the world. It was bound to affect the Muslims of India as well as many scholars from among them. En masse assertiveness shown by Hindus at Ayodhya, did make them think of Hindus in a different perspective than followed hitherto. The failure of their leadership was all the more evident to them.
-On the request of some Muslim editors, there was a dialogue in Mumbai on 31 July 1996 between RSS leaders and Muslim leaders/editors. Shri Sudarshanji led the RSS side. The response and the results have been very promising.
It is obvious that the need for dialogue was felt more by Muslim scholars than by RSS leaders. Some time back, it was proposed that the Hindu Vivek Kendra should host the next dialogue, and since then there have been a number of calls from Muslim editors for fixing the date for it. Frankly, it must be understood that it is our response which is cool and it is they who want to understand us, although what they want at present is only reassurance of their safety.
The reason is that they are feeling a nebulous fear that Hindus are now united to a great extent, and that Muslims cannot have the run of the affairs of the country or its politics any more. It is this feeling which has brought about a sea change in the voting pattern in Maharashtra. Even their scholars are having second thoughts and this was reflected in the JNU elections where the ABVP has swept the polls.
The overtures made by Muslims are not worthless. We must take into consideration that Indian Muslims are basically of Hindu origin, and that that is why in Pakistan and Bangla Desh women can adorn the highest office of the PM. I am repeating this point although it has come for criticism by Dr. Godbole because, in spite of his arguments, the grassroot workers’ experience has been very reassuring on this point. In this connection, I may invite attention to some unique experiences related by Shri Brahmachari Vishwanathji who reconverted hundreds of people back to Hinduism. He had described the yearning of a number of converts to return to their roots.
The question here is: Is the approach of Muslim scholars sincere? Do they really want to come closer?
The indication is: THIS TIME IT IS, YES. In fact, I believe that the process so far followed in this country has been reversed WHEN IT HAS COME TO RSS. One of the reasons is that Muslims are definitely aware of one thing - the transparency of RSS as well as the aims which are diametrically opposite to theirs, and there is no likelihood of any change in RSS attitude.
Secondly, there is no tangible financial or political gain that the Muslim community can derive directly from RSS since RSS does not hold any power as has been the case with Congress or others.
The other point is: What should be the aim of RSS?
Now, I believe, our leadership is quite clear on this issue. It is an approach in which we have:
First, to get Hindus organised - in which respect apparently Hindus themselves if not RSS entirely, have become successful to a measure. They are turning self-assertive, even aggressive at times, so much so that Muslims are now apprehensive of Hindu resurgence.
Secondly, to get the non-Hindus to have national attitude. THIS has been voiced by all Sarsanghchalaks including Guruji Golwalkar as well as Deorasji and Rajjubhaiji. But both communities have been kept so much apart that they have forgotten to share a common living. Once it happens, Muslins will have to learn to modify the Koranic commands to suit today’s age as Hindus have been doing in case of the sacred commands of Smritis.
Thirdly, it is only the RSS which can show the Muslims their correct, honourable and equitable place in the democratic set up of India, and get the best mileage of understanding from them. No discussions on religious level can do it. In fact, conversions or re-conversions by conviction or philosophical discussions have been possible only in highly exceptional cases. It is possible on the basis of either physical force, or behavioural patterns, or understanding attitudes, or reforms from within. As Shri Guruji had said many times, the reforms in Muslim society have to be thought of and launched by reformers from Muslim society itself. As we keep making Hindus aware of Islam, Koran and Hadis, it should percolate to Muslims too, but through their own people. Otherwise, it will have a counterproductive effect. Knowing the history of Islam, we can only say that it will be a slow and patient process. However, the first step has to be taken, however long may be the road to the goal.
Fourthly, typical of RSS culture, we will not - repeat not - dodge the problem or get away from it. RSS has now attained a stage where it is getting wide support of Hindu society at large, of which the common Muslim is becoming aware. RSS will attack this problem in its own patient and skilful way as it has done with the problem of untouchability.
Fifthly, we must keep in mind - which has always been the case with RSS - that this is our own country, and we have to take care of its people. While we consolidate Hindus, we have now reached a position when history has entrusted us with a certain overall responsibility of this country’s future. We have to encompass the Bharatvarsha and its people in our sphere of activities, we have to slowly make the non-Hindus realise their oneness with mainstream Hindu Society, and take them with us in the march towards all-round progress.
Lastly, there must be a realistic solution and not just theories. Theories lack the true spirit of work. We may win an argument but we will lose a friend. Besides, in whatever we try to do, Hindu ethos is totally averse to any genocide or forceful imposition of philosophy. Our culture is rich enough to spread itself in due course. We believe in the future and strength of this country. Hindutva and RSS taking interest in all spheres, our country will achieve its due place and that’s that.
RSS is the hope for the entire nation - a force which will correct excesses as well as shortages. It is capable of bestowing on Muslims the most precious thing which has not been done by others, i.e. Self-respect. It has done so in the case of the, Harijans, and among Hindus. It can do it as well for Muslims and make them aware of their rights and duties as Indian citizens on par with Hindus.
is no reason to think for a moment that RSS will lose its commitment to
Hindutva and Hindu interests. On the contrary, it will ensure its continuance
and forward march to the welfare of all Indians.
writer is a Swayamsevak of the RSS, now working in the Hindu Vivek Kendra