The credit for the present compilation goes wholly to Dr. Shreerang Godbole. It was his letters written to us in August-September 1996 which prompted us to circulate in October 1996 an 8-page brochure - Time For Stock Taking: A Swayamsevak Speaks - which we reproduce below:
two documents speak for themselves. We invite Hindus in general and members
of the Sangh Parivar in particular to respond to the issues which Dr. Godbole
has raised. VOICE OF INDIA will welcome all responses, and publish them
in due course so that leaders of the Sangh Parivar may know how the Hindu
intelligentsia view the latest Sangh slogans and strategies.1
We have only two brief comments to offer:
16 October, 1996
Attitude of Hindu Organisations
Comments offered by Dr. Godbole at the Pune Seminar
With the rising Hindu resurgence, the policy of Hindu organizations towards Muslim problem is receiving attention. However, the statements of certain Hindu leaders make one feel that there is fundamental ideological confusion among Hindu leaders vis-à-vis Muslims. These statements, particularly as they come from respected Hindu leaders, create and perpetuate misconceptions among Hindu masses about true nature of Islam. Let us examine a few of these misconceptions.
Let us read Quran, Hadis, Sunnah (Life of Prophet). Then we will realize that to assimilate Muslims into BJP/RSS is like assimilating Marxists into BJP/RSS. Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Marxism, Nazism all believe in One God, One Prophet, One Book, One History, They are exclusivist ideologies and reject all accommodation and assimilation. It is only when Muslims are cured of Islam that they can be assimilated. Muslims should in fact be viewed as victims of Islam. Every effort should be made to expose Islam. Like Marxism, Islam is also bound to crumble one day.
Letter written by Dr. Godbole to Shri K. S. Sudarshan
You might recall that I had recently put forth before you, my views on ‘Hindu organisations and the Muslim problem’ at the national meet of Prajna Bharati at Pune. Due to lack of time, I could not touch upon a very disturbing development viz. the formation of ‘Sarva Panth Samãdar Manch’ by the Sangh. I am placing my views on the same for your kind consideration.
As I had outlined, the Muslim problem is essentially a problem of Islam and its theology - the Quran, Hadis, Sunnah all cultivate an exclusivist, separatist, imperialist political mind-set of its adherents, In this respect, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Marxism, Nazism, Fascism are all similar, It is only when followers of these ideologies outgrow/renounce these ideas that lasting peace is possible. There are encouraging signs that the foundations of Islam are showing cracks - many Muslims have begun to question the basic premises of Islam. Like Marxism, Islam as an ideology is bound to become a museum-piece. It is a pity that instead of encouraging the downfall of exclusivist ideologies, Hindu organisations, wittingly or otherwise, are giving props to them e.g. Sarva Panth Samadar Manch. The following issues arise in this context:
The question is - are Hindu leaders going to remain stubbornly ignorant and like Gandhiji’s monkeys refuse to see and hear evil?
I hope you will excuse my frankness. I trust you will understand the anguish felt by a junior swayamsevak like me.
Information about the formation of the Sarva Panth Samãdar Manch could not be included in the brochure because it was conveyed to us by Dr. Godbole after the brochure had been printed and put into circulation. His letter dated 21 October 1996 carried the following para:
This letter from Dr. Godbole was received by us on 1 November 1996. On the same day we faxed the following message to A. Ghosh of Houston (Texas, U.S.A.):
Ghosh had already received a copy of our brochure and written to us a few days earlier that it was being published as a full-page advertisement in the forthcoming Divali issue of the India Post, a weekly published from Los Angeles (California, U.S.A.). We had conveyed to him a brief characterization of the Tabligh movement on the basis of our extensive studies of it over the years. And we were happy to receive by airmail a copy of the India Post dated November 8, 1996 in which the brochure had been reproduced in full on its page A-21 with our fax message as a footnote in bold letters.
add here that the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) was launched in 1955 by
Dattopant Thengdi who is known, in the words of Dr. Godbole, as “the tallest
intellectual of the Sangh Parivar”. His writings over the years go to show
that he has not only swallowed heavy doses of Marxism but also developed
a soft corner for Islam. The fulsome praise he had lavished on Prophet
Muhammad in an article published in a Special Number of the Sangh Parivar’s
Hindu weekly, Pãñchajanya, in 1986 had caused considerable
stir in Sangh circles. We had received quite a few telephone calls and
letters from swayamsevaks asking us to write a rejoinder giving the true
facts about the Prophet. But we had better things to do than engage in
debate with a wilfully blind and overconfident strategist of the Sangh
Parivar. In any case, we knew from our experience that no mouthpiece of
the Sangh Parivar would dare publish even a syllable doubting the wisdom
of a Sangh stalwart.
The present compilation consists of five Sections and two Appendices.
Section I carries two articles - one by David Frawley which he was kind enough to e-mail on our specific request, and another which was written as the working paper for a Seminar held at the Deen Dayal Research Institute, New Delhi, in 1983. This section provides the perspective to the sections that follow.
Section II which is the core of this compilation includes 62 responses to our brochure. We had mailed more than a thousand copies of the brochure to regular readers of Voice of India publications in India and abroad. We had sent it also to those participants in the Pune Seminar who had been named by Dr. Godbole in his first letter. In addition, we had addressed copies to all leaders of the RSS, VHP, and BJP who normally function from New Delhi. One hundred copies of the brochure had been sent to Dr. Godbole who reported back that he had mailed it to “all state and local functionaries of the RSS, BMS and affiliates in Maharashtra.
We received a total of 64 responses - 61 in English and three in Hindi. Two of the responses in Hindi were mainly devoted to denunciation of polytheism and idol-worship in Hinduism and were not at all relevant to the issues raised in the brochure. The names and addresses of the writers were also not quite clear. One of them was obviously written by a Muslim posing as an Arya Samajist. Both of them had to be discarded. The third response in Hindi has been included after being translated into English. This Section, therefore, carries 62 responses - 46 of them in separate chapters, and the rest (16) in a single chapter as they are brief.
The responses have been presented in an alphabetical order with reference of the surnames of the writers, in order to avoid the impression (or accusation) that we have given priority to some responses over others. We have not italicized or printed in capital letters a single word or sentence unless it was so emphasized in the original script. The language of the writers has been tempered with at no point except for correcting some spellings and straightening out some sentences. And we have edited out only those portions from some of the responses which were either irrelevant or repeated points already made.
Section III is intended to draw a clear distinction between Dharma on the one hand and Dogma on the other. It consists of two articles. The one by David Frawley has been reproduced from the inaugural number (January-March 1997) of Prajna published from Hyderabad. The other is a presentation by Suresh Desai of the Hindu Vivek Kendra, Bombay, to a Christian Seminary in that city. Permission for including these articles in this compilation has been sought and obtained from the authors.
Section IV was not a part of this compilation as it was originally planned. It took shape as we received, one after another, photocopies of six reviews of a very profound study of Islam - Why I Am Not a Muslim by Ibn Warraq - published in the U.S.A. in 1995. We did not know that such a book was in print till we received a copy of it from A. Ghosh after the reviews had arrived. Ghosh had neither seen the reviews nor sent them to us. They came from friends in the U.S.A. and England who frequently mail to us material which they think may be useful for us in our work. The reviews have been written by outstanding scholars of Islam in the West, and published in well known journals in the U.S.A. and England. They came as a providential windfall as if to confirm Dr. Godbole’s point that “Muslims should in fact be viewed as victims of Islam” (see p. vii above).
Ibn Warraq is the pseudonym of the author who says in his Preface: “I was born into a Muslim family and grew up in a country that now describes itself as an Islamic republic. My close relatives identify themselves as Muslims: some more orthodox, some less.” The message of the book is contained in a passage quoted by Ibn Warraq from the famous French philosopher Ernest Renan: “Muslims are the first victims of Islam. Many times I have observed in my travels in the Orient, that fanaticism comes from a small number of dangerous men who maintain the others in the practice of religion by terror. To liberate the Muslim from his religion is the best service that one can render him.” We have named Section IV in words emphasized above.
In Section V we have reproduced 30 reports from various newspapers regarding sayings and doings of some Sangh Parivar leaders aimed at winning over Muslims. They cover a period from 1994 to 1997. They speak for themselves. The meaning of isolated reports read at random is most likely to have been missed by readers who are supporters of or sympathise with the Sangh Parivar. But when they are read together, they are revealing as we have observed in naming this Section.
Appendix I is devoted to identifying, in a historical framework, the Tabligh movement to which Maulana Wahiduddin Khan belongs. We wonder if the Sangh leaders who patronize the Maulana are aware or have ignored the facts we have documented, from his own book and other sources. And we are not at all sure if the warning conveyed by these facts will be taken seriously by the Sangh strategists.
Finally, in Appendix II we have reproduced two studies on the problem posed by the flood of Muslim infiltrators from Bangladesh. The first study is a district-wise survey of the population explosion in West Bengal. The survey is based on the 1991 Census figures and has been documented by the South Asia Research Society, Calcutta. The second study was published by The Hindustan Times, New Delhi, in February 1996 in a series of three articles by a former Governor of West Bengal and a former Director of the Intelligence Bureau, Government of India. The complete silence which now prevails vis-à-vis this very serious problem is deafening indeed. The Sangh Parivar has also fallen in line with the ‘secularists’ after making some half-hearted noises before the 1996 Lok Sabha elections.
We are not drawing any conclusions from the material presented in this compilation. It is for the readers, particularly those belonging or sympathetic to the Sangh Parivar, to see if the Parivar has gone astray from the path which had been chalked out when the RSS was launched in 1925.
volume to this compilation is being published simultaneously. It is named
Bharatiya Janata Party vis-à-vis Hindu Resurgence. The author,
Koenraad Elst, is well known to readers of Voice of India publications,
and needs no introduction.
Voice of India
26 June 1996
1 Responses should be typed, and not hand-written. Anonymous responses will not be considered.
In a subsequent letter written to us, Dr. Godbole comments: “Incidentally,
if they feel that Sanatana Dharma and Islam are worthy of equal respect,
I see no reason for the VHP to continue its campaign of ‘Paravartan’ of
Muslims and Christians.”