‘Banal Nationalism’ And RSS

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‘Banal Nationalism’ (Michael Billing’s phrase) means plain daily nationalism. It ‘covers the ideological habits which enable the established nations of the west to be reproduced’. These habits ‘are not removed from everyday life,’ ‘but very much ingrained in them might tactically be used to describe nationalism in non-western countries, particularly India.’ It is usually nurtured together with love for parents, the family, elderly people and so on as the part of basic knowledge of physical-cum-value-education.

Further, we see that ‘banal nationalism’ is peculiarly linked with the religion referred to as Hindu culture and religion. RSS, the militant religious nationalist of Hindu inculcates the ‘banal Hinduism’ as ‘banal nationalism’.

Hindu culture is ‘overwhelmingly predominant culture in India’ in respect to the ‘number adherents to the Hindu faith’. So, a significant portion has to conceive of the Indian culture – even those not belonging to the Hindu fold. Religious nationalism at the grass root level is one of the most serious difficulties. There is ambiguity of Hinduism as both culture and religion. Swami Vivekananda viewed, “Religion is the spiritual realization. Religion is not talk, or doctrines or theories, nor is it sectarianism. Religion cannot live in sects and societies. It is the relation between the soul and God…………. Wherever there are business and business principles in religion, spirituality dies. Religion does not consist in erecting temples or building churches, or attending public worship. It is not to be found in books, or in words, or in lectures, or in organizations”. Swamiji also shared, “the religions of the world are not contradictory or antagonistic. They are but various phases of one eternal religion. That one eternal religion is applied to different planes of existence, is applied to the opinions of various minds and various races. There never was my religion or yours, my national religion or your national religion; there never existed on many religions; there is only one. On Infinite religion existed all through eternity and will ever exist, and this religion is expressing itself in various countries in various ways. Therefore we must respect all as far as we can. Religions manifest themselves not only according to race and geographical position,….”

RSS plays with this ambiguity and it appeals to the local or regional components of Hinduism as culture and this organisation raises its ugly head to strengthen the ‘banal Hinduism’ as nationalism as well as patriotism. RSS is doing wrong with the people in general and the country. Their efforts towards ‘banal nationalism’/’banal Hinduism’ is dangerous deal for communal disharmony and communal conflicts/riots. It would enough for national disintegration. RSS forgets or obeys that India is a secular country. It should be remembered for the sake of India’s glory of integrity and diversity.

Harasankar Adhikari, is a Kolkata based independent social worker


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