RSS: Breadth and Depth – A review of Devanur Mahadeva’s book

RSS Hindutva

In the recent past the book titled ‘RSS: Breadth and Depth’ by Kannada writer Devanur Mahadeva, has been in the news. This short book sold over a lakh copy within a brief period of its publication in Kannada. It was also translated to English, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, and Marathi. While many points made in the book has already been told in the past too by critics, the difference has been the popular reception of the critic of RSS as mentioned in the book. The key points made in the book are discussed.

Rationalizes Varna system

Mahadeva points that RSS ideas are based on outdated and decadent social beliefs. The book digs into the writings and speeches of Golwalkar, Savarkar and articles in organizer the RSS mouthpiece. In the Bunch of Thoughts, the four-fold arna system of Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras is justified. Such a system is considered an embodiment of God and integral to Hinduism. Manu is described as the foremost, effective, gifted administrator and law giver. The customs and traditions, rules, and regulations, varna based morals & ethics in codified form is considered as sacred and seen as necessary to influence day to day action and behavior of Hindus. Manusmriti is depicted as the law to be followed by Hindus. RSS believes that social organization need to be based on varna system where Brahmins, Kshaytriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras should perform their prescribed roles in society. Social harmony and social justice should be based on this principle. BJP intends to promote learning of Bhagwat Geetha in schools in order promote the ideas of varna system in BJP ruled states.

Rejects constitution

Golwalkar rejects the Constitution and considers it as an amalgamation of western documents such as UN charter, American and UK constitution. Organizer in its article states that the constitution does not represent Indian ness. The constitutional values of liberty, equality and justice and respect for diversity and plurality goes against RSS values of ‘one flag, one race, one religion, one ideology and one leader.’ It does not welcome the human dimensions of the constitution and considers that it ignored the older and sacred Manusmriti. RSS also does not agree to the constitutional idea of India as a ‘Union of States’ as it prefers a strong center. On the federal structure Golwalkar points that consideration of India as a Union of States leads to disintegrative tendencies. Partial or complete autonomy of states should be replaced with centralized system. Hence it is not surprising that GST has been introduced which made the state dependent on the center. Similarly, it wants to go against the constitutional idea of equal respect for all languages and wants to make Hindu as a common language.

Glorifies fascism

In the book ‘We or our Nationhood defined,’ the German Nazi and Italian fascist traditions are glorified and indicated as models to emulate for creating strong nation. It suggests that India should learn from Germany of preserving its culture and eliminating semitic culture and Jew religion. It states that minority religion should give up their religion, language and culture and subsume into the one followed by majority. Independence according to Golwalkar is in living with Indian traditions and culture with one flag, one leader and one ideology of RSS.

Calls for assimilation of minorities into majoritarianism

On the question of minorities, Golwalkar does not recognize Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism as separate religions but as subsects of Hinduism. Christianity and Islam are said to have come from outside. It ignores that there were converts from both oppressed groups to overcome oppression as well as well-off to seek benefits and desire of power. It believes that minorities should give up their identity and modify themselves according to majoritarian culture. They can exist only till the point they receive favor and if not leave. Considering themselves as the sole representatives and voice of Hindus, it engages in polarizing Hindus against non-Hindus.

Ending benefits of affirmative actions

Under the garb of developing a common Hindu identity, it wants to take away the benefits accorded to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and Other backward castes (OBCs) by the constitution. The recent act of making 10% reservation for economically weaker sections (EWS) from general category is to provide more representation to upper castes. This goes against the constitution to provide reservation based on educational and social backwardness.

Propagates Aryan superiority theory

Golwalkar justifies the theory of Aryan racial superiority. He states that practices prevailed in the past to preserve and expand the superior race. RSS tries to describe Adivasis as Vanavasis and hence integral to Hinduism. It never accepts Aryans as outsiders and Adivasis as the indigenous people.

Propagates fake news

The foundations for the current practice of spreading lie and fakenews through WhatsApp and fakebook is said to have been laid by Golwalkar. An instance is cited such as Tipu Sultan converting about 69 thousand Hindus into Muslims in Kodagu region in Karnataka. The reality is at no point of time, that number existed or happened and even now Muslims constitute only 15% of population Kodagu.

Uses oppressed sections for violent activities

It uses the oppressed groups in creating violent activities such as was seen in the case of hijab, halaal, ban on meat, azan etc. However, when it comes to welfare of oppressed groups it never acts. Many backlog vacancies meant for reserved posts are not being filled. There is a decline in labor force of women. RSS sees women as one who need to be confined to homes.

Demolishes autonomy of institutions

The current regime is seeking to end autonomy of all institutions – judiciary, legislature, media and gain complete control over society, politics, and culture.

Creates densitised robos

RSS propagates its ideas through a set of organizations including the ones like Shriramsena that engage in violent activities. However, when such activities get reported, RSS immediately disassociates with the same. RSS intends to create human robos who are desensitized and lack human sensibilities. Golwalkar points of the need to create people who follow instructions and not make individual choices. Such actions only create desensitized individuals who are communal and inhuman.

Never fulfills promises

The focus remains on creating polarization in society. The promises are merely made to get into power such as the promise to transfer Rs. 15 lakhs, creating about a crore employment, doubling farmers income etc. Instead, its activities resulted in transfer of wealth to the rich and creating inequalities.

Restricts freedom to practice religion

An example of restricting religious freedom is the act introduced in Karnataka. The protection of religious freedom bill introduced in Karnataka places restrictions on making voluntary choices to change religion. It can be described as religious conversion prohibition bill. Technicalities are introduced to make voluntary choice to change religion difficult. Those engaging in religious conversion activities are subject to legal punishment. Those willing to change voluntarily need to fill up Form-1 form and submit it to authorities for their decision. In a way it considers Dalits, Women, other oppressed as incapable to make rational choices on religious conversion matters. The act goes against the constitutional right and freedom to practice a religion.

Change of academic content

The academic content is being modified. Content related to Tipu Sultan such as his fight with the Britishers, extension of welfare benefits for the farmers have been removed. Jainism, Buddhism has been described as subsects within Hinduism. Similarly, whenever opportunities arise, subjects such as Astrology is introduced. A topic ‘Putraveshti’ yagna was introduced which is said contributes to getting a male child. Education is thus sought to be made superstitious instead of creating thinking individuals. In CBSE texts, some topics with progressive content such as ‘Democracy,’ ‘Diversity,’ ‘Impact of globalization,’ ‘Social movements,’ ‘communalism’ have been removed. There is pressure to remove text related to deaths of Muslims in 2002 riots. In future, it would not be surprising when the academic content glorifies Savarkar and Godse.

The book mentions that RSS agenda is to create a varna system based on ideas of Manusmriti, attack and demolish the Indian constitution, create majoritarianism – racial and religious. Hence, he calls of the need to protect the future generation from the threat posed by RSS. Hence the need to unite for social justice, equality, freedom, protection of diversity and the constitution. The book captures the base of the ideas of RSS.

T Navin is an independent writer. 

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