My day with the RSS


by Vikrant
24th July, 2006 at 3:54 pm    

RSSMaharashtra has always been the epicentre of reactionary politics in India since the days of the Maratha Empire.

Indeed most of the modern day political movements in India have their roots in 19th century Maharashtra. Be it Hindutva or the Neo-Buddhist Dalit movement.

Founded by a group of Konkan Brahmins in 1925, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh by far is the largest organisation in the sinister faternity of what is called the Sangh Parivar.

Highly educated but notorious for their orthodoxy and frugality, these unnaturally fair-skinned Brahmins occupy the highest rungs of the caste ladder in Marathi society. Indeed Savarkar, the father of Hindutva was also a KoBra (as they are playfully abbreviated). In its early days, Hindutva was an entirely KoBra-run enterprise. For much of colonial period their dominance upon Marathi society was near complete.

In my early teens, even I’ve had my share of flirting with Hindutva. But as I matured I grew out of my Hindutva-phase. I used to picture the RSS as some sort of secretive brotherhood, fighting the evil designs of communists and jihadis. Today, I am about to find out about the organisation that I sympathised with not so long ago.

I am in Alibaug, a resort town on Maharashtra’s Konkan coast. It is a popular weekend getaway for Mumbaikars. Just as the sun is about to gloriously set into the Arabian sea, muzzenin’s amplified call for the Muslim faithful resounds throughout the town. My host for the evening, Mr.Chiplunkar looks blasphemed.

“Bah… I tried asking police to make them (the Mosque authorities) comply with the noise regulations… but in this land the princelings (Muslims) are above the law,” he spits out with thinly veiled contempt for Muslims. A 54 year old KoBra, he is a History teacher at a local English school but when he is not boring his students to death teaching, he is a RSS Pracharak (lit. campaigner). And he has invited me to a RSS shaka (a meeting). An honour which he reminds me, isn’t granted to every irritating NRI teenager who comes bumbling along.

As we head along to the local RSS shaka which is actually a Ram temple, I cant help but laugh at the most delicious of ironies. I’m about to go to a RSS shaka in a town whose name means Gardens of Imam Ali.

Inside a group of about 60 people, are sitting cross legged in neat rows, (quite out of character for Indians!) listening intently to a portly old man who seems to be localsangh chalak (lit. branch manager). The group assembled here seems to be of a quite diverse age group. Only thing that seems common between them is their collective lack of fashion sense (khaki shorts, white shirt and a black Gandhi cap).

The old man is speaking something about the Vedas and importance of Guru in Hindu culture, in a highly Sanskritised form of Marathi, purged of all its Perso-Arabic words which is find quite hard to follow. As the speech goes on I can’t help getting distracted by a few impossibly hot chicks gorgeous sisters to my right. But I mentally pinch myself since I am a Hindutvadi for today. I must be remain immune to temptation!

Just as I am about to doze off the speech descends from a reminder-of-our-glorious-culture into full blown anti-communist polemic. The speaker insinuates that communists have destroyed the nationalistic spirit amongst Indians. He goes on to suggest that they mightinfact be in connivance with the Islamist terrorists. He alleges that their deafening silence on the 7/11 bombings is a “proof” of their complicity.

Rest of the speech deals with removal of casteism, hindu culture and (surprisingly) environmentalism. At the end of this two-hour salvo, prasad (sweets) is distributed to the half-asleep swayamsevaks. We all getup and one-by-one walk towards the saffron flag, saluting it the RSS style. Then they all start whining singing a prarthana (prayer, in Sanskritised Marathi) with its dubious refrences to “Hindutva” and “Hindu Rashtra” before dispersing.

As I step out of the shaka, I feel a warm sense of relief. Mr.Chiplunkar asks me how it was… I find my self mumbling: ’twas great… But my mind was already calculating what other Picklers would say. What a story it would be; me going into the very lairs of RSS while King Sunny goes on about mowing the lawn at his Middlesex Manor.

Though my maiden RSS shaka was such a bore inconclusive, my interactions with RSS Swayamsevaks has left me convinced that RSS serves no more purpose than to provide testing grounds for its political arm – the BJP, even as the latter trying to cut the umbical chords that bind it with RSS.

The RSS is an organisation full of contradictions. On the exterior it seems to embrace modernity yet is deeply resentful of it. It claims to work towards uplifting the Dalits yet it draws most of its membership from notoriously casteist communitites. It claims to be apolitical cultural organisation yet it has irrevocably altered the political landscape of India.

Fuelled for years with its near-schizophernic paranoia of Muslims, RSS has recently discovered patrotic Indian muslims. But this ideological shift hasn’t gone down to well with the RSS old hands. Today it is an organisation in a search for a sense of purpose.They believe that they are the last guardians of dying Hindu culture. But Hindu culture, far from dead, is evolving to the pragmatic compulsions of modernity rather than dying. Swayamsevaks like Mr.Chiplunkar like to think that they work for a cause. But in effect they try to find a cause in their work. For a man who devoted his entire life to RSS, Mr.Chiplunkar’s cause remains unclear and achievements vague.

———————————–
This is a guest post by Améy Chaugule, aka Vikrant

Some names have been changed to protect privacy. This entry was actually written on 13th of July


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  1. El Cid — on 24th July, 2006 at 4:49 pm  

    Nicely written Viks and very interesting.

  2. Sunny — on 24th July, 2006 at 6:56 pm  

    I found the last para very interesting. The RSS is indeed without much of a mission these days. Their political arm: the BJP, has run out of steam, while their religious arm: the VHP, has been unable to capitalise on what they managed in Gujarat a few years ago. At the time they said Gujarat was a mini-experiment that would be replicated all over the country. Thankfully it just exposed how thin on the ground their support was.

    Even the Shiv Sena is faltering. Is the Indian Hindu-right falling apart I wonder.

  3. Old Pickler — on 24th July, 2006 at 7:11 pm  

    Excellent, Young Pickler

  4. raz — on 24th July, 2006 at 7:14 pm  

    Should have taken a AK47 with you.

    Oh and we finally have a pic of young Vik:

    http://www.geocities.com/vikrant_rhd/nerdyme.JPG

  5. Desi Italiana — on 24th July, 2006 at 7:53 pm  

    Thanks for the very interesting article, Vikrant :) I’ve always wondered why Maharashtra seems to be a hotbed of “reactionary politics” as you put it.

    “Should have taken a AK47 with you.”

    I understand your sentiment, Raz, but I have a story.

    I was at a 3 day “India Pluralism” conference, and one of the main focuses was obviously on the Hindutva movement. There had been some Hindutva forces in the audience, as well as Ved Nanda (self proclaimed “representative of the Hindu community in the US”) and Gurcharan Das on the panel. And every time one of these types spoke and asked “Why is it a crime to be proud to be Hindu in India?” or “Hindus are killed in Kashmir, Pakistan, and Bangladesh… no one addresses that but speaks passionately about Muslims. Why?”, MOST of those on the panel and in the audience scoffed, ridiculed (“You sir, are riding a tricyle”, Javed Akhtar had said in response to Gurcharan Das’ spiel) and dismissed these guys. Hardly anybody actually addressed them. Sure, their views are stupid and narrowminded, but if things like this go unadressed, it just allows fermentation, in my opinion. I’m NOT making the argument that Indian intellectuals are “pseudo secularist”– as the Hindutvavadi’s like to accuse them of being– but that by simply brushing off dudes like this, they are only confirming Hindut.’s suspicions.

    I think it was Arundhati Roy who had said it is not enough to ban groups such as the RSS and the Sangh Parivar ilk. What is necessary is a fundamental change whereby people voluntarily choose not to become a part of organizations like these.

  6. Chris Stiles — on 24th July, 2006 at 8:05 pm  


    Even the Shiv Sena is faltering. Is the Indian Hindu-right falling apart I wonder.

    Isn’t it a simple case of a movement which builds itself largely on protest and a sense of grievance which then faces an existential crisis when it finally realises it has become part of the establishment ?

  7. Vladimir — on 24th July, 2006 at 8:25 pm  

    Good point made Chris, a similar point was made here: http://www.prafulbidwai.net/archives/20060619.col.htm especially in regard to the ‘Mahajan-gate scandal’ (thats what I like to call it).

  8. Tooly Joe — on 24th July, 2006 at 9:00 pm  

    Raz

    Do you hang out in this cresspit of bigotry hatred and racism by any chance?

    http://www.pakistanidefenceforum.com/

    Something tells me you must feel at home in this excrement bowl of racism of obese extremism.

  9. Tooly Joe — on 24th July, 2006 at 9:02 pm  

    Desi Italiana

    You categorise Gurcharan Das as an extremist or a Hindutvadi?

    Are you demented? Have you lost your mind?

  10. El Cocinero — on 24th July, 2006 at 9:03 pm  

    The provocation begins

  11. Sid — on 24th July, 2006 at 9:07 pm  

    Wow classy post Vikrant.

  12. raz — on 24th July, 2006 at 9:51 pm  

    Not a suprise to see the Hinduvata crew emerge after such a smack down. Must really hurt to see the likes of Vikrant reject your despicable ideolgy :)

  13. Old Pickler — on 24th July, 2006 at 10:13 pm  

    Young Vik looks old for his age. At his age that’s a compliment.

    I remember the days when Vick something you rubbed on your chest.

  14. Refresh — on 24th July, 2006 at 10:19 pm  

    Vikrant – enjoyed the blog. Be interested in more of your thoughts on the subject.

  15. Katy Newton — on 24th July, 2006 at 10:27 pm  

    Vikrant, it was a very good post.

    Old Pickler, stop grooming Vikrant. There are laws you know.

  16. raz — on 24th July, 2006 at 10:31 pm  

    “Old Pickler, stop grooming Vikrant”

    LOL :)

  17. Desi Italiana — on 24th July, 2006 at 10:37 pm  

    Tooly Joe:

    “Desi Italiana:

    You categorise Gurcharan Das as an extremist or a Hindutvadi? Are you demented? Have you lost your mind?

    And can you lay off the insults, please?

    I DID NOT categorize Gurcharan Das as an extremist. If you read my post, I was describing a conference that I went to. All I was saying was at the conference, he WAS making statements that bordered on Hindutvavad-ism, and no one really addressed the assertions he was making. He may or may not be a Hindutvavadi type, but the things he was stating at the conference certainly gave that impression. During lunch when a professor actually challenged him, he got up and left after being incapable of answering this professor’s questions. And Ved Nanda just went off. He is a category unto himself.

    The next time someone starts off a comment with offensive lines, I am simply not going to respond.

  18. mirax — on 24th July, 2006 at 10:44 pm  

    >>All I was saying was at the conference, he WAS making statements that bordered on Hindutvavad-ism, and no one really addressed the assertions he was making. He may or may not be a Hindutvavadi type, but the things he was stating at the conference certainly gave that impression.

    You can take desi’s impressions at face value or you may want to read the bloke so you can make up your own mind:

    http://www.ccsindia.org/gdas/gurcharandas.htm

  19. Old Pickler — on 24th July, 2006 at 10:46 pm  

    Oh, it’s all good clean fun. Gets up your nose after a bit, but clears your passages like dynorod.

  20. mirax — on 24th July, 2006 at 10:49 pm  

    What I want to know is whether the RSS girls wear that same gear, Viks? Do they carry off the staves & silly cap combo better than the guys? And did you manage to pull?

  21. Katy Newton — on 24th July, 2006 at 10:50 pm  

    My mind reels with unprintable replies

  22. Old Pickler — on 24th July, 2006 at 10:52 pm  

    Sorry if I’ve offended anyone. But I bet Vik can handle himself (fnurrr fnurrr).

  23. Katy Newton — on 24th July, 2006 at 10:56 pm  

    You haven’t offended me :-)

  24. Sunny — on 25th July, 2006 at 12:59 am  

    Gurcharan Das is definitely not in Hindutva territory, going by his writings.

    Raz, good to see you didn’t take the bait.

    “Tooly Joe” – Try constructing something intelligent to say?

  25. Vikram — on 25th July, 2006 at 1:22 am  

    >>Maharashtra has always been the epicentre of reactionary politics in India since the days of the Maratha Empire.

    >>Indeed most of the modern day political movements in India have their roots in 19th century Maharashtra. Be it Hindutva or the Neo-Buddhist Dalit movement.

    Very informative “insider” post. Maharastrian Hindutva arose in part as a *response* to Jotirao Phule’s anti-Brahman/Hindu reform movement in addition to Ambedkar’s Dalit rising. But while Hindutva owes its origins to Brahmans, it has deep roots and appeals to people across all classes as well as the caste spectrum – it appeals especially Other Backward Castes (OBCs).

    Also not all modern Indian political movements began in Maharastra :) The Naxalites began in Naxalbari, Bengal. The Dravidian movement began in Madras Presidency – and both of those are utterly relevant to modern Indian politics. I would even argue that Hindutva owes as much to Bengal as to Maharastra, especially through the writings of Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, particularly his novel “Anandamath.”

  26. Kismet Hardy — on 25th July, 2006 at 2:23 am  

    Nicky Bedi, the radio presenter from BBC Asian Network who was married to Kabir Bedi. I thought she was blonde english pretty lady but she reckons she’s maharashtran. always wanted to know ever since. are maharashtran ladies looky likey pretty blonde english ladies?

  27. Desi Italiana — on 25th July, 2006 at 4:35 am  

    “Gurcharan Das is definitely not in Hindutva territory, going by his writings.”

    Could I just clarify something? Maybe I wasn’t being clear. I had said in post #5:

    “There had been some Hindutva forces in the audience, as well as Ved Nanda (self proclaimed “representative of the Hindu community in the US”) and Gurcharan Das on the panel.”

    There had been Hindutva dudes in the audience, AS WELL AS Ved Nanda and Gurcharan Das on the panel. Then, I said in post #17:

    “All I was saying was at the conference, he WAS making statements that bordered on Hindutvavad-ism, and no one really addressed the assertions he was making. He may or may not be a Hindutvavadi type, but the things he was stating at the conference certainly gave that impression”

    I attempted to make it clear that I was going by what I had heard at the conference and that he may or may not be– I don’t know.

    That’s all :)

  28. Desi Italiana — on 25th July, 2006 at 4:37 am  

    “Raz, good to see you didn’t take the bait.”

    Yes, I agree. Unlike me. Should learn to do the same thing :)

  29. Desi Italiana — on 25th July, 2006 at 4:45 am  

    “But while Hindutva owes its origins to Brahmans, it has deep roots and appeals to people across all classes as well as the caste spectrum – it appeals especially Other Backward Castes (OBCs).”

    I may be wrong, but my understanding is that it started reaching out to non Brahmans and OBCs when it got involved in politics (like the RSS, VHP, BJP, Sangh Parivar).

    Also, aren’t there “missionary” activities that the RSS and others enact with regards to OBCs? (There is a great account of this in an interesting book — of which the argument you don’t have to necessarily agree with– Thomas Blom Hansen’s The Saffron Wave: Democracy And Hindu Nationalism in Modern India”.

    Vikrant: did they do yoga and martial arts?

  30. nydesi — on 25th July, 2006 at 5:19 am  

    As more of an observer on PP, I realize that it’s clearly meant to be a progressive, which is great, I’m not arguing that it shouldn’t be.

    However, why isn’t there any attempts in trying to figure out the reasons behind identity politics or why extremism fundamentalism occurs. If I knew nothing of Indian politics and I read PP, I would assume that the Hindutva-ish mentality was sprung from total irrationality and nothing more.

    How much preaching to the choir do you really want to do?

  31. Desi Italiana — on 25th July, 2006 at 8:17 am  

    RETRACTION:

    I said:

    “All I was saying was at the conference, he WAS making statements that bordered on Hindutvavad-ism, and no one really addressed the assertions he was making. He may or may not be a Hindutvavadi type, but the things he was stating at the conference certainly gave that impression”

    Response:

    “Gurcharan Das is definitely not in Hindutva territory, going by his writings.”

    Sorry, sorry. Just to verify, I went back to check my notes on the conference, and he WASN’T making statements that were borderline Hindutvavad-ish. I got him mixed up with Ved Prakash Nanda.

    The article that Das presented at the conference did cause some debate:

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/1297428.cms

    Some took issue with him (Javed Aktar telling Das that he is “riding a tricyle”), and during lunch, a professor did challenge him on the assertions he made to which he didn’t respond and then left.

    But they were not Hindutva statements. My apologies.

  32. Vikrant — on 25th July, 2006 at 8:57 am  

    @Desi Italiana: Gurcharan Das is NOT a Hindutvadi for sure. The problem with India is excessive Political correctness. Anybody raising the issue of Kashmiri Pandits, Illegal Bangladeshis, condition of Hindus in Pakistan,Bangladesh and Gulf is labelled a Hindutvadi. Indeed in India nobody except Hindutvadis raise these issues. Congress and their allies (esp. Samajwadi party) are pandering to Islamists in oder to mobilise their Muslim vote banks. While BJP doesnt claim to be secular, Congress only pays a lip-service to it.

    Also, aren’t there “missionary” activities that the RSS and others enact with regards to OBCs?

    NO. OBC’s or other backward classes are savrana castes but they were historically economically backward (farmers,artisans etc). They consititue a clear majority amongst Hindus.

    I think it was Arundhati Roy who had said it is not enough to ban groups such as the RSS and the Sangh Parivar ilk.

    Roy herself is a part of the problkem with the near pathological hatred of Hinduism. It is exactly the kind of biased PC stuff she and he cohorts in Indian media write, that inflames the nationalists into going over to the Hindutva side.

    Vikrant: did they do yoga and martial arts?

    Yes they do, but at special camps not everyday meets.

  33. Vikrant — on 25th July, 2006 at 8:59 am  

    What I want to know is whether the RSS girls wear that same gear, Viks? Do they carry off the staves & silly cap combo better than the guys? And did you manage to pull?

    No they wear Punjabi style clothes. As for the last question… i cant tell you more lest the great devourer of the worlds (a.k.a my mum) reads it!

  34. Vikrant — on 25th July, 2006 at 9:02 am  

    How much preaching to the choir do you really want to do?

    The rationale behind Hindutva can be understood but not justified. Hindus have genuine issues with the sometimes blatant minoritist policies of their current government. But Hindutva crew want to replace it with majoritism which is just as bad. If you think violence can cause silence, then you are mistaken… matey.

  35. Vikrant — on 25th July, 2006 at 9:04 am  

    Old Pickler, stop grooming Vikrant. There are laws you know.

    ahem…

  36. Vikrant — on 25th July, 2006 at 9:12 am  

    Very informative “insider” post. Maharastrian Hindutva arose in part as a *response* to Jotirao Phule’s anti-Brahman/Hindu reform movement in addition to Ambedkar’s Dalit rising.

    Sure, but it was also the result of near-genetic hatred of Islam amongst many Maharashrians especially the 96 Maratha clans. I DO have problem with Islamists, and some aspects of Islam, but then again i DO have a problem with many aspects of Hinduism iteself.

    Maharashtrians have been known for their ultra-nationalism. Indeed in Kolhapur the ancient Maratha citadel, every other street is named after a “Shaheed” who died figting Indian Union’s conflicts from Kashmir to SL, Bangladesh to Congo. Last month another of city’s sons died fighting in Kashmir. But this time for the Hizbull Mujahideen against his own nation. Tensions i hear are high in that city.

  37. Vikrant — on 25th July, 2006 at 9:16 am  

    @OP: Btw this town, Alibaug has got be the only place in the world where a mosque and a synagogue stand just a few meters apart.

  38. Kismet Hardy — on 25th July, 2006 at 9:20 am  

    Hey vikrant can you answer my question post 26. I really want to know. And you’re the expert so tell me so I don’t have to keep sucking on nitrous oxide to help ease the pain of not knowing

  39. Vikrant — on 25th July, 2006 at 9:21 am  

    are maharashtran ladies looky likey pretty blonde english ladies?

    Like all Indians Maharashtrians come in all shades and sizes. Though Kokan Brahmins and memebers some Maratha clans are blue eyed and unnaturally fair-skinned. My KoBra great-grandmother was said to be green eyed which is very rare for South Asians. KoBras are thought to be descendents of 8th century West Asian jewish immigrants to India who were later absorbed as Brahmins into the Hindu fold.

  40. Vikrant — on 25th July, 2006 at 9:24 am  

    I am in essense a pan-Indian caste-whore. :p Blasphemous for the ole crusties of RSS.

  41. Kismet Hardy — on 25th July, 2006 at 10:30 am  

    Cheers Vikrant. Can I come to the orgy Old Pickler has planned for you? I have videotape

  42. sonia — on 25th July, 2006 at 10:35 am  

    well kismet, apparently nikki’s father was Indian – ( parsee descent0 and her mother was english – she was born in Aylesbury..

  43. Kismet Hardy — on 25th July, 2006 at 10:57 am  

    You must come to vikrant’s orgy also then sonia

    I’m mustering up the kleenex to invite darling nikki to join us in bedi

    courage, I meant courage

  44. El Cid — on 25th July, 2006 at 12:36 pm  

    Careful Vik, you might get out alive of that pothole

  45. El Cid — on 25th July, 2006 at 12:37 pm  

    or should I say “not get alive”

  46. El Cid — on 25th July, 2006 at 12:37 pm  

    aghhhhhhhh. i meant “not get out alive”

  47. Rohin — on 25th July, 2006 at 1:56 pm  

    Not got much time but just wanted to say Vik you write very well, I really hope you keep it up.

  48. Kismet Hardy — on 25th July, 2006 at 2:09 pm  

    Keep it up fnar fnar

    (insert viagra quip here)

  49. Jai Hind! — on 25th July, 2006 at 2:45 pm  

    RSS are so Gay!

  50. mirax — on 25th July, 2006 at 3:17 pm  

    kismet! Welcome back! Really missed you being around to add an insalubrious sex angle to every thread.

  51. Kismet Hardy — on 25th July, 2006 at 3:18 pm  

    Not every thread sonia. Only the ones I don’t understand.

    Okay.

    Every thread

  52. Vikram — on 25th July, 2006 at 3:18 pm  

    >>I may be wrong, but my understanding is that it started reaching out to non Brahmans and OBCs when it got involved in politics (like the RSS, VHP, BJP, Sangh Parivar).

    Hello Desi Italiana:

    The Sangh early on reached out to every caste group, but as Vikrant said of the RSS, the early leadership was overwhelmingly upper caste. Also, the RSS modelled its activities on upper caste Hindu rituals. There is still a perception among the public that the RSS and the BJP are upper caste, but as I said, if you look at, for example, polling figures, this isn’t necessarily so.

    >>Also, aren’t there “missionary” activities that the RSS and others enact with regards to OBCs? (There is a great account of this in an interesting book — of which the argument you don’t have to necessarily agree with– Thomas Blom Hansen’s The Saffron Wave: Democracy And Hindu Nationalism in Modern India”.

    I believe you’re thinking of tribals, also known as Scheduled Tribes in India’s whacky Constitutional parlance. The impetus to work with tribals ( aka vanvasis) arose to counter Christian missionary activities among those groups (who are a rather disparate bunch actually).

    I would say that its paid off politically. Congress used to sweep the tribal vote in past elections. In the last national election the UPA ony managed to win the tribals by 8 or 9 points. The BJP is also in power in Orissa, a state which is overwhelmingly tribal.

    >>Maharashtrians have been known for their ultra-nationalism.

    Vikrant:

    Correct. But what was Shivaji’s attitude to Muslims? I am told he did not destroy mosques in the constituencies he controlled.

    Also, Peshwa rule left a bad taste in the mouths of many Marathas, who resented what they felt was a Brahaman usurpation of their power. A section of Marathas recently declared a new religion – “Shiv Dharma” – to distance themselves for Brahmans and Hinduism in the state.

  53. Kismet Hardy — on 25th July, 2006 at 3:19 pm  

    PS. what’s an insalubrious? sounds kinky. I want one

  54. Desi Italiana — on 26th July, 2006 at 2:32 am  

    Vikram and Vikrant:

    Thanks for the replies :)

    Vikrant:

    “Yes they do, but at special camps not everyday meets.”

    Re:yoga, the reason I asked is that I’ve read about the ideology behind yoga as it is practiced within the RSS and other groups of the Sangh. Did you hear talk of preventing the “emasculation” of Hindu males, etc, retaining the “juice” (by not having sex and practicing yoga) so as to have more virile power, etc? Or is this assertion inaccurate/has fallen out of disuse/not practiced as much anymore?

  55. Desi Italiana — on 26th July, 2006 at 2:35 am  

    ^^^ though I realize that this is not fundamentally important in the larger scheme of things. Like, who cares whether they are doing yoga. This is insignificant compared to their other actions which have much larger and serious implications.

    I’m just curious.

  56. nydesi — on 26th July, 2006 at 4:51 am  

    “Also, the RSS modelled its activities on upper caste Hindu rituals.”

    What are the upper caste rituals that they use?

  57. nydesi — on 26th July, 2006 at 5:05 am  

    “How much preaching to the choir do you really want to do?

    “The rationale behind Hindutva can be understood but not justified.”

    I’m not asking anyone to justify it. But should that stop anyone from trying to understand its real roots?
    The extreme left within India and abroad is a perhaps one of the largest factors for the appeal of groups like the VHP.

    It’s come to a point where anything remotely associated with Hinduism is now suspect to being affiliated with the Sangh Parivar. My aunt was involved with a project for a Hindu cultural center in Connecticut because there were none in the southern part of the state, and they had a fundraiser with hindustani classical music-they got a whole bunch of calls from people demanding to know why they were promoting “hindutva” and she was like wtf?

    I had two friends who tend to swing left on political issues and are big on community activism so they joined this south asian leftist/activist group called Youth Solidarity Summer, but they left disillusioned because, in their own words, the general feeling among that group was that hinduism was the sole cause for all the problems in south asia.

    When moderate hindus get inundated with this sorta marxist/extremist left propaganda then these sort of groups become popular.

    And to be honest, it puts people in a hard place, because these extreme right movement will never fade out of the picture as long as you have the extreme left attempting to make their own views mainstream.

    “If you think violence can cause silence, then you are mistaken… matey.

    I don’t even know where you were going with this one.

  58. Vikrant — on 26th July, 2006 at 5:22 am  

    @kismet: err.. i’m sort of over protective of my females. So sorry NO orgy for you.

    @Vikram: Shivaji might have been tolerant of the Muslims but majority of Marathas werent. Aurangzeb’s forcible conversions of caputred Marathas and painful execution of Shivaji’s successor, Sambhaji left Marathas bitter against the Muslims. Marathas are brutally straightforward people. After Sambhaji the empire was sustained on its bloodlust alone. Without sly diplomacy of KoBras the empire would have fallen under its own weight. Marathas dislike KoBras, KoBras dislike Marathas, “lower” castes dislike the two castes for being such snobs but collective the all HATE Islam. Thankfully since i’m a bit of Rajput, Maratha, KoBra and what-not i havent inherited these stupid caste grudges.

  59. Vikrant — on 26th July, 2006 at 5:27 am  

    nydesi i can understand. Pinkos will be pinkos. On one hand they will defend Hamas,Al-Q, Iran but bend over backwards in vilifying not only Hindutva but also Hinduism. Their bloody self-reighteousness is annoying…
    Funnily Indian Pinkos seem to be fixated with the Arab world and Arab causes…

    But then Hindutva crew are no saints at all. For all their macho talk BJP proved to be no better than Congress on national security with its tame surrender to terrorists who’d hijacked IC814.

  60. Desi Italiana — on 26th July, 2006 at 5:31 am  

    NYDESI:

    “The extreme left within India and abroad is a perhaps one of the largest factors for the appeal of groups like the VHP.

    It’s come to a point where anything remotely associated with Hinduism is now suspect to being affiliated with the Sangh Parivar.”

    I agree with you, to a certain extent. I think your assertion is one part of the picture, but I also think (from what I know about the Indian state and politics) that identitarian politics and how this plays out in Indian style democracy have also somewhat contributed to the growth and formation of these kinds of sentiments (NOTE: I am NOT suggesting that India should adopt totalitarianism as an alternative). For example, Congress wallahs flirted with conservative religious sentiments (which represented a minor fraction of the entire community) in order to garner the votes of a particular religious community (Sikhs, Muslims, and I think Hindus as well). There seems to be a trend in Indian politics whereby rights are not fought for on an individual basis, but rather on a COLLECTIVE, GROUP basis- ie Hindus should have the right to do this, Muslims that, and scores of other groups– since the Indian state hands out such group favors (personal laws, quotas, etc). Consequently, you have groups vying with one another for political representation and political-social-economic rights. I’m not arguing whether this is right or wrong, I am just explaining how I see it.

    I don’t think that all the blame can be laid on the “leftist extremists”. There are other factors involved as well, such as the history of the subcontinent and its various empires which have given rise a resurgence of “take back the nation” kind of mentality, the memory of Partition(s) and its aftershocks, the Indian political system which I have mentioned above, and other aspects as well.

  61. Vikrant — on 26th July, 2006 at 5:36 am  

    Sangh. Did you hear talk of preventing the “emasculation” of Hindu males, etc, retaining the “juice” (by not having sex and practicing yoga) so as to have more virile power, etc? Or is this assertion inaccurate/has fallen out of disuse/not practiced as much anymore?

    I think most of the higher ups in the Sangh are celibate (on paper atleast). Even Mr.Chiplunkar is a Brahmachary.

  62. Vikrant — on 26th July, 2006 at 5:39 am  

    @kismet hardy: your suggestion on dumping girls was no good mate. She has been inundating my inbox and calling at odd hours since i’ve landed in India. I just hope shes not pregnant or sumfin…… my mum would kill meh. No help me write an email toher you horny bastard.

  63. Desi Italiana — on 26th July, 2006 at 5:46 am  

    “I think most of the higher ups in the Sangh are celibate (on paper atleast). Even Mr.Chiplunkar is a Brahmachary.”

    If they use the logic of “emasculation” and conserving “vital fluids” so as to become strong Hindu men, I wonder how female RSS and similar organizations’ members fit into this. All the accounts on yoga and how it is utilized by Hindutvavadis tend to focus on the “emasculation’ bit and semen. But women have to be celibate too. So what’s the reasoning for them? Perhaps that they should be celibate to maintain “purity” as proper Hindu women. Not be polluted.

    For some reason, I’m fixated on yoga and celibacy within the RSS and its sister organizations… (??????)

  64. Vikram — on 26th July, 2006 at 9:08 pm  

    Desi Italiana:

    >>All the accounts on yoga and how it is utilized by Hindutvavadis tend to focus on the “emasculation’ bit and semen.

    Well, there is the yogic belief that masturbation and spilling semen dissipates energy. And the tantric belief that sexual energy can be transfigured into spiritual energy. But more pragmatically, the Sangh expects its pracharaks to give over their entire dedication to the cause, and having a wife would distract from that. So I don’t think we should overread into this except to note that sangh ideals are modelled (but different from) certain Hindu ideals.

    Modi is a celibate, I believe, which partially explains why the fool is still in power – he has the RSS behind him.

    >> For example, Congress wallahs flirted with conservative religious sentiments (which represented a minor fraction of the entire community) in order to garner the votes of a particular religious community (Sikhs, Muslims, and I think Hindus as well).

    Congress went “Soft Hindutva” in its last Gujurat campaign, and I have no doubt they would do it again if they felt they could win by doing it.

    Identity politics is both good and bad. Good because the dispossesed are given the opportunity to speak as a group, bad because each discrete community -whether divided by caste or religion – is in effect a Political Action Committee lobbying for its own entitlememts with little consideration of a national interest.

    NYDesi:
    >>I had two friends who tend to swing left on political issues and are big on community activism so they joined this south asian leftist/activist group called Youth Solidarity Summer, but they left disillusioned because, in their own words, the general feeling among that group was that hinduism was the sole cause for all the problems in south asia.

    I hear you. I work with a non-political Hindu group that is absolutely terrified of being labelled “sanghi” or “hindutvadi” – a benighted state of affairs…

  65. Desi Italiana — on 27th July, 2006 at 3:17 am  

    Vikram:

    Thanks for the comments.

    Don’t forget about the auto urine therapy. I’m not saying that the RSS et al drink their own urine, but some Indian politicians have done this….(I don’t know why I brought that up)….

    Anyway,

    –”Identity politics is both good and bad. Good because the dispossesed are given the opportunity to speak as a group, bad because each discrete community -whether divided by caste or religion – is in effect a Political Action Committee lobbying for its own entitlememts with little consideration of a national interest.”

    I agree. You put it more eloquently than I did. I like your PAC analogy :)

  66. Desi Italiana — on 27th July, 2006 at 3:18 am  

    Vikrant:

    —- “Funnily Indian Pinkos seem to be fixated with the Arab world and Arab causes…”

    This may be because of the fact that at this moment, the manifestation of the world’s only superpower– the US– is flexing most of its muscles in the “Arab world”. In the past, Latin America had been the loci of US foreign policy. And many leftists were deeply interested in Latin American causes.

    [I am not so confident that labeling people/ideologies as "Pinkos", "leftists", and so on helps to further our understanding of various dynamics. But this is my opinion :) ]

  67. Raj — on 27th July, 2006 at 6:09 am  

    “Modi is a celibate, I believe, which partially explains why the fool is still in power – he has the RSS behind him.”

    Modi never claimed to be celibate. Infact he is a very modern leader who publicly boasted that he was a bachelor but not a brahmachari.

    Modi is bigger than RSS and BJP in the state of Gujarat. He does not need their backing.

    Modi is in power in Gujarat, because the people there vote for him. And Modi is no fool. You are a fool to call Modi a fool. Ask the people of Gujarat and the investors there what they make of Modi.Modi is seen as the best administrator in the country.

    Also – all those of you who claim that RSS is a casteist organisation ..that is a lie spread by leftists. RSS stands for unity among hindus, and abolition of the caste system.

    The #1 hindu leader in India – who else – but Modi himself , is a backward caste hindu.

    The emerging leadership of BJP is full of backward caste hindus, which is only natural because backward caste hindus form bulk of BJP’s vote base.

    Those Kar Sevaks who you might hate so much, the Baj Rang Dal folks you probably hate too – none of them are ‘high caste’. The fighters on the hindu right are all lower caste. Never known a high caste character who would fight for the cause.

  68. Raj — on 27th July, 2006 at 6:16 am  

    Look I know you people hate RSS, BJP…but understand this. 40% of the Indian electorate voted for BJP or parties allied with BJP in an election that BJP lost.

  69. Raj — on 27th July, 2006 at 6:20 am  

    My point is…40% of India will always vote for BJP, directly or indirectly. 10-15% is the swing vote, which changes every election. If that swing vote comes back to the BJP, and BJP returns to power, would budding non-residential Indian leftists commit mass suicide or what ?

    And by the looks of things, we are clearly headed towards that direction, given the tepid response of the present ‘secular’ Indian government in tackling Islamic terrorism. The swing voters are already angry, trust me.

  70. Raj — on 27th July, 2006 at 6:44 am  

    Also – one last thing – the importance of the RSS shakhas are over-estimated. They were important once when BJP was a minor party and the vote bank of BJP was limited to Maharashtrian Brahmins. RSS held BJP together when BJP has only 4 seats in the parliament in the 1980s.

    But today – BJP has the support of a huge section of India’s population, most of who have never seen the inside of an RSS shakha and have no affiliation with the RSS. People like me.

    BJP swamps over the RSS. The younger leaders of BJP come from the student bodies like ABVP. They have nothing to do with RSS.

    RSS is no longer important in the national scheme of things for BJP supporters, but will always serve a valuable role as a social service organisation. Villified by India haters because of its hindu-ness…but RSS has always done valuable service to the needy. Most RSS members are lower middle class or even poor. (You wont find kids of software professionals there…by the way, Infy campus in B’lore, which is where I work, has a BJP club. BJP easily is the most popular political party among the techies )Shishu Kalyans are schools set up by RSS for tribal children in far off villages. Whenever there is an accident or a natural disaster – tsunami , earth quake, it is the RSS workers who are first at the scene and the last to leave. Nobody mentions that.

    The villification of BJP/RSS used to hurt me when I was younger, but I now realise that it is exactly this hatred of all things ‘hindu’ which has made BJP such a force in India. People of India are fair people. When they see a kid being unfairly criticised or picked on, they rush to the help of that child.

    So whether you realise it or not , the BJP’s critics are its greatest strength.

  71. Kismet Hardy — on 27th July, 2006 at 7:03 am  

    Are you going to burn yourself now?

  72. Desi Italiana — on 27th July, 2006 at 7:19 am  

    “The #1 hindu leader in India – who else – but Modi himself , is a backward caste hindu.”

    Modi is backwards, but not because of his caste.

    Kismet Hardy– I love you. Really.

  73. Raj — on 27th July, 2006 at 7:27 am  

    “Modi is backwards, but not because of his caste.”

    You have the right to your opinion.The people of Gujarat, have their own opinion. In addition, unlike you, they also get to vote.

  74. mirax — on 27th July, 2006 at 9:14 am  

    >>Kismet Hardy– I love you. Really.

    *snarls* : Back off, Desi. I’m ready to share Kismet with barnyard animals, but not the likes of you.

  75. mirax — on 27th July, 2006 at 9:19 am  

    Hey Raj,

    that’s one fetching cyber personality you are cultivating:

    glorification of Indian army excess

    glorification of mass murdering scum, Modi.

    I bet you are next going to write an ode to your hitman hero, Naturam Godse.

    Have issues eh? Poor boy.

  76. Desi Italiana — on 27th July, 2006 at 9:27 am  

    “*snarls* : Back off, Desi. I’m ready to share Kismet with barnyard animals, but not the likes of you.”

    Takes one to know one :)

  77. mirax — on 27th July, 2006 at 9:27 am  

    >>RSS are so Gay!

    Begin to see what Jaihind means.

    All that fascistic sham-glam, male bonding and ‘celibacy’. Always had my suspicions about Vajpayee – all that poetry writing!

  78. mirax — on 27th July, 2006 at 9:30 am  

    >>Takes one to know one

    I am like, aw shucks, *so* complimented. Thanks.

  79. Desi Italiana — on 27th July, 2006 at 9:31 am  

    I love Kismet Hardy not for his pornographic and kinky comments like someone here does (*cough* Mirax), but because I agree with his comments regarding certain discussions.

    So I love him.

    Let’s not get into a virtual catfight over Kinky Kismet.

  80. mirax — on 27th July, 2006 at 9:40 am  

    >>I hear you. I work with a non-political Hindu group that is absolutely terrified of being labelled “sanghi” or “hindutvadi” – a benighted state of affairs…

    Well, I am not hindu even but I am beginning to realise how easy it is to be attacked online as hindutvadi even when you comment in the most tangential manner on some ‘hindu’ affair. Happened right here on PP when I brought up minority religious rights in Malaysia. It left me quite speechless at the time as it was literally the last tag I’d ever expected to be thrown at me. But the lesson is not to be intimidated into silence because of this.

  81. Raj — on 27th July, 2006 at 9:44 am  

    Mirax… whatever dude. Modi is not in power because I ‘glorified’ him, but because India is a democractic country, the elections are generally free and fair and the people actually vote for him. So dont blame me for Modi the ‘mass murdering scum’, blame the people of Gujarat and bloody democracy that gave them the right to exercise their franchise.

    Regarding Indian Army ‘excesses’…. I dont remember what I said, or when I said what I said, or the context of it, I am not a regular visitor to this site , but I am flattered that you , whoever you are, apparently keep a count of the stuff I say , as well as the viccissitudes of my ‘cyber persona’.

    Thanks a lot.

    But tell me, what does ‘defending Indian Army excesses’ have to do with Nathuram Godse ? Was Nathuram a part of Indian Army ? I am trying to make sense of the connection here.

    And what Indian Army ‘excesses’ are you referring to anyway ?

  82. Kismet Hardy — on 27th July, 2006 at 10:37 am  

    Three women fighting over me?! Impossible. I bet it’s just one person under different pseudonyms trying to pull the pube over my eyes.

    Mother, is that you again?

  83. mirax — on 27th July, 2006 at 10:55 am  

    >>Three women fighting over me?! Impossible

    You underestimate yourself, my lovely Kismet.

    But I only want your gorgeous body, Hardy. Desi can have your political opinions (isn’t she dull?) and we all know that Katy will settle for pretty much what remains (no offence Kate, p’haps you shouldn’t have advertised your man problems quite so enthusiastically, um? and K’s remains are still substantial and luscious).

    Only caveat : we will have to keep it a tad quiet, K. The bf is beginning to look over my shoulder when I log on nowadays.

  84. raz — on 27th July, 2006 at 11:03 am  

    :(

  85. Vikrant — on 27th July, 2006 at 3:08 pm  

    Kismet!

    All the ladies like you; all the men adore you. Bhenchud

  86. shiva — on 29th July, 2006 at 12:48 am  

    Mirax,

    Gotta deflate your enthusiasm. Ashok Row Kavi one of India’s best known gays and gay rights activists is an unabashed supporter of the RSS. As also are a fair number of lesbian activists in India. In contrast to communal organisations from other faith communities Hindu groups have been accepting of gays.

  87. shiva — on 29th July, 2006 at 4:08 pm  

    http://tinyurl.com/gwc2f

    A very old interview with Ashok Row Kavi from Gay Today. Read it and you might find Row talking about someone like you.

  88. seasons2006 — on 29th July, 2006 at 7:05 pm  

    i sense a little mockery in the tone of this article.

    RSS may have it’s own big and small follies, but never the less it may not be a bad idea sometimes to eat with hands rather than forks.

    It is sometime very surprising to see why we are so eager to disown our culture and our roots.

  89. Desi Italiana — on 30th July, 2006 at 6:58 pm  

    Seasons2006:
    “RSS may have it’s own big and small follies, but never the less it may not be a bad idea sometimes to eat with hands rather than forks.

    It is sometime very surprising to see why we are so eager to disown our culture and our roots.”

    What? Are you saying that if we were to disagree with the RSS, we are “eager to disown our culture and our roots?”

    The RSS is a representative of our “culture” and our “roots?”

    And pray tell: what exactly are our culture and roots? I am not being facetious, I am being serious.

  90. seasons2006 — on 5th August, 2006 at 6:54 pm  

    Desi:

    From what I know, RSS stands for preserving Hindu culture, identity and history.
    They may be going overboard at times by insisting to put astrology as a course in modern education.
    Also they are a political organization, so they will go back on their promises and principles. In India we have had coalition governments for a long time where the basis of coalition need not be conforming principles.

    However my point was about the mocking tone when someone reminds us about our history and our way of conduct.
    I do not know how familiar you are with modern urban India. It has become a society which is almost reluctant to speak their own language, eat their own food and very eager to adopt a lifestyle which is approved by West.
    So let me hope that you are able to understand that the comment was not pro-RSS but anti-mental western slavery.
    And Finally discussing cultures and roots over here may not be in line with the topic of this thread. Let us open another thread for that !!

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