Hindu Rashtra: Stray thoughts of an Exile
It [RSS] not only wants to live a lie, but it also wants every other being to live the lies it likes.
Stray thoughts of an Exile:
How do we understand the “call to arms” for a “Hindu Rashtra” from the Akhara Sadhus [AS]? Is it a new level of communal polarization, that the Sangh uses as a strategy, close to important elections? Is it the Sangh vanguard calling for creation of a Hindu Rashtra? If so, who are seen as opposing it? Or is it a new dynamic for contestation of power within the Sangh? Something has changed. It behooves us to put the new development in all sorts of contexts, under all sorts of prisms, to get a perspective on it.
The Akhara Sadhus have a deep, rich, and colorful history. Unfortunately, that has not always found its due in our narratives, even though it is an important part of our folklore.
Here is an extract from “Afghan History” [not Indian] for a perspective on the “Nanga Sadhus” of Gokul, and the part they played in saving their city from sack by Jahan Khan, a General in Ahmad Shah Durrani’s army. After the Maratha defeat in the Third Battle of Panipat, 1761 CE, Ahmad Shah ordered his armies to extract as much wealth a possible from Delhi, and other urban centers, along the Ganges.
This was a gory affair, spanning months, with much torture through use of bastinado on Hindus and Muslims alike, to force families to disgorge wealth. [Bhakts may please note,]
“The massacre at Mathura was just the beginning of Sardar Jahan Khan’s blood-soaked campaign. When the nearby town of Brindavan fell, it suffered the same fate. Jahan Khan then rejected the offered ransom from the authorities of Agra, Akbar the Great’s capital, as inadequate.
Despite Agra’s reputation as a center of Islamic jurisprudence and the fact that the commander of the Agra garrison was a Muslim, Jahan Khan’s troops went on another orgy of slaughter and pillage.
Meanwhile Ahmad Shah marched on Gokul, another major Hindu cult center, only to encounter a very different kind of Hindu devotee, for Gokul was the center of the Nanga Sadhus, devotees of the Bakhti sect who were renowned for their martial prowess.
As the army approached the town, thousands of naked, ash smeared Nangas poured out of the city and attacked the invaders without regard for life or limb. Ahmad Shah eventually admitted defeat and Gokul was spared the fate of Mathura.”
[Lee, Jonathan L.. Afghanistan: A History from 1260 to the Present. Reaktion Books. Kindle Edition.]
The RSS and Sangh have deep, and abiding connections with AS, that go back in history. In 1966, a young and novice Indira Gandhi was in deep political trouble in the aftermath of the inconclusive 1965 war with Pakistan, as well as pressures from the Conservative “Old Guard” led by Kamaraj within her party. To exploit this vulnerability, regardless of so-called “National Interest,” the Sangh launched a siege of the Indian Parliament by flooding Delhi with Sadhus, armed with swords, demanding a ban on Cow Slaughter.
The Sangh had high hopes that a young Indira Gandhi would lose her nerve. Instead, she asked the cops to open fire, and there was no breach of Parliament. That was India’s first insurrection with arms, but glossed over by our politicians, and historians.
It was in a Dharam Sansad, circa 2014, that the AS demanded installation of Modi as PM before the 2014 election, a demand that the RSS could not ignore. Similarly, the credit for installing Bhist as UP CM should go to the AS, because they threatened a revolt against the Sangh, if the claim of Bhist was overlooked.
The Sangh has often used AS as its armed Vanguard. It is not fringe. Nobody in the Sangh will dare disown it. What it says by its call to arms is not an aberration but deep design. Given the close collaboration between the Sangh and the AS, it would be foolish to gloss over the development, regardless of the ugliness that it bares in our polity.
Are we a Hindu Rashtra already?
In October, 2020, Rama Lakshmi, wrote an article at The Print, on RSS’ Hindu Rashtra that invited much heat from the RW Hindus but little light from our Editorial gladiators. It had a very important nugget of information, which explains why the Guardians of our Episteme, chose not to hyper-bloviate over it at the time. I quote:
"The only way to Vedic-era greatness is through the new tag of Hindu Rashtra now. ‘Is India moving towards the Hindu Rashtra’, is an ominous, often-asked question. A senior RSS leader recently met editors off-the-record, and said we are already a Hindu Rashtra."
Rama didn’t let on who the RSS dignitary was, but there aren’t too many who can get our Editors to huddle with them at the highest level.
RSS, like the Taliban, are good strategists at subversion, and know the importance of creating facts on the ground before announcing a fait accompli. The fact is, the RSS model of a State is an exact replica of what good Colonialists aim for - total capture and intellectual hegemony over the elites, by “controlling” the gullible multitudes with magic, and intimidation by force of arms, where necessary. The British left all the legal and administrative structures in place to maintain such a state. The Congress used this infrastructure to keep the RSS hordes out. Now the tables have been turned. It is time for liberals to be cast out. The sinews and thews required to keep the colonial enterprise in place are already deeply entrenched. Only the Hegemon has changed.
Sure a few cosmetic changes will be required in presentation. But for all practical purposes, having captured, and tamed every institution that could check the subversion of our Constitution, including Parliament itself, the Hindu Rashtra is already here. We don’t know it because we don’t wish to know it.
Why then the call to arms by the AS? Surely, they were not speaking out of turn, were they?
Extremism is a beauty contest that the ugliest win:
People who forget this fact of life among the extremists end up in the Advani dustbin of history. The poor bloke thought, just as a moderate “mukhota” had made ABV PM, he too could use one, and committed the unforgivable sin of calling Jinnah a secular, that too in Pakistan. The progression is always ABV-Advani-Modi-Bhist- ..., and yes, the worst is yet to come. That is why there was never any hope of a more moderate Taliban 2.0.
The Sangh is not a monolith. There is much intense internal contestation for power. This used to be muted earlier because the probability of seizing real State power was remote. Now it is the norm. Money and power are a poisoned chalice for ideologies. The internal contestation will only intensify. The Akharas have much at stake starting with control of Hindu temples and their temple Hundis. We can see that playing out in Karnataka already. I have no clue what the real state of play is here. But there can be little doubt, that ideology - extremism - will be the stick that challengers use to beat the incumbents with. So we can expect the Sangh as a whole to lurch towards more extremism, rather than more moderation, [as some lotus-eaters hope,] and the present call to arms from AS can be seen in that light.
Some retired but venerable Service Chiefs, and many other noble souls, have called for stringent action against those responsible for such outrageous incitement. But me thinks, the Sangh knows how to defuse a move that backfires, to bide their time. Their strategy of “Patient Malevolence” against their adversary is well honed.
I have no great faith in the liberal capacity to understand and deal with such extremism, especially in the Hindu Hindi Heartland. Their skill set is more oriented towards preaching to the choir. The Communists have been engaged in an underground struggle for dominance with the Sangh, through use of private militias, for very long time. We choose to ignore this “quiet civil war” just has we have ignored caste for the last 1500 years. When in the opposition, both sides are “liberal democrats”, albeit with blood-thirsty histories.
We should brace for more extremism in the future; not less.
The point of No Return:
So far, the glib assumption among the upper echelons of India’s New Elites is that the Sangh is firmly in control of its narratives, and it can dial down the communal polarization at its will. This assumption is facile and needs detailed scrutiny. Extremism is a self-sustaining cycle, where each version of it must be replaced by an even more extremist version, mainly because that is the only way the contest for power within the organization, shapes the narratives of the organization.
Take the Sangh Sarchalak’s many obiter dicta of late. On days with even dates, he can be seen telling the laity, everybody in India is a “Hindu.” In true priestly style, he is ever ready to redefine the word “Hindu” till it takes on the shape of the corkscrew he has in mind on that day. On days with odd dates, he takes to science as a walrus takes to water without wetting its oilskin. For 40,000 years our DNA has remained the same he declares. The Aryans were here before the Dravids or the Adivasis. On Sundays, he is more relaxed and declares anybody denying Muslims lebensraum in India cannot be a Hindu.
I wonder what Bhist thinks of him on Sundays. Or the Sadhus at the Akharas. The point is that the Sangh is fully aware of the deep flaws in its narratives. It deeply craves legitimacy for its narratives. But is deeply reluctant to choose better, more moderate ones, that are closer to the truth. It not only wants to live a lie, but it also wants every other being to live the lies it likes. And love them [the RSS] while doing so.
So the Sadhus at Akharas agree with the Sarchalak’s Sunday musings? Will they listen to him if he ever seeks to moderate his obiter dicta on our history and culture? Or from now on, have the Akhara Sadhus cut a higher notch on the extremist totem pole that any putative leader must at least match, if not better? Has the Sangh crossed the event horizon on the way to the bottom of the extremist abyss? Such questions need serious examination by all thinkers.
UP Elections And 2024:
Does the call to arms from AS betray nervousness over the outcome of UP elections? Or is it a bid to maintain a chokehold on the Akhara’s dominance of UP politics post-elections under Bhist? The fact is that the call to arms is a bit of an over-kill and might well boomerang on the Sangh or those seeking to benefit from it.
But the call sets up the playing field for the 2024 election, and it is likely that we will see the formal declaration of a Hindu Rashtra as goal for reelecting Modi, with a two-thirds majority to amend the Constitution, thus creating a formal Hindu Rashtra.
Will any political party, Congress or otherwise, stand against the creation of a Hindu Rashtra, and successfully fight the 2024 national poll on that basis? Perish the thought.
India has crossed the Rubicon unwittingly. Now, can we save the secular State, and Liberty, Equality, Fraternity? Our future depends on the wits of our liberals. If you have an idea, now is the season to speak up, instead of empty outrage about what “should be.” The thing is to make it happen in a constructive, quiet, way that preserves the polity as a liberal democracy. Or as much of it as is humanly possible.