18 July 2007

An Example

Here is a good example of the social service being done by swayamsevaks. Bhatke Vimukta Vikas Pratishthan is an NGO that works for the welfare of nomadic tribes in Maharashtra. It was founded by Girish Prabhune, a veteran RSS member.

Interestingly, the article describes Prabhune as just an "activist". It does not even mention his Sangh connection. So this is also an example of the media's bias against the RSS.

17 July 2007

Hindu = Indian

I said in one of my previous posts that 'Hindu' and 'Indian' are synonyms. Let me explain. First we must understand the significance of the river Sindhu (Indus).

Look at the physical map of India. We see that the territory of India is naturally defined. It is a diamond-shaped land, bounded on four sides by the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal, the Himalayas - and the Indus in the northwest. Now most of the other ancient civilisations of the world (Greek, Roman, Persian, etc) were to our west [The only exception was China, which is to our north]. Thus the Indus was what separated us from the rest of the ancient world, and the river became the geographical reference for India.

Now the Persian form of 'Sindhu' was 'Hindu'. And the Greek form of 'Hindu' was 'Indus'. Thus the people who lived in the land beyond the Sindhu were the 'Hindu' (in Persian) or the 'Indoi' (in Greek). And the land was 'Hindustan' (in Persian) or 'India' (in Greek).

Thus we see that the two words are synonyms. What about the word 'Hinduism'? This is a recent term, coined by British scholars in the 18th century to describe the practices and beliefs of the Hindus. It is normal to believe that we are 'Hindus' because we follow a religion called Hinduism. The truth is actually the other way around - the religion is called 'Hinduism' because it is practised by Hindus! (Our own name for our way of life is 'Sanatana Dharma')

16 July 2007

Jedi Knights

Jedi knights are Yogis. Or to be more precise, they are the American pop-culture version of Yogis.

George Lucas's Star Wars movies are set in "a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away". In this universe the Jedi knights are the keepers of peace and justice. They wear robes and wield light sabers. Their power comes from their mastery of "the Force" - an energy field that permeates all living beings and all creation.

Star Wars was inspired by Akira Kurosawa's Samurai films (especially The Hidden Fortress). So it's easy to see where the inspiration for the Jedi knights came from - the Samurai, who were the hereditary military class in medieval Japan. The similarities are unmistakable: the robes, the swords, the code (courage, honour, duty), the ascetic lifestyle and the spirituality.

The Samurai's life and outlook were heavily influenced by their religion, Zen Buddhism. Zen is the mystical school of Buddhism which emphasises meditation as a means for finding the Truth. It came to Japan from China, where it was known as 'Chan'. Now 'Chan' is the corruption of the word Dhyana, which means meditation. And the concept of Dhyana was borrowed by Mahayana Buddhism from Yoga.

Thus we have Yoga --> Dhyana --> Chan --> Zen --> Samurai --> Jedi knight. Get it?

13 July 2007

To Sleep Or Not To Sleep

This has been commented on by several people already. But I'll go ahead and say my bit anyway. The subject is, of course, the Prime Minister's self-confessed loss of sleep after watching Mohammed Haneef's mother and sister crying on TV. I am sure he slept very well on these nights:

29 Oct, 2005Delhi59
7 Mar, 2006Varanasi28
11 Jul, 2006Bombay187
8 Sep, 2006Malegaon37
18 May, 2007Hyderabad13
These are the major terrorist attacks that have occurred since the UPA came to power. Over 300 victims in all. Each time we saw heart-breaking scenes of their mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, sisters, brothers, wives and husbands lamenting their loss. Their worlds destroyed in an instant, their dreams shattered beyond hope, the people they loved the most snatched away in senseless acts of violence. Where was your compassion then, Pradhan Mantriji? Apparently it is reserved only for families of terrorists, not for those of their victims. The victims were merely peaceful and law-abiding citizens of India. Whereas the terrorists are, well, terrorists.

And what perverse logic could have been behind this shocking statement? 'Secularism'? Sensitivity to 'Muslim' sentiments? If that is the reason, then it would be the ultimate insult to the 15 crore Muslims of India - for such a reasoning assumes that they are on the side of the terrorists, rather than on the side of the nation. Can anything be more offensive? After all, terror is blind to religion; both Hindus and Muslims have been victims of these attacks. Indeed, the Malegaon and Hyderabad attacks were specifically targeted at Muslims. If I were an Indian Muslim, I would be outraged by the PM's remark and what it implies.

12 July 2007

RSS, Part 4

Minorities (contd)

Hindutva is not anti-Islam or anti-Christianity. How can it be, when Hinduism believes in the principles of 'Sarva dharma sama bhava' (Equal respect for all religions) and 'Ekam sat vipra bahuda vadanti' (Truth is One; the wise say many things)?

The RSS is not anti-Muslim or anti-Christian. It regards all Indians as brothers and sisters, irrespective of the religion they practice. The RSS's campaign is against Islamic extremists (who are trying to destroy India) and Christian missionaries (who exploit poverty to convert Indians). The RSS has nothing against the majority of peaceful, law-abiding and patriotic Muslims and Christians. In fact, it invites them to join its struggle.


The RSS is anti-caste. It believes caste divides Hindus, and disunity has been the bane of Hindu society. The RSS seeks to unite all Hindus. The practice of untouchability is particularly heinous; it is a crime against man and God.

(This concludes my little series)

11 July 2007

RSS, Part 3

Hindutva and Minorities

First of all, the RSS does not believe in the concept of 'majority' and 'minority'. It believes that all Indians are one people. We are all the children of this motherland. The term is used here merely for convenience. The term 'non-Hindu' is also used merely for convenience. 'Indian' and 'Hindu' are actually synonyms.

India is a Hindu rashtra does not mean that Hindus should have special rights or that non-Hindus should be second class citizens. All Indians should be equal in the eyes of the law and have the same rights. In fact, the current situation is that non-Hindus have some rights that Hindus do not have.

Accepting that India is a Hindu country is in no way a threat to the identity of non-Hindus. Hinduism is an inclusive way of life, not a rigid religion. Non-Hindus are free to practice their religion and live their way of life. The only expectation from them is that they love their country and obey the laws of the land. This is the expectation from all Indians, Hindus as well as non-Hindus.

10 July 2007

RSS, Part 2


The RSS's ideology is Hindutva ('Hinduness'). Hindutva is the recognition of India's Hindu nature. It is the assertion that India is a Hindu nation. The foundation of Indian civilisation is Hinduism (or Sanatana Dharma).

Some people think the RSS wants India to 'become' a Hindu rashtra, or that the RSS is trying to 'make' India a Hindu rashtra. This is hogwash. India is already a Hindu rashtra. India has always been a Hindu rashtra, and India will always be a Hindu rashtra.

09 July 2007

RSS, Part 1

(In this and the next few posts I'll be putting up some basic information about the RSS - and responses to the common charges against it)

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is a nationalist organisation, founded by Dr K B Hedgewar in 1925.


The RSS's mission is to restore India to her former glory. India can become a strong and prosperous nation again only when a critical mass of Indians work selflessly for the country. The RSS's job is to create such workers - men of character and ability, who have the right values, and are aware of their culture, heritage and history.

The RSS's primary way of achieving its mission is through the shakha. The shakha is the backbone of the RSS. It is a daily gathering of swayamsevaks, which is held in an open ground for about an hour, either in the morning or in the evening. In a shakha, swayamsevaks perform exercises, play games, sing patriotic songs, have discussions, etc.

The shakha makes swayamsevaks healthy and fit, teaches them about their culture and instills in them moral values. It also builds in them organisational skills and the ability to work as a team. Discipline, organisation, selflessness, sacrifice - these are the core values of the RSS.