by Ram Puniyani
In public space one keeps hearing many a things which are horrifying, vicious and bad in taste. K.Sudarshan, the father figure of RSS, recently (November 2010) stated that Sonia Gandhi was a foreign agent, that she had some role in the deaths of her mother-in-law and her husband, and that Rajiv Gandhi had wanted to leave her. This statement was not carried by the large section of media, and there were only few commentators who took it up for analysis. While Congress supporters did outpour their anguish through protests and filing of some cases, the RSS itself distanced itself from this statement. Tarun Vijay of BJP, with RSS background, also dissociated BJP form this statement. Interestingly even while distancing BJP from Sudarhsan’s statement he made it a point to pay compliments to the intellect of K. Sudarshan.
Overall even the other people from RSS stable were mild enough to dissociate themselves from the outpouring of their ex- Chief and one of the longest serving leaders of RSS. Still they did not condemn Sudarshan. They reverentially upheld the high level of his intellect. There is nothing surprising about RSS combine not condemning him, and there are deeper reasons for the same. What Sudarshan said was not a flash in the pan but its’ what RSS probably believes, that’s why Sudarshan is not condemned, as a matter of fact one can see the ‘logic’ of his saying, this statement of his, is just the further extension of the ideology of RSS.
RSS core ideology is based around looking at the society through communal angle. Communal view of society looks at peoples’ interests, material and otherwise only through the prism of religion. According to this ideology all Hindus have similar interests; all Christians have similar interests and so on. This communal ideology begins with ‘sameness of the interests’ of one religious community and than goes on so say that interests of two religious communities are different from each other. And in the next stage it asserts that the interests between two religious communities are irreconcilable and hostile to each other.
According to this ideology a Hindu industrialist and the Hindu beggar are supposed to have similar interests! A Muslim entrepreneur and a Muslim sweeper or beggar is supposed to have similar interests. So a Hindu king in History and poor Hindu farmer-Shudra are on the same page. It looks at history as unified Hindu community standing against others and so on, as if all Hindu Kings were hunky dory with each other and supping with the Shudras and poor peasants of society. The communal ideology, irrespective of any religions in whose name it operates, changes the horizontal social differences into vertical ones’. The society has divisions according the rich and poor, privileged and deprived. According to this ideology what matters is the vertical divisions according to one’s religion. This ideology as such focuses on issues of identity and undermines the real worldly problems. It is an attempt to undermine and sweep under the carpet the unjust social system, where the major contradiction is social and economic. It is a way to hide one’s birth based privileges under the guise of religion. Religion is a potent instrument as faith is its central component. Abuse of faith for political goals generates blind social hysteria, which is used to promote the political and social agenda of communal organizations. This pattern applies to all the faith-religion based politics.
In India communal ideology, both Muslim and Hindu, developed in opposition to the democratic secular ideology which looked at people in their primary Indian identity. The communal ideology originated from amongst elites, landlords-kings, their associated clergy and middle class followers and ideologues.
So while these communal ideologies may look hostile to each other at surface, essentially their roots are same, their values are the same, they operate on the same social logic and dynamics. Those elements, entrenched in the social privileges talk of identity issues while those struggling to make both ends meet talk of the worldly issues, problems related to daily life. We can see the rudiments of this in teachings of Lord Gautam Buddha who talked of the misery of the society, the deprivations of society and against the caste system. His influence was systematically undone by projecting that this World is an illusion, (Jagat Mythya: Brahm Satyam). The attack on Buddhism also symbolized the ascendance of exploitative caste system and the economic system which went with it. During medieval period also we see that most of the kings, irrespective of their religion patronized the clergy (Raj Guru with Hindu kings, Shahi Imam with Muslim kings, alliance between King and the Pope in Europe). The clergy is more interested in rituals and preservation of ‘status quo’ of the system.
Contrary to this, the saints of religions focused on the moral values and used religions’ moral values as binding glue for the society, cutting across religious divides. Same saints talked of ‘problems of this world’. Kabir in one of his dohas (couplet) tells us that if one can get God by worshipping a stone idol, why not worship the whole mountain. He points out that the Chakki (Grinding stone) is more important than the idols of God. Same way he criticizes Mullahs for emphasizing on mosque and shouting to get people in the mosque. The contrast in the social interests of exploiters and exploited is reflected in the patterns of clergy on one side and saints on the other.
Coming back to communal streams, Muslim and Hindu, both harped on similar things and opposed the process of social change which was accompanying the freedom movement. Freedom movement, from which Muslim League, Hindu Mahasabha-RSS remained aloof, was aiming not just to get rid of British rule but was also the harbinger of caste and gender transformation in the society. It was also the beginning of the talk of economic justice and was against imperialism.
So when RSS sees a Sonia Gandhi, at the helm of affairs of the major rival party, they do not see a person, an Indian citizen, they only see a Christian. Sudarshan, a die hard RSS ideologue, is merely telling us the details of RSS belief system. And of course Sudarshan is the one who has headed RSS for nearly a decade and has been with this organization he served for close to five decades! Who can tell us more about RSS belief system than him?
These contradictions, beliefs and overt expression, are bound to be there for organizations which are communal and want Religion based state. For Sudarshan-RSS the goal is a Hindu state. At the same time they want to use the democratic space given by present Indian Constitution. They have to play a delicate balancing role most of the times and so many of their swaymasevaks do what is desired by their politics, but RSS can’t own it overtly. This is not the first time such a thing has happened. Gandhi murder (Nathuram Godse), murder of Pastor Stains (Dara Singh), Pramod Mutalik’s antics (Sri Ram Sene), communal violence and all that is the outcome of divisive sectarian ideology. RSS wants to usurp democracy and strengthen communal politics, but it can’t be stated publicly as the limits of democratic norms will be breached. So this balance, some one says or does something but the organization disowns it, overtly only, and that too with due respect for the person concerned.