Javed Anand: The vishwaguru fantasy

NB: The Sangh Parivar is obsessed with the goal of rectifying history. They are still fighting with the Mughals; still dreaming of military glory while the world burns. At some point people will understand that Akhand Bharat and Hindu Rashtra are mutually incompatible ideals, but in the meantime millions will suffer the cruelties and injustice of communal hatred and violence. Communal politics and each and every variety is disguised atheism, it only wears the mask of religion. But some lessons come very late. DS

Javed Anand: The vishwaguru fantasy

So which is the real Mohan Bhagwat? The one who, while addressing swayamsevaks at the RSS headquarters in Nagpur on June 2, advised Hindus not to go looking for a ‘Shivling’ in every mosque? Or the one who in the course of the same speech squarely blamed Indian Muslims for repeatedly testing the patience of Hindus with their provocative words and deeds? Hindu society does not accept any form of extremism, he asserted, while claiming that the same cannot be said of Indian Muslims. So is the victim being named the accused?

Forget the ugly reality of today’s hate-filled, conflict-torn India where Hindutva’s zealots are forever opening new fronts to hound and hurt Indian Muslims. Welcome to the make-believe, fantasy world of the RSS chief. What is today known as Hindu religion, we are told, is the very same “world religion”, “religion for all humanity” enunciated by India’s rishi-munis in ancient times. The essence of this world religion lies in love for all, unity in diversity, respect for all forms of worship and faith, believing in and practicing “manavta, sabka saath, sabka vikaas”. Haven’t we heard that before?

The world today, said Bhagwat, is in urgent need of a universal vision and the hour is near for India to step forward and guide the world, be the “vishwaguru”. For this to happen people of India (religion no bar) have to come together. That should not be difficult. Though the form of worship of Indian Muslims may be “foreign”, they remain our “blood relations”, share the same ancestry and heritage, said the RSS chief. Equivocation? Hope still for Indian Muslims?

Unfortunately for Bhagwat, by their derogatory remarks against Prophet Mohammed, the BJP’s now-suspended spokesperson, Nupur Sharma, and the expelled head of the media cell of the party’s Delhi unit, Navin Kumar Jindal have ruined the whole show. The self-proclaimed “vishwaguru” is currently having a hard time convincing the world that it in fact respects all religions. Is all talk of “world religion”, the tall claim of Hindu exceptionalism and the vishwaguru proclamation nothing but jumlas?

Sharma’s remarks incidentally had hit the headlines several days before Bhagwat’s Nagpur meeting. His homilies would perhaps have carried some credibility had he named Sharma and castigated her in his speech for her “un-Hindu” conduct. But then, be it Sharma or Yati Narsinghanand or numerous others of their ilk, the RSS chief never takes names, sticks to generalities that offend none. With governments of 15 Muslim majority countries demanding an official apology from the BJP-led government of India, the offending remarks were sought to be wished away as coming from “fringe elements.” A tacit admission that the fringe now occupies the Centre?

Perhaps the bruised and battered Muslim community should nonetheless be grateful for small mercies, be thankful to the RSS chief for asking Hindus not to go looking for a Shivling in every mosque in the country. On the current Gyanvapi mosque dispute Bhagwat has opined that it is among the few temples which are of special significance (vishesh shraddha) to Hindus. It would be best if the two sides sat together and arrived at an amicable solution, failing which both sides must unreservedly respect the verdict of the courts. The RSS chief added that “contrary to its nature”, the organisation got involved in the Ramjanmabhoomi movement for “certain historical reasons” but it does not intend to be part of any such movement now. The question remains: where will the RSS stand when “others” launch a movement or the Modi-government decides to repeal the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991? (Bhagwat made no reference to the Act in his speech).

In any case, the mandir-masjid dispute is not the only one that plagues current day India. In the past eight years of the Modi-led government, Hindutva’s hate factory has developed the fine art of forever manufacturing new issues to target Muslims. Far from acting to contain the menace, forget others, even the Prime Minister (a former RSS pracharak) effectively supports the hate-Muslims agenda with his dog-whistles from time to time. Only the willfully blind will fail to see that thanks to Hindutva’s unrelenting 24/7 propaganda Muslims today are hated as never before. And to any form of Muslim resistance to the unceasing assaults against the community, be it the BJP government at the Centre or in the states, the default response now is UAPA, NSA, sedition charge and the bulldozer.

While Bhagwat is feeding us the vishwaguru fantasy, reputed international organisations including Genocide Watch are warning of an impending genocide of Indian Muslims. In December last year, at a meeting of the RSS-VHP inspired Dharam Sansad, Hindu religious leaders publicly called for the genocide of Indian Muslims. Till date, neither the RSS chief nor the Prime Minister of India has said a word in condemnation of this open incitement of to mass murder. Such deafening silence on a matter of life and death makes one wonder whether the RSS chief inhabits a parallel universe or is he feeding us a lie.

In February 2018, the RSS chief made a stunning statement at a meeting of the organisation in Muzaffarpur: “Preparing an army takes six to seven months but we [RSS cadres] will be battle ready in two-three days…this is our capability and discipline that marks us apart.” An impressive army, no doubt. Could it be his case that none from his mammoth countrywide network of the RSS-spawned sangh parivar has anything to do with unceasing attacks on the minority community, or with Hindutva’s Hate Factory’s ongoing, ever intensifying hate-Muslims, hate-Islam campaign? Isn’t all this happening under the watch of the BJP governments at the Centre and the states? What else is the BJP but the political wing of the RSS?

Recall the popular TV ad some years ago in which Amitabh Bachchan tries to hoodwink a little boy into parting with his soft drink bottle. The boys response: “Aap mujhe ulloo samajhte hain (Do you think I am a fool?) Similar is the feeling of Indian Muslims in response to Bhagwat’s homilies on manavta et al which run parallel to Hindutva’s continuing onslaught on the community.


(The writer is convener, Indian Muslims for Secular Democracy and co-editor, Sabrang India online).