Hindu dharma is implicitly at odds with monotheistic intolerance. What is happening in India is a new historical awakening... Indian intellectuals, who want to be secure in their liberal beliefs, may not understand what is going on. But every other Indian knows precisely what is happening: deep down he knows that a larger response is emerging even if at times this response appears in his eyes to be threatening.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

RSS & Minorities

R.S.S. believes in the plural structure of society. Therefore, it recognizes that there is bound to be a majority-minority syndrome, and hence each group, whether in the majority or minority, will have a distinct identity and distinct character. Hindu philosophy, to which R.S.S. is committed, accepts and appreciates diversities. Even nature abhors uniformity.

Basis of Minority Character

But the majority-minority distinctions must be restricted to the bases on which the minority character is sought to be claimed. For example, we can have religion as a basis for being a minority; so also we can have language as another basis for being a minority. Our constitution recognizes both these types of minorities. (see Article 30.) Every minority, whether based on religion or language, will have a distinct identity, special problems and special aspirations. These specialities must be recognized and, subject to moral order and general law, must be protected.

The problem arises when a particular minority transgresses the basis of its minority character and assumes a political one. What is true of a linguist minority is equally true of a religious minority. According to our thinking there is no political minority, because every individual has a vote of equal value. No minority-member's vote has less value than that of a majority - member. So all laws that govern the behaviour of citizens must be the same for all.

RSS Stand on Sikhs

We regard the Sikh religion as a separate religion, but we regard the Sikh people as belonging to our Samaj. When we say that they are a part of the one great Hindu Samaj, we do not deny the existence of their separate religion and separate beliefs. Hindu Samaj is a commonwealth of many religions. It includes idol worshippers as well as those that are against idol worship. It includes those who accept the authority of the Vedas as well as those who do not. They are all included in the wider Hindu conceptualization.

No RSS Invention

This is not an R.S.S. invention. It has been there for centuries. This is recognized also by our constitution. Explanation II given under Article 25 says, "In sub-clause (b) of clause (2) the reference to Hindus shall be construed as including a reference to persons professing the Sikh, Jain or Buddhist religion, and the reference to Hindu religious institutions shall be construed accordingly." It should be noted that the Hindu Code Bill, though it contains the word 'Hindu', is applicable to Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists. We desire that it should be applicable to all, including the Christians and the Muslims, as is envisaged in Article 44 of our constitution.

The basic postulate is that 'Hindu' is not a religion but a way of life, or more precisely a certain value-system or culture. One of the basic tenets of this value system is to accept the validity of all faiths and religions. If we deny this plurality, we will cease to be Hindus. Many Sikhs attend the R.S.S. Shakhas, but nobody is asked to remove his beard or his pugree. R.S.S. will never try to obliterate the identity of the Sikhs. That will be against the very grain of the R.S.S.

Pope's Discordant Note

As for Christianity or Islam, we desire that they too should fall in line of accepting the validity of other religions. The Millennium Peace Summit, which was held in New York in August 1999, adopted a declaration that they consider all religions equal. We want that the Christian and Islam religions give their approval to this declaration, which is signed by about one thousand religious leaders of various denominations. Surprisingly His Holiness the Pope struck a discordant note and declared that the Roman Catholic Church cannot accept other religions as equal. We wonder whether this is in consonance with the fundamentals of our constitution.

RSS against Mass Conversions

R.S.S. is against mass conversion, which is carried on by various churches by means both fair and foul. To allow a tolerant person to embrace an exclusionist belief is to turn him into an intolerant person. For this reason R.S.S. is against the proselytizing activities of Christians churches.

RSS not against any religion, but some religions are extremely intolerant of other religions. Why could 5% Hindus not live with dignity and honour in the Kashmir valley? Why do Riangs have to flee from their homes in Mizoram? We wonder whether there is any commission to look into their grievances.

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