Showing posts with label Bharatiya Janata Party. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bharatiya Janata Party. Show all posts

Hinduism - What Is The Rashtriya Svayamsevak Sangh Or RSS?


Dr. K. B. Hedgewar formed the Rashtriya Svayamsevak Sangh  ("National Volunteer Corps," afterwards RSS) Hindu nationalist movement in 1925.

The RSS has adhered to Hindutva values from its founding, believing that Hindus are a nation despite geographical, linguistic, and cultural distinctions.

The RSS has long been known as a cultural and character-building organization that has avoided direct political action for most of its existence, yet wielding tremendous power via its numerous linked groups.

RSS training emphasizes devotion, obedience, discipline, and commitment to the Hindu nation's growth, but it discourages the formation of independent thinking.

The daily meetings of its local units, known as shakhas ("branches"), are at the center of its program.

Members, known as svayamsevaks ("volunteers"), spend part of their time at these meetings playing games, part of their time doing martial arts drills (including sparring with sticks), and part of their time debating and learning RSS beliefs.

A full-time RSS worker known as a pracharak ("director") administers the shakhas in any particular region, serving as a bridge between the local units and the RSS leadership and overseeing RSS operations in his area.

The RSS is an aristocratic group whose self-proclaimed objective is to offer leadership for a resurgent Hindu India.

The majority of its members will never get beyond the local level, but those that do are astonishingly efficient and successful leaders.

Although the RSS has avoided direct activity in order to protect its self-proclaimed cultural focus, it has had a significant impact via the development of allied organizations for which it has supplied leadership.

From labor and student unions to service groups, religious organizations like the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), and political parties like the Bharatiya Janata Party, these organizations may be found at every level of Indian society.

The RSS has produced some very successful leaders, but it has also sparked a lot of debate.

One explanation for this is that it is a very authoritarian institution modeled after the Hindu joint family.

All power is concentrated in the hands of a single supreme leader, the sarsanghchalak, and it is passed down from there.

In this regard, the RSS is very undemocratic, and many of its critics, notably in politics, have expressed concern about it being the controlling hand behind its associated groups.

Other critics have expressed concern about the organization's anti-Muslim and anti-Christian tone—non-Hindus were not permitted to join until 1979—a tone based in Hindutva ideology.

Finally, I have a social reservation regarding the RSS.

The RSS has always condemned untouchability and claimed that there are no caste disparities inside its ranks; in line with its Hindutva traditions, it declares that all of its members are Hindus and Hindus exclusively.

However, opponents have pointed out that the majority of RSS members are from the brahmin and other privileged castes, and that all of the RSS's leaders are brahmins.

These opponents argue that such apparent denial of caste distinctions is a ruse to maintain brahmin power and hide who the RSS genuinely represents.

For more information, see Walter K. Andersen and Shridhar D. Damle, The Brotherhood in Saffron (1987); K.

Jayaprasad, The RSS and Hindu Nationalism (1991); Daniel Gold, "Organized Hinduisms: From Vedic Truth to Hindu Nation," in Martin Marty and R. Scott Appleby (eds. ), Fundamentalisms Observed (1991); Tapan Basu et al. 

Hinduism - What Is The Philosophy And Notion Of Hindutva In Contemporary India?


 (“Hindu-ness”) Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, a political figure, was the first to propose the notion.

It was initially published in a booklet named Hindutva/Who is a Hindu? and serves as the foundation for current Hindu nationalism.

Despite their strong geographical, cultural, linguistic, and religious diversity, Savarkar's argument was that Hindus were a nation; moreover, he defined a Hindu as anybody who regarded India both fatherland and sacred country.

This wide concept included all of the diversity seen in Hindu culture in India.

However, it was evident that it was aiming for the lowest common denominator.

Rather than abstract concepts of being "Hindu," most Indians' identities are generally founded on real regional, linguistic, or sectarian reasons.

However, it is vital to highlight who this broad definition excludes: India's most prominent minorities, Muslims and Christians, who are ostracized because of their "foreign" sacred places.

According to this view, Hindus "belong" in India merely by being Hindus, but Muslims and Christians, regardless of how long their family have resided in India, are always considered outsiders.

The Rashtriya Svayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a modern conservative Hindu organization, and its allied groups, primarily the Vishva Hindu Parishad, and to a lesser degree the Bharatiya Janata Party, hold Hindutva philosophy as a core tenet.

Hindutva values are also popular in Hindu-nationalist groups like the Shiv Sena, which blend Hindu and regional identities.

Christophe Jaffrelot, The Hindu Nationalist Movement in India, 1996, is a good source of information. 


You may also want to read more about Hinduism here.

Be sure to check out my writings on religion here.



Hinduism - What Is The Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP)?








The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is a modern Indian political party with significant Hindu nationalist (Hindutva) roots. 



Many of the BJP's leaders have been RSS members for decades. 

The party was founded as the political arm of the Hindu nationalist group Rashtriya Svayamsevak Sangh (RSS). 



After the collapse of its parent organization, the Jana Sangh, the BJP was established in 1980. 


  • The latter was also an RSS branch, with many of its leaders, including Lal Krishna Advani and Atal Behari Vajpayee, serving as BJP leaders. 
  • The BJP initially adopted a moderate political position and performed badly in the 1984 elections, gaining just two seats. 
  • It took on a much more militant tone in the late 1980s, focusing on the drive to construct the Ram Janam Bhumi temple in Ayodhya as its central concern. 




The BJP gained 86 seats in 1989 and 120 seats in 1991 as the Indian electorate became increasingly religiously divided. 


  • It gained 160 seats in India's 535-seat Parliament in the 1996 elections, making it the biggest single political party in the country. 
  • The Indian president asked the BJP to form a government, but it was unable to do so because it lacked the necessary backing from other parties to obtain a majority of votes in Parliament. 




Brahmins and members of the trade communities, both of whom are religiously orthodox and supportive of the Hindutva ideology, have been the BJP's traditional constituency. 


  • In the mid-1990s, the BJP toned down its Hindu nationalist rhetoric in an effort to broaden its appeal outside its core supporters by moving closer to the political center. 
  • Despite these improvements, the BJP continues to be viewed with mistrust by many established secular parties, which have refused to form an alliance with it. 
  • The BJP's failure to rally such support from the general public was a key reason in the short-lived government's demise in 1996. 
  • The nation was then led by a coalition of thirteen secular political parties united in their opposition to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). 



However, the BJP has been successful in forming coalitions to establish governments since 1998, and the BJP is presently the ruling party in India winning both the 2014 and 2019 general elections with unprecedented landslide victories







Walter K. Andersen and Shridhar D. Damle's book The Brotherhood in Saffron was published in 1987, while Christophe Jaffrelot's book The Hindu Nationalist Movement in India was published in 1996.



You may also want to read more about Hinduism here.

Be sure to check out my writings on religion here.