While protesting the naming of the second campus of Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biology after Guruji Golwalkar, Shashi Tharoor, in his tweets, has objected on grounds that Guru Golwalkar was “a bigoted Hitler-admirer”. Here, I will analyse the claim whether he was really “a bigoted Hitler-admirer” as the secularists and intellectuals routinely allege.
Guruji, as MS Golwalkar, is popularly addressed, has written two books: We, our Nationhood Defined (1938) and Bunch of Thoughts (1966). We, or our Nationhood Defined (henceforth addressed as “We”) was Guruji’s maiden attempt at writing. In its foreword, he describes We as an adaptation of Rashtra Mimansa, a Marathi book by G.D. Savarkar (elder brother of Veer Savarkar). A first attempt at writing with largely borrowed contents, We turned out to be a befuddled book so much so that it was withdrawn from circulation after few years. Guruji’s lasting and mature views are contained in Bunch of Thoughts. However, the majority of Guruji’s quotations are picked up from this booklet only. This is even when Guruji was not even RSS head at that time and he later disowned We. Notwithstanding, let us focus on the very We which is a darling of Indian secularists.
We has one—yeah, exactly one—paragraph which has been quoted in almost every scholarly critique of Hindu nationalism to prove his supposed love for Hitler. Let me reproduce that paragraph verbatim:
To keep up the purity of the Race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of Semantic races—the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how nigh impossible it is for Races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindusthan to learn and profit by.
This is the only 3-sentence paragraph in 77-page We that at all mentions something that brings blame on Guruji for being a Nazi and Hitler-lover. Yet, that something is not Hitler or Nazi or Fascism which his critiques—too lazy to verify the primary source— often allege. He mentions Germany. By 1938 when the book was written, the world war had not yet started. Germany was admired the world over, esp. in India, for standing up to Britain which had colonised India for 200 years then. Germany was seen as “infant pupil of the old Imperilaist England and France”.
Coming to Guruji’s utterance, he says in his first sentence that the example of Germany with regard to racial purity is, well, shocking (“Germany shocked the world…”). I am sure that shocking does not connote the sense of inspirational or imitable. In the second sentence, he says that race pride has been manifested in the example of Germany. Stating a fact but doesn’t amount to endorsing it. Thus, a closer look at first two sentences of the problematic paragraph does not pose any problem. Isn’t it, Mr. Tharoor?
But let’s still play Tharoor’s advocate. Coming to the third sentence from the above paragraph that Germany’s example shows that it is nearly impossible for different cultures with differences going to the root to be assimilated into one united whole? Guruji here admittedly errs in asking India to learn from a Western (i.e. German) template of nationalism. And this was precisely the reason for the withdrawing of We from circulation as his views evolved further. Time gave him enough room to revise his opinions but to this we will come later in a while.
Coming back to the oft-repeated criticism that he was “a bigoted Hitler-admirer”. Can we trace any love for Hitlerism or National Socialism (Nazi) or Fascism from the above paragraph which is allegedly supposed to be giving away his Hitlerism? Or any approval for Holocaust or concentration camps or anything that even remotely came to be identified with Nazism? And just keep in mind that the above is the only paragraph in his entire set of copious writings, interviews and speeches where he ever talks of Germany of that time (but never of Hitler or Nazism etc.) Guruji penned We, in 1938, after just one year of holding office in RSS and the mistake admittedly was to define Indian nationalism in the mould of Western nationalism. Guruji lived 35 more years after its penning. Can anyone quote even one reference endorsing Nazi ideology or its crimes? However, the lie has been peddled that Guruji was pro-Hitler and pro-Nazi. Words have been put in his mouth by loaded and selective quoting. The perspicacious Koenraad Elst laments this plain intellectual dishonesty:
“Trying to corner an opponent with an unfortunate but peripheral quotation from his own past works is considered intellectually dishonest and just not sportsmanlike. How radically different is the treatment which Golwalkar gets when his mature writings are quoted only rarely as compared with his first booklet, We. Not just Golwalkar individually, but the whole Hindu nationalist movement till today is harangued about these dinosaur quotations, which very few present-day RSS or BJP men have even read.”
The foregone conclusion is that Guruji was a pro-Hitler Nazi. Goes without saying that BJP and RSS are Nazis as well. The iron grip of these “intellectuals” on media and academia has ensured that the general public, too lazy to verify facts by themselves, somehow comes to believe that BJP and its ideological mentor, RSS, have had some past connection with Hitler. In contrast, let me ask, how many of us do know about Integral Humanism which is actually the guiding philosophy of the largest political party (BJP) of the largest democracy of world (India)? Hardly. This is the power of propaganda—you get accused of what you neither said nor even mentioned but what you actually said, meant and subscribed to gets omitted.