Hindutva is the philosophy of samatva or equality. Bharat’s independence realised swarajya but did not manifest the “svatva” (selfhood) of the nation under the leadership of Pt Jawaharlal Nehru or his successors. Dr Ambedkar vehemently argued in the constituent assembly to bring forth a political system based on ancient Bharat’s ethos. One of the dimensions of AatmaNirbhar Bharat is social justice
Semitics often create the dichotomy among human beings into conflicting classes like believers and non-believers, bourgeoisie (capitalists) and proletariat (workers), superior and inferior races, masters and slaves, blacks and whites etc. Attempts to reform such differences were based on artificial uniformity. Semitic religions have one God and one religion but believe in at least two humanities of believers and non-believers. But Hindus have multiple Gods and many religions but believe in one humanity. Our motto is to make the entire world noble (krinvanto vishwam aryam) and not create and maintain a privileged class of nobles.
Hindutva is the philosophy of samatva or equality. “Samatva” is the sameness of the mind towards everything, not only human beings but also all living beings. Hindu concept of equality emanates from the view that every human being and living creature are part of the same universal soul; thus, human differentiation is meaningless. Atma has no race, caste or gender.
In the social plane, equality emanates from the concept of family. Entire society is an extended family. Almost all Indian social institutions are modelled on the family concept that has been in exist ence for thousands of years and continue even today. The concept of equality became revolutionary in the 20th century when the first Article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was declared: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” But, about five thousand years ago, the oldest literature of human history, Rig Veda (5.60.5) had declared the same: “No one is superior (ajyestaso) or inferior (akanishtasa). All are brothers (ete Bhrataraha). All should strive for the interest of all and should progress collectively (sowbhagaya sam vavridhuh)”.
Rig Veda concludes with Rishi Samvanana’s famous incantation of equality or “sam-jnana sukta” (Rig Veda 10.191). It is a clarion call to the entire society to march together with oneness in heart and intellect. The word “sam” means mainly equality, unity, equanimity or peace in different contexts in Vedic and later Sanskrit literature. Srimad Bhagavata says in the ideal Krita Yuga, there was only one social class, known as hamsa or human, to which all human beings belonged- “Eko varna eva cha”. Srimad Bhagavad Gita descriptively enumerates several highly evolved personalities, and a common feature of many of them is that they look at everything with a vision of equality- “sama darsinah”, “samam pasyatih”, etc. Adi Sankaracharya says in ‘Nirvana Ashtakam’, there is no caste difference – “na me jati bhedah”.
Equality is a concept deeply rooted in Hindu thought, even though in recent centuries, it was camouflaged by a rotten system imposed in the course of history due to various reasons.
The Narendra Modi Government was formed as the true manifestation of the aspirations of the nationalists in India, probably for the first of its kind after 1000 years of foreign aggressions and foreign rule. The Government sits on the top of a tower of expectations and is looked upon as representing India’s awakening self. It is worth remembering that on the May 12, 2020, Shri Narendra Modi declared a third stage in the developmental efforts of post-Independent India – the “AatmaNirbhar Bharat” (self-sustaining India); after the two failed mutually conflicting experiments of Pt Nehru’s Russian model of Socialism and Dr Manmohan Singh’s US model of globalisation. The Monument of Equality unveiled recently is a powerful symbol of one step ahead in the realisation of AatmaNirbhar Bharat. Statue of unity erected in Narmada Valley and statue of unity in Hyderabad represent the national soul’s high aspirations.
Legacy of Dr Ambedkar on Equality
Dr Ambedkar’s dreams of completing his mission of social equality could not be fulfilled because of the hostility shown by the Congress and Communist brigade of politicians at that time. Jawaharlal Nehru joined hands with the Communists in opposing Dr Ambedkar in his later years; in contrast, no Congress candidate was fielded against Sri A K Gopalan, a Communist leader in the election. Comrade S A Dange openly campaigned, saying, “You may spoil your votes, but don’t vote for Ambedkar”. At that time, Dr Ambedkar received solace and support from RSS. RSS pracharak Sri Dattopant Thengadi was his election convenor in the Bhandara by-election in 1954 with the blessings of Shri Guruji Golwalkar. Unfortunately, this formal joining with the RSS movement took place a few years before his Nirvana, as was the case of many such great leaders of India.
Dr Ambedkar’s dreams of completing his mission of social equality could not be fulfilled because of the hostility shown by the Congress and Communist brigade of politicians at that time. Jawaharlal Nehru joined Hands with the Communists in opposing Dr Ambedkar in his later years; in contrast, no congress candidate was fielded against Sri A K Gopalan, a communist leader in the election
RSS continued the legacy of Dr Ambedkar’s work of achieving social equality in its paces of history. Both Mahatma Gandhiji and Dr Ambedkar were amazed and complimented the social equality they saw in front of their eyes in RSS shakha when they visited it. Dr Ambedkar visited an RSS camp at Pune in 1939 and commented: “This is the first time I am visiting the camp of Sangh volunteers. I am happy to find absolute equality between Savarniyas (Upper Caste) and Harijans (Lower Caste) without anyone being aware of such differences existing.” It was similar to what Dr Ambedkar envisioned about social equality.
Social Equality and the Sangh
- The genuinely sensitive training that RSS cadre received in the Shakhas is that when they mingle and play together at the Shakhas or stay together in camps, asking each other’s caste is taboo, as witnessed by both Dr Ambedkar and Gandhiji.
- Shri Guruji Golwalkar initiated Vishwa Hindu Parishad bringing all Dharmacharyas, including Sankaracharyas, together, where it was unanimously declared through a resolution that there is no sanction for untouchability in the Hindu religion.
- Shri Guruji deputed Sri Balasaheb Deshpande to work among tribals which later led to the formation of Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram in 1977, which is now the largest Hindu organisation of tribals in India.
- Under the initiative of RSS, VHP etc., a conference of Saints proclaimed a slogan popularised nationwide: “Hindavaha Sodaraha Sarvey, Na Hindu Patito Bhavet, Mama Diksha Hindu Raksha, Mama Mantra Samanata” (All Hindus are brothers, no Hindu is inferior, my duty is to protect Hindus, equality is my motto)]
- How former RSS Sarkaryavah Shri H.V. Sheshadri handled the mass conversion of the backward section in Meenakshipuram, Tamil Nadu, in 1981 was a turning point towards Hindu unity.
- Sri Deorasji reiterated ‘Roti Beti Vyavahar,’ i.e. dining together and inter-caste marriages. He also informed that RSS workers had the highest number of inter-caste marriages compared to all social organisations.
- The foundation stone for Ram Mandir in Ayodhya under the leadership of VHP was laid by Shri Kameshwar Choppal, a Dalit.
- VHP called non-Dalit Hindus to ‘befriend at least one Dalit family’ and dine with Dalit Hindus.
- Under the silent effort of late Shri P Madhavji, an RSS pracharak in Kerala, Sri Sankaracharya Jayendra Saraswati of Kamakoti during his Chaturmasya Vrata at Guruvayur, Kerala, gave certificate of the priesthood to 29 trained non-Brahmins, including Dalits.
- Under the initiative of RSS activists, the revolutionary “Paliyam Declaration” by a body of orthodox Kerala Brahmins and priests declared that “Brahminhood is not by birth but by cultural purity.”
- VHP and other organisations performed reconversions (Paravartan or Ghar Wapasi) of different castes lost to other religions for various reasons.
- RSS resolution in Nagpur Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhisabha on 15-3-2015, to have ‘one well, one temple, one crematorium’ in every village throughout the country.
- BJP has had the largest number of SC/ ST Lok Sabha MPs for the last several years.
- The NDA Government’s Pancha Tirtha project setting up a pilgrims’ circuit between five places of significance in Dr Ambedkar’s life.
- RSS platform- “Samajik Samrasata Manch” to achieve social equality has its activities spread to every part of the nation.
Shri Balasaheb Deoras, the third Sar Sanghchalak of RSS, was firm in his call to Swayamsevaks on social equality. He says in his inimitable strong words (Booklet: ‘Social Equality and Hindu Consolidation’): “Social inequality amongst us has been a reason for our downfall. Fissiparous tendencies like caste and sub-caste rivalries and untouchability have all been the manifestation of this social inequality.……. Whatever be its origin, all of us consider that untouchability is a terrible folly, and it must, of necessity, be thrown out lock, stock and barrel.………. If untouchability is not wrong, then nothing in the world is wrong!” In the Talaja Camp, he said: “Our goal is an equality-based and exploitation free Hindu society.” This was when many other organisations belonging to the anti-RSS brigade were actively trying to flourish on divisions on a caste basis, indulging in adversarial and divisive hate campaigns, thereby creating hurdles in Hindu solidarity.
High on Rhetoric, Low on Deeds
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) – CPI(M), has always been at the forefront to pay lip-service to Dalits and women leaders, projecting itself as emancipators of those sections. However, unlike other ‘bourgeoisie’ political parties, CPI(M) has never admitted a Dalit leader to its apex decision-making body, the politburo. For a party that fervently champions the cause of women and marginalised, the CPI(M) has been facing severe criticism for maintaining its Brahminic and patriarchy since its inception.
In a recent interview with a Malayalam daily, CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury has put the blame on the ‘Hindu social order’ for its failure in admitting Dalits to the politburo. The CPI(M) General Secretary revealed that the party could not appoint a Dalit member to its top office due to ‘historical reasons’. “CPI(M) has no Dalit members in its politburo due to historical reasons which should have been sorted out long ago. It is not an issue of CPI(M) alone. Our society has always been very exploitative in nature. Only upper castes had the right to access knowledge and education. Naturally, they get acquainted with new ideas,” he said in an interview with Malayala Manorama daily.
Arguing that CPI(M) is not a casteist organisation, Yechury said they do not see Dalits as Dalits but as Dalit Communists! “Being Communist is more important than representation based on caste,” he added.
He also said that the upper caste domination in CPI(M) is apparently coming to an end and claimed that there are two Muslims and a Christian, along with two women, in the politburo!
When it was pointed out that both the women members belong to upper castes, Sitaram Yechury ‘explicitly’ said, “The reason is historical. We are fighting against that. Class struggle stands erect on two legs-social exploitation and social oppression. Both legs need to move. Only then we can walk or run!” In fact, CPI(M) got its first woman politburo member, Brinda Karat, in 2005 when her husband Prakash Karat became the general secretary. In addition, it is pertinent to note that all the five general secretaries of the party have been upper-caste men!
But BJP, the party which the CPI(M) accuses of being casteist, has maximum number of persons from Scheduled Castes as MPs and MLAs.
Dr Ambedkar wrote about his concern about how the tribals living in forests are neglected by Hindu society. But RSS Swayamsevaks started Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram and initially worked under the guidance of Sri Takkar Bappa. Dr Ambedkar conducted agitations and Satyagraha for the entry into Kala Ram Temple of Nasik in 1935 but could not succeed in the attempt in his lifetime. But RSS continued that mission. In 1981, RSS workers led into the temple a team of 5 Dalit leaders who participated in that agitation to light the lamp in the temple, which should have heartened Dr Ambedkar very much if he was alive.
Bharat’s Independence realised Swarajya but did not manifest the “svatva” of the nation under the leadership of Pt Jawaharlal Nehru or his successors. After attaining independence, there were several occasions when Bharat could have blossomed itself through its svatva but missed it miserably. Dr Ambedkar vehemently argued in the constituent assembly to bring forth a political system based on ancient Bharat’s ethos taking inspiration from his passionate Buddhist principles. But unfortunately, the barristers and others sitting in the august body debated whether India should adopt the British model of the Prime Ministerial system or the American model of the Presidential system. Finally, they adopted the British model.
Dr Ambedkar visited an RSS camp at Pune in 1939 and commented: “This is the first time I am visiting the camp of Sangh volunteers. I am happy to find absolute equality between Savarniyas (Upper Caste) and Harijans (Lower Caste) without anyone being aware of such differences existing.” It was similar to what Dr Ambedkar envisioned about social equality
Dr Ambedkar is known as the architect of the Indian constitution who inducted the concepts of equality and social justice in our basic law. But he is also present in the annals of history as the architect of an equitable labour law system. He is instrumental in shaping most of the basic labour laws of the country that attempted to provide equal rights to the country’s workers. After about 70 years, his dream of universal labour rights for workers was carried forward by the present Modi Government. It has legislated the Code on Wages, 2019, which Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh terms as historic and revolutionary; since for the first time in the history of labour laws in India, the last worker is given the right to minimum wages. This is a significant step towards achieving economic and social equality in Indian society. Thus, to conclude, an equitable society is in the offing; it is the time of AatmaNirbhar Bharat.