At the end of World War II, the world witnessed the rapid emergence of newly independent countries unshackling themselves from the clutches of weakening colonial powers. Bharat was in the fore-front of countries in obtaining Independence to chart its own destiny. Hindus in Bharat as well as those throughout the world saw these changes and opportunities that arose with declining colonial rule.
Bharat finally obtained its Independence on August 15, 1947, although this Independence came after a painful and horrific Partition of Hindus’ historic and spiritual home-land. During the violent cataclysmic event of the Partition of the historic land, the world witnessed one of the largest migrations and mass slaughter of people ever seen in recorded history, with the Hindus bearing the brunt of the killings and forcible displacement—an overwhelmingly majority of the Hindu population was driven out of West and East Pakistan Bangladesh.
It was through this ultimate ordeal under which Hindus finally obtained their Independence after one thousand years of brutal occupation by hostile, genocidal, non-Hindu force that Hindus of an independent Bharat and those residing outside Bharat hoped to build their future.
However, even in an independent Bharat, Hindu interests were compromised due to various factors. They faced problems not only within Bharat, but all over the world. The problems they faced were more profound in Pakistan and Bangladesh, where the Hindus suffered numerous instances of mass genocide, forcible displacement and conversion. Those living in other parts of the world such as the Caribbean, Africa, Mauritius, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Indonesia, Fiji were facing discrimination and humiliation largely on account of their Hindu identity. At that time, there was neither a government nor an organisation worldwide to effectively look after the interests of Hindus.
It was in the context of this background, Hindus from different backgrounds decided to form an organisation to strengthen Hindu society throughout the world. Prominent and respected Hindu leaders such as Swami Chinmayanand Saraswati, Shri MS Golwalkar, (PP Shri Guruji) and Shri Shivram Shankar Apte, undertook the initiative supported by Sardar Master Tara Singh, Jain Muni Sushil Kumar and Rinpoche Kushok Bakula and called an unprecedented meeting of social, spiritual, cultural and political Hindu leaders and chiefs of many different sections (sampradayas) of Hindu society such as, but not limited to, Shaiva, Vaishnava, Veera Shaiva, Jain, Buddhist, Sikh, Arya Samaj, and others at the Sandeepany Sadhanalaya, Powai, Mumbai.
Over forty important Hindu spiritual and civic leaders took part in this meeting and held lengthy deliberations and discussions to formulate a way forward, several ideas were put forth.
The assembled leaders finally formed the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) on the day of Krishna Janmashtami (which commemorates the birth of Bhagwan Krishna), on August 29, 1964 with the following objectives: (a) To make Hindu civilisation invincible by strengthening, consolidating and organising Hindu society; and (b) To propagate throughout the world the spiritual and philosophical aspects of Hindu Dharma in keeping with the changing times.
Over the past 58 years, the VHP has served Hindu society with great effort and zeal by bringing together Dharmacharyas of all Sampradayas of Hindu Dharma. It also has started a wide range of service and education projects to serve the less fortunate members of Hindu society.
The VHP has played an instrumental role in restoring pride among Hindus about their glorious heritage and has made efforts to unify Hindus across many different lines. The most prominent example of VHP’s contribution to the Hindu Resurgence was during Sri Rama Janmabhoomi movement, which was the monumental agitation by Hindus demanding the restoration of the holy site of the birthplace of Bhagwan Ram to Hindu society.
The VHP has been extraordinarily successful in its chosen mission and continues to serve the Hindu society through seva, and provides a platform for Dharmacharyas to come together.
Future generations of Hindu society form both the primary life force and the core strength of Hindu society. The rejuvenation and revitalisation of Hindu Dharma throughout the world therefore rests predominantly on the shoulders of future generations of Hindus. The Hindu youths are thus the most essential part of the enduring Hindu resurgence. Realising the growing importance of educating young Hindu children about the greatness of Hindu Dharma, the VHP, around the world started a unique set of programmes consisting of weekend classes and heritage youth camps designed to educate Hindu children by promoting the glorious heritage and rich history of Hindu society.
Once various Hindu communities around the world witnessed the effectiveness and importance of these weekend classes and heritage youth camps, a growing number of Hindu organisations working in various spheres were inspired to start similar such programmes. When the youth entered various colleges and universities for higher studies, VHP encouraged and inspired them to organise Hindu Students at the grassroots level within campuses in many countries ranging from North America to the nations of the Caribbean, UK, Europe, Africa, South & Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji.
Organisations serving the needs of Hindu Students are very active on the campuses as well as among local societies. As a result, educated professional Hindu youths are now in the forefront of leading the Hindu resurgencence throughout the world.
Historically, there have been deliberate attempts to suppress Hindu identity by numerous antagonistic forces throughout the world. The result of these disreputable and systematic campaigns have led to the noble concepts such as the practice of yoga being completely delinked from its Hindu roots. Additionally, Hindus are routinely identified by Hindus and non-Hindus alike as being south Asian or even being termed generically Asian.
In response to this alarming trend, the VHP has initiated a series of discussions and reforms within Hindu society to promote and inculcate a common Hindu identity among members of the global Hindu society.
Wherever Hindus are living, they have contributed immensely to the countries they have settled. Prominent examples of Hindu contribution to democracy and freedom can be seen in countries such as Malaysia, the nations of the Caribbean, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Mauritius, Fiji, Indonesia, etc. In addition, Hindus have immensely contributed in the diverse number of fields including education, health, science and technology, business, and are in numerous places around the world such as the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, the Euro zone, Australia, and New Zealand.
The VHP has organised several national conferences to showcase vital contributions made by the local Hindu community to their adopted country in order to establish that they are an indispensable and law-abiding section of the local society and are fully engaged in the democratic process. In the ground-breaking conferences organised by the VHP, numerous Presidents and Prime Ministers (to name a few—1989 Margaret Thatcher,—Prime Minister UK, 1995—Nelson Mandela President, South Africa, 2000 Vasdev Pandey, Prime Minister, Trinidad & Tobago, 2003—Ranil Wikramsinghe, Prime Minister, Sri Lanka, 2007 Helen Clark, Prime Minister, New Zealand,) have inaugurated and participated in the programmes and strongly praised the invaluable contributions of the local Hindu community.
To strengthen and organise Hindu society throughout the world, the VHP has been in the forefront of organising regional, national, and international conferences to instill among Hindu society that a common Hindu identity transcends all sectional, regional, and linguistic barriers.
In addition, VHP also aims to bring together all Hindu Temples, religious and socio-cultural organisations throughout the world on one common platform.
(This article has been reproduced, first published in 2014)