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HVK Archives: Balasaheb Deoras and Indian Muslims

Balasaheb Deoras and Indian Muslims - Organiser

Muzaffar Hussain ()
5 July 1996


Title : The man who could persuade the Muslims to change
their perception of Hindutva
Balasaheb Deoras & Indian Muslims
Author : Muzaffar Hussain
Publication : Organiser
Date : July 5, 1996

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has always been a subject
controversy for its perception of the Indian Muslim. It
has been persistently dubbed communalist and describing
its style of functioning as Fascist, no efforts are
spared to bring it a bad name. Dr K.B.Hedgewar laid the
foundation of the RSS in 1925 on the Vijyadashmi day for
organising Hindus. Just because it primarily aims at
protecting the interests of Hinuds it is not logical to
conclude that it poses a threat to non-Hindus. The RSS
founder Dr. Hedgewar himself used to say that organinsing
the Hindus was like wighing frogs in a balance. Hindus
have a long tradition of social reformers and thinkers
and Hedgewar can as well be regarded as a nucleus in the
chain, because the number of his followers went on
growing and the RSS work continued to expand. As the
Sangh grew from strength to strength winning recognition
in society its opponents also continued to make it a
target of their criticism from time to time. It is not
that the criticism came only from Muslims and Christians,
a number of Hindu leaders themselves spared no pains to
run down the Sangh in popular perception, besides
religious heads and various organisers of people and
social philosophers. As time passed all the allegations
levelled against the RSS turned out to be baseless and
hollow. But the charge of being anti-minorities continues
to be repeated to date. All the three Sarsanghchalaks
tried to refute the charge with their noble deeds and
acts of service but the wily political operators would
not let it be.

Dr. Hedgewar was deeply impressed by Bankim Chandra
Chattopadhyaya's renowed world classic Anandmath. It
should not be surprising if Doctorji had designed the RSS
structure and its working by drawing inspiration from
this classic. A writers hits at the establishment that
gives rise to evil tendencies. It is but natural if the
breaking up of Bengal in 1905 and the founding of the
Muslim League in 1996 by the ruler of Dhaka had its
impact on Bankim Babu. Anandmath not only sent out a
singal of revolution but also elaborated how to go about
it. Therefore when he returned to Nagpur he had Anandmath
for his model when he set about forming the RSS. Bengal
was then under Muslim rule. The British were trying to
gobble up the rich area but the reigning Nawab was no
match for them. Naturally opposition to the prevailing
state of affairs cannot be construed as opposition to
Muslims. Vande Mataram too is a gift from Anandmath. This
is one reason why Muslims did not wholeheartedly accept
Vande Mataram even though it was adopted as the national
song by the Constituent Assembly. By 1925 the Khilafat
movement had already had its impact. Thus in spite of
being a staunch follower of Mahatma Gandhi Dr. Hedgewar
felt that in this particular matter Gandhiji was not
being fair to the Hindus. Accepting every demand of the
Muslims was likely to later degenerate into political
appeasement. Muslim could blackmail the Hindus to have
their demands accepted. Hedgewar therefore stressed that
the entire Indian population should be regarded as one.
Gandhiji did not accept this position yet Doctorji con-
tinued to be his follower, actively participating in
every one of his agitations. His was a historic contribu-
tion to the Nagpur session of the Congress.

On the other hand although he sincerely believed in
Gandhiji's creed of non-violence he had a nagging fear
that after the country was independent or after the
British quit what was the guarantee that a Taimur or a
Babur, a Duplex or a Clove might not come marauding. He
therefore wanted the Hindus to be militarity equipped to
defend the Motherland in case of an eventuality.

Dr. Hedgewar passed away in 1940.The events that followed
were witnessed by Guruji Golwalker in his capacity as
Sarsanghchalak. Partition, classification/categorisation
of minorities in the Constitution and Gandhiji's assassi-
nation. The Congress party, particularly Jawaharlal
Nehru, sought to implicate the RSS in the Gandhi murder
case. They even appointed a commission to inquire into
it. A through investigation was carried out. The charges
made against the Sangh were refuted once by Sardar Patel
and twice by Morarji Desai. But those indulging in polit-
ics of separatism by consolidating a vote-bank of Muslim
votes with a view to monopolising power would not accept
the truth and persisted in their obduracy. They constant-
ly held before the Muslims the threat of their liquida-
tion at the hands of those who did not spare even Gandhi-
ji, So, if they want to live in India with guaranteed
security they should vote for the Congress. In order to
sustain this argument they engineered communal riots
throughout the country at the smallest opportunity so
that the Muslim live in perpetual fear and stick to the
Congress. With every riot the charge would be repeated
that the RSS was at the root of it. And the report of the
occasional commission to investigate the riots would
invariably absolve the RSS of any involvement. A number
of reports categorically stated that the riots were
started by the minority community. Meanwhile with its
limited means the RSS too endeavoured to disabuse the
Muslim mind of this unfounded fear. Whether there are
floods in Assam or Gujarat, the havoc wrought by cyclones
along the eastem coastline all the way from Calcutta to
Madras or may be scarcity conditions in some part of the
country the Sangh would be the first to arrive at the
sight of the calamity to render all possible relief. The
RSS volunteers of course serve all irrespective of reli-
gion, sect, language, creed or caste. As result the
Muslims had first-hand experience of what the Sangh is
and what it can do. This dispelled their fears and the
preconceived view that the Sangh was their enemy. At the
time of the Machchhu dam burst in Morvi (Gujarat) the RSS
volunters helped the Muslims without any reservations and
then for the first time the press too had to editorially
acknowledge the bitter truth that the old canard against
the Sangh was nothing but malice.

The delusion and the imaginary terror resulting in per-
pectual political enmity continued for a long time. The
Sangh for its part remained charateristically quiet and
went on with its mission with a firm resolve and full
faith in itself. In 1973 the leadership of the RSS de-
volved upon Balasaheb Deoras. In 1967 the Congress suf-
fered its first electoral reverse and the RSS role in the
1971 war answered most of the doubts of its detractors.
During the 1962 India China war the Sangh had rendered
signal service to the armed force all along the
strife torn area from Bomadila to the interior parts of
Arunachal Pradesh, which has been duly acknowledged by
several Generals, including Gen. Thimayya in their
respective works. Gen. Jacob the them C-in-C of the
Eastern Command proudly mentions in his speeches that
Army received its first congratulatory message after
their conquest of Dhaka from the RSS.

Indian politics experienced its first internal upheaval
with the declaration of the Emergency in June 1975. This
was the second time to RSS was banned during Deoras's
career and the first for him to face in his capacity as
the Sarsanghchalak. The whole of India was turned into a
veritable jail. I need not repeat what the Sangh had to
go through. Balasaheb however gave it a positive turn.
While in jail he had the opportunity to react with the
leaders and activists of many banned Muslim organisations
including the Jamaat-e-Islami. As a result the two
parties came closer not only in their thinking and
responces but also in their day-to-day dealings. By their
conduct the RSS adhikaris dispelled the Muslims'
apprehension that the RSS was their enemy. It was the
first miracle Balasaheb achieved by giving a positive
turn to the Muslim perception of the Sangh. After being
acquainted with the ideology of the RSS, hitherto dubbed
a body of militant Hindus, leaders of the Jama'at-e-
Islami came to conclusion that barring image-worship
there was no fundamental difference in Islam and Sanatan
Dharma.The jail during the Emergency became a turning
point where the impasse between the two communities
to an end and paved the way for a dialogue. The change
brought about two major gains. One, the Congress got a
serve drubbing, two, there was an instant awakening among
the country's masses. At this point Balasaheb realised
that the Sangh has to exercise responsibility also at the
Government level. Just to teach a lesson to the Congress
party he even agreed to merge his brain-child the Jana
Sangh with the Janata Party. It cleared the
misapprehension that the RSS was a die-hard inflexible
body which will never countenance a compromise. Aver the
Meenakshipuram incident the Shankaracharyas had to
out of the temples and mix with the people, Imaam Abdulah
Bukhari of Delhi's Jama Masjid was already in thick of a
popular uprising. The performance of Atal Behari Vajpayee
as the Minister for External Affairs and L.K.Advani as
the Minister for Information and Broadcasting
demonstrated to the Muslim people that the RSS
swayamevaks would not say one thing and do something
else. In the 80s and the 90s several States had BJP
Governments or BJP as a coalition parther. These States
remained free from comunal riots and further strenghened
the Muslims' faith that the RSS is never responsible for
Hindu-Muslim riots.

The Meenakshipuram incident thoroughly shook the
nationalist Muslim and those who worked for harmony. They
were displeased with the mischief. Like the Shah Bano
case which moved the enlightened muslims to think afresh
on their personal law in the context on their personal
law in the context of the changed circumstances of the
modern age, the Meenakshipuram incident too initiated the
Muslims to realise that such activities do not help in
putting into practice principle of co-existence. This
kind of opening of the minds began with the coming of

Some Muslims had gone to the RSS central office in Nagpur
for discussion in the course of which it was time of
offer namaz for which they sought leave. Balasaheb asked
them if they could not offer namaz in the RSS office. Why
not, said the Muslims visitors. Balasaheb then prompty
had arrangements made in the office for the guests to
offer namaz and for wuzoo the ceremonial washing of hands
and feet prepratory to offering namaz. Presently the RSS
office resounded with azan, the call to the faithful to
pray. The Muslims wondered at the RSS doing all this.
Balasaheb however found nothing novel or surprising about

it. He believed that the day both the communities rid
themselves of mutal misgivings and mistrust most of the
country's problems would be solved. Saints bind the
people together, Governments and politics rend them
asunder. This liberal attitude of the Sangh was openly
appreciated by the press. Rarely there appears in the
world a historic figure who actually translates his words
into deeds.

As of now there are countless Muslim boys attending the
shakka, some of whom are even office bearers like gata
pramukh (group leaders) or mukhya shikshak (chief in-
structor.) The boys never feel that the shakha has two
different sets of people, namely, Muslims and Hindus. On
December 31 last year Mangalore held a special rally of
some 1.5 lakh people among which 68 Muslim youth
it in their capacity as swayamsevaks. It indeed was a
unique feature of the grand function.

Balasaheb's concept of Hindutva has greatly influenced
the Muslim perception. It has utterly non-plussed the
currently fashionable expression ``secular''. The concept
of cultural nationalism as propounded by Deoras is not at
all unpalatable either to those who subscribe to Dr
Iqbal's ideology or those who believe in the philosophy
of the erudite Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. By the sheer
force of his liberal attitude this great thinker has
shaken the foundations of bigotry and obscuratism,
replacing it with the truest from of nationalism which
can only be described as Hindusthaniyat.

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