The mass conversion to Islam of hundreds of Scheduled Caste Hindus in
Meenakshipuram, Tamil Nadu on 19 February 1981 was a turning point in the history of the Hindu resurgence movement in India. The Meenakshipuram incident awakened the Hindus to the threat of Islamization that was being carried out under the guise of providing self-respect and dignity to marginalized sections of Hindu society. The social and political response to the Meenakshipuram incident was robust.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) organized the Ekatmata Yatra in 1983 to galvanize Hindu society. The Supreme Court judgment in the Shah Bano Case (April 1985), the Faizabad District Court order to unlock the disputed Babri structure (February 1986),the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce Act; May 1986) and the subsequent events that led to the Ayodhya movement were to forever change the Indian polity.
These momentous events brought to the fore issues such as conversions,
place of woman in Islam and Islamic destruction of Hindu temples. Even as the polity was in a state of turmoil, the media and academia at the time were controlled by the Nehruvian establishment. ‘Eminent scholars and historians’ were earning their power and pelf by disparaging Hindu civilization and providing intellectual grist to the forces that were bent on destroying it. A generation of Hindu youth fed on NCERT textbooks and popular cinema had become alienated from, indeed inimical to their heritage. They were completely uninformed of the dangers that threatened Hindu society.
While the meek Hindu was finally becoming assertive, he was by no means
intellectually equipped to take on his foes. Hindu intellectual response to predatory creeds. The Islamic onslaught on Hindu society that began in the seventh century was met by a stiff physical response. The response alternated between survival and resistance, with Hindus going so far as to reclaim those converted by sword right from the early days of Islamic invasion. This initiative continued even in the dark days of Firuz Shah Tughluq, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb. The Bhakti Movement was complementary to the physical resistance launched by kings and commoners. But there was no Hindu intellectual response to Islamic rule.
This is not surprising considering that Islam has along tradition of physically eliminating scribes who dare to cross its path. What is surprising that Hindus did not care to examine Islam even after Islamic rule was crippled in 1707 with the death of Aurangzeb. To the Arya Samaj goes the credit of mounting the first serious intellectual response to Islam with Swami Dayananda Saraswati showing the way and Chaube Badridas (Rad-e- Musalman), MunshiIndramani (Tuhfat ul-Islam, Padashe Islam,Usul e-deen-e-Ahmad, Hamla- e-Hind,Samsam- e-Hind and Saulat- e-Hind) and Pandit Lekh Ram (Takjib BurahinAhmaddiya, Nuskha e-khabt Ahmaddiya, Jahad, Lecture Ishat e-Islam par, Hujjat ul-Islam, Abtale basharte Ahmaddiya, Radde Khilat e-Islam and Aaina e-shafayat Islam)following soon after.
The tradition was later continued among others by SwamiDarshan Anand (Quran ki chhanbeen, Aqaid Islam par Aqli Nazar, Vaidik Dharma aurAhl e-Islam ke aqaid ka muqabla, Ahl-e-Islam ke Vedon par najayaj hamlein, Quranki jaan Ved ka ek mantra hai, Mayar-e-sadaqat, Jabab rad-e-tanasukh, PrashnottarAhl-e-Islam, Islam mein najaat ki vakfiyat and others), Mahashay Dharmapal (bornMunshi Abdul Gafur; Tahjeeb-ul-Islam and Narul-e-Islam), Pandit Satyadev (bornMaulana Gulam Haider; Ikhlifat –e-Quran, Aitrajat-e-Quran, Ikhtlafat Aqaid-e-Islam,Vahshat-e-Hind, Musalmanon ke 314 firken, Afsha-e-raj, Nara-e-Haidari, Islam kaparichay, Arsh Sawaar and Islami Dharmanusar srushti-utpatti), Bhojdatt Sharma(Haiyat Islam, Asmani Kitab, Nara-e-Haidari), Pandit Murarilal Sharma (Rooh kiMahiyat mein Ulema-e-Islam ki gadbad, Mazhab-e-Islam mein science ki gadbad,mazhab-e-Islam mein sabhyata ki gadbad, Taharat-mazhab-e-Islam mein pavitrata kigadbad, Islami tauheed ka namoona, Musalmanon ki baani ki kahani, Quran ki pol,
Falsafa Muhammadi, Islami Darpan, Islam ki durgati, Aaina-e-Islam,Islami dhol kipol, Islami mazhab ki chhanbeen, Barahkhadi bhag etc.), Master LaxmanAryopadeshak (Arya Muslim Milap and Quran Majid aur avagaman tatha Vaidikswarg aur Islami bahisht and Naqli Channa Basaveshwar arthat Khanjar-e-Zalimetc.), Pandit Dharmabhikshu Lakhnavi (Chasm-e-Quran, Asmani dulhan, Qalam-ur-rahman Quran hain ya Ved etc.), Prem Sharan Pranat (Devdoot Darpan), Chamupati(Rangila Rasool), Swami Shraddhanand (Muhammadi sazish ka inqshaf and Andhaaitqad aur khufiya jihad), Pandit Dev Prakash (born Muslim; Quran parichay in three volumes), Ramchandra Dehlavi (Punishment prescribed for the unbelievers in the Quran), Pandit Shivpujan Singh Kushwaha (Pashchatyon ki drishti mein Islamimatpravartak), Shriram Sharma (around two dozen books), Ganga Prasad Upadhyaya(Musabih-ul-Islam) and Amaresh Arya (born Muslim; Why I gave up Islam?).
Mahashay Rajpal and Mahashay Nathuram were two of the several Arya Samajis whobecame martyrs for publishing tracts critical of Islam. During British rule, a serious intellectual debate on Islam outside the Arya Samaj tradition was missing save for some writings of Savarkar and Ambedkar.
In contrast, the encounter with Christian missionaries did result in an intellectual response from the Hindu side. From Vishnubuwa Bramhachari and Morbhatta Dandekar through Bal Shastri Jambhekar and Gajanan Bhaskar Vaidya to AKPriolkar, Maharashtra has had a long tradition of scholars who exposed Christianity. Bengal produced Raja Rammohun Roy and Harachandra Tarkapanchanana. In 1890,Chattampi Swami of Kerala wrote a Hindu critique of Christianity called Kristumata Chedanam.
Possibly, the first refutation of the dogmas of Christianity in English wasdone in 1887 by Durga Prasad of the Arya Samaj.Other scholars in the Arya Samaj
tradition such as Munshi Samarthdan (Swadharma Raksha), Pandit Lekhram
(Christian Mat Darpan), Alaram Sannyasi (Isai kapat Darpan), Swami Prakashanand(Isai mat- dhol ki pol), Vazirchand Vidyarthi (Isa masih ki tees saala zindagi kenamalum halat), Swami Darshanand (Isai mat pariksha, Isai vivanon se prashna, Isaimat khandan, Isai mat se mukti asambhav hai, Padri Sahab aur Ramdas, Padri Sahabaur bhondu mubasiha, Masihi mazhab ke niyamon par aqli nazar), Pandit Lakshman(Isai mat mein jawaye Ved), Swami Shraddhanand (Isai pakshapat aur Arya Samajand The History of Assasins), Bhojdatt Varma (Isai mat ka zanaza), Pandit Dev Prakash (Injilon mein paraspar virohi kalpanayein and Isai mat ka vastavik roop),Pandit Shankar Nath (The Bible Exposed and Christ-who and what he was?),Kahanchand Verma (Christ: A Myth and Is not Christianity false and fabulousreligion?), Ram Vilas, Shriram Arya (Baibil par sapraman 31 prashna), Shivdayalu(Thomas Paine and Christianity), Pandit Dharmadev (The Concept of God in Christianity and Vaidik Dharma and Christianity and Vedas: A Critical Study), Pandit Ganga Prasad Upadhyaya (Christianity in India) and several others examined and refuted Christianity. The Hindus in Tamil Nadu used the Hindu Tract Society, Advaita Sabha and Shaiva Siddhant Sabha to meet the missionary challenge when they encountered it in the last two decades of the nineteenth century. The Hindu response to Communism was fragmentary.
In his book Ved aur Samyavad(1938), Swami Sadananda of the Arya Samaj hoped that Indian Communism wouldseek harmony between spirituality and Communism in contrast to their Western counterparts. Mahatma Narayan Swami of the Arya Samaj wrote on new and ancient Socialism in 1945. Aurobindo expressed his views on State Socialism. Ambedkar wrote an essay on Buddha and Marx, three different typed copies of which were found
as loose sheets. Such was the heft of Communism that it became the standard against which other philosophies ought to be compared and even harmonized.
Thus, Vishnu Ghanshyam Deshpande in his Presidential address to the 45th session of the Akhil Bharat Hindu Maha sabha at Shimoga on 29 May 1960 advocated “Hindu Socialism,” a doctrine of anti-Marxist “spiritualistic collectivism” that cashed out as proposals for collective farming, a planned economy, and market intervention “to suppress with iron hand the profiteering and exploiting tendencies of the capitalists.” In 1974,Swami Agnivesh of the Arya Samaj articulated Vedic Socialism which advocate dnationalizing means of production among other things. Refusing to swim with the tide, Vaidya Gurudatt, an outstanding but underrated writer in the Arya Samaj tradition wrote on Dharma and Socialism in 1980.
Before the eighties (this situation largely continued unchanged till the early nineties), intellectual discussion in Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (hereafter Sangh) circles on the three predatory creeds was virtually limited to the behaviour of its adherents without exposing the ideological underpinnings of such behaviour. Sangh Swayamsevak such as Devendra Swarup and BN Jog who were well versed with Islam largely limited themselves to writing articles on past and present Islamic atrocities. D.B. Then gadi discussed Communism but never actually wrote a book on the subject. Though Deendayal Upadhyaya’s Ekatma Manav Darshan was in a way a counter to Communism, his four seminal speeches on this philosophy or his other works offer no systematic discussion on Communism. Jawaharlal Nehru who was a distillate of Christianity, Islam and Communism ruled free India till 1964. Though the Nehruvian balloon was punctured in 1962, the Nehruvian establishment continued to be fully entrenched for the next several decades.
For all these decades, the intellectual narrative was outsourced to the
Aligarh and JNU cartels. Secularism was the State Religion and served as a
smokescreen for running down Hindu civilization or whitewashing past and present assaults on Hindu society. The outlook on the political front in the first half of the eighties was utter hopeless for the Hindus. The Hindu Maha sabha had become practically non-existent and the Bharatiya Jan Sangh (BJS) had merged into the Janata Party. Though the BJS reinvented itself in 1980 as the Bharatiya Janata Party, its leaders mouthed borrowed slogans of Gandhism, Socialism and Secularism much to the despair of its rank and file. Such was the force of these mindless slogans that spokesmen of the Hindu movement felt it necessary to call themselves as true secularists (versus pseudo-secularists of the Nehruvian kind) or true inheritors of Gandhi (versus usurpers such as Nehru and his ilk) or true socialists (versus Soviet leaning socialists). Intellectual inferiority complex of the worst kind was on display.
The intellectual climate in the eighties was stifling. There was no room for dissent in Nehruvian India. Scholars who dared take on the prevalent discourse were systematically shunned or sidelined. Newspaper editors were not willing to yield an inch to any contrarian view. There was freedom to praise Christianity, Islam and Communism but an undeclared curfew on the slightest criticism. The Arya Samaj books were neither widely available nor read. They were largely in Hindi, Urdu or historically even in Arabic. High priests of Nehruvian academia whose lingua franca was Queen’s English regarded it infra dig to read, let alone refute Arya Samaj polemics written by homespun pundits in ‘vernaculars’. Also, the intellectual tradition of the Arya Samaj had largely become moribund by the eighties. There were valiant exceptions such as Mahatma Ved Bhikshu (Pandit Bharatendra Nath) and Pandita Rakeshrani who published under the auspices of Dayanand Sansthan.
Two scholars Brahm Datt Bharati (of Arya Samaj persuasion) and KV Paliwal were yet to start writing and publishing scholarly works under the auspices of Hindu Writers Forum. For the better part of the eighties, Arun Shourie had not turned his attention to Christianity, Islam and Communism. Despite the gloom on the political and intellectual front, events in the country in the eighties made the Hindu sit up. Slowly, the apologetic Hindu was becoming an angry Hindu. He now needed to become a convinced and a conscious Hindu. Slogans and sophistry had to be fought with scholarship. The need of the hour was a coherent and articulate Hindu intellectual response, preferably in but not limited to English. A void in Hindu scholarship was waiting to be filled. It was in these circumstances that Voice of India was born. The harbingers of this Hindu intellectual renaissance were Ram Swarup and Sita Ram Goel.
Ram Swarup and Sita Ram Goel
Ram Swarup (12 October 1920-26 December 1998), a graduate in Economics from Delhi University started the Changer’s Club in 1944, members of which included Lakshmi Chand Jain, Raj Krishna, Girilal Jain and Sita Ram Geol. In 1948-49, he worked for Mahatma Gandhi’s disciple Mira Behn (Madeleine Slade). In his How I became a Hindu, Sita Ram Goel (16 October 1921-3 December 2003) has provided a fascinating account of his intellectual journey. He describes how he had become a Marxist and militant atheist by the time he was out of college at the age of 22 years. It was around this time that Goel first met Ram Swarup who was his senior in college by a year. Ram Swarup was to play a decisive role in Goel’s intellectual evolution. Brief encounters with the Arya Samaj, Gandhi’s Freedom Movement and Sangh notwithstanding, Geol was ready to join the communist party of India in 1948. A year and a few months later, Ram Swarup who by then had come to regard Communism as a very great evil threatening to engulf the future of mankind converted Goel from Communism to anti-Communism.
Thanks to Ram Swarup, Goel who till 1949 was fond of Western metaphysics and epistemology and parroted Party slogans to Ram Swarup, now underwent a phase of introspection and retrospection of his entire philosophical outlook as it had evolved till then. At the same time, Goel was going on with the business of life. Goel’s self-depreciation and high regard for Ram Swarup are expressed by him in the following lines, “I have always been an ordinary person with ordinary aspirations. Left to myself, I would have led an ordinary life. I was good business executive by now, having acquired considerable experience in export business. I could have achieved more success along the same line… But I had already met a man who will not let me be. That was Ram Swarup. He had tried his best to rescue me from the twin morass of a false self-esteem and a degrading self-pity. He had encouraged and assisted me with timely advice to take an impersonal interest in higher ideas and larger causes. As I shared his ideas and concern for social causes, I could not question his command for action.”
Goel now read the Mahabharata in the original Sanskrit, also read and re-read SriAurobindo, Bankim Chandra Chatterjee and Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa. He was bynow involved in discussions with Ram Swarup on the Vedas, Upanishads, Gita, Mahabharata and the Buddha. Ram Swarup initiated him into the art of meditation. Ram Swarup was also fully awake to the social, cultural and political scene in India and had some original insights regarding developments around him. From around 1949 to 1955, Goel and Ram Swarup ran their Society for the Defence of Freedom in Asia (SDFA) in Calcutta. The SDPA’s publishing arm Prachi Prakashanpublished Ram Swarup’s first books Let Us Fight the Communist Menace (1949) and Russian Imperialism: How to Stop it (1950). Ram Swarup also wrote Communism and Peasantry: Implications of Collectivist Agriculture for Asian Countries (written 1950, published 1954), Foundations of Maoism and Buddhism vis-à-vis Hinduism(1959).
His Gandhism and Communism stressed the need to raise the struggle against
communism from a military to a moral and ideological level. The brochure caught the attention of several US Congressmen, and some of its ideas were adopted by the Eisenhower administration in its agenda for the Geneva Conference in 1955. In the fifties, Ram Swarup led a movement warning against the growing danger which international communism presented to the newly won freedom of the country. Around1957, he took to a life of meditation and spiritual reflection and since then, he made a deep study of the scriptures of different religious traditions.
Goel’s first ten books written from 1952-1955 were anti-Communist publications as part of his SDPA work. He also published books on Communism by other authors. From 1952-1960, Goel also wrote and published eighteen titles in Hindi that included fiction, poetry, compilations and translations. As a by-product of his interactions with the Sangh, Goel wrote a series of articles in Organizer under the pen name Ekaki, criticizing Nehru’s pro-Communist policies. Goel later published the series as a book(1963) and later updated and published it as Genesis and Growth of Nehruism (1993).Before Voice of India was born, Goel published books by Dharampal, Ram Swarup, K.R. Malkani and K.D. Sethna.
Birth pangs of Voice of India
In 1977, Geol resumed his regular meetings with Ram Swarup after a long lapse during which he was busy building a business. By now he was more or less free from family responsibilities also. The discussions that developed were very rewarding. The most frequent theme was the character of Islam and Christianity, and what these closed creeds aspired to do to Hindus and their culture. Ram Swarup was feeling disturbed. He had no doubt that Hindu society was in for great trouble. He had been studying the scriptures of Islam and Christianity during the past several years, and had gone deep into their most orthodox sources. He had come up with the conclusion that they were not religions but cruel and intolerant ideologies like Communism and Nazism. The spread of these ideologies in India, he said, was fraught with fearful consequences for whatever had survived of Hindu society and culture in the only Hindu homeland. Ram Swarup was not satisfied with a merely rationalist review of Islam and Christianity. He wanted these ideologies to be processed from the point of view of Yogic spirituality of Sanatana Dharma. Further, he had developed the framework for placing these creeds where they belonged in the scale of yogic consciousness.
Ram Swarup was concerned more about the menace from Islam than that from
Christianity. He observed that Christianity had its teeth knocked out in the modern West, and that though it was still capable of doing considerable mischief in India, it was bound to collapse as soon as its rationalist review in the West became known to our people. Islam, on the other hand, had so far remained largely free from even a rationalist review. Our problem, according to Ram Swarup, was not Muslims but Islam. An overwhelming majority of Muslims in India (including Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh) were our own people. They had been alienated from us by Islam. But Hindu society had remained pre occupied with the Muslim behavior pattern, while bestowing praises on Islam as a great religion. This was suicidal for Hindu society. The Muslim behaviour pattern had to be traced back to the belief system which sanctioned it. It was the belief system which had to be exposed.
Around this time, Goel had an occasion to read the typescript of a book Ram Swarup had finished writing in 1973, and laid aside. It was a profound study of Monotheism, the central dogma of both Islam and Christianity, as well as a powerful presentation what the monotheists denounce as Hindu Polytheism. It was a revelation to Goel that Monotheism was not a religious concept but an imperialist idea. Till then, Goel had never thought that a multiplicity of Gods was the natural and spontaneous expression of an evolved spiritual consciousness. Goel decided to publish Ram Swarup’s new magnum opus. Titled The Word as Revelation: Names of Gods when it was brought out in 1980, the book was on linguistics, philosophy, Vedic exegesis and Yoga.
One day in late 1981, Goel put it to Ram Swarup, “I have completed sixty years of my life. I have done whatever I was destined to do for my family. If you feel that I can be of help to the cause of Hinduism, I can retire from business and take to writing again. I should like to devote the rest of my life to informing Hindu society about its own great heritage, as also about the dangers it faces. Only I would have to consult my sons, and find out if they can spare, me for a work dear to my heart.” Ram Swarup gave his consent.
Geol placed the proposal before his sons the very next day. Their response was more than positive. One of them observed, “You can do business as well as this other work. Business is something which we also can manage. But you alone among us can undertake the other work. We are prepared to take over the business whenever you want to be free from it. We can always consult you if we have any problem.” Geol was very happy to hear that from them. The Voice of India was born that day, though Ram Swarup suggested that name several days later.
After some struggle, Goel now resumed writing on serious subjects. From 1981 to1984, Goel wrote series after series of memorable articles How I Become A Hindu, Hindu Society Under Siege, An Experiment with Untruth, Defence of Hindu Society, History of Heroic Hindu Resistance to Islamic Invaders. Muslim Separatism: Causes and Consequences. The articles were first published in the Organizer, thanks to editor K.R.Malkani and subsequently brought out as booklets by Voice of India.
Intellectual premise of Voice of India
The intellectual premise of Voice of India has been eloquently spelt out by Goel
himself in his prolific writings (in particular Defense of Hindu Society) as follows:
- The starting point is Sanatana Dharma. Without Sanatana Dharma,
Bharatavarsha is just another piece of land, and Hindu society just another assembly of human beings. So the commitment is to Sanatana Dharma, Hindusociety, and Bharatavarsha in that order. Sanatana Dharma which is known as Hinduism at present, is not only a religion but also a whole civilization which has flourished in this country for ages untold, and which is struggling to come into its own again after a prolonged encounter with several sorts of predatory imperialism. Hindu society has survived because of some innate strength which
had enabled it to fight and overcome all invaders in the long run. Hindu society which has been the vehicle of Sanatana Dharma is a great society and deserves all honor and devotion from its sons and daughters.
Finally, Bharatavarsha becomes a holy land because it has been and remains the homeland of Hindu society. Hindus need to become aware of the fundamentals of their own faith(Hindu Spirituality), the premises on which their own society has evolved(Hindu Sociology), and the vicissitudes which their own society has experienced in the march of Time (Hindu History). Hindus have become devoid of self-confidence simply because they have ceased to take legitimate, well-informed, and conscious pride in their spiritual, cultural, and social heritage. Hindu society needs to break out of the siege it finds itself in and snatch the initiative from its sworn enemies.
- Hindu society has to realize that Christianity and Islam are not religions butpolitical ideologies inspired by imperialist ambitions. They are ideologies of imperialism like Nazism and Communism, legitimizing aggression by one setof people against another. These ideologies came to India as accomplices of Islamic and Western armies. Those armies have been defeated and driven away. The ideologies which came with those armies should now find no place in India. They, too, have to be defeated and dispersed. Hindu society has to recover the ground that was lost to these ideologies during periods of Islamic and Christian expansion and domination.
- Those sections of Hindu society which were forced or lured into the folds of these ideologies, have to be brought back into their ancestral fold. This is the minimum task which Hindu society has to set before itself. The maximum task is to carry the campaign against these ideologies into their own homelands, and to free large sections of mankind from the abominable superstitions which breed intolerance and aggression. Hindu society needs to scan the scriptures of criminal creeds, and have a close look at their prophets, saviours, and saints. The day Hindu society does that; these creeds will beat a hasty retreat, and know not how to defend their dark doctrines and horrid heroes. Hindu society should process and evaluate the heritage of these creeds and ideologies in terms
of its own categories of thought, and find out the real worth of Christian,
Islamic, Communist, and Modernist claims.
- There is no use for a Secularism which treats Hinduism as just another religion, and puts it on par with Islam and Christianity. This concept of Secularism is a gross perversion of the concept which arose in the modem West as a revolt against Christianity and which should mean, in the Indian context, a revolt against Islam as well.
- A few mindless clichés – reactionary and progressive, right and left, capitalist and socialist, revivalist and modern, communal and secular, and so on are hurled at Hindu society. Worse, a brood of professional Hindu-baiters had tried and tested an armory of cheap gibes – polytheism, pantheism, idolatry, Brahmanism, obscurantism, revivalism, fundamentalism, communalism, and the rest – and discovered to its great glee that the gibes hurt. It is a sorry spectacle indeed that Hindu society should take these gibes as well-deserved reproaches for its own good, and indulge in an orgy of breast-beating at the behest of every Hindu-baiter. The sworn enemies of Hindu society had made a great game out of some scare-words in order to keep Hindu society on the defensive, and were drawing apology after apology from the spokesmen of this
society, day in and day out.
- The Hindu revivalist movement should have a full blooded Hindu ideology of its own and process all events, movements, parties, and public figures in terms of that ideology, rather than live on borrowed slogans or hand to mouth ideas invoked on the spur of the moment. It should stop operating according to ground rules laid down by its opponents.
Two modern-day rishis
Though the initial purpose of Voice of India was to provide a platform to RamSwarup, Goel himself wrote at least nineteen different books and booklets (including those mentioned above and excluding his anti-Communist books) in his career as a Hindu revivalist. He examined Christianity (Papacy: Its Doctrine and History, Catholic Ashrams: Sannyasins or Swindlers?, History of Hindu-Christian Encounters, Jesus Christ: An Artifice for Aggression, Pseudo-Secularism, Christian Missions and Hindu Resistance besides insightful introductions to historical books by other author son Christianity), Islam (Story of Islamic Imperialism in India, Heroic Hindu Resistance to Muslim invaders, Muslim Separatism: Causes and Consequences, Hindu Temples: What Happened to Them in two volumes and a Preface to The Calcutta Quran Petition), Secularism (Perversion of India’s Political Parlance, India’s Secularism,New Name for National Subversion), Nehruism (Genesis and Growth of Nehruism)and Hinduism (Hindus and Hinduism: Manipulation of Meanings). Goel was unsparing of the Sangh and the BJP (Time for Stock-Taking: Whither Sangh Parivar) when he felt that their analysis or stance vis-à-vis Islam and Christianity was blind to the thought-patterns that led to their behavior patterns of these ideologies.
Ram Swarup himself wrote on Islam (Understanding Islam through Hadis: Religious Faith or Fanaticism, Woman in Islam), Christianity (Pope John Paul II on Eastern Religions and Yoga: A Hindu-Buddhist Rejoinder), Hindu tradition (Buddhism vis-à-vis Hinduism, Hindu-Sikh Relationship, Ramakrishna Mission in Search of a New Identity, Cultural Alienation and Some Problems, Whither Sikhism?, On Hinduism: Reviews and Reflections, Meditations: Yogas, Gods, Religions, the latter published posthumously in addition to an insightful introduction to Anirvan’s book on Inner Yoga).
The two modern-day rishis had arrived at a common meeting ground but their past had been different. Ram Swarup had always led an impersonal, reflective life that was largely uneventful. He never married and hardly ever did a job. His literary repository was sparse but significant. His style was mild and meditative. He never wrote a harsh word even against his ideological foes. On the other hand, Goel had freed him self rom the shackles of alien thought-systems and had returned to his Hindu roots. He was married, ran a successful business and even stood for a Lok Sabha election once.
While his writings in English were prolific and pugnacious, his few writings in Hindican be only described as honey-sweet. He would mercilessly demolish totalitarian creeds and roundly criticize those Hindu leaders and organizations that suffered them. One could not help being swept away by the force of his arguments and marvel at the same time at his impeccable language. The two differed in their assessment of Gandhi and the Sangh. Ram Swarup probably always felt that Gandhi was relevant in some
ways. Early on, Goel had been a Gandhi acolyte but later revised his assessment of Gandhi, terming him as an unmitigated disaster for the Hindus. Ram Swarup was always fond of the Sangh and in Goel’s own words was ‘the blue-eyed boy of the RSS’. Goel had a low opinion of the Sangh’s intellectual grounding and had had unpleasant interactions with some of its leaders. Though Goel was critical of the Sangh, several Sangh leaders admired Goel and read his works. K.S. Sudarshan would frequently visit Voice of India office and take away several books at a time. The author has been witness to senior Sangh leaders Moro Pant Pingle and H.V. Seshadripraising Goel and his books.
In a speech before the Yogakshema Society, Calcutta 1983, Goel explained hisrelation with Ram Swarup thus, “In fact, it would have been in the fitness of things if the speaker today had been Ram Swarup, because whatever I have written and whatever I say today really comes from him. He gives me the seed-ideas which sprout into my articles…He gives me the framework of my thought. Only the language is mine. The language also would have been much better if it was his own. My language becomes sharp at times, it annoys people. He has a way of saying things in a firm but polite manner, which discipline I have never been able to acquire.” This is a remarkable tribute paid by one colossus to another.
Banyan-tree for Hindu scholars
Voice of India soon became a publishing-house for several Hindu scholars. Scholarssuch as Sant Rajendra S. Narula who were shunned by ‘establishment’ publishers found a ready ally in Goel. Over time, Voice of India started by them became a banyan-tree for Hindu scholars. Dr. Harsh Narain, A.K. Chatterjee, Prof. K.S. Lal, Koenraad Elst (who became like a son to him), Shrikant Talageri, Ishwar Sharan, N.S.Rajaram, Jay Dubhashi, David Frawley (Vamadeva Shastri) became known to the Hindu readership largely through Voice of India. Arun Shourie had some of his books (for example the one on Ambedkar) examined by Goel with a tooth-comb. Goel alsopublished important historical books by D.S. Margoliouth, William Muir, MatildaJoslyn Gage, Sardar Gurbachan Singh Talib and A.K. Priolkar. Goel also published important books on the Aryan Invasion debate which comprehensively discredited that theory).
Voice of India had no office of its own, no staff, no money worth the name. It was Goel who read, wrote, corrected proofs, looked after dispatches and kept accounts. Goel used to work for 14-15 hours per day until the nineties when poor health permitted him to work for 6-7 hours. To Goel, correcting people’s English was aback-breaking job. He would send all his publications for review in the main streampress. None of them was ever reviewed. Not one ‘establishment’ scholar ever attempted to be rebut Goel’s arguments. They were smug in their belief that they could wish away Goel by their silence. In any case, Goel never felt that reviews or rebuttals gave him readers. Also, he had not had a good experience of translations of his publications. His books sold well because the larger Hindu society had awakened.
In 1982, a Muslim mob threatened to destroy the shop of the binder who was working on Ram Swarup’s book on the Hadis. In 1996, Syed Shahabuddin called for a ban on Ram Swarup’s Hindu View of Christianity and Islam. It was only the over-confidence of the secularist establishment in their over-powering dominance that prevented them rom supporting the ban.
The evidence for a Ram Temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya that was submitted to the Government of India by the Hindu side was put together in the Voice of India office. So water-tight was the case of the Hindu side that the Muslim side which had been hitherto changing goal-posts simply did not turn up to defend their case.
Goel demolished Khushwant Singh’s argument that the foundation of the Hari Mandir(Golden Temple) in Amritsar was laid by Mian Mir. Likewise, Goel would silence Hindu leaders who in a fit of denial praised Sufis as champions of tolerance. At the same time, Goel had little use for theories that he thought were fantastic though they were put forth by Hindu historians (P.N. Oak’s theories on Hindu origins of Islamic and Christian places and personages is a case in point). Nor did he subscribe to the theory that Islam was a form of Arab imperialism or that Christ lived in India andcame under the influence of Hindu mystics.
To his credit, Goel revised his own assessment of historical personages such as Christ and Gandhi. It was Goel’s initial assessment that Christianity with all its baggage was the handiwork of Paul, not Christ. He believed that it was the Church minus Christ that had wrought suffering over the centuries. He later changed his assessment of Christ, placing him squarely in the tradition of other Biblical Prophets. Goel was very incisive in his thoughts and was not afraid to mince words. His esteem of Gandhi as a proud Sanatanist gradually fell to a nadir over the years.
Though Goel was unforgiving of totalitarian ideologies, he lamented the loss of lives of adherents of such ideologies in street riots. To him, present-day Muslims and Christians were vestiges of Islamic and Christian aggression. They were victims of ideologies that sought to poison their minds against their ancestral Dharma and their mother society. They could hardly be expected to return to their roots if Hindus kept on flattering these ideologies in the first place. Goel counted many Muslims and Christians as his friends. He was a lover of Urdu poetry and believed that Muslim poets wrote in verse what they dare not write in prose.
Before Voice of India, discussion in Hindutva circles was largely limited to injustice to Hindus by colonial or Congress rulers (‘minority appeasement’ or ‘discrimination against Hindus’). Hindu writers would bewail Muslim aggression in street riots or discuss various methods adopted by Christian missionaries to convert gullible Hindus. There was also a tendency to equate Islam with Arab hegemony and Christianity with Western imperialism. Many Hindu writers had problems with mullahs and missionaries but seemed to have no problem with their prophets or holy books. Notjust Sarva Dharma Samabhav but in fact Sarva Dharma Samadar was becoming the watchword of Hindutva acolytes. Ram Swarup and Goel shook the Hindus from their
stupor and brought to their notice the root cause of Islamic or Christian aggression.Goel did not care for labels and took gleeful pride in being referred to as ‘India’s only communalist’. Hitherto, Hindu editors could not publicize the Hindu point of view without at the same time giving publicity to Islam and Christianity. Geol always wondered when Hindus would have a Hindu press.
Ram Swarup and Goel fearlessly provided intellectual ammunition to the Hindu cause at a time when there was practically no intellectual voice against the forces of subversion. This writer can personally testify that Goel would generously present reference books to young writers. Goel never cared for royalties. He clearly spelt out hat Voice of India books have no copyright. All he wanted was that the message carried by his publications should reach as far and wide as possible.
Those who thought that they could ignore Ram Swarup, Goel or their arguments have been proved wrong. Compared to the Hindu of the eighties, the Hindu today has become better informed of his strengths and weaknesses. Thanks to the Internet, several Voice of India books are freely available on various web portals. A whole generation of Hindu scholars has now come forward to defend Hindu heritages. Virtually all of them have been influenced by the writings of Ram Swarup and Geol.
At a time when Hindu renaissance seems to be on the horizon, it is only fitting that we gratefully remember Ram Swarup and Sita Ram Goel, the rishis of our times. Their writings will continue to inspire generations of Hindus in the years to come.
As we lament the physical absence of Ram Swarup and Sita Ram Goel, I cannot but recall the words Goel wrote to me when Ram Swarup passed away. He wrote, “I do not grieve over Ram Swarup’s passing away. The Ram Swarup who mattered in myand the nation’s life is not dead. Only the nama-rupa has become avyakta (i.e. his name and form have become non-manifested).”
Four Decades of Hindu Renaissance, edited by Arvind Singh
Find the purchasing link of the book here: https://www.vivekprakashan.in/books/four-decades-of-hindu-renaissance/
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