Seeing Shankaracharya insulted and arrested ‘cured’ Subramanian Swamy of his anti-RSS hate

BJP MP Subramanian Swamy is known to be outspoken and not duck any questions thrown at him. He was this usual self in an interview given to Swarajya magazine where he was asked questions about his politics and his not-so-courteous relationships with many individuals and entities, including the RSS.

In fact, during the interview, when Swamy was reminded of his ‘love-hate relationship’ with the Sangh, Swamy ‘corrected’ the term to say that there was actually just a ‘hate relationship’ between him and the RSS. However, he said that he has now buried the past in the interest of the nation.

He blamed his sore relationship with the RSS on his wrong impression about the way Sangh works, where he too used to believe that the Sangh micromanages the BJP, and whatever BJP leaders do and say, is on orders of the Sangh. As a result, his dislike for Atal Bihari Vajpayee turned into a dislike for Sangh.

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He explained that he didn’t like Vajpayee because the former Prime Minister wanted to follow the philosophy of “Gandhian socialism” while Swamy, in his own words, had got nothing to do with either Gandhi or socialism.

But when he was read out portions of his old articles where had lambasted the RSS for its core philosophy – something that can’t be explained just on the basis of dislike for Vajpayee – Subramanian Swamy accepted that his judgments about Sangh in those articles were wrong and now his beliefs have changed.

He attributed this change of belief to an event, which he claimed transformed his personality and opened his eyes. The event was the arrest of Kanchi Shankaracharya Jayendra Saraswathi on November 11, 2004, which happened to be Diwali day, in a year Congress returned to power after eight long years.

Visuals of Shankaracharya being dragged and arrested had shocked many back then, who thought that it was not just a case of police excess, but a deliberate humiliation of a Hindu saint – a visual signalling of an ‘anti-Hindu’ party returning to power. Swamy said that he had never imagined that a Hindu saint will be treated like this in India, and this incident changed him.

After a long trial, in 2013 the Kanchi Shankaracharya was acquitted in the murder case, for which he was arrested. He breathed his last in February this year.

“I came to realise that it (arrest of Shankaracharya) was done at the direction of Sonia Gandhi, and this lady Jayalalithaa, for all her outward impression of being a tough lady, was a coward. She buckled (under pressure) and did it,” Swamy explained how he viewed the incident.

“I was shocked that he (Shankaracharya) was treated like any other criminal, brutalised and so on. At that time I felt there are some international forces working to debase Hinduism so that India could be brought out of it (Hinduism) and perhaps Christianised or I don’t know what (their plans were). But I felt that this was something I should fight (against),” he further explained why the incident made him change his views.

Swamy said that he felt that there was a need for all pro-Hindu forces to come together, and RSS was the only force fighting for the Hindus, so he buried his differences with the volunteer-driven organisation. He further praised the RSS for not holding his old views against him or the fact that he brought down a BJP government in 1999.

When further asked to explain his drastic change of views on the RSS, Swamy recounted the example of Minoo Masani, an avowed socialist who abandoned his beliefs to join Swatantra Party – India’s first ‘right-wing’ party formed in the 1960s to oppose the socialist policies of Jawaharlal Nehru. He shared an anecdote about what Masani had said when someone asked him about his old socialist views:

“Listen, I have been cured of it, and I think you require some curing.”

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