In the mainstream narrative, authentic Hindu intellectuals hardly ever find a space. Instead of scholars who can present the Hindu view of things with eloquence and panache, we are left to ponder upon the words and work of people who should not even be a part of the civil discussion. Of course, it is part of a larger concerted attempt to discredit Hindu scholars and give the impression to laymen that the Hindu side does not have any person capable of debating Marxist intellectuals.
One such Hindu scholar who never quite received the recognition during his own life which he so thoroughly deserved was Sita Ram Goel. A devout Hindu, a true pagan at heart who recognized acutely the intolerance and radicalism that envelops every aspect of monotheistic culture, Goel’s work along with his friend Ram Swarup’s forms one of the cornerstones of an intellectual defence of Hindu Nationalism.
It is a testament to his capabilities that it will be extremely difficult if not entirely impossible to find a single Hindutva supporter on social media today, and especially among the youth, who has not been influenced one way or the other by the works of the great Goel.
“Hindu Temples- What happened to them” perhaps remains Goel’s best-known work. In the book, he documented, with his co-authors such as Arun Shourie and Ram Swarup, the catastrophic damage that was inflicted on the Hindu civilization and its Temples by the Muslim invaders.
Then there was his book ‘Hindu Society Under Siege’ where he writes, “Thus Hindu society not only presents itself as a prey to these exclusive, intolerant and imperialist ideologies but also acts as a buffer between them. India is secular because India is Hindu. It can be added as a corollary that India is a democracy also because India is Hindu. If Hindu society permits this free for all any further, the days of Secularism and Democracy in this country are numbered. Let the Hindus unite and save themselves, their democratic polity, their secular state, and their Sanatana Dharma for a new cycle of civilization, not only for themselves but also the world.”
Goel was particularly sharp in his criticism of Christian missionaries. He wrote of them in his book, Catholic Ashrams, “Fundamentalism is as foreign to Hinduism as honesty is to Christian missions.” True to his pagan roots, Goel was critical of both Christianity and Islam. In another book that he co-authored, he wrote, “Ascribing human brotherhood, social justice, world peace, self-sacrifice and compassion to Christianity and Islam is tantamount to proclaiming that the wolf is a votary of vegetarianism.”
One work of his that deserves special mention here is The Calcutta Quran Petition. Those unaware, the petition was a rare instance when a Hindu sought to use the state machinery of the country to achieve an ideological objective. The petition demanded that the Quran be banned citing the violence it advocates in its pages. The petition was in response to the various occasions when Muslims sought to silence all criticism. As per Goel, “it was the first time that a Pagan had questioned the character of a document hailed as the very Word of God by a People of the Book. The roles now stood reversed. So far it had been the privilege of the Peoples of the Book to ban and burn the sacred literature of the Pagans.” The petition, however, was disallowed by the Calcutta High Court.
An acquaintance of mine who has spent most of his childhood and adult life abroad recounted to me the profound impact the book had on him. “My nanaji was responsible for the beginning of my intellectual journey into history, religion, philosophy and the like when I was 16. He showed me two books in his library when I visited him on a particular occasion. I spent the next few days devouring them. One of them was ‘The Calcutta Quran Petition’ by Sita Ram Goel. Reading that book was a really shocking experience for me. It was superbly written with a clearly elucidated story and plot. Reading the reactions of the judiciary, the journalists and the ecosystem to the petition was very revealing. It took me a few days to recover from it, and then I asked my Nanaji for more material, so he handed me all the books from Voice of India that he had. I became a huge fan of Sita Ram Goel and Ram Swarup from then on. I understood the Ram Mandir case, and the destruction of Hindu temples, and the damage inflicted by the Islamic invaders on India. After that, I searched for counterpoints to these books, but none existed anywhere. All I could find were Marxist vitriol and abuse.”
Incidentally, Goel was a Communist during his early years and was even on the verge of joining the Communist Party of India. It was only later after he had read books by Aldoux Huxley and others that he abandoned Communism for good. In his autobiography, How I Became a Hindu, Goel wrote that Ram Swarup, who is often fondly referred to as Acharya (mentor/spiritual teacher) by people on social media, was one of his main influences. He wrote of Hinduism in the book, “Sanatana Dharma called upon its votary to explore his own self in the first instance and see for himself the truths expounded in sacred scriptures. Prophets and churches and scriptures could be aids but never the substitutes for self-exploration, self-purification, and self-transcendence.” And then, finally, on his return he writes, “I had come back, at last, come back to my spiritual home from which I had wandered away in self-forgetfulness. But this coming back was no atavistic act. On the contrary, it was a reawakening to my ancestral heritage which was waiting all along for me to lay my claim on its largesses. It was also the heritage of all mankind as proved by the seers, sages and mystics of many a time and clime. It spoke in different languages to different people. To me, it spoke in the language of Hindu spirituality and Hindu culture at their highest. I could not resist its call. I became a Hindu.”
One of my friends says Goel was his gateway to Hinduism. He tells me, “I first heard of him while searching for a defence of polytheism. He describes polytheism as “The natural expression of an evolved consciousness.” It is quite literally the greatest quote by any human being on why polytheism is so great. It’s how I got into Sanatana Dharma. Even though I have only read one of his books in its entirety.”
It’s quite necessary to read the statement by Goel that my friend spoke about in full. It’s from his autobiography previously mentioned. He wrote, “I had an occasion to read the typescript of a book [Ram Swarup] had finished writing in 1973. It was a profound study of Monotheism, the central dogma of both Islam and Christianity, as well as a powerful presentation of what the monotheists denounce as Hindu Polytheism. I had never read anything like it. It was a revelation to me that Monotheism was not a religious concept but an imperialist idea. I must confess that I myself had been inclined towards Monotheism till this time. I had never thought that a multiplicity of Gods was the natural and spontaneous expression of an evolved consciousness.”
The inability of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh to capitalize on the intellect of Goel’s stature reflects very poorly on the organization. In fact, Goel did contribute articles to the RSS mouthpiece, Organizer, until the organization intervened to have him removed for being too harsh in his critique of Jawaharlal Nehru. As per Koenraad Elst, another noted Hindu scholar, the reasoning was that should Nehru ever be murdered, then the blame would fall on RSS if there was criticism in its pages. In his part, Goel was very critical of the RSS and regarded it to be detrimental to the Hindu society at large. “The RSS is the biggest collection of duffers that ever came together in world history” (1989), “The RSS is leading Hindu society into a trap from which it may not recover” (1994), “Hindu society is doomed unless this RSS-BJP movement perishes” (2003) were some of his words for the organization.
Along with Ram Swarup and Arun Shourie, Sita Ram Goel laid the foundations for an intellectual defence of Hindu Dharma. Parallel to and even preceding the Ram Janambhoomi movement, the stalwarts of Hindutva had sown the seeds of an intellectual movement the fruits of which we are only now beginning to see. Goel, Shourie and Ram Swarup especially have become gateways to Hindutva.
Anyone who seeks a better understanding of Hindu society and the threat it faces would be well advised to start from their books. During online conversations, Hindus overwhelmingly rely on the works of these stalwarts to strengthen their argument. They have become the go-to source for people to spread the light of Dharma. Although Shourie’s recent actions leave a bitter taste in one’s mouth, the value of his work cannot be negated.
Even among the stalwarts of the Hindu renaissance, Sita Ram Goel has earned for himself special recognition. As another friend of mine puts it, “Goel ji succinctly, and without beating around the bush, point blank showed and wrote on saboteurs and subversionist enemies of Hindu Samaj and their historical modes of working. I cannot think f anyone else who did it in a manner so direct and so exhaustive. You cannot read some of the things he wrote and not be moved.”
Indeed, Goel’s body of work and life will continue to serve as an inspiration and a source of immense knowledge for those with an insatiable thirst for knowledge. His work may not have received the recognition it deserved during his life but it has inspired many to return to the Dharmic fold and will continue to serve as a beacon for those who may have wandered from the path of righteousness but seek a return.
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