In pre-Independent India, when the Union Jack was still fluttering over the Indian parliament as a sign of slavery, RSS founder Dr Hedgewar (fondly called ‘Doctorji’ by RSS karyakartas) was invited for a discussion by residents of ‘Hindu Colony’ in Dadar (an area in Mumbai). The residents were pondering over the idea of dropping the word ‘colony’ from the name and adopting another word since they considered it to be too Western for their nationalist sentiments.
Since many of them had heard about Dr Hedgewar and respected him for his work in Nagpur, they thought that his input in the discussion would help them reach a conclusion to the controversy. On Doctorji’s arrival, the residents welcomed him and began to discuss their concern.
After patiently listening to the residents, Doctorji suggested that the word ‘Hindu’ should be dropped from the name. Aghast, the residents asked him why he suggests that despite being a staunch Hindu.
Doctorji responded by saying, “I am not opposed to the word ‘Hindu’ as such. I am only opposed to its use in the present context, which denotes that in our own country the Hindus have formed a colony! How can there be a colony of Hindus in Hindustan?”. (Reference: MS Golwalkar, Bunch of Thoughts, pg 116)
Dr. Hedgewar was an ardent believer of ‘Hindustan for Hindus’, and believed that the existence of a “Hindu colony” in Hindustan was unnecessary. According to Dr. Hedgewar, using the name ‘Hindu colony’ was diluting the fact that Hindustan belonged to Hindus, since it gave the perception that Hindus are just one of the multiple communities of India, and not the natural nationals of the country.
Doctorji continued, “If some Englishmen come, stay in a particular locality in Hindustan and call it a ‘British Colony’, it can be understood. So also it is, if you go to England, live in a particular locality and call it a ‘Hindu Colony’. But a ‘British Colony’ in England an ‘American Colony’ in the United States and a ‘Hindu Colony’ in our land Hindusthan are all absurd..” (Reference: MS Golwalkar, Bunch of Thoughts, pg 116)
By the above quote, Doctorji very openly proclaimed that India is a country for Hindus, and that Hindus are the natural nationals of India. All other communities such as Muslims, Christians, Parsis or Jews either came as invaders or took refuge in the country due to persecution being faced in their homeland.
Moreover, this also explained why Doctorji chose the name ‘Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’ for the organisation. According to Dr Hedgewar, the word ‘Rashtriya’ naturally meant ‘Hindu’. Using the word ‘Hindu’ instead of the word ‘Rashtriya’ would dilute the importance of Hindus to merely a community living in India and hide the reality that the land belongs to them.
Sangh believes that the word ‘Hindu’ is a cultural identity and not faith. Anyone who considers himself to be a son/daughter of the motherland and adopts the local culture automatically becomes a ‘Hindu’.
M.S Golwalkar (also known as ‘Guruji’ by Swayamsevaks) in his book ‘A Bunch of Thoughts’ explains the ideology of Hindutva and the Sangh. He explains that Muslims and Christians identifying themselves as ‘minorities’ is a major concern for the Sangh since they are alienating themselves from India’s nationalist movement.
According to Golwalkar, the term ‘religious minorities’ harden the shells of religion and separate them from nation-building. He says that Muslims and Christians should shake off their foreign complexes and adopt the local culture. (Reference: Bunch of Thoughts, pg 133)
Elaborating his point of view, he takes the example of Persia (where the Persian is still used instead of Arabic, despite being an Islamic country) and Indonesia (where Ramayana is still enacted in plays and the Hindu culture is still followed). Golwalkar says that adopting the local culture of a place won’t obstruct the faith of Muslims and Christians, but will bring them to mainstream nationalism where they no longer feel alienated. (Reference: Bunch of Thoughts, pg 134)
Golwalkar also says that Muslims and Christians will not be harmed in a Hindu Rashtra, and gives the example of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and the Maratha empire. He reiterates that Islam and Christianity weren’t suppressed during the time of Marathas and that Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj even arranged for an Islamic funeral of Afzal Khan in Pratapgarh despite his treachery and betrayal. (Reference: Bunch of Thoughts, pg 135)
Hindu Rashtra, though a controversial topic due to misinformation propagated by Marxists, is a very practical concept for India. Hinduism isn’t just a religion but the very identity and culture of India that is renowned world over.
Even when the Muslim invaders from Central Asia invaded our country, they referred to the residents of our land as ‘Hindus’, thus making it clear that the term ‘Hindu’ and ‘Indian’ are synonyms to each other and can be used interchangeably.