*appeared in Masihi Sansar, India, 15 to 31 Dec. 2000

 

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NAZIS OF INDIA?

Dr. Stephen Gill

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The Hindu nationalists, particularly the members of their ideological parent, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (the RSS), are the Nazis of India. This label has been given to them by minorities as well as by several opposition parties, including the communist party of India. The leaders of the untouchables, particularly V.T. Rajshekher, are very vocal in pinning them down as the Nazi Aryans.

 

These Hindu nationalists have attacked Christians as well as Christianity from every possible angle, advocating a national Church for India, like in China. It was advocated by K.S. Sudarshan, chief of the RSS on the 7th of October, 2000, at the festival celebration of the victory of Lord Rama, a Hindu warrior god, in Nagpur, where the RSS was found and where it is headquartered. The leader of the Hindu nationalist movement has asked the Christians to free themselves from foreign domination, because of the anti-national activities of foreign missionaries.

 

Mr. Sudarshan has conveniently over sighted the laws of India which are against anti-national activities, and so far no missionary has been found to have broken those laws. He also conveniently over sighted the anti-national activities in Hindu-dominated regions of India. Who is creating problems in those regions? He has also conveniently over sighted the powers which supported the Muslims and later British to invade and settle in India? Were those supporters not Hindu powers? Was there any missionary, even a mission school, in those regions of India in those days? History tells that the person who invited Alexander the Great to attack; the minister from Gujarat who invited Muhammad Ghaznavi to loot; the politician who helped Ahmad Shah Abdali for a blood-shed were Hindus. The courtiers of Delhi Durbar who invited Nader Shah; the rulers of India, who gave their daughters in marriages to the Mughals to strengthen their influence; and those who helped the British to tighten their grip over the country were non-Christians.

 

On the other hand, the movement for the freedom of Goa from Portuguese was started by the Catholics of that province. Furthermore, "had the Church not been active in India, this country would not have got freedom from the clutches of Britons up to this day. These were the Christian missionaries who gave the idea of freedom to Indians. The Indian National Congress was also formed by a foreign Christian." In addition to these, "the Christian missionaries started crusade against the social evils like tradition of Sati, to kill baby girls, restriction against widow marriage, tradition of polygamy, restriction on women education. They struggled hard for equal rights for them. These were the missionaries who started the process of modernization of Indian languages which was rejected by Aryan invaders."1

 

Before raising the slogan for Indianizing the church, the Hindu nationalists should turn the pages of history. They will be surprised that the words Hindu and India did not exist before the invasion of the Muslims. If they talk of culture, then the aboriginals are the real Indians because the Aryans are invaders from abroad. The aboriginals are the real inhabitants of this territory of India. A considerable number of Christians are from the aboriginal background. They follow their culture which is Indian or a blend of Indian and pre-Indian culture.

 

Mr. Sudarshan also conveniently forgot that India and China have different forms of government-- one has a dictatorship and the other is a democracy. He forgot the Hindu temples in Christian countries. Does he want them also to be under the governments of their respective countries? Although the Roman Catholic Church, the main target of the Hindu nationalists, is headquartered in the Vatican, its decisions are taken by the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI). Father Donald D'Souza is right when he says, "we live like other Indian citizens. We are already Indians and not a single bishop of the Catholic Church is a foreigner. Nobody should try to make us Indians."2

 

Moreover, the head of the RSS, an outfit of the Hindu nationalists, is violating Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted and proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations and accepted by India. Ironically, this undemocratic demand came when Vishawa Hindu Parishad, one of the wings of the RSS, applied to the United Nations for the status of a welfare organization.

 

First of all, the number of foreign missionaries in India can be counted on the fingers, and the requests for visas from new missionaries are refused. Apart from this handful of missionaries, there are business people in India from the west. The September 2000 trip of Prime Minister Vajpayee, a member of the RSS, to the USA was to solicit the USA businesses to invest in India. What are the Hindu nationalists going to do with those western financiers? Do they want only their money?


 

The call for an Indianized church is vicious like other statements against a weak segment of the population, less then 3%, who cannot afford to have even a single daily national newspaper, whose population has decreased as per the government census, and who are proud of their Indian culture and want to live peacefully among the Hindus who are 80% of the population as well as with others. The call is vicious because it is to bring the church under the control of the government of the Hindu nationalists who will control everything, including finances, appointments and beliefs of the church. The presence of Home Minister L.K. Advani on the last day of the RSS rally confirms the worst fears of the Christians, particularly when he and Prime Minister Vajpayee are the members of this outfit.

 

The demand by the leader of the Hindu nationalists was criticized by churches as well as by the leaders of the opposition parties as an attack on the freedom of religion. "While Congress MP Arjun Singh was particularly acrid, Amar Sing, general secretary of the Samajwadi Party, made a simple point: To suspect anybody's patriotism and interfere in matters of faith is disgusting and intolerable."3

 

Telugu Desam's Yerran Naidu was more forthright in his disapproval. JD (U) spokesman Mohan Prakash said:

 

"The followers of a particular religion will decide how they want to run their institutions and it is nobody's business. To say that the followers of a particular religion are anti‑national is totally unacceptable. Anti‑national elements have no religion and can be found anywhere. It is absolutely wrong to say that missionaries are funding anti‑national activities. By saying this, they are negating all the good work that missionaries have done for the people. There are unlawful elements in all religions, even in Hindu religion. There are laws to deal with them. It is wrong to blame the entire community."

 

It is encouraging that among Hindus, there is no shortage of persons who give fair credit to Christian institutions for producing skilled doctors, scientists, lawyers, judges, and diplomats who administered the nation after the British left in 1947 and are still administering for the betterment of the country. Mission schools and hospitals are still rendering their selfless service to the citizens of India in spite of the persecution. This is their Christian way to turn the other cheek to their persecutors.

 

The Hindu nationalists call the British regime in India as the Christian regime although that regime was of the business people for their business motives. To call them Christians or Christian missionaries is to mislead the masses. The British regime rather worked against the interests of the Christians. Several laws enshrined in the constitution of India even today, including the laws about adoption and inheritance, are the legacies of the British regime. These laws are not in the interest of the Christians of India. During the British regime most of the conversion was among the lower classes whereas before they came, conversion was mostly among the Brahmins, like in the state of Kerala. The Hindu nationalists conveniently put aside these and other facts of history to feed the masses with misinformation.

 

The British regime was however a blessing in disguise in some areas. It brought a political unity to India which existed before in the mythological chapters of the Hindu nationalist outfits. The British also put a stop to the custom of Sati according to which women were forced to sit with their dead husbands to be burnt alive. The Hindu nationalists, as the RSS, want to revive that custom.

 

What the Hindu nationalists advocate is carried out generally under totalitarian regimes. M.S. Golwalker, a founder of the Hindu nationalist movement, was an admirer of Hitler. The text books in schools where the BJP is in power, admire Nazism even today. Like Hitler, the nationalists also urge Hindus to be militant and proud of their Aryan heritage. They want to remove inferiority complex from the minds of the Aryan Hindus by making minorities, particularly Christians, their scapegoat.

 

The scapegoat of Hitler were the Jews in Germany who were less than one percent. With the force of his calculated agenda of a mythological theory about the Aryans, he led them to the gas chamber. For the Nazis of India, these scapegoats are the untouchables and particularly Christians.

 

Though the Muslims are the proverbial enemies of the Hindus, they are ignored at present for obvious reasons. Their number is much more than they are in Pakistan, and are concentrated in certain areas where even the Hindus are afraid of them. Moreover, the Muslims believe in striking back. To touch these Muslims is to bring the wrath of the Arab nations who supply oil to India.

 

Another minority, slightly less than Christians, are the Sikhs. They are considered martial people, ready to defend the defenceless. They have retaliated fiercely in the past, shaking the fabric of peace and politics of the country.

 

Unlike the Muslims and the Sikhs, Christians are most vulnerable section of the Indian society. They are poor, scattered all over the country, do not believe in retaliation, and are divided into denominations. Unlike the Arab nations who protect the Muslims in India, Christian nations remain silent considering it a domestic matter whenever Christians are persecuted.

 

This situation has given a free hand to Hindu nationalists to malign the church with every imaginable weapon. They tried even to remove churches from the list of places of worship on the ground that wine is served in those places. They also tried to sue an evangelical group because its members invited the sick for divine healing through prayer. To collect more funds to finance their tirades, they circulate misinformation. They propagate that missionaries are involved through schools and hospitals in converting Hindus, although strict laws and a climate of hatred have made conversion almost impossible. These laws against conversion are being made stricter in some parts of the country. No missionary has been brought to court for breaking these laws.

 

This propaganda of untruth to produce hatred has sown the seeds of self-destruction. By burning doctors like Mr. Staines and his two young children; by killing the evangelists; destroying copies of the Bible; by mocking at Jesus; terrorizing minorities; idolizing Hitler; suggesting an Indianized church and removing churches from the places of worship; and gang raping the nuns, the Hindu nationalists grow the dragons of violence which are sure to push the nation to the situation that pervaded before the British rule in India. And that day is within a handful of years, unless the Hindu nationalists give up following the path of Nazis.

 

G. S. Golwalker, a co-founder of the RSS, admired Hitler when the Nazis were in power. Golwalker also said that Muslims and Christians are outsiders. They will be allowed to live in India under the Hindu Nation without or with nominal rights. Even today, the followers of Golwalker walk within the same circle. To call the Christians foreigners because Christ was not born in India is like saying that those citizens who do not drive Indian cars or use Indian computers are outsiders. These nationalists forget those Hindus who have been living for generations in other countries where they openly worship their gods and goddesses, including Rama and Krishna. The democratic governments of those countries do not treat their Hindu population as foreigners on the ground their religion is from abroad. Moreover, those Hindus have full freedom to convert others to their beliefs.

 

K.S. Sudershan's statement shakes the foundations of unity in the already shaken India when he proposes a government-sanctioned church, along the lines of the church in China. Such statements, including those of G.S. Golwalker who is an important predecessor of these nationalists, violate human rights of the minorities. Their statements indicate that the Hindu nationalists look outside of India for a model which is contrary to their own ideology.

 

When Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India, was singing the rhyme of Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai (India and China are brothers), China attacked India and inflicted a most crushing and humiliating defeat, capturing thousands of Indian soldiers. Same China is occupying a vast land of India even today. Same China that alleged to have provided nuclear technology to Pakistan, the arch enemy of India, provides a blueprint to the nationalists for a national church.

 

Even Nazis, whom the Hindu nationalists have and are still adore, did not have good opinions about Indians. Golwalker and other Hindu nationalists supported Hitler for reviving the glory of the Aryans. Hindu nationalists even presented Hitler as an avtar (reincarnation) of Vishu, a Hindu god. These illusions never pleased Hitler. In his biography, Hitler has slapped such Indians with the words like "Asian jugglers". He wanted India to be ruled by the British. In spite of his desperate attempts, Subhas Chandra Bose failed to receive any tangible help from Hitler for the liberation of India from the British. He was able to meet Hitler only once and that too with great difficulty. In that meeting, Hitler indulged in a sort of monologue. Subhas Chandra Bose considered his days in Germany as wasteful exercise. The German press made disparaging remarks about India. Some Indians were even physically assaulted.

 

Although the world has changed, the nationalists have the same ideology that Savarkar and Golwalker had. The minorities and the opposition parties are aware of their hidden agenda that is to legalize persecution as the Nazis did. Under a climate of hatred they are trying to have a clear majority of the Hindu nationalist elements in the parliament. The history of the last seventy years or so confirms that they are successful to a great extent in using the strategy of misinformation and hatred to gain power. In 1984, they had two seats. In March 1998, they formed their own government with the help of twenty political parties. They fought another election and were able to form their own government in 1999, again with several alliances. They are able to form governments also in some provinces. They do not want to give up their government, although it is a motley of several groups of opposite beliefs. If the trend continues, and it will because of the food of misinformation that they dole out to the majority which can hardly read and write and are poor, the nationalists will be able to form their own government with their own numbers to have the power to legalize the violation of human rights, including the formation of an Indianized church, banning of conversion, mission schools, and encouraging the tradition of sati. They are sure to restrict foreign funds to anyone, except to the Hindu nationalist institutions.

 

Hitler pushed his agenda of hatred gradually in practice. The minority thought of those signs after the persecution started in full scale. Likewise, there is every sign of what is likely to happen when these nationalists would come to power. It is a fear which will be no longer imaginary within a handful of years.

 

For his propaganda or agenda, Hitler depended heavily on the donations from abroad. To receive those donations, Hitler manufactured imaginary tigers of fear. Hindu nationalists follow the same path to receive donations from the Hindus settled abroad. All India Christian Council denounced the RSS on the 19th of October for holding its claim of monopoly on patriotism. It also added that the coffers of the RSS and its affiliates are filled with foreign currency that comes mainly from their financial base in the United States.4 Due to this money from abroad, the Hindu religion is prosperous in India these days. Several new temples are the result of the overflow of this money. Huge sums have poured in to build a magnificent temple in Ayodhya after the demolition of a 500 years old mosque which led to a blood-bath.

 

It is in the interest of peace and progress as well as in the interest of the Hindu nationalists to stop looking to totalitarian regimes for a model, because India has its own way of living, its own culture, its own thinking which have been matured over the centuries. India has developed its own traditions; its own civilization based on tolerance and understanding. India itself is a United Nations. That should be the fountain of their inspiration, not communist China and Nazi Germany. India's civilization has survived the cyclones for the last four to five thousand years and will continue surviving without any propaganda of untruth, advocacy for militancy, and violation of human rights. The world is not the same that was during the days of Hitler. The world has changed into global village of multi-faiths and cultures. The new rhythm of the new era is asking the Hindu nationalists to go with the time.

 

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Work Cited

 

1Masihi Sansar Fortnightly. Nov. 30, 2000, p. 3

2India Abroad. Oct. 20, 2000, p. 26

3India Today. Oct. 23, 2000, p.13

4Masihi Sansar Fortnightly. Nov. 15, 2000, p. 10

 

copyright Stephen Gill