Monday, December 1, 2008

British Charity & Hindu Extremism - 11

Awaaz — South Asia Watch Ltd, 2004



If they grow stronger they can play the part of Sudeten Germans alright. But if we Hindus in India grow stronger in time these Muslim friends of the league type will have to play the part of German-Jews instead. We Hindus have taught the Shakas and the Huns already to play that part pretty well. So it is no use bandying words till the test comes. The taste of the pudding is in its eating. (V. D. Savarkar, Hindu Rashtra Darshan, G. Khare, Bombay, 1949, page 65)

Hitler knows better than Pandit Nehru does what suits Germany best. The very fact that Germany or Italy has so wonderfully recovered and grown as powerful as never before at the touch of the Nazi or Fascist magical wand is enough to prove that those political ‘isms’ were the most congenial tonics their health demanded…Pandit Nehru went out of his way when he took sides in the name of all Indians against Germany and Italy. Pandit Nehru might claim to express the Congress section in India at the most. But it should be made clear to the German, Italian or Japanese public that crores of Hindu Sangathanists in India who neither Pandit Nehru nor Congress represents cherish no ill-will towards Germany or Italy or Japan or any other country in the world simply because they had chosen a form of Government or constitutional policy which they thought suited best and contributed most to their national solidarity and strength (‘Speech on India’s Foreign Policy’, Poona, 3.11.1938 in V. D. Savarkar, Veer Savarkar’s Whirlwind Propaganda, A. S. Bhide, Bombay, 1941, pages 51-52.)

Germany was perfectly justified in uniting the Austrian and Sudeten Germans under the German Flag…The fact is that when Germany was weak, they [the British] partitioned [her] piecemeal. Now that Germany is strong, why should she not strike to unite all Germans and consolidate them into a pan-German State and realise the political dream which generations of German people cherished. (‘Speech on India’s Foreign Policy’, Poona, 3.11.1938 in V. D. Savarkar, Veer Savarkar’s Whirlwind Propaganda, A. S. Bhide, Bombay, 1941, page 53.)

In 1939, Savarkar’s Hindu Mahasabha celebrated Germany’s ‘solemn revival of Aryan culture, the glorification of the Swastika, her patronage of Vedic learning, and the ardent championship of the tradition of Indo-Germanic civilisation’ (M. Casolari, ‘Hindutva’s foreign tie-up in the 1930s: archival evidence’, Economic & Political Weekly, 22 January 2000, page 224.)

The Nazi newspaper Volkischer Beobachter reported on Savarkar’s speeches in exchange for the promotion of Germany’s anti-semitic policies in India (C. Jaffrelot, The Hindu Nationalist Movement in Indian Politics, Hurst, London, 1996, pages 51-52). This resulted in Savarkar receiving a copy of Mein Kampf from Germany (M. Casolari, ‘Hindutva’s foreign tie-up in the 1930s: archival evidence’, Economic & Political Weekly, 22 January 2000, page 224.)

B. S. MOONJE [RSS Founder]

K. B. Hedgewar [RSS Founder]


British reports had highlighted that from 1927, B. S. Moonje, an RSS co-founder was inspired to model the RSS on Fascist and Nazi movements (M. Casolari, ‘Hindutva’s foreign tie-up in the 1930s: archival evidence’, Economic & Political Weekly, 22 January 2000.)

In 1931, Moonje visited Fascist Italy and met with Mussolini, by whom he was extremely impressed. Of the Fascist Balilla movement, which organized military training and fascist indoctrination of young boys, Moonje said: The Balilla institutions and the conception of the whole organization have appealed to me the most…The whole organization is conceived by Mussolini for the military regeneration of Italy, Italians, by nature, appear ease-loving and non-martial, like the Indians generally. They have cultivated, like Indians, the work of peace and neglected the cultivation of the art of war. Mussolini saw the essential weakness of his country and conceived the idea of the Balilla organization…India and particularly Hindu India need some such institution for the military regeneration of the Hindus…Our institution, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh of Nagpur under Dr Hedgewar is of this kind, though quite independently conceived. I shall spend the rest of my life developing and extending this institution of Dr Hedgewar all throughout Maharashtra and other provinces. (Moonje quoted in M. Casolari, ‘Hindutva’s foreign tie-up in the 1930s: archival evidence’, Economic & Political Weekly, 22 January 2000, page 220.)

The Italy visit inspired Moonje to promote these ideas among Hindus in Maharashtra and begin the organization of Hindu youth movements based on this fascist model. This included a conference on Fascism and Mussolini’s political thought in 1934, presided by RSS founder K. B. Hedgewar and at which Moonje spoke. (M. Casolari, ‘Hindutva’s foreign tie-up in the 1930s: archival evidence’, Economic & Political Weekly, 22 January 2000.)

…unless we have our own swaraj with a Hindu as a dictator like Shivaji of old or Mussolini or Hitler of present day Italy and Germany…But this does not mean that we have to sit with folded hands until some such dictator arises in India. We should formulate a scientific scheme and carry on propaganda for it. (Moonje quoted in M. Casolari, ‘Hindutva’s foreign tie-up in the 1930s: archival evidence’, Economic & Political Weekly, 22 January 2000, page 221.)



It is superfluous to emphasise the importance of Racial Unity in the Nation state. A Race is a hereditary Society having common customs, common language, common memories of glory and disaster; in short it is a population with a common origin under one culture. Such a race is by far the most important ingredient of a Nation…We will not seek to prove this axiomatic truth, that the Race is the body of the Nation, and that with its fall, the Nation ceases to exist. (Madhav Golwalkar, second RSS supreme leader, in We, or our nationhood defined, Bharat Publications, Nagpur, [1939] 1944, page 21.)

…in Hindusthan exists and must needs exist the ancient Hindu nation and nought else but the Hindu Nation. All those not belonging to the national i.e. Hindu Race, Religion, Culture and Language, naturally fall out of the pale of real ‘National’ life…All others posing to be patriots and wilfully indulging in a course of action detrimental to the Hindu Nation are traitors and enemies to the National Cause…all those who fall outside the five-fold limits of that idea can have no place in the national life, unless they abandon their differences, and completely merge themselves in the National Race. So long, however, as they maintain their racial, religious and cultural differences, they cannot but be only foreigners, who may either be friendly or inimical to the Nation. (Madhav Golwalkar, second RSS supreme leader, in We, or our nationhood defined, Bharat Publications, Nagpur, [1939] 1944, pages 45-6.)

For Golwalkar, no minority was deserving of any ‘right what-so-ever’ or ‘any obligations from the National race’. Minorities could: live only as outsiders, bound by all the codes and conventions of the Nation, at the sufferance of the Nation and deserving of no special protection, far less any privilege or rights. There are only two courses open to the foreign elements, either to merge themselves in the national race and adopt its culture, or to live at the sweet will of the national race. That is the only logical and correct solution. That alone keeps the national life healthy and undisturbed. That alone keeps the Nation safe from the danger of a cancer developing into its body politic of the creation of a state within a state. From this standpoint, sanctioned [by] the experiences of shrewd old nations, the non-Hindu peoples of Hindusthan must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence Hindu religion, must entertain no ideas but those of the glorification of the Hindu race and culture i.e. they must not only give up their attitude of intolerance and ungratefulness towards this land and its age-long traditions but must also cultivate a positive attitude of love and devotion instead - in a word they must cease to be foreigners, or may stay in the country wholly subordinated to the Hindu nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment - not even citizen’s rights. We are an old nation; and let us deal as old nations ought to and do deal with the foreign races who have chosen to live in our country. (Madhav Golwalkar, second RSS supreme leader, in We, or our nationhood defined, Bharat Publications, Nagpur, [1939] 1944, pages 48-9.)

German race pride has now become the topic of the day. To keep up the purity of the Race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the semitic Races - the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has shown how well nigh impossible it is for Races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindusthan to learn and profit by. (Madhav Golwalkar, second RSS supreme leader, in We, or our nationhood defined, Bharat Publications, Nagpur, [1939] 1944, page 37.)


Pseudo-secular(ism) – Hindutva organizations claim that the protection of minorities, including recognition of cultural distinctiveness or representation, affirmative action and related policies in a democratic society is illegitimate. This is also considered to be a ‘pseudo-secular’ effort by non-Hindutva parties to win ‘vote banks’ from minorities. However, Hindutva itself is not about creating a more genuine or expansive democratic secularism – its overriding aim is to create a Hindu nation-state. In Hindutva ideology, simply the presence of minority groups in a democracy is seen as a grievous insult to the ‘Hindu nation’.

Hindutva guarantees ‘genuine secularism’ or positive secularism – the falsehood here is based on two claims: first, that Hinduism has always been tolerant, liberal and accommodating of other (Hindu) sects and traditions within it; and second, that Hindutva guarantees secularism. Neither claim is empirically or historically valid.

Integrate into the national mainstream – make groups, especially dalits and adivasis into supporters of Hindutva and the Hindu nation. ‘Mainstream’ is the RSS word for a vision of Hindu society organized by it.

Social harmony (samajik samarashta) or social integration – make dalits and adivasis give up their independent movements for emancipation and their autonomous aspirations. ‘Social harmony’ or ‘integration’ is about evading embedded caste barriers, accepting the legitimacy of the brahminical caste order and reducing dalit oppression to a question of personal understanding and contact. The RSS frequently calls for the banning of the word ‘untouchability’, but it has never called for the banning of the caste (varna) system. The overriding aim is to ‘purify’ dalits, integrate them into caste Hinduism and make them adopt the Hindutva world-view.

Social integration, not social conflict – the RSS views any independent movements for social justice as threats to its vision of an organic Hindu nation. ‘Social integration’ is an attempt to subvert or displace dalit and other movements for social justice.

Social upliftment – into a hierarchical caste order

Anti-social or anti-national forces or ideas – autonomous movements for social justice, independent identities, regionalist, secessionist or autonomous movements, Islam, Christianity, secularism, Hindus who oppose Hindutva

Inculcate patriotism or nationalism – allegiance to Hindu nationhood not to the secular, liberal and democratic ideas of nationalism that grew from the Indian independence movement, or in post-Independence India. When Hindutva groups speak of ‘patriotism’ or ‘nationalism’, they do not mean loyalty to the democratic, federal, secular union of India, but to the ‘Hindu nation’ and to Akhand Bharat (‘Undivided India’). The ‘Hindu nation’ of the RSS includes not just the borders of India but Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Tibet, Sri Lanka, all of Myanmar, much of Afghanistan, and chunks of other south-east Asian countries.

Culture, cultural values – this is not ‘Indian culture’, but represents the Hindutva idea of ‘sanskriti’, brahminical, upper-caste, northern Indian religions as modified by the RSS

All round development – physical, mental and spiritual training of individuals into the RSS vision of Hindutva

Inculcation of time honoured values and traditions, the values of Bharatiya Sanskriti, Dharma and patriotism – education into Hindutva

Imparting the correct sanskars, moral development – ideological inculcation of Hindutva

Moulding personalities – turning individuals into RSS volunteers (swayamsevaks) working in the service of the Hindu nation

Character building – a key RSS phrase, related to physical and ideological discipline inculcated in RSS shakhas

The noble task of nation-building – creating the Hindu nation

Noble causes – those related to the aims of Hindu sangathan

Selfless service – the idea of the ideal RSS member who is prepared to forego other personal desires in favour of service for the key purpose of sangathan and Hindu nation

Like-minded organizations, people or thinking – a euphemism for RSS affiliates, organizations or individuals supporting RSS ideology

The RSS and its supporters also use a set of slogans to make the RSS and its activities appear to be harmless and committed to humanity. These include: ‘Service to humanity is service to God’ (Narseva is Narayanseva); ‘Let us ennoble the world’ (krinvantu vishwaryam – ‘let us Aryanize the world’); ‘seva, sanskar, suraksha’ – service, ideology and self-reliance are key slogans of a wide range of Hindutva groups, from the RSS to the Bajrang Dal and the BJP; ‘A vision in action’; ‘The whole world is one family’; ‘Truth is one, sages call it by many names’; ‘We achieve by our own efforts’; ‘Let all mankind be happy…’


Adivasi: Literally ‘first dwellers’. Refers to the ‘aborigine’ or ‘tribal’ populations that comprise 8-10 percent of India’s population. Adivasis are often referred to by Hindutva supporters as people who have ‘fallen’ from Hinduism and must be converted to the Hindutva world-view. The RSS rejects the term ‘adivasi’ since it implies that ‘tribal’ people inhabited India before 'Hindu-Aryans'.

Adivasi (‘tribal’) secessionist or autonomous movements: In several Indian states and regions, including Nagaland, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Assam, Darjeeling and Jharkhand, some adivasi groups are demanding either secession from or greater autonomy within the Indian union.

Akhand Bharat:‘Undivided India’, meaning both pre-partition India and a much larger RSS idea of ‘Hindu territory’ covering India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Tibet, much of Afghanistan, Kashmir, all of Burma, and large parts of other south-east Asian countries.

Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP): RSS student affiliate.

Aryan, Aryanism: Aryanism is central to Hindutva ideology, but it does not necessarily have the same connotations as the term ‘Aryan’ does in the west. The main Hindutva belief is that India was the original homeland of the Aryans, that Aryans bestowed civilization on the world, that Aryans had migrated from India and colonized the world, that Hindu religion is Aryan, the pre-Vedic Harappan civilization was Aryan, and that ancient Aryan-Vedic civilization was perfect and ideal.

Ayodhya: Town in Uttar Pradesh state and focus of intensive Hindutva activities. In 1992 the medieval Babri mosque in the town was destroyed by Hindutva groups and the VHP is currently working to build a Ram temple in its place.

Babri mosque (masjid): Sixteenth century mosque in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh state. Hindutva groups claim it was built over a temple that was the birthplace of the mythic God Ram. Destroyed by Hindutva mobs in 1992.

Bajrang Dal (BD, Hanuman’s Army): Extremely violent youth wing of the VHP, involved in considerable anti-Muslim and anti-Christian violence in India.

Bajrangbali: The Marathi version of the monkey god Hanuman, representing both fighting strength and subsidiary ‘tribal’ groups. Hanuman has been promoted among adivasi groups as a deity, clearly indicating the Hindutva desire to portray adivasis as children of a lesser god.

Basti: Urban tenement or slum, usually comprised of makeshift shelters.

Bauddhik: RSS ideological education.

Bauddhik pramukh: RSS / HSS head of ideological education.

Bhagwa Dhwaj: The RSS saffron flag of the ‘Hindu nation, seen as the RSS’s only ‘guru’ or ‘true preceptor’. RSS devotion and ritual donation of money is to its flag.

Bharat: ‘India’, but in its use by Hindutva groups, refers to an entirely Hinduized and sacred conception of the territory of India.

Bharat Kalyan Pratishthan (BKP): Front set up by the VHP in India to enable it to receive funds from abroad.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP, ‘Indian Peoples Party’): Hindu nationalist political party formed by RSS workers, led by RSS members and currently heading the coalition that forms the Indian government. Its key ideologies are Hindutva cultural nationalism and ‘integral humanism’, another Hindutva ideology developed by an important RSS worker in the 1960s. The BJP slogan is ‘One nation, one people, one culture’. BJP controlled states, such as Gujarat, have seen considerable Hindutva violence and massive expansion of RSS / VHP fronts. The Gujarat BJP and the Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi have been seriously implicated in the Hindutva carnage against Muslims in 2002.

Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh: RSS workers affiliate.

Bharatmata: Deity that is now made to represent the RSS’s view of the ‘holy motherland’. While Bharatmata has been an important Hindu goddess, there has been no major devotional tradition (sampraday) that is based on her exclusive worship. The RSS and VHP have used her to represent the ‘Hindu nation’ because there is not a single deity in the vast Hindu tradition that represents the RSS vision of Hindurashtra.

Bhuj: Town in Kutch district, Gujarat state.

Communal, communalism: In India, ‘communal’ and ‘communalism’ refer to ideology and practices of discrimination, hatred and violence against another group based on factors that include religion, caste, language, ethnic background or region.

Crore: Ten million.

Dalit: Literally ‘downtrodden’. Those outside the Hindu caste system and referred to as ‘untouchables’ in the pre-Independence period. Subject to systematic institutional discrimination, hatred, prejudice and violence.

Dargah: A shrine or centre of pilgrimage and devotion in Muslim, most often sufi-influenced, traditions. A grave of a Muslim preacher considered locally to have been a saint.

Dharma Sansad: VHP religious ‘council of the learned’.

Ekal Vidyalaya: Important ‘one-teacher schools’ – RSS / VHP schools typically run in remote tribal and border areas or urban slums. Aimed at propagating RSS ideology among the next generation of disadvantaged children and recruiting them to RSS causes. Usually run by Vidya Bharati, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Sewa Bharati and Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram.

FCRA: Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act 1976. Primarily designed to prevent external financial resources from going to Indian political parties or affecting the Indian political and democratic process. Organizations notified to be of a political nature are also prohibited from receiving funds from outside India.

FISI: Friends of Indian Society International, a UK and US based affiliate of the HSS.

Ganvesh: Uniform, RSS / HSS uniform worn at shakhas and other events.

Ghar vapasi: Hindutva ‘homecoming’ ceremony – converting adivasis, dalits, Muslims and Christians to the Hindutva world view.

Godhra: A town in Gujarat. In February 2002, a train carrying supporters of the Ram temple campaign who were returning from Ayodhya was attacked just outside the town reportedly by a large Muslim mob, and almost 60 Hindus were killed. This became the trigger for the Hindutva pogrom in Gujarat state against Muslim communities.

Golwalkar, Madhav Sadashiv: The second RSS ‘Supreme Leader’ after Hedgewar’s death. Very strong supporter of Nazi and Fascist ideas. His writings on the Hindu nation in the 1930s forbid any citizens rights for minorities and celebrated Nazi Germany’s policies. The most important RSS personality after Hedgewar, and deeply revered in the RSS and its shakhas. Golwalkar’s birth centenary in 2006 will be the focus for considerable sangh parivar activity in India and abroad.

Guru dakshina: A ritual of annual donation of money to the RSS / HSS saffron flag – the main way of collecting funds from members.

Gurukula: Traditionally, an institution of religious discipleship in which an initiate lives with and follows the teachings of a guru. Sometimes also means school. Used by RSS education affiliates to name some of its schools.

Harijan: A term used by Gandhi, meaning ‘children of Vishnu (Hari)’, to refer to dalits.

Hedgewar, Keshav Baliram: One of the main founders of the RSS and its first ‘Supreme Leader’. He is deeply revered in the RSS and its shakhas. Together with B. S. Moonje, promoted Mussolini’s political thought in India.

Hindu (Half-) Marathon: An annual run organized by the HSS.

Hindu dharma: Usually means Hindu religion or religious duty, but turned by RSS / VHP ideologues to mean the natural law and natural order whose key purpose is to uphold and strengthen the Hindu nation.

Hindu Jagran Manch (HJM, ‘Forum for Hindu Awakening’): Violent VHP / RSS affiliate that works to convert Christians and adivasi populations to the Hindutva world-view. In Gujarat, it works closely with the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram and the Bajrang Dal.

Hindu nation: The RSS family view is that India must become an exclusive ‘Hindu nation’ that would replace the current democratic, secular, federal republic. ‘Hindu nation’ is based on a two tier idea of citizenship – legitimate citizenship that Hindus possess by virtue of their religion, and a secondary or curtailed citizenship for minorities who follow what the RSS and VHP consider to be foreign, alien, invader religions, such as Christianity and Islam.

Hindu Sahitya Kendra: HSS Hindutva literature dissemination centre and bookshop.

Hindu Sevika Samiti: The HSS UK’s women’s affiliate. Organizes about 30 weekly women’s shakhas attended by around 500 women and girls. Dedicated to Hindutva ideology and aims.

Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh UK (HSS UK): The RSS branch in the UK having strong and extensive links to Indian RSS. Organizes around 70 weekly physical and ideological training cells (shakhas) in UK and propagates RSS ideology among UK Hindus. Has about 1,500 regular attendees. At the core of the UK Hindutva organizations.

Hindurashtra: An exclusive Hindu nation-state, the primary goal of followers of Hindutva ideology.

Hindutva: Extremist ideology of Hindu supremacy and exclusive Hindu nationhood. Created by V. D. Savarkar in the 1920s. Key idea is that Hindus are those who share the blood of 'Vedic-Aryans', who adhere to upper-caste culture (sanskriti), and who consider India as their fatherland or holyland. India belongs only to Hindus. Minorities do not belong to India, since ‘their fatherland and holyland’ is elsewhere. Hindutva is the key political ideology of the RSS and its family of organizations.

India Development and Relief Fund (IDRF): US-based fundraising wing for RSS projects in India.

Jankalyan Samiti (People’s Welfare Society): An RSS service affiliate working in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Orissa and various other states.

Kalyan Ashram: See Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram.

Kalyan Ashram Trust (KAT): UK charity, part of the sangh parivar , that aims to raise funds for RSS ‘tribal’ projects in India.

Karyakarta: RSS / HSS worker or activist.

Karyakarta Varg: RSS / HSS workers camp.

Karyalaya: RSS / HSS office.

Karyawaha: Secretary.

Kendriya Karyakari Mandal: RSS / HSS central executive committee.

Keshav Pratishthan: Keshav Institute, the headquarters of the HSS UK in Leicester, named after Keshav Baliram Hedgewar, the RSS founder.

Kutch: District of Gujarat state in western India.

Lakh: One hundred thousand.

Lok Kalyan Samiti (People’s Welfare Society): An RSS service affiliate.

Mananiya: Venerable or honourable.

Marg Darshak Mandal: VHP religious advisory council.

MLA: Member of the Legislative Assembly, an elected state politician.

Moonje, Balkrishna Shivram: An early RSS founder, active promoter of militarism and Nazi / Fascist ideas in India, and revered by the RSS today as ‘dharamveer’ – hero in the religious struggle.

National Council for Education, Research and Training (NCERT): Statutory body of the Indian central government that issues textbooks for the central government-controlled school system. State governments have their own state CERTs for their state school systems.

National Hindu Students Forum (NHSF): UK student body set up by the HSS UK and modelled on the Indian RSS student affiliate. Promotes a range of RSS and VHP projects among UK students. Part of the HSS family. Shares HSS UK address.

National Human Rights Commission: Statutorily and legally empowered agency that monitors and aims to safeguard human rights in India.

National Medicos Organization: RSS health and medical affiliate.

One-teacher schools: See ekal vidyalaya.

Organiser: The Indian RSS’s main English language weekly paper.

Overseas Friends of the BJP (OFBJP): UK and US based sangh parivar organization that lobbies for and promotes BJP activities, policies and politicians abroad.

Parampoojaniya (P.P.): The principle one to be venerated, applied to the RSS supreme leader.

Paravartan: Hindutva ‘turning back’ or ‘reclamation’ ceremony to convert adivasis, dalits, Muslims and Christians to the Hindutva world-view.

Parivar: ‘Family’, but in the Hindutva context refers to the RSS family of allied organizations.

Patidar: ‘Landholder’, a sub-caste group from Gujarat, of which Patels are a major section.

Pir: A Muslim preacher or religious leader in the sufi-influenced or mystical traditions.

Prachar: Propagation of RSS ideology.

Pracharak: Full-time RSS worker or propagator.

Prant sanghchalak: RSS regional head.

Prarthana: Prayers. The RSS has its own hymns, prayers, festivals and rituals, the meanings of which have hardly any relation to traditional Hindu devotion. The same RSS prayers, hymns and festivals are followed exactly, whether in India or abroad.

Pratinidhi Sabha: Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha is the annual central general assembly meeting of the Indian RSS. Akhil UK Pratinidhi Sabha is the HSS UK annual general meeting.

Pratishthan: Institute or foundation.

Rashtra Sevika Samiti: The RSS women’s affiliate, formed in 1936. Organized like the RSS, runs women’s shakhas and has a nation-wide structure. Follows a patriarchal ideology strongly opposed to feminism and genuine women’s equality and emancipation. Dedicated to Hindutva.

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS, National Volunteers Corps): A paramilitary, cultish organization formed in 1925-1926. Inspired by Fascist and Nazi ideas and modelled on Italian Fascist youth militia. Organized undemocratically, an all-male organization based on the idea of obedience to the Supreme Leader and of the Supreme Leader as the principle one to be venerated. Core ideology is Hindutva. Dedicated to turning India into an exclusive Hindu nation. Involved and implicated in serious anti-minority violence and hatred. Currently has several million members in India. Branches outside India usually called ‘Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh’.

Rugnalay: Health project or ‘hospital’.

Saffron flag: See Bhagwa Dhwaj.

Sampark pramukh: RSS head of contacts, networking, publicity and the media.

Saffronization: Takeover or domination by Hindutva organizations of previously non-Hindutva institutions or fields.

Sangathan: A key RSS method that means to organize, consolidate, discipline and strengthen all Hindus under its ideology.

Sangh: ‘Society’. The RSS; also used to refer to the RSS family.

Sangh darshan: RSS ideology.

Sangh parivar: A large family of organizations created, run and organized by, and annually reporting to the RSS. The RSS makes a strong distinction between its family and organizations outside it, including other Hindu organizations. The most accurate translation would be ‘the close family of RSS allied organizations working under RSS ideology in order to further RSS aims’.

Sangh Sandesh: HSS UK newsletter available to HSS UK members.

Sangh Shiksha Varg: Annual HSS 8-10 day intensive physical and ideological training camp for its educational propagators.

Sanghchalak: HSS head (president).

Sankhya: Count, numbers attending an RSS / HSS shakha.

Sanskar Kendra, bal sanskar kendra: RSS young children’s inculcation centres.

Sanskriti, sanskruti: The RSS / VHP view of Hindu culture, based on upper-caste, hierarchical, brahminic and Hindutva ideas. Linked inextricably to ‘sanskritik rashtriyavad’, an extreme cultural nationalism.

Saraswati Shishu Mandir / Saraswati Vidya Mandir: Usual name for RSS schools promoting RSS ideology among schoolchildren and mostly run by Vidya Bharati, the RSS education affiliate.

Sarsanghchalak : The Supreme Leader of the RSS in India and abroad.

Sevikas: Members of RSS / HSS women’s affiliate.

Sewa: ‘Sewa’ is a term that can mean giving help or assistance unconditionally to others who need it. It also has religious connotations - in helping others, one increases the likelihood of one’s own ‘salvation’. The RSS use of the term means undertaking service for the purpose of Hindutva consolidation and organization, typically extending the RSS’s reach and influence and recruiting for the RSS.

Sewa Bharati (SB): The RSS service affiliate. Works in conjunction with various RSS and VHP outfits to provide service activities and recruit for the RSS, especially among dalit and ‘tribal’ groups. Dedicated to the idea of ‘Hindu nation’.

Sewa Education Aid: Sewa International UK project raising funds for RSS education affiliates in India.

Sewa International India: The RSS international fundraising wing, raises funds for and promotes RSS service projects among Indians outside India.

Sewa International UK (SIUK): The RSS fundraising wing in the UK. Primarily raises funds for RSS service and education projects in India.

Sewakarya: RSS service activity.

Shakha: A central RSS method of organization. It means RSS cell or branch that meets daily (in India) or weekly (elsewhere). In a shakha, uniformed RSS members undergo both physical training ranging (ranging from military drills and weapons training to playing games) and ideological training. RSS prayers to itself, its first two supreme leaders and to the Hindu nation are undertaken.

Shibir, shivir: Training camp.

Shiksharthis, shikshaks: RSS / HSS ‘teachers’ or ideological propagators.

Shishu vatikas: RSS pre-primary education projects, usually run by Vidya Bharati.

Shivaji: Seventeenth century general who founded the Mahratta kingdom / confederacy. A key symbolic figure for Hindutva organizations who claim that the Mahratta confederacy was a proto-Hindu nation based on war against Mughal (Muslim) domination. However, the detailed history of Shivaji and the Mahratta kingdom presents little support for this view, not least because Shivaji’s major generals included Muslims, his release from capture was aided by Muslims, a key military adversary of his was the Hindu general of the Mughal emperor’s army, the Mahratta confederacy fought Rajput (Hindu) armies, and Shivaji built mosques and churches in his kingdom to ensure religious toleration.

Singh, Rajendra (the late): Former Indian RSS ‘supreme leader’.

SSVE: See Sangh Shiksha Varg.

Sudarshan, K. S.: Current Indian RSS ‘supreme leader’.

Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM): RSS Hindu nationalist development affiliate that stresses economic nationalism and self-reliance according to Hindutva precepts. Appropriates the term ‘swadeshi’ which was used in the secular Indian freedom movement to refer to the policy of boycotting British goods.

Swayamsevak: RSS volunteer / HSS member.

Taluka: An administrative unit of rural districts in a state. Comprises a group of villages and normally has its headquarters in a town.

Tribal: An inaccurate shorthand term that refers to the adivasi populations in India, those officially recognised under the designation ‘scheduled tribes’.

Upadhyaya, Deendayal (the late): An RSS full-time worker and one of the founders of the Hindu nationalist Jan Sangh political party in the 1950s, the precursor to the current BJP.

Utkal Bipanna Sahayata Samiti (UBSS),: Major RSS affiliate in Orissa state.

Utsav: Festival. The RSS celebrates six distinctive festivals annually.

Vanvasi: The Hindutva term for adivasi, or the 'first dwellers' of India, the ‘tribal’ groups. The Hindutva term means ‘forest dwellers’ rather than original people, since Hindutva groups believe 'Aryan-Hindus' were the original inhabitants of India.

Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram (VKA, ‘Tribal welfare centre’): Violent RSS affiliate working to convert adivasi (‘tribal’) groups to the Hindutva world view and recruit them to the RSS. Involved in serious anti-Christian and anti-Muslim violence in Gujarat, including during the 2002 carnage.

Varg: Camp.

Vedic: Related to, or claiming to derive authority from one of the four Vedas, texts considered sacred in many caste Hindu traditions. The period during which the Vedas were composed.

Vibhag: Department, section or zone.

Vidya Bharati (VB, Akhil Bharatiya Vidya Bharati Sansthan): RSS educational affiliate, runs a large network of RSS schools and educational projects in India. Dedicated to inculcating RSS ideology among schoolchildren.

Vigyan Bharati: RSS affiliate that describes itself as a ‘science council’.

Vijaya Dashmi: Seen as an auspicious day in several Hindu religious traditions, and a focus for festivals.

Vishwa Dharam Prasar Yatra: VHP organized global journey to promote Hindutva and VHP campaigns.

Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP, World Hindu Council): Organization formed by the RSS in 1964 to ‘unite Hindus’ and to act as a ‘church’ of Hinduism. At the forefront of anti-minority violence and hatred in India. Launched various campaigns against Muslim monuments (including the ‘Ramjanmabhoomi’ movement to destroy the Babri mosque at Ayodhya), and against Christian minorities. Makes the claim that it represents all the Hindus in the world.

Vishwa Hindu Parishad UK (VHPUK): UK branch of the Indian VHP, also closely associated with HSS UK. Works to promote VHP aims and goals in the UK. Closely linked to the Indian VHP’s international section.

Vishwa Sangh Shibir: World RSS Camp.

Vistarak: RSS / HSS expansion and development workers, usually those working full-time to expand the RSS / HSS network in a new area.

Waqf board: Statutory agencies having constitutional status that oversee the welfare activities of Muslim communities, including maintaining mosques, graveyards and other religious sites.




The report is based on: site visits to Gujarat villages in September 2003; interviews in Gujarat from March – May 2003; interviews in the UK, US and other parts of India during 2003; and analysis of paper and electronic documents, primarily those produced by Hindutva groups.

PUBLISHED BY — AWAAZ SOUTH ASIA WATCH LTD, LONDON © Awaaz South Asia Watch Limited, 2004 ISBN 0 9547174 0 6 (PRINT VERSION)


Any final conclusions of fact or expressions of opinion are the responsibility of Awaaz – South Asia Watch Limited alone. Awaaz – South Asia Watch would like to thank numerous individuals and organizations in the UK, India and the US for advice and assistance in the preparation of this report. Awaaz – South Asia Watch would also like to acknowledge the insights of the report The Foreign Exchange of Hate researched by groups in the US.

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