RSS: Vijayadashami Address
by Radha Rajan on 04 Oct 2009 31 Comments

Old Habits and Old Fears Die Hard
The annual Vijayadashami address of the RSS Sarsanghachalak is as closely watched by world capitals as Communist regimes and the Islamic world watch the State of the Union Address by the American President. Or as once upon a time the capitalists watched the Red Square on November 7. Or as closely as America watches Russia, Venezuela and Zimbabwe today. The RSS is also watched closely by Hindu nationalists.  

This year, interest was more acute because the new Sarsanghachalak, Shri Mohan Bhagwat, has a reputation for being no intellectual and political softie. Just as the RSS can boast of a China observer in its ranks today, America boasts of an RSS observer; Walter Andersen must have been a happy man the day after Vijayadashami. 

The opening lines of the written text of the Sarsanghachalak’s address cooed melodiously about how Hindutva is not a religion but a way of life. Shri Mohan Bhagwat cited the judgment of a former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to legitimize his soothing lullaby; what grates is that Mohan ji is not known to sing lullabies. This makes me suspect that the authorship of the Vijayadashami address is ‘composite,’ like the India of secular imagination. Old fears, like old habits it would seem, die hard.

It is possible that the cliché ‘Hindutva is not a religion, but a way of life’ is being parroted by a composite authorship because RSS is loath to shake itself out of intellectual sloth which refuses to grapple with the truth of the political objectives of the Abrahamic faiths, and also fears being labelled intolerant and exclusive. But despite the substantive content that followed the introductory statement, the Vijayadashami address caused grave disquiet among Hindu nationalists.

Shri Mohan Bhagwat’s poetic and esoteric description of Hindutva makes the following core submissions –

- Hindu or Hindutva does not denote religion or mode of worship (It lists the completely unnecessary ‘languages, creed, provinces’ etc etc) 

- “Hindutva is this ancient culture of Bharat that teaches us a method of connecting and accommodating every one”

- Hindutva is a ‘feeling’ which is present in every Hindustani in a dormant or active state and this ‘feeling’ manifests as “truth that always stands out” 

- Hindu or Hindutva respects all religions, sects, languages, policies and parties (‘parties’ is intriguing, does it mean the RSS brand of Hindutva respects Samuel Reddy’s Congress in Andhra Pradesh as much as Modi’s BJP and Jyoti Basu’s CPM?) 

- Hindutva sees unity in diversity and therefore has the capacity “to take together everybody in harmony to make this planet a paradise of peace, prosperity and happiness” 

- Finally, there is a wistful reference to Bharat as vishwaguru simply not happening because “looking at our present situation, our psyche and our policies, our abilities and speed to raise our nation to the pedestal of ‘Vishwaguru’ is questionable” (whatever that means!)

Keeping the poetic flights of fancy out of this critique, this writer would like to insist that this description of Hindutva contrasts starkly with the incumbent Sarsanghachalak who is known to speak bluntly, is economical with words, and is not given to kite-flying or beating about the bush. For a man of his political astuteness, Shri Mohan Bhagwat’s Vijayadashmi description of Hindutva lacked political muscle. But since this is the official version of the address, we have to deal with it as such.

Hindu nationalists do not play ostrich. Thus, the following questions leap to the mind –

- If Hindutva does not denote religion or worship what is it? 

- If Hindutva is a culture and way of life, in what is this culture and way of life rooted? 

- What are the roots of Hindutva?

- If this ‘feeling’ is present in every Hindustani, is it present in a Muslim and Christian, Parsee and Jew also who live in Hindustan?

- Are Hindutva-vadi Hindustanis, whether dormant or active, the same as Hindus?

- Are Hindu and Hindutva one and the same as has been stated?

- Then does it mean Hindutva-vadi Muslims, Christians, Jews and Parsees are the same as Hindutva-vadi Hindus?

- If yes, then Hindus/Hindutva-vadis of Hindustan are Hindustanis who all have the same feeling in their hearts which expresses itself as ‘truth that stands out’. 

- This means the temple-going cow worshipping Hindu is the same as Mosque-going cow-killing Hindu and Church-going Hindu-converting Hindu. 

- Because even if one doesn’t say the word Hindu or Hindutva, and if this feeling is in all Hindustanis, how does it matter if the Hindu goes to temple, mosque or church? Because RSS now says that Hindutva does not denote religion or mode of worship

- If the dormant or explicit Hindutva feeling in all those residing in Hindustan respects alike the cow-worshipper, the cow-killer and Hindu-converter, why should it matter to the RSS if Hindustan is Islamic Hindu or Christian Hindu as long as RSS can vouch for the fact that all are Hindus or Hindutva-vadis?

One knows what Ma. Mohan ji Bhagwat meant when he said in his interview to Times Now, “Everything is subject to change and changeable; the only thing that is unchanging is that Hindustan is Hindu Rashtra.” I was delighted when I heard it. After a very long time was such an assertion made about the Hindu nation.

What I did not know then was that Hindustan will always be Hindu Rashtra even if the religious demography changes in a manner that renders the temple-going Hindu a minority. For the Hindu Rashtra will still be inhabited by Hindus – mosque-going/cow-killing or church-going/Hindu-converting Hindus.
‘Hindutva is not a religion but a way of life’ only means that Hindus have no religion and Muslims and Christians also have a way of life. Hindutva is a feeling that expresses itself as “truth that stands out”. And this truth, ‘Ekam Sat’, while ONE, is spoken of by wise men in different terms - in this case the Pope and the Grand Mufti.
That Hindustan will still be a Hindu Rashtra is chilling. Tilak, Aurobindo and Savarkar will take a long time to be avenged.

(For the complete text of the Vijayadashami address see

The author is Editor,

User Comments Post a Comment
Comments are free. However, comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate material will be removed from the site. Readers may report abuse at
Post a Comment

Back to Top