Thursday, March 12, 2020

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh Essays - Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh Essays - Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh Hindu revivalism remains a growing force in India today. It is also a concern among the millions of displaced Hindus scattered around the world. Its roots lie in the belief that Hinduism is an endangered lifestyle. This notion is fuelled by the political assertiveness of minority groups, efforts to convert Hindus to other faiths, suspicions that the political authorities are sympathetic to minority groups and the belief that foreign political and religious ideologies are destroying the Hindu community. Every morning at sunrise, groups of men in military-style uniforms gather together before saffron coloured flags, in all parts of India, to participate in a common set of rituals, physical exercises and lessons. For one hour each day, they are taught to think of themselves as a family with a mission to transform Hindu society. (Andersen and Damle 1) They are the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the largest and most influential organization in India committed to Hindu revivalism. The RSS or National Volunteer Organization, is perhaps the most interesting of any of India's social movements. The growth of the RSS provides a detailed illustration of Indias changing face. The purpose of this paper is to provide the reader with an early twentieth century view of an organization that emerged out of frustrations among Indias Hindu revivalists. These revivalists were discontent with the work of nationalists in politics, and determined to unify the Hindus of India against the alien threats w ithin the nation. The origins of nationalist movements in nineteenth century India can be traced to the expansion of Western, English education. Those attracted to the new education came primarily from high caste Hindu groups. Many of the proponents of social, political and religious reform among Hindus were drawn from this English educated class. Until very late in the nineteenth century, most politically articulate Indians were willing to collaborate with the colonial administration. However, a shift from collaboration to criticism began in the latter part of the nineteenth century. Two broad movements emerged among Hindus seeking to define their national identity: modernists and revivalists. The modernists adopted models of social and political change based upon Western patterns; they appreciated many of the Western philosophies and wanted India to follow suit. The revivalist view was based on returning to a Hindu antiquity that was thought to be superior for governing Indiaa Hindu nation. Many felt that this desire to recreate the age of Hindu grandeur was also a result of English education; ideas of patriotism and nationalism crept into these peoples way of thought. It was the English study of the Indian way of life that added to the revivalist movement. Revivalism included those who wanted to preserve the traditional soc ial order as well as those who sought to reform Hindu society as a way of strengthening Hindu solidarity. The RSS traces its roots to the revivalist feelings that were present at that time. The Hindu revivalists sought to recover fundamental truths about their people. They argued that the loss of national consciousness had created conditions that facilitated British domination of the land. By appealing to an idealized past, the revivalists reminded the Hindu public of the suffering and degradation experienced under British rule. The call for independence was a logical next-step, for the degraded present could only be overcome by eliminating the foreign intruders who had supposedly disrupted the original blissful society. Muslim rulers and the British were identified as sources of that disruption and many revivalist spokesmen sought to place limits on their political power and on their cultural influence. The proposed changes in Hindu society were justified by the proposition that the changes were not new at all, but were in fact a revival of older, purer forms of Hindu culture that had degenerated during foreign rule. Opposition to British rule increased among both the moderates and the more extremists, as the contradictions between colonial rule and new aspirations became obvious. Criticism of Indias colonial status was supported by observation of British attitudes. The British viewed Indians and Indian culture as inferior. Educated Indians were considerably upset when the British began to characterize them as feminine, cowardly and unrepresentative of the native culture. The racial arrogance often expressed by European officials, businessmen and

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