VHP and United Way

Rajender Razdan razdan at ntd.comsat.com
Thu Nov 3 13:37:01 UTC 1994

     While I quite agree that Indology might not be a suitable forum for
debate over VHP and VHP-A activities; since the issue has been raised; 
before it is closed I'd like to add my voice to present a different 
picture than the one that was presented by Shri Lance Nelson. 

     I personally have contributed in the past (and still continue to
contribute) my own money to VHP-A under the auspicies of the United Way
program and have been very pleased with the work they have performed.
Hindu society has often been criticized for its lack of social welfare
programs- in this regard the VHP-A is one of the few Hindu organizations
which has worked tirelessly for the cause of the needy in India. Whether
it be helping the victims of earthquakes, as in Maharashtra last year; or
in providing relief for the displaced Kashmiri Pandit families languishing
in the camps in Jammu or for its numerous literacy programs all across
India, the VHP-A has performed outstandingly. 

    In this regard, the vehemency with which VHP and the VHP-A organi-
zations have been attacked, point to the polarization within the Hindu
society. There is a new breed of increasingly *Westernized* Hindus (many
of whom dabble in the Indology forum) that seems to have come up; a breed
which seems to be sadly out of touch with the reality of Hindu society.
The Hinduism that this breed of self-alienated Hindus would like to deal
with is that of a sanitized or dead society. But the truth is that Hindu
society is neither dead nor yet extinct; though many on this forum
seemingly would like it to be so. Hindu society is, instead, in the
process of redefining and reshaping itself. The vicious anti-VHP and 
anti-VHP-A tirade orchestrated by these self-appointed judges of morality 
is aimed directly at Hindu society. We are told that since VHP supported 
the building of the Rama mandir at Ayodhya at the very spot where the 
Babri Masjid stands; and that because some of their supporters actually 
took part in tearing down the Babri structure, that therefore the VHP is 
a most rabid militant and fundamentalist organization. 

     What is left unspoken by these Westernized self-alienated Hindus is
that the Babri Masjid has been a disputed site for over a century; that no
muslim ever went there for prayers or offered Namaz there for over 40
years and that Hindus have claimed it as the birthplace of Lord Rama for
centuries.  To add to this, the Babri structure, to Hindus, is a symbol of
one of the most oppressive periods in Indian history; i.e. the Mohammedan
conquest of India typified by Babar who is supposed to have laid this
structure over an existing temple. 

    I mention all this, because there has been very little analysis and
discussion of the Babri Masjid issue in the Western press; except to
paint a caricature of Hindus as being militant or fundamentalist (whatever
that may be). And it is the educated, soft-spoken, Westernized Hindu who
has generally shown the greatest degree of vehemence against his own Hindu
society by choosing to remain silent on all the details of the Babri
Masjid episode. 

   Hindus are grappling with numerous issues today; those of identity, how
to interact with the myriad of cultures and religions that make up the
great melting-pot of civilization which we call India, etc. It is in-
evitable that these issues, though essentially religious and personal,
will be played out on the political stage. VHP of India does both politi-
cal and cultural work, and gets a large amount of criticism from its
detractors.  Some of the criticism is fair, but a large amount of the 
criticism is quite patently unfair.  Being a political entity, this is 
not something that can be avoided. The same is not true of VHP of America 
(VHP-A) which is ONLY a religious and cultural entity and not a political 
entity.  The VHP-A has taken great pains to show that it is in no way
connected with the VHP-I. It has kept up-to-date records to prove that
not a single cent obtained by VHP-A has been passed on to VHP-I. It,
therefore, is incumbent upon the accusers of VHP-A to provide proof of
its connection with VHP-I; beyond just pure innuendo. 

    Meanwhile, the people who point fingers at the VHP-A are guilty of
some of the worst form of character assasination of an organization which
has selflessly devoted its time, efforts and energy to some of the most
worthy causes. 

Rajender Razdan

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