Hinduism and Buddhism -- the RSS connection

Partha Banerjee partha at CAPITAL.NET
Fri Nov 6 23:25:08 UTC 1998

I am responding to this rather disturbing report involving Buddhism in
India (quoted below).

This "assertion" of India's home minister Advani is in line with the
doctrine of his parental organization's doctrine. RSS or Rashtriya
Swayamsevak Sangh, the mother organization of BJP, has always championed
this idea that Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism are not new religions, rather
they are "new emphasis on the Aryan tradition."

Eva Hellman of the University of Dalarna, Sweden, in her Ph.D. dissertation
on Vishwa Hindu Parishad (RSS' religion front and BJP's sibling
organization) and its politics, maintains that Sikhism, Buddhism, and
Jainism are not recognized by the Sangh in their totalities.  "The Sikhs
are expected to provide martial prowess for the defense of Dharma, from the
Buddhists there is expected a fight against the prevailing caste-system,
and from the Jains are expected the inculcation of moral virtues.  Only if
Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains conform to these expectations will they be
accepted as Hindus."  The Sangh Parivar, she asserts, operates with
different kinds of inclusivism: subordinating, hierarchical, complementary
and conditional.

I am quoting here another comment on Buddhism and Jainism from RSS' English
mouthpiece The Organiser.

"So far as Jainism and Buddhism are concerned they have never made any
contribution to social and political thought as such.  We have not
inherited any arthashastras (politics and economics) or dharmashastras
(social laws) from them.  All we have from them are the various
moksha-shastras pertaining to the supreme salvation of the individual soul."

[The Organiser, 10th June, 1963]


Note:  I have included both quotations in my newly published book on RSS
and BJP.  The details of the book are given here for your reference.

Partha Banerjee.  1998.  In the Belly of the Beast: The Hindu Supremacist
RSS and BJP of India -- An Insider's Story.  Ajanta Books International,
Delhi, India. 165 pp.

>***Indian official's view of Buddhism irks scholars
>SARNATH, India (Reuters) - A key figure in India's Hindu
>nationalist-led government provoked outrage among Buddhist scholars
>Friday by asserting that Buddhism merely represented India's ancient
>Aryan traditions with a "new emphasis." "Buddha did not announce any
>new religion. He was only restating with a new emphasis the ancient
>ideals of the Indo-Aryan civilizations," Home Minister L.K. Advani
>said in a speech at Sarnath in northern India. Advani is a senior
>leader of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, which leads
>India's coalition government. Opponents accuse the BJP of promoting
>Hinduism - the religion of most Indians - at the expense of other
>religions. See
>No, I'm not in favor of these politics, but the affect of the politics on
>Indological-- esp. Vedic/Indus/Proto-II discussions cannot be
>underestimated.  Perhaps some of the ancient pre-1500 b.c.e. debates might
>be informed/augmented by looking the other temporal direction, and
>applying those implications to more empirical data from teh later Vedic
>and early Buddhist periods.
>Has anyone been looking at this?

I completely agree with the above statement that the effects of politics on
Indological discussions are significant. The history of Hinduism and India
is under serious threat at the present time because of RSS/BJP's ascendency
to national power. It is important that we keep discussing what exactly is
going on in the name of Indianness and "Hindutva" (the RSS' revisionary
version of Hinduism).

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