Various organizations which have been working tirelessly for Hinduism & Hindutva are the back bone of Hindutva movement. Though Hinduism is an ancient religion the Hindutva movement started taking shape in the late 19th century. We are giving information about the organizations working for Hindutva in the chronology of their foundation
1) ARYA SAMAJ –
–Arya Samaj (आर्य समाज ) is the one of the oldest organization working for Hindutva in India and across the world. This organization was first to object conversion of Hindus to other religions on mass scale and also was first to start the reconversion of Hindus to Hinduism who were forcibly converted to other religions. The samaj was founded by Dayanand Saraswati on 10 April 1875 at Mumbai (Bombay). Dayanand Saraswati was an Indian philosopher & social leader. He gave the call for Swaraj i.e. independence for India. Swami Dayananda was a true reformist and he was against the Idol worship prevalent in Hindu dharma and instead he advocated to practice true Vedic dharma and for the same he founded Vedic Schools. He was a true scholar on Vedas and many great Indian freedom fighters & Social reformists of that period followed him and his teachings. His followers include Madam Cama, Lala Lajpat Rai, Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, Lala Hardayal, Madan Lal Dhingra, Ram Prasad Bismil, Mahadev Govind Ranade, Ashfaq Ullah Khan & many others. He was against ritualistic worship of Gods and he worked towards reviving Vedic ideologies through Arya Samaj. He was a sanyasi (ascetic) from boyhood and a scholar trained in Vedas. He considered that Vedas were supreme for mankind & advocated the doctrine of Karma and Reincarnation. He emphasized the Vedic ideals of brahmacharya (Celibacy ) & devotion to God. The great philosopher and President of India S. Radhakrishnan described him one of the “makers of Modern India”.
Swami Dayananda advocated for giving equal rights for women, specially the right to education and reading of Indian scriptures. He wrote his famous commentary on the Vedas from Vedic Sanskrit in Sanskrit as well as in Hindi. Arya Samaj is a monotheistic Hindu reform movement that promotes values and practices based on the belief in the infallible authority of the Vedas. Members of the Arya Samaj believe in one God and reject the idea of many gods and the rituals for worship of idols.
Swami Dayananda believed that Hinduism had been corrupted by divergence from the founding principles of the Vedas and that Hindus had been misled by the priesthood for the priests’ selfish interests. To counter this practice he founded the Arya Samaj, enunciating the Ten Universal Principles as a code for Universalism, called Krinvanto Vishwamaryam. With these principles, he intended the whole world to be an abode for Nobles (Aryas).
After founding Arya Samaj Swami ji travelled the country challenging religious scholars and priests to discussions, winning repeatedly through the strength of his arguments and knowledge of Sanskrit and Vedas. Hindu priests discouraged the non bramhins from reading Vedic scriptures, and encouraged rituals, such as bathing in the Ganges River and feeding of priests on anniversaries, which Dayananda pronounced as superstitions or self-serving practices. By exhorting the nation to reject such superstitious notions, his aim was to educate the nation to return to the teachings of the Vedas, and to follow the Vedic way of life. He also exhorted the Hindu nation to accept social reforms, including the importance of Cows for national prosperity as well as the adoption of Hindi as the national language for national integration. Through his daily life and practice of yoga and asanas, teachings, preaching, sermons and writings, he inspired the Hindu nation to aspire to Swarajya (self governance), nationalism, and spiritualism. Unlike many other reform movements of that time within Hinduism, the Arya Samaj’s appeal was addressed not only to the educated few in India, but to the world as a whole as evidenced in the sixth principle of the Arya Samaj. As a result, his teachings professed universalism for all the living beings and not for any particular sect, faith, community or nation. Arya Samaj was the first Hindu organization to introduce proselytization i.e.re conversion in Hinduism.
– Arya Samaj saw the drawbacks of British education system which was against Hindu culture. To overcome this problem the Arya Samaj established Gurukul (Vedic schools) which emphasised Vedic values, culture, Satya (virtue) and Sanatana Dharma (the essence of living). The schools gave separate educations to boys and girls based on ancient Vedic principles. The first Vedic school was established at Farrukhabad in 1869 and many branches were established afterwards. At the schools, students received all meals, lodging, clothing and books free of charge. The discipline was strict. The study of Sanskrit scriptural texts including the Vedas & Upanishads was compulsory in these schools.
– Swami Dayanand was assassinated in 1883. The Arya Samaj continued to grow, especially in Punjab. The early leaders of the Samaj were Pandit Lekh Ram (1858 – 1897) and Swami Shraddhanand (1856 – 1926). Swami Shraddhanand led the Shuddhi movement that aimed to bring Hindus who had converted to other religions back to Hinduism. In the early 1900s, the Samaj (or organizations inspired by it such as Jat Pat Todak Mandal) campaigned against caste discrimination. They also campaigned for widow remarriage and women’s education. Arya Samaj received huge following in early days prominent Indian leaders such as Lala Lajpat Rai were active in its campaigning. Bhagat Singh‘s grandfather followed Arya Samaj, which had a considerable influence on Bhagat Singh. The British colonial government in the early part of 20th century viewed the Samaj as a political body. Some Samajis in government service were dismissed for belonging to the Samaj. The samaj also established chapters in British colonies having Indian population such as South Africa, Fiji, Mauritius, Suriname, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago.
– Presently Arya Samaj schools and temples are found in almost all major cities and as well as in rural areas mainly of North India. Some temples are authorised to conduct weddings. The Samaj is associated with the Dayanand Anglo Vedic (DAV) schools which number over two hundred. There are approximately eight million followers of the samaj in India.
– Presently on the world map Arya Samaj branches are active in countries where they were founded in early days which include Guyana, Suriname, Australia, South Africa, Mauritius Africa and many other countries where a significant Hindu diaspora is present. The Arya samaj in Kenya runs a number of schools in nairobi and other cities of the country. Immigrants to Canada and the United States from South Asia, Eastern Africa, South Africa, and the Caribbean countries have set up Arya Samaj temples for their respective communities. Most major metropolitan areas of United States have chapters of Arya Samaj.
-Members of the Arya Samaj believe in one almighty creator referred to with the syllable Aum as mentioned in the Yajur Veda (40:17). They believe the Vedas is an infallible authority. The members of Arya Samaj reject all other scriptural works. They reject the worship of idols. The Arya Samaj promotes the equality of all human beings and the empowerment of women.
For more information on Arya Samaj visit http://www.thearyasamaj.org
Hindutva Ecosystem- Organizations- Part-2
2) RASHTRIYA SWAYAMSEVAK SANGH ( R.S.S. )
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, popularly referred to as RSS was founded on 27 September 1925 by Dr. Keshav Baliram Hedgewar, a doctor in the city of Nagpur which was then part of British India. A well known social activist and Hindu Mahasabha leader B. S. Moonje was his mentor in his early days and Moonje had sent Hedgewar to Calcutta to pursue his medical studies and to learn combat techniques from the secret revolutionary societies of the Bengalis. Dr. Hedgewar became a member of the Anushilan Samiti, an anti-British revolutionary group, getting into its inner circle. After returning to Nagpur, Dr. Hedgewar organised anti-British activities through the Kranti Dal (Party of Revolution) and participated in independence movement as an activist in Lokmanya Tilak‘s Home Rule campaign in 1918. After reading V. D. Savarkar‘s Hindutva, published in Nagpur in 1923 Dr. Hedgewar also had a meeting with Swatantrya Veer Savarkar in the Ratnagiri prison in 1925.
– Hedgewar believed that a handful of British were able to rule over the vast country of India because Hindus were disunited & divided, lacked valour (pararkram) and lacked a civic character. Dr. Hedgewar was a visionary and he designed a very simple but very effective method of organizing the Hindus. The same method is being used till date. Hindu youth with love for Hindusthan are invited to join RSS daily Shakha (the daily meeting of one hour). Here they are trained in to paramilitary techniques with dand, Vetracharma and similar non lethal weapons useful for self protection. A uniform which included khaki Shirt ( changed to white shirt later on ) and khaki shorts ( changed to Full Pants now) is prescribed for the participating Swayamsevaks (volunteers). Important Hindu festivals and ceremonies are celebrated on the Shakhas. In periodically held lecture sessions which are called baudhik (ideological education) the glorious past of our Hindu nation and Hindu Culture and our Heroes, Social Reformers, Saints and Freedom Fighters in simple and understandable language is told to the attendees. The daily shakhas are conducted in disciplined manner in front of Bhagawa Dhwaj ( saffron flag).
– The mission of RSS as specified in the official web site of the organization is to nourish the Hindu culture. RSS considers Hindu culture as the life-breath of Hindusthan i.e. India. RSS believes that mere geographical lumps do not make a nation. The entire or the majority of the population of a nation should be vigilant and well organized so that no other power should dare to cast an evil eye on any of the points of honor of that nation. RSS believes in the strength of an organization and hence organization building is the main task of this organization. RSS believes that the fate of our nation cannot be changed unless lakhs of young men dedicate their entire lifetime for the cause of nation building and the supreme aim of the RSS is to mould the minds of youth towards dedicating their entire life time for nation building. No other movement or institution has attracted such vast numbers of adherents, several thousands of them making social work their life’s mission, whose character and integrity are not doubted even by their most virulent critics.
– After Dr Hedgewar, Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar popularly known as Shri Guruji took the charge of the organization as it’s head termed in RSS circles as Sar Sangh Chaalak. He has been widely noted to be the most prominent ideologue of Hindutva. He headed the organization for nearly 30 years. During his tenure Shri Guruji Golwalkar worked tirelessly and expanded the footprint of RSS on pan India level. The membership of RSS expanded from 100,000 to over one million. Shri Guruji realized the need to expand the work of RSS in all walks of life. He used the RSS as the progenitor and leader of a large body of organizations called the Sangh Parivar (the “family of the RSS”), which have presence in all facets of the Indian society including politics, religion, education, labour union, student union and many such fields. Today with RSS as a parent body there are around 50 such organizations working in various fields and issues. The RSS has also expanded its work in many foreign countries, where Hindus are recruited into organizations such as the Bharatiya Swayamsevak Sangh or the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh. With this there was a subtle, important shift in the RSS worldview. One of Golwalkar’s major innovations was an anti-communist, anti-socialist ideology, with the slogan “Not socialism but Hinduism.”
– RSS has a unique organizational structure. It’s organization is based on a binary system. Some volunteers who have devoted their entire life for the organization are called Pracharaks. They are full time workers and they are un married and stay in the RSS offices. Some volunteers who are otherwise engaged in their respective occupations and have their families are called Karyakarta or Swayamsevak i. e. Volunteer. In the organizational structure the highest post at national level which is called Sar Sanghchalak i.e. main organizer is held only by a Pracharak. But at state, regional, district and city or village level the Sanghchalak of that particular unit is from the Karyakartas. This person is usually a well respected person from that area and works only in consultative capacity. At all these levels there will be a pracharak who will be looking after organizational work. As per the level of their jurisdiction they will be called Kshetra ( group of states ), Prant ( state), Zilla ( district ), Taluka ( Tehsil ) and Shahar ( City ) pracharaks. At all these levels some Karyakartas are appointed to manage the day to day work in those area who will be holding various responsibilities.
– Currently around 55,000 shakhas (daily meetings) are held across India. RSS has recently started new mode of shakhas which are called ITmeelan which are held on weekly basis and persons from Information Technology field attend these shakhas. There are around 10,000 such IT meelans currently held in India. In addition to this other periodical meetings have also started by RSS. Currently the membership of RSS stands around 50 to 60 Lakhs. The various types of Shakhas ( meetings) are held in voluntary mode hence the number of attendees is not formally recorded or no register is maintained for the members or swayamsevaks. In the above figures the membership of affiliated organizations of RSS are not considered. Gradually, RSS has grown in to a prominent Hindu nationalist umbrella organization, spawning several affiliated organizations that established numerous schools, charities, and clubs to spread its ideological beliefs. If we consider present political situation the President, Vice President and Prime Minister and many ministers of present cabinet of our country are RSS swayamsevaks and the Home Minister and several other ministers have come up in one of the affiliated organization Akhil Bharatiya Vidhyarthi Parishad (ABVP).
– The RSS due to it’s growing influence has always faced opposition from various quarters specially from the congress governments. Before independence RSS was banned by the British rulers once. After independence it was banned by Indian Government after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi in 1948. Late Indira Gandhi banned RSS during the emergency for the period from 1975 to 1977. The Congress Government at centre banned RSS after the demolition of Babri Masjid in 1992. The so called liberal intellectuals in India and the Congress party have always criticized RSS. After the general elections in 2014 and 2019 increased their criticism.
– Since inception RSS always at the forefront of rescue and relief work in all kinds of natural calamities. In all such calamities the RSS volunteers have done exemplary work voluntarily without any Government aid. After branching out in various fields RSS swayamsevaks have established various schools, colleges, hospitals, centers for relatives of patients, student hostels, co-operative institutions like Banks- Co-op Societies- Co-op. Stores etc.