New Delhi: In a shift in its policy, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has decided to do away with the word “Ahindu” (non-Hindu), which senior functionaries sometimes use in their speeches and literature to refer to Christians and Muslims in India.
In a series of internal meetings, RSS sarsanghchalak (chief) Mohan Bhagwat has asked office bearers and workers to avoid using the term, since it might alienate some communities from the Sangh’s notions of Hinduism, and thus “bring more harm to the country”, sources in the RSS told ThePrint.
As an alternative, Bhagwat has said that all Indians could be could be described as being one of four types of Hindu: The proud Hindu, the reluctant Hindu, the unfriendly Hindu, and the ignorant Hindu.
Speaking to ThePrint, a senior Sangh Parivar functionary said the RSS chief has always thought of every Indian as a Hindu, but not in the religious sense.
“Being Hindu does not mean any religious identity. It is related to a way of life… We in the Sangh believe that every Bharatiya (Indian) has always been Hindu by culture, but later, as the Islamic and Western invasions happened, some of us converted to other religions like Islam or Christianity. The method of worship can be different, but the way of life for every Bharatiya is Hinduism, and that is why, all Indians are Hindu, by national identity,” he said.
According to another member of the RSS executive committee, the organisation was keen to dispel its communal reputation, and to signal that it is inclusive of all Indians.
“There are some divisive forces that want to defame the Sangh by calling us communal… But we cannot let our Muslim or Christian brothers feel more isolated or alienated. So, Bhagwat ji has said that the first thing we need to do is stop calling any Indian Ahindu. Calling [some communities] Ahindu means sending a huge population to another country. All Indians are Hindu,” the RSS executive committee member said.
The RSS, the ideological fountainhead of the BJP, has earned backlash from opposition parties and other critics for allegedly informing some policies and decisions of the Narendra Modi government, including the abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir and making apparent moves towards introducing a uniform civil code.
Four types of Hindus
According to the Sangh leaders, Mohan Bhagwat has said that all Indians can be categorised into four groups of Hindus.
The second RSS functionary said the first type was the “Proud Hindu” — someone who practices the religion and identifies with it deeply.
The second type is the “Reluctant Hindu”, who does not practice or embrace the religion but doesn’t quite reject it either. The third group, the “Unfriendly Hindu”, is born into the religion but works against other Hindus and tries to create “divisions”. The final type, according to the RSS functionary, is the “Ignorant Hindu”, who has converted to another religion, but by country and culture, is still a Hindu.
This taxonomy, the second functionary elaborated, was designed to bring more unity in the country.
“If we cannot get our brothers and sisters to accept their identity as Hindu — not by religion but by culture – we will not be able to dismantle divisive foreign forces. There are so many reactionary groups that only want to obstruct India’s rise by creating communal divisions among Indians,” he said.
(Edited by Asavari Singh)