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Caribbean Hinduism in Transnational Perspective: The Hindutva Impact
Unformatted Document Text:  be in active operation judging by the rise of ‘Hindu intolerance’ in the wake of the controversial and violent Ayodhya 2 event. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) The Sangh Parivar is constituted by the right-wing Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS, the National Volunteers’ Corps). The RSS was founded in 1925 by Keshav Baliram Hegdewar, the fountainhead of the modern Hindutva movement, and is by far the most important Hindu nationalist organization in India. Organized around the concept of Shakhas, (militaristic gathering) and daily branch meetings, is where men receive physical and ideological training under the guidance of a dada (brother). It is here that religious and nationalist inculcation, as well as physical and marital exercises take place (Bhat and Mukta 2000). In some ways, the shakhas sound eerily similar to that of the Islamists concept of madrassas found in Pakistan. The RSS members (swayamsevaks) comprise mainly of young boys (most of whom are under the age of fifteen) and men, hence its associated reputation as being masculinist, or advocating a virilist brand of Hinduism. A gendered analysis of the Hindutva movement is beyond the scope of this essay. However, a future and larger project will seek to examine the critical role that gender - in relation to right wing, patriarchal ethno-nationalist and ethno-religious movements in the Hindu Diaspora – plays in the construction of the ‘new Hindu’. Though it has an anti-caste ideology, and its grassroots members were ostensibly from all castes and Hindu backgrounds, the elite leadership was from the Maharashtrian Brahmin caste. Indeed, as (Bhat and Mukta 2000:424) point out, “most of the founding leadership and 2 The 1990s saw the emergence of a strong Hindu revivalist Rama platform that was preoccupied with the “historic” birthplace of Lord Rama in Ayodhya in the state of Uttar Pradesh. The destruction of the Babri masjid in Ayodha, the alleged historical birthplace of Lord Rama, led to riots that took the lives of thousands. The RSS, VHP and BJP were the brainchild of this revivalist movement. The BJP and its affiliated organizations have been blamed for stirring up religious fervor that led to the destruction of the mosque. BJP historians claim that in the 16 th century the Islamic invaders destroyed a Hindu temple dedicated to Rama, and instead erected a mosque. The idea of ‘Muslim invaders’ usurping sacred Hindu ground was enough to stir up thousands of Hindu nationalists to completely demolish the mosque on December 6 th , 1992. 11

Authors: Singh, Simboonath.
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background image
be in active operation judging by the rise of ‘Hindu intolerance’ in the wake of the controversial
and violent Ayodhya
event.
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)
The Sangh Parivar is constituted by the right-wing Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS,
the National Volunteers’ Corps). The RSS was founded in 1925 by Keshav Baliram Hegdewar,
the fountainhead of the modern Hindutva movement, and is by far the most important Hindu
nationalist organization in India. Organized around the concept of Shakhas, (militaristic
gathering) and daily branch meetings, is where men receive physical and ideological training
under the guidance of a dada (brother). It is here that religious and nationalist inculcation, as
well as physical and marital exercises take place (Bhat and Mukta 2000). In some ways, the
shakhas sound eerily similar to that of the Islamists concept of madrassas found in Pakistan. The
RSS members (swayamsevaks) comprise mainly of young boys (most of whom are under the age
of fifteen) and men, hence its associated reputation as being masculinist, or advocating a virilist
brand of Hinduism. A gendered analysis of the Hindutva movement is beyond the scope of this
essay. However, a future and larger project will seek to examine the critical role that gender - in
relation to right wing, patriarchal ethno-nationalist and ethno-religious movements in the Hindu
Diaspora – plays in the construction of the ‘new Hindu’.
Though it has an anti-caste ideology, and its grassroots members were ostensibly from all
castes and Hindu backgrounds, the elite leadership was from the Maharashtrian Brahmin caste.
Indeed, as (Bhat and Mukta 2000:424) point out, “most of the founding leadership and
2
The 1990s saw the emergence of a strong Hindu revivalist Rama platform that was preoccupied with the “historic”
birthplace of Lord Rama in Ayodhya in the state of Uttar Pradesh. The destruction of the Babri masjid in Ayodha,
the alleged historical birthplace of Lord Rama, led to riots that took the lives of thousands. The RSS, VHP and BJP
were the brainchild of this revivalist movement. The BJP and its affiliated organizations have been blamed for
stirring up religious fervor that led to the destruction of the mosque. BJP historians claim that in the 16
th
century the
Islamic invaders destroyed a Hindu temple dedicated to Rama, and instead erected a mosque. The idea of ‘Muslim
invaders’ usurping sacred Hindu ground was enough to stir up thousands of Hindu nationalists to completely
demolish the mosque on December 6
th
, 1992.
11


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