New Delhi: If someone is a Hindu, he will be patriotic and that will be his basic character and nature, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said on Friday while citing Mahatama Gandhi's remarks that his patriotism originates from his dharma. Bhagwat was speaking at an event to release the book titled 'Making of a Hindu Patriot: Background of Gandhiji's Hind Swaraj', authored by JK Bajaj and MD Srinivas.
Bhagwat was speaking at an event to release the book titled 'Making of a Hindu Patriot: Background of Gandhiji's Hind Swaraj', authored by JK Bajaj and MD Srinivas.
Releasing the book, Bhagwat said there is no need for speculation that Sangh "is trying to appropriate Gandhiji, that is not the case, no one can appropriate great personalities like him."
Describing the book as an authentic scholarly research document on Gandhi, Bhagwat said Gandhi had suggested that for him his dharma and patriotism are not different as love for his motherland originates from his spirituality.
"Gandhiji had said that his patriotism originates from his dharma," Bhagwat said asserting that dharma does not merely mean religion, it is wider than religion.
"If someone is Hindu, he has to be patriotic, that will be his or her basic character and nature. At times you may have to awaken his or her patriotism but he (Hindu) can never be anti-India. But we have to be conscious of the fact that if one loves his country it doesn't mean land only, it means its people, rivers, culture, traditions and everything," he said.
He claimed that Hinduism believes in the existence of unity. "Difference does not mean separatism and Gandhiji has suggested that Hinduism is the religion of all religions," he said.
Talking about Gandhi's concept of 'swaraj', Bhagwat said by it he means not only changing rulers or becoming self-governing, for Gandhi the struggle for 'swaraj' was the reconstruction of society based on civilisational values.
Meanwhile, in the book, the authors have quoted Gandhi as having written to Leo Tolstoy that, "… my patriotism is patent enough, my love for India is ever growing but it is derived from my religion and is therefore in no sense exclusive."
Giving an overview of the book, Bajaj said it tracked Gandhi's life from Porbandar to his visit to England and then to South Africa.
Bajaj said there was a time between 1893-94 when Gandhi was pressured by his Muslim employer and his Christian employees to explore converting to their respective religions but he refused.
By 1905, he became a devout Hindu and also gave lectures on Hinduism, Bajaj said. He cited instances that while practising law in South Africa, Gandhi quoted Bhagwad Gita and Mahabhrata in his petitions before the courts.
The comment has triggered an intense debate on social media platforms. All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen leader and Member of Parliament Asaduddin Owaisi lashed back at the communal diatribe and said that "it was only in RSS's ignorant ideology that adherents of one religion are automatically issued patriotism certificates," in a Twitter post.
He also said that others have to spend their lives proving that even they have the right to exist here and call themselves Indians.The former Barrister from Lincoln's Inn asked about Gandhi's killer and those men responsible for Nellie massacre, anti-Sikh and 2002 Gujarat pogroms.
Will Bhagwat answer: What about Gandhi's killer Godse? What about the men responsible for Nellie massacre, anti-1984 anti-Sikh & 2002 Gujarat pogroms?— Asaduddin Owaisi (@asadowaisi) January 1, 2021
It's rational to assume that most INDIANS are patriots regardless of their faith. It's only in RSS's ignorant ideology....[1/2] https://t.co/fZv3GpmlIg
According to Pavan Kulkarni, RSS has ascribed itself nationalist label that is allegedly being used to shrug off the burden of historical shame they ought to bear for having betrayed the national struggle for independence.
"This acceptance of their self-proclamation is being used by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to reinvent themselves, falsely, as hyper-patriots who have put the interests of the nation before all concerns," the journalist wrote in an article published in The Wire.
Based on PTI with edits