When you became the Sar Sangha Chalak you visited Dhiksha Bhumi…
It is only natural thing. Dr. Ambedkar had visited RSS camp and had appreciated the absence of even trace of caste feelings among Swayam Sevaks. When Dr. Ambedkar converted to Buddhism Guruji remembered what Swami Vivekananda said about the nation needing the intellectual acumen of Sankara and the compassionate heart of Buddha. And it was an RSS man Dattopant Thengadi (the founder of Sangh workers’ union BMS) who was the election agent of Baba Saheb Ambedkar.
But there are people who see Ambedkar as enemy of Hinduism…
See…Dr. Ambedkar knew the good intentions of Sangh Hindus. But he also knew that at that time Hindus at large had not had change of heart with respect to Dalits. He knew that though Sangh wanted and would eventually achieve a Hindu society free of casteism, Sangh at that time, had neither the strength nor the authority to bring that change at once. He thought Dalits should not endure injustice till such a change would eventually come. So he converted. But he converted to Buddhism which is rooted in the Indian soil and which he considered as an inalienable part of Hindu culture. He also wanted to make sure that the depressed sections of the society were not lured away by failed alien ideologies like Marxism. In fact Ambedkar told Dattopant Thengadiji that he stands as the bulwark between Dalits and Marxism just as Guruji stands as bulwark between Marxism and non-Dalits. (Of course we consider Guruji not as representing any sectarian section of Hindu society but his heart and vision encompassed entire Hindu society including Dalits and non-Dalits.)
India Today reported that you eulogize Gandhiji in your addresses.
Oh…That should not be a surprise. Surely I did not discover Gandhiji in Sangh. Guruji has a whole lecture praising Mahatma. And the name of Mahatma Gandhi has entered the morning prayer of RSS long before I even became Prantha Pracharak. Gandhian vision of village development, Swadeshi, cow protection etc is harmonious with Sangh vision and mission. So if anyone is surprised because I mentioned Mahatma that surprise shows their ignorance of Sangh philosophy and history.
There are people who pit Ambedkar against Gandhi. How do you reconcile both?
All great leaders might have differences. But all of them valued society’s welfare and nation’s welfare. If we approach them in the same spirit, we can find harmonizing elements in them and learn from them in our own service to nation building. That has always been the approach of Sangh.
In Tamil Nadu there has been a strong movement to wean away Dalits from the national mainstream and Hindu culture. Does Sangh have any programme to counter this?
From the time of Meenakshipuram conversion, Sangh has paid special attention to Dalit problems in Tamil Nadu. There are many villages where untouchability has disappeared after Shakas appeared. In fact two villages which have been awarded Tamil Nadu government award for eradication of caste discrimination, are villages where Swayamsevaks have brought social harmony. In places where Dalits and non-Dalits have clashed Swayam Sevaks have been invited by both as peace makers. In Kerala also Sangh has worked dynamically for Dalit emancipation for example even at the famous Guruvayoor temple. Sangh has a clear vision that at every village access to water resources, living space, places of worship, hygienic conditions and cremation grounds should be common for all Hindus. In fact the numerical strength of Sangh activity and the disappearance of caste discrimination are directly proportional
You have always stressed about Hindu-ness. Whom do you define as Hindus? Are religious minorities Hindus or non-Hindus?
All Indians who consider this land as their ancestral and sacred land are Hindus irrespective of their ways of worship. All Indians who follow the Dharmic values and Samskrti which this land has cherished are Hindus. Those who have alienated themselves as religious minorities should realize this truth for this is the truth about their own true self-identity. They are not the descendants of Babur or David but they are the descendants of Rama and Krishna and Bharatha. All those who fulfill these three conditions together are Hindus in Rashtreeya sense.
Women dressing her child as
Krishna on Janmashtami, Hyderabad. ( A.P )
What is Sangh view on environmental problems and sustainable development particularly in the light of threats like Global warming?
Our the Dharmic values and Samskrti as well as our way of life are always eco-friendly. We venerate nature. For us all nature is imbued with Divinity. Cow protection has been part of it. An enlightened environmental policy has to be scientific. For that we need models based on experiments. Sangh and Sangh-related organizations are conducting such experiments throughout India. Also we should remember that a nation like Bharath has diverse eco-zones and we cannot have a single model and the regional environmental models have to be based on localized experiments. As I said there are many experiments like for example at Chitrakoot and in many villages in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala. They will give us inputs to develop localized models for environmental policies which in turn will help us develop frame an enlightened and scientific policy for environmental problems and sustainable development.
With respect to science and spirituality India has an unique position among world civilizations.
What is Sangh view with respect to science, Indian culture and world future?
For Hindus Science and Spirituality are not opposed. They are two sides of the same coin. Upanishad says that those who pursue only physical sciences (without the knowledge of inner sciences) fall into darkness. But those who pursue only inner sciences ignoring physical sciences fall into even greater darkness. For those who seek only liberation (Moksha) and not Artha (Economic welfare) and Kama (worldly pleasures) perhaps inner sciences alone may suffice. But for those who live in society, for them also Moksha is the goal but they also seek Artha and gratify Kama and in doing this the regulating principle is Dharma. This integral approach to life has made Hindu society approach science and technology in a holistic manner. In fact Dharmic values and Samskrti of Hindus never had problems with science (unlike the western society). However this is the theory. This is the principle that we have in our Sastras. The world will have to accept this approach to life. But that will happen and that can happen only when we produce large number of scientists who shall contribute to the improvement of welfare of humanity. World will listen only to those who have strength. So Hindus have to become strong if Mother Bharathi’s voice has to be respected and if Her vision has to be accepted by the world community. Working towards that is the duty of every one of us.