Bhadrapad Amavasya, Vik.Samvat 2073. Yugabda 5118: 1 September 2016

3. Education should lead to homogeneous, exploitation-free society 4. 'Maintaining nation's integrity is everybody’s duty'
5. Sindhu, Sakshi, Dipa and Jitu receive Khel Ratna award 6.  Number of RSS shakhas up 61% in 5 years
7. British Prime Minister Theresa May Pays Respects To Pramukh Swami Maharaj 8. Now Diwali Stamp in USA
9.  Sri Ganesh Festival Celebrated in Italy 10. Bhaiyaji Joshi inaugurates Ambedkar Study Circle
11. SEWA: Inauguration of Mobile Medical Unit 12. Hindu American Olympic medal winner says religion taught him control on the court
13. Hindu chariot celebrations in Ealing draws crowd of more than 30,000 14. Louisiana Flood Relief Fund Appeal 2016: VHPA
15. Participate in Bharat's development, Govt to diaspora 16. Conservationist Bibhuti Lahkar nominated for IUCN Heritage
17. Bharat's Oldest Man Ever Says Yoga Key to Long Life 18. SHOBHAYATRAS TURN KERALA INTO GOKULAM ON KRISHNA JAYANTI
19. Bharat becomes the fourth country to successfully test the scramjet engine 20. Bharatiya-CanAdian  MP becomes Canada's 1st woman House leader
21. FORMER SINGAPORE PRESIDENT S.R. NATHAN PASSES AWAY 22. Shri Vishwa Niketan & Food for thought


Hindu rashtra stands for the way of life in India: Manmohan Vaidya

1. FESTIVALS: Festival Of Paryushana Cleanses And Purifies: Paryushana is a major 10-day Jain festival (started on 29th August this year) celebrated during the month of Bhadrapada. In this period, participants practise self-purification, self-criticism and self-control in order to achieve self-improvement. Devotees during these days partake of simple and frugal meals once daily and abstain from worldly vices and addictions. They rededicate themselves to practise dharma as the scriptures define it.

Dasha Lakhsyana in Jainism is considered a prelude to attain nirvana or eternal bliss. It consists of 10 traits, which have been equated with 10 stepping stones leading towards realising this goal. Each trait is assigned one day of the Paryushana festivities. The last day of Paryushana is celebrated as the day of universal forgiveness. On this day, all people forgive and seek forgiveness from one another for any hurts or offences committed knowingly or unknowingly. -goTop


2. WE MUST WORK TO REGAIN LOST GLORY OF BHARATIYA VARSITIES: Rashtrapati Pranab Mukherjee awarded gold medals to two and degrees to 10 graduating students of Nalanda University (NU) at Rajgir on August 26 and said the intention through this University is to give the youth of the world the means necessary for pursuit of intellectual, philosophical, historical and spiritual studies as used to happen in the Nalanda of yore.

Addressing the first convocation of NU, Rashtrapatiji, said, "Renowned seats of learning like Nalanda, Takshashila, Vikramashila, Valabhi, Somapura and Odantapuri were magnets which attracted scholars from all over the world. They stood at the crossroads of many civilizations and spread knowledge far and wide. Sadly, Bharat's modern day universities are yet to reach the top position in world rankings. We must work towards regaining that glory of the past."

Bihar Governor Ramnath Kovind, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, NU chancellor George Yeo and founding Chancellor Amartya Sen were among the dignitaries present at the occasion. -goTop


3. Education should lead to homogeneous, exploitation-free society said Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Sarsanghchalak Dr Mohanrao Bhagwat on August 20 in Agra interacting with around 1000 teachers, vice-chancellors, registrars and others representing universities, colleges, IITs and management institutions. Shri Bhagwat pointed to the need for reforms in the present education system to get the desired results. He said that nothing will change in the education system even after the government spends 50 per cent of the GDP unless teachers decide to change themselves and stop being self-centred. Kshetra Sanghchalak Darshan Lal Arora, Prant Sanghchalak Jagadish ji and Vice-Chancellor of GLA University Durg Singh Chauhan were present on the dais. -goTop


4. 'Maintaining nation's integrity is everybody's duty': RSS Sarsanghachalak Shri Mohan Bhagwat hoisted the National Flag on Independence Day at RSS headquarters, Dr Hedgewar Bhavan. "The nation got Independence after a lot of struggle and sacrifices. It is the duty of every citizen to maintain the Independence, national unity and integrity," he said while speaking on the occasion.-goTop


5. Sindhu, Sakshi, Dipa and Jitu receive Khel Ratna award: On August 29, for the first time in the history of Bharatiya sports, the country's highest sporting honour was presented to four athletes: Rio Olympic medallists PV Sindhu and Sakshi Malik, gymnast Dipa Karmakar and shooter Jitu Rai. Rashtrapati Pranab Mukherjee gave away the awards in the presence of an august gathering at the Darbar Hall of Rashtrapati Bhavan. Awardees received a medal, certificate & cash prize of Rs 7.5 lakh. Shuttler Sindhu gave credit to her parents and coach P Gopichand. "I am thankful to my coach and parents because of whom I could pursue my dream. It's been a great day for me, to receive the award. I am very happy," Sindhu said. -goTop


6.  Number of RSS shakhas up 61% in 5 years: At 51,335 shakhas held daily across the country in 2015, an analysis of data on the number of shakhas conducted each year over the last five years shows a nearly 29% increase in daily shakhas, 61% increase in weekly shakhas and 40% growth in monthly shakhas across Bharat from 2010-11 to 2014-15.The largest increase in shakhas across Bharat over the last five years took place between 2013-14 and 2014-15. RSS growth has nothing to do with a BJP government at the Centre. Kerala, with over 4,500 shakhas, has the highest number in Bharat despite never having had a BJP government. RSS is also strong in West Bengal, where too the BJP presence was negligible till a few years ago.

In recent years, RSS shakha strength has increased as timings are adjusted to suit various age groups - students, working professionals and retired people. The spread of RSS is being experienced not only in cities but in almost every tehsil and over 55,000 villages of Bharat. -goTop


7. British Prime Minister Theresa May Pays Respects To Pramukh Swami Maharaj: UK Prime Minister Theresa May on August 16 expressed her condolences to the British Hindu community over the death of Swaminarayan sect's spiritual head Pramukh Swami Maharaj who passed away at the age of 95 in Sarangpur, Gujarat on August 13. "I would like to pay my condolences to British Hindus, especially the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, on the passing away of Pramukh Swami Maharaj," May said. "Pramukh Swami Maharaj inspired millions with his powerful motto: 'in the good of others lies our own'. This legacy of selfless service will continue to benefit humanity for a long time to come," she said. -goTop


8. Now Diwali Stamp in USA: The stamp, announced by the U.S. Postal Service, will be the first stamp honoring the Hindu religion, joining U.S. postage that has marked Christian, Jewish and Muslim holidays in the past.

Members of the Hindu community and their supporters have asked for years to join the long list of themes that have inspired stamp art - from Janis Joplin to Jimi Hendrix to Charlie Brown. Saunders said the first petition for a Diwali stamp was received in 2004. The Postal Service said it will start issuing the stamps on Oct 5. -goTop


9.  Sri Ganesh Festival Celebrated in Italy: On August 28 over two thousand people came to the Gitananda Hindu Matha Ashram Monastery of Altare (SV) for the celebration of the Sri Ganesh Festival, for many years an annual event for Hindus from all over Italy and neighboring European countries. The stream of devotees came walking the long dirt road that separates the monastery from the rest of the world: an oasis of peace transformed for a day into the home to the largest Hindu festival in Italy. The procession toward the monastery was headed by a cheerful and imposing bedecked chariot. More than one hundred Hindu communities (from various spots in Italy and other countries) had the opportunity to gather at this spot to share in song, traditional dance and devotion. -goTop


10. Bhaiyaji Joshi inaugurates Ambedkar Study Circle: Despite of all ill-effects in corporative sector, Nagpur Nagrik Sahkari Bank (NNSB) has been able to spread its good work and is evolving on the path of development, said RSS Sarkaryavah Shri Bhaiyaji Joshi on August 18. Praising the efforts of the bank officials for their social responsibility he said securing trust of the society was the ultimate achievement of the NNS Bank. He was speaking at the inaugural function of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Study Circle organised by NNS Bank and Bharatiya Utkarsha Mandal in association with Youth Foundation at Umred near Nagpur. -goTop


11. SEWA: Inauguration of Mobile Medical Unit: Sewa International with Sewa Bharathi Tamil Nadu (SBTN) will provide healthcare facilities at the doorstep of the underprivileged affected during 2015 floods. A Mobile Medical Unit (MMU) will be deployed to provide healthcare to residents of 12 identified slums in Chennai.The inauguration of MMU was held at SBTN office in Chennai in the presence of nonagenarian social worker K. Suryanarayana Rao (Suru-ji) recently. Speaking on the occasion, Suru-ji recalled the relentless work done by the SBTN volunteers during the 2015 Tamil Nadu floods. -goTop


12. Hindu American Olympic medal winner says religion taught him control on the court: Venus Williams and Rajeev Ram of the United States won silver for the mixed doubles at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. For Hindu American children, Ram is a new role model, one of the first Americans who share their religion to take home an Olympic medal. Ram credits his parents, who were involved in their local Hindu community, with teaching him religious values that translated onto the tennis court. "Part of the Hindu religion teaches, more so than anything else, your control of your mind - your self-control, basically," Ram said. For many, that self-control applies to an individual's mastery over his moral and ethical choices. But for Ram, self-control also meant mastery of his body. "Obviously, your body's going to do what your mind tells it to do. If you can have that inner control, a sense of peace, your body's going to follow," he said.



13. Hindu chariot celebrations in Ealing draws crowd of more than 30,000: The Chariot Festival of the Thurkkai Temple of Ealing (UK) on August 14 drew an estimated 30,000 people from all over the world. The streets of West Ealing were filled with colourful dresses, short robes around waists and a host of other Hindu attire for the chariot procession. It began outside the Shri Kanaga Thurkkai Amman Temple, which organised the event, in Chapel Road and made its way through nearby streets including Uxbridge Road, before returning to the same spot. Temple's chairman, Durairajasingham Ratnasingham, said: "It was very nice, we served up food for 30,000 people and the children and adults were worshiping. Everyone enjoyed it and the weather was very good - it drew people from all over the world." -goTop


14. Louisiana Flood Relief Fund Appeal 2016: VHPA: There had been devastating floods in the state of Louisiana in US. Over 4,000 people had to go to the shelters, but the number has been dropping. Longer-term, temporary housing hasn't been sorted out yet. The governor believes lack of media attention has led to fewer donations.

VHP of America requests your kind contribution to help the victims and their family who are affected by this devastation. VHP of America will work with appropriate agency to ensure that the donated funds only be used to help the victims of the flooding disaster in Louisiana. Your donations are tax deductible. Visit: and click the link Louisiana Flood Relief Fund. -goTop


15. Participate in Bharat's development, Govt to diaspora: Bharat on August 26 invited its diaspora community to make financial contributions to the implementation of various development projects including Clean Bharat and Ganga rejuvenation, and get connected with their "roots". External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj called upon overseas Bharatiyas to send funds under the India Development Foundation (IDF) for projects of their choice which may even include building toilets in villages and rural areas.

"India Development Foundation is such a platform through which Bharatiyas settled abroad can send money for Bharat's development. The money will not be just a donation. It is a way to get connected with the roots. It is a way to pay back to your motherland. It will be a reflection of emotional attachment to the country," Swaraj said in a video message posted on MEA's twitter handle Bharatiya Diplomacy. She said people can even contribute a minimum of USD 100 to a pool fund which will be used for implementing major projects. -goTop


16. Conservationist Bibhuti Lahkar nominated for IUCN Heritage: Assam ecologist and conservation activist Dr Bibhuti Lahkar has become the first Asian to be nominated for the prestigious 'Heritage Heroes Award' by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Lahkar is among five conservationists from across the globe to be nominated for this year's Heritage Heroes Award which is aimed at recognising the "outstanding efforts" of conservationists around the world in making a difference in the conservation of World Heritage sites in challenging situations, an IUCN release said. The conservationist has been working to save the grasslands, flora and fauna of Manas National Park area for the past two decades and is currently engaged as Manas Landscape Administrator for Aaranyak, an NGO working for biodiversity conservation in North East Bharat. -goTop


17. Bharat's Oldest Man Ever Says Yoga Key to Long Life: Looking remarkably unlined for his claimed 120 years, a Bharatiya monk who is the oldest man to have ever lived puts his longevity down to no sex or spices, and daily yoga. Hindu monk Swami Sivananda was born on August 8, 1896, according to his passport. Sivananda, from the holy city of Varanasi, grew up in extreme poverty and chose to become a monk, saying he owed his age to "yoga, discipline, and celibacy".

"I lead a simple and disciplined life. I eat very simply - only boiled food without oil or spices, rice and boiled daal (lentil stew) with a couple of green chillies," he said after a two-hour yoga session in Kolkata on August 18. Standing five feet two inches tall, Sivananda sleeps on a mat on the floor and uses a wooden slab as a pillow. Fit and without any medical complications, he lives independently and even travels alone on trains.-goTop


18. SHOBHAYATRAS TURN KERALA INTO GOKULAM ON KRISHNA JAYANTI: The entire State of Keral turned into a virtual Gokulam on August 24 when children dressed like Sri Krishna, Radha, Rugmini, Gopikas, etc filled the streets as part of the Shobhayatras held in at least 25,000 centres to mark the Sri Krishna Jayanti. Colourful Shobhayatras were held at Kannur, Kozhikode, Thrissur and Thiruvananthapuram and other major towns and villages.-goTop


19. Bharat becomes the fourth country to successfully test the scramjet engine:  The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) successfully tested its scramjet engine on August 28 at Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC). The scramjet engine, also known as the air-breathing engine because of the technology it uses, was tested with the launch of a big sounding rocket. Bharat is the fourth country to demonstrate the flight testing of Scramjet Engine. -goTop


20. Bharatiya-CanAdian  MP becomes Canada's 1st woman House leader: Bharatiya-Canadian Sikh MP Bardish Chagger has been named as the new Leader of the government in Canada's House of Commons, becoming the first woman to hold the post in the country's history. Ms Chagger, the 36-year-old Waterloo MP and Minister of Small Business and Tourism, was among 19 Bharatiya-origin candidates who won in last year's general election."This is a tremendous opportunity. I have been involved in the political process for basically my whole life," Ms. Chagger told reporters on Parliament Hill after her swearing-in On Friday.-goTop


21. FORMER SINGAPORE PRESIDENT S.R. NATHAN PASSES AWAY: Former Singapore President Nathan passed away on 22nd August at Singapore. He guided his country on the path to progress. His death is a great loss to Siingaporeans in general and PIO community in particular.

Of Tamil descent, Nathan was born in Singapore on July 3, 1924. He was the sixth and longest-serving President of Singapore and served two terms from 1999 to 2011. -goTop


22. Shri Vishwa Niketan: Pravas: Man Bhagiah, sahsarkaryavaha RSS will tour USA and Canada, Shri Ravikumar sahsamyojak Vishwa Vibhag will be touring Japan and HongKong, Shri Shyam Parande, Secretary Sewa International will be touring USA, Suriname, Guyana and Trinidad, Dr Ram Vaidya sahsamyojak is on a tour to Kenya, Nigeria and Ethiopia Visitors: Dr. Anand Arya - UK.

Food for thought:  All human beings are miserable due to their own faults, and they themselves can be happy by correcting these faults. - Bhagwan Mahavir. -goTop



Hindu rashtra stands for the way of life in India: Manmohan Vaidya

 (RSS leader Manmohan Vaidya on the Sangh's vision for the country and its views on secularism, minorities and social divisions)

There are several theories about what the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) believes in, and they are variously employed to interpret the actions and intentions of the Sangh and its affiliate bodies across the country. A proper assessment of its ideas is important not only because it is a massive organization that arguably holds sway over right-wing thought in India but also because of its increasing prominence in social and public life.

In an interview, Manmohan Vaidya talks about the Sangh's vision for the country and its views on secularism, minorities and some of the fissures in society it is accused of widening.

Vaidya is from Nagpur, where the Sangh is headquartered. His father, M.G. Vaidya, has been one of RSS's foremost ideologues. Manmohan Vaidya became an RSS pracharak in 1983 and has since looked after HSS (Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh) work in the US and the West Indies, worked as prant pracharak of Gujarat, been inducted into the all-India team of the RSS, where he currently serves as all-India prachar pramukh.

Edited excerpts from the interview:

The RSS has been sceptical about the use of the word secularism in the context of India-why is that?

Secularism is the most misused word in Bharat and is invoked mostly to pamper communal forces. Secondly, the way it was introduced in the preamble of our Constitution creates doubts. During constitutional debates, inclusion of the word secularism was discussed, debated and it was decided against. Dr Ambedkar also thought it was not necessary.

Our Constitution already has all the provisions giving equal rights to all religious groups, including all minorities, to practice, preach and propagate their faith.

Still secularism was included in our Constitution, in 1976, during the Emergency, without any need, demand or debate-when many opposition leaders had been put behind bars by the Indira Gandhi government.

Secularism is irrelevant in Bharat. It originated in Europe as a response to theocratic states. In Bharat, we never had a theocratic state. Here, all religions have been treated equally for centuries. Look at the Parsis, the Jews, the Syrian Christians, all came from outside and settled in various parts, making Bharat their home and practicing their religion freely, without any persecution and discrimination.

Like Swami Vivekananda said in the Parliament of World Religions in 1893, "we go beyond tolerance and we accept all ways of worship to be true". The essence of Hindutva is spiritual democracy.

But what is the harm in the word being included in the Constitution?

We haven't got anything against the grammatical meaning of the term but due to bad intent and usage it has become synonymous with anti-Hindutva /anti-national ethos. In practice, secularism is being used to further a communal agenda-to favour one particular community over others.

Saying that Muslims have the first right on national resources, as Manmohan Singh did, is that a secular statement? Why should our state provide funds for Haj or any religious pilgrimage? Even Muslim countries don't give grants for Haj. I am told that Haj is fulfilled only if you do it with your own means.

Temples are subjected to government scrutiny and intervention, but minority places of worship are not. Is this secularism? The likes of (Asaduddin) Owaisi are not communal but very secular!

This minority-ism is fostering separatism and harming the unity of this ancient, great country. The idea of secularism has been misused by these so-called secular political parties to further their own interests.

Moreover, any discussion about misuse of secularism is dubbed as opposition to secularism and favouring theocratic state. This is a blatant lie and falsification of facts.

The RSS seems unconvinced about the idea of minority rights. Why is that?

In Bharat, traditionally, we believe that all religions lead to the same destination and hence are equal. Ninety-nine per cent of Muslims and Christians in India are converted, having origin in Bharat. Then how can a mere change of faith make them qualify as minorities?

In Bharat, Parsis and Jews are the actual minorities, because they have come from outside with their own religion. But they have refused to be tagged as "minority" and never asked for any special privilege. The talk of minority interests is nothing but vote bank politics.

If everybody is equal before the law why should we have a minority commission? A single human rights commission can address any injustice done to anyone.

But in light of communal violence such as the 2002 riots and the Sachar Committee report it can be argued that minority rights need protection.

The reason behind the poor state of Muslims as highlighted by the Sachar Committee is that the majority of them (65-70%) live in Bihar, Bengal and Uttar Pradesh-states that had been economically backward. These states were ruled by so-called secular parties for most of the time since Independence. According to Sachar Committee, the economic condition of Muslims in Gujarat is much better than in West Bengal.

As for riots, they have been happening before 2002 too. Let's not forget Bhagalpur, Maliana (Meerut), Kokrajhar. Who was ruling the concerned states when these riots happened?

Instead of blaming the ruling party, it is important to try and understand why these riots happen. If you look at the communally sensitive spots in riot-prone cities you will notice that they are invariably in Muslim majority areas.

Why don't riots happen in Hindu majority areas? I have never seen riots in Nagpur where I grew up but when I moved to Gujarat, in 1983, I noticed communal riots invariably happening during Hindu festivals in these sensitive areas. Riots are bad and must be avoided but talking only about 2002 riots is wrong.

Other instances of communal violence based on accusations of love jihad and cow slaughter are on the rise. How would you explain them?

They are separate issues. Sangh did not coin the phrase "love jihad". It was used for the first time by justice K.T. Sankaran in a Kerala high court judgment. He saw a pattern of people hiding their real identities while getting into relationships. We are not opposed to bonafide inter-religious marriages, but if it is a part of some kind of design then it is a serious matter that should be discussed and rebuffed.

As for cow slaughter, it is not a religious issue but an economic one. Importance of cows grew as we became an agrarian society.

It is observed that excessive use of chemical fertilizers is impacting our soil and affecting the food we eat. Importance of organic farming is increasing. The Indian breed of cow is important for organic farming. Medicinal properties of cow products helps everyone (people of all religions), not just vegetarians.

From Gandhi to Bahadur Shah Zafar, everyone has spoken about the protection of cows. Cow slaughter is already banned in J&K, a Muslim-majority state.

But the conversation about the importance of cows to our economy and society can no longer be separated from incidents in Dadri and Una.

We are opposed to violence in this matter and any other, but laws that exist should be enforced. Also, there has been a lot of false information circulated about Dadri and Una. Now the truth is emerging in the case of Dadri. As far as Una is concerned, the emerging facts indicate that it was stage-managed.

It is often said that the RSS has reservations about the Indian flag. Is that true?

The Indian flag as it was adopted by our Constitution must be respected by all. There have been people from the Sangh who have given up their lives to protect the flag so there is no question of us not accepting the flag. We are not interested in changing it.

Was there no objection to the flag when it was adopted?

The tricolour flag emerged in political scenario in 1921. It was Gandhiji's idea to have a flag representing all major communities. Hence a tricolour flag with red (not saffron) at the bottom, green in middle and white at the top representing Hindus, Muslims and Christians.

Then itself, lot of people objected, calling it a communal flag. The very idea of identifying each community separately and trying to forge unity among them was termed as communal thinking. They demanded to have a non-communal, national flag.

This demand was so strong that All India Congress Working Committee appointed a seven member committee (popularly known as flag committee) to look into the matter. After hearing both the sides, the flag committee came to a unanimous conclusion.

The flag committee report published in 931 says, "It was decided that our flag should be artistic, distinct and non-communal. It was decided unanimously that it should be of one single colour. And if there is a colour that is more distinct that another, one that is more acceptable to the Indians as a whole and one that is associated with this ancient country by long tradition it is the saffron kesari colour."

The flag committee recommended a rectangular saffron-colour flag with a blue charkha on top corner. The communalization of the colour saffron has happened post-Independence-particularly post the insertion of the word secular in the Constitution, when the definition of what is communal and what is secular began to get distorted.

Both the RSS prayer and oath feature a pledge to Hindu rashtra. How does the RSS define that phrase?

Rashtra is often equated with nation in English. But the evolution of nation in Europe is a phenomenon of 15th century, as a reaction to the theocratic state. This was never the situation in Bharat. Here the concept of rashtra (nation) has existed since Vedic times, based on a shared view of life by all people living in Bharat, evolving into a unique way of life, Sanskriti.

There is a distinction between nation and state. State is a political association, nation means the people. Well-known French philosopher Ernest Renan had this to say about "What is a nation":

"The soil provides the substratum, the field for struggle and labour, man provides the soul.Man is everything in the formation of this sacred thing that we call a people. Nothing that is material suffices here. A nation is a spiritual principle, the result of the intricate working of history, a spiritual family and not a group determined by the configuration of the earth.

"Two things which are really one go to make this soul or spiritual principle. One of these things lies in the past, the other in the present. The one is the possession in common of a rich heritage of memories and the other is actual agreement, the desire to live together and the will to continue to make the most of the joint in heritance.

"Man cannot be improvised. The nation like the individual, is the fruit of long past spent in toil, sacrifice and devotion. Ancestor worship is of all the forms the most justifiable. Since our ancestors have made us what we are. A heroic past, great men and glory, I mean real glory-these should be capital of our company when we come to found a national idea."

So, Hindu rashtra is an adjective of rashtra (people of Bharat) and stands for the way of life that people practise in India. The Hindu-ness of our society lies in recognizing the divinity within each human being but also in accepting that religion is a personal matter.

You can choose any path you like to your spiritual goals. Hindutva is the same as Bharatiya values. The confusion also arises because dharma is wrongly translated as religion in English.

So there is no contradiction between a Hindu rashtra and a secular nation?

No. The best way to understand this is through a quotation by Tagore about Bharat in his essay "Swadeshi Samaj":"To feel unity in diversity, to establish unity amidst variety-this is the underlying dharma of Bharat. Bharat does not regard difference as hostility, she does not regard the other as enemy. That is why without sacrifice or destruction she wants to accommodate everybody within one great system. That is why she accepts all ways and sees the greatness of each in his own sphere.

"Because of this virtue, in Bharat, by seeing others we wouldn't get frightened as we don't consider any society or people as our enemy. Each fresh conflict will enable us to expand ourselves. The Hindu, the Buddhist, the Muslim and the Christian will not fight each other and die in Bharat-here they will find a meeting point. That meeting point will not be non-Hindu, but very specifically Hindu."

Dr Radhakrishnan has observed that Hindutva (Hinduism) is not a religion: it is a commonwealth of many religions. If you accept the Hindu way of life you are free to follow any religion you like.

In that case, where does the impulse for initiatives like 'ghar wapsi' come from?

As Hindus we do not believe in conversions. There are many Muslims and Christians who attend RSS shakhas but we do not seek to convert them. They keep following their own faith. A senior ideologue of the RSS, M.G. Vaidya, was professor of Sanskrit in a college run by Scottish Church in Nagpur.

Once, one of his colleagues, a Christian, asked him if he can join the RSS. Mr Vaidya replied, "Oh! Sure! For that you need not leave your faith. Only you have to accept that there is salvation outside Church also." On this the Christian professor quipped that he cannot accept this as he will lose his zeal to convert people.

The great Sarvodaya leader, Acharya Vinoba Bhave said, "Salvation through this way only is non-Hindu and salvation through this way also is Hindu.

However, it is commonly known that a lot of people were converted en masse here and there is a growing urge among them to reconnect to their roots. Facilitating this urge to reconnect to roots is ghar wapsi or home coming. It can be seen as a process of de-conversion.

(Interview by Pragya Tiwari, a Delhi based journalist pursuing an executive master's in public administration from the London School Of Economics. Live Mint, 14 August 2016) -goTop

Shri Vishwa Niketan