Let me ask you a question – what is the religion of Hindutva leaders? Do they believe in Ram dharma, or Ravan dharma?
You might call this a stupid question, but today, when the entire nation is numb with shock over the inhumane rape of an eight- year-old girl in Kathua, BJP leaders are standing in support of those accused of the heinous crime.
When anger over the incident began to bubble over and threatened to consume the BJP, resignation letters were sought from two BJP leaders who had been raising slogans of ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ in support of the accused without any shame.
Ram Dharma or Ravan Dharma?
How can these Hindutva leaders, who talk about Indian culture all time, be so callous? The answer lies in the question I asked in the beginning – do they believe in Ram dharma or Ravan dharma?
If we don’t understand this, we can’t understand the mindset that tears open women’s wombs in riots, burns innocent children alive, and rapes pregnant women.
Veer Savarkar aka Vinayak Damodar Savarkar’s followers are in power today, and his interpretation of Indian history has plunged the country into a storm. These followers keep chanting the name of ‘Ram’, but they seem unaware that Savarkar himself believed in Ravan dharma.
Too busy to read? Listen to the story instead.
Let me explain this with an excerpt from his books. In paragraph 442-443 of chapter eight in Six Glorious Epochs of Indian History, he writes:
"After Ravan abducted Sita... some of his well-wishers advised the demon king, just before the war, that because of his unjust act, the demon kingdom was threatened with a terrible war, and that he should send Sita back to her husband (Ram) because it was highly irreligious to kidnap her. ‘What?’ cried the wrathful Ravan. ‘To abduct and rape the women folk of the enemy, do you call it irreligious?’"
Rape & Plunder the Enemy
After narrating this incident, Savarkar writes, “With this same shameless religious fanaticism, the aggressive Muslims of those times considered it their highly religious duty to carry away forcibly the women of the enemy side, as if they were commonplace property to ravish them, to pollute them and to distribute them to all and sundry, from the Sultan to the common soldier, and to absorb them completely in their fold. This was considered a noble act.”
Savarkar’s problem was that Hindu men behaved decently with Muslim women, because of which Muslim attackers were never worried that if they lost, their women would be unsafe. Savarkar found this attitude of Hindu rulers and soldiers towards women problematic.
He got angry! In paragraph 449 Savarkar writes, “The Muslim women never feared retribution or punishment at the hands of any Hindu for their heinous crime. They had a perverted idea of woman-chivalry.”
Savarkar considered this attitude of Hindu men tantamount to suicide. That is, he believed Hindus should misbehave with Muslim women, in the manner in which he believed Muslim men treated Hindu women.
Savarkar’s Thoughts on His ‘Idol’ Shivaji
Interestingly, he scoffs at Shivaji, to whom he accords a very high stature in Indian history, as he made life difficult for Mughal emperor Aurangzeb and established a ‘Hindu Rashtra’. After defeating the Muslim governor of Kalyan, when Shivaji’s soldiers produced the governor’s daughter-in-law before him as part of the captured loot, Shivaji ordered that she be respectfully sent back to her home. History has praised Shivaji for this act. Common people view it as part of his greatness. But Savarkar did not.
He writes, “Even now we proudly refer to the noble acts of Chhatrapati Shivaji and Chimaji Appa, when they honourably sent back the daughter-in-law of the Muslim Governor of Kalyan and the wife of the Portuguese governor of Bassein respectfully. But is it not strange that, when they did so, neither Shivaji Maharaj nor Chimaji Appa remembered the atrocities and the rapes, perpetrated by Mahmud of Ghazni, Muhammad Ghori, Alla-ud-din Khilji and others, on thousands of Hindu women and girls like the princesses of Dahir, Kamaldevi, the wife of Kamaraj of Karanwati and her extremely beautiful daughter, Devaldevi.”
"Did not the plaintive screams and pitiful lamentations of the millions of molested Hindu women, which reverberated throughout the length and breadth of the country, reach the ears of Shivaji Maharaj and Chimaji Appa?... because of the then prevalent perverted religious ideas about chivalry to women, neither Shivaji Maharaj nor Chimaji Appa could treat Muslim women that way. Ultimately it proved highly detrimental to the Hindu community."
Also Read: We Shouldn’t Politicise Rapes, Right? Wrong
Savarkar’s intentions become even clearer in the writing of his biographer Dhananjay Keer. Keer writes:
“He said that Pakistan's inhuman and atrocious activities like the kidnapping and rape of Hindustani women can only be stopped when we respond in a like manner.” This leaves no doubt that Savarkar was advocating rape. In this context, prominent thinker Purushottam Agarwal says, “The rapist also hesitates in giving rape a moral status. With the idea of ‘Sadgun Vikrti’ (virtuous perversion) Savarkar put an end to this hesitation with a single stroke. He frames straightforward virtue as perversion in a very systematic manner, that too while condemning Shivaji.”
Meaning, Savarkar supported Ravan dharma. He doesn’t like Ram’s decorous conduct. Savarkar argues that any concession towards the enemy during war is suicide, and in order to defeat the enemy if their women have to be raped, there should be no hesitation to commit the act.
Savarkar’s supporters feel that when they commit crimes such as violence against women, they are doing sanctified work for Hinduism. They are working to enhance the glory of the country. That is why they neither feel repentant nor apologetic.
Indeed, the problem is in the viewpoint of Savarkar which is creating a new definition of nationalism. They view Indian history as a continuous struggle between religions, in which the Hindu religion loses because it is altruistic, compassionate, virtuous, and stands by moral values. According to them, these are the weaknesses of Hindu society.
This viewpoint of Savrakar is wrong, perverted and is beyond the understanding of history. It seems deliberately wrought, because the same Savarkar fervently praises Muslims in his book on the revolt of 1857, The Indian War of Independence –1857, and considers them nationalists. In Page 114, Savarkar writes, “…Bharatmata (Mother India) proclaimed this divine mantra — henceforth, you are equal and brothers; I am equally the mother of you both! Hindustan is our country, and we are brothers, saying this Hindus and Muslims unanimously raised the flag of national freedom in Delhi.”
Savarkar does not stop here. On page 169 he again writes, “The great national revolution of 1857 is unprecedented in the history of Hindustan, in which, Hindus and Muslims recognised their relationship as brothers and fought together for Hindustan...”
What is the reason for Savarkar’s belief in Ravan dharma? This is a topic for later discussion. But his attempt to give rape a chivalrous, elevated form is condemnable. India is paying the price for it today.
(The writer is an author and spokesperson of AAP. He can be reached at @ashutosh83B. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. This has been translated by Mariam Shaheen from the original article which was published on Quint Hindi. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)
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