Vishva Hindu Parishad

50 Years of ‘Hindutva’ Heritage

Hinduism as a religion and sacred concept has faced many ups and downs in the course of history. To preserve the glory of this oldest religion in the world, an organisation of the stature of VHP was felt at one point of time and hence it was established around 50 years ago. Founded on 29th August 1964, on the day of the biggest Hindu festival Janmashtami, Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) is one of the largest bodies promoting and disseminating the virtues of Hinduism throughout the world. Raghava Reddy is the international president of the VHP and Praveen Togadia is its executive president. With the sole aim of protecting the Hindu dharma, VHP was established with the benediction of revered Masters, Acharyas and Saints of all Hindu Mat-Panth-Sampradayas i.e. caste-creed-sects.  The Sangh Parivar is an organization under which three Hindu nationalist organizations fall. One amongst those is VHP and the other two are Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). The slogan adopted by the VHP is ‘Dharmo rakati rakitaḥ’meaning ‘Dharma protects its protector’ and the symbol representing the organization is a banyan tree.

What Led to the Formation of Vishwa Hindu Parishad?

As per the records, in the year 1955, Niyogi Committee’s Report on religious conversion of the weaker section of the society inspired the formation of Vishwa Hindu Parishad. Those were the times when the religious integrity of the nation was under serious threat. The Committee presented its Report based on the prolonged social stigma in which gullible and weaker sections of the society like Girijans and Vanavasis – considered economically and socially backward, illiterate and untouchables – were forced into mass conversion by Christians. These operations were followed under the auspices of the missionaries based in Indian in connivance with American propagandists who were the main fund providers in this malpractice.

This horrendous practice was not only endangering the Hindu Dharma but also challenging the integrity and unity of the whole nation. It was during this time, around 1960, a visionary and founder of the daily Hindusthan Samachar, Shri. Dadasaheb Apte felt the urge of halting the evil religious practices and disseminating awareness on the importance of the consolidation of the Hindu religion. During this period, Niyogi Committee’s Report arrived and Apte along with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh leader M. S. Golwalkar and spiritual head Swami Chinmayanand of Mumbai together visualized the formation of a national level institution to consolidate Hindu Dharma and its timeless virtue. Apte was nominated as its founding General Secretary and Swami Chinmayanand was nominated the founding President.

The delegation of the founders also included K. M. Munshi (Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan), Keshavram Kashiram Shastri (Gujarati scholar), Master Tara Singh (Sikh leader), Satguru Jagjit Singh (Namdhari Sikh leader), and C. P. Ramaswamy Iyer (eminent politician). As part of the great Hindu fraternity, VHP considers Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists and native Tribals as part of the same land and also states that all these castes together unite with the Hindu to portray ‘Saint Shakti of Bharat’.

Thus VHP came into existence with the aim of fulfilling many objectives for the consolidation of Hinduism as the largest single dharma. These objectives are –

  • To provide medical relief to the needy especially at the times of drought, war, riots, floods, etc.; provide free medical camps for the destitute.
  • To provide an educational system which is equal for all sexes, castes, groups, backgrounds, etc. The training centres established by the organization are called Dharmapracharaks. VHP always focuses on the upliftment of the socially backward groups so as to make them self-reliant and earn them self-respect.
  • To provide relief to the poor by building rescue homes, orphanages, working women’s hostels, homes for widows, destitute homes, homes for old, homes for infirm persons, etc.
  • To fight for the eradication of the social evils like dowry systems, untouchability, etc.; to fulfil cultural and spiritual aspiration of the people of India.
  • To engage into socio-religious and scientific research; publish books, pamphlets, booklets, journals, newspapers; promote the objectives of the VHP through mass media.

The Great Social and Religious Impact

As mentioned in the official website of the Vishva Hindu Parishad, the organization is a registered Society under the Societies registration Act {act XXI of 1860 (Punjab Amendment Act 1957) as extended to the Union Territory of Delhi} on July 8, 1966 (No. S-3106).

The policy of Vishwa Hindus Parishad is based on Atharvavedic guidance (1/15/1) and says “Just as the small rivulets merge to make a sacred river; the breezy winds unite to make a mighty typhoon; the small birds group to make a vast flock; may all the noble souls join the great yajna to realise the power of unity.” The motive of VHP is the convergence of Dharmacharyas of all sampradayas of the Hindu Dharma. The following outcome is expected in the process –

  • Eradication of social evils meant to degrade the value of Hindutva
  • Better served Hindu society and effective implementation of various service projects
  • Maintenance of Hindu pride and unity in the society
  • Change in the psyche of people regarding the concept of Hindu Dharma

The VHP abides by the fact that ‘भारत के विकास की पूर्वशर्त है ‘हिंदुत्व’’ which means that ‘for the progress of India Hindutva is a pre-requisite’. It cannot be denied that the VHP has played a great role behind the success of BJP and the formation of its government led by Mr. Narendra Modi in the year 2014. The organisation today is also involved in detaching the ‘communal’ concept which is wrongly linked to Hindutva by those political opponents heavily dependent on vote bank politics.

Redressing Social Concerns

Under the auspices of great leaders, the VHP today stands as an indomitable force to safeguard Hindu society. Social issues concerning Hindu harmony have successfully been taken up and completed in the recent past by the VHP and these include Shri Amarnath Yatra, Shri Ganga Raksha, Gau Raksha, Shri Ramsetu, the Hindu Mutt- mandir issue, and Shri Ramjanmabhoomi. Again, it should not be forgotten that it was VHP which played a major role and took bold steps in the preservation of Hindu religion by checking mass conversion of Hindus as prompted by radical elements of Islam, Bangladeshi Muslim infiltration, Christian Church, etc.

To offer ‘service’ to humanity is the main motto of the VHP. Renowned leaders, thinkers, visionaries, philosophers, etc. have also participated and offered their valuable consultation in the making of this institution. Today, there is a visible stronghold of VHP in almost every small and big region of India and this is to consolidate the Hindu society and to make known the virtues of Hindutva across the world. VHP has spread its wings to collectively advocate Human Rights for Hindus in different regions or nations including United States (VHPA), United Kingdom (VHPUK), Germany, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji.

To serve Hinduism from its grass root level is the core purpose of VHP as the organisation is involved in the establishment and running of over 32 thousand service projects covering various social genres including education, health, self-empowerment, Gram Siksha Mandir, etc. To re-establish the lost virtue of Hindu Unity, VHP had also succeeded in the past in the eradication of various social evils like caste systems, untouchability, etc.

Parameters of Hindutva by VHP

The parameters of Hindutva as set (or put forward) by VHP are as follows. However, the list is neither exhaustive nor is the list presented in order of priority –

  • Faith in the phrase ‘Ekam Sat Viprah Bahudda Vadanti’ which means there are many ways of achieving truth, but the truth is ultimately one and the same. This means that different people have different means of achieving salvation. This is an inclusive concept and one should be open and tolerant to various spiritual exercises through which different people choose to gain salvation.
  • Renovation of Shir Krishna Janmabhoomi, Shir Kashi Vishwanath, Shri Ram Janmabhoomi. The sole objective behind this is to return the due legitimacy to the Hindus. The idea of renovation and reestablishment of these temples is fair enough as they reflect the Hindu heritage lost in antiquity. Again, generosity of the Hindus is reflected from the fact that rebuilding of those thousand other temples demolished under the reign of Moughals and other foreigners have not been even thought of. However, reestablishment of temples like Shir Krishna Janmabhoomi, Shri Kashi Vishwanath, and Shri Ram Janmabhoomi are too important to be overlooked in the land of Hindus.
  • Introduction of a uniform civil code.
  • Abolition of Article 370 – the law granting special autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir. It should be truly understood that abolition of Article 370 would actually integrate Jammu and Kashmir with the rest of India. The Article which was constituted in the year 1947 was intended to be kept on a temporary basis. Today, Article 370 acts as a hindrance in the path of effective dealing with the impending matter as the funds allocated to Jammu and Kashmir in accordance with the act is misappropriated by state officers and politicians.
  • Exclusion of special privileges provided to state-funded educational institutions run by minorities on the basis of Articles 25, 26, and 30 – The allocation of funds to the educational institutes run by minorities is a special privilege that falls under the Articles 25, 26, and 30 of the Indian Constitution. Unfortunately, most of the funds are mismanaged by the institutes. In the name of secularism these Articles instigate poorer quality education and in a way are detrimental to the students learning in those institutes.
  • Promotion of temple management among the people of India.  Every year, huge funds are donated to Indian temples. The fact is that a temple, whether big or small, requires only minimum amount of maintenance and hence the rest of the money is most of the times misappropriated either by the state politicians or temple management. Sometimes this money is also allocated for the state’s budgetary support.
  • Exclusion of Haj subsidy – Special pilgrimage subsidies provided to Muslims during Haj is clearly an indicator of community appeasement strategy. This cannot be in any case related to the maxims of secularism.
  • Right interpretation of history and teaching it in the correct perspective – Hinduism is the oldest civilization in the world. Unfortunately, the ethnicity of this religion is often misinterpreted and antiquity of the religion is not correctly conveyed to the masses in an effective manner. The historical concepts on Aryan invasion, Islamic invasion, Goa inquisition etc. is still not clearly mentioned in the books which are most read.
  • Understanding the virtues which made all Hindu Gods (Rama, Krishna) and Hindu warriors (Rana Pratap Singh, Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj) real ideals for the Hindus.
  • Restoration of the Indian heritage sites which are considered the real pride of India. Despite various devastations in the hands of foreign invaders, there are still various Hindu sites which can be labelled as awesome heritage. These sites need to be preserved so that Hindus can celebrate their age old history.
  • Promotion of indigenous free enterprise through progressive economic policies. Indigenous entrepreneurship is the core of economic policies formulated on the basis of Hindutva.
  • Complete abolition of cow slaughter. Cow is considered extremely sacred in Hinduism and is propitiated as mother of all. Milk, fertilizers and medicines are provided by cow and man owes a lot to this holy animal.
  • Terrorism is a crime and there should be no mercy towards perpetrators of such crimes and there should also be zero tolerance towards terrorism. In terms of both social and economic development terror campaign stands as one of the greatest hindrances today.
  • Strict ban against religious conversion especially when done by pressurizing someone. These conversions cause a lot of social tensions when the main focus of the nation is to strive towards economic development.