The Vishwa Hindu Parishad was founded at Swami Chinmayananda’s ashram in 1962, with Swami as the founder-chairman.
In that year the pope was visiting India; Catholics had vowed to convert 108 Hindus to Christianity in each city the pope visited. Incensed at this predatory practice, Swami announced he would bring 1,008 back into the Hindu fold in each of the same cities. Reconversion of those who converted through enticement or coercion remains a central VHP goal.
From 1964, Swami had no formal post with the VHP, but served as spiritual guide. According to Ashok Singhal, general-secretary of the VHP, Swami was responsible for the concept of the Hindu vote bank. Swami observed in 1988, “Strength in a democracy flows out of the power to vote, not just through physical strength.”
Swami was not exempt from controversy. In fact, at times he invited it. He opened one meeting by saying emphatically, “I think that is not sufficient that I congratulate you all, but show you a mirror of what you have not been doing which is absolutely necessary. I know many of you may curse me in the end, but if a swami cannot take curses, who else can take them?” He raised hackles in the USA in 1979 with his pointed criticism of the failure of many Indian immigrants in the USA to infuse Hindu culture in their children and with the formation of temple societies among only family people without a guiding guru. He demanded–and personally set through extensive adult and youth camps–a higher standard of Hindu culture in the West.
Excerpts from Article in Hinduism Today on Swami Chinamayanada