Category Archives: Interviews

Grama Devata and Kula Devata are like Brahmastra and Pashupatastra against religious conversions in villages

Swami Kamalananda Bharati is the founder of Hindu Devalaya Parirakshana Samiti, an organisation dedicated to ‘Jeernoddaara’ (restoration and revival) of Hindu temples. Swamiji has for the past few years been one of those at the forefront of the public movement against the Andhra Pradesh Hindu Religious Endowment Department’s total mismanagement and corrupt administration of Hindu temples, including the renowned Tirupati Balaji Devasthanam by the State Government.

To create awareness on the state of our mandirs, he has undertaken three padayatras, covering 8000 villages and totalling a distance of over 10,000 Km, in Andhra Pradesh, visiting each district and each village during these yatras. Swamiji is also at the forefront of anti-conversion work in Andhra Pradesh.

In an interview to Organiser, Swamiji talks about the threats to Hindu temple traditions, the forces and his work to counter forces and the future course of action for Hindus. Excerpts:

Q.What according to you is the biggest threat to Hindu temple traditions today?

With respect to conducting temple rituals and following traditions as per our Agama Shashtras and also the way temples are managed, we have to look at them in various angles. One of the threats to follow the age-old traditions in our temples is the interference by politically motivated temple management. The Government department’s aim has been to alter traditions and replace them with new rituals that fetch more money. Both officials of the Endowments Department and few politicians are involved in such activities. The next threat is from the Christian missionaries. They used to operate out of public glare earlier, but from the last decade, they are attacking our temple traditions openly. For instance, in Narasapuram they attacked the main murti at Shiva Temple, in Bheemavaram they attacked Bhagwan Krishna’s Murthy, in Chittoor, they desecrated the Grama Devata temples in 3 villages. In Guntur too they attacked Hindus and attempted to build a Church over a Hindu temple. In Kurnool, they forced the government to stop money that was being given to manage a temple from the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) funds. Hindu temples in almost all districts in Andhra Pradesh are under attack from Christian missionaries, and they are doing it openly. On the other hand, the Islamists do not attack Hindu temples or traditions openly, but they target those who follow them, either through Love Jihad or covert operation through educational and personality development programmes. But the real critical issue with the Hindu society is that most do not identify themselves proudly as Hindus. It is also true that most among Hindus stay away from temples that are in their towns and villages. It is one thing to undertake a pilgrimage to Sabarimala or Tirupati which most do. But an average Hindu is not connected emotionally to the temple near him/her. This was the primary concern of my ‘Sampoorna Grama Yatra’ where Sampoorna Devayala Sandarshana Grama was our aim. I visited every village and visit all the temples in the village and get every Hindu family to visit all the temples in their village and connect them with it. Subsequently, we also undertook a Rath Yatra called the Sampoorna Devayala Sandarshana Rath Yatra with the same aim.

Q.You have travelled thousands of kilometres covering more than 8,000 villages. What are the threats villagers face in maintaining their traditions?

The biggest issue with the temples today is that there is an enormous shortage of archakas for our temples in towns and villages. Today 95 per cent of the villages have no archakas in their temples. The archaka system that was prevalent has died down due to migration of people to cities and other places in search of different jobs, and no one is ready to take up the job of the archakas. Due to this, temples in villages are lying vacant without any pooja being performed, and villagers too do not visit them. There are villages where ten temples are closed due to non-availability of archakas. It is such villages that are the target of Christian missionaries. They have built 6-7 Churches in such villages, and each church has well-paid pastors. But there are Bhajana Mandalis in many villages where along with Bhajans, people involve in Kolaatam (Dandiya) kind of traditional activities. Those who conduct Bhajans in villages come from one particular caste. Similarly, among the Scheduled Caste communities also, Bhajan Mandalis is very much prevalent, and it is lead by the people from the same community. I can say Hindutva is alive in villages due to such Bhajan Mandalis. People irrespective of gender, caste, take part in Bhajans and it is a platform that unites all Hindus.

Here I need to stress the difference between Hindus in urban and rural areas in maintaining our traditions. During the last 30 years, there is a change in our villages. The income of villagers has increased due to which their quality of life has also become better. Consequently, they have started taking an interest in our Dharma, temples, traditions and are involving themselves more in them. The point to be noted here is that those who are building temples and managing them in our villages in recent times are the people who are from the Backward Classes and SC/ST communities. I have witnessed this in Andhra and Telangana. I had also observed that when they remained within their caste-based professions, their income levels were low and they did not progress. But once they went out of their castes and joined new professions, they earned well which also leads to huge improvement in their quality of life. They then started going to temples, involved in building temples, managing them, undertook yatras and wearing malas, etc. Those families that did not even have proper clothes to wear and stood outside temples only to receive their share of prasad have today progressed to a level where they are funding temple renovation, wearing good clothes and take part in temple festivities with pride and honour. Historically too, whenever there has been economic progress in our backward communities, the strength and spirit of the Hindu society too has always increased. Villagers primarily have faith in their grama devata followed by their kula devata. Each caste also has a jati devata. Villagers duly perform pooja to their devatas with a lot of faith and devotion.

For example, Vishwabrahmins worship Vishwakarma, Vaishyas worship Kannikaparameshwari, Goudas worship Renuka Yellamma, Chamars perform pooja to Arundhati and Mathamma Devi, Mahars worships Channakeshava. Likewise, each caste worships its devatas. The faith they have in their grama devata or kula or jati devata has played a significant role in in clebrating diverse traditions of the Hindu fold. Villagers worship their devatas with lot of devotion and also a source of social cohesion. Villagers spend huge money in pooja festivities of their devathas. Mavulamma Talli (Devi) is the grama devatha of a village in the Bheemavaram municipality. Just the Sabzi Mandi near the temple here donates lakhs of rupees for the upkeep of the temple dedicated to Mavulamma Devi. It is in this way the local communities support and build temples of their devatas. The Grama Devata and the Kula Devata are like Brahmastra and Pashupatastra against religious conversions in villages. In cities and towns too, not all temples are well managed as thought. In several colonies in cities, temples suffer from similar issues of lack of archakas or funds. Many temples get enough funds only for basic pooja and for the archakas. Only few temples which get good number of devotees can get good funds for their regular activities and management.

Q.If temples are freed from Government control, do you think Hindus can take control of the temples and manage it well?

Firstly, we have to get all those trustees of temple management trusts which are well-managed by Hindus themselves and are not under the purview of the Endowments Department of the Governments. We have to take them into confidence. We have to note their experiences, their dedication, their values and the way they manage their temples. All these have to be laid before the Hindu society. There may not be many such temples but we have to do this to educate our society. For instance, there are about 80 temples in Andhra alone which are managed by the Ganapati Sachchidananda Peetha of Mysore. All rituals and traditions are followed as per their own norms. The purohits of all the 80 temples are trained in Agama shashtras in the Veda Pathashalas of the Ganapati Sachchidananda Ashram in Mysore. The committee members of these temple trusts go to Mysore every year and present their reports which is evaluated by the Ashram. This is a model that is already in front of us which can be emulated. Today people give sufficient money or donations for temple jewellery and other causes. But it has become difficult to find dedicated and trustworthy people to manage temple trusts. We need a process to find such people and train them in managing temple affairs. We should institute something like a ‘Temple Management course’ to find and train people who will become adept at managing temple affairs and administer the temples as per our Agama shastras. They have to be trained well about our shashtras, mahakavyas, traditional lifestyle, itihasa of Bharat and the temple itself. This has to be done professionally as a mainstream college course.

Q.How have your efforts enabled people to follow their traditions in their temples?

Today all are discussing temples, their traditions and threats. But when we started our movement in 2001-02, not many were bothered or even heard us. By 2006-07, due to the efforts of our temple movement, people and political parties were educated about it and in 2007 they took a unanimous decision to amend the Endowments Act. I have visited thousands of villages where I teach people about the importance of the temple and its traditions. I talk to people about the need to safeguard their temples due to which many have come forward to help us in our movement. Today, most mathadhipathis, sants, small and big Hindu organisations speak about saving temples both in India and abroad. But the efforts are still individualistic, and everyone is forwarding their memorandums to the Government which are different from each other. The Government cites the differences in memorandums and brushes aside their demands, which is exactlty what they want. However, if we all come together, arrive at a common minimum programme and submit one single memorandum after due deliberation, the Endowments Department and Government will be forced to listen and act on our demands. It is only due to such concerted efforts that we will get lasting solutions. Between 2007-09, I undertook a padayatra of 10,000 kms in 30 districts of erstwhile Andhra Pradesh in 3 years. More important than the kilometres I walked is the way the padayatra was conducted. During the yatra, I visited every temple in a village by involving all the resident Hindus of the village. We together performed a parikrama of all the village temples like the Shri Rama temples, Shiva Temples, Grama Devatha temples, Kula devatha temples, Vana Devatha, etc. Through this parikrama, I was able to connect all Hindus of the village to all the temples, including those they didn’t visit earlier. I have also observed that Hindu organisations and sant samaj takes up one issue today and forgets about it later. Then again after sometime they take up some other issue. If it’s temples today, it will be something else tomorrow. I suggest that all organisations and concerned people take up only one issue at a time, like the issue of temples now, and work on it for five years or so until we have found a permanent solution. For example, if we take up the save temples movement, we should all work on it for five years continuously, taking into consideration various aspects like, saving temple traditions, temple lands, utilisation of temple funds, taking temples out of government control, education for temple management, etc. Only by working together by being focused, without other distractions, will we be able to tackle all angles related to the single issue and arrive at a solution. I have been fighting many policies of the Endowments Department of Andhra and Telangana for the past 15 years. Due to our movement, the government brought in an amendment in 2007 to the Endowments Act, which mandated that the archakas be paid a proper salary. Earlier to our movement, the archakas were getting a pittance and even that was not guaranteed. Archakas in rural areas get Rs.5000 and those in urban areas get Rs.10,000 per month under the ‘Doop Deep Naivedyam Scheme’ of the Government after our continuous struggle. I have also been fighting legally to safeguard temple lands and have found success in all cases we have fought. Even in case of TTD, I have been successful in forcing the Government to make many changes in the way they run the affairs of the temple. For instance, the Left Unions and politically affiliated officials tried to stop the age old practice of people from the ‘Yadava’ community to be the first to have the darshan of Venkateshwara after the doors are opened every day. We have been able to force the TTD to continue with the tradition. But there are many machinations afoot to create Sabarimala kind of anarchy in Tirumala temple too. When I worked for saving temples, I focused only on temples where I visited temples both in rural and urban areas and talked to all stakeholders, approached government, filed cases in courts and worked continuously until we found a solution. We involved people in the process by making them understand that the issues related to temples are issues of the entire society too and their important role in the same. I have been successful in this endeavour. Today, due to our movement may youths from towns and villages have come forward and are volunteering to work towards reviving temples, safeguard temple lands or even to monitor utilisation of temple funds and resources.

Q.Hindu traditions and anything sacred is the target of the anti-Hindu brigade?

There have been concerted attempts to undermine or scuttle the ancient Hindu traditions. Rajahmundry Ghats and Nellore lake issue are the most recent attacks by Evangelists and Jihadists. Hindu organisations have been fighting back each time. More than 10-15 Hindu organisations like ‘Swahikti’, Dharma Jagran, Hindu Chetana Vedika, etc., are working to counter these forces. We are working to safeguard and revive temples. Many Dharmacharyas too are working seriously on several issues. Hindu samaj is ready to face them but we also need the political will to counter them. It is in the best interests of the Hindu society if all Hindu organisations come together, discuss and deliberate on these issues and chalk out a strategy and work concertedly. 

Source: Organiser, 28th Jan 2019

Silent Warriors of tribal India

Silent warriors of tribal India
HIGHLIGHTS

Thousands of tribal women workers across India work to bring education, livelihood and health and make a difference to their own communities, reaching 50,000 villages with 35,000 micro projects

A tribal welfare department official goes on tour to the Bastar region in Chattisgarh.

At the end of the day, as his jeep loses its way in the twilight in the jungle, a tribal woman who is travelling with him, jumps out and tells the driver to switch off the headlights and follow her.

She starts running along the kutcha pathways in the dark and the jeep follows her faint, racing figure until they are back to the road. For five whole kilometres!

This magic guide in the jungle is a member of the Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram and a worker, who runs an education project in the villages of Bastar. And she is as deft in managing large-scale projects as she is leading the way out of dark, dense forests.

She is one of the thousands of workers who are part of a mammoth development exercise across India, focusing on the tribal populations in various states, from Punjab to Arunachal Pradesh, from Bihar to Kerala. For the last 67 years.

This week a hundred such tribal women leaders from across India met in Hyderabad for a national workshop and to share their stories.

On their work in education and livelihood training, self-help groups and viable agriculture, water conservation, prevention of trafficking of young tribal girls. On conflict resolution and rehabilitation. On hostels and health. And on tribal sports and revival of traditional arts and crafts.

“Thirty years ago, I had studied in a Kalyan Ashram hostel and I still remember how our villagers used to run away when they saw a stranger.

We were illiterate, had no potable drinking water, suffered from illnesses and had no access to any of the Government schemes. All that changed now,” says Kimudu Acchamma, in charge of the Paderu centre in Visakhapatnam district.

With more than 200 hostels that offer shelter, schooling, health and sports training, Kalyan Ashrams boast of many successful former students in all fields including sports with sportspersons such as Limba Ram and Kavita Raut among notables.

Apart from livelihood training and self-help groups of women, the VKS also takes active part in resource protection and support to farmer and fishermen communities.

“In Purulia district of West Bengal, water is so scarce that it was difficult to have even one crop in a year. But we revived the tanks and helped each farmer dig a small tank in his land so that groundwater was charged, and they could grow fish there.

And the farmers could actually go for two crops,” explains Malati Soren from Purulia. “The tribal belt there was very backward. In fact, there was a village, which had just one boy who could read and write and he was in a hostel in the town.

The entire village waited for him to come home for holidays so that he could sit and read all their letters from many months,” recalls Beenapani Das, also from West Bengal.

Conflict resolution has been one of the main areas of thrust of the Kalyan groups. “In Assam, in Bastar, Manipur and Arunachal, whenever there was a clash between two tribes, both sides were losers.

We approached both the tribes and brokered. On many occasions, police called women members from our groups to come and cajole the warring tribes,” says Madhavi Joshi, country head of the VKA women’s groups.

The peace efforts also worked in the Bastar region of Chattisgarh and Gadchiroli in Maharashtra where left extremism became an impediment to the development of scheduled tribes.

“In Gadchiroli, there were fierce encounters between Maoists and the security forces and tribes got caught in crossfire. We were the only one who were allowed to get in the middle, go to the remote areas and speak to the villagers,” smiles Jasunda Darro who works in Gadchiroli villages.

“Bastar had a mere 2% literacy among women. Tribal people, especially young people and women faced so much pressure from the extremist groups and they equally suffered due to lack of access to facilities in their own habitations,” adds Madhavi Joshi.

Apart from night schools, free coaching classes, reading rooms, VKA also runs Ekal Pathshalas, single-teacher schools that have young girls from the community, teaching primary school kids and dropouts, often depending on song and story to convey lessons to toddlers. Ekal school teachers sometimes walk kilometers to reach the schools assigned to them.

Terrain is one of the most challenging factors of their work, but workers, such as Omem Bayor of Arunachal Pradesh climb up mountains to reach tribal villages near Tibet, China borders to reach the last tribal woman.

Prevention of trafficking of young girls has been seen as a crucial intervention in some states such as the North east and West Bengal where the kids are sent off across the borders and are never seen again, the women SHGs have focused on bringing girl children to schools, preventing child marriages.

Elsewhere in the bustling metro of Kolkata, Usha Agarwal builds bridges between urban denizens and the tribal areas, organizing Vana Yatras and offering marketing avenues for the tribal crafts.

The venue for the Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram national meet echoes with songs, in Santhali and Gond, in Marathi and Bengali, sung by women, each of whom is a driving force in her own community.

“It is our effort to preserve our music and dance and we interact with old people and document legends, stories, songs and poems and teach them,” says Donshinlu Golmei from Manipur. “We have discovered many lost gems and many tribal festivals,” adds Nayana Gamit from Gujarat.

The work that these women do is mostly voluntary, except for a few full-time workers who are often products of the hostels themselves.

And unknown to the rest of the world, their energy courses through the veins of tribal India, revitalizing whole communities, bridging development gaps and ensuring their holistic development.

https://www.thehansindia.com/featured/womenia/silent-warriors-of-tribal-india-534776

 

Temple In Ayodhya Is a Must – Swami Chinmayananda

Chinmaya

Interview to Sri Ram Madhav, then Editorial in Charge, “Vande Bharat Mataram” in Jan 1993.  Source 

 

Asking him whether a temple should be built in Ayodhya is insulting him personally… as insulting as asking one his opinion on whether he should reject his wife, exhorted Swami Chinmayananda in an exclusive interview granted to VANDE BHARAT MATARAM in January 1993. The late premier pedagogue of Bhagavadgita was occasionally irascible, particularly when a reference was made to the obduracy of the then Congress government as well as the Muslim leadership on Ayodhya. No mincing of words, no hiding of views…. an honest and frank Swamiji candidly answered wide-ranging questions on Ayodhya, secularism etc… in a conversation with Ram Madhav, Editorial in Charge, Vande Bharat Mataram. We reproduce here the full text of the interview.

(This interview was done sometime in January 1993 before he left for USA and attained Maha Samadhi.)

Vande : These days we find an unprecedented upsurge of militancy among Hindus. Some people brand it as fundamentalism. What is your opinion on it?
Swamiji : We cannot avoid it. It is all because of Ayodhya. Ayodhya – the word itself means – Ayodhya – that is, there is not conflict. It is for Ayodhya (no conflict) that we are righting. Just as the world war was for peace, we are no doubt fighting, but only for establishing peace and progress in our country.

Vande : But that is the responsibility of the government.
Swamiji : We waited for 45 years. After 45 years of waiting we want to start now. Till now we thought that our own government will do it. But they are not doing. 45 years we waited. We don’t want to give them 112 century full.

Vande : Can you please substantiate your allegation against the government? In what way are they….?
Swamiji : In their misconception of secularism. To them, secularism means supporting the minority. That too, on the basis of religion. They say that they are secular. Nowhere in any dictionary is the name secularism given as supporting one religion or the other. Government should be above religion. To divide the country on the basis of religion is absurd.

Vande : But is it not the responsibility of the government to protect the interests and promote the welfare of the minorities?
Swamiji : Who is a minority? Certainly Muslims and Christians are not. America doesn’t say that the Protestants are a minority. Even Negros are not considered as minority. This is a wrong philosophy. Mere political…. To get little more votes. There is a minority in our country, as in the other countries also. Minority consists of those who are disabled, un-educated, unemployed, suffering, houseless, shelterless….. they constitute the minority. It is certainly the responsibility of the majority to look after that minority. Majority or Minority does not mean that our national people should be divided into different categories on the basis of religion. Let Mullahs, Fathers and Brahmins do that. The government must be above… distributing equality and justice to all.

Vande : But the ‘minority believes that their religion is in danger, particularly after the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992.
Swamiji : The government has been catering to the so-called minorities for the last 45 years. Thus the minorities started feeling that they do not belong to the nation. And they have started behaving anti-national…. Anti-national people, in a nation-building process must be eliminated. There is no question. They are misguided. Misguided because of the government’s support. There are many educated Muslims. They say to me that that is not a mosque. It is only the government that says that it is a mosque. Muslims are not saying this.

Vande : What is your opinion on Ayodhya? Must the temple be built there?
Swamiji : (Angrily) Are you a Hindu or Muslim that I am talking with? And as a Hindu, you are asking me whether Ram Temple must be built? Opinion on Ram Temple? Whether I should reject my wife or not, is it an opinion? My job is to look after my wife. That question, if you are asking, you are insulting me.

Vande : So much blood has……..
Swamiji: When is it that blood was not there? When you were delivered, when you were a baby, was it not in blood? A nation is built in blood. A nation imbrues in blood and a nation disappears in blood.

Vande : In the present atmosphere, what is your suggestion to the government as far as Ayodhya is concerned?
Swamiji : There is a beautiful climate now. The Muslims are now amenable. If the government has got any diplomatic sense, we can try to settle it outside the court. Court settlement is not possible. It is not an issue that courts can decide. It is above the courts. It is the wish of the majority. We are a democratic country. In a democratic country, it is not catering to the minority. It is the wish and will of the majority that prevails.

Vande : But the government proposes to construct a temple and a mosque as a solution.
Swamiji : I want my government to be secular. Secular government has no right to say that it wants to build a mosque or a temple.

Vande : But the government seems determined…
Swamiji : Then that government must be removed. That government is not a government. They say that they are secular and again, they say that they are building a mosque or a temple. We have not elected this government for building temples and mosques. There are enough people here other than the government who can do all these.

Vande : Do you support the demolition of the structure? Do you think there is nothing wrong?
Swamiji : If that structure is old, dilapidated and there is no sanctity about it, then it can be (demolished). Look, is it right that the wall in Germany had to be pulled down? It was standing there for 35 years. They pulled it down within a few minutes. Why? That wall was a standing shame to both East and West Germany. They realised it and removed it. What if we pulled down an old dilapidated structure?

Vande : But Muslims believe that it is Babri Masjid…
Swamiji : That building is called by misnomer that it is a mosque. It is not. There were no minarets. They had not offered their prayers. Why did they build it? They broke down our Rama temple and built it there as a victory monument. They are only few people. We are in millions. They wanted to consolidate their power. How? Fear. Wound the feelings, sentiments, sensitivity! So temples were pulled down and monuments were built. So it is unfair to say that it is a mosque. Only Narasimha Rao says it is a mosque. Even Muslims are not saying this. What I mean to say is that pulling down that structure is nothing wrong. Anti-national black flags rose on some mosques. If some of our boys went and pulled them down nobody would say anything about that. Why? It is an insult to the country. Similarly, that structure was standing there as an insult all these years. So they decided that way.

Vande : There are several other such structures in this country. Do you advocate the same treatment to them also?
Swamiji : We started with one. There are so many corrupt people. But we collect one or two and then bang them. Hang them if necessary, as an example for others. Similarly, first let us have this Rama Temple. Afterwards, there are two more monuments which are built upon our Krishna’s birth place and Kashi Viswanath.

Vande : Will it not hurt the sentiments of the Muslims? After all, unlike German Wall, to which no sentiments were attached, in these issues, Muslims have a religious attachment!
Swamiji : Ask the Communists in Germany whether they have any sentimental attachment for the German Wall or not! Tremendous! But they were silent throughout because the demand was international.

Vande : Is it justifiable to tread on the sentiments by using force?
Swamiji: Why did we do that? To bring the Muslims into the mainstream. We love the Muslims. We are not taking revenge. But, inspired by wrong leaders, When they turn this way, anti-national, we have to block. That does not mean kill, loot and plunder. Just a slap, which we do even for our younger brother who is behaving against the entire family. We just punish them. In the same way we punished them to bring them into the mainstream.

If the government would not have been unintelligently supporting their absurd demands, we could have said to them that the majority of the masses want it, so if you give it, the issue is over. How many mosques have been removed there in Middle East…. in order to make roads!

So, all this is out of love for the country only, and to make them come back. It is not against Muslims or Islam. Against few among the Muslims who are behaving anti-national. Government should have done it. It is not doing. So we have to help the government. (Laughs)

Vande : Some people express the fear that this approach will have its repercussions on our economy if the Islamic block decides to boycott us.
Swamiji: We have to withstand. They may do it. But we will stand. If they stop petrol, old bullock-carts will come out. During the independence movement, foreign cloths and goods were boycotted. Some Congress people used to mutter that ‘suppose if they refuse to give us salt!’ – What is there! We make salt. Same way, the Bombay-High will give us petrol. Japan will give us. Even our Big Brother Russia and China also will help us. So, that fear should not be there.

Vande : To bring Muslims into the mainstream, is it the only solution?
Swamiji : They can he taught by bringing economic pressure. We can do it overnight. But we don’t want to. Just like Rama temple demand, suppose if we spread throughout the country that Hindus will not purchase even salt from Muslim shops, do you know the suffering they will have to face? They are all poor. Only a few capitalists may not be affected by this. If that happens, within a week’s time, you will rind all the present Muslim leaders are… in Islam it is allowed… killed by their own people.

Vande : There is an allegation that a particular political party is exploiting the Ayodhya issue for political gains.
Swamiji : British were also saying same thing that the Congress is exploiting. It is natural to say so. That party is not exploiting. They are supporting the public. If public is not supporting the cause, how can they exploit? If the government is intelligent and diplomatic, they should immediately see that they take it, instead of allowing the BJP to do it. They will not do it, because inside it there is a lot of ‘gadbad'(trouble). There is no discipline. So, the BJP is doing nothing wrong.

Vande : The VHP, which was started by you in 60’s, is banned by the present government. What is your opinion about it?
Swamiji: Is it such a crime that I did? In the 60’s, when the Mahatmas (saints) were all separate and there was no -integration among them, I tried to bring them all together on one platform. That was my sacred job., Somebody was to bell the cat. As for the ban, everything good in the country will he banned by the government in power because they are afraid of their chair. So, only Congress will not be banned.

Vande: Do you support the RSS theory of ‘Hindu Rashtra’?
Swamiji : By whatever name you call it, whomever is standing for it and who are proud to be Hindu, constitute the country. Of course, I am with the RSS.

Vande : How long will it take to establish ‘Hindu Rashtra’?
Swamiji : No great achiever is worried about the future. Are you striving in the right direction? Is your soul clear? That’s all. When will it he established is Narayana’s mind. It took 45 years to damn the country. It certainly will not take another 45 years to revive it.

Vande : These days we find a good number of religious people entering politics. Is it good for the nation’s secular fabric?
Swamiji : If the Swamijis had not been in politics, you and I would have no country. Who started the revolutionary movement when the British were ruling over your fathers’ head? Is it not the Sanyasis? Swamijis do not enter politics. We do not want your chair. But when the whole country is so rotten under mismanagement, we cannot, and we should not, remain in our caves. We get up from the seat of meditation and come into the society, rebuild the whole thing and then we go back to meditation.

Vande : But in practice it does not seem so. Sadhus and Saints are becoming more and more involved in politics. They contest for elections, they win and they even demand for changing the Constitution.
Swamiji: Politics in itself is not had. Lord Krishna was a politician. Lord Rama was a politician. When you enter politics you must give up certain things. Selfishness, desires, Kama, Raga, attachments to a party, my son, son-in-law. If these are there, it becomes tyranny on earth. All those saints and sages never had any personal desire or personal interest. We will never run after power. Power will automatically come to us. Mahatma Gandhi never asked for power. If you are selfless and serving your country honestly, people themselves make you a leader.

Vande : Some saints have termed our Constitution ‘anti-Hindu’. Do you subscribe to that opinion?
Swamiji : I don’t. But if the masses feel insecure under the present Constitution, they have got every right to demand for a change in the Constitution. Constitution is not ‘Vedavakku’ (divine utterance). Under certain circumstances, 45 years ago, some intelligent people sat together with the data available at that time. They prepared the Constitution. We have amended it 82 times. Instead of cutting and rejoining 83rd time, we throw the whole lot away and make another one. What is there? Changing the Constitution is the wish and will of the people. If the majority wants it, they have to do it.

Vande : What about the alleged anti-Hindu spirit of the Constitution?
Swamiji: Anti-Hinduism is in the sense that they are catering to the Muslim laws. Muslim law is incorporated in our Constitution. Two different laws in the same country! How do you call it a Constitution? That is unfair. There must he a common law for all the country people. The Mahatmas are saying only the truth. They have got the courage to say it. Political parties are not prepared to say. They are conducive to continuing status quo, so that they can continue their corruption, their plundering. That can be stopped if the Constitution is changed.

Vande : You are opposing Constitution providing special status to the minorities on the basis of religion. Do you support the Mandal Commission Report which confers some special privileges to a section of people on the basis of caste?
Swamiji : Where were you journalists at that time? Mandal Report was submitted 20 years ago. Do you mean to say that in 20 years the social conditions in India never change? Can a child born 20 years ago, be expected to wear the same clothes? Society moves. So you have to prepare another Mandal Report. Raja Saheb (VP Singh) had brought all this out of selfishness. That is why it fissiled out. Selfish fellows will never survive.

Vande : What is your opinion about the present conditions in India?
Swamiji : India as a nation today has nothing to he proud of. They have detached themselves from the past. Present can’t exist without past. The present is the product of the past. Therefore, a nation can be built only when that national spirit comes. It is not just geographical.

Had we tried to make our Indian educated people conscious of their past during the last 45 years of independence? Have we brought about, in education or any other training, any idea of the greatness that was ours? We have never done it. We could not call ourselves Hindus or Bharatiyas. How can integration of a country come?

The past is forgotten. The glorious past is forgotten. Filthy past is remembered. Indira Gandhi, her son…. these people are remembered. Why?

They looted the country. Youngsters are inspired by it. Today, nobody wants to make any sacrifice in my country. Everybody is scrambling to gather more and more.

Vande : What is your message?
Swamiji : If you forget that you are the son of a great, honest master, you are alienated from the past. Suppose you have got an identification, suppose you respect your past, your behaviour, your relationship with others, your activity and achievements, the very system of thought…. all these will be influenced by that reverence to the past.

Today, there is enthusiasm for Rama Temple. That is not enough. What do we know about Rama? Are we ready to live Rama’s life? What happened during the Independence movement? We will have Rama Rajya, 99 leaders said. People believed, came together and fought. One day, at midnight, they gave it in a silver, platter and Nehru shamelessly accepted. From that day onwards, was there any integration? Everybody sat back and said, Now, we have made sacrifices. Therefore it is time to loot the country.

So, we have to start thinking not only about the immediate problems, but longer ones also. To think 20 years ahead is called statesmanship. 10 years ahead is diplomacy, 5 years thinking is local politics. We want intelligent people in education, industry everywhere – who have experience as well as the spirit of sacrifice.