Since independence


Caste System



Hindu reformers and Indian nationalism

Hindu nationalist organizations before independence

Before India's independence some Hindu nationalist organizations were established which fought for India's independence. Out of these two Hindu nationalist movements, one the Hindu Mahasabha and the other was Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, whose aim was to free India from the foreign powers, wanted India to be a religious Hindu State.

In the first two decades of the 20th century Hindus use to have gathering in which, a platform was prepared where Hindus use to talk about different topics. These gatherings were called Hindu Sabha. Later on they expanded and were called Hindu Mahasabha, meaning greater Hindu gathering. In the 1920s these Sabhas began to organize politically. The Hindu Sabhas were very popular in Punjab and were inspired from the ideas of Arya Samaj. This organization supported Hindu brotherhood between different castes and also the untouchables. This organization, which wanted India to be a Hindu state, saw in Christians and Muslims as believers of foreign religions. But they also claimed that anyone who saw in India as his motherland and as Holy Land was a Hindu. Most of the slogans of this organization against foreign religions were aimed against the Muslims. In 1937 this organization, as a political party under the leadership of Vinayek Savarkar took part in the local elections. Savarkar also introduced the term 'Hindutwa' (Hindu unity) to Indian politics.

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (National Volunteers Organization) - RSS - was another Hindu culture organization. It was established in Nagpur in 1925 by K. Hedgewar. It was a voluntary organization with an aim to create a Hindu cultural pride and brotherhood among the Hindus. This organization established cells all over India of Hindu 'soldiers' who received Hindu nationalistic education and para-military training. The intention was to establish a new 'Hindu' whose emphases were not only spiritual strength, but also on physical strength.

Both these organizations supported establishing a Hindu state in India. They also believed that Indian Muslims and Christians were Hindus converted to these religions and therefore were basically Hindus who should be reconverted back to Hinduism.

One person, who belonged at different stages of his life to these two organizations, assassinated Mahatma Gandhi in 1948. After Mahatma Gandhi's assassination, these two organizations were outlawed for sometime.

Aharon Daniel


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