The RSS’s Views On Status of Sikh Religion
(Amrit Pal Singh ‘Amrit’)
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) does not use the word ‘Hindu’ for a specific religion. According to the RSS’s explanation, the name Hindu is given to a society or ‘Samaj’ (Hindi/Punjabi word for society). Hindu Samaj is a commonwealth of many religions.
Consequently, according to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the word Hindu does not point to to one religion but a commonwealth of many religions. Sikh Religion is one of these religions.
The official statement by the RSS on Sikhs says: –
We regard the Sikh religion as a separate religion, but we regard the Sikh people as belonging to our Samaj. When we say that they are a part of the one great Hindu Samaj, we do not deny the existence of their separate religion and separate beliefs. Hindu Samaj is a commonwealth of many religions. It includes idol worshippers as well as those that are against idol worship. It includes those who accept the authority of the Vedas as well as those who do not. They are all included in the wider Hindu conceptualization.
Thus, the RSS regards the Sikh religion as an independent religion. At the same time, it believes that Sikh religion is a part of Hindu society. For them, the word Hindu does not stand for a specific religion, but for a society.
The RSS further explains: –
The basic postulate is that ‘Hindu’ is not a religion but a way of life, or more precisely a certain value-system or culture. One of the basic tenets of this value system is to accept the validity of all faiths and religions. If we deny this plurality, we will cease to be Hindus.
When the RSS says: –
It should be noted that the Hindu Code Bill, though it contains the word ‘Hindu’, is applicable to Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists. We desire that it should be applicable to all, including the Christians and the Muslims, as is envisaged in Article 44 of our constitution.
It makes it clear that the word Hindu used by the RSS in its official statement is a synonymous to ‘Indian’.
Vishv Hindu Prishad, an organization associated with the RSS, passed a resolution regarding Hindus in Malaysia on January 24, 2008 in a joint meeting of board of trustees and governing council in Bangalore, India. In this resolution, the words Hindu and Hindus were used. Interestingly, the words ‘Indian’ and ‘Indians’ were added in brackets.
For example, read the first paragraph of this resolution: –
The ethnic minority Hindus (Indians) of Malaysia were brought into that country by the British some two hundred years ago. Since independence of Malaysia in 1957, the Malaysian Hindus (Indians) have been permanently colonized by Islamic fundamentalists and Malay chauvinist UMNO (United Malay National Organization) led Malaysian government.
So far as the different identity of Sikhs is concerned, the RSS’s official statement says: –
Many Sikhs attend the R.S.S. Shakhas, but nobody is asked to remove his beard or his pugree. R.S.S. will never try to obliterate the identity of the Sikhs. That will be against the very grain of the R.S.S.
In practical, many of activists of RSS and other organizations associated with it use the term ‘Hindu’ for a specific religion, i.e. Hindu Religion. It is common to hear the terms ‘Hindus and Sikhs’ and ‘Hindu-Sikh Unity’ in the RSS circles.