For Mahatma Gandhi, patriotism and Hinduism were not separate: Bhagwat
Patriotism and Hinduism were not separated from each other for the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat said at a book launch on Friday.
Speaking in Rajghat during the launch of Making of a Hindu Patriot: Background to Gandhiji’s Hind Swaraj, by JK Bajaj and MD Srinivas, Bhagwat said: “Gandhi ji has said that my patriotism comes from my dharma. If you are a Hindu, it is natural for you to be a patriot. ”
In the book, the authors have quoted Gandhi having written to Leo Tolstoy, “… My patriotism is quite patent, my love for India is growing, but it derives from my religion and therefore is not exclusive in any sense. ”
Bhagwat also emphasized that Hinduism believes in the existence of unity. “Difference does not mean separatism,” he said, quoting Gandhi as saying that his religion carries with it all other religions.
Referring to Gandhi’s emphasis on Swaraj, or self-government, Bhagwat said that for Gandhi the struggle for Swaraj was not just about replacing the rulers but about rebuilding society based on the values of civilization.
“A country is more than land, but when we say rashtra (nation) it means everything, including the forest, the rivers and all living things. You cannot understand what Swaraj is until you understand swadharma, ”he said.
Bhagwat also refuted the accusation made by critics that the Sangh was trying to appropriate Gandhi. He said that no one can appropriate such personalities.
Even though the RSS has firmly distanced itself from Gandhi’s murderer Nathuram Godse, critics of the Sangh allege that Godse’s Hindu Mahasabha was inspired by the RSS. The Sangh was first banned after the murder, but the ban was revoked in July 1949.