Patriotism and Hinduism were not separate from every other for the father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat said at a book launch on Friday.
Speaking at Rajghat all the way through the launch of Making of a Hindu Patriot: Background of Gandhiji’s Hind Swaraj, by JK Bajaj and MD Srinivas, Bhagwat said: “Gandhi ji has said my patriotism comes from my dharma. If you’re a Hindu, then it is natural that you’re a patriot.”
In the book, the authors have quoted Gandhi having written to Leo Tolstoy, “…My patriotism is patent enough, my love for India is ever growing but it is derived from my religion and is subsequently in no sense exclusive.”
Bhagwat also stressed that Hinduism believes in the existence of unity. “Difference does not intent separatism,” he said, and quoted Gandhi as having said that his religion takes all other religions along.
Referring to Gandhi’s emphasis on Swaraj, or self-rule, Bhagwat said that for Gandhi the struggle for Swaraj used to be not only approximately replacing the rulers but the reconstruction of society based on civilisational values.
“A country is more than just land but when we say rashtra (nation) it means everything including the forest, the rivers and all living beings. You can’t understand what Swaraj is, till you understand swadharma,” he said.
Bhagwat also refuted the charge levelled by critics that the Sangh used to be trying to appropriate Gandhi. He said such personalities cannot be appropriated by anyone.
Even as the RSS has steadfastly distanced itself from Gandhi’s murderer Nathuram Godse, those critical of the Sangh allege that Godse’s Hindu Mahasabha used to be inspired by the RSS. The Sangh used to be banned for the first time after the assassination, but the ban used to be revoked in July 1949.