Hindu nationalists at an event in India mimic Nazi Germany with a vow to “fight, die, and kill”.
Pieter Friedrich | TwoCircles.net
In 1933, as Nazi Germany first emerged with Adolf Hitler as head of government, the army’s traditional swearing of loyalty to Germany’s constitution was replaced with an oath of loyalty to “the Fatherland” and, not long after, an oath simply to Hitler himself.
“I swear to God this holy oath that I shall render unconditional obedience to the Leader of the German Reich and people, Adolf Hitler, supreme commander of the armed forces, and that as a brave soldier I shall at all times be prepared to give my life for this oath,” vowed German troops. Civil servants, though not required to swear willingness to give their lives, were compelled to take similar oaths of faithful obedience to Hitler. After the ceremony, oath-takers traditionally sang the supremacist lyrics: “Deutschland, Deutschland über alles, Über alles in der Welt [Germany, Germany above all, Above all in the world].”
On 19 December 2021, in India’s capital city of Delhi, a crowded hall of hundreds of Hindu supremacists raised their arms in a salute eerily reminiscent of the infamous Nazi salute — which is banned in post-war Germany — as they pledged to “fight, and die, and, if required, we will kill as well” to turn the country into a “Hindu nation.”
The pledge was led by prominent right-wing Indian journalist Suresh Chavhanke. It was no surprise that Chavhanke’s pledge echoed that of the Nazis in both words and actions. He claims to have been a member of the Nazi-inspired Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) paramilitary since the age of three.
The RSS, which has risen to power in India through the premiership of Narendra Modi (an RSS member, reportedly, since the age of eight), was founded in 1925, the same year that Hitler published his manifesto, Mein Kampf, and formed the Schutzstaffel (SS). That paramilitary served, first, as Hitler’s personal protection squadron and, eventually, as the primary perpetrator of the Holocaust.
The RSS’s first Supreme Commander, Hedgewar, set forward a doctrine that mirrored the Aryanism of Nazi Germany.
India, insisted Hedgewar, should properly be called “Hindustan” [land of the Hindus] and protected as a “nation of Hindu people” which he compared directly — and contemporarily with the rise of Nazism — to a “Germany of Germans.” In 1931, RSS co-founder Moonje visited Italy to tour dictator Benito Mussolini’s fascist institutions. Applauding them for showing how “the idea of fascism” supposedly produced “unity amongst people,” he declared that India needed similar “fascist organizations” and subsequently praised the RSS as an already existing example of one such institution.
In 1939, as Nazi Germany initiated the Second World War with the annexation of Austria, occupation of Czechoslovakia, and invasion of Poland, the RSS’s second Supreme Commander published a book which identified both Mussolini’s Italy and Hitler’s Germany as examples of the India that the RSS hoped to fashion.
Golwalkar praised the “Race consciousness” of the Italian Fascists and the “Race spirit” of the German Nazis which prompted their territorial expansionism. “Even so with us: our Race spirit has once again roused itself,” he wrote. According to the RSS chief, these European fascist nations proved his belief that “every Race [possesses] the indisputable right of excommunicating from its Nationality all those who, having been of the Nation, for ends of their own, turned traitors and entertained aspirations contravening or differing from those of the National Race as a whole.”
For Golwalkar, the “National Race” of India is what he termed the “Hindu Race.”
Describing non-Hindus as “internal threats,” “foreign races,” and “traitors,” the RSS chief insisted that, if they stayed in India, such minorities should be stripped of “citizen’s rights.” Claiming that only Hindus are “of the soil” and that, in “the land of the Hindus, lives and should live the Hindu nation,” he declared that every non-Hindu faced only two choices: “Either to merge themselves in the national race and adopt its culture, or to live at its mercy so long as the national race may allow them to do so and to quit the country at the sweet will of the national race.”
In other words, for the RSS, all non-Hindu Indians must either submit to being Hindu or face loss of citizenship and even expulsion from the country. Yet Golwalkar didn’t stop there. Pointing to Hitler’s Germany as his model, he suggested that the choice was actually between expulsion or extermination.
Nazi Germany, said Golwalkar, had kept up “the purity of the race and its culture…. by her purging the country of the Semitic races — the Jews,” thus demonstrating (in his mind) the impossibility of a pluralistic and multicultural society and serving, he argued, as “a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by.”
Notably, Golwalkar’s rhetoric, aside from his direct praise for the European fascists, mirrored that of Hitler in a wide variety of other ways.
The December 2021 pledge in Delhi, led by life-long RSS member Chavhanke, once more invoked the supremacist ideals of Nazism with the words: “We all take an oath, give our word, and make a resolution that, until our last breath, we will make India a Hindu nation and keep it a Hindu only nation. We will fight, and die, and, if required, we will kill as well. We will not hesitate a bit to make any sacrifice at any cost. To complete this resolution, our Gurudev, our teacher, our goddess Mother India, our ancestors, give us power, give us victory.”
A preceding event held from 17-19 December in Haridwar, Uttarakhand raised an identical spectre of xenophobic fascism.
“If any monster poses a danger to Hindutva [ie, Hindu nationalism], then I won’t think twice before picking up weapons to fight,” declared Pooja Shakun Pandey (aka, Sadhvi Annapurna Maa), General Secretary of the Hindu Mahasabha (a political party that predates the founding of the RSS by ten years; one of its most influential leaders, Savarkar, penned the Hindu nationalist ideology’s quintessential manifesto, Hindutva, while his brother served as one of the co-founders of the RSS itself).
“We will tear them apart,” continued Pandey. “Don’t think that Muslims are growing in numbers. If we wake up today, and make a resolution, and understand their plans, then what we want will be achieved. India will be declared a Hindu nation, not an Islamic nation…. Make yourself so capable, and increase your population. If we want to decrease the population of Muslims, then we are ready to kill…. If we become soldiers and kill two million Muslims, then we’ll be victorious.”
Pandey’s fanatical rant was mimicked in a chorus of hate raised by multiple other Hindu supremacist leaders from the same stage in Haridwar.
“Without picking up weapons, no society will ever survive,” foamed Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati (who, notably, was earlier this year invited to headline an event organized by a leading US affiliate of the RSS). Referring, apparently, to the entire population of non-Hindu Indians, he continued: “They are an economy of 400 million people. You [Hindus] are an economy of one billion…. When will you take action? Forget about the swords. They are just for display on stages. In a battle, the one with superior weapons wins…. The best of weapons: these will save you.”
Narsinghanand further vowed to give ten million rupees ($133,000) to anyone “prepared to become the Hindu Prabhakaran” — a reference to infamous Sri Lankan terrorist Velupillai Prabhakaran, the founder and leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Upping the ante, he pledged 1 billion rupees ($13.3 million) to anyone willing to continue in that role for a full year.
Yati Narasinghanand promises to give 1 crore to any Hindu Sanyasi is ready to become Prabhakaran. Says they need people like Prabhakaran, Bhindranwale & Shabeg Singh. 'Jab tak ek Prabhakaran ek Bhindranwale aur ek Shabeg Singh tab tak Hindu Bach nahi sakta' #HaridwarHateAssembly pic.twitter.com/vHLFcGG4cC
— Mohammed Zubair (@zoo_bear) December 22, 2021
Hindutva activist Swami Premanand Maharaj reiterated the call for Hindu nationalists to take up arms, stating: “You had asked how we should protect our religion? I say that protection is not possible without weapons.” Encouraging them to “own a weapon of a minimum of 100,000 rupees [$1300, ie, a firearm],” he urged his audience to buy cheap phones and shoes so that they could splurge on expensive weapons. Another extremist priest, Swami Prabodhanand Giri of the Hindu Raksha Sena [“Hindu Protection Army”], declared, “Either be ready to die or be ready to kill. There is no other option.” Referencing the Rohingya Genocide, he added, “We have to repeat Myanmar. In India. Police, politicians, soldiers, and every Hindu need to pick up weapons and start this cleaning operation [ie, ethnic cleansing].”
As RSS’s second, longest-serving, and most influential Supreme Commander, Golwalkar, had pointed to the territorial expansionism of the European fascists as a supposed justification for his own Hindu supremacist beliefs. Ever since the Partition of India in 1947, the RSS has made one of its primary goals the “re-establishment” of a mythical “Akhand Bharat” [“United India”], which ostensibly stretched (at least) from Afghanistan to Myanmar, if not further. Invoking the concept of “Akhand Bharat” at the Haridwar conclave, yet another Hindutva activist warned that India — despite its nearly 80 per cent population of Hindus — “is becoming Islamic.” He argued, “Let us go back a little. Half of the nation is already Islamic, where green flags [of Islam] are already being hoisted in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.” It was a crystal clear suggestion that these neighbouring nations of India actually “belong” to India herself.
Officials of India’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), including former Delhi BJP spokesperson Ashwini Upadhyay and Uttar Pradesh State Minister Rajeshwar Singh, were present in both Haridwar and Delhi.
The two synchronized genocidal conferences occurred in the wake of a rising wave of Hindutva hatred and violence that first started escalating — to an extent unprecedented in the past several years, with the exception of the 2020 Delhi Pogrom — around October 2021. The present onslaught only began after the then acting ambassador of the US to India, Atul Keshap, met with the current RSS chief in what was perceived as a legitimization, normalization, and whitewashing of the paramilitary’s fascism. Hindu nationalist attacks targeting Christians, Muslims, and Sikhs have skyrocketed ever since.
The son of the Deputy Minister for Home Affairs (the Central Government agency in charge of internal law and order) allegedly ran over and killed several peacefully protesting Sikh farmers in Uttar Pradesh. In Chhattisgarh, a BJP official led a mob, chanting slogans about cutting Muslims to pieces while, in Madhya Pradesh, another mob raised calls to “shoot the traitors,” a slogan first raised by a BJP Cabinet Minister against peaceful Muslim protestors in 2020. Again in Chhattisgarh, a Hindutva priest, flanked by BJP leaders, urged a rally to “behead” anyone encouraging conversion.
Meanwhile, The New York Times recently reported: “Anti-Christian vigilantes are sweeping through villages, storming churches, burning Christian literature, attacking schools and assaulting worshipers. In many cases, the police and members of India’s governing party are helping them, government documents and dozens of interviews revealed. In church after church, the very act of worship has become dangerous.” Yet, as the NYT also reported after the two genocidal conferences in Delhi and Haridwar, “even by the standards of the rising anti-Muslim [and anti-Christian] fury in India” these events “produced the most blatant and alarming call for violence in recent years.”
In the 1990s, renowned India psychologist Ashis Nandy interviewed Modi — years before the RSS activist became Chief Minister of Gujarat in 2002 and was, immediately, implicated in an anti-Muslim pogrom that left thousands dead. “Here was a classic, clinical case of a fascist,” wrote Nandy about (now Indian Prime Minister) Modi. “I never use the term ‘fascist’ as a term of abuse; to me, it is a diagnostic category comprising not only one’s ideological posture but also the personality traits and motivational patterns contextualizing the ideology.” Nandy explained that he “came out of the interview shaken,” concluding: “For the first time, I had met a textbook case of a fascist and a prospective killer, perhaps even a future mass murderer.
As the NYT reported regarding the two recent Hindutva conferences: “The government is allowing hate speech of this kind by remaining silent in the face of calls for violence.” Silence is violence, many have opined, but the silence appears calculated. As a member of the RSS, Modi remains intrinsically committed to the paramilitary’s call for establishing India as a “Hindu nation” where all “others” are expelled or exterminated, per the doctrines of the group’s founders. Thus, his silence is complicity. He, it seems, agrees with the xenophobic and genocidal ideology being espoused with impunity.
As Indian journalist and human rights investigator Rejimon Kuttapan observed about the oath-taking ceremony in Delhi, this represents “1933 Germany.” As Indian Member of Parliament, Shashi Tharoor pointed out, “They have learned nothing from history, but those who have must stop them.” And, as Indian MP Karti P. Chidambaram noted, “India is Germany 1933.”
Chidambaram asked: “Are Kristallnacht and [the] Final Solution next?”
I have sometimes called Modi the “Hitler of the East.” To my mind, the only question remaining is if and when the Hindutva pledge to kill will also include a vow of loyalty to Modi as the Fuhrer of India.
Note: translations of linked videos provided by Hindutva Watch.
Pieter Friedrich is a freelance journalist specializing in the analysis of South Asian affairs. He is the author of “Saffron Fascists: India’s Hindu Nationalist Rulers” and co-author of “Captivating the Simple-Hearted: A Struggle for Human Dignity in the Indian Subcontinent.”