The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has just added more names to its list of icons.
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat mentioned four carefully chosen names – Acharya Abhinavagupta, Guru Gobind Singh, Sri Ramanuja and Prajnachakshu Sree Gulabrao Maharaj – during his annual Vijayadashami speech on Tuesday.
A functionary said Abhinavagupta, a well-known proponent of Shaivism from Kashmir in the North, and Sri Ramanujacharya, a Vaishnavite anti-caste crusader from Tamil Nadu in the South, were chosen because they send the message of unity within the Hindu community.
While listing Abhinavagupta’s name, Bhagwat credited him with “resuscitating the salient feature of the Sanatana culture, which helps one see unity in diversity”.
Consolidation of the Hindu vote has been a driver for the Sangh’s outreach, and it is this coalescing of the community that they credit the 2014 poll victory of the BJP to. It was no easy task, given the caste fault lines that run deep in the religion.
With the BJP facing accusations of casteism over the alleged suicide of PhD scholar Rohith Vemula in Hyderabad and the flogging of Dalits at Una in Gujarat, the Sangh is now focusing its energies on tackling the caste conundrum through ‘Samajik Samarasta (social harmony)’.
Praising Sri Ramanuja for his efforts at abolishing casteism, Bhagwat said, “By establishing social equality and practising dharma in its pristine form, he was able to invigorate the sense of equality and fraternity across the nation.” While some would see the inclusion of Guru Gobind Singh as a ploy to woo Sikh voters in poll-bound Punjab, a functionary insisted it was because of his role as a protector of the “nation and dharma”.
Prajnachakshu Sree Gulabrao Maharaj found himself on the list due to his role in promoting the ‘swadeshi’ ideology. Gulabrao’s theory of ‘Swadharma, Swadesh and Sanskriti’ may come in handy whenever the Sangh finds itself at odds with the NDA government over policies such as foreign direct investment and genetically modified crops.