die 20ºThe 20th century, both in Indian and world history, will always be remembered as a turbulent century of monumental shocks, cataclysmic tragedies and glorious achievements. A century achieved what could not be achieved in a millennium; and this was particularly reflected in the growth of new worldviews and movements. One such trend or movement would undoubtedly be Hindu nationalism, a latent force of Hindu consciousness and pride that has erupted with massive force in response to modernity. Although its roots are as old as Hinduism itself, its specific origin dates back to the late 19th century.ºand early 20'sºCentury must be placed in the context of the policies of the British colonial government and the challenges posed by the proselytizing and political assertiveness of the two Abrahamic religions: Islam and Christianity. In response to such a situation of crisis and despair, we see the rise of an organization like Hindu Mahasabha, an organization that represented the culmination or focal point of the efforts of all previous Hindu organizations operating in various fields and inspired by the ideology of Hindu nationalism. With that context in mind, this essay will examine the rise of the Hindu Mahasabha as a political force in India, its development in response to internal and external impulses, and finally its sudden disappearance caused by the accusation of organizing the assassination of MK Gandhi and political events. later.
The roots of the Hindu Mahasabha go back to developments in Bengal, Punjab and the United Provinces of British India between the 1880s and 1920s. During this period, the British government began to adopt increasingly pro-Muslim policies in terms of colonial education. employment and political representation to counter the moderate nationalist movement that was developing under the leadership of the predominantly Hindu-led Indian National Congress. An example of this was British efforts to favor Muslims in Punjab by preventing Hindu moneylenders from acquiring land under the Land Alienation Act 1901 and by restricting the Hindu elite's access to administration. Separate constitutions, introduced by the Morley-Minto reforms of 1909, gave Muslims the right to be elected only by their coreligionists; it also gave them representation in the central and provincial parliaments well beyond their actual share of the population. This was consistent with Sir Syed Ahmed Khan's argument that "Muslims have historically been the ancient leaders of this country" and therefore should have privileged representation due to their historical position. Syed Ahmad Khan represented the hegemony of the Muslim Ashraf class in the UP, which dominated the provincial bureaucracy, educational institutions and the courts due to the official promotion of Urdu and Persian. They have spoken out against the introduction of universal adult suffrage or the one-man voting system in India. Even in the local governments of Punjab municipalities and counties, they have started to overtake them due to their economic and social hegemony. While in Bengal the majority of the Muslim masses were poor, the few Muslim aristocrats who were there (such as the Nawabs of Dhaka) financed the Wahabi and Faraizi movements, leading to increased fanaticism among the Muslim peasant masses. The propaganda was so successful that they not only refused to participate in the anti-partition agitation or Swadeshi movement of 1905-1908, but also committed massacres of the Hindu population in districts like Mymensingh and Jessore. The alarming increase in the Muslim population in Bengal and Punjab, where Muslims are already approaching the majority, has become a serious concern for Hindus. In 1909 UN Mukherji wrote an essay that was published in the journalWalking stickpor Surendranath Banerjea, titulado "Hindus: a dying breed“. In a context where colonial counting techniques used religion as a category for counting the population and distributing representation and patronage, numbers acquired fundamental importance (1).
ORIGINS: THE BEGINNING OF THE HINDU MOBILIZATION
Various Hindu organizations had already sprung up by the end of the 19th century.ºCentury to protect the socio-cultural, economic and even political interests of the Hindu community against the aforementioned threats facing Hindus. Prominent among them were Arya Samaj, Hindu Sabhas, Go Rakshini Sabhas and Nagari Pracharini Sabhas. They all addressed certain specific concerns (such as cow protection, advancement of Hindus) or concerns such as general socio-political mobilization of Hindus at the local level. The emerging Hindu middle class in towns and cities, particularly the business and service groups, joined forces with the traditional aristocrats to support such organizations. In particular, the aim of the Hindu sabhas was to wrest control of municipal governments and district/local committees from the dominant Muslim control. They originated mainly from Punjab and UP and tried to use control of these local bodies to further Hindu interests.
The first Hindu Sabha was founded in Lahore on August 4, 1906, and represented the union of the reformist Arya Samajis and the conservative Sanatanis. Its purpose was to protest the government's "pro-Muslim" bias and "discrimination"; it also aimed to improve the "moral, intellectual and material situation of the Hindus". This required a new type of Hindu politics, and various Hindu sabhas were established through the initiatives of local arya Samajists in Punjab cities. Lala Lajpat Rai, Lal Chand, Ruchi Ram Sahni, Ram Bhaj Datta and Lala Hans Raj were the prominent leaders of this growing Hindu Sabha movement. Lala Lal Chand wrote an influential pamphlet titled "disinterest in politics", I ampunjabiMagazine published by Lajpat Rai. He called for Hindu unity and organization (Sanghatan)so that the Hindus could fight together to protect their interests. All these efforts paid off in the establishment of the Punjab Hindu Sabha in 1909. Madan Mohan Malaviya presided over the first session of the Hindu Sabha in Lahore in October 1909 (2).
The Punjab Hindu Sabha also organized a Punjab Provincial Hindu Conference in October 1909. This conference was chaired by Sir Pratul Chandra Chatterjee, former Justice of the Punjab High Court, Vice-Chancellor of Punjab University and patron of Sanatan Dharma Sabha. The resolutions passed at its first conference concerned mainly the promotion of Sanskrit and Hindi, support for cow protection and Ayurvedic medicine, and the historiography of India's "Hindu period". The image of a politically united and organized Hindu community was of crucial importance in the political program of the Hindu Sabha. The Sabha proposed the establishment of an all-India Hindu organization that would give force to Hindu policy, ensuring benefits for Hindus at the provincial and local levels. As part of this plan, he held six Punjab Hindu conferences in Lahore, Amritsar, Delhi, Ambala and Ferozepur between 1909 and 1914 (3).
At the same time, we see the rise of Hindu sabhas in various cities in the United Provinces. This built on the pre-existing tradition of campaigning for the protection of cows and the promotion of Nagari, Hindu revivalist causes spearheaded by a variety of well-established local organizations organized in cities across the United Provinces (UP) in the 1900s. Taken over by Madan Mohan Malaviya and his efforts paid off when UP Hindu Sabhas started coordinating with Punjab Hindu Sabha. He even founded the Hindu University Society in 1912, which brought together the local Hindu sabhas, resulting in the founding of Benaras Hindu University in 1915. Ultimately, it was his initiative that the Ambala session of Punjab Hindu was held. Sabha. , a resolution in Haridwar Kumbh, 1915 calling for the establishment of an all-Indian body to represent Hindu interests.
THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE MAHASABHA
In accordance with the resolution adopted at the Ambala session of the Punjab Hindu Sabha in April 1915 during the Kumbh at Haridwar, the All India Conference of Hindus was convened where theSarvadeshak-Hindu-Sabha- the All-India Hindu Sabha - was eventually established as an official body. MK Gandhi and Swami Shraddhananda, who were among the speakers at the Kumbh Mela conference, strongly supported the formation of the Hindu Sabha. Maharaja Munindra Chandra Nandi of Kasimbazar was the President of the Conference (4).
All-India Hindu Sabha placed special emphasis on Hindu solidarity and the need for social reform without identifying with "any particular sect or sects in the Hindu community". A reference to "Hindu political interests" is mentioned in the Sabha Constitution, but only marginally in the sixth and final section of the "Objectives". A technical committee adopted a set of rules for the new organization and defined its objectives as follows (5):
- Promote greater "unity and solidarity" among Hindus as "an organic whole".
- Promote education among members of the Hindu community.
- To improve and improve the condition of all classes of the Hindu community.
- Protect and promote Hindu interests “when and where necessary.
- Promote good feelings among Hindus and other communities in India and treat them in a friendly manner and in "loyal cooperation with the government".
- Take measures to promote the "religious, moral, educational, social and political interests" of the community.
For the first few years, the Sarvadeshak Hindu Sabha, renamed the Hindu Mahasabha in 1921, remained an ineffective body. The local organizations in which he grew up were more active, particularly in the Home Rule Upheaval in 1916-18. During this period, Indian politics saw the meteoric rise of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, particularly through agitation against the Rowlatt Bill and the non-cooperation movement. The Hindu Mahasabha was ambivalent about these moves. On the one hand, individual leaders of the organization such as Swami Shraddhanand and Lala Lajpat Rai enthusiastically participated in the movement. On the other hand, Madan Mohan Malaviya felt that boycotting schools, colleges, courts and councils was a ridiculous move; instead, he advocated that Hindus should be involved in the institutional process to protect their interests. This state of confusion would have continued for a long time if it were not for the Khilafat movement (6).
THE TURBULENT TWENTIES AND THE GROWTH OF THE MAHASABHA
The Khilafat movement, which called for the reinstatement of the Ottoman caliph in Constantinople as the religious leader of the Islamic world, had a pan-Islamic agenda in its inception. He inspired extraterritorial loyalties among Indian Muslims by invoking religious symbolism. Gandhi wanted to channel this anti-British sentiment (since the British were the ones to bring about change through the Treaty of Sèvres) into his own non-cooperation movement to unite Hindus and Muslims on a common platform. The experiment was a disaster, to say the least. It kindled the fire of pan-Islamism to such an extent that anti-British chants were soon replaced by calls to establish a "Dar-ul-Islam" in India and end Islam.The coffee(Read Hindus). The manifestation of this was seen during the massacre of Hindus in Kerala by Moplah Muslims and in the subsequent genocides of Hindus (Kahuta, Gulbarga, Calcutta, Pabna, etc.). Practices such as the slaughter of cows and the noisy processions of Muharram became a sign of Muslim political assertiveness and demonstrated their power over the public space. What made matters worse was Gandhi's silence and even tacit approval of these facts, blaming the Hindus who seemed to have fanned the fire, he said. Nothing makes this more clear than the tragicomic way in which Gandhi attempted to make a statement about the assassination of Swami Shraddhanand by a Muslim fanatic. With each assertiveness of the community, the congress became more and more lenient towards Muslims (7).
In this context, the Hindu Mahasabha found a new life. The organization was revised and restructured, and the Gaya Session of 1922 (chaired by Malaviya) heralded a new beginning. The Mahasabha has now officially adopted and endorsed the concept: "Sanghatan” – Unity and organization of Hindus in a commonwealth – for the protection of Hindu interests and Hindus themselves. The two pillars ofSanghatanGuerrashuddhiand abolition of untouchability. "shuddhi' was intended to bring Muslims and Christians whose ancestors had converted to these religions back into the Hindu fold through a purification ceremony. The abolition of untouchability was intended to unite all sections of the Hindu community and ensure that no one felt left out. Swami Sharddhanand, V. D. Savarkar and many others have made notable contributions in this regard. Swamiji himself is credited with converting 60,000 Rajputs in West UP. Unfortunately, due to this campaign, Swamiji was assassinated by a Muslim fanatic, but the work continued. Hindus also launched a vigorous campaign against cow slaughter and started playing music in front of mosques as a reaction to stop the monopolization of public space (8).
This was also the time when we see the rise of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a socio-cultural organization with the aim of working for Hindu unity and organization. Unlike the Mahasabha, however, its political character was muted. It was more of a voluntary organization where cadres received combat training and discipline, were inspired by the values of nationalism, and were made to absorb and inculcate Hindu philosophy and culture. It was founded in 1925 with Dr. KB Hedgewar being established as the first president. Prominent Mahasabha leaders like BS Moonje were present at the 1925 Vijay Dashami for its establishment, and Madan Mohan Malaviya even offered them the BHU premises as a recruiting and operational area. They became particularly active in the central provinces and the Bombay Presidency. Although the Hindu Mahasabha later formed its own volunteer militias in the form of the Ram Sena and the Hindu Raksha Dal, the RSS remained the unofficial volunteer arm of the Mahasabha and continued to provide them with leaders and cadre (9).
HINDUTVA: HINDUISM THAT RESISTS
The ideal of combat power became very important during this period, as reflected in earlier developments. VD Savarkar was the main exponent of this philosophy and exhaustively described it through the ideology of "Hindutva". In his book, he defined Hindus as a "nation" united by common geography, blood and culture. In his opinion, the territorial community was necessary but not sufficient to create a nationalist consciousness; what was needed was a sense of country, as well as "Pitrib' (Homeland) andPunyabhu(Holy Land). Muslims and Christians were excluded from the 'nation' under this definition - while Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs were included in this category. However, Muslims and Christians could be subject to inculturation and thus bring them back to their "original home" (10). This idea informed theshuddhifirst move. The idea of the art of war was driven by the need to protect this nation from its enemies. It was considered that the emasculated men should be men of steel, of strong character and physique, in order to fulfill this sacred duty. As a result, the focus has now shifted to military training and martial arts, which is why we see associations, clubs, andfindsappear in the north of the country.
THE CONGRESS AND THE MAHASABHA: LOVE AND DIVORCE
The Mahasabha was not yet a full-fledged political party at that time. It was treated as a sociocultural organization that functioned as an interest group within Congress. This is reflected in the fact that there were common leaders in both organizations, especially people like Lala Lajpat Rai. Madan Mohan Malaviya, Gauri Shankar Mishra, Sampoornanand etc. Local branches were almost indistinguishable in North Indian cities, especially UP. Both organizations loaned each other cadres and organizational space. Muslim leaders like Shaukat Ali lamented that the Congress has been "taken over by the Mahasabha." However, Congress's increasing embrace of "secular" rhetoric and its increasing embrace of "territorial nationalism" began to drive them apart. In 1926, for example, Malaviya ran candidates against the Motilal Nehru faction of the UP Congress in local and provincial elections and succeeded in defeating the Nehru faction. The pro-Malaviya candidates were evidently sympathetic to Mahasabha (11).
The chasm in the communal question was further widened by the Nehru Report of 1928. The Mahasabha virtually forced Congress to pass a plan that would eliminate any possibility of special benefits for Muslims at the expense of Hindus. The Muslim League wanted a special Muslim-majority province to be created for them (Sindh), reservations of seats for Muslims even in Muslim-majority provinces like Punjab and Bengal, reservation of seats for Muslims who exceed their membership in minority provinces, and retention of separate constituencies. The Mahasabha forced the Congress not to give in to such blackmail demands and therefore the Nehru Report only accepted segregated voting and the reservation of seats for Muslims in minority provinces. However, the Congress quickly distanced itself from the report and started new discussions on the community issue, further angering the Mahasabha. Nothing came of the round tables. While Malaviya and Lajpat Rai were conciliatory towards the Congress, later presidents like BS Moonje or Bhai Parmanand were not. The growing opposition of the Mahasabha to the policies of the Congress eventually led to a resolution adopted at the Haripura session of the Congress in 1938, which categorically prohibited members of the Congress from becoming members of the Hindu Mahasabha or the Muslim League. The performance of Congress in the 1937 elections may have contributed to this confident attitude of Congress (12).
SAVARKARITE MAHASABHA AND THE WAR YEARS
It was this moment that led to the rise of the Hindu Mahasabha as a fully fledged political party. VD Savarkar heralded a new beginning when he took over as president in 1939. By this time, the movement was expanding beyond its original base in the Hindi heartland to include Maharashtra and Bengal. Eminent leaders like Shyamaprasad Mukherjee entered the Mahasabha at this time. This was also the time when World War II broke out. While the provincial Congress governments resigned in protest of India's forced involvement in a war, the Hindu Mahasabha took a more cautious stance. She saw the war as an opportunity to militarize the Hindu youth and ensure that if that happened, the nation's freedom would be secured. As a result, Savarkar and many other leaders lobbied for the conscription of young Hindus into the army so that they could gain military training and experience in warfare and serve the nation after freedom. Hindu Mahasabha leaders were prominent in many war committees. However, this did not signify unquestioning British loyalty. While the communists actively denounced the Quit India movement and provided information to the Raj, Mahasabha leaders participated in the movement individually. But his stance was somewhere in between: neither active collaboration like the communists, nor active self-destructive opposition like Congress. This was the same attitude that led the Hindu Mahasabha to form governments in Sindh and Bengal with Muslim leaders (not the Muslim League as is commonly believed) in 1941-42. The aim was to work within the system to safeguard Hindu interests and prevent the Muslim League from monopolizing government and public office, which the Raj blatantly favored for his sycophant (13).
The Muslim League's attempt to impose its agenda was evident in the way it exercised its powers under the 1935 law in Bengal. This became even clearer after the Lahore Resolution of March 23, 1940, which finally officially committed the Muslim League to the "Pakistan" claim. The Huq Ministry, formed after Fazlul Huq joined the Muslim League and merged his Krishak Praja Party (CPP) with it, passed a series of laws making it clear that its goal was total Muslim rule. In 1938, the Fazlul Huq Ministry changed the police recruitment rules so that "when recruiting Bengali police, the Superintendent of Police ensures that at least 50% of the recruits are Muslims." In the same year, the ministry passed a law stipulating that 60% of all government posts must be reserved for Muslims. In 1939, the government ordered local bodies "not to propose for appointment to local bodies any person known to be actively opposed to ministry policy" and exercised administrative control over appointments to union committees, which accounted for one-third of its members (that they should all be Muslims). And in 1939, the Calcutta Municipal Amendment Act reserved seats for Muslims in the Calcutta Corporation far beyond their share of the population. But the most hostile cut of all came in 1940, when the ministry introduced the Secondary Education Act, seizing control of provincial higher education from the University of Calcutta and handing it over to a board of secondary schools, where Muslims would have more of a say. . This threatened Hindu-founded schools, both religious and secular, by exposing them to the imposition of an Islamic curriculum (14).
The effects of these changes soon began to be felt, despite the vehement and united efforts of the Hindu members of the Mahasabha and the Congress in the Assembly to stop these changes. Muslim students and community leaders disrupted Saraswati Puja at many local schools. Even in Hindu-majority districts such as Burdwan and Midnapore, Muslims began to control local bodies and formulated policies against Hindu religious practices and rituals. Debt settlement boards established under the Bengal Agricultural Debtors Act 1935 were used by local Muslim corporations to incite Muslim tenants and prevent them from paying rent and debts to zamindars and Hindu moneylenders. Anger against such policies erupted in the form of the Dhaka riots of 1941. In such a situation, the Mahasabha began to wield great influence in Bengal. In Bengal, despite the differences between the Mahasabha and the Congress at the national level, there was a deep understanding and good cooperation between the two. They worked together and created resistance against bandits or Muslim gangs in many areas. Organizations like the Bharat Sevasram Sangha got involved to mobilize cadres and achieve organizational outreach. Colonial documents show a marked increase in the number of Mahasabha branches during this period. The Mahasabha gained even more notoriety when he did outstanding famine relief work under the leadership of Shyamaprasad Mukherjee during the 1943 famine in Bengal. He prevented many destitute Hindus, especially women and children, from converting to eat. The active opposition of the communists in alliance with the Muslim League to Mahasabha's relief efforts shows the extent of their success (15).
SHARE AND INDEPENDENCE
Mahasabha's quiet effort turned out to be a boon to the Bengali people. During the tragic period of 1946-47, Mahasabha volunteers were at the forefront of efforts to mobilize resistance and even led counter-attacks, notably and quite successfully in Calcutta. Shyamaprasad Mukherjee, knowing that division was inevitable, began to organize a movement calling for the establishment of a "Bengali Hindu homeland". The Bengal Congress and Mahasabha worked together to hold large public meetings and run a press campaign to persuade people of the need to do this. Leading intellectuals like Jadunath Sircar, RC Majumdar, Meghnad Saha and Suniti Chatterjee came forward to support the cause. newspapers like thisPatrika Amrita Bazarthey were also active in this matter. His efforts finally paid off when it was announced in June 1947 that Bengal would be partitioned rather than ceded to all of Pakistan (16).
By this time, the Mahasabha had also established a prominent presence in the princely states of India. Unlike the Congress, the Mahasabha regarded the Hindu maharajas as "patriotic Indians" whose support will be vital to India's freedom, Hindu causes and post-freedom reconstruction. They advocated preserving the political power of the Maharajas even if they joined the Union, and even drew up plans for a constitutional monarchy. Prominent maharajas such as those of Gwalior, Indore and Baroda supported and defended the cause of the Mahasabha (17).
However, it would be a serious mistake to see the Mahasabha only as a representative of feudal interests. EITHER "Constitution of Free Hindustan', drawn up by the Mahasabha in 1945, demonstrated the visionary character of its leaders, and the latest Indian constitution, which came into force in 1950, matched it in many respects. This shows that by 1947 the Mahasabha had clearly become a formidable force in Indian politics. Mahasabha leaders like Mukherjee were given cabinet posts and even contributed extensively to Constituent Assembly discussions. The refugee crisis triggered by the split in 1947 gave them even greater recognition for their relief work among Hindu and Sikh refugees and their mobilization to resettle them on lands left behind by fleeing Muslims.
THE BEGINNING OF THE END
However, it was at this point that his fortunes began to decline. Angered by Muslims' constant appeasement of Gandhi and his indifference to Punjabi refugees, Nathuram Godse and Narayan Apte, both involved with the Mahasabha, assassinated Gandhi on January 30, 1948 to arrest the perpetrators, but also to blame them on the part of the Mahasabha and the RSS itself. Leaders like Savarkar had to answer in court. RSS offices were attacked all over the country and many of the cadres were even killed. Marathi Brahmins were killed simply because the community was more prominent in Mahasabha RSS groups. This chain of events culminated in the RSS ban. Although the ban was lifted after a year and the Hindu Mahasabha still existed as a party (with leaders like Mukherjee still in government), Savarkar's misfortune crippled the entire organization, though he was cleared of conspiracy charges. Ultimately, Mukherjee himself felt that the organization was not doing enough to represent non-Hindus and left the organization to form his own party. He also advised the organization to remain politically inactive after Gandhi's assassination, which contributed to its further decline. Mukherjee later founded the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (forerunner of today's Bharatiya Janata Party) with the help of the RSS. As a result, the Mahasabha became an extinct body. Even when she participated in the first parliamentary elections and won a few seats, she gradually lost to the more energetic and resourceful Jana Sangh (18).
The Mahasabha officially continues to exist today with no reliable evidence of its achievement. It is only known that it appears in the press through ridiculous acts and pronouncements, such as the staging of the assassination of Gandhi. However, despite the sudden and unfortunate demise of this organization in the late 1940s and early 1950s, it owed many achievements that helped Hinduism and the Hindu community. The example of this organization should continue to inspire organizations and forces working for the cause of Hindu revival and nationalism.
- Bapu, Prabhu Narain; ,Nation building and history: Hindu Mahasabha in the colonial north of India 1915-1930"; doctoral thesis; School of Oriental and African Studies; November 2009; pp. 13-18
- Ibidem, p. 11-13, 18-1
- Ibidem, p. 19-2
- Ibidem, p. 21-2
- Ibidem, p. 24
- Ibidem, p. 25-2
- Sampath, Vikram (2021),Savarkar: a disputed legacy 1924-1966”, Penguin Books (“communal boiler”, the individual. 3, pp. 94-126).
- Ibidem, "caste in stone(Cap.2)
- Bapu, Prabhu Narayan,Nation building and history“, S 99-112
- Ibidem, p. 66-7
- Ibidem, p. 148-1
- Ibidem, p. 163-1
- Sampath, Vikram,Savarkar: a disputed legacy 1924-1966– “The Hindu years of Mahasabha” (chap. 3), p. 177-246
- Chatterjee, Joya (1994). „Divided Bengal: Hindu Communalism and Partition 1932-1947", Cambridge University Press,"The reorientation of the Bengal Congress, 1937-45” (Chap.3), p. 103-150
- Roy, Anwesha (2018). „Make Peace, Riot: Communalism and Communal Violence, Bengal, 1940-47“, Cambridge University Press, S. 26-148 (Cap. 1,2,3)
- Chatterjee, Joya, “shared cane“; „Second partition of Bengal, 1945-47(Cap.6)
- Bapu, Prabhu Narayan,Nation building and history“, S 41-43
- Sampath, Vikram,Savarkar: a disputed legacy 1924-1966", Chap. 9, 10 (pp. 416-492)
- Bapu, Prabhu Narain (2009). ,Nation building and history: Hindu Mahasabha in the colonial north of India 1915-1930', doctoral thesis, School of Oriental and African Studies.
- Chatterjee, Joya (1994). „Divided Bengal: Hindu Communalism and Partition 1932-1947", Cambridge University Press.
- Roy, Anwesha (2018). „Make Peace, Riot: Communalism and Communal Violence, Bengal, 1940-47", Cambridge University Press.
- Sampath, Vikram (2021). ,Savarkar: a disputed legacy 1924-1966", Penguin Books.