Sita Ram Goel: The Prophet of Nationalism
The late Sita Ram Goel, historian, thinker and creator of the publishing houses Voice of India and Aditya Prakashan was a fighter par excellence for nationalist causes which he saw as inseparable from Hinduism or the Sanatana dharma tradition. He supported and published the writings of authors who believed in the greatness of Hindu civilization and opposed its perversion at the hands of hostile forces of Islam, Christianity and Nehruvian Secularism. On this point he pulled no punches, “If India is to live, Nehruism must die,” he wrote. He foresaw the defeat of Nehruism at the hands of rising Hindu awareness.
In this he drew his strength and substance from Hindu thinkers like Dayananda Sarasvati, Bankim Chandra, Swami Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo. He drew strength and inspiration from his friend, associate and sometimes mentor, the thinker Ram Swarup. Many of these were not academics but independent authors whose views happened to have interests in common with his vision (as explained here) even when there were points of disagreement as was the case with this writer some of whose works he published.
While widely noted, Sita Ram Goel is not as well-known as he should be. Part of the reason is he never had a biographer worth his stature. The one biography of him published soon after his death in 2003 suffers from lack of focus and gives no idea of Goel’s erudition and the vast sweep of his vision of the lessons of history. It was not helped by the choice of the flippant title, India’s Only Communalist.
Even if meant in jest, it trivializes the man and his true achievement. It is also false for Sita Ram was anything but a communalist. He was a rational humanist who searched for lessons in history with the eyes of a Hindu philosopher. The book is also marred by the monopolization of its pages by two of his protégés who used it as a platform for venting their ire at some Hindu organisations.
Here a point is worth noting. Though Sita Ram was often impatient with Hindu nationalist organisations and their leadership for what he saw as their intellectual inadequacy in analysing national issues and their implications, too much should not be made of it. He had come to change his views towards the end of his life as he told me in what was probably the last telephone conversation I had with him. This was a few weeks before his death in 2003, when he was very weak and even speaking over the telephone was an ordeal.
One is much better off studying Goel’s own intellectual autobiography, How I Became A Hindu. The present essay is not a biography but a summary of his vision of the Nehru years and the cult he and his followers created and what he foresaw. He is seen to have been a prophet.
Colonial twilight: Indira to Rahul Gandhi
In a supplement that he called Nightmare of Nehruism which Sita Ram Goel added in 1993 to his autobiography How I Became a Hindu, he gave an eyewitness account of the Nehru years and beyond and what the future held for India and Nehruism. It is more than a ringside view for Sita Ram was at times a participant – albeit unwittingly – in the drama when he was targeted by Nehruvians and their camp followers for his views and activities.
It is written in his usual no-holds-barred style and no one is spared including much revered figures in Hindu organisations, no matter how high. Not even Atal Bihari Vajpayee is spared, whom Sita Ram called a windbag and Nehruvian in Hindu garb. (I recall Sita Ram telling me once Vajpayee was a Communist. For what it is worth, I saw Vajpayee as an economic ignoramus and a transitional figure. His admitted ignorance of and impatience with economic issues was reported to me by someone who knew Vajpayee personally. This did not of course make him a Communist or even a Marxist.)
In this supplement, Goel takes a critical look at Nehru and the cult group of followers made up of the Marxist-Mullah-Missionary nexus under the Congress umbrella that called itself Secularist in opposition to nationalists whom this group derided as “Hindu communalist.” Goel puts this group and its patron saint in its place by looking at them during Nehru’s debacle and Independent India’s greatest humiliation – the Chinese attack in 1962 and the aftermath.
Sita Ram saw Pandit Nehru as the perpetuator of past imperialisms by being their embodiment. Again Sita Ram pulls no punches:
“Today (1982) I view Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru as a bloated Brown Sahib, and Nehruism as the combined embodiment of all the imperialist ideologies – Islam, Christianity, the White Man’s Burden and Communism that have flooded the country in the wake of foreign invasions. And I have not the least doubt in my mind that if India is to live, Nehruism must die. What I plead is that a conscious rejection of Nehruism will hasten its demise, and save us from the mischief it is bound to create further if is allowed to linger. (So he clearly believed that it would end someday, though he did not live to see it.)
But linger it did, creating its mischief that dominated national life for another 50 years (one hopes no more) following Pandit Nehru’s death in 1964. Here is how Sita Ram described the main fallout of the Nehru era:
“Nehru’s crowning achievement was the creation of what he and his followers called ‘Secularism’ – which was the exact opposite of what secularism really means, being a camouflage for the predatory politico-religious movements like Islam and Christianity¸ eagerly embraced by the Communists”. In Sita Ram’s words, Nehruvian Secularism is a “gross perversion of the concept in the modern West as a reaction against Christianity, which in the Indian context should be a revolt against Islam as well.”
Goel not a communalist
Despite the title of his botched biography (India’s Only Communalist by Koenraad Elst), Sita Ram was anything but. He was a rational humanist who like Sri Aurobindo saw Indian nationalism as an outgrowth and expression of Sanatana Dharma. In his words:
“My premise is that Hindus in their ancestral homeland are not a mere community. For me the Hindus constitute the nation, and are the only people who are interested in the unity, integrity, peace and prosperity of the country. On the other hand I do not regard the Muslims and the Christians as separate communities. For me they are our own people who have been alienated by Islamic and Christian imperialism from their ancestral society and culture, and who are being used by imperialist forces abroad [and their agents at home] as their colonies for creating mischief and strife in the Hindu homeland. I therefore do not subscribe to the thesis that Indian nationalism is something apart from and above Hindu nationalism.” Hence his views:
- The goal of Nehruvian Secularism however has been to eliminate Hinduism from national life and in due course disenfranchise the Hindus.
- “Bharatavarsha has been and remains the Hindu homeland par excellence.” Calling Hindus a community in India is like calling Englishmen a community in England.
In short, for Hindus, their janmabhumi and karmabhumi is also their punyabhumi. This is in striking contrast to the attitude of Muslims to whom, as V.S. Naipaul noted, “Only the sands of Arabia are sacred.”
According to Goel, Pandit Nehru was no more than a self-alienated Hindu, and Nehruism is not much more than Hindu-baiting born out of and sustained by a deep-seated inferiority complex vis-à-vis Islam, Christianity and the modern West.
Ibn Khaldun (1332–1406), arguably the greatest thinker produced by Islam, observed the behaviour of defeated Muslims in Spain, which was being recovered for Christianity by warriors like El Cid and King Ferdinand:
“The vanquished always seek to imitate the victors in their dress, insignia, beliefs and other customs and usages. This is because men are always inclined to attribute perfection to those who have defeated and subjugated them. Men do this either because the reverence they feel for their conquerors makes them see perfection in them or because they refuse to admit that their defeat could have been brought about by ordinary causes and hence suppose it is due to the perfection of their conquerors.”
Khaldun further noted: “Should this belief persist for long, it will change into a profound conviction and will lead to the adoption of all the tenets of the victors and the imitation of all their characteristics. This imitation may come about consciously or unconsciously or because of a mistaken belief that the victory of their conquerors was due not to their superior solidarity and strength but due to the inferiority of the customs and beliefs of the conquered. Hence arises the further belief that such an imitation will remove the cause of defeat.”
Nehru and his ilk were products of a double imperialism – Muslim rule followed by the British. As Sita Ram observed, “Muslim rule in medieval India had produced a whole class of such self-alienated Hindus. They had interpreted the superiority of Muslim arms as symbolic of the superiority of Muslim culture” (as Ibn Khaldun had noted). “This class moved over to the British side when the British arms became triumphant. They retained most of these anti-Hindu prejudices and cultivated some more which were contributed by the British establishment and the Christian missions.”
Sita Ram agreed when I once told him that in language and rhetoric, the denunciation of Hinduism by Nehruvian intellectuals was indistinguishable from that used by colonial missionaries. He pointed out that Communists too had contributed to it. This destruction from within by pitching alienated Hindus against Hinduism was also the intention of Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800–59) who introduced English education in India. In a letter to his father in 1836 Macaulay exulted:
“Our English schools are flourishing wonderfully. The effect of this education on the Hindus is prodigious…. It is my belief that if our plans of education are followed up, there will not be a single idolator among the respectable classes in Bengal thirty years hence. And this will be effected without any efforts to proselytise, without the smallest interference with religious liberty, by the natural operation of knowledge and reflection. I heartily rejoice in the project.”
It is not widely known that Indology was a product of the same program. Such well-known figures as Monier-Williams, Max Muller and A.B. Keith enjoyed the support and even sponsorship of the East India Company that soon became the India Office of the British Government.
Burden of double imperialism
This phenomenon of double imperialism and its fallout of Nehruism is not unique to India. Countries from Latin America to The Philippines which suffered Spanish rule followed by Anglo-American domination produced similar milieu and similar leaders. A famous Filipino writer once lamented that his fellow intellectuals were only capable of being stooges of the Spanish and of Americans later. Things were so bad under Spanish rule that in 1849, Governor-General Narciso Clavería issued a decree that every Filipino native must adopt a Spanish surname. Things never went so far in India but we see Christian names among Hindus in the West Indies, Malaysia and among Buddhists in Sri Lanka.
This fallout of double imperialism should be a topic for research and doctoral dissertations, but such topics are taboo in the still Nehruvian-dominated universities in India and in the West as well where India studies (or South Asia studies) departments still carry vestiges of colonial era anti-Hinduism. Few would risk their careers by going against this trend.
Post Nehruvian scene: from Indira Gandhi to Sonia and Rahul
Sita Ram’s observations on what happened after Nehru died in 1964 make interesting reading in the light of recent developments. It shows him to have been prophetic in seeing the decline of the hold of Nehruism in public life though not its dramatic collapse that seems to have happened in 2014.
He began by noting: “Fortunately for Hindu society, however, the self-alienated Hindu had not become a dominant factor during the Muslim rule. His class was confined to the urban centres where alone Muslim influence was present in significant measure, and few and far between in rural areas, in the countryside where Muslim rule had never struck strong roots. Secondly, the capacity of Islam for manipulating human minds by means of ideological warfare was less than poor. Finally, throughout the period of Muslim rule, the education of Hindu children had remained in Hindu hands, by and large. So the self-alienated Hindu existed and functioned only in the margins of Hindu society, and seldom in the mainstream.”
Sita Ram noted the post-Nehruvian anti-national spirit that came into existence that to a degree persists down to the present. This happened during the Indira Gandhi era when she allowed Communists and fellow travellers to create and occupy key positions in national institutions like NCERT, ICHR, ICSSR and the like, in return for political support. Having tasted defeat in 1975, Indira Gandhi found it politically expedient to fall back on the support of the Communists. She kept control of politics while letting Communists and fellow travellers monopolize educational and cultural institutions.
Sita Ram’s program for history writing
Nehru and his writings, though more fiction than history, had a major impact on Indian history writing in post-Independence India, down to the present. This led to government sponsored scholars and institutions perpetuating colonial values and interests that Nehru and his party represented.
Goel had seen that the British and the elite they had created and patronised had used history as a principal tool of mind control especially of children and the youth. Rare was the scholar who took on this ‘Secular’ establishment on topics like the Aryan invasion, Islamic destructions or even minor fallacies like the St Thomas myth. Such brave souls could hope for no career in Indian academia.
Even historians of the stature of R.C. Majumdar could not escape their barbs and was labelled a ‘nationalist historian’, a swear-word in secularist lexicon. Sita Ram put down a few ideas in history writing which he called premises, but amounted virtually to a program in writing the history of India and creating a foundation in historiography. It is rooted in his view of nationalism but is perfectly sound and rational. In a few areas it anticipated developments that came only later.
He had seen that so-called history found in school and college textbooks is a colonial concoction created by conquerors, carried forward by the Nehruvians to keep their privileged positions. As Sita Ram saw it, “The history of Bharatavarsha is the history of Hindu society and its culture. It is the history of how the Hindus created a civilisation which remained the dominant civilisation of the world for millennia, how they became complacent due to excess of power and prosperity and neglected the defence of their homeland, how they threw back or absorbed in the vast complex of their society a series of early invasions [or incursions], and how they fought the onslaughts of Islamic, Christian and British imperialism for several centuries and survived.”
In this scheme, Nehruvian Secularism represents only the decaying remains of these departed imperialisms, especially the last two, strengthened in the Nehru era by Communism. Sita Ram commented, “I do not accept the theory of the Aryan invasion of India (AIT) in the second millennium B.C.” He saw it as a hypothesis, tentative at best. As he noted, it is only the anti-national forces which are presenting this hypothesis as a proven fact in order to browbeat the Hindus and fortify their divisive designs.
By any rational measure it has collapsed, but is being kept alive by vested interests in Western academia and their Indian followers concerned about their survival as demonstrated by the closure of Indology programs from Harvard to Berlin.
The next to disappear into the dustbin of history is likely to be Indo-European linguistics, another colonial-missionary creation. Sita Ram was prescient on the linguistic question also. “I have studied the subject (of Indian and European languages) in some depth and the linguistic fact (of the similarity of Indian and European languages) can be explained far more satisfactorily if the direction of Aryan migration is reversed.”
Again, Sita Ram was prescient. Recent research based on genetics and population studies show that there is scientific support for the reverse movement out of India for both human and domestic animals like horses and none for any migration into India in the second millennium.
Linguistic history: no standards or criteria
These linguistic theories have always been a camouflage for racism following the collapse of Nazism. On methodological grounds also, proto languages like PIE (proto-Indo-European) are human creations in which both the vocabulary and language rules have been concocted. It is tantamount to circular logic to apply this to existing languages and draw conclusions about their origin and spread. As Stefan Arvidsson noted in his Aryan Idols, they have no empirical support. He observed that many scholars involved in this research imagine themselves to be descendants of this mythical race speaking this mythical language which they call Indo-European.
A second problem is the absence of standards or criteria. People can express opinions without any criteria. For example, proposed solutions to important questions like the language of Harappan civilization and its writing are rejected without reason, or even expressing criteria that would make a particular solution acceptable. The rule seems to be that any proposed solution should not violate the Aryan invasion theory, discredited though it might be.
In the face of this, it is not surprising that Indology has attracted people like Steve Farmer, Edwin Bryant and their ilk who know neither Indian languages nor Indian writing. This cannot be allowed to go on. Even worse, they never define Aryan, even though they advocate theories like Aryan Invasion Theory or the modified Out Of India Theory. They claim to reject the racial version of Aryan, but retain all its conclusions while invoking Indo European linguistics, which has no empirical basis.
The present essay draws on this supplement highlighting his analysis and predictions about the fallout and eventual demise of Nehruism. He included also a program for writing Indian history and was apparently working on a history of India from an Indian, more particularly, Hindu perspective which he did not live to complete.
I see it as our duty to carry forward his program, of which I see this as a beginning.
A personal note: to carry forward the legacy
I became acquainted with Sita Ram Goel in 1993 through a common friend Devaki Jain (the mother of TV journalist Srinivasan Jain). It was the beginning of a fruitful friendship and partnership with him and Ram Swarup, which lasted until his death in 2003. It was not always smooth sailing for neither of us is known for holding back opinions. By then I was convinced of the falsity of the AIT for I had begun to collaborate with David Frawley on Vedic Aryans the first edition of which came out in Canada. Sita Ram published the next two editions and his grandson Aditya Goel the fourth and the latest, which supersedes all earlier editions.
I believe that AIT and more broadly, Indology has been and remains a proxy for racism in academia which was ended not by any dawn of enlightenment on their part but the defeat of Nazi Germany and the exposure of its horrors. They had been denounced by scientists from Julian Huxley nearly a century ago to Luigi Cavalli-Sforza and others in our time.
It was Sita Ram and Ram Swarup who showed me that the AIT was only the tip of the history distortion iceberg— of the wholesale perversion of Indian history and tradition, in particular the whitewashing of the Islamic horrors by the Nehruvian Secularist establishment. I wrote books and articles for other publications but the guiding hand of Sita Ram and Ram Swarup was always there.
Shortly before he died in 2003 Sita Ram told me that the colonial-Nehruvian Secularist version of history was beginning to unravel and it was time to get away from polemics which had dominated the history debate so far and produce an alternative version using the latest findings but from an Indian instead of the colonial-Eurocentric perspective now found in history books. He had such a book in mind but did not live to complete it.
This will go some way towards realizing the goals of these heroes—Ram Swarup and Sita Ram Goel. That is the best tribute we can pay these heroes.
It is our sacred duty.
(Editor: This article is a republication, and has appeared on a few other sites. This is the last article that Dr. Rajaram had requested be published, before his passing a few days later. This site YAI is forever indebted to him for his guidance and encouragement.)