I Could Not Be Hindu : The Story of a Dalit in the RSS

Author: Bhanwar Meghwanshi
Reviewed by: Christophe Jaffrelot
Available at: Navayana Publishing Pvt Ltd, 155, Second Floor, Shahpur Jat, New Delhi 110049 anand@navayana.org. https://www.amazon.in/

‘I Could Not Be Hindu’ Is a Unique Testimony to the Sangh’s’ Casteism (Feb 3, 2020, The Wire)

This book is unique in many ways. First, it is written by a former RSS member who has become a radical critique of the organisation and who explains why in detail.… Second, this book has been written by a Dalit, Bhanwar Meghwanshi, who enlightens the reader about the situation of the Scheduled Castes within the Sangh parivar and in today’s Indian society at large.… I will focus on this second dimension of the book which makes it most valuable.…

Bhanwar Meghwanshi’s ethnographic account is very revealing of the RSS’s modus operandum.… Bhanwar Meghwanshi took part in the Ramjanmabhoomi movement in the early 1990s with a great sense of pride, as if to defend this symbol of Hinduism promoted his self-esteem. He was part of the first attempt at building the Ram temple, in the context of the Rath Yatra in October 1990.…

He and his Rajasthani comrades in arms were taught “how to evade the police” and were “told that implements to destroy the structure – hoes, spades, crowbars – would be provided by locals at Ayodhya” – a clear indication of the premeditated nature of the operation. He discovered on this occasion, in Ajmer station itself, that the cadres of the RSS were not supposed to indulge in such work: As the train started to slide out of the station, all the important functionaries slid out of the train […] I saw how one by one, the big folk, the industrialists, the sangh pracharaks, the leaders of VHP and BJP, all excused themselves. Having wished us well, they went back to their homes.… This remarkable book by a remarkable man teaches the reader a life lesson, as it is as moving as informative.