The Saffron Swastika

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The Saffron Swastika
File:Koenraad Elst - The Saffron Swastika.jpg
Book cover
Author Koenraad Elst
Language English
Subject Hindutva and Hindu nationalism
Published 2001, Voice of India
Pages 1070
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The Saffron Swastika: The Notion of "Hindu Fascism" is a book written by Koenraad Elst in which he argues against the idea that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) or the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh are fascist in ideology. It discusses his views on the concepts of Hindutva and Hindu nationalism, and was published as two volumes in 2001.[1][2][3]

Overview[edit]

In the foreword, he writes about such allegations that

So far, the polemical arrows have all been shot from one side, replies from the other side being extremely rare or never more than piecemeal.

Elst tries to show that personalities like Veer Savarkar or Golwalkar were not fascist or racist and also writes in detail about Savitri Devi. Other topics that are treated by Elst in this book are the caste system and the swastika.

On his blogspot the author describes the book in the following words:

A very ambitious 2-volume book, of which the only shortcoming is that it could have been even more complete. It dissects processes of slander and its application to the media’s hostile treatment of the organized Hindu movement. It is the only publication in the world (except for its sequel, Return of the Swastika) to analyze and refute the now-common allegation that Guru Golwalkar in his book We (1939) proves to be some sort of Nazi.[4]

In a follow-up, Elst also writes:

In that year, I also brought out the two-volume The Saffron Swastika. On the Notion of ""Hindu Fascism", the only book in the world to analyse this much-used line of discourse (except for my sequel from 2006, Return of the Swastika), both by foreign India-watchers and by the Indian secularists.[5]

The book contains also parts from his Ph.D. thesis from the Catholic University of Leuven.[citation needed]

Elst: " The Saffron Swastika. On the Notion of “Hindu Fascism” (Voice of India 2001): A very ambitious 2-volume book, of which the only shortcoming is that it could have been even more complete. It dissects processes of slander and its application to the media’s hostile treatment of the organized Hindu movement. It is the only publication in the world (except for its sequel, Return of the Swastika) to analyze and refute the now-common allegation that Guru Golwalkar in his book We (1939) proves to be some sort of Nazi. "

Elst: I also brought out the two-volume The Saffron Swastika. On the Notion of ""Hindu Fascism", the only book in the world to analyse this much-used line of discourse (except for my sequel from 2006, Return of the Swastika), both by foreign India-watchers and by the Indian secularists

  • Dr. Koenrad Elst, in his two-volume book titled The Saffron Swastika, marshals an incontrovertible array of facts to debunk slanderous attacks on the BJP by a section of the media.
    • Advani, L.K. My Country, My Life. Rupa Publications.

Reception and influence[edit]

Ramesh Nagaraj Rao praised the book at the (now defunct) book review website IndiaStar as an important book, and a "tour de force".[6] Rao, "proponent of the 'Saffron' viewpoint",[7] also said "it is the best-researched, and most thorough analysis of the RSS and its affiliates, and of the "notion of Hindu 'fascism'".[7]

Christian Bouchet, an expert on Savitri Devi,[note 1] criticized Elst's book The Saffron Swastika for having placed far too much trust in Savitri Devi's autobiography and for claiming that Savitri Devi was bisexual.[9] TM Menon said in a book review on this book: "Not many would agree with the author; but then, books are as much to read as for disagreeing with their content, if one strongly feels about [it]." [10]

Outlook India reported that L.K. Advani, senior leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party, has a "heavily marked" copy of the book from which Advani quoted freely the passages that discussed him.[11]

J.Y. Camus, describing Elst as "a neo-Pagan would-be scholar"[12] and a major propagandist of Hindutva in the western world,[12] in a footnote called the work "undoubtedly" Elst's "magnum opus".[12]

Elst's arguments in the book were used to prove former Home minister L.K. Advani's claim that his activism for the Ram Janmabhoomi movement cannot be blamed for the destruction of the Babri Masjid and the riots that followed.[13] Advani's arguments were in reply to an appeal issued by the Dalai Lama to resolve the Ayodhya row.[13] The book was also used to prove L.K. Advani's innocence during the early part of his cross-examination at the Liberhan Commission.[14] In an interview with Outlook India, Advani again used the book to prove his innocence.[15]

In his autobiography, senior BJP leader L.K. Advani also wrote that "Dr. Koenrad Elst, in his two-volume book titled The Saffron Swastika, marshals an incontrovertible array of facts to debunk slanderous attacks on the BJP by a section of the media".[16]


CONTENTS[edit]

Vol.1: I. Terms of the debate: i). Introduction. ii). On "Fascism". iii). National-socialism and "Fascism". iv). Fascism and Communism. v). Other voices. II. Was Guru Golwalkar a Nazi?: i). Guruji's first book. ii). The RSS and ethnic cleansing. iii). Did Golwalkar Applaud Hitler? iv). Golwalkar vs Hitler. v). Conclusion. III. Hindutva, equality and Racism: i). A brief history of Racism. ii). Hinduism, caste and race. iii). Hindutva and Racism. iv). Hindus and Jews. v). Nationalism. IV. Historical relation of Hindutva with Fascism: i). The moral rationale of collaboration. ii). Hindu and Muslim positions regarding Hitler. iii). The Hindutva involvement in World War 2. iv). The non-Hindutva forces and the axis.

Vol.2: V. Savitri Devi and the "Hindu-Aryan Myth": i). A book on Savitri Devi. ii). Ideological development. iii). Savitri Devi and Hinduism. iv). Savitri Devi and neo-Nazism. v). Racism and caste. vi). Savitri Devi and the Hindu nationalists. vii). "A warning to the Hindus". viii). Savitri Devi's religion. ix). Why bother? VI. Hindutva and democracy: i). Alternatives to democracy. ii). The Shiv Sena and democracy. iii). The Hindu nationalist view of democracy. iv). Is the BJP a Rightist Party? v). Threats to Indian democracy: where are they? VII. Communal violence and propaganda: i). Lenin, Goebbels, Orwell. ii). Anti-Muslim and anti-Hindu propaganda. iii). Propagandistic use of communal violence. iv). Genocide in the subcontinent. VIII. Religious roots of totalitarianism: i). Profound roots of national-socialism. ii). Hitler, Christianity and secularism. iii). National-socialism and Paganism. iv). What about the Swastika itself? v). A closing polemic with my Church. IX. Conclusion: i). The evil of defamation. ii). Hindutva and Fascism: historical non-relation. iii). But what if? iv). Hinduism and Fascism: historical non-relation. v). The best proof.

Extracts[edit]

  • Most secularists pretend not to know this unambiguous position of Savarkar’s (in many cases, they really don’t know, for Hindu-baiting is usually done without reference to primary sources). Likewise, Savarkar’s plea for caste intermarriage to promote the oneness of Hindu society is usually ignored in order to keep up the pretence that he was a reactionary on caste, an “upper-caste racist” (as Gyan Pandey puts it), and what not. There are no limits to secularist dishonesty, and so we are glad to find at least one voice in their crowd which does acknowledge these positions of Savarkar’s.... This is just another case of secularist justice: Hindu are damned if they do, damned if they don’t.
    • Elst, K. Was Veer Savarkar a Nazi? , 1999 [1]
  • Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke has written a book on the strange case of a French-Greek lady who converted to Hinduism and later went on to work for the neo-Nazi cause, Maximiani Portas a.k.a. Savitri Devi. The book is generally of high scholarly quality and full of interesting detail, but when it comes to Indian politics, the author is woefully misinformed by his less than impartisan sources. He squarely places himself outside the scholarly community and inside the Indian Marxist propaganda machine
    • Elst, K. Was Veer Savarkar a Nazi? , 1999 [2]
  • It is in this context that in 1940, Savarkar launched his slogan: “Hinduize all politics, militarize Hindudom.” This slogan is nowadays often quoted out of context to impute to Savarkar a fascist-like fascination with “war for war’s sake”. But it meant nothing of the kind. He wanted Hindus to get military experience for a specific purpose, viz. that after the war, England would find a vast number of combat-ready Indian troops before her...
    • Elst, K. Was Veer Savarkar a Nazi? , 1999 [3]
  • It must also be noted that Savarkar never went as far in his cooperation with the British as the Communists who supported the British (after they became a Soviet ally in 1941) by betraying Congress “Quit India” activists to them. While the Communists were Soviet loyalists who saw Indian opponents to the war effort as simply their enemies, Savarkar was an Indian patriot who differed with the Gandhian patriots (as with Bose) regarding the means but agreed with them on the goal, viz. India’s independence, and therefore left them to their own designs without interfering.
    • Elst, K. Was Veer Savarkar a Nazi? , 1999 [4]
  • Further, it says that the religious minorities must "not claim any privileges", something with which any democrat and secularist would wholeheartedly agree: privileges on the basis of creed are against the equality principle which is fundamental to the law system of a modern state. It is one of the absurdities of Indian "secularism" that it contains a number of communal inequalities in law:
    · Separate family law codes for Muslims, Christians and Parsis, epitomized by the Muslim right to polygamy; this constitutes the denial of the very first defining principle of the secular state, viz. legal equality of all citizens regardless of religion;
    · exemption of mosques and churches (as opposed to Hindu temples) from intervention in their management and appropriation of their funds by the secular authorities;
    · special safeguards of the communal character (in recruitment of teachers and students, in the contents of the curriculum) of Christian and Muslims schools all while retaining their subsidies, which are denied to Hindu denominational schools (Art. 30 of the Constitution);
    · a large number of occasional advantages for the minorities in everyday political practice, e.g. subsidies for the Muslims who perform the pilgrimage to Mecca, as contrasted with pilgrimage taxes to be paid by Hindus going to Amarnath and other Hindu places of pilgrimage.
    • Elst, K. Was Guru Golwalkar a Nazi ?, 1999. [5]
  • The "fascist" aberration which Golwalkar made in the paragraph under discussion actually consists in accepting the Muslim-cum-British view of the Muslims' separate nationhood, and thinking through its implications for the status of Muslims in a Hindu state. To him (at least at the time of writing), the Muslims were indeed, in accordance with their own self-definition, a nation separate from the Hindu nation, and it logically followed that they could not be full citizens of a state constituted by and for the Hindu nation. Most Muslims supported the two-nation theory (the overwhelming majority of the Muslim electorate voted for the Muslim League in 1946, while no sizable section of the non-enfranchised lower-class Muslims expressed its opposition, on the contrary), so it was on their own premise that they could not be full citizens of a non-Islamic Indian state,-- unless they changed their attitude and chose to identify with India rather than with the Ummah.
    • Elst, K. Was Guru Golwalkar a Nazi ?, 1999. [6]
  • Don't believe it, Cyrillus! They live in my heart! not like you see them, clad in empty forms, susceptible in heaven to human passions, adored by the vulgar and worth your scorn; but such as the sublime minds, have seen them: in the starry sky without dwelling places, as forces of the universe, interior vultures, harmonious concurrence of earth and heaven... such are my gods!
    • Quoting Leconte de Lisle, Hypatie et Cyrille

Notes[edit]

  1. Savitri Devi was a proponent of Nazism, who served the Axis cause during World War II by spying on Allied forces in India.[8] See also Koenraad Elst, The eternal return of Nazi nonsense: Savitri Devi's last writings.

References[edit]

  1. Paul Jackson, Cyprian Blamires (2006). World Fascism: A Historical Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Wheeler, Albert J. (2005). Racism: A Selected Bibliography. Nova Publishers.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Bryant, Edwin. The Indo-Aryan Controversy: Evidence and Inference in Indian History.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Koenraad Elst – What have I done
  5. Koenraad Elst – What have I done (2)
  6. Dr Ramesh N. Rao, Review of "The Saffron Swastika – The Notion of Hindu "Fascism"", personal website
  7. 7.0 7.1 Ramesh N. Rao, Review of "The Saffron Swastika. The Notion of Hindu "Fascism"", Indian Coolie Media blogspot
  8. Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke (2003). Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism, and the Politics of Identity. New York University Press. p. 88. ISBN 0-8147-3155-4. OCLC 47665567.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Savitri Devi Mukherji: Le National-Socialisme et la Tradition Indienne, with contributions by Vittorio de Cecco, Claudio Mutti and Christian Bouchet, published in the series Cahiers de la Radicalité by Avatar-éditions, Paris/Dublin 2004.
  10. https://web.archive.org/web/20060520001544/http://www.asianetglobal.com:8080/asianet/2004/news/detailedstory.jsp?catId=10&newsId=2
  11. Outlook Apr 8–14, 2008
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Camus, J.Y.(2007), The European extreme right and religious extremism. Středoevropské politické studie (CEPSR), (4), 263–279
  13. 13.0 13.1 "Advani makeover, with Dalai echo on Ayodhya". Telegraph. 9 January 2004. Retrieved 21 May 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Advani, Joshi tried to save Babri mosque: Centre". Times of India. Retrieved 21 May 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "I Was Prepared To Take The Risk". Outlook. Retrieved 21 May 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. Advani, L.K. My Country, My Life. Rupa.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links[edit]