Sita Ram Goel: The Rishi of a resurgent India
A Prophet of Nehruvian India
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 the Hindu civilization and opposed its perversion at the hands of the hostile forces of Islam, Christianity and Nehruvian Secularism. On this point he pulled no punches proclaiming—“If India is to live, Nehruism must die.” He foresaw the defeat of Nehruism at the hands of rising Hindu consciousness.
In this he drew his inspiration and substance from Hindu thinkers like Dayananda Sarasvati, Bankima Chandra, Swami Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo. He drew strength and inspiration from his friend, associate and sometimes mentor the thinker Ram Swarup. This was a happy mix for Ram Swarup provided a yogic-philosophical basis to Sita Ram’s historical analysis. I have seen nothing comparable to this Ram Swarup – Sita Ram historico-philosophical analysis in human affairs . It gave their work a uniquely spiritual turn in the study of human affairs. Sita Ram brought the same approach to bear in the study of Nehru and Nehruism whose decline he foresaw, and is the subject of the present essay.
Many of the writers that Sita Ram supported and published 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 especially among the youth. Part of the reason is prejudice, but equally, it is because he never had a biographer worth his stature.
Widely dismissed, relentlessly hounded, and branded as a communalist, 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.
Here a point is worth noting. Though Sita Ram was often impatient with Hindu nationalist organizations and their leadership for what he saw as their inadequacy in analysing national issues and their implications, too much should not be made of it. Also, 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 on the telephone was an ordeal.
[pullquote]I find the Congress to be more a cult than a political party whose followers now worship Sonia and Rahul Gandhi in a manner reminiscent of how his followers used to worship Nehru.[/pullquote]
One is much better off turning to 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.
Cult following: Nehru to Rahul Gandhi
In a supplement that he called Nighmmare of Nehruism which he added in 1993 to his autobiography How I Became a Hindu, Sita Ram Goel gave an eyewitness account of the Nehru years and beyond and what he thought the future held for India and Nehruism. It is more than a ringside report, 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.
I have added some of my own observations including a comparison of Nehruvians protecting their cult hero following his disaster in 1962 and the behaviour of the followers of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi following their recent election debacle.
I find the Congress to be more a cult than a political party whose followers now worship Sonia and Rahul Gandhi in a manner reminiscent of how his followers used to worship Nehru. In their eyes their heroes can do no wrong and their failures are not admitted— be it the humiliation inflicted by China in 1962 or the recent humiliations inflicted by the voters in the recent elections. I have lived long enough to have seen both, though Sita Ram did not live to witness the denouement at the hands of Narendra Modi. His reaction would have been interesting.
On the Nehruvian nightmare: Nehru to Rahul years
Nightmare of Nehruism is written in Sita Ram’s usual no holds barred style and no one is spared including much revered figures in Hindu organizations, no matter how high. Not even Atal Bihari Vajpayee is spared, whom Sita Ram calls a windbag and Nehruvian in Hindu garb. (I recall Sita Ram once telling me that 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 one who knew Vajpayee personally. This does not of course make him a Communist or even a Marxist.)
The supplement Nightmare of Nehrusism 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 Nehru in their proper place by looking at them in the context of Nehru’s debacle and Independent India’s greatest humiliation—the Chinese attack in 1962 and the aftermath.
In normal circumstances, a debacle of that magnitude would have sent the leader packing, as happened with Neville Chamberlain following his surrender to Hitler’s demands at Munich. (Nehru had surrendered Tibet to China in 1950 and had gotten away with it.) But Nehru survived the 1962 disaster thanks to his control of national institutions within and outside the government and the manipulation of the sycophants he had installed, and who had everything to lose from Nehru’s departure.
When Sita Ram moved from Calcutta to Delhi in 1957, he found Nehru at the height of his glory. This was soon to change when the Dalai Lama was forced to leave Tibet with thousands of followers, driven out by the Chinese occupiers who had also occupied part of Indian Territory in Ladakh, and live in exile in India. This was not a bolt from the blue.
[pullquote]Pandit Nehru always valued the opinions of white-skinned people over that of Indians.[/pullquote]
General Thimmiah and others had warned Nehru of Chinese intentions and incursions, but Nehru and his Communist favourite V.K. Krishna Menon who was all powerful in those days, dismissed it as CIA propaganda. They also made sure that Thimmiah was succeeded by the more pliant and Nehru’s relative by marriage Pran Nath Thapar (historian Romila Thapar’s uncle) instead of the much better qualified General Thorat recommended by Thimmiah and other military experts.
This was a repeat of 1947, when Nehru had ignored General (later Field Marshall) Cariappa’s advice to develop the border areas in the northeast on the advice of a British missionary called Verrier Elwin who habitually exploited tribal children under the guise of anthropology research and wanted the people of the Northeast kept separate. It is a matter of record that Pandit Nehru always valued the opinions of white-skinned people over that of Indians as he also did when he took Kashmir to the United Nations on the advice of Mountbatten against the advice of Sardar Patel and the military commanders.
The fruit of all this was the disaster of 1962— resulting in Nehru’s fall from his pedestal as well as the loss of thousands of Indian soldiers’ lives.
Sita Ram as well as others had seen through the Chinese designs behind Nehru’s Pancha Sheel fantasy. When the Chinese attacked in 1962, Nehru panicked and ran to Americans for help—the very people whom he and Menon had been demonizing for years. What followed is best described in Sita Ram’s own words:
“The house that Pandit Nehru had built lay in shambles all around him. He was alive. But the pep in him was gone. So also the bluster which he had used to beat down his opponents [and critics]. It was only the ‘progressive brood he had spawned which was keeping the corpse propped up on the throne in the interest of its own survival.”
There was no tragic grandeur in this ignoble fall; on the other hand his former self-righteous posturing and sermonizing to the world had turned him into an object of ridicule. And many relished it. No one was in the mood to say, “What a fall there was my countrymen.” As Sita Ram observed: “Pandit Nehru was in the habit of threatening to resign, every now and then.” By this Nehru had in the past managed to create a storm of protest begging him to not abandon them. But the time was past for such theatrics.
As Sita Ram remarked:
“By every canon of normal human reason and political sanity, it was time for stock taking.” People were no mood for low comedy involving their discredited leader and his decrepit team. They were in a mood to stand up and say, “You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately … Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!” as Oliver Cromwell had told the British Parliament in 1653.
Even in the face of the loss of the lives of thousands of soldiers, “Nehru did not have the decency even to go through the motions of resigning,” as Brigadier Dalvi observed. Holding on to his position was his sole concern.
But the survival instincts of Nehru and his gang were too strong to follow such an honourable course. He sacrificed some unpopular favourites including Krishna Menon and eased out senior leaders who might pose a threat under the Kamaraj Plan under the pretext they were needed for party work. No one was fooled by this charade. The veteran Cogressman Mahavir Tyagi told Nehru to his face: “So you have become the headman by getting the heads of your comrades chopped off.”
The only people to support Nehru were the Communists. They argued that in this time of crisis Nehru’s hands had to be strengthened to “beat back the reactionaries who want to put the clock back. By reactionaries, the Communists meant nationalist leaders like Morarji Desai who might have become prime minister if Nehru were to leave. The Communists feared that nationalist leaders might gain the upper hand in reaction to the Chinese attack. It did not happen. Nehru carried on for two more years though more like a zombie than a living human being.
[pullquote]The only people to support Nehru were the Communists.[/pullquote]
But to his followers, Nehru could do no wrong just as Sonia and Rahul can never be wrong in the eyes of their worshippers today. His failures were other people’s faults. Had Sita Ram been living today he would have appreciated the similarity between the whitewashing of Nehru’s disasters and Rahul Gandhi’s political debacle. This goes beyond sycophancy. Sonia and Rahul’s followers, like Nehru followers 50 years ago are acting like a cult protecting their objects of worship. Sita Ram would have been amused by it. In 2002, shortly after the post-Godhra riots, Sita Ram expressed admiration for Narendra Modi’s strength of character for standing up to all the bullying by the media and the secularists.
When Nehru died in 1964, he was succeeded by Lal Bahadur Shastri who was seen as a nationalist. But he died under mysterious circumstances in Tashkent in 1966. What followed was a 50 year long post-Nehhruvian twilight that ended only with the decimation of the Congress (one hopes for ever) in the 2014 elections at the hands of Narendra Modi. The followers of the Gandhi family court are trying to insulate them from the disaster very much the way the Nehruvians tried to protect Nehru’s image after the 1962 Chinese disaster.
A thing in common between the two men Pandit Nehru and Rahul Gandhi is neither was a self-made man who came up on merit. Further, neither was a high achiever though Nehru was a passable writer whereas Rahul is a near illiterate like his mother. Both were used to privilege which made them incapable of facing a crisis.
Goel on the post-Nehru years
Sita Ram saw Pandit Nehru as the perpetuator of past imperialisms by being their embodiment. In his words:
“Today (1982) I view Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru as a bloated Brown Sahib and Nehruism as the combined embodiment of all the imperialist ideologies—Islam, Christinity, 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
Sita Ram was anything but a communalist. 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.”
The goal of Nehruivian Secularism however has been to eliminate Hinduism from national life and in due course disenfranchise the Hindus. He further observes:
“Bharatavarsha has been and remains the Hindu homeland par excellence.”
In short, for the Hindus, their janmabhumi and karma bhumi is also their punyabhumi. This is in striking contrast to the attitude of Muslims to whom as V.S. Napaul noted, “Only the sands of Arabia are sacred.”
[pullquote]In 2002, shortly after the post-Godhra riots, Sita Ram expressed admiration for Narendra Modi’s strength of character for standing up to all the bullying by the media and the secularists.[/pullquote]
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. This phenomenon of conquered people imitating their victors had been noted long ago by Ibn Khaldun (1332 – 1406), arguably the greatest thinker produced by Islam:
“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 observes, “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 with me when I once told him that in language and rhetoric, the denunciation of Hinduism by the Nehruvian intellectuals was indistinguishable from that used by missionaries of the colonial era. He pointed out that the Communists too had contributed to it. This destruction from within by pitching alienated Hindus against Hinduism was also the intention of Thomas Babbington Macaulay (1800 – 59) who introduced English education in India. In a letter to his father in 1936 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 [Sic; prospect?].”
It is not widely known that Indology was a product of the same program. Such well-known figures as Monier-Williams, Max Mṻller 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.
This phenomenon of double imperialism and its fallout of Nehruism is not limited 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 Filippino poet once lamented that his fellow intellectuals were only capable of being stooges—of the Spanish and the Americans later. Things were so bad under the Spanish that in 1849, Governor-General Narciso Clavería issued a decree that every Filipino native must adopt a Spanish surname. Things have not gone so far in India but we see Christian names among Hindus in West Indies, Malaysia and among Buddhists in Sri Lanka.
[pullquote]Nehru and his ilk were products of a double imperialism.[/pullquote]
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 the vestiges of colonial era anti-Hinduism. Few would risk their careers by going against the trend.
Post Nehruvian scene: from Indira to Sonia and Rahul
Sita Ram’s observations on what happened after Nehru died makes 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 centers 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, however 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 their political support. 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 to monopolize educational and related institutions.
Sita Ram’s program for history writing
Goel had seen that the British and the elite they had created and patronized 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’, which is a swearword in the Secularist lexicon. Sita Ram put down a few ideas in history writing which he called premises, but amount virtually to a program in writing the history of India and creating a foundation in historiography. It is rooted in his view of nationalism and is perfectly sound and rational.
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 civilization which remained the dominant civilization 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, Nehuvian Secularism represents only the decaying remains of these departed imperialisms, especially the last two, strengthened in the Nehru era by Communism.He also commented, “I do not accept the theory of the Aryan invasion of India (AIT) in the second millennium B.C.”
Sita Ram saw it as a hypothesis, tentative at best, to account as far as the world of serious scholarship is concerned. 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.”
In this Sita Ram was prescient. Recent research based on genetics and population studies has shown 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.
These linguistic theories have always been a camouflage for racism following the collapse of Nazism. On methodological grounds also, the 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 also that many scholars who are 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 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 the like 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 AIT and OIT (out of India theory). They claim to reject the racial version of Aryan but retain all its conclusions while invoking IE linguistics, which has no empirical basis.
It must be recognized that Voice of India is more than a publishing house. Through it Sita Ram Goal created a new school of thought and VOI served as its publication wing.
Goel, Sita Ram (1993) How I became A Hindu New Delhi, Voice of India: First published in 1982 as his intellectual biography. In the supplement “Nightmare of Nehruism” added in 1993 to the third reprint, Goel reflects on developments following Nehru’s death in 1964.
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 Srinivsan 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.
[pullquote]Indology has been and remains a proxy for racism in academia.[/pullquote]
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.
Goel’s unrealized program—our duty
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.