The Early Vishva Hindu Parishad: 1964 to 1983
In the wake of the Vishva Hindu Parishad' s (henceforth the VHP) relentless fervour to go ahead with the construction of pre-fabricated temple-structures for the proposed Rama temple, this paper attempts to showthat the VHP, though formed primarily for religious aims in 1964, contained seeds of a militant Hindu nationalist movement, did try to build a campaign to oppose 'Christianity, Islam and Communism' in a bid to protect and promote Hinduism. To call it an aggressive or militant body informed by ideological rigidity would be misleading, but one has to acknowledge the dormant or subdued presence of these traits in the early VHP organisation. Moreover, the constant presence of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (henceforth the RSS) in the working of the VHP both at the level of organisation and activism, brought about a consistency in the character and world-view of the VHP over the years. It was in the month of Kumbha1 in 1966 that delegates gathered at the historic town of Allahabad (Prayagraj) to celebrate the first international assembly of the VHP. This was meant to be the first World Hindu Conference held by the VHP to integrate all Hindus, by birth or conviction, so as to understand, preserve and practise the principles of Hindu culture and religion. This huge congregation of delegates was the outcome of prolonged deliberations that had taken place at Sandipini ashram, one of the spiritual centres of Swami Chinmayananda, at Bombay in August 1964. About 150 individuals were invited to this conference, of whom 60 attended it and the rest sent messages welcoming the initiative and extending support to its programme. The main issue of discussion here was a source of much concern to those who were present. They saw themselves as socially aware individuals with a responsibility to act urgently because those in public realm did not seem to be sensitive to the issue of 'protection' - religious, cultural,
^Recently completed her research at School of Oriental and African Studies, London.
Social Scientist, Vol. 27, Nos. 5 - 6, May- June 1998 _ ,