Vishwa Hindu Parishad

Viśva Hindu Pariṣad
विश्व हिन्दू परिषद
Type Hindu nationalist
Hindu reformist
Founded 29 August 1964 (1964-08-29)[1]
Founder(s) Keshavram Kashiram Shastri
Swami Chinmayananda
S.S. Apte
Sri Satguru Jagjit Singh Ji
Master Tara Singh
Headquarters
Coordinates

28°20′N 77°06′E / 28.33°N 77.10°E / 28.33; 77.10

Key people G. Raghava Reddy (president)[2]
Dr. Praveen Togadia (executive president)[2]
Area served India
Members 6.8 million[3]
Subsidiaries Bajrang Dal (youth wing)
Durga Vahini (women's wing)
Motto Dharmo Rakshati Rakshitah
धर्मो रक्षति रक्षितः
Website

Viśva Hindu Pariṣad (pronunciation: /vɪʃv(ə) hɪnd̪uː pərɪʃəd̪/, English: World Hindu Council), abbreviated VHP, is a Hindu organisation in India and is based on the ideology of Hindutva. Founded in 1964,[4] its main objective is to organise - consolidate the Hindu society and to serve - protect the Hindu Dharma.[1] The VHP volunteers are known for their efforts to promote and revive Hinduism and to develop unity and pride among all Hindus by its social service projects, encouraging the construction and renovation of Hindu temples, campaigning against social evils and orthodox practices in Hinduism like the caste system, opposing cow slaughter and conversions to other religions and taking up issues in the interest of Hindus such as resolving the Ayodhya dispute.[1]

The VHP is associated with the Sangh Parivar, an umbrella of Hindu nationalist organisations which also includes the centre-right Indian political party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the cultural organisation Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Its slogan is Dharmo rakṣati rakṣitaḥ, which means "Dharma protects its protector" and its symbol is the banyan tree. The current international president of VHP is G. Raghava Reddy,[2] while its executive president is Dr. Praveen Togadia.[2]

History

The VHP was founded in 1964 by Keshavram Kashiram Shastri. The other co-founders were the Hindu spiritual leader Swami Chinmayananda, former RSS member S.S. Apte, Supreme Spiritual Head of the Namdhari Sikhs Sri Satguru Jagjit Singh Ji and Sikh leader Master Tara Singh.[5] Swami Chinmayananda was nominated as its founding President, while Apte was nominated as its founding General Secretary.[5] The VHP, which considers Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs as part of the greater Hindu fraternity, officially mentions that it was founded by the "Saint Shakti of Bharat". The VHP was first mooted at a conference in Pawai, Sandipani Sadhanalaya, Mumbai on 29 August 1964. The conference was hosted by RSS Sarsanghchalak M. S. Golwalkar. The date was chosen to coincide with the festival of Janmashtami. Several representatives from the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist and Jain faiths were present in the meeting, as well as the Dalai Lama. Golwalkar explained that "all faiths of Indian origins need to unite", saying that the word "Hindu" (i.e. people of "Hindustan") applied to adherents of all the above religions.[6] Apte declared:

The world has been divided to Christian, Islam and Communist. All of them view Hindu society as very fine rich food on which to feast and fatten themselves. It is necessary in this age of conflict to think of and organize the Hindu world to save it from the evils of all the three.
[6]

It was decided at the meeting that the name of the proposed organization would be Vishva Hindu Parishad and that a world convention of Hindus was to be held at Prayag (Allahabad) during Kumbha Mela of 1966 to launch the organization. It was further decided that it would be a non-political organization and that no office bearer of any political party shall be simultaneously an office bearer in the Parishad. The following aims and objectives were set before the Parishad.

  • To consolidate and strengthen the Hindu Society.
  • To protect, promote and propagate Hindu values of life, the ethical and the spiritual in the context of modern times.
  • To keep in touch with all the Hindus living abroad, and to organize and help them in all possible ways in protecting their Hindu identity, also popularly known as Hindutva.

The motto of the organisation is "Dharmo Rakshati Rakshitah" (धर्मो रक्षति रक्षितः) meaning "Dharma protects its protector".

Ayodhya dispute

The VHP had been involved in the dispute over the Ram Janmabhoomi, or Babri Mosque, for twenty years before its demolition. This activity involved demonstrations, petitions and litigation. The VHP claimed that the Babri Mosque was built by demolishing the temple at the birthplace of Rama (Ram Janmabhoomi). The further VHP claimed that the mosque was in a dilapidated condition and not used for worship or any religious activity by the city's Muslims.

In the late 1980s, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) brought the temple issue to the centerstage of national politics, and the BJP and VHP began organising larger protests in Ayodhya and around the country. The feeling was that the issue was continually ignored by coalition governments and the pseudo-secular Congress Party, as well as the courts.

In 1992 a large group of Hindus, including members of the VHP,[7] were camped on the site of the Babri Mosque. On 6 December 1992 the mosque was demolished by elements of the crowd. Rioting followed across India with 2000 people killed.[8][9]

The Liberhan Commission headed by Justice Liberhan was constituted to investigate the whole episode. A large number of VHP workers testified before the commission. Totalling 399 sittings over the span of sixteen years, the Commission finally submitted its the 1,029-page report to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on June 30, 2009.[10] According to the report, the events of December 6, 1992, in Ayodhya were "neither spontaneous nor unplanned".[11]

Organization and leadership

The Bajrang Dal is the youth wing of the VHP, and it is organized in many states in major training camps called shakhas, where thousands of young men simultaneously train in various activities, receive sports, indoctrination in hindutwa and cultural education. The Durga Vahini, founded in 1991 under the tutelage of Sadhvi Rithambara as its founding chairperson and the support of the VHP, is described as the "female arm of the Dal". Members of the Vahini contend that the portrayal of their group as a branch of the Bajrang Dal is an oversimplification, and that their goals are to "dedicate ourselves to spiritual, physical, mental and knowledge development".[12]

The VHP also have divisions made up of women. VHP secretary Giri Raj Kishore charted out highly visible roles for women in the group. He charted out two "satyagrahas" for women during their demonstrations.[13]

The VHP has been a prime backer of the World Hindu Conference in which issues such as casteism, sectarianism, and the future of Hindus were discussed. Prior Conferences have included Hindu Groups such as Parisada Hindu Dharma.[14]

Communal tensions and reconversions

The VHP engages in several programs to forcefully reconvert Hindus who had previously converted to Christianity through their trained missionaries called "Dharma Prasaar Vibhag" (Religious Propaganda Cell), The VHP has deputed large number of its missionaries in those remote villages and tribal areas which have substantial Christians and Muslims. In recent years the VHP has emerged as one of the most active Hindu missionary organisation and has organised several mass forced as well as voluntary reconversion programmes of Christians and Muslims to Hinduism. In one of the recent programmes on 24th Feb 2012, it reconverted more than 3000 Tribal Christians from 658 families to Hinduism in Sundergadh district of Indian State of Orissa (as per Zee News);[15] similarly, it reconverted 228 Christian families to Hinduism on 28th Feb 2012 in Valsad District of Gujarat and in one of the another programmes organised on April 19, 2004, it converted 3200 Muslims belonging to Chita, Mehrat and Kathat caste in Beawar, Ajmer District, Rajasthan.On 11th Aug 2009 in Dindigul District in State of Tamil Nadu,all 207 Christians of Tamarikullam Village were converted to Hinduism by VHP,leaving no Christians in the village.[16] Also it reconverted 30 Christians from 8 Families to Hinduism on 29 Jun 2011 in Mumbai,where Anand Kumar Pande,the VHP Zonal Secretary,Mumbai stated that " It was our duty to bring back these poor & innocent people to Hindu faith since they were cheated by Christian missonaries through fake healings & converted to Christianity".[17] VHP also claims that villagers in rural parts of India were offered financial rewards for converting to Christianity and that those rewards never materialised, so their return to Hinduism was relatively straightforward.[18][19][20] Following the murder of Swami Lakshmanananda, the VHP engaged in reconversion programmes, involving both voluntary and forced reconversion.[20][21]

In Punjab, the VHP has played an active role to prevent conversions of Sikhs even if they chose to choose their own religious path. The majority of them are low caste Sikhs converting to Christianity. This could be a result mostly from oppression by high caste Sikhs but there are considerable free will conversions among the higher class Sikhs too; however, the VHP have helped stopped Christian missionaries from converting Sikhs nonetheless.[22]

The VHP collaborated with Christian Association for Social Action and played an active part in providing relief to both Hindu and Christian families affected by the Love Jihad activity in Kerala during 2003–2013 period.[23]

In August 2008, the VHP blamed Christians for the murder of Swami Lakshmanananda,[24] though Maoist militants had claimed responsibility for the killing. In the resulting disorder, Christian settlements were set on fire,[25] and 250 Christians were forced to flee their villages.[26] The Roman Catholic Church claimed that at least 7 Christians were killed.[24] Various news sources also reported that a nun was raped during the violence.[27][28][29][30] A judicial commission probing the violence said that conversion and re-conversion were among the major factors that led to the disorder, without blaming any religious groups or the CPI (Maoist).[31] VHP also runs large number of schools & hostels for poor,especially in Tribal & rural areas of India & also provides medical aid to poor & impoverished in remote regions of India.

See also

References

External links

  • Official website of VHP
  • The Financial Express, May 21, 1998

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