Thursday, 13 August 2020

End Of An Epoch

Updated: December 3, 2015 12:28 pm

The name Ashok Singhal is synonymous with the saint, the social scientist, the patriot, the performer, the mass leader, the Hindu hriday samrat and so on. We all know how popular and affectionate he was among the Sangh Pariwar, the VHP and saints in India and abroad. Primarily a Sangh ideologue, Ashok Singhal is well known among and respected by the religious leaders all over the over the world. He was respected and accepted by all sections of the society, as he was one of the patriarchs, who founded the basic principles of human life to establish social harmony in the society. He propagated the philosophy of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, wherever he went. He was liked and loved and was affectionately known as Mananiya Ashokji. In the Gita, it is mentioned that Bharat is the land of karmabhoomi and here one has to sacrifice (tyag) everything for the welfare of one’s nation. He was truly a karmayogi, who never stopped till his last breath to attain the goal of his life, i.e. Tera vaibhav amar rahe Maa, Hum din char rahe na rahe. A Pracharak of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Ashok Singhal was an institution in himself to infuse a sense of inspiration in the whole nation. He rooted for the cause of our nation and nurtured the basic philosophy of Sanatan Dharma. Following the basic principles of Hindutva, Singhalji disseminated the message of nationalism in the whole world. He burnt midnight oil in fulfilling the eternal wish of God, i.e. Sarve bhavantu sukhinah. A strong votary of Ramjanmabhoomi movement, Ashok Singhal always acted like a roaring lion for rebuilding the Ram Temple in Ayodhya. Hence, it would be a true homage to the great man, if our PM Narendra Modi finds a way to realise his dream of Ram Temple. RSS Sarsanghachalak Mohan Bhagwat also has the equal responsibility to fulfil the dream of billions of Hindus all over world.

An engineer by education and a trained classical singer, Ashok Singhal metamorphosed into a true nationalist par excellence, who played the central role in the Ram Janmabhoomi movement. He became a nationally known figure for spearheading an emotive campaign against the 16th century Babri structure in Ayodhya that was eventually razed in 1992. He created a sense of unity, made a sustained effort for gomata, Gangamata, Bharatmata as the symbols of national unity. He changed millions of Hindus’ hearts with elegantly simple speeches to bring them on one platform, which made to change the perception of billions and subsequently Hindus spearheaded the Ram Janmabhoomi movement. However, the BJP immensely profited from the disputed structure’s destruction, taking power in 1996 and then in 1998, the man who was the architect of the campaign was Singhal, an unapologetic Hindutva votary whose only mission was to transform India into a “Hindu Rashtra”. The seeds of Hindutva were sown in Singhal’s mind as a youngster. Singhal—born to a government official in the Taj Mahal city of Agra in 1926—was highly inspired by social reformer Dayananda Saraswati and grew up in a religious Hindu household. He joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in 1942—the year the Indian independence struggle reached a new peak—after meeting Rajendra Singh, popularly known as Rajju Bhaiya, the fourth Sarsanghchalak (chief) of the RSS. Unlike many BJP leaders who distanced themselves from the Babri incident, Singhal was proud of it—and vowed to keep working till India become a “Hindu Rashtra”. Singhal, who had a degree in metallurgical engineering from Banaras Hindu University Institute of Technology, also had deep interest in Hindustani classical music. He composed many songs for the RSS. Former VHP president Vishnu Hari Dalmia demanded that Modi should gift a grand Ram temple at Ayodhya to Singhal on his 90th birthday on September 15, 2016. Fate willed otherwise. On November 17th, suffering from kidney and heart problems, Singhal, 89, passed away at a Gurgaon hospital, marking the end of an era. For the Bharatiya Janata Party, the 1984 Lok Sabha polls were disastrous as it won only two seats. It remains an open question if the party could have survived politically had Ashok Singhal, steering the Vishwa Hindu Parishad to new heights, not created sufficient opportunities for the BJP to use religious discourse and mass-scale ritual actions in the political arena. Ashok Singhal was a visionary whose two resolves in life were 1: building a Ram temple in Ayodhya and 2: spreading Vedic wisdom in the world. He was also able to organise the supposedly biggest mass movement in India post-independence and chose the path for that movement to be something that inculcated in the people of Bharat a sense of self-pride. It cannot be gainsaid that it was under his leadership that the VHP was virtually relaunched in 1984 with the Ramjanmabhoomi issue as its prime objective. Through a series of mass ritual actions and conclaves of Hindu religious leaders, Singhal created over the course of the next six years a condition that could easily be exploited by the BJP for political gains. The transformation of the BJP from a weakling to a political force could not have been possible had Singhal’s six years of effort not gone into making Advani’s rath yatra a success. Singhal never openly complained against the silent attempts to deny him the status of the BJP’s father figure. But after his death, especially since the BJP has secured an absolute majority in the Lok Sabha, shouldn’t the saffron party be introspecting whether Singhal be granted what he was denied all his life? For, whatever Singhalji achieved throughout his lifetime was not through the conventional route of a political career but through the dint of hard work, perseverance and resolution as a true Swayamsevak.

Deepak Kumar Rath

Deepak Kumar Rath

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