Vishva Hindu Parishad
|विश्व हिन्दू परिषद|
Logo of the V.H.P
|Motto||Dharmo Rakshati Rakshitah
धर्मो रक्षति रक्षितः
|Formation||29 August 1964 |
|Founder||M. S. Golwalkar
S. S. Apte
|Headquarters||New Delhi, India|
|Subsidiaries||Bajrang Dal (youth wing)
Durga Vahini (women's wing)
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The Vishva Hindu Parishad (IAST: Viśva Hindū Pariṣada, pronunciation: /vɪʃv(ə) hɪnd̪uː pərɪʃəd̪/, translation: World Hindu Council), abbreviated VHP, is an Indian right-wing Hindu nationalist organisation based on the ideology of Hindutva. The organisation has been described as "extremist", and characterised as "militant" for its activities in spearheading the Ram Janmabhoomi movement that led to the demolition of the Babri Masjid.
The VHP was founded in 1964 by M. S. Golwalkar and S. S. Apte in collaboration with Swami Chinmayananda. Its stated objective is "to organise, consolidate the Hindu society and to serve, protect the Hindu Dharma." The 14th Dalai Lama is a member of the VHP and was present at its founding.
The VHP is a member of the Sangh Parivar group, an umbrella of Hindu nationalist organisations led by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). It has been involved in controversial issues in India such as construction and renovation of Hindu temples, issues of cow slaughter, religious conversion, the Ayodhya dispute and its role in the Babri Masjid demolition.
The VHP was founded in 1964 by RSS leaders M. S. Golwalkar and S. S. Apte in collaboration with the Hindu spiritual leader Chinmayananda. The delegation of the founders included Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan founder K. M. Munshi, Gujarati scholar Keshavram Kashiram Shastri, Sikh leader Master Tara Singh, Namdhari Sikh leader Satguru Jagjit Singh and eminent politicians such as C. P. Ramaswamy Iyer. Chinmayananda was nominated as its founding President, while Apte was nominated as its founding General Secretary. It was decided at the meeting that the name of the proposed organisation would be "Vishva Hindu Parishad" and that a world convention of Hindus was to be held at Prayag (Allahabad) during Kumbha Mela of 1966 for its launch. It was further decided that it would be a non-political organisation and that no office bearer of any political party shall be simultaneously an office bearer in the Parishad.
The VHP, which considers Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs as well as native tribal religions 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, Bombay on 29 August 1964. The conference was hosted by RSS chief 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" (people of "Hindustan") applied to adherents of all the above religions. 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 organise the Hindu world to save it from the evils of all the three.
Its main objective is "to organise, consolidate the Hindu society and to serve, protect the Hindu Dharma." It has been involved in social service projects and in encouraging the construction and renovation of Hindu temples. It is against the caste system, opposes cow slaughter and conversions to other religions. Defending Hindus around the world and Hindu rights has been one of its stated objectives. The other main objective which it has been involved with is the Ayodhya dispute.
The organisation acts under the guidance from Dharma Sansad a religious parliament of Gurus. The VHP is associated with the Sangh Parivar, an umbrella of Hindu nationalist organisations. 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 Sanju Mishra, while its executive president is Praveen Togadia.
- Medical - People are trained in villages to provide primary health care and referral services. The organisation also conducts medical check-up camps.
- Vocational training - Organisation is running self-employment training camps in Bihar, Punjab, Rajasthan, Maha Kaushal, Assam, Brij Pradesh, Orissa and Maharashtra. The training areas involve farming techniques, bee-keeping, agriculture, horticultural techniques, animal husbandry and sewing. There are 959 training centres currently operating.
- Education - It tried to provide educational facilities in remote area. It supports 3266 educational facilities.
- Social welfare - Organisation runs 45 orphanages, marriage bureaux, help centres, rescue centres, and working women hostels. VHP is also active in environmental causes such as tree plantations. Social services are provided in religious pilgrimages, emergency help during natural calamities and rural development.
- Relief services - Vishwa Hindu Parishad has provided emergency Relief services. In 2014 Jammu and Kashmir floods, Vishwa Hindu Parishad organised medical and relief camps. These services provided relief via medical camps to 1400 patients.
The Bajrang Dal is the militant youth wing of the VHP, and it is organised in many states in major training camps called shakhas, where thousands of youths simultaneously train in various activities, receive sports, education in Hindutva and cultural indoctrination. 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". 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.
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.
Vishwa Hindu Parishad is active in many countries outside of India.
Known as VHPA, the VHP in the United States advocates for human rights for Hindus around the world. They also offer Hindu Pandits to serve the Hindu community, and usually hold rituals around the nation where members are invited. The VHPA has also organised many charitable causes, such as raising money for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, and the Fiji flood victims of 2012.
The VHPUK, is the British branch of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, which has held demonstrations in London for the rights of Hindus in Bangladesh and Pakistan. It offers many Hindu services such as priests and matrimonial services. VHPUK has been vocal advocates of the pro-life movement, and stands against abortion.
The Vishva Hindu Parishad is gaining popularity in these countries. The Australia wing of Vishva Hindu Parishad conducts activities such conducting weekend schools, language classes, cultural workshops, festivals. The festivals are also organised for open to all communities promoting Unity in Diversity. The press release from city council of Holroyd state that Vishva Hindu Parishad is active in supporting multiculturalism in the same region. In March 2014, the VHP had its first National Hindu Council in Fiji and New Zealand. The VHP has established a Vedic school in Sydney, has temples and organised 3 National Hindu conferences in 2014.
Religious and communal activities
The VHP had been aggressively involved in the Ayodhya dispute over the Ram Janmabhoomi, or Babri Mosque before its demolition, since March 1984, after getting encouraged by the strong response it had got from ekatmata yatra programme, it organised in 1983, which was aimed at Hindu unity and self-protection against Islam and Christianity. This activity in the Ayodhya issue involved demonstrations, petitions and litigation, along with militant processions, forceful conversion ceremonies and incidents of violence and vandalism, particularly targeting Muslims. The VHP is also said to have sought the destruction of the Babri mosque. According to the VHP and its affiliated organisations, the Babri Mosque was built by demolishing the temple at the birthplace of Rama (Ram Janmabhoomi) by the Mughal Emperor Babur in the 16th century. It further stated in Allahabad court documentation that the building was in a dilapidated condition. It was in ruins and could not be used for worship or any activities.
VHP organises programmes to reconvert Hindus who had previously converted to Christianity or Islam through their trained missionaries called Dharma Prasaar Vibhag (Dharma Propagation Unit), some of them were sent to remote villages and tribal areas which have substantial Christians and Muslims population.
In Punjab, the VHP has played an active role to prevent conversions of Sikhs. Majority of them are low caste Sikhs converting to Christianity. This may be a result of oppression by high caste Sikhs but there are considerable free will conversions among the higher class Sikhs too; however, the VHP have forcibly stopped Christian missionaries from converting Sikhs.
In 2002, five Dalit youngsters were killed in Haryana by a mob, reportedly led by members of the VHP after reports of cow slaughter. The local leader of the VHP, Acharya Giriraj Kishore stated that he had no regrets over the incident and that the life of a cow was worth more than the lives of five Dalits.
In 2003, a couple of a Hindu woman and a Christian man who willfully and legally got married, were attacked and forcibly separated by the members of VHP and Bajrang Dal, after they went into the hiding. During the attack, the woman, who was pregnant, was kicked in the stomach, and the baby subsequently was aborted. No action was taken against VHP or the Bajrang Dal members for these activities.
On July 31, 2003, in Dabwali, Haryana, a mob of 250 persons, most of whom were members of the VHP, attacked students and staff members of a Bible school during prayer, accusing the 25-member student body of converting people in the area. The attackers burnt Bibles and Christian literature, vandalizing the school and beating students.
VHP engaged in "re-conversion" program in the state of Orissa, involving both voluntary and forced conversion. According to them, the tribal folk were lured for monetary benefits and Christian missionaries were there to convert them under the pretext of community service. They claim that Vanvasis (Tribals) are part of Hindu culture. The Christian community denied this and six women were beaten for refusing to reconvert to Hinduism. In the resulting disorder, Christian settlements were set on fire, and more than 200 Christians were forced to convert to Hinduism. The sectarian violence had left at least 59 people dead, 50,000 homeless and thousands of houses and churches burnt to the ground. A Catholic nun was raped during the violence. 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).
The VHP continues to defend instances of anti-Christian violence, such as the demolition of a church in Haryana, although it has denied involvement in the incident. VHP joint general secretary Surendra Jain alleged that the church was built "for the purpose of aggressive conversion" and likened its destruction to the violence of the 1857 war which he claimed "was fought for the cause of religion".
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