Vishva Hindu Parishad
|Formation||29 August 1964|
|Purpose||Hindu nationalism and Hindutva|
|Headquarters||New Delhi, India|
|Rabindra Narain Singh|
International Working President
|Alok Kumar Advocate|
The Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) (transl. World Council of Hindus) is an Indian right-wing Hindu organization based on Hindu nationalism. 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 and protect the Hindu Dharma". It was established to construct and renovate Hindu temples, and deal with matters of cow slaughter and religious conversion.
The VHP has been criticized for contributing to violence against Muslims in India, most notably for its role in the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992 over the Ayodhya dispute. The VHP is considered a member of the Sangh Parivar group, an umbrella term for Hindu nationalist organisations led by the RSS.
The VHP was founded in 1964 by RSS leaders M. S. Golwalkar and S. S. Apte in collaboration with the Hindu spiritual leader Chinmayananda Saraswati. According to Chinmayananda, the objective of the VHP was to awaken Hindus to their place in the comity of nations.
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 organization would be "Vishva Hindu Parishad" and that a world convention of Hindus was to be held at Prayag (Allahabad) during the Kumbh 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 delegation of the founders also included Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan founder K. M. Munshi, Gujarati scholar Keshavram Kashiram Shastri, Sikh leader Tara Singh, Namdhari Sikh leader Satguru Jagjit Singh and eminent politicians such as C. P. Ramaswami Iyer.
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, and opposes cow slaughter. Defending Hindus around the world and Hindu rights has been one of its stated objectives. The VHP considers Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs as well as native tribal religions as part of the greater Hindu fraternity.
The VHP promotes the education and involvement of members of Hindu diaspora in their "cultural duties and spiritual values." This view was first promoted by Chinmayananda,: 42 and is reflected in the promulgation of VHP organizations in Indo-Caribbean countries Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Suriname.
The organisation acts under the guidance from Dharma Sansad, a religious parliament of Gurus.
The VHP is against religious conversion, and uses trained members known as Dharma Prasaar Vibhag (Dharma Propagation Unit) to meet their ends. The VHP also provides means for reconversion back to Hinduism. From 1982 to 1985, over 66,000 people were reconverted to Hinduism following the efforts of VHP.
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.
VHP engaged in "re-conversion" program in the state of Orissa. In June 2002, VHP converted 143 tribal Christians into Hinduism in Tainser village of Sundergarh district. In 2005, VHP in Bargarh carried out reconversion ceremony for 567 Christians. The new converts had signed affidavits, confirming their intention to change their religion. Another 600 Dalit tribal Christians were converted to Hinduism in Bijepur, Orissa.
In April 2005, in West Bengal members of 45 tribal families converted to Hinduism from Christianity in a ceremony organised by Akhil Bhartiya Sanatan Santhal, allied to VHP.
Beti Bachao Bahu Lao
Beti Bachao Bahu Lao is a campaign planned by the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) and its affiliates Bajrang Dal etc., that claimed to marry young Muslim girls to Hindu men.
In 2016, journalist Rahul Kotiyal of Satyagrah.scroll.in was awarded Ramnath Goenka Award for reporting on a campaign by RSS and Bajrang Dal named "Beti Bachao, Bahu Lao". The campaign attempted to stop Hindu girls from marrying non-Hindus. If RSS members get information of a Hindu girl planning to marry a Muslim man, then the RSS members would track the girl and would inform the parents of the girl accusing this to be a case of Love Jihad.
In 2007, VHP had launched nationwide protest against demolition of the Rama Setu. On 12 September 2007, the VHP, with the aid of BJP and the Rameswaram Sreeramsetu Surakshaya Manch, had blocked road and rail traffic in Orissa. Thousands of activists participated in these protests in Bhubaneswar, Jatani, Rourkela, and Sambalpur.
The Bajrang Dal founded in 1984, 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 has presence in 29 countries outside of India. The Australia wing of Vishva Hindu Parishad conducts activities such as 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 states that Vishva Hindu Parishad is active in supporting multiculturalism in the same region.
Hindu Students Council (also known as HSC) is an organization of Hindu students in the US and Canada. The HSC was set up in 1990 with support from the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America. Although the HSC says that it became fully independent in 2003, its association with that body was a matter of some debate. Prior to its separation from its parent organization, it was considered to be the student-wing of the VHP.
The VHP has been associated with violence on a number of occasions.
The VHP had been aggressively involved in the Ayodhya dispute over the Ram Janmabhoomi, or Babri Masjid 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.
According to the Human Rights Watch, the VHP and Bajrang Dal, in collaboration with BJP had been involved in 2002 Gujarat riots. Though VHP has denied these claims, VHP spokesman Kaushikbahi Mehta said, "We in the VHP had nothing to do with the violence except to take care of widows and victims of the Godhra mayhem."
In 2015, VHP defended 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".
On 4 June 2018, the VHP was classified as a militant religious organization by the CIA in its World Factbook's entry for India, under the category of political pressure groups, along with Bajrang Dal. The VHP reportedly explored legal options to have this tag removed. The World Factbook removed the mentions of the VHP and the Bajrang Dal from the entry by 25 June 2018.
- "VHP at Glance". Vhp.org. 29 August 1964. Retrieved 4 April 2021.
- "Rabindra Narain Singh elected as VHP president". 13 December 2021.
- Jaffrelot, Christophe (2009). Hindu Nationalism: A Reader. Princeton University Press. p. 19. ISBN 978-1-4008-2803-6.
- Jaffrelot, Christophe (31 December 2008). "Hindu Nationalism and the (Not So Easy) Art of Being Outraged: The Ram Setu Controversy". South Asia Multidisciplinary Academic Journal (2). doi:10.4000/samaj.1372. ISSN 1960-6060.
- Thomas Blom Hansen (1999). The Saffron Wave: Democracy and Hindu Nationalism in Modern India. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0195645743.
- "VHP's social service activities". The Hindu. 18 December 2011. Retrieved 24 August 2014.
- Jelen, Ted Gerard; Wilcox, Clyde (2002). Religion and Politics in Comparative Perspective: The One, The Few, and The Many. Cambridge University Press. p. 253. ISBN 978-0-521-65031-1.
- DP Bhattacharya, ET Bureau (4 August 2014). "Communal skirmishes rising after Narendra Modi's departure from Gujarat - Economic Times". Articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com. Retrieved 14 August 2014.
- "Timeline of events, including formation of VHP". RSS. Retrieved 1 April 2021.
- Katju 2013, p. 5.
- Kurien, Prema (2001). "Religion, ethnicity and politics: Hindu and Muslim Indian immigrants in the United States". Ethnic and Racial Studies. 24 (2): 268. doi:10.1080/01419870020023445. S2CID 32217209.
- Katju, Manjari (1998). "The Early Vishva Hindu Parishad: 1964 to 1983". Social Scientist. 26 (5/6): 34–60. doi:10.2307/3517547. JSTOR 3517547.
- "Inception of VHP". vhp.org. Retrieved 24 August 2014.
- Katju 2013.
- J. Gordon Melton; Martin Baumann (21 September 2010). Religions of the World: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Beliefs and Practices, 2nd Edition [6 volumes]: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Beliefs and Practices. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 9781598842043.
- "New Delhi left grasping for answers to violence". The National. 13 October 2008.
- Long, Jeffery D. (2011). Historical dictionary of Hinduism (New ed.). Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press. p. 319. ISBN 978-0-8108-6764-2.
- Smith 2003, p. 189.
- "Welcome to Organiser". Organiser.org. Retrieved 14 August 2014.
- "विदेश में हिन्दू – Hindus abroad – Vhp". Retrieved 7 April 2020.
- Parvathy, A.A. (2003). Lost Years of the RSS. Deep and Deep Publications. p. 127. ISBN 9788176294508.
- Faith Under Fire. Anamika Pub & Distributors. 2008. p. 370. ISBN 9788174953209.
- Basu, Amrita (2015). Violent Conjunctures in Democratic India. Cambridge University Press. p. 47. ISBN 9781107089631.
- Rana, Yudhvir (31 March 2005). "VHP against conversions in Punjab". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 11 August 2011.
- Praveen Kumar Chaudhary (2011). Communal Crimes and National Integration: A Socio-legal Study. Readworthy. p. 100. ISBN 9789350180402.
- Siddique, Iram (12 March 2021). "Identifying missionaries who carry out illegal religious conversions: VHP".
- "Bahu lao, beti bachao: Bajrang Dal launches its own version of 'love jihad'". 29 December 2014. Archived from the original on 1 January 2015. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
- "Ramnath Goenka Award for Excellence in Journalism: Winners all". The Indian Express. 26 June 2018. Retrieved 11 December 2021.
- Atul Kohli; Prerna Singh (2013). Routledge Handbook of Indian Politics. Routledge. ISBN 9781135122744.
- Arvind Sharma; Madhu Khanna (2013). Asian Perspectives on the World's Religions after September 11. ABC-CLIO. p. 207. ISBN 9780313378973.
- Chatterji, Angana P. (1 March 2009). Violent gods: Hindu nationalism in India's present : narratives from Orissa. Three Essays Collective.
- "Ram Setu: VHP rail and road blockade in Orissa on Sept 12". Zee News. 8 September 2008.
- Women 'Ram Bhakt' hog limelight,The Tribune
- Kohli, Atul (2000). The Success of India's Democracy. Cambridge University Press. p. 174. ISBN 978-0-521-80144-7.
- "Historic world Hindu conference at Prayag". News Today. March 2007. Archived from the original on 18 March 2009.
- "Community Directory". Multicultural.vic.gov.au. 23 March 2014. Retrieved 24 August 2014.
- "Hindu heritage inspires multiculturalism in Holroyd | Holroyd City Council". Holroyd.nsw.gov.au. 13 February 2014. Retrieved 24 August 2014.
- Kaur, Raminder (2003). Performative Politics And The Cultures Of Hinduism: Public Uses of Religion in Western India. London: Permanent Black.
- "VHPA History and Milestones". vhp-america.org. 15 May 2020. Retrieved 5 April 2021.
- Roof, Wade Clark (2000). Contemporary American Religion. Macmillan. p. 305.
- Rajagopal, Arvind (2001). Politics After Television: Religious Nationalism and the Reshaping of the Indian Public. Cambridge University Press. p. 257.
- 2003 Yearbook, the Centre for the Study of Global Governance, London School of Economics
- Kamdar, Mira (1 September 2002). "The Struggle for India's Soul". World Policy Journal. 19 (3): 11–27. doi:10.1215/07402775-2002-4006.
- Diana Eck (February 2000). Raymond Brady Williams, Harold G. Coward and John Russell Hinnells (ed.). Negotiating Hindu Identities in America. The South Asian Religious Diaspora in Britain, Canada, and the United States. SUNY Press. p. 234.
- Katju, Manjari (2003). Vishva Hindu Parishad and Indian Politics. Orient Blackswan. pp. 8, 113. ISBN 9788125024767.
- Katju, Manjari (2003). Vishva Hindu Parishad and Indian Politics. Orient Blackswan. pp. 45, 67. ISBN 9788125024767.
- Russell, Malcolm (1 August 2012). Middle East and South Asia 2012. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 231. ISBN 9781610488891.
- "Ayodhya files, Vol. 7" (PDF). Allahabad High Court. Retrieved 24 August 2014.
- Vinod Mishra (December 1992). "On Communalism". Marxists.org. Retrieved 24 August 2014.
- "We Have No Orders to Save You: State Participation and Complicity in Communal Violence in Gujarat". www.hrw.org. Human Rights Watch. 1 April 2002. Retrieved 24 May 2017.
- "Eves as Ram bhakts, the Gujarat model". Times of India. 11 April 2002.
- Tiwary, Deeptiman (17 March 2015). "VHP defends attack on Haryana church, calls 1857 'communal war'". Times of India. Retrieved 6 April 2021.
- "Political Pressure Groups and Leaders". www.cia.gov. 8 June 2018. Archived from the original on 8 June 2018.
- Dua, Rohan (15 June 2018). "VHP a militant religious outfit, RSS nationalist: CIA factbook". The Times of India.
- "CIA calls VHP, Bajrang Dal 'religious militant organisations'". The Tribune. 15 June 2018.
- "CIA classifies VHP, Bajrang Dal as millitant religious outfits". India Today. Ist. 14 June 2018. Retrieved 13 October 2019.
- Reddy, Akhil (24 February 2021). "Older version of CIA's World Factbook listed Bajrang Dal and VHP as 'militant religious organisation'". Factly. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
- Clarke, Peter (2004). Encyclopedia of New Religious Movements. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-203-48433-3.
- Jaffrelot, Christophe (2011). Religion, Caste, and Politics in India. C Hurst & Co. ISBN 978-1849041386.
- Juergensmeyer, Mark (1993). The New Cold War? Religious Nationalism Confronts the Secular State. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-08651-7.
- Katju, Manjari (2013). Vishva Hindu Parishad and Indian Politics. Orient Blackswan. ISBN 978-81-250-2476-7.
- Kumar, Praveen (2011). Communal Crimes and National Integration: A Socio-Legal Study. Readworthy Publications. ISBN 978-93-5018-040-2.
- Smith, David James (2003). Hinduism and Modernity. Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 978-0-631-20862-4.