Sita Ram Goel: First Hindu intellectual who dared to tell decolonised history of India

He was a genuinely apolitical scholar whose overarching concern was Sanatana Dharma and its civilisational integrity.

A century ago, a legend Sita Ram Goel was born. He was a pioneer and a legend. At a time, when the Congress secular rule was supreme, he was the first Hindu intellectual to dare say the truth.  His sheer hard work and intellect exposed the hollowness of the left at a time when it seemed invincible. He was a writer and a religious-political activist.

He is well-known for his prominent books like “How I became Hindu”, “The Calcutta Quran Petition” and “The Rishi of a resurgent India” to name a few. Sita Ram Goel was also known for his writing style, and most of his books comprised the class between Hinduism and Islam as the theme.

His family was penniless, despite his membership in the merchant Agarwal caste, and he found refuge in Vaishnavism, notably the devotional poetry of the local 18th-century Sant Garib Das. Growing up, he was influenced by the reformism of Arya Samaj and Mahatma Gandhi. As a student, he was a Gandhian activist. He earned an MA in History from Hindu College, Delhi University.

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Communism to anti-communism

In 1948, Goel was on the verge of joining the Communist Party, but after meeting Ram Swarup and reading communist classics, he swiftly became an outspoken anti-communist. Sita Ram Goel had strong Marxist leanings as an undergraduate and was on the verge of joining the Communist Party of India in 1948. On the other hand, the Communist Party was banned in Bengal on the day he planned to join it.

He read Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital, as well as Harold Laski’s “Communism,” and came to the conclusion that “while Marx advocated for a balanced societal structure, Sri Aurobindo held the key to a balanced human personality.” 

Later, books by Aldous Huxley, Victor Kravchenko, and Suzanne Labin (“Stalin’s Russia”) convinced him to abandon communism. In Kolkata, he set up the Society for the Defence of Freedom in Asia, which during the 1950s was the leading anti-communist think tank in the Third World. 

Hindu Society

He opened the very first one, Hindu Society under Siege, with an analysis that said it all: “Hindu society is the only significant society in the world today which presents a continuity of cultural existence since time immemorial. Most other societies have undergone a traumatic transformation due to the invasion and victory of latter-day ideologies — Christianity, Islam, and Communism. Hindu culture can meet the same frightful fate if there were no Hindu society to sustain it.

This great society is now besieged by the same dark and deadly forces. And its beneficiaries no more seem interested in its survival because they have fallen victim to hostile propaganda. They have developed towards it an attitude of utter indifference, if not downright contempt. Hindu society is in mortal danger as never before.”

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Or in his Defence of Hindu Society (1983): “Hindus have become devoid of self-confidence because they have ceased to take legitimate, well-informed and conscious pride in their spiritual, cultural and social heritage. The sworn enemies of Hindu society have taken advantage of this enervation of the Hindus.”

His works

The two-volume Hindu Temples: What Happened to Them? will remain Goel’s most well-known work. (1990-91).  In it, he presents a very imperfect but already substantial record of around 2,000 forcible temple displacements by mosques, none of which have been challenged since. The book’s most important portion, however, is a description and examination of the theological justification for this centuries-long (and continent-spanning; consider Istanbul’s Aya Sophia or Mecca’s Kaaba) record of iconoclasm. This was critical in understanding the Ayodhya argument.

From his book ‘How I Became Hindu’ by Sita Ram Goel – Chapter 9(a): Nightmare Of Nehruism

In this perspective, my first premise is that Sanatana Dharma which is known as Hindu Dharma at present is not only a religion but also a whole civilisation that has flourished in this country for ages untold, and which is struggling to come into its own again after a prolonged encounter with several sorts of predatory imperialism.

I do not concede to Islam and Christianity the right to maintain their missions in this country, or, for that matter, their seminaries, which train missionaries for waging war on the Hindus. I have no use for secularism, which treats Hindu Dharma as just another religion and puts it on par with Islam and Christianity. For me, this concept of Secularism is a gross perversion of the concept which arose in the modem West as a revolt against Christianity and which should mean, in the Bharatiya context, a revolt against Islam as well.

Scholar of Sanatana Civilisation

Indeed, Sita Ram Goel was a truly apolitical scholar whose overarching concern was Sanatana Dharma, its civilisational integrity, which is inextricably linked to its continuity, and its intricately sublime culture, which bestowed on the world unparalleled gifts of all-around genius in every conceivable sphere of human activity.

Sita Ram Goel truly deserves the distinction of being an eye-opener, almost literally, for millions of Hindus, and encouraging at least two generations to seek civilisational rediscovery, given the periods and terrible environment in which he toiled.

Despite the severe control exerted by the Nehruvian gatekeepers of public discourse, his work gradually gained attention, notably in the mid-to-late 1980s. His Voice of India honestly provided top academics like K.S. Lal, N.S. Rajaram, K.M. Talreja, Suhas Majumdar, Koenraad Elst, David Frawley, or Shrikant Talageri’s writings would never be published by a “mainstream” publisher.

Reviews of an anonymous reader raised in a Communist family who reads “How I Became a Hindu” by Sita Ram Goel

I just finished reading my first Sita Ram Goel book, the famous ‘How I Became A Hindu’ with its original chapters written in 1982 and the last chapter specifically on the “Nightmare of Nehruism” added by Goel in 1993. I am a 30-year-old Bengali from Kolkata born and raised in a “Communist” family and I mention this specifically to signal to the reader that almost everything I read in the book was a shock or surprise.

Author: Ssanjnna Gupta

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