Hindutva, often referred to as Hindu nationalism, is an extremist ideology that aims to dismantle secularism in India and transform the country into an official Hindu majoritarian state or “Hindu Rashtra.”

In a Hindu Rashtra, India’s 200 million Muslims and 30 million Christians would be treated as second-class citizens or even stripped of their citizenship.

With the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on course for a third consecutive term, the threat of Hindutva forces achieving their goal of making India a Hindu Rashtra is real.

Some respected voices, including former Amnesty International India executive director Aakar Patel, argue that India has already become a majoritarian Hindu Rashtra.

The Difference Between Hindutva and Hinduism

At the outset, it’s important to make three points clear.


One, Hindutva is not the same thing as Hinduism. Hindutva is a political ideology, while Hinduism is popularly understood today to be a religion.

Two, both Hindutva and Hinduism are modern constructs. “Hinduism” is the term that’s been used in the modern era to bracket various ancient Indian religious traditions as a single religion. In doing so, it looks at Indian religious traditions through a Western lens.  Hindutva too is a modern invention — a political ideology.

Three, most Hindus do not follow the Hindutva ideology, though Hindutva’s bigoted principles have become mainstream in India today.

So what do Hindutva and Hinduism have in common? Hindutva borrows symbols and terms from the religious traditions that we call today Hinduism. And it lumps all those who follow the Hindu religious traditions into a political community.

The literal meaning of the word Hindutva is “Hinduness.” The term was coined by the early 20th-century ideologue V.D. Savarkar. The Hindutva ideology in Savarkar’s era, as it is today, is a form of identitarianism that marries religious nationalism with notions of territorial belonging and citizenship.

Who Is an Indian? And Who Is a Hindu?

Proponents of Hindutva equate Indianness with Hinduness. They say that Hindus — or “true” Indians — are the people who both belong to India (which they refer to as “Bharat” or “Hindustan”) and regard it as their spiritual motherland.

This, of course, automatically excludes Indian Christians and Muslims as their holy lands are in the Middle East. Hindutva extremists also believe that identifying and behaving as a Hindu in an outward fashion should be required for full citizenship in India.

Hindutva groups use a range of tactics to forcibly assimilate religious minorities into an outward Hinduness. This includes violence. For example, in recent years, India has witnessed Hindutva extremists kill Muslims for failing to hail a Hindu deity with the chant “Jai Shri Ram.”

The law too may one day be a vehicle for compelling India’s Christians and Muslims to embrace Hindu identity and rituals. Already, bans in many Indian states on the slaughter of cows and the sale and consumption of beef compel non-Hindus to abide by Hindu dietary practices.

But some Hindutva ideologues would like to go much further. The Harvard-educated politician Subramanian Swamy, for example, has said that Muslims in India should be denied voting rights if they do not recognize their supposed Hindu ancestry.

Why Hindutva Matters: Modi and the Future of India

Hindutva is radically reshaping Indian society and politics. And as the ideology spreads, its proponents are killing large numbers of innocent people in the process.

Violence is at the core of Hindutva politics. Since the rise of the BJP and its parent group, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), in 2014, violence against religious minorities has surged in India.

Foreign observers of India tend to view it as a forward-looking country with great promise. They see India as a tech-driven emerging market and great power.

But India today is very much a country obsessed with the past, fixated on stripping the influence of centuries of Muslim rule and Hindu-Muslim cultural diffusion on the country’s culture and society. Hate speech and the demonization of Muslims are common in India’s political discourse, especially on television. And Muslims are being erased from the public sphere, with their numbers in the armed forces, bureaucracy, and parliament shrinking and halal-certified products banned in its largest state.

Mass religious violence in the form of riots and pogroms is not only a feature of modern India but also integral to the BJP’s election strategy. Hindu-Muslim violence boosts the party’s election performance and is key to the broader Hindutva network’s campaign to re-engineer Indian society by flattening all identities into two categories: Hindu and non-Hindu.

The potential consequences of the spread of the Hindutva ideology in India are immense, particularly for its religious minorities. It could tear at the very fabric of the country, producing a generation of tumult that will irreparably harm India.

India’s radical trajectory was foreseeable.

In 2003, the Indian writer Khushwant Singh wrote:

“The fascist agenda of Hindu fanatics is unlike anything we have experienced in our modern history.”


He warned that “India is going to the dogs” and “unless a miracle saves us, the country will break up.”

Singh penned those words in the wake of the anti-Muslim pogroms in Gujarat, enabled by the state’s chief minister, Narendra Modi. As Singh noted, Modi returned to power in a “landslide victory” after the violence, becoming the face of muscular Hindu nationalism. The late writer warned that Modi’s reelection as chief minister of Gujarat “will spell disaster for our country.” More than a decade later, Modi became prime minister of India. And he’s now completing his second term.

Modi today epitomizes Hindu nationalism in a way no single leader has before him. He’s fused the Hindutva network’s grassroots army with his own strongman image. And, through his political savvy, he’s gained the acquiescence of India’s business community and media. Swiftly, Modi has mainstreamed Hindu nationalism with far greater success than his predecessors could have ever imagined.

But the ideology of Hindutva predates Modi’s hold on power by almost a century. And its roots go back even further.

The History of Hindutva: Reactionary Origins

Hindutva is an ideology that took form in the early 20th century and was inspired by European fascism. But its origins go back even earlier to the 19th-century Hindu revivalist movement that emerged in response to the intellectual and political challenge posed by British colonial rule.

Indeed, it’s British imperialism that catalyzed the emergence of the two prerequisites for Hindu nationalism: one, the notion of a single organized religion with the name of Hinduism; and two, the very identity of being a Hindu.

‘Hindus’ Respond to British Imperialism

The British colonial presence in India began in a commercial form with the spread of the East India Company. Founded in 1600, the British East India Company acquired a monopoly on England’s trade with coastal Asia.

But what began as a commercial enterprise took on military and political forms over the course of more than a century as the power of the Mughal Empire and its regional successor states declined. The East India Company’s tiny trading posts, known as “factories,” grew into vast semi-sovereign spaces, referred to as “presidencies,” with their own governing systems.

With the spread of the East India Company came people, institutions, and systems of ideas challenging the status quo for the native peoples of India. In the early 19th century, well before England assumed direct administration of India, the British began to take on a more transformative role, with some among them engaging in efforts to “reform” local societies and even spread Christianity.

The spirit of positivism and modern science that the British brought posed intellectual challenges to the Hindu and Muslim intelligentsia, who were put on the defensive and displaced by the new regime. Both communities reacted in a variety of ways, including through apologetics, reformism, and revivalism.

The Birth of ‘Hinduism’

Among the pioneers of Hindu reformism was Ram Mohan Roy, a madrasa-educated Bengali Brahmin intellectual fluent in English, Persian, and Sanskrit. Roy was by no means a Hindutva extremist. Born in 1772, he predated the phenomenon of Hindutva by a century.

“…the reality [of pre-Islamic India] perhaps lay in looking at it as a cluster of distinctive sects and cults, observing common civilizational symbols but with belief and ritual ranging from atheism to animism and a variety of religious organizations identifying themselves by location, language, and caste.”

Historian Romila Thapar on pre-modern “Hinduism.”

Indeed, today’s Hindutva extremists would be aghast by Roy’s intellectual production as it reflects a fusion of religious traditions. Given his eclectic mix of inspirations, it may be inaccurate to even describe Roy as a Hindu. His first work was a Persian-language manuscript titled Tuhfat al-Muwahhidin or The Monotheists’ Gift, published in 1803.

Historian Amiya Sen notes that in addition to early colonial British observers of India, Roy “was perhaps among the first to confer upon a loose collective of religious ideas and practices the label of ‘Hinduism.'” Roy’s reformist revivalism and conceiving the idea of a single religion known as “Hinduism,” and by extension, a religious community known as “Hindus,” are what connect him to the Hindutva movement.

The word “Hindu” actually originates from the Perso-Arabic world and was used to describe the native inhabitants of what we now know as India. Until the modern era, the people we regard as Hindus, on the whole, did not identify themselves as Hindus. They had no shared sense of community. As Audrey Truschke, a historian at Rutgers University, notes in our podcast, pre-modern Hindus identified by caste and the deity or avatar they were devoted to.

The traditions and texts associated with what is called Hinduism today are ancient. They go back centuries and even millennia. The oldest of the Vedic Sanskrit texts, the Rig Veda, dates back to around 1200 BCE. But Hinduism is not a religion in the Western sense of the term.

In a lecture delivered in 1988, India’s most-esteemed living historian, Romila Thapar, contended that pre-modern Hinduism was a “conglomeration of sects” rather than a “uniform, monolithic religion.”

Hindu Mass Organizations Emerge

Ram Mohan Roy founded his own monotheistic sect, the Brahmo Samaj, which split from the Hindu fold after his death. But he helped initiate a process of Hindu identity formation and search for a “pure” iteration of the Hindu tradition, with an emphasis on the early Vedic-era religious texts.

In 1875, the Hindu guru Swami Dayananda Saraswati founded the Arya Samaj, a group aimed at reviving the Hindu tradition by going back to its original texts, much like Roy’s Brahmo Samaj.

A postage stamp issued in honor of Arya Samaj founder Swami Dayananda Saraswati by the Government of India in 1962.

Dayananda was, at least initially, influenced by the Brahmo Samaj, according to scholar A.C. Niemeijer. Like Roy, Dayananda opposed idol worship. But Dayananda also believed in Vedic exceptionalism.

As scholar Christophe Jaffrelot notes in his book Hindu Nationalism, Dayananda argued that there was a “cultural and social greatness” to the Vedic era that surpassed the achievements of the West. He likened the Vedic era to a golden age, led by a chosen people — the Aryas — who communicated in a “perfect” language, Sanskrit.

Dayananda’s Arya Samaj also became an active proselytizing group, which made it different from Roy’s Brahmo Samaj and other groups in the Hindu tradition. And it invented a process of converting to Hinduism known as “shuddi” or purification.

Dayananda was not only a revivalist and nostalgist but also a polemicist. He engaged in apologetics on behalf of the Vedic tradition. And he was a staunch critic of other faiths, including the Abrahamic religions. He also spoke of self-rule or “swaraj” for the colonized Indians.

Dayananda died in 1883, but his Arya Samaj took on a more active role with the creation of the Hindu Sabha and Hindu Mahasabha, two Hindu political outfits that aimed to protect the political interests of Hindus, first as a front within the main Indian National Congress party and then, beginning in the 1930s, as a separate political party.

Gandhi and the Rise of Hindu Nationalism

Like the Arya Samaj, the Hindu Mahasabha, which was founded in 1915, also worked to convert Muslims to Hinduism. But as Jaffrelot notes, the Hindu Mahasabha struggled to dominate Hindu hearts and minds due to the rise of “Mahatma” Mohandas K. Gandhi, whose own politics was “based on a universalist and reformist Hinduism.”

In 1921, Gandhi, a London-educated barrister, adopted an outward dress similar to that of a sanyasi, a Hindu ascetic who had renounced worldly life. Gandhi’s dress was actually far more simple than that of a typical Hindu sanyasi and it was a testament to the uniqueness of Gandhianism, which fused political ideology and theology as well as Western philosophy and Hindu religious traditions.

Gandhi first read the Bhagavad Gita in its English translation. And his interpretation of the Hindu tradition was quite “freewheeling.” But Gandhi evolved into “political sanyasi” — a term he used to describe himself. The Indian freedom fighter powerfully deployed Hindu symbolism in his appearance and speech to transform the elite-dominated Indian National Congress into a mass movement that could appeal to ordinary Hindus. Gandhi’s soft Hinduization of Congress left less space for Hindutva groups to operate, but it also alienated Muslims.

In the 1920s, as Gandhiism took form, so did the Hindutva ideology. More broadly, this was a transformative period in India and the world.

The end of the First World War brought about a new set of winners and losers in the world order. Many multiethnic and multinational empires, such as the Ottoman Empire, collapsed and were replaced by states made for singular “nations.”

As the concept of nationalism spread, so too did ideologies like communism and fascism and their distinctive cadre-based organizations. In India, these phenomena took hold as demands for “home rule” grew.

Veer Savarkar: The Father of Hindutva

Born in 1883 near Mumbai, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, also known as Veer or VD, came of age in a period and milieu in which being “Hindu” and “Indian” were emerging as coherent social and political identities.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi pays tribute to the Hindutva extremist ideologue Veer Savarkar. Savarkar justified the rape of Muslim women as a political tool. (Image Credit: Government of India)

A decade before Savarkar’s birth, the British completed their first census in India in 1872, utilizing for the first time the categories of “Hindoo” (Hindu) and “Mahomedan” (Muslim). Then, in 1885, the Indian National Congress was founded in Mumbai. And the broader Maharashtra region to which Savarkar belonged was a crucible of the emerging Hindu nationalism.

These forces would play a defining role in shaping Savarkar at an early age. Born into a Brahmin family, as a young boy, Savarkar took part in an attack on a mosque amid communal violence between Hindus and Muslims. As a young adult, he gravitated toward the militant section of the Indian nationalist movement. Soon after returning from studies in London, he was sentenced to prison by the British for sedition, though he was released after his clemency petition was approved.

Savarkar was a self-avowed atheist. But he instrumentalized Hindu mythologies as historical truths. They served as the basis for the Hindu nationalist ideology that he would play a pivotal role in shaping.

In a 1923 pamphlet, Savarkar gave the ideology its name: Hindutva.

The cover of the fifth edition of V.D. Savarkar’s “Hindutva: Who is a Hindu?”

Savarkar argued that Hindus are one “nation” because of their “common blood.” Hindus, he wrote, “are one because we are a nation, a race, and own a common Sanskriti civilization.” Savarkar used ancient Hindu texts to define the geographical boundaries of India. And he took inspiration from a battle between the Afghan Durrani Empire and the Marathi Confederacy, recasting it as one between religious communities. He wrote of the 1761 Battle of Panipat: “the Hindus lost the battle, but won the war.”

Savarkar’s Hatred of Abrahamic Faiths

There is an element of inclusivity to Savarkar’s definition of who is a Hindu. He includes Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs within the Hindu fold. But his intended effect is to single out Christians and Muslims.

“Thirty crores (thirty million) of [Hindu] people, with India for their basis of operation, for their Fatherland and for their Holyland with such a history behind them, bound together by ties of a common blood and common culture can dictate their terms to the whole world. A day will come when mankind will have to face the force.”

Hindutva ideologue V.D. Savarkar

Savarkar recognized the diversity within the tradition that has come to be regarded as Hinduism. He wrote that “Hinduism is a word that properly speaking should be applied to all the religious beliefs that the different communities of Hindu people hold.”

But Christians and Muslims, Savarkar argued, “cannot be recognized as Hindus” because their “holy land is far off in Arabia or Palestine.” He claimed: “Their love is divided.” The scholar Jaffrelot argues that Savarkar saw the Muslims of India as “fifth-columnists whose allegiance was to Mecca and Istanbul.”

Savarkar’s greatest contribution to the Hindutva ideology, other than giving it its name, is defining in clear terms who is a Hindu or true Indian. He listed four main requirements: seeing India as a fatherland and a holy land; sharing a common Sanskrit-based culture; and belonging to a common “indigenous” race (jati) by blood.

A postage stamp issued in honor of the Hindutva ideologue V.D. Savarkar by the Government of India in 1970.

The great, violent changes taking place in India today bear Savarkar’s fingerprints and his singular disdain for Muslims.

In the 1930s, Savarkar called for Indian Muslims to be treated in the same way as Jews were in Nazi Germany. Today, India is imposing laws to exclude Muslims from citizenship and public life.

Shortly before his death in 1966, Savarkar — in his book Six Glorious Epochs of Indian History — inferred that the systematic rape of Muslim women would have served as a deterrent to the sexual assault of Hindu women. Rape has been weaponized by Hindutva extremist networks in India and by the Indian Army in Muslim-majority Kashmir.

Savarkar and Hindutva Terror

An organization Savarkar founded, the Abhinav Bharat, was relaunched by a serving Indian Army officer Lt. Col. Prasad Purohit in 2006 as a militant network that would kill over 100 Indian and Pakistani Muslims in a series of terror attacks, including the 2007 bombing of the Pakistan-bound Samjhauta Express train. One member of the Abhinav Bharat terror network, Pragya Thakur, was elected as a parliamentarian on a BJP ticket in 2019 while out on bail on terrorism charges.

The RSS Ideology

“To understand India,” write Walter Andersen and Shridhar Damle in Messengers of Hindu Nationalism, “requires an understanding of the RSS.”

The RSS — short for the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh — was founded in 1925 by political activist Keshav Baliram Hedgewar. Like Savarkar, the Hedgewar was a Marathi Brahmin. And while Savarkar was instrumental in shaping the Hindutva ideology, it is Hedgewar’s RSS that would develop a vast grassroots network with millions of members today.

A portrait of the founder of the RSS organization Hedgewar. (Image Credit: Sudhirn/Wikimedia Commons)

Under Hedgewar, the RSS shied away from overt politics. It focused mainly on creating a Hindu nationalist vanguard through individual and organizational development. The RSS, however, did take part in mass violence.

In the fall of 1947, as the Hindu ruler of the Muslim-majority princely state of Jammu and Kashmir sought to cling to power and resist popular demands to join Pakistan, the RSS joined the forces of Maharaja Hari Singh in an ethnic cleansing campaign targeting Jammu’s Muslim population.

It was under the leadership of Hedgewar’s successor, M.S. Golwalkar, that the RSS grew into a vast grassroots cadre organization aiming to influence all aspects of Indian society.

The two core elements of the RSS’s operations are its local shakhas (branches) and pracharaks (full-time workers). The group also has a paramilitary element. According to Andersen and Damle, the RSS had 6,000 pracharaks in 2017, and 1.5 to 2 million people took part in its 57,000 shakhas held across India.

The RSS’s direct involvement in politics came after Indian independence. In 1948, the group was banned after one of its members, Nathuram Godse, assassinated Mahatma Gandhi. Then, in 1951, the RSS teamed up with the Hindu Mahasabha to form the Bharatiya Jana Sangh political party — the precursor to the BJP.

The goal of the RSS, according to Andersen and Damle, “is a harmonious society that is assimilationist, but also rejects both special cultural privileges for minorities and the adoption of Western cultural values.” The RSS says that it supports the free practice of any religion, but with one major caveat, as Andersen and Damle note: worship must be conducted “within the framework of cultural Hinduism and with respect for national traditions.”

That caveat renders the RSS’s proclamations of being in favor of “real” secularism and freedom of religion to be hollow. In the RSS’s Hindu Rashtra, monotheists like Christians and Muslims would be compelled to revere deities they view as false.

A Hindu Rashtra inspired by the RSS ideology would be similar in some ways to Communist China today under Xi Jinping, with an official national ideology superseding religion and taking precedence if there is a contradiction between the two.

Just like China is imposing Han Chinese culture and communist atheism over Uyghur and other Turkic Muslims, an RSS-dominated India would impose a Hindi-speaking Hindu culture on the country’s Muslims as well as non-Hindi speakers in the south.

The three pillars of the RSS ideology are Hindu (identity), Hindi (language), and Hindutva (ideology).

Golwalkar’s Hindu Supremacism

Hindutva is a supremacist ideology. In his 1939 book We or Our Nationhood Defined, Golwalkar made clear that he expected non-Hindus to be “wholly subordinated” to Hindus. His words are chilling:

“The foreign races in Hindusthan must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but those of the glorification of the Hindu race and culture, i.e., of the Hindu nation and must lose their separate existence to merge in the Hindu race, or may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu Nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment – not even citizen’s rights. There is, at least should be, no other course for them to adopt. We are an old nation; let us deal, as old nations ought to and do deal, with the foreign races, who have chosen to live in our country.”

And so it is no surprise that Golwalkar spoke with admiration of anti-Semitic Nazi Germany. In 1939, as the Nazi campaign against the Jewish people gained momentum, Golwalkar wrote:

“To keep up the purity of the Race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic Races — the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for Races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindusthan to learn and profit by.”

In the same book, Golwalkar proclaimed India to be “the land of the Hindus” and claimed that this is proven by the “essential requirements of the scientific nation concept of the modern world.” That language is telling: Hindutva is a modern ideology that builds off of Western conceptions of a nation-state. Golwalkar used the theories of American and European political scientists as well as Hindu mythology to make his claim that Hindus are a nation.

With the rise of Narendra Modi, the image of Golwalkar has been rehabilitated. In 2008, Modi, while serving as chief minister of Gujarat, authored a book on the lives of sixteen historical figures he admired. One of those men was none other than Golwalkar. Modi praised Golwalkar as a man who gave up “his entire life for the saffron flag.”

In addition to being rabidly anti-Muslim and anti-Christian, Golwalkar and his successors in the RSS were also critical of Western ideologies and decentralized governance. They criticized democracy, capitalism, and Indian federalism, advocating instead for a strong center.

Golwalkar wrote: “The concept of Democracy as being ‘by the people’ and ‘of the people’, meaning that all are equal shares in the political administration, is, to a very large extent, only a myth in practice.”

Upadhyaya’s ‘Integral Humanism’

Golwalkar called on Indians to “shake ourselves free from the mental shackles of foreign ‘isms’ and foreign ways and fleeting fashions of modern life.” His successor, Deendayal Upadhyaya offered his own third-way alternative to both capitalism and communism. He wrote: “We want neither capitalism nor socialism. We aim at the progress and happiness of ‘Man,’ the Integral Man.”

It was under Upadhyaya’s leadership that the RSS ideology was fully consolidated. Upadhyaya developed a doctrine known as “Integral Humanism,” which also serves as the title for one of his books — a book that Andersen and Damle state is “considered by the RSS to be a central catechism of its ideology.”

Upadhyaya called for dharma rajya, a term that is quite difficult to translate. The word dharma means many things in the Hindu tradition, including religion, a way of life, the natural way, a cosmic order, and the path of righteousness. The multiplicity of meanings allows for great contradictions in Upadhyaya’s Integral Humanism.

Upadhyaya, on the one hand, said that his dharma rajya would not be a theocratic state, but it would also not be secular. He argued that Indian or Bharatiya culture differs from the Western worldview in that “it looks upon life as an integrated whole.” The Western world, Upadhyaya wrote, has a “tendency to think of life in sections and then attempt to put them together by patchwork,” resulting in confusion. What he offered was a conservative worldview that aims to uphold traditional values, avoid spiritual degradation, and shun materialism.

Upadhyaya’s Integral Humanism also includes a feature common to Indian political thought across the political spectrum: economic nationalism. He called for swadeshi or self-reliance in the economic realm. And that has translated into strong protectionism espoused in RSS economic policies, even to this day.

So, as Americans advocate stronger ties with India and assert that there are cultural and ideological affinities between the two countries, it’s important to note that the RSS — the organization that has the greatest influence on India’s ruling party today — is a fundamentally illiberal organization with strong anti-democratic, protectionist, and supremacist tendencies.

The RSS, BJP, and the Hindutva Machine

Today, the RSS, according to Andersen and Damle, has upwards of two million members, thirty-six full affiliate organizations, and a hundred more subsidiary groups. Together, these groups are known as the Sangh Parivar, or the “family of the Sangh” — short for the RSS. Chief among its affiliates: India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party or BJP. The BJP is the unrivaled face of Hindutva politics.

The spread of the RSS and the BJP’s strong electoral performance indicate that the Hindutva movement’s power in India and beyond is likely to only grow.

Mohan Bhagwat is the leader of the Hindutva extremist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) organization. (Image Credit: Vishal Dutta/Flickr)

The Sangh Parivar

(This is a partial list of the organizations part of the RSS-led Hindutva network known as the Sangh Parivar.)

Akhil Bharatiya Itihas Sankalan Yojana (ABISY)The ABISY is an association of historians aiming to rewrite Indian history according to a Hindu nationalist narrative.
Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP)The ABVP is the RSS’s university students group. Its branches are actively involved in violence on campuses, especially at liberal arts universities reviled by the Hindu right, such as Jawaharlal Nehru University or JNU.
Bajrang DalThe Bajrang Dal is the youth militant wing of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. It is arguably the most violent group directly associated with the Sangh Parivar.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)The BJP is the political face of the RSS. It is now the dominant political party at the national level in India.
Bharatiya Kisan SanghFarmers’ association
Bharatiya Mazdoor SanghLabor union
Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS)The HSS serves as the international wing of the RSS. It has branches throughout the West, including in the United States.
India FoundationThink tank
India Policy FoundationThink tank
Rashtra Sevika SamitiWomen’s organization
Vanavasi Kalyan AshramTribal outreach organization
Vidya BharatiPrimary and secondary education school network
Vishwa Samvad Kendra

Vivekananda International Foundation
Think tank

Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP)
The VHP depicts itself as a world council of Hindus. Based in India, the VHP operates worldwide, including in the United States. It serves as the religious and cultural arm of the RSS. The VHP was instrumental in the campaign to destroy the Babri Masjid in 1992 and the riots that followed.

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Arif Rafiq is the editor of Globely News. Rafiq has contributed commentary and analysis on global issues for publications such as Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, the New Republic, the New York Times, and POLITICO Magazine.

He has appeared on numerous broadcast outlets, including Al Jazeera English, the BBC World Service, CNN International, and National Public Radio.


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