Sangh Invitees to Dharma Conference 2003
1. Murli Manohar Joshi: President of the BJP in 1990 and a central minister in BJP government and senior BJP leader. BJP website states: “Great RSS leaders like Guruji Golwalker, Deendayal Upadhyaya and Prof. Rajendra Singh played a major role in shaping the young Murli Manohar's political thinking” (http://www.bjp.org/leader.htm).
2. Subash Kak: Special guest invitee for the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh organized retreat in 2004 (http://www.hssus.org/content/view/36/2/). IN line with the desire of Hindutva ideology to “discover” that all things good originated in India, Kak’s book (co-authored with David Frawley – see below) In Search of the Cradle of Civilization startlingly claims that vedic hymns contained advanced physics formulae and this was discovered through Vedic introspection rather than what modern science requires – empirical observation and inference.
3. Koenrad Elst: A long-time Sangh ideologue, he finds the RSS position on Islam “too soft,” wants Muslims to “renounce the Quran,” has a hard time believing that Muslim women were raped in Gujarat in 2002 (). His statements on L.K.Advani’s rath yatra of 1990 being “an island of orderliness” was used by Advani to defend himself against the Liberhan Commission in 2001 which charged Advani of inciting riots (From Frontline, v 18, issue 9, April 28 2001 http://www.hinduonnet.com/fline/fl1809/18091000.htm)
4. David Frawley. A long-time Sangh ideologue, he spoke about the “need to put forth the Hindutva concept before the World forcefully and in an assertive manner by Hindu Scholars” (http://www.hvk.org/Publications/global.html) in a speech delivered in 1996. Hindu Vivek Kendra which hosts this page has a byline – A Resource Center for the Promotion of Hindutva).
5. B K Modi: Elected in 1998 as working president (external) of the VHP or the VHP Overseas (VHPO) specifically to represent the VHP in USA (http://www.ofbjp.org/news/0798/0046.html).
6. Dr. Mahesh Mehta is the Founder of VHP of America. He served as General Secretary of the National Organization from 1972-1989, and as President from 1990-1994. Dr. Mehta organized the Global Vision 2000 program in Washington, DC in 1993 to commemorate the centenary of Swami Vivekananda's Chicago Address. Over 12,000 people from all walks of life and from 60 countries participated in this event. Dr. Mehta has traveled in many countries to promote the objectives of Parishad work. (Already in chp.2) Also, was National Coordinator of OFBJP (http://www.bjpfriends.org/bjp-html/modules.php?name=News&new_topic=18)
7. D. P. Sinha: Regular contributor to the RSS mouthpiece Organizer, he heads the organization Sanskar Bharti which is the cultural wing of the RSS (http://www.indianexpress.com/res/web/pIe/ie/daily/19980904/24750334.html). He was at the forefront of the call to ban and prevent the shooting of the noted film Water in Uttar Pradesh (http://www.hvk.org/articles/0200/3.html)
8. Manohar Shinde: a swayamsevak honored by the HSS (http://www.hssus.org/gallery/v/WCOAST/SSV-04-west-coast/aby.jpg.html) and serves as vice-president of the HSS. In an article in the Organizer he was mentioned as “accepted that Hindutva is faced with a serious challenge in the aftermath of the defeat of the BJP in the recent Lok Sabha elections” (http://www.hvk.org/articles/1004/21.html).
9. Ved Nanda: Sanghachalak (Guide and Advisor) and President of Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (http://www.hssus.org/content/view/88/2 and http://www.hssus.org/content/view/130/2).
10. Dr. Yashwant Pathak: Sah Sanyojak, Vishwa Vibhag of Sewa International (http://www.sewainternational.org/stvg.html). He is also associated with International Center for Cultural Studies http://www.iccsus.org/ which claims that M.S. Golwalkar, the founder of the RSS “inspired a multitude of organizations in India and around the world to work for peace and upliftment of mankind.”
11. Stephen Knapp: A regular contributor to the RSS mouthpiece Organizer, Knapp is a Vedic scholar who has held positions in American universities. Holds position very dear to Hindutva such as the claim that the Taj Mahal was a Vedic temple (http://www.stephen-knapp.com/was_the_taj_mahal_a_vedic_temple.htm). He is President and treasurer of the Vedic Friends Association on whose list of affiliates are the usual suspects – David Frawley, Subhash Kak, Yvette Roser and Ramesh Rao (http://www.vedicfriends.org/affiliate_writers.htm).
12. Yvette Rosser: Also goes by Ram Rani. Her writings on the lack of Hindutva-friendly views within the American and Indian academies (especially in religious studies, social sciences) are useful to the Sangh. The VHP-A set aside some of its funds to help cover her medical expenses after an automobile accident (http://www.vhp-america.org/dynamic/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=32).
13. Rama Jois: an old-timer RSS activist who took part in the Sangh Shiksha Varga (OTC), a training camp for RSS cadres back in 1942 (http://www.organiser.org/dynamic/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=143&page=34) and has continued to be a leading legal advocate and defender of the Sangh and Hindutva in India. In one of his most famous essays, Jois argues that Hedgewar, the founder of the RSS was a “genius” and then exhorts people to join the RSS (http://www.organiser.org/dynamic/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=96&page=21).
14. N.V.Raghuram: International coordinator of SVYASA in Bangalore is a prominent speaker for Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh's birth centenary celebrations of M.S. Golwalkar (the second chief of sangh), 'Speaker on Campus' series (http://www.hssus.org/content/view/174/1/ and http://www.hinduyuva.org/speakeroncampus). He is the main intellectual source for most Sangh activities that present yoga to a non-specialist audience.
15. Jatinder Kumar: One of IDRF’s founders, he is also an office bearer of FISI which is the public relations arm of the HSS and proudly offers glowing tributes to Narendra Modi whose government oversaw the pogrom against Muslims in Gujarat, 2002 (http://www.fisiusa.org). See Jitender’s statement about how the veteran RSS leader, Thengadi helped him set up FISI in the USA (http://www.organiser.org/dynamic/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=48&page=15).
16. Balwant Apte: He is a veteran RSS leader and was nominated to the Rajya Sabha on a BJP ticket, and the Vice-president of the BJP in 2002. Headed the panel in 2002 for the BJP to select “ideologically committed” workers from the RSS to contest elections and work for the BJP (http://www.tribuneindia.com/2003/20030520/nation.htm).
17. Dattathreya Hosabale: currently listed on the RSS site as one of two national “bauddhik pramukh” (intellectual leader) of the RSS (http://www.rss.org/New_RSS/Organisation/KARYAKARINI.jsp). In the past he has been a national organizing secretary of the RSS student union, Akhil Bharatiya Vidhyarti Parishad (ABVP) until 2003 when he took over his current position in charge of “intellectual training” of new recruits to the RSS ideology (http://www.indianexpress.com/res/web/pIe/full_story.php?content_id=20250).
18. Seshadri Chari: He joined the RSS at the “age of three” according to an interview he gave with Rediff and went on to have an illustrious career within the Sangh parivar – being the general Secretary of the BJP in the 1990s and as editor of the RSS mouthpiece, Organizer since the late 1990s into the present (http://www.rediff.com/news/2001/jul/07inter.htm).
19. Tarun Vijay: He is the current editor of Panchjanya, the Hindi weekly published by the RSS. Played a key role in the “doctoring of school textbooks” to project a Hindutva ideology during the BJP regime in 1998-2002 (http://www.hinduonnet.com/fline/fl1523/15230140.htm).
20. S. Gurumurthy:* All-India convener of the Swadeshi Jagran Manch (http://web.archive.org/web/20041204173100/http://www.swadeshi.org/dynamic/modules.php?
name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=4) (archive) which was founded in 1991 in Nagpur by the leaders of the Sangh including Thengdi (the veteran RSS trade unionist) and the ABVP – the student wing of the RSS.
21. Francois Gautier: A darling of the Sangh parivar, this conservative French journalist (he writes for Le Figaro) has made some of the boldest statements which defend Hindutva and Hinduism’s most regressive and oppressive institutions. For example, he argues that the main (if not the only) reason why Dalits and Adivasis are against “mainstream Hindu society” is because there has been a “vilification of the caste system” by the British (http://in.rediff.com/news/2005/oct/18franc.htm).
22. Swami Tadatmananda: A disciple of Swami Dayananda Saraswati (who is highly revered among the Sangh, not the least for his clear veneration of the Guruji of the Sangh Parivar, M.S.Golwalkar – see http://www.hssus.org/HinduSangamNJ/), Swami Tadatmananda serves as steering group member (alongside Ved Chaudhry and Ved Nanda and Kanchan Banerjee) for the Hindu Collective Inititative (HCI, http://hcina.org/6.html) which tied the Hindutva efforts to rewrite textbooks in India with the efforts to do the same in the USA. Here he is seen in a photograph from a VHPA website http://www.vhp-america.org/dynamic/modules.php?name=News&file=print&sid=4
Other Invitees to Dharma conference who have been equivocal in their espousal of Sangh ideology
1. Nikhileshwari Devi is a teacher of the International Society of Divine Love (ISDL) and Barsana Dham Ashram.
2. Nitin Limaye, a prominent disciple of Sri Sri Ravishankar
3. Nivedita Joshi – Daughter of M.M.Joshi (see above).
4. Jayendra Saraswati, the Shankaracharya of Kamakoti
Speakers/Invitees from Freedom Festival 99 (who don’t figure in the Dharma Conference)
1. Anjali Pandya: VHP-A International Coordinator
2. Gaurang Vaishnav: General Secretary, VHP-A
3. Arun Shourie: Former Minister for Disinvestment under BJP-led government, author and journalist well known supporter of the Sangh Parivar.
4. Bhishma Agnihotri: Appointed by the BJP-led government as “Ambassador at large” to promote the Sangh Parivar’s profile within the U.S. political establishment.