The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has been in the news lately, again. Nothing unusual about that, considering it is the mother lode of inspiration for the ruling party’s policies in power. This time, though, it seems the RSS’ health wing, Arogya Bharati, has mounted a “customized baby” project called the ‘Garbh Vigyan Sanskar,’ which aims at making the perfect human, both “fair” and “tall” and also with a higher IQ.
The idea is neither new, nor shocking. In 1938, Madhavrao Sadashivrao Golwalkar, the RSS’ Sarsanghchalak or Supreme Leader, voiced his appreciation for Adolf Hitler, saying that his actions were appropriate to “keep up the purity of the race and its culture”.
Golwalkar noted that “Germany (had) shocked the world by purging the country of the Semitic races—the Jews.” Germany, he added, “has 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.” For Golwalkar, at least, India’s famed diversity was not such a good thing.
In recent years, from exhibiting fierce antagonism towards Muslims to intending to push the production of customised babies, the RSS has been busy. In fact, the “customised baby” project took inspiration from Germany. Project head at ‘Garbha Vigyan Sanskar’, Karishma Mohandas Narwani, said that Germany had “resurrected itself by having such signature children through Ayurvedic practices within two decades after World War II”. Presumably, India should have long ago followed suit.
The Super Race children in Nazi Germany – the blue-eyed, blonde-haired products of Himmler’s Lebensborn Program, were a stellar set of children, bred and trained to belong to the elite Aryan race. They would replace the impure: Jews, blacks and homosexuals. Nazi history is littered with stories of children being robbed from parents in Poland and Crimea, and sent to Lebensborn clinics where they would be ‘Germanised’. In occupied countries, like Norway, the Schutzstaffel (“Protection Squadron) officers, commonly known as the SS officers, belonging to Germany’s most powerful and feared military group – were encouraged to impregnate local women (said to have Viking lineage).
In all fairness, the RSS isn’t copycatting the Nazi process, although it’s drive seems to be equally intense. The ‘Sanskar’ intends on having “thousands of such babies by 2020”. That’s just three years from now.
Hypothetically, if the RSS did venture on an expedition to find Aryan specimens in India, it would have to travel North. George Whitaker Hayward (1839-1870), the 19th century explorer, was one of the first to describe a small-knit community residing in a small region on the Kashmir-Afghan border (Gilgit in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir). These were the Dards, allegedly the descendants of the Aryan race and considered to be the purest of the pure.
Today, the light-eyed Brokpa tribe inhabiting the small, remote village of Dah situated near the Indus River, is claimed by some to be the “lost tribes” of the Dardic Aryans.
It seems that in the 1960s, some German women traveled to India to be impregnated by the coveted Aryan ‘seed’. While there aren’t many documents to corroborate this, the idea finds mention in Major H P S Ahluwalia’s book (the first Indian to have mounted Everest), Hermit Kingdom: Ladakh (Vikas, 1980), where he claims to have met a few young women at a Brokpa festival who were searching for Aryan men.
Ahluwalia writes, “They came all the way to Ladakh hoping to carry back with them the seed of what is believed to be the purest survivors of the Aryan race. These sophisticated young ladies from the western word, incredibly enough, were not only wiling to but eager to have sexual intercourse with these tribal males.”
Renowned orientalist Max Mueller (1823-1900), however, believed that both the white-skinned, blonde-haired European Aryans (whom the Nazis celebrated) and the Dardic Aryans had a common Aryan homeland – central Asia. He claimed that centuries ago, a unified, yet small Aryan clan lived on an elevated land in central Asia. It spoke a language that was neither Sanskrit or Greek, but a tongue that seemed to be a precursor to the Indo-European languages.
Over a period of time, the clan split up and migrated in two directions—one headed towards Europe and another towards Iran. The latter eventually divided again, with one section invading north-western India.
Muller believed that the fair-skinned Indo-European speaking Aryans invaded India and conquered the dark-skinned Dasas. Eventually, they embraced Vedic Sanskirt as their tongue. Caste was invoked to distinguish and separate themselves from the Dasas — upper and lower castes, respectively.
It was Mueller who made the term “Aryan” prominent in the ideological landscape of India and the world, a term which later came to be associated with individuals who belonged to “good” families.
In the 19th century, in order to promote a strong spirit of nationalism, Hindutva leaders invoked Muller’s Aryan theory, but altered it to suit their own agenda. Hindutva leaders meticulously sculpted a Hindu identity which was anchored in the thought that the original Hindus were the “indigenous Aryans” who conversed in Sanskrit.
The Hindutva version went on to contradict Mueller’s theory of Aryan invasion and claimed that the origins of the “Aryan” race was in India.
Noted historian Romila Thapar explained the Hindutva argument in her paper, The Theory of Aryan Race and India: History and Politics, “Since Hinduness in the past did not have a specific definition, the essentials of a Hindu identity had to be formulated. The argument ran that the original Hindus were the Aryans, a distinctive people indigenous to India… There was no Aryan invasion since the Aryans were indigenous to India and therefore no confrontation (was possible) among the people of India…Confrontations came with the arrival of foreigners such as the Muslims, the Christians… Hindu Aryans had to constantly battle against these foreigners.”
This belief went on to be inextricably linked to RSS’ modern-day identity and agenda. As the RSS prepares to create physically strong, fair-complexioned children by 2020, history provides a spectacularly interesting context.