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Viśvaa Hindū Pariṣad (Devanāgarī: विश्व हिन्दु परिषद, English: World Hindu Council), which is usually known more simply as the VHP, is an international right-wing Hindu organization, which was founded in India in 1964[1]. Its slogan is "धर्मो रक्षति रक्षितः Dharmo rakṣati rakṣitaḥ", which means "Dharma protects when protected." Its symbol is the banyan tree. The VHP is noted for its controversial stand in Hindu politics.



The Vishwa Hindu Parishad was formed in 1964 by Swami Chinmayananda as president and former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) member S.S. Apte as general secretary, with Master Tara Singh as one of the co-founders[2]. It was first mooted at a conference in Pawai, Sandipani Sadhanalaya, Mumbai on August 29, 1964. The conference was hosted by RSS sarsanghchalak M.S. Golwalkar. The date coincided with the festival of Janmashtami. Several representatives from the Hindu, Sikh 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" (i.e people of "Hindustan") applied to adherents of all the above religions[3]. 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 organize the Hindu world to save it from the evils of all the three[3].

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 Kumbha Mela of 1966 to launch the organization. It was further decided that it shall be a non-political organization and that no office bearer of any political party shall be simultaneously an office bearer in the Parishad. The following aims and objectives were set before the Parishad.

  1. To consolidate and strengthen the Hindu Society.
  2. To protect, promote and propagate Hindu values of life, the ethical and the spiritual in the context of modern times.
  3. To keep in touch with all the Hindus living abroad, and to organize and help them in all possible ways in protecting their Hindu identity also popularly known as Hindutva.

Growth in 1980s

The growth of this Movement to ban cow slaughter in the late 1950s and early 1960s gave rise to the VHP. Initially, the VHP mainly worked among the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes, setting up hospitals, temples and schools for the much-neglected lower class Hindu society[3].

For over 20 years, the VHP conducted peaceful demonstrations, petitions and tried by litigation to liberate the Ram Janmabhoomi. The Babri Mosque was in a dilapidated condition and not used for worship or any religious activity by the city's Muslims. For years the VHP amassed public support and a broader membership in its organization. In 1984, it founded the Bajrang Dal as its youth wing (Bajrang is one of the many names of Lord Hanuman, the most loyal disciple and follower of Lord Rama). Bajrang Dal members were more militant in their attitude and activities. Other arms of the VHP, including Sewa International expanded charities and service projects such as alleviating poverty-stricken Hindus, opening schools and hospitals, spreading religious and cultural awareness, and actively working against the proselytizing efforts of Christians and Muslims.

In the late 1980s, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) brought the temple issue to the centerstage of national politics, and the BJP and VHP began organising larger protests in Ayodhya and around the country. But the issue was continually ignored by coalition governments and the secular-socialist Congress Party, as well as the courts.

In the 80's The Vishva Hindu Parishad became so popular in Nepal that the then prime minister Nagendra Prasad Rijal along with the late King Birendra Bir Bikram Shadev held a conference held in Kathmandu in 1988 and declared Nepal The only Hindu Kingdom of the world.

Ayodhya dispute

On December 6, 1992 the Babri Mosque was demolished by a large group of Hindus, who had been camped out at the site for weeks. Members of the VHP were part of this large group, as reported by the Human Rights Watch. [1]. The Babri Mosque was built by demolishing the temple at the birthplace of Rama (Ram Janmabhoomi). Centuries ago, prior to the construction of the Babri Mosque on the sacred site of the Hindus, a temple to Rama had been on the same plot of ground and the Babri Mosque was constructed after the Muslim Emperor, Babur, demolished this Hindu temple. An Archaeological Survey of India report commissioned after the incident, stated that the archaeological ruins of a 10th century Hindu temple were found beneath the Babri Mosque.[4][5]

According to the Liberhan Commission's report, rioters started attacking Muslims in the city shortly after the demolition of the mosque. The report said that the Muslim reaction turned violent because of the victory rally that took place in Dharavi. Rioting in various parts of the country led to communal violence and resultant police action.[6] Over 900 people were killed across the country in riots and police action. The Liberhan Commission headed by Justice Liberhan was constituted to investigate the whole episode. A large number of VHP workers testified before the commission.

In its defence, many VHP supporters have claimed that the VHP simply represented the increasing alienation and anger of India's Hindu community in response to marginalization by the government in favour of Muslim and Christian minorities. As far as VHP supporters were concerned, the Mosque demolition was an inevitable consequence of continuing prejudice against Hindus in post-independence India and their subsequent disaffection.


Continually criticizing its political ally the BJP for acting too slowly on the Ram temple issue, conversions and a uniform civil code, the VHP demands legislation from Parliament authorizing the temple construction, and the proclamation of a Hindu Rashtra, literally the "Hindu Nation," in Bharat and explains it as a statement of cultural nationalism.

VHP's use of the word Hindu(as with other Hindutva organisations) is to mean those people of Indian or Dharmic faiths and thus this broader use of the word includes Buddhist, Jain and Sikh faiths as well as Vaishnavs and Shaivites.

The VHP says India has historically been a Hindu nation, in culture, heritage and history. Islam was brought by foreign invaders who imposed and coerced it upon millions of Hindus (corroborated by many historic acts of temple destruction, pogroms and mass conversions); Christian missionaries brought in Christianity when the Portuguese, French and the British colonized the land. It is a fact that Christian missionaries often denigrated and demonized the Hindu religion to coerce native peoples into converting. While working to convert Christians, tribal peoples (native Hindus) and Muslims to Hinduism, the VHP states that all Muslims and Christians were Hindus in the first place, and that all citizens of Bharat are naturally Hindus. The VHP demands are broadly as follows.

  • Creation of Ram temple at Ram Janmabhoomi
  • End of alleged forcible conversions by Christian missionaries and Islamic institutions.
  • Ban on cow slaughter.
  • Declaration of India as a Hindu Rashtra, literally Hindu Nation (note that this term includes all those who can trace their religious beliefs back to India, including Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains).
  • Tougher anti-terror laws and tougher penalties for terrorists.
  • Implementation of a Uniform Civil Code.
  • Revocation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution.
  • Erasure of Casteism from Hindu society.

The stated goals of the organisation are as follows[7]:

  1. To consolidate, strengthen and make invincible the global Hindu fraternity by following the eternal and universal life values based on Sanatan Dharma (i.e., Hinduism) and work for total welfare of humanity on the basis of the unique cultural ethos of Bharatvarsha.
  2. To promote activities of education, medical aid and relief to the poor or any other activity in the advancement of general public utility for furtherance of literature and scientific and socio-religious research.
  3. There shall be no discrimination on the grounds of religion, sex, caste, race or colour at any time amongst the beneficiaries of the Association.
  4. For fulfillment of above-mentioned objects if any activity is carried out which requires money to be collected in the form of sales, charges for boarding and lodging, distribution of books, literature, etc., then the prices and charges will be such that as far as possible they will not yield any profit.

The law enforcement authorities have reported that the conversion processes have largely been peaceful and voluntary. However, there has been some aggressive altercations associated regarding this issue, the subject of religious conversions being very controversial in many parts of India.

In addition, the VHP has spoken out against Islamic Fundamentalism and the rise of Islamist terrorism in various parts of India in recent years. The VHP has organized awareness programs to educate people about Islamic terrorism and have criticized the central government for being soft on terror in order to cultivate Muslim votes. They have also protested against Islamism by organizing business shutdowns ("Bandhs") as a gesture of civil disobedience[8].

Organization and leadership

Local office of Vishva Hindu Parishad, at Haridwar

The Bajrang Dal is the youth wing of the VHP, and it is organized in many states in major training camps called shakhas, where thousands of young men simultaneously train in group activities, receive sports and cultural education. 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"[9].

The VHP organizes in community meets and shakhas throughout the country. Its national organisation is democratic, with an International Working President and an International General Secretary as their most important executives. However, only seasoned, senior leaders control the seats on the Central Council which will elevate men to the varying posts.

The Dharma Sansad is literally a religious parliament, a gathering of Hindu seers, scholars and high priests from all over the country. They rule on policy and principles and advise the executive on social and cultural questions.

The VHP is an independent organization of a socio-cultural nature, with many political activities. It has many active branches in North America, South East Asia and East Africa, where large numbers of Hindus live. It is engaged in numerous social development activities in hundreds of villages in different parts of the country, helping in their economic alleviation and cultural revitalization.

The VHP also have divisions comprising 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[10].

Communal violence

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.[11]

In 2002, Hindu activists returning from Ayodhya were burnt alive by a mob of Muslims, in a train at Godhra; leading to the infamous Gujarat Riots. The Bannerjee commission termed it an accident by the Muslim mob while Nanavati-Shah commission held it as a inhumane conspiracy.

The VHP has recently engaged in several programs to reconvert Hindus who had previously converted to Christianity. VHP has advanced that conversion to Christianity had earned them no significant benefits and so their return to Hinduism was relatively straightforward[12][13][14].

The VHP collaborated with Christian Association for Social Action and played an active part in providing relief to both Hindu and Christian families affected by the Love Jihad activity in Kerala during 2005-2009 period. [15]

See also


  1. ^ Kurien, Prema (2001). "Religion, ethnicity and politics: Hindu and Muslim Indian immigrants in the United States". Ethnic and Racial Studies 24 (2): 268.  
  2. ^ A lethal cocktail of religion & politics Hindustan Times - July 27, 2007
  3. ^ a b c Smith, David James, Hinduism and Modernity P189, Blackwell Publishing ISBN 0-631-20862-3
  4. ^ Proof of temple found at Ayodhya: ASI report Rediff - August 25, 2003
  5. ^ Archeological Findings of Ayodhya Ruins: - Mukto Mona
  6. ^ Srikrishna Commission report,HVK archive
  7. ^ Aims and objectives of the VHP,
  8. ^ VHP announces `anti-terrorism' campaign,Yahoo News
  9. ^ Women ‘Ram Bhakt’ hog limelight,The Tribune
  10. ^ Vishva Hindu Parishad Chandan Deep Complex, Jail Road, Gurgaon. Contact persons: Dr Inderjit Singh Yadav - Mobile 9312464415 Shri Mansingh Rahav 2580673 Kohli, Atul (2000). The Success of India's Democracy. Cambridge University Press.  
  11. ^ Historic world Hindu conference at Prayag News Today - March 2007
  12. ^ 3,500 poor villagers reconvert to Hinduism,The Tribune
  13. ^ Over 500 reconvert to Hinduism in Orissa,Press Trust of India Archive
  14. ^ Christians convert back to Hinduism,BBC
  15. ^

External links


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