The rise of Hindutva has been the most prominent development of Indian politics in recent times.

Naturally, there have been countless debates and discussions centred around the origins and journey of Hindutva
We find frequent mention of organisations such as Arya Samaj, Ramakrishna mission, Hindu Mahasabha and RSS along with its various affiliates, most prominently Jana Sangha and BJP in such discussions.
We also find names associated with these organisations such as Dayanand Saraswati, Vivekananda, Savarkar, Golwalkar and Shaymaprasad Mukherjee, coming up again and again.
However, there's one stalwart of the Hindutva movement that seems to have been completely forgotten : Swami Shri KarpAtri ji

Abhinava Shankara,


Dandi swami

Dharma Samrat,

Swami KarpAtri ji.
A religious leader of highest standing.

A giant in the AdhyAtmika domain

But at the same time intimately involved with broader social issues. He lent his support to many causes, including cow slaughter ban, that still remain at the centre of Hindutva concerns.
He was a brilliant thinker who not only wrote and thousands of pages on themes related to theory and practice of Politics but also played an active role in the electoral politics of India by establishing Akhil Bhartiya Ram Rajya Parishad.
These facts clearly indicate that KarpAtri ji was an important figure within the Hindutva fold.

Then what explains the near complete absence of KarpAtri ji from the consciousness of Hindutva crowd ?
Today the prominent Hindutva organisations not only invoke the names of Vivekananda and DayAnanda repeatedly but also actively work to appropriate "outsiders" such as Gandhi and Ambedkar.

However, not once do they mention Swami KarpAtri ji.

What explains this ?
Well, the explanation lies in the fact that the dominant force driving the Hindutva for at least the last 150 years has been "reform". From Dayananda to Narendra Modi, some sort of reform in Hindu religion/ society has always been a central part of the Hindutva agenda.
We see this impulse in the idol smashing Arya Samajis of the late 19th century,

And we see it in RSS' ambiguous views on Sabrimala temple entry issue in our times.
While opponents of Hindutva may repeatedly brand them as regressive but the self image of an average Hindutva organisation is that of a social reformer.
That is why, even while these organisations repeatedly declare loyalty to the ancient Sanatan Dharma, we find them gradually adopting and embracing all progressive ideas of the age
This proclivity for reform and progressiveness is also witnessed in the larger Hindu samaaj and although it's common to blame the "sickular" Nehruvian project for such attitudes of Hindus,

Hindutva organisations also have played their part in this.
Didn't Arya SamAjis vehemently oppose Moorti pooja ?

Does RSS find "I am spiritual but not religious" attitude to be problematic ?

Hasn't RSS associated with and legitimised many new age non PAramparik gurus like Sri Sri and Sadhguru ?
These rhetorical questions have been raised to indicate how Hindutva organisations have played a key role in infusing Hindu society with a reformist and progressive spirit.
It's these reforms , often observed in initiatives such as inter caste dining and marriage, more than the appeals to ancient traditions of this land that have helped these Hindutva organisations to gain broader acceptability and political power.
Which implies that the triumph of Hindutva is actually the triumph of reformist Hindu and today the only surviving version of Hindutva, at least politically, is a reformist one.
No wonder KarpAtri ji who propagated a Dharma ShAstra driven staunchly conservative and traditional version of Hindutva finds no place in the Hindutva discourse today.
Some might say that it's only fair since his ideas failed the test of political popularity long time ago. However, popularity or zeitgeist can't be the only parameter for evaluating ideas.
Besides, given the fact Hindu society that seems to have been set into a motion of unending reforms for a at least last 150 years, it's not implausible that in near future a counter cyclical impulse may arise to curb this reformist tendency.
This might not only make more conservative Hindutva systems relevant again but also trigger a search for meaning of real conservatism.

And what better representative of the PAramparik view than KarpAtri ji can be there ?
As a spiritual master of the highest standing who lived his life, in its minutest details, as per the ShAstras,
he is the ultimate standard in Indian politics of past couple of centuries to test your "Trad Quotient" against.
And even if karpAtri ji's views never again becomes socially or politically relevant, he still deserves to be studied as the last of the great traditionalists of India.
Hoping that adequate justification has been provided for relevance of studying the ideas of KarpAtri ji, a summary of his life, ideas & work can be attempted now.
KarpAtri ji was born as the 3rd and youngest son of Pandit RAmnidhi Ojha and Shrimati Shivarani in 1907 in village Bhatani of Pratapgarh district ( UP ). He was given the name HaranArAyana.
HaranArAyana had a spiritual bent of mind from a very young age and frequently experienced deep feelings of VairAgya which caused him to run away from home many times.
As this started happening frequently, his father decided to get him married hoping that marriage would help to modify his behaviour and hence he was married, at the age of 9, to Kumari Mahadevi ji.
However, nothing changed as HaranArAyana kept trying to escape home till one day his father, whom he deeply loved and respected, told him that he could leave once he had fathered a child.

The young vairAgi grudgingly accepted the condition.
At the age of 19, he became the father of a girl child. He reminded his father of the promise and then ignoring all protests from his family, left his home forever.
Some time after leaving home, he took SanyAsa DeekshA from Swami Brahmananda Saraswati ( later became Shankaracharya of Badrika Ashrama )

After Deeksha he was renamed Harihar Chaitnaya and sent to study in a gurukul in Narwar, Bulandshaar.
Harihar Chaitanya stayed there for 2 years studying VyAkarna, vedAnta and 6 Darshanas among other things.

Along with studies, he also continued his sAdhana which included fasting and YogAbhyAsa.
In 1927, he left the Gurukula and walking along the Ganga river, reached Uttarakhand where he spent next three years in ekAnt sAdhana that ended with him attaining AtmagyAna or self realisation
He returned back to his gurukul where he was welcomed as a Paramhansa ( one who has AtmagyAna)
It was during this period that he came to be known as "karpAtri" because as part of his austerities he'd eat only that food he could receive, as BhikshA, on his hand ( Kar )
From Narwar, Harihara Chaitanya left for India's religious capital KAshi , which was to become the base for all his future activities.

Here, he met many prominent religious scholars and MahAtmAs who were very impressed by the scholarship and TapasyA of this young sanyAsi.
His fame started to spread and soon he was instructed by his guru Swami BrahmAnand Saraswati to become a Dandi Swami.

KarpAtri ji wasn't too keen but out of respect for his Guru he accepted the proposal.
Sometime during 1931-32, he formally accepted the Danda, a single danda as is the rule for Advaitins, from the hands BrahmAnanda Saraswati ji near Durga Kund, Varanasi.

It is here that he was hailed as "Abhinava Shankara".
Note: Dandi swamis are a category of sanyasis who carry a danda ( staff ) with them. Being an Advaitin following DashnAmi tradition, he was to carry only one danda like @govardhanmath does.
He spent the first few years after becoming Dandi Swami in his own Tapasya but sometime during mid 1930s he started to think about the issues facing the larger society.
As his gaze turned outward, he found the society to be in a state of moral and spiritual decadence. He concluded, after deep contemplation, that the root of all problems facing the society was the decline of Dharma.
He saw Dharma PrachAra as the only way to arrest this decline. In pursuance of this objective, he brought together many Astikas involved in JapA and anushthAn and established Dharma Sangha in 1940.
He started to travel extensively to promote the work of Dharma Sangha. Hundreds of branches of Dharma Sangha were established all over India.
As the branches of Dharma Sangha expanded, it conducted a variety of yajnas in many cities of India. These yajnas were enthusiastically attended by people and many hailed this as the revival of yajnayuga.
this reminded me of @vvaayu :)
Another organisation started by Swami KarpAtri ji was ShikshAmandal that ran traditional gurukulas.

In addition, Dharma Veer Dal was established to streamline the organisation of Dharma Sangha in 1945.
This was a period of intense activity in Swami KarpAtri's life as he espoused a variety of causes related to Dharma rakshA.

One such early campaign was against the inheritance bill and Hindu marriage and divorce bill drafted by Hindu law committee formed in 1941
Swami Karpatri ji argued that the implementation of inheritance bill would destroy Hindu families by increasing the strife and conflict with them. He attacked the marriage bill saying that it promoted licentiousness
Most importantly, he said, these proposals were in violation of Hindu DharmashAstras and no govt had the right to interfere in the religious matters of Hindus.
He toured the country and conducted many meetings to gather support against these bills. Many telegrams and letters were sent to the govt.
These activities had their impact as the Hindu law committee found that nearly 80% people opposed the proposals.The bills had to be dropped.
KarpAtri ji's opposition to Hindu code continued even after independence. After Ambedkar's first the draft of Hindu code in 1948, KarpAtri ji conducted " Code Virodhi yAtra" all over the country.
He played an important role in mobilising public opinion against the Hindu code. He also formed the "Mahila Sangha" to bring together women who were against the code. As as result of these activities, the govt. was forced to amend many parts of the code.
KarpAtri Ji was also one of the earliest people to strongly oppose the demand for Pakistan. Right after the Muslim league passed the Pakistan resolution in 1940, KarpAtri ji made opposition of Pakistan an integral item of Dharma Sangha meetings.
He raised the slogan of "Akhand BhArat" and organised hundreds of meetings to oppose demand for Pakistan.
Here it should be mentioned that he had predicated as early as 1940 that Congress will ultimately accept the demand for Pakistan.
As we know, in a build up to the partition of India, widespread violence was unleashed by goons of Muslim league on the direct action day in August 1946.
Noakhali in Bengal was one of the places where widespread violence against Hindus was observed. Many temples were destroyed, sacred Tirthas were defiled and many Hindus were forcibly converted to Islam.
KarpAtri ji, very disturbed by these events toured extensively in the riot affected areas of Noakhali.
He consoled and inspired the Hindus with "RAm NAma" mantra. He also arranged for blankets, clothes and food grains for the victims of violence.
A 5000 bigha land was purchased to establish a colony where Hindu riot victims were given houses. Karpatri ji was full of sympathy for those Hindus who had been forcibly converted.
He said that forcible conversion was illegitimate and the Hindus who had been converted in this manner should still be considered Hindus and Shuddhi for them was organised by KarpAtri ji.
These views of KarpAtri ji filled the poor Hindus of Noakhali with hope and enthusiasm.Many rich Hindus of Bengal and members of Dharma Sangha came forward and generously contributed to efforts of KarpAtri ji.
In 1946, an interim govt. lead by JL Nehru was formed.
Karpatri ji noticed that anti Hindu legislations were being passed even more frequently than before as the Govt. presented bills such as Intra Gotra marriage bill and Divorce bill.
In January 1947, KarpAtri ji declared that if the govt. didn't accept Hindu demands such as cow slaughter ban, he will start a Dharma Yuddha against the govt. After this announcement he started to travelled to spread the message of Dharma Yuddha.
Many delegations and memorandums were sent to the govt. However, there was no change in govt's stance. Finally, in April 1947 he presented 5 demands in the assembly.
These were
1. भारत अखंड हो - India should not be partitioned

2. गोवध बंद हो - Stop cow slaughter

3. अधार्मिक बिल रद्द हों - Discard aDhArmika bills

4. मंदिरों की मर्यादा सुरक्षित रहे -Maintain dignity of temples

5. विधान शास्त्रीय हो - Law should be based on ShAstras.
A snapshot of KarpAtri ji's popular slogans
Soon KarpAtri ji was arrested while protesting in front of the parliament.

He was sent to the Lahore jail but the Dharma Yuddha continued for 9 months.

More than 5000 people were arrested and leaders like GoswAmi LakshmanAchArya and Swami KrishnAnanda lost their lives.
Despite widespread agitation, there was no change in govt's stance. However, seeing the anger of Public, KarpAtri ji was soon released from the jail.
We next come the issue that KarpAtri ji was most intimately involved with most well known for : Cow slaughter ban.
He argued that cow had been the symbol of Dharma and Sanskriti from ancient times.
He said that besides being a religious symbol , cow was also the mainstay of India's economy. From milk to gomutra and cow dung, each of these products derived from the cow were useful from an economic point of view.
Using these arguments, he demanded a total ban on cow slaughter by passing a central law and he was actively involved in many campaigns, before and after independence, for fulfilment of this objective.
As mentioned earlier, gauhatyA ban was an integral part of the Dharma Yuddha. However due partition related violence erupted Dharma Yuddha had to be suspended in many key areas. He now decided to focus solely on Mathura.
He started a satyAgraha demanding that the 14 slaughter houses in Mathura be shut down. Soon he was arrested and put in Agra jail for 6 months but the agitation continued and finally the Mathura municipality agree to shut down these slaughterhouses.
In the next stage KarpAtri ji encouraged people to pressurise local boards and municipalities to shut down slaughter houses. As a result of public pressure, 32 districts passed proposals to shut down slaughter houses.
In 1954, Dharma Sangha organised a VirAt Gau Raksha Sammelan and KarpAtri ji met the UP Chief Minister GV Pant to demand cow slaughter ban. Soon anti cow slaughter legislations were passed by UP and Bihar.
However, the central govt. led by J L Nehru obstinately kept ignoring such demands.
KarpAtri ji severely criticised Nehru as he not only didn't allow the passing of a central legislation but also created obstacles when state govts tried to make such laws.
He pointed out how Central agriculture ministry, in 1950, instructed all state govts to not have complete ban on cow slaughter. Similarly, In a 1953 lecture, Nehru instructed agriculture ministers of states to not have a ban on cow slaughter.
Despite such hostility, KarpAtri ji kept working tirelessly for the next decade and travelled many parts of India to create public support for cow slaughter ban. He also met many prominent leaders such as Lal Bahadur Shatri and Gulzari Nanda in this period.
However, the goal of a Central cow slaughter ban law remained elusive. As a result it was decided in 1966, in a huge gau rakshA sammelan in Prayag that the time for petitions and delegations was over and it was time to for BalidAn ( Sacrifice).
The demand of Gau RakshA legislation was presented before the Home minister in September 1966. It was also decided to hold a huge protest in front of the parliament on 7th November 1966.
It turned out to be the biggest ever protest against cow slaughter. More than a million Gau Bhaktas assembled to demand ban on Gau HatyA. It was a totally peaceful and non violent protest.
KarpAtri ji declared from the stage
" We have nothing against a particular political party. The people of ruling party are our own people. We want their welfare. We have only come to demand gau rakshA " ( Translated from Hindi)
Despite this, the govt. came down heavily on the protestors. The crowd was lathi charged and then bullets were fired on crowd. A curfew was imposed in Delhi. As per official estimates 11 people were killed. However other sources indicate that this figure was in hundreds.
KarpAtri ji was arrested next day and sent to Tihar jail where he was attacked by some inmates. It was a violent attack in which his he received head injuries and became unconscious. He also lost vision in one eye.
Govt. relented after the brutal assault on Gau Rakshaks and a committee was formed to find ways to implement cow slaughter ban but as we all know, this was just a delaying tactic and a cow slaughter ban remains as elusive as ever.
Here we pause for a moment and ask what happened to the Hindus since that massive protest.
Why haven't we seen another protest like the one in 1966 ?

From demanding ban on cow slaughter to justifying beef consumption, we have come far.
What changed ?
Another campaign that KarpAtri ji was involved with was the "Hindi Raksha Andolan" in Punjab ( 1957).
He said " We respect Punjabi and Gurumukhi but it cannot be imposed on everyone"
( Translated from Hindi )
We now turn to KarpAtri Ji's involvement in electoral politics.
His decision to participate in electoral politics was triggered by the realisation that the Governments were repeatedly violating the Hindu Dharma Shastras through variety of legislations.
It was not possible to stop this without influencing the political domain. For karpAtri ji politics or Neeti was just another means of Dharma sevA.
He used to say
" Dharma is the husband of Neeti. Separated from Dharma, Neeti becomes a widow and a widow doesn't have the capacity to bear fruits (फलोत्पादन) " ( Translated from Hindi)
He repeatedly stressed the need for political consciousness among DhArmika people for survival of Dharma.

He used to ask,
" Of what use is freedom if Dharma is destroyed ?"

" If you alter and deform the brain of a person using chloroform and then remove the shackles from his hands and legs, would that person be called free? "

( Translated from Hindi)
When elections were declared in 1945, he appealed all Dharmika people to join politics. In September 1945, Akhil Bhartiya SanAtani dal was formed by him to provide a platform to such people.
Many other organisations such as Dharma Sangha, Pandit Sabha and SanAtan Dharma SabhA were associated with it. They also had an understanding with Hindu Mahasabha. It was decided that only those candidates be voted who sign the pledges of SanAtani dal.
Post independence, KarpAtri ji formed the Akhil BhAratiya RAm RAjya Parishad in 1948. Cow slaughter ban, opposition of Hindu code bill along with preservation of VarnAshrama vyavasthA were among the key objectives of the party.
The party also defended the property rights of princes and land owning classes and as a result found support from these groups in Rajasthan and Central India although they didn't have much belief in overall philosophy of KarpAtri ji.
Due to its extremely conservative agenda, the English language and western media largely ignored this party despite the fact that nearly 2 million voters voted for the party in 1952 General elections.
This was 2% of the national vote. The party got 14.2% of votes in Madhya BhArat and 9.3% in Rajasthan.
It won 3 Lok Sabha seats, all in Rajasthan and 32 assembly seats of which 24 came from Rajasthan.
It was a promising start for a fledgling party. However, its performance dropped sharply in 1957 as it didn't win any LS seats and got only 0.38% of the vote. However it did win 22 assembly seats , 17 coming from Rajasthan.
In 1962, the party faced a setback in Rajasthan with many of its supporters switching loyalty to the newly formed Swatantra party. The party win 2 LS seats but its member from Madhya Pradesh joined Jana Sangha while the one from Rajasthan joined Swtantra after elections.
After this the party's organisational structure weakened considerably with most of its members switching to Jana Sangha or Swatantra. Ram Rajya Parishad could not win any LS or assembly seats after 1962 elections.
So the party after a promising start, faded away from the political horizon in next 10-15 years.
Over the entire course of its existence , there were repeated talks of merger with other Hindutva parties such as Jana Sangha and Hindu Mahasabha.
However, KarpAtri ji's refusal to accommodate any progressive items at cost of Dharma made such a merger impossible
And even though these parties sometimes cooperated with each other, they were essentially rivals targeting the same Hindu vote.
Here it would be appropriate to go to an episode that underlines KarpAtri ji's uncompromisingly conservative attitude. We are referring to the Kashi VishvAnAth episode of 1957
As per the rules of KAshi VishvAnAth temple, no one was allowed to touch the Shivalinga. Even the king of kAshi used to pray from far. Everyone was allowed inside the temple but no one was allowed inside the Garbhagriha.
However controversy erupted in December 1957, when a group of Harijans forcibly entered there with help of the city magistrate.
While most will see this is as an act in tune with egalitarian principles , KarpAtri ji saw this as an attack on religious freedom.
His view was

" Followers of SanAtan Dharma should have the freedom to worship in temples as per the rules in Vedas and ShAstras"

" There should be no violation of ShAstra based methods of Murti Pooja" ( Translated from Hindi)
He was very angered by the forcible entry into temple and viciously attacked the govt. saying

" In terms of religious oppression, the Congress govt. is worse than Aurangzeb. Religious freedom granted by the constitution has been reduced to a joke"
( Translated from Hindi )
He was so infuriated that he announced the construction of a new VishvAnAth temple. This temple was constructed in Meerpur, KAshi . As per the rules of this new VishvAnAth temple no one except the priest was allowed to touch the Shivalinga.
This incident displays the essence of karpAtri ji's thinking. He was a hardcore paramparAwaadi who followed the shaAstric injunctions to the t. Going against the fashion of the day, he unabashedly defended the birth based varna vyavasthA.
He opposed the popular reform programs such as inter caste marriages and dining. His defence of varna vyavasthA was based on the slippery slope reasoning where loosening of JAti boundaries would lead to breaking of more boundaries.
He argued that acceptance of inter caste marriages today, would lead to demands for inter religion marriages and inter species marriages in the future. The unending demands for reform, he believed, would lead us to anarchy.
And hence, he reasoned, it was more prudent to stay within the bounds of the time tested varnAshrama vyavasthA that had provided continuity and stability to the Hindu society for thousands of years.
Also, he didn't see 4 fold classification as an oppression enabling hierarchy but he saw it as coming together of complementary parts which formed and sustained the whole and hence each part was indispensable in its own unique way.
It's true that for the majority such views are unpalatable today.
However it can't be denied that there is a strong correlation between decline of varna vyavasthA and societal ills such as loss of cultural pride, breakdown of families and a general moral decline.
We must investigate if this correlation is also accompanied by causation.

If yes, we'll have to take a fresh look at varna vyavasthA to know if the very fashionable "oppression" view of varna vyavasthA hasn't blinded us to the functionalities associated with Varna VyavasthA.
This isn't necessarily an argument for sustaining the traditional varna vyavasthA. It's more of an appeal to calmly study and understanding a thought system which has defined this nation for most part of the last 2000 years, if not more.
Also, the views of KarpAtri ji are not limited to those on VarnAvyavastha. He contemplated and wrote about a wide range of political ideas. Studying them would enrich our own understanding.
Finally, whether you agree with him or not, KarpAtri ji's was the strongest voice for every cause that he espoused. He remained true to his convictions even if it meant losing popularity or political power.
It has been 38 years since he left his body but many of the causes he fought for such as govt. interference in temples and banning of cow slaughter are still part of even reformist Hindutva agenda

And there is a lot these reformists can gain from KarpAtri ji's wisdom.
He was one of the finest representatives of BhArtiya Sanskriri.

He was the very embodiment of Dharma for millions.

To dismiss him is to dismiss BhArata.

To forget him is to forget Dharma itself.
We end the thread here with charan sparsh to pujya puri shankracharya ji @govardhanmath who is amongst the few prominent people spreading the message of Dharam SamrAt KarpAtri ji.
You can follow his lectures on youtube to understand the thoughts of KarpAtris more deeply 🙏
You can follow @entropied.
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