Blamed for sparking controversy which culminated in violence in Bhima Koregaon, founder of Shiv Pratishthan Hindusthan, octogenarian Sambhaji Bhide talks to Sugandha Indulkar about the controversy and his worldview:
Were you in Bhima Koregaon on December 31 or January 1?
I have not stepped in that region since the past one-and-half to two years. On the said day I was attending NCP leader and former home minister, Jayant Patil’s mother’s last rites.
It has been alleged that your fiery speeches led to the attacks on January 1.
I do not agree. I have never made any controversial or fiery speeches. Wrong messages were doing the rounds on social media, which has led some segments of the society to believe that I gave some provocative speeches in Bhima Koregaon. This is totally wrong. In fact, my speeches are aimed to pacify disturbed minds and avoid disruption of peace and harmony in the society. My speeches are meant to teach values of oneness, compassion, and are filled with patriotic fervour.
Do your words provoke violence?
Misinterpretation of my words may provoke people to take wrong steps. But that does not mean I should stop directing my energies towards what I know are the highest ideals, by which all Indians should live. It is their lack of knowledge, which needs to be addressed.
How would you define Hindutva?
Lives of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj epitomise Hindu religion completely. Their intelligence, values that they expressed throughout their lives and also in death are exemplary. Any life lived in sync with the principles laid down by this father-son duo is for me Hindutva or Hindu dharma.
Life of Sambhaji as brought to us through texts is quite controversial.
It is sad to see that many historians and littérateurs have misrepresented Chhatrapati Sambhaji. Even in the face of imminent death Sambhaji displayed immense courage and unmatched valour. He suffered extreme torture and brutality for 30 days, when he was imprisoned by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. Therefore, I and many of my followers observe a 30 day period of grief, in memory of the great leader.
When you voice your views so vehemently do you hurt the sentiments of non-Hindus which results in widening the rift in Indian society at large?
If my words hurt the sentiments of non-Hindus, I cannot help it. I am stating the truth with the sole aim of unifying all Indians. India is the land of Hindus. Hinduism is not just a religion – it is a way of life. One which has taught us values of truth, peace, harmony, compassion towards all living beings. We have been taught lessons of ‘vasudhaiva kutumbakam’, the whole world is one family.
Hinduism is arguably the only religion in the world which treats all living beings at par with humans as well. We believe in the presence of a soul which exists in every living organism – right from plants to animals. Furthermore, we also believe that the soul is an integral part of the supreme soul or the highest one. At the same time, human beings have a mind of their own, which is subject to wrong influences, which may lead to certain wrong actions. My aim is clear – to instil patriotic fervour and inspire people to dedicate themselves to the cause of their people and their nation.
Do you believe in caste system?
I have never given any importance to caste, creed, gender, educational and economic background of any person. The sun, moon, trees and mountains do not have any caste – human values, a strong character and values of love for the nation and extraordinary dedication to upholding the values of truth, peace and harmony is all that matters for me. Anyone who possesses these qualities and expresses them through his life, irrespective of his caste is someone I would respect totally.
You are a gold medallist in nuclear physics. Yet you do not use any footwear and ride a bicycle. Why?
My parents have imbibed in me values of patriotism and dedication to the motherland. Nothing else matters, therefore my lifestyle is simple and I dedicate all my energies to uphold these principles. I do not wear footwear because our tradition says that a celibate should not wear any footwear.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.
Source: Google news