Conversion and shuddhi

Note: The term ‘shuddhi’ literally means ‘purification’. It refers to the re-conversion into the Hindu fold of non-Hindus, especially of those Hindus who have been converted to other religions by hook or crook. The word ‘shuddhi’ has been retained throughout in this section. Prohibition of shuddhi or re-conversion was one of the seven shackles that chained Hindu society in Savarkar’s time. Savarkar’s assorted views on the other six shackles are given in another section. Given below is an English translation of Savarkar’s assorted views on ‘conversion and shuddhi’


Grateful remembrance of those Hindus who suffered due to the prohibition of shuddhi and caste ostracism

“Tyajedekam kulasyaarthe, graamsyaarthe kulam tyajet
graamam janapadasyaarthe, dharmaarthe pruthiveem tyajet”

(“One should sacrifice an individual for the sake of the family, a family for the sake of a village, a village for the sake of a janapada(*country) and the earth for the sake of dharma”)

It was with this noble sentiment in mind that countless Hindus practiced the prohibition of shuddhi and caste ostracism in the past. We should be grateful to those who suffered tribulations on that account. While the practitioners were mistaken in assuming that this custom constituted swadharma, they certainly cannot be faulted for lacking in loyalty (to their dharma). They mistook poison for medicine. But to their credit, they aimed to administer medicine; to ensure the survival of the Hindu race. (1963, Sahaa soneri pane or Six Glorious Epochs of Indian History, Samagra Savarkar vangmaya, Vol.4, p. 735)

Change of dharma (*conversion) constitutes change of nationality

Keep a close eye on conversion. Change of dharma constitutes change of nationality. Dharma is not merely a discussion of other-worldly concepts or a sterile debate on dualism and non-dualism or a search for what is soulful and soulless (* exact words being “chetan aani achetan”). Dharma means history, dharma means rashtra (*nation)! And who is free from dharma? If the King of England is not Protestant, he has to abdicate the throne. The numerous kingdoms in the Middle-East are theocratic (*exact word used is “dharmapradhaan”). We have seen how the world functions. Let not missionaries give us lessons in secularism (*exact word used is “nidharmipanaa”). (1953, Kranti ghosh or The bugle of revolution, p. 143)

When does ‘change of dharma’ (*conversion) constitute ‘change of nationality’?

It is necessary to clarify the meaning of the words ‘dharma’ and ‘change of dharma (*conversion)’ in the above formulation. These words have not been used in the case of an individual who embraces a creed after a comparative study of different religions and decides to accept what he thinks is suitable for him. A religion that polemically preaches that such and such book is divinely inspired, that what is written between its two covers alone is pious and that everything else is false and sinful; a religious institution that seeks to spread not just its so-called philosophy but also its customs, thoughts, laws and language on other religionists with persuasion, failing which it seeks to impose them if necessary by fraud, wickedness and force, and considers such religious force itself as being pious; such is the religion that is implied in the words ‘change of dharma’ in the above formulation. A change of dharma brought about by such extreme religious creeds in the followers of other religions causes a change of nationality in those converted. (1963, Sahaa soneri pane or Six Glorious Epochs of Indian History, Samagra Savarkar vangmaya, Vol.4, p. 708)

Every one has the right to use reason to propagate the dharma that he considers to be true. (1927, Majhi janmathep or The Story of My Transportation for Life, Samagra Savarkar vangmaya, Vol.1, p. 510)

The religious invasion of the Muslims was far more serious than an armed invasion

The land conquered by Muslims through conversion far exceeds that won by them after fighting the Hindus! (1963, Sahaa soneri pane or Six Glorious Epochs of Indian History, Samagra Savarkar vangmaya, Vol.4, p. 780)

The damage done by Islamic power (*original word used is “Mussalmaanaanchi dharmasattaa” to the Hindu world

First and foremost, Hindus were numerically emaciated nation wide. In those one thousand years, approximately twenty to thirty million Hindus were converted by Muslims!
…From that time onwards, small and large ‘Muslim lands’ started forming in village after village, town after town, and region after region in Hindusthan. Thus undivided Hindusthan was been covertly divided into a Hindu portion and a Muslim portion from those times.
These small and large Muslim lands were time-bombs covertly planted by Islamic power into the very foundations of the established Hindu political powers!
However, it seems that Hindu sovereigns, commoners and even historians in those times were not alive, indeed were completely oblivious to the terrible present-day consequences of the loss of land which happened in their time. (1963, Sahaa soneri pane or Six Glorious Epochs of Indian History, Samagra Savarkar vangmaya, Vol.4, p. 780, 782)

The game of foreign Christian missionaries

Bharat was not divided on the basis of which community is more patriotic or has produced more scholars! Punjab and Bengal were divided on the basis of demography and it is the same old game of numbers that foreign missionaries are playing to this day. (1953, Kranti ghosh or The bugle of revolution, p. 141)

When is tolerance to other religions (* original word used is “paradharmasahishnutaa”) a boon and when does it become a bane?

Every Hindu imbibes along with his mother’s milk, the teaching that ‘tolerance to other religions is a noble sentiment’. But no one ever teaches him the spirit of this teaching. If that ‘other religion’ also displays the same tolerance to our religion then ‘tolerance to other religions’ is certainly a noble sentiment. But this principle cannot be applied without regard to circumstances. It cannot be applied to Muslims who consider the merciless destruction of Hindu dharma and the extermination of kafirs (* infidels) to be a pious act or to Christians. Under those circumstances, reaction to such intolerant actions, showing ferocious intolerance to such atrocities, to those ‘other religions’ is a truly noble sentiment. (1963, Sahaa soneri pane or Six Glorious Epochs of Indian History, Samagra Savarkar vangmaya, Vol.4, p. 721)

Which nations survived the Muslim menace?

…Most of the nations that could not root out the political and religious power of the Muslims were destroyed and became Muslim themselves. But even those non-Muslim nations who succeeded in toppling Muslim political power but kept Muslim religious power intact could not escape from the persistent and terrible Muslim menace. Only three to five nations did not rest after toppling the political power of Muslims but immediately launched a bitter war against their religious power and made their nation free of Muslims. These nations alone not only managed to survive but actually smashed the Muslim menace. (1963, Sahaa soneri pane or Six Glorious Epochs of Indian History, Samagra Savarkar vangmaya, Vol.4, p. 787)

Hindu-Muslim unity will be furthered by shuddhi

I do not despise, let alone hate Muslim or Christian brethren, indeed even the most primitive tribes in the human race. I oppose the wickedness of individuals and groups belonging to them when I see it. It is my hope and conviction that Hindu-Muslim unity can be based on a permanent and beneficial footing only through the practice of shuddhi. (1927, Majhi janmathep or The Story of My Transportation for Life, Samagra Savarkar vangmaya, Vol.1, p. 511)

Shuddhi not by force

Each person who comes forward for shuddhi should be asked this one question, “Are you becoming a Hindu out of conviction? Is someone trying to force this dharma on you?” (1928, Shraddhanand weekly, 26 January)

When will the dens of corruption shut down?

Once the padre and the pir (Muslim missionary) realize that even though they might provide for a Hindu today or even for ten years, he reverts to being a Hindu by simply swallowing a tulsi leaf (*the tulsi or the basil plant is considered sacred by Hindus), they will shut down their dens of corruption posthaste. (1927, Shraddhananda weekly, 25 August)

Discard the notion of ‘ritual impurity’

Most of the customs that led to our social and national decline had their seeds in the notion of ‘ritual impurity’. Shuddhi has become necessary due to this malaise of ‘ritual impurity’. (1929, Shraddhanand weekly, 05 April)

Shuddhi is meritorious

Rather than install a stone idol, the installation of Narayan (*name of Sri Vishnu) in the hearts of men is far more meritorious! And shuddhi is the enlightened spirit of Narayan in the hearts of men; it is verily a temple full of life! (1929, Shraddhanand weekly, 05 April)

It is slanderous to claim that shuddhi breeds hatred

If shuddhi supposedly breeds hatred, then why corruption (*conversion) is not deemed to breed hatred? In fact, it is because the mullahs and missionaries first embark on a campaign of conversion that we are forced to do shuddhi. If shuddhi breeds hatred, then first shut shops of the Muslims and Christians who convert Hindus by fair or foul means and initiate hatred in the first place. Then the campaign of shuddhi shall stop automatically. If you give freedom to the mullah and missionaries to convert under the pretext of propagation of religion, then the Hindus must also have the right to their shuddhi. To claim that the homecoming of those who have strayed into a foreign religion breeds hatred whilst reserving one’s own right to convert is like a thief who guards his right to steal and claims that hatred will breed if his victims take back what he has stolen from them! (1929, Hindu samaj sanrakshak Savarkar or Savarkar, the protector of Hindu society, p. 210)

The expense incurred in shuddhi

The expense incurred in shuddhi work should be borne by the district in which the work is carried out. Shuddhi per se does not involve much expense; more expense goes in its preparation and later success. (1927, Hindu samaj sanrakshak Savarkar or Savarkar, the protector of Hindu society, p. 180)

Christian missionaries and Hindu saints

Christian missionaries come from faraway Europe and America, spend millions of rupees and go to far-flung areas of Assam in the sweltering heat and work day and night to entice the Nagas into the Christian fold. And on the other side, we have the Shankaracharyas, Vallabhacharyas and other saints and ascetics who, far from spreading Hindu dharma amongst Muslims and Christians, reject the pleas of the Nagas and Satpanthis to admit them to the Hindu fold! (1931, Samagra Savarkar vangmaya, Vol.3, p. 780)

When will the issue of shuddhi become redundant?

The issue of shuddhi will become redundant when the whole world is filled by angels! So long as the Hindus are being subjected to demonic attacks, it is incumbent on us to vanquish this devil by the Raamnaam (*invoking the name of Sri Ram is supposed to ward off evil) of shuddhi. (1928, Shraddhanand weekly, 26 January)

The Nagas

…Defeat the evil designs of missionaries by weaving the web of Hindu consolidation amongst the Nagas! Remember that if you delay any further, this job will become well nigh impossible. (Samagra Savarkar vangmaya, Vol.3, p. 750)