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Community Talks To Ashok Singhal


Members of the Boston community had an opportunity to meet and greet Shri Ashok Singhal, Patron head of Vishwa Hindu Parishad. A graduate of Banaras Hindu University in Metallurgical Engineering in 1942, Shri Singhal, driven by his passion to serve Mother India became a Sangh Pracharak. A powerful Hindu voice in India, Singhal led the Vishwa Hindu Parishad as international working president for over twenty years.  
At the age of 90 Singhal continues to be razor sharp and presented his work that has lasted over 70 years. “The colonial powers succeeded in dividing India on the basis of religion and caste. They also succeeded in crushing our self-esteem. The Hindu whose heritage is most precious was embarrassed to call himself Hindu. India needed to be rejuvenated. Swami Vivekananda had a bold idea. He said let us forget about Gods for fifty years. Think of only Bharat Mata and worship her. Let us rejuvenate India,” said Singhal.  
“When I see the tall buildings in England, it really saddens me for I think how much was taken from India to make this happen,” says Singhal.
“In 1948  when Gandhiji was assassinated, Lord Mountbatten cleverly used the opportunity to malign and ban the Sangh. He knew that this organization had the power that will weaken the colonial rule. There was huge Satyagrahas and I was jailed at that time. However they could not ban the organization.”
Singhal worked tirelessly to make Hindus stand up tall and be proud of being Hindu. “At VHP we worked hard to bring all factions of the Hindu society together. The Dharma Sansad we organized was a big feat for we were able to bring all the Dharma gurus on one platform. We kept looking for what is common amongst the diverse Hindu traditions. The holiness of Ganga is accepted by all Hindus and this we had a Ganga Yatra starting from Gangotri. There were left leaning people from Kerala who told me no one in Kerala will join the Ganga Yatra. When we reached Thiruananthapuram, to their  utter surprise we had over a lakh people join the Yatra,” said Singhal.
“It has been a long journey.  We have worked in several areas. Education has been a big focus. Education cannot be about academics alone. We need to be able to build character. The transformation of a society can be done only by people. We need people with high moral character to make the change,” said Singhal.
People often accuse the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of being fundamentalist. How do you answer the charge? “Our mantra is `Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinaha’ - let all beings be happy. We extend it not just to human beings but all living beings. Our prayer ends with Om Shanti Shanti Shanti. I do not see how that can be negative,” said Singhal.
Do you see a world in the future where all people will live together in peace and harmony? “I cannot predict the future. But  I do know most people of all religions Hindus, Muslims and others want to live in peace and I hope to see peace reign. However what the power politics will be is hard to say.”
Does the VHP need to change to face changing times? “We are constantly evolving and will continue to do so.”
What message do you have for the community? “It is very important that you continue to work to bring development to those less fortunate than you. Service is very important. I am very happy to hear about the good work so many in the Boston area are doing and I hope you will do more as you go along.”
A well trained classical musician, he ended the evening with a fabulous rendition of a patriotic song.

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