Between The Lines

Kali Image
Credit: Roadside idol – Mehndipur Balaji, Near Alwar, Rajasthan. Photo by author.

Rakesh Shukla



he present exploration is based on the thesis that a psychoanalytic perspective is useful in conceptualizing social and political issues of our times. The phenomena of fascism, fundamentalism, xenophobia, fratricidal violence, communalism and wars are the complex product of social, economic, cultural and psychological factors. Various frames of viewing throw up different, but equally important dimensions of a particular phenomenon.My views on these matters have evolved through almost twenty-five years of involvement with social organizations and movements working for radical social change, and finding within them a reluctance to acknowledge psychological dimensions to social problems.

About half a century after Marx, Freud evolved analytical tools to understand the individual’s unconscious drives to power and dominance. A synthesis of Marx and Freud might have helped Marx’s votarieschecktendencies of dominance within their own organizations as they strove to build a more egalitarian and humane world.  It might have also helped pay attention to the irrational factors at playwithinmilitant nationalism, religious fanaticism, xenophobia or fascism.

Despite social diversity, certain aspects of the psyche into which an ideology like fascism enmeshes itself and utilizes have a universal character. Almost all human beings have anxieties, insecurities and feelings of rage and anger that are part of daily existence. Alongside, there are positive feelings of belonging to a community, of love for the land they inhabit and for fellow human beings.

While positive and negative feelings can acquire a social face on account of various processes, it is the interface of politics and psychoanalysis that can determine how both negative and positive feelings in the psyche are mobilized for a fascist agenda.

As far back as 1895, Le Bon in Pychologie des foules  succinctly articulated some of the aspects of the psyche that are universal in nature: “We see, then, that the disappearance of the conscious personality, the predominance of the unconscious personality, the turning by means of suggestion and contagion of feelings and ideas in an identical direction, the tendency to immediately transform the suggested ideas into acts; these we see, are the principal characteristics of the individual forming part of the group” (Freud 1921 p. 35).

Le Bon goes on to mention certain other characteristics of group functioning that are worth extracting: “A group is extraordinarily credulous and open to influence, it has no critical faculty, and the improbable does not exist for it. It thinks in terms of images, which call one another up by association (just as they arise with individuals in states of free imagination), and whose agreement with reality is never checked by any reasonable agency. The feelings of the group are always very simple and very exaggerated. So that a group knows neither doubt nor uncertainty.  It goes directly to extremes, if a suspicion is expressed, it is instantly changed into an incontrovertible certainty; a trace of antipathy is turned into furious hatred”(Freud 1921 p.78).

Speaking of what can be termed a ‘fascist state of mind, Bollas (1992) says, “Doubt, uncertainty, self-interrogation, are equivalent to weakness and must be expelled from the mind to maintain ideological certainty. This is accompanied by a special act of binding as doubts and counter-views are expelled, and the mind ceases to be complex, achieving a simplicity held together initially by bindings around the signs of the ideology. Political slogans, ideological maxims, oaths, material icons fill the gap previously occupied by the polysemousnessof the symbolic order. When the mind had previously entertained in its democratic order the parts of the self and the representatives of the outside world, it was participant in a multifaceted movement of many ideas linked to the symbolic, the imaginary, and the real—Lacan’s terms. Specifically, words, as signifiers, were always free in the democratic order to link to any other words, in that famous Lacanian slide of the signifiers which expressed the true freedom of the unconscious to represent itself. But when representational freedom is foreclosed, signifiers lack this freedom, ideology freezes up the symbolic order, words becoming signs of position in the ideological structure (p. 201).”

Conflating Images, receptive minds


he dynamics spelt out by Le Bon, and Bollas are at full play in the social and political arena in India. For example, Taimur and Genghis Khan who invaded and looted India several centuries ago,are commonly and widely perceived as Muslims (they were probably followers of Shamanism or Tengriism prevalent in Mongol-Turkic tribes). Accordingly, they are conflated with present day Indian Muslims so as to exploit existing antipathies between Hindus and Muslims. Slogans referring to Muslims as “Changez Khan ke aulad” (Progeny Sired by Changez Khan) were extensively used to evoke murderous sentiments and in the “othering” of the Muslim community as the repository of all evil. The conflation of disparate historical events such as invasions and present anxieties in the minds of people is generally not amenable to logic or rationality

It is the succinct exposition by HannaSegal (1957) of the primitive anxieties generated in the paranoid-schizoid position which can be applied to the context of Hindu-Muslim relations in India. Segal says, “… the paranoid-schizoid position anxieties of a primitive nature threaten the immature ego and lead to a mobilisation of primitive defences. Splitting, idealisation and projective identification operate to create rudimentary structures made up of idealised good objects kept far apart from persecuting bad ones. The individual’s own impulses are similarly split and he directs all his love towards the good object and all his hatred against the bad one. As a consequence of the projection, the leading anxiety is paranoid, and the preoccupation is with survival of the self”.

Indeed, these impulses have also been captured in cinema. ArtCaspary (2002), discussing Bernardo Bertolucci’sfilmThe Conformist”from a psychoanalytic perspective and reflecting on the fundamental dynamic of the fascist/authoritarian impulse, pithily articulates the processes in the psyche: “For Bollas the destruction of the symbolic is only the first “murder” necessary to maintain the fascist state of organization. In order to purify the mind of elements inconsistent with system norms, anyone who comes to represent destabilizing information—whether disavowed self-states, envied objects, or individuals who represent the very richness and complexity that has become so intolerable—must be eliminated.”.

Hindus form the majority population in India with Muslims constituting only about 14 percent of the population.

Yet, ever since the birth of Independent India, the Hindu fear of being attacked, outnumbered and annihilated by the Muslims has played a key role in the mobilization of Hindus for attacking the communityThe implanting of irrational beliefs in the Hindu community such as ‘Hindus are being persecuted in their own country’, ‘Muslims have four wives and 64 children’, ‘Hindus will soon be a minority in India’ or ‘More Hindus are killed in riots’ probably reinforces the splitting, idealization and projective identification operating in the psyche.

Of course, the charismatic fuhrer-leader aided by ‘transference’ taps into the processes of the unconscious to mobilize the masses. Freud’s analysis of the role of Christ in the Catholic Church and the Commander-in-Chief in the Army as well as his comments on identification between members of a group and the common emotional tie with the leader in Civilization, Society and Religion offers a direction for explorations into the role of the charismatic leader in the mobilization process. Erich Fromm (1982) offers another pointer when he says, “The transference phenomenon, namely the voluntary dependence of a person on other persons in authority, a situation in which a person feels helpless, in need of a leader of stronger authority, ready to submit to this authority, is one of the most frequent and most important phenomena in social life, quite beyond the individual family and analytical situation. Anybody who is willing to see can discover the tremendous role that transference plays socially, politically and in religious life” (p.41).

Uncovering the links between the processes of the unconscious and the dynamics of mobilization of individuals may open up fruitful directions in the engagement with fascism.


Intimate temptations


he record of communal violence and killings in India contains instances of violence by the minority Muslim community, but predominantly the perpetrators have been Hindu men, who are therefore an important focus in this exploration. Undoubtedly, there is a fascist-fundamentalist stream in the Muslim polity in India which in many ways feeds into Hindu fascist-fundamentalism; however, in my view, majoritarian fundamentalism is more dangerous than minority fundamentalism as is evident from the incidents in India of communal violence against minority communities.

Having grown up in a Hindu family the familiarity of the emotional texture of relationships constitutes a vital input in the ideas and formulations presented in the paper. I will attempt to explore and articulate the factors, pre-dominantly unconscious, in the psyche of the Hindu male which I believe operate in the mobilization for a fascist-fundamentalist agenda; a few tentative strokes on the broad canvas.

The victory of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) in the general elections in 2014 catapulted celibate Narendra Modi the “Roaring Son of Bharat Mata (Mother India)”as a sharp contrast to the emasculated  Manmohan Singh to the Prime Minister’s office, This despite, or perhaps because of the anti-Muslim carnage that was orchestrated with government connivance in 2002. A successful polarization of society can ensure an electoral win based solely on the Hindu majority vote. Equally, it would be indicative of the deep roots and dangers posed by fascism in India.

As is well known, the Nazi Party initially came to power in Germany after winning the elections in 1932 and Hitler was appointed Reich Chancellor in January 1933.  Winning votes by the Hindutva lobby, through communal polarization of the polity (as in the Gujarat assembly elections after the 2002 massacres of Muslims) is but a by-product of the process of mobilization, and not an end in itself.

Common features in Fascism

Although there is no unifying political doctrine associated with fascist movements they share certain common features. Here’s a laundry list:

  • Aggressive and unquestioning nationalism;
  • Belief in the supremacy of one national, ethnic or religious group over others;
  • Disrespect for democratic and liberal institutions, even as they are used to attain power;
  • A profound hatred for socialism; insistence on obedience to a powerful and absolute leader; and a strong association with militarism and a demagogic approach that appeals to and whips up the basest emotions in a mob, making it suggestible, hasty in judgement, easily swayed and carried away by the consciousness of its own force.

Films, novels and comic books published after World War II (in the Anglo-American space in particular) have tended to project Germans, Italians and Japanese societies as the sole repositories of fascism. This perception of fascism, either as a specific national characteristic of Germans or Italians or that of the dictatorship of a tiny reactionary clique persists; and it does so perhaps from the fear of a recognitionthat fascism is a phenomenon that pervades almost every country and society.

If these features sound familiar in the current dispensation in India it’s not accidental. The Hindutva movement, spearheaded by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)contains elements that permit comparisons with the Partito Nazionale Fascista (PNF) founded by Benito Mussolini, Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts in Britain, the Iron Guard in Romania, the Croix de Feu in France and the Nazi Party in Germany. Not to forget the white supremacist supporters of Donald Trump.

   Since its formation in 1925, the RSS has had an agenda: to transform a relatively pluralistic and liberal Hinduism into an aggressive Hindutva, and attacks on minorities. While Christians have also been targeted by Hindutva forces, special virulence is reserved for Muslims. Psychoanalytically , this is not surprising. As Sudhir Kakar (1995) puts it – “There is a special quality to the enmity I feel for a person who resembles me but is not me. Next to my brother, it is my neighbour the Ten Commandments enjoin me to love as I do myself, precisely because my neighbour is the one I am most likely to consider as a rival”. (p. 55)

   The Sangh has a rigidly hierarchical structure, with leaders appointed rather than elected and the Sarsanghachalak– the ‘Supreme Commander’ at the top. Though the Sangh is open to married men, the grihastha (householder) is considered on a lower footing than the brahmachari, the virile but celibate son of Bharat Mata (Mother India) embodied in the pracharak(preacher). RSS ideologue Madhav Sadashiv Gowalkar (1939) in “We or our the Nationhood Defined,” professed great appreciation for the Nazi ideology and substituted the  desired Hindu “nation” in place of the valourised German “nation” and Muslims in place of the Jews  as ‘enemies’.

But a fascist ideology needs a section which believes in fascism. Just as there are people who propagate capitalism, communism or socialism, there are people and groups who believe in and propagate fascism. Indeed, fascism in India would not be such a threat if it were confined to groups like the RSS, BJP, the Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) or to the individuals who head them.

The situation becomes worrying when a sizable section of people supports for instance the large-scale killing of Muslims in Gujarat in February-March 2002 by mobs numbering 20-25,000 in places, or at the very least is willing to brush it off from collective memory. The support then manifests itself in the State Assembly elections later that year and a “peoples’ verdict” that returns the BJP Government to power in Gujarat. In fact, after the successful completion of an almost five-year term, the BJP also won the elections to the Gujarat State Assembly in December 2007 clearly illustrating the deep division along communal-religious lines in Gujarat’s polity.

A theoretical construct that dogmatically refuses to see the common people’s support to fascist ideology cannot take us forward in developing insights crucial to combat the spread of fascism. Writing of therise of fascism in 1920s Germany Wilhelm Reichbegan with the recognition that a large section of the working class in Germany supported fascism.

Unfortunately, the anti-fascist, left and progressive forces in India, much like the Communist Party in Germany in the 1930s, spare scant thought to the complex factors in the individual psyche at play in the mobilization by present day fascist forces.

Reich’s pioneering work into the psyche of the “common man” or “little man” who is enslaved and craves authority but who also has a converse side is relevant to contemporary India. The interconnections he draws between daily life, sexuality, family, workplace and the growth of fascism can assist in understanding its proliferation in India in the past couple of decades.

It is to try and unravel what Foucault (1984) eloquently describes as: “….the fascism in us all, in our heads and in our everyday behaviour, the fascism that causes us to love power, to desire the very thing that dominates and exploits us”(p.xiv). The particularities of the psyche which make it amenable/vulnerable or drawn to fascist ideologies would vary in different societies.

What are the possible facets of the Hindu male psyche that may make it vulnerable to the “lure of fascism”?Here are some tentative explorations.


The lure of fascism

1. Sex and Intimacy


he nature of relations between the husband and wife in India, as well as to what constitutes appreciation of women in society impacts the dynamics of the father-mother-son triad. It is likely that this remains true even for a large majority of modern young women in the big cities whose appearance, attire and behaviour seem far removed from women brought up in a conservative village or small town in India.  Outward changes are not necessarily accompanied or reflected in the inner world or psyche where possibly the process of change follows a dynamic not clear to us but which appears to be definitely slower in pace.

In a society of ‘arranged marriages’ the bride and the bridegroom are almost perfect strangers to each other. In many a wedding, the bridegroom may well be secretly drinking (openly drinking is frowned upon as disrespect to elders) with his buddies who would be making raucous comments with sexual innuendoes humiliating to the bride and her family. After the ceremony, the much glamorised “suhaagraat”(wedding night) may at one end of the spectrum turn out to be little more than bridal rape with implicit if not explicit societal approval and endorsement by the groom’s mother.

In these circumstances the “consent” of the bride may not even be an irrelevant issue. It is likely that in a number of cases, the groom, eagerly anticipating the ‘deflowering’ of his ‘virgin bride’, may not even take her feelings into account. In fact, the law pertaining to rape in India excludes marriage and sanctions the husband’s sacrosanct privilege to sexual intercourse.

From these stark beginnings, the space for conjugal relations remains narrow and constricted in Indian society. Speaking of relations between the sexes, Kakar (1989) ),  notes: “Physical love will tend to be a shame ridden affair, a sharp stabbing of lust with little love and even less passion” In fact, it appears that the clinics of psychotherapists practicing in big cities do comprise of a sizable section of women depressed and/or disillusioned after marriage. Kakar’s conclusions are however based not on observations about middle- and upper-middle class women who come for psychotherapy, but also on interviews with low-caste, poor women and portray a uniformly miserable picture with regard to relations between the sexes in marriage.

The expressions used to indicate the prerogative of the male  speak volumes about the issue of satisfaction for the women in sexual relations, viz “Haftemeinek bar lagwaletehain” ( trans.: ‘I get it done to me once a week’) (P.22).

In a ‘love-marriage’ too, which is supposedly a modern arrangement based on individual choice, the ‘boy’ goes along with his mother to demand dowry. This is a pointer to the close mother-son relation and a pointer to the formation of the male psyche in India. Given the lack of intimacy in marriage, the primary emotional centre of a woman are the children, especially the son. The son is something of a combination of a knight in shining armour who will rescue, as well as the repository of the mother’s unfulfilled wishes.

According to Kakar, (1981) clinical experience consistently shows that, “displacement of a woman’s sexual longings from her husband to her son poses one of the most difficult problems for a boy to handle” and “the surge of unbidden and uncontrollable affect seems to threaten to engulf him while at the same time it arouses acute anxiety.” Kakar is speaking of individuals who had approached him for psychotherapy, seeking a constructive resolution.

Based on psychoanalytically oriented therapeutic work in India Roland (1989) writes, “Several women, quite psychologically sophisticated, have related to me that their husbands simply cannot tolerate too open assertiveness on their part because of unconsciously perceiving them as being so covertly powerful like their mothers. These women often give in to many of their husband’s demands, some on rather important career issues, because to assert themselves would be to profoundly disturb the marital relationship – that is, the husband would begin to experience his wife as the powerful mother.”(p.152).

It is possible, however, that these feelings of engulfment and anxiety aroused in the ‘boy-male’ in some way get mobilized for an agenda of fascism and violence against the ‘other’

India’s arid education system,anxieties about employment; family pressures to marry, produce children and fulfill duties towards parents – all of these together leave little space for the development of an autonomous, well-rounded personality. The personality of the Indian boy/man is a far cry from the existential man of Sartre and Camus, who deals with the complexities and ambiguities of the world, makes choices and takes responsibility for his actions.

The decisions that are considered ‘major’– those of job, the times and partners for marriage and children – in Indian society are all taken predominantly by elders.

The end result is a non-assertive, amorphous personality – one that can take the shape of the obedient son, but who can also get pushed around in the workplace. This personality also has a converse, authoritarian side, most often manifested in the role of the ‘strict father’ and ‘master-husband’,who keeps his wife and children under rigorous control and sees to it that they serve his parents well.

Fascism appeals to both aspects of this personality.

It offers a simple ‘good-bad’ binary that is well suited for this personality. This binary removes the individual from the burdens of independent thinking, the usage of critical faculties, the formation of personal opinions and the exercise of choices that would bring with them responsibilities towards action.

Instead of anxiety-causing complexity and uncertainty, there is simplicity and certainty. Ambiguities are replaced with comforting moral clarities: ‘Muslims are bad, Hindus are good’ or ‘Muslims are good, Hindus are bad’ or ‘Christians are believers, Muslims are infidels’. The burden of making choices and taking personal responsibility is also lifted, as the father-fuehrer-leader offers absolution: Kill the dirty Muslims/Hindus/Jews. We will take responsibility. The authoritarian aspects likewise receive fulfillment in the degradation and humiliation of the opposing community.

2.  Sexual Suppression/Selfless Sons

Wilhelm Reich’s basic postulate that suppression of sexuality causes repression within the individual psyche and makes it a fertile ground for the spread of reactionary ideologies like fascism is worth recalling. Economic distress, he observes,  incites people to rebellion, while sexual distress prevents rebellion against both forms of suppression, Reich (1942) offers insights into the causative processes:  “The moral inhibition of the child’s natural sexuality, the last stage of which is the severe impairment of the child’s genital sexuality, makes the child afraid, shy, fearful of authority, obedient, ‘good’, and ‘docile’ in the authoritarian sense of the word. It has a crippling effect on man’s rebellious forces because every vital life-impulse is now burdened with severe fear; and since sex is a forbidden subject, thought in general and man’s critical faculty also become inhibited. In short, morality’s aim is to produce acquiescent subjects who despite distress and humiliation, are adjusted to the authoritarian order”(emphasis added)

In the Mahabharata, the patriarch Bhishma takes the course of embracing  brahmacharya(celibacy) in his prime so that his father, the ruler of Hastinapur,  can fulfil his desire of marrying a beautiful fisher-girl. In a similar vein, King Yayati is cursed by SantShukracharya to become old in his youth. The only way out is if his sons give him his youth. The elder sons refuse, while the youngest one exchanges his youth and is accorded honour and inherits the kingdom.

Interestingly, A.K. Ramanujam(1999) points out that there are “very, very few stories of actual patricide in Hindu myth, literature and folklore” and that in the stories generally “the son willingly gives up (often transfers) his political and sexual potency” Speaking of Oedipal myths in Sanskrit epic literature Goldman (1978) writes, “What these stories show, however, is that in almost every case in which this struggle is worked out between a son and his actual father…it is the latter who succeeds. Actual sons are, if good sons, passive to the point of self-destruction and are rewarded for their passivity and subservience. If they are bad they are passively disobedient and are degraded as a punishment for their sins. The latter case, moreover, exists largely to serve as a contrast to the former. In neither case are they actually aggressive to their father, nor do they ever gain unimpeded access to the goals of maturity, independence and the free expression of sexuality.

3. Valorising Celibacy

The valorisation of brahmacharya(celibacy) is taken to incredible lengths in Hindu religious texts that are replete with statements like, “Brahmacharya is so powerful that by strictly following it one can win over death”. As Alter (1992) puts it: “A wrestler must not only abstain from sex, he must also build up his stock of semen and ensure that once built up it is as potent and strong as it can possibly be. The basis for this preoccupation is a belief that physical, personal, and intellectual strength emanates from semen. Semen is the locus of a person’s moral character and physical prowess.

In fact, Bhishma Pitamha, the patriarch of the Mahabharata being a dedicated brahmachari was consequently granted the boon of death-at-will and the power to change the course of the history of Hastinapur. These conceptions are not only part of a mythical past but remain present day beliefs. Sri AsaramBapu, a contemporary religious guru with a sizable following enjoins his followers to follow one Dr. Molvil Keith, M.D. who declares: “This seed (semen) is marrow to your bones, food to your brains, oil to your joints and sweetness to your breath and if you are a man, you should never lose a drop of it till you are thirty years of age and then only for the purpose of having a child which shall be blessed by heaven.”

4. Protecting the Mother

The notion of defending “our mothers and sisters” plays a core part in mobilization in an agenda of attacking the other “Enemy” community. Feelings of inadequacy, lack of potency symbolized in the small penis complex plays another crucial role. The males of the “other” community are invariably looked upon as super-humanly virile, potent and lusting after our mothers and sisters. This is true of the view of black males by white supremacists, Jews by Nazis as well as the viewing of Muslims by Hindu males.

In Gujarat long before any killings began, women’s bodies were centrally used to successfully polarize the two communities. The rallying cry for large-scale mobilization of Hindus and for the first time of Adivasiswas that, “They (Muslims) despoil our women!” The only hope of safety, given the perception of the state administration’s complicity in or indifference to majoritarian violence was in numbers and Muslims fled to areas where the community constituted a sizable proportion of the population. However, in Sanjeli village of Dahod district in Gujarat not one out of the 500 houses of Muslims comprising 40 percent of the population remains in the village. The “credit” for mobilizing about 25-30,000 Adivasis goes to Dilsukh Maharaj, himself a Bhil, who runs an ashram with a hostel for school children and is part of the SantSamaj. Dilsukhji declared that Muslims took “our” women and “violated” at least 100 Bhil women in Sanjeli alone. Muslims, according to him, consider “our widows” to be everyone’s property.

Public meetings, speeches, pamphlets, schools, cultural groups, ashrams, philanthropic institutions, babas, santsand maharajs all have been systematically used as tools for the past decade by the “SanghParivar” to spread venom and demonize Muslims.  After the Godhra train burning incident on 27th February incident, rumours about Hindu women being abducted, raped and mutilated played a crucial role in the mobilizing. Leading Gujarati language dailies played their part inflaming communal tension and feeding into righteous indignation and moral outrage providing a justification for the massacre and rape of Muslims that followed in the State.

Psychoanalytically speaking, stories about breasts being cut off feed into associations of the nurturing breast of the mother being taken away, leading to intense feelings of infantile rage and anxiety which can then get mobilized for channelization against the “enemy” community.

Building upon prevailing Hindu-Muslim antagonism, feeding into insecurities, stoking fears and the successful implanting of a belief that the majority Hindu community is under threat from the minority community leads to the crossing of a certain threshold where an “Othering” takes place. ‘Muslim’ girls and women can never even be imagined as ‘mothers and sisters’ of our ‘Hindu’ boys. The stereotyping and boxing in of individual women into the categories of ‘whore’ and ‘goddess’, contributes to women of the other community being considered bitch-like and enjoying sex unlike the ‘dutiful’ good woman. Simultaneously, the men of the ‘other’ community get constructed as ‘animal-like’ oversexed males lusting after and posing a threat to the women of ‘our’ community.

The inaccurate conflation of invaders like Taimur, Changez Khan, Babar from the past attacking ‘Mother India’ and violating ‘pure’ Hindu girls and women in the past with contemporary stories of Muslim men abducting, raping and mutilating our ‘mothers and sisters’ leads to the successful demonising of Muslims. Sexual violence against Muslim girls and women becomes a righteous moral act to save the ‘honour’ of ‘our’ mothers and sisters, at the same time emasculating the rapacious Muslim males and ‘dishonouring’ the entire community.

Indeed, the existence of Babri Masjid built by ‘Babar the Cruel’, as a phallic symbol which colonises Mother India and emasculates her virile sons who failed to protect her was forcefully played upon to spread hate and venom during the Ramjanmabhoomirathyatra. In 1992,Lal Krishna Advani the leader of the BJP at the time the main Opposition party in parliament, started the Yatra from Somnathby invoking the plunder of the temple (the destruction had nothing to do with Indian Muslims – Mahmud of Ghazni invaded India and in 1025 A.D. looted the Somnath Temple); the procession ended up at Babri Masjid in a masterful exercise invoking past-trauma leading to an intensification of emotions and justifiable anger against “them”. The demolition of the Masjid was meant to restore Hindu male virility and symbolic Hindu feminine purity.


The idealization of the ‘pure’ mother with no room for ambivalence, extreme suppression of sexuality, the revering of brahmacharya, the surrender of potency for the father, the desire for a charismatic fuhrer– father who can be obeyed obviating the need for autonomous functioning and responsibility, the anxieties, frustrations and fears about virility along with the projection of all ‘negative’, ‘impure’, ‘lustful’, ‘beast-like’ qualities onto the “Enemy Other” offer insights into the processes at play in the build-up to an Indian variant of fascism. An understanding of these psychological factors could help devise strategiesto engage with hate-ideologies like fascist-fundamentalism in India.


The image Roadside idol - Mehndipur Balaji, Near Alwar, Rajasthan.(By Rakesh Shukla)
 Courtesy:“Beef, Murderous Rage, PublicLynching: A Look under the Surface”
 International .Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies (2016) Published online in Wiley Online Library
 ( DOI: 10.1002/aps.
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 Bapu, Sri Asaram. Reap the Benefits of Brahamacharya: The Speaking Tree. The Times of India, 29 September 2000
 Bollas, Christopher. Being a Character, Psychoanalysis and Self Experience, Hill and Wang, 1992
 Caspary, Art. The Conformist: Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Fascism, (2002). Canadian Journal of Psychoanalysis, 10: 115-131
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 Freud, S. The Ego and the Id, Standard Edition Vol 19, 1923.
 Fromm, Erich. Greatness and Limitations of Freud’s Thought, Abacus, 1982.
 Goldman, R. ‘Fathers, Sons and Gurus: Oedipal Conflict in the Sanskrit Epics’, Journal of Indian Philosophy, 6, 1978, p.350.
 Gowalkar, M.S. We or our the Nationhood Defined. Bharat Publications, 1939
 Kakar, Sudhir. Culture and Psyche, Selected Essays OUP, 1997.
 Kakar, Sudhir. Intimate Relations, Exploring Indian Sexuality, Penguin Books, 1989.
 Kakar, Sudhir. The Colours of Violence Viking, Penguin Books India, 1995.
 Kakar, Sudhir. The Inner World, A Psycho-analytic Study of Childhood and Society in India, OUP, 1981.
 Le Bon G (1895). Psychologie des foules – Trans: The Crowd: a Study of the Popular Mind, London, 1920 pg 35 – Cited Group psychology and the analysis of the ego. In: Strachey J, trans., Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud. Vol 18. Vintage, The Hogarth Press, 2001.
 Ramanujam, A.K. The Indian Oedipus.In Vaidyanthan and Kirpal (Ed), Vishnu on Freud’s Desk, OUP, 1999.
 Reich, Wilhelm. The Mass Psychology of Fascism, translation from German by Vincent R, Carfagno, Penguin Books, Reprinted 1983
 Roland, Alan. In search of Self in India and Japan, Toward a Cross-Cultural Psychology, Princeton University Press, 1989.
 Segal, Hanna. ‘Notes on Symbol Formation’ Internat. J. Psycho-Anal. 38: 391-97, 1957.
 Shukla, Rakesh. Probe the Unconscious, The Times of India, November 25, 2006.
 Shukla, Rakesh. The face of Hindu Fascism, HimalSouthasian, October-November 2007.
 Taimur (1336-1405) also referred to as Tamerlane – Turkish King of Mongol descent who invaded India, in 1398 and is said to have executed 100,000 captives, mostly Hindus in a single day.
 3. Genghis Khan (1162-1227) founder of the Mongol Empire, born Temujin was declared “Khan” in 1206 and took the title “Genghis Khan”. In 1221 he is said to have ravaged vast tracks of Punjab, attacked Multan and Lahore – his religion is speculated to be Shamanism or Tengriism prevalent in Mongol-Turkic tribes but he is inaccurately though widely perceived as a Muslim invader in India. In the mobilization for the killings of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002, slogans referring to Muslims as "Changez Khan keaulad" (trans. Progeny of/Sired by Changez Khan) were extensively used.

Rakesh Shukla has been engaged for more than three decades with movements for social change, constitutional jurisprudence and human rights. He also engages in training and practice of psychodynamic therapy. His major concerns lie in the interface of law, social change and psychoanalysis. He has written extensively in major newspapers as well as journals on law and psychology.

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