The Saffron Swastika

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The Saffron Swastika
Koenraad Elst - The Saffron Swastika.jpg
Book cover
Author Koenraad Elst
Language English
Subject Hindutva and Hindu nationalism
Published 2001, Voice of India
Pages 1070
ISBN 8185990697

The Saffron Swastika: The Notion of "Hindu Fascism" is a book written by Koenraad Elst in which he argues against the idea that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) or the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh are fascist in ideology. It discusses his views on the concepts of Hindutva and Hindu nationalism, and was published as two volumes in 2001.[1][2][3]


In the foreword, he writes about such allegations that

So far, the polemical arrows have all been shot from one side, replies from the other side being extremely rare or never more than piecemeal.

Elst tries to show that personalities like Veer Savarkar or Golwalkar were not fascist or racist and also writes in detail about Savitri Devi. Other topics that are treated by Elst in this book are the caste system and the swastika.

On his blogspot the author describes the book in the following words:

A very ambitious 2-volume book, of which the only shortcoming is that it could have been even more complete. It dissects processes of slander and its application to the media’s hostile treatment of the organized Hindu movement. It is the only publication in the world (except for its sequel, Return of the Swastika) to analyze and refute the now-common allegation that Guru Golwalkar in his book We (1939) proves to be some sort of Nazi.[4]

In a follow-up, Elst also writes:

In that year, I also brought out the two-volume The Saffron Swastika. On the Notion of ""Hindu Fascism", the only book in the world to analyse this much-used line of discourse (except for my sequel from 2006, Return of the Swastika), both by foreign India-watchers and by the Indian secularists.[5]

The book contains also parts from his Ph.D. thesis from the Catholic University of Leuven.[citation needed]

Reception and influence[edit]

Ramesh Nagaraj Rao praised the book at the (now defunct) book review website IndiaStar as an important book, and a "tour de force".[6] Rao, "proponent of the 'Saffron' viewpoint",[7] also said "it is the best-researched, and most thorough analysis of the RSS and its affiliates, and of the "notion of Hindu 'fascism'".[7]

Christian Bouchet, an expert on Savitri Devi,[note 1] criticized Elst's book The Saffron Swastika for having placed far too much trust in Savitri Devi's autobiography and for claiming that Savitri Devi was bisexual.[9] TM Menon said in a book review on this book: "Not many would agree with the author; but then, books are as much to read as for disagreeing with their content, if one strongly feels about [it]." [10]

Outlook India reported that L.K. Advani, senior leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party, has a "heavily marked" copy of the book from which Advani quoted freely the passages that discussed him.[11]

J.Y. Camus, describing Elst as "a neo-Pagan would-be scholar"[12] and a major propagandist of Hindutva in the western world,[12] in a footnote called the work "undoubtedly" Elst's "magnum opus".[12]

Elst's arguments in the book were used to prove former Home minister L.K. Advani's claim that his activism for the Ram Janmabhoomi movement cannot be blamed for the destruction of the Babri Masjid and the riots that followed.[13] Advani's arguments were in reply to an appeal issued by the Dalai Lama to resolve the Ayodhya row.[13] The book was also used to prove L.K. Advani's innocence during the early part of his cross-examination at the Liberhan Commission.[14] In an interview with Outlook India, Advani again used the book to prove his innocence.[15]

In his autobiography, senior BJP leader L.K. Advani also wrote that "Dr. Koenrad Elst, in his two-volume book titled The Saffron Swastika, marshals an incontrovertible array of facts to debunk slanderous attacks on the BJP by a section of the media".[16]


  1. ^ Savitri Devi was a proponent of Nazism, who served the Axis cause during World War II by spying on Allied forces in India.[8] See also Koenraad Elst, The eternal return of Nazi nonsense: Savitri Devi's last writings.


  1. ^ Paul Jackson, Cyprian Blamires (2006). World Fascism: A Historical Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. 
  2. ^ Wheeler, Albert J. (2005). Racism: A Selected Bibliography. Nova Publishers. 
  3. ^ Bryant, Edwin. The Indo-Aryan Controversy: Evidence and Inference in Indian History. 
  4. ^ Koenraad Elst – What have I done
  5. ^ Koenraad Elst – What have I done (2)
  6. ^ Dr Ramesh N. Rao, Review of "The Saffron Swastika – The Notion of Hindu "Fascism"", personal website
  7. ^ a b Ramesh N. Rao, Review of "The Saffron Swastika. The Notion of Hindu "Fascism"", Indian Coolie Media blogspot
  8. ^ Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke (2003). Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism, and the Politics of Identity. New York University Press. p. 88. ISBN 0-8147-3155-4. OCLC 47665567. 
  9. ^ Savitri Devi Mukherji: Le National-Socialisme et la Tradition Indienne, with contributions by Vittorio de Cecco, Claudio Mutti and Christian Bouchet, published in the series Cahiers de la Radicalité by Avatar-éditions, Paris/Dublin 2004.
  10. ^
  11. ^ Outlook Apr 8–14, 2008
  12. ^ a b c Camus, J.Y.(2007), The European extreme right and religious extremism. Středoevropské politické studie (CEPSR), (4), 263–279
  13. ^ a b "Advani makeover, with Dalai echo on Ayodhya". Telegraph. 9 January 2004. Retrieved 21 May 2014. 
  14. ^ "Advani, Joshi tried to save Babri mosque: Centre". Times of India. Retrieved 21 May 2014. 
  15. ^ "I Was Prepared To Take The Risk". Outlook. Archived from the original on 21 May 2014. Retrieved 21 May 2014. 
  16. ^ Advani, L.K. My Country, My Life. Rupa. 

External links[edit]