(Ram Rajya Parishad = RRP fondé par Karpatri. Sanatani = Orthodoxes) Karpatri also championed the revival of large-scale Vedic sacrifices, for which he solicited funds from merchants and industrialists.(109) His rigid conservatism was perhaps most evident in his attitude toward the socially oppressed, for while some liberal Sanatanis paid lip service to the notion of a varna -based(*) social order of only four grades and advocated (in principle) the “purification” of untouchables, Karpatri unashamedly argued for the maintenance of the status quo, including the continued ostracism of people at the bottom of the system. Thus, he opposed the opening of temples to untouchables, in accordance with the provisions of the new constitution: “When some Harijans entered the premises of Vishvanath Temple in Varanasi, he declared that the idol of Vishvanath-ji had become devoid of all Divine Virtues and was nothing more than a piece of stone. After this incident, he constructed another Vishvanath Temple in Varanasi. During the late 1950s and early 1960s, the R.R.P. contemplated merging with one or more of the other rightist parties—a move that might have strengthened its overall position. But the bottom line for Karpatri usually proved to be varna(*) , and so merger talks with the Jana Sangh broke down in 1956 over his insistence that the other party exclude Harijans from membership.(116) When B. D. Tripathi conducted research among sadhus in the mid-1960s, he was surprised to find that even they evinced little support for the R.R.P. Karpatri himself managed to remain in the limelight by periodically unpacking the old reliables of Sanatani sentiment; thus, in 1966 he led 125,000 protestors in a march on Parliament protesting cow slaughter—a demonstration that ended with the torching of vehicles and police firing.
Any judgment of the failure of Karpatri’s party must be tempered by an awareness of the relatively greater success of several other rightist parties. It is easy enough to laugh at Karpatri’s posturing and to dismiss the R.R.P. manifesto as a “handbook for Indian reactionaries and obscurantists,”(118) but one should not overlook the fact that more moderate and successful conservative leaders advocated programs that were in substantial agreement with those of the R.R.P. Also participating in the 1952 elections were the Hindu Mahasabha and the newly formed Bharatiya Jana Sangh. The former secured roughly a million votes and four seats in the Lok Sabha with a manifesto that advocated an “undivided” India (i.e., the nullification of Pakistan), cow protection, and Ayurvedic medicine and opposed Nehru’s Hindu Code Bill. On social issues the Mahasabha adopted a more reformist stance than the R.R.P., advocating “Harijan uplift” and women’s rights but, as Erdman has noted, the rhetoric can be misleading since many Mahasabha supporters no more believed in the literal implementation of such ideas than their R.R.P. counterparts did in those of Swami Karpatri.
Although we should not overlook the ideological differences among the rightist parties—in 1954 the Jana Sangh supported the abolition of untouchability and the opening of temples to Harijans—we may recognize that many of these differences were literally “ideological” and had little bearing on practical approaches to real-world problems. Rejection of the concept of untouchability had become, by 1954, almost as politically acceptable as motherhood and Ramraj , as improved transportation and growing urbanization made it increasingly difficult to limit physical contact with the socially oppressed, and the anachronistic views of Karpatri became a liability for conservatives.
Perhaps Karpatri’s biggest failing as a politician was that he never mastered the language of euphemism favored by English-educated intellectuals.(122) In his ingenuous fanaticism, he proclaimed the letter of Ramraj as he read it, complete with Chamars heading shoe companies. Sad to say, such ideas, apart from their absurd unenforceability, were rather on the idealistic side.