Mumbai: Stating that accepting diversity has been a unique quality of Indians, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat on Thursday said, "We came to know that 'puja' (worship) is so important during the Islamic invasion of India."
"We never thought puja is important. We realised it is important during the invasion of Islam," Bhagwat said.
"We were shocked when we were introduced to those who wanted to force their ways of worship on us," Bhagwat added during a lecture here tonight on the death anniversary of freedom fighter and Hindutva ideologue V D Savarkar who had passed away in 1966.
"We never forced anyone to change their worship habits," the RSS chief said, speaking in Marathi.
"Dharma (religion) does not mean puja. It is a combination of character and responsibilities," he said.
Lauding Savarkar for his "fierce nationalism", Bhagwat bemoaned that the country did little to recognise his contribution to nation-building.
"What did we, the society give Savarkar? He was dragged into a shameful court case after the Independence (apparent reference to Savarkar's arraignment in Mahatma Gandhi assassination case). Savarkar's plaque at the Cellular Jail at Andamans was also removed," he said.
Former minister from Vidarbha, Jambuwantrao Dhote, who also spoke, said, "Most of the Christians and Muslims here were originally Hindus."
Though Bhagwat did not refer to his recent remarks about Mother Teresa, Dhote said there was nothing wrong in what the RSS chief had said.
Bhagwat's statement that the motive behind Teresa's social work was conversion had stirred up a controversy.