this essay was written 26 years ago, in the aftermath of the 1984 carnage of Sikhs in New Delhi. It was my first attempt at arguing that communalism was India’s version of Nazism, and that it was a singular phenomenon with different religious (and mutually influential) expressions, rather than an arithmetic total of separately existing communalisms. The essay was published in several places, including Social Science Probings and the newspaper Patriot. It last appeared in Mainstream, and was posted on SACW till recently, when I withdrew it in order to make typographical corrections. Some errors and/or insufficient details may remain in the main text as well as in the footnotes - I will try and remove them over time.