This week saw politicians of all types giving their two bits on the Abu Azmi vs MNS flap. One of them was RSS chiefMohan Bhagwat. When I saw the headline “RSS chief takes swipe at Raj Thackeray on language issue” on timesofindia.com, I was curious as to how RSS would react to this. (I consider RSS as an organization that, in recent times, has morphed into a Hindu-nationalistic one that specializes in marginalizing other faiths.) Bhagwat criticized the attack on Azmi and said, among other things “All Indian languages are our languages. Regional issues are being flared up by politicians only to increase their vote-bank”..say what? Did he just say something that actually makes sense? Well I decided to be open about what he wants to say and read on.
Without naming either Raj Thackeray or MNS, Bhagwat further said that social unity fell victim to such extreme positions. Questioning the logic behind stretching regional issues to such lengths, Bhagwat said politicians are only interested in exploiting the situation for their own good.
This was too good a blog opportunity to pass up for me. This was the pot calling the kettle black, after having rubbed off its soot on all cups and saucers!
Finally he added:
Stating that the RSS stood for the unity of the people and that it respected their diversities, Bhagwat said the philosophy of Hindutva alone could help people come together. “The world today is faced with serious problems and only Hindutva can provide answers to these problems. It’s Hindutva which believes in the world as one family,” he added. Hindutva, he said, was the identity of the country.
I admit I know nothing about Hindutva…except that it sounds like something about a Hindu way of life, and that it was coined by Veer Savarkar. So I decided to read up. And for my benefit, and for the benefit of my readers, here is Hindutva from Wikipedia baba:
Hindutva (Devanagari: हिन्दुत्व, “Hinduness”, a word coined by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar in his 1923 pamphlet entitled Hindutva: Who is a Hindu? ) is the term used to describe movements advocating Hindu nationalism. Members of the movement are called Hindutvadis.
So Hindutva means all those practices that advocate Hindu Nationalism. So does it mean all activities that a Hindu does in order to make his/her nation a hindu nation? Well, not really.
Further, Supreme Court has ruled that
no meaning to the words Hindu or Hindutva or Hinduism can confine them to a religion alone, excluding the content of Indian culture and heritage.
Meaning that Hindutva can be the practice of advocating Hindu nationalism by Indians of any faith or religion. Still confused? Well I am too. Because according to Savarkar Hindutva meant Hinduness or the Hindu Characteristic. So do they all mean to say that Hindu is NOT = person following the Hindu religion but someone from the land of Hindu, aka, Hindustan? Thinking about the line “excluding the content of Indian culture and heritage” makes me realize that the supreme court really meant to refer to Hindus as those inhabiting Hindustan, not those who are Hindu by religion.
The Supreme Court further says:
Ordinarily, Hindutva is understood as a way of life or a state of mind and is not to be equated with or understood as religious Hindu fundamentalism. A Hindu may embrace a non-Hindu religion without ceasing to be a Hindu and since the Hindu is disposed to think synthetically and to regard other forms of worship, strange gods and divergent doctrines as inadequate rather than wrong or objectionable, he tends to believe that the highest divine powers complement each other for the well-being of the world and mankind.
So it seems like Hindutva was never meant to be what it has become today. A movement that represents Indians of the Hindu faith, specially upper class Hindus. It was never meant to be a movement that looks the other way when radicals are mauling people of other faiths solely because of difference in faiths. The earliest proponents of Hindutva believed that
India’s diversity in terms of customs, traditions and ways of worship was its uniqueness and that this diversity was not without the strong underlying cultural basis which was essentially native. The Hindu natives with all their diversity, shared among other things “the same philosophy of life”, “the same values” and “the same aspirations” which formed a strong cultural and a civilizational basis for a nation.”
Hindus are those that inhabit the Indian subcontinent, that includes the areas south of the Himalayas and the Hindu Kush….
So there is a separation of the religion and the philosophy of life. For example you could be a Muslim but your ideas and philosophies were akin to the fundamentals of being a Hindu, you would be a Hindu-muslim? This one will surely send people into a spin and here is where the waters get murky. The Hindu way of life encompasses all who are born and who have adopted Bharat as their Motherland, including Muslims, Christians and Parsis. that the Muslims, Christians and Parsis too are Hindus by culture although as religions they are not so. Then the Hindutva philosophy(as defined by RSS) further states that one of their goals is
Emphasizing historical oppression of Hindus by Colonial invaders like the Muslims and the Christians and the call to “reverse” the cultural influence resulting from these intrusions
wait wait wait! Did we not just call all those who adopted Bharat as their motherland as culturally Hindus? So does not mean that even their way of life and cultural influence be a part of being a Hindu then? So why is Hindutva talking about ‘reversing’ the cultural influence? It seems like one statement negates the other, and only succeeds on confusing the poor(me) reader.
What I want to know is the reactions of people from all faiths on Hindutva. Would you embrace the philosophy if it did not have religious connotations? Do you think there is an ‘Indian’ way of life that represents us all first, then there is a ‘faith-based’ way of life, and that these two can be separated?
There is a treasure trove of information on Hindutva, and I have barely skimmed the surface in this post. Further topics under the Hindutva Philosohpy are uniform civil code, opposition to differential laws, rewriting/reinterpreting history from the point of view of a Hindu, rather than the British PoV that exists currently etc, which I will try to reflect and expand upon in the coming weeks.
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