Indian Express

What Hindutva seeks

Ashutosh Varshney’s analysis misinterprets Savarkar’s own writings. Tweet This
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Hinduness as a cultural identity that this ancient nation has come to acquire is what Hindu nationalists have always propagated. Hinduness as a cultural identity that this ancient nation has come to acquire is what Hindu nationalists have always propagated.

By: Ram Madhav

Referring to V.D. Savarkar’s Hindutva as the basic work of Hindu nationalists, Ashutosh Varshney highlights what he surmises as the “three ideas” that constitute the “thematic core” of their ideology (‘Modi the Moderate’, IE, March 27). First, Hindus are the primary, or exclusive, owners of the Indian nation. India is a Hindu rashtra (nation). Second, two minorities — Christians and especially Muslims — have a profound, ambivalent relationship with India. Third, caste divisions within Hinduism and caste-based politics need to be minimised, for they undermine Hindu unity. The lower castes should follow the Brahminical model of Hinduism.

Hinduness as a cultural identity that this ancient nation has come to acquire is what Hindu nationalists have always propagated. In this proposition, Hindu doesn’t represent any religion or mode of worship. Instead, it is a set of values that have come to be known as the Sanatana Dharma. Savarkar himself had given a clear definition to the word “Hindu” in his book: Aasindhu sindhu paryantaa Yasya Bharata Bhoomika/ Pitrubhu Punyabhuchaiva Tavai Hinduriti Smritah. Translated, “Those who regard this land of Bharat spread between the river Sindhu (in the north) and the ocean Sindhu (Sindhu Sagar — Indian Ocean in the south) as their Pitrubhumi (fatherland) and Punyabhumi (holy land) are called Hindus”.

It is more about an emotional bonding with the country in which they were born. But Savarkar never differentiated Hindus and Muslims as superior and inferior. In the manifesto of “Hindu Rashtra”, which Varshney had referred to as the basic text, Savarkar states: “Religious minorities will have all the right to practise their religion in a Hindu Rashtra and the state will ensure that; but the Hindu Rashra won’t allow creation of a nation within a nation in the name of religious minoritysm.” What’s wrong with it? This is exactly the situation in the country where Varshney has grown up and prospered, the United States.

In fact, M.S. Golwalkar, “Guruji”, told an Iranian scholar by the name of Saifuddin Jeelani in 1971: “According to our ways of religious belief and philosophy, a Muslim is as good as a Hindu. It is not the Hindu alone who will reach the ultimate Godhead. Everyone has the right to follow his path according to his own persuasion. That is our attitude.” Where is the question of primacy or exclusivity?

Varshney insinuates that Savarkar had said of Christians and Muslims that “India is not their ‘punyabhumi (holy land)’ “. “As a result their love for India is ‘divided’. They need to demonstrate their fidelity to India, or must be made into Indians; Indian loyalties cannot be assumed to exist,” is how Varshney interprets Savarkar’s view.

It is important to note that Savarkar had always maintained that continued…

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