Thursday, November 24, 2005

Hindutva - its basic ideology

Some of my thoughts on Hindutva, about it ideology and basis:

If one observes the Indian life closely, one quality which becomes immediately apparent is that religion is the one and sole interest of the people of India. For good or bad, religion pervades almost every sphere of life in India. People eat religiously, talk religiously, walk religiously and even rob religiously. Even if a robber in India has to find some followers, he has to explain the art of robbery as one of the 64 spiritual arts. We will not go into details whether such interpretations and manipulations are correct or not, nor shall we go into pros and cons of it. The point to be understood is that vitality of the Indian life lies in religion, you touch them there and they respond. Whenever Indians came together and fought, it was under the banner of religion.

It is this issue of deep intermingling of religion and life that the thinkers trying to revive the weakened India were faced with. The reactionaries and communists reacted by rejecting the whole of its religion and culture. They thus tried to transplant the whole tree of national life whose roots are deep inside religion to another place. The other group like Vivekananda, Aurobindo saw the potential of religion. They realized that one can work only under the law of least resistance, and that religious line is the line of least resistance in India.

One saw religion covering bad aspects of life in India and thus rejected the whole of it. The other group saw the potential of religion in it and its ability to guide the life of people. They have also observed that though religion forms the basis of Indian life, it also gives lot of freedom for change in religious ideas. This was because freedom is the first condition to growth and religious ideas in India have always flourished under the freedom they received in that subject.

Religion thus became the means of social development in India. For example saying “it is the same atman which is pervading all the beings, then how is one lower and one higher” to tackle the caste problem, or saying “the god pervades every corner of this universe, and manifests the most in humans; thus to serve a poor man is equivalent to serving Shiva himself” for generating sense of social responsibility... and there was no need for them even to invent new things. They were already there. One had to just give those ideas new life.

The same with the case of nationalism. If there is anything which is common and has the ability to unify and bind all the various regions of India, it is Hinduism alone. Here I am not referring to Hinduism as a set of beliefs (which again is very diverse), but about the Hindu attitude and culture. Religion thus once more became the means for generating nationalistic attitude. Whether it is the “For the next fifty years this alone shall be our keynote — this, our great Mother India. Let all other vain gods disappear for the time from our minds” of Swami Vivekananda, or the Vandemataram of Bakim Chandra where he identifies India with Goddess Bhavani or the freedom struggle under the leadership of Gandhi who had to explain Satyagraha as a spiritual practice or the first war of Independence which again was started because of religious reasons... all of them demonstrated the potential of religion in uniting and activating Indians towards action.

It is this idea of Hindu-ness as the foundation of nationalism which forms the basis of Hindutva.

I can sum up the whole Hindutva ideology as:

Good of Hindus = Good of India
Good of India = Good of Hindus

[Note the purpose of mentioning of it in the reverse order also; for life is not maths]

The word Hinduva originates from Hindu-Tattva or Hindu-nature or Hindu-ness. Hence Hindutva just symbolizes the "Hindu-ness".

When we say Hindu-ness, it is also very important to first define what one means by that word.

It is very difficult to give a precise definition of Hinduism and there is no one commonly accepted definition of the word Hindu. The Indian law also fails to do the same. Supreme court in a judgment ruled that the word Hindu does not mean a fixed belief system but refers to a way of life, a culture and territorial region. Vivekananda explained the word Hindu as referring to people living on this side of Sindhu. Sangh and Savarkar refined it a little and defined the word Hindu as “those who identify Bharat as their motherland” (I am using the word Bharat instead of India as India refers to a political and geographical entity; while Bharat refers to a conscious cultural and geographical concept; both are almost same but with little differences)

The word Hindu thus does not exclude people of other religions from it as long as they consider Bharat to be their motherland and identify its happiness/sorrow as their happiness/sorrow. As Advani once said “those residing in the country are Hindus even if many of them believe in different religions”

What then is the issue of disagreement of these groups with the minorities and why then does some feel, like the article says “one which has pretensions to being all-inclusive, but which demonises Muslims”? The complaint of these groups against minorities is their “religion first” attitude, instead of “nation first” attitude. While the history of Islam in India had always raised doubts about Islamic tolerance, the partition of India with the support of many Muslims added conviction that Muslims care little about the idea of India. Thus the problem is not with Muslims or Islam, but with the “religion first” and worse “religion even at the cost of partition of nation” that is the problem.

The question which was thus posed at the Hindus was “how far can we tolerate intolerance?” One has to note the fact that clear distinction between Muslims and Islam is always maintained. Even the poster boys of media for Hindu fundamentalism do not dare to call other religions as ‘false’. One may take it as my challenge.. quote any note worthy Hindu leader or even a member of Bajarang Dal etc calling other religions as ‘false’. Acceptance of other ways of worship as true is not just a quality but a necessity for Hinduism keeping in view its diverse ideas and beliefs.

It is at this question of “how far can one tolerate intolerance” that grapples the Hindu mind. The Hindu society has been divided into two extremes regarding this:

1) One sections like the bajarag dal feels that Hindus should leave their tolerance. "Being tolerant is making the Hindu society weak. Conversions are being carried out with sword and money, but we are simply sitting and seeing tamasha. Time is not away when Hindus will be wiped out just the way all the native american and african civilizations has been wiped out" is their line of thinking.

2) The other end is the 'pseudo-secularists'. They do not eve accept that there is a problem. They try to justify everything, change the history if necessary. They selectively see only the acts of Hindus. For them it is communal to talk about Hinduism, but secular to give reservations based on religion. BJP is communal for them, but Muslim League of Kerala or Muslim Majlis party in Hyderabad are secular (both are the ‘secular’ allies of Congress). They turn a blind eye to all the Hindu grievances. They are not even to ready to accept that Hindus are being selectively killed by Muslims in Kashmir, Bangladesh; that Church is directly supporting terrorists in Northeast, and a Hindu cannot even celebrate his festivals there. Minority appeasement became the new form of secularism.

But still for ordinary Hindus, the question still remains the same: “Should I become intolerant to preserve my religion with its tolerance; or should I be tolerant, and allow tolerance itself to be destroyed” It is because of their ability to tackle this question effectively that makes Vivekananda and other similar thinkers close to Hindu heart.

They made no effort to paint the incidents of intolerance in nice colours nor about the ‘evil idolaters’ worshipping ‘devils’, nor did they leave thier . It is from these ideas that the concept of “Intellectual Khatriya” comes (the word was coined by David Frawley). It is here that the Hindutva ideas of tolerance differ very much from that of Gadhian ideas of tolerance. Tolerance should not be misunderstood as timidity and inaction. Tolerance is of a Master, not of a slave. What power does a timid have other than simply sit and see, and which he calls to himself as tolerance. To compromise with falsehood is not tolerance or non-violence. It is self-destruction. To turn away in fear or hesitation, not to stand up for what one believes is true, is not modesty but self-betrayal. The challenge before the Hindu society then will be to differentiate evil from the evil doer.

Being a supporter of Hindutva does not mean that all the Hindus start having swords and kill everybody, and be intolerant. All it requires is to be aware of various threat. So, the next time some guy tries a cheap appeasement tricks, you will simply laugh at his lies and hence his purpose is defeated. At the same time we have no grudges against him, and tolerant towards him.

This approach is based on the observation that though Hindus have been subject to many a attacks, the primary reason for their success was not their overwhelming power or that the Hindus are weak fighters.... but coz they could successfully divert the Hindus against the Hindu society. All this was made possible because of:

1. inaction of the Hindus to resist an aggression

2. inability to understand the psychology of the aggressor properly (they assumed enemies were also bound by the same laws- like Prithvi Raj setting free Ghouri- while they were actually not)

3. inability of the Hindu society to give a combined resistance

Hence, it is in these spheres that most of the work these days is proceeding, for what the Hindus lack is not strength, but the will to act.

And most importantly it not just talk, but follow in our life the religious ideals, coz religion does not lie in theories, but in practice. I feel this way we can remain tolerant, and yet preserve our tolerance.


Post a Comment

<< Home