HINDUTVA: Hinduism that resists injustice and speaks for every downtrodden in the Universe.
Article by Hari Krishna, Published by NRI Herald Australia 20 October 2021
Recently, an infographic, “Hindu is not equal to Hindutva,” was doing the rounds of social media. This infographic elicited a massive response from people from all occupations, including those with social, cultural, and political ideologies. Furthermore, the infographic showed Hindu and Hindutva as polarizing ideologies in contrast with each other. So, what exactly is Hindutva, and whether it is different from Hindu or Hinduism?
Hindutva – The Term and its Origin
Hindutva is an amalgamation of two Sanskrit words, “Hindu” and “tva.” In Sanskrit, “tva” is a secondary suffix that denotes the quality of a being. Accordingly, Hindutva describes the quality of being a Hindu. It is similar to how “brightness” describes the word “bright.” Therefore, Hindu and Hindutva are inseparable.
It is very much an integral part of the word Hindu and thus embodies the qualities of Sanatana Dharma, the basis of Hinduism. Many schools of thought consider this definition of Hindutva to be recent, but it is not. The concept of prefixes and suffixes has been present in Sanskrit since eternity.
Another definition of Hindutva is that Hindutva is a combination of Hindu and Tattva (Principles). Thus, it translates into Hindu Principles. At the practical level, it boils down to upholding righteousness (Sat-guna) and fighting against the evil/ignoble attitudes (Dur-guna). Shri Krishna is the epitome of Hindutva as He upholds Dharma at all times.
Hindutva – From a myopic vision
Various claims are propagated in sections of media which attribute Hindutva as a term coined by the revolutionary leader Vinayak Damodar Savarkar in 1923. However, it is incorrect because Lokmanya Tilak and Chandranath Basu had already used Hindutva in 1892 to portray a traditional Hindu cultural view. Savarkar used the word in a politico-ideological manner, whereas the word Hindutva has deeper connotations.
While Savarkar used a version of Hindutva to promulgate political ideology through struggle for independence, those opposing him use a contradictory & distorted version of the term.
As recent as September 11, 2021, there was an event scheduled on the social media network. Titled “Dismantling Global Hindutva” it was an attempt to present as distorted a version of Hindutva as possible. The very name suggests an element of hate in it. Surprisingly, various renowned universities and organizations had supported the event conducted online globally. The event included academicians and so-called intellectuals presenting a one-sided dangerous version of what they understood as Hindutva.
The primary objective of the Dismantling Global Hindutva conference was to portray Hindutva as a danger to humanity. The choice of the date has also been carefully thought out. September 11 is a date that Americans and the world will never forget in a hurry. That was the day when Islamic terrorists launched a massive attack on the Twin Towers. Hence, launching an event such as Dismantling Global Hindutva on such a day reeks of the hatred these people have for Hindus.
America has a curious tryst with September 11. On this date in 1893, a young, saffron-clad ascetic and individual by the name of Swami Vivekananda introduced the concepts of Hinduism to the American audience. Swami Vivekananda introduced Hinduism as an all-inclusive religion with the highest levels of tolerance. It is this tolerance that fascists take advantage of to berate Hindus and paint them with a tainted brush.
Naturally, true Hindus knowing what Hindutva is, took up cudgels to criticize the event and thrash the ideas espoused through it. The protests began much before the date of the event forcing many universities to withdraw their support to the program. They decided to withdraw their posters and clarified that the university had nothing to do with the conference in any way.
One must also say that such conferences are not new to the world. However, there has been a systematic approach to cutting down the Hindutva influence by presenting distorted facts to the public. Besides, these events do not allow people on the opposite of the fence to put forth their arguments. Unless people listen to both sides of the argument, they cannot judge the true picture.
Distorting Hinduism has been going on for ages in India and abroad. The Indian educational system is one of the primary causes of such propaganda gaining ground over the years. Students learn distorted and colonial versions of Indian history that project events from a different angle. But, unfortunately, the political establishment in India over the years has also ignored it because of vote bank political compulsions.
Some sections of Academia find this gap as breeding zone to distort the essence of Hinduism. Conferences like “Dismantling Global Hindutva” garners audience from disgruntled sections of society who lacked best wishes for Hinduism in the first place. Natural reflexes can be seen through resounding pushback from Hindus all over the world.
Hindutva – The True Picture
Swami Vivekanand, one of the most erudite Hindus in the world, defines a Hindu as a person subscribing to the doctrines and practices of Hinduism. He adds that Hinduism is an umbrella term that includes Vaishnavites, Shaivites, Dvaitinis, Advaitinis, Vishishtadvaitinis, and Shaktas. During his path-breaking address to the Parliament of Religions in 1893 and other subsequent conferences, he explicitly indicated that his application of the term Hindu transcends boundaries of nationality and language.
Arvind Sharma, a reputed scholar on Hinduism, rightly notes that Hindutva does not have a static and monolithic concept. It keeps changing with the times, depending on the social, cultural, and political situations prevalent in the country. Situations like the formulation of neo-Hinduism and the incorrect interpretation of secularism by Indian political parties added a sense of ethnicity to Hindutva and presented a distorted view of the term. Hindutva is as ancient a term as Hindu is. Both these terms are identical and used interchangeably to explain the inclusiveness quality of Hinduism. This quality of inclusiveness acts as a common thread to bind all Indians, regardless of where they originate, together.
Hindutva – A binding ideology, a linguistic viewpoint
The interesting aspect of Hindutva is that it is not associated with a specific religion. It embodies the qualities of Sanatana Dharma that apply to all humanity and not Hindus alone. Hindutva binds all Indians (including Hindus and people following other religious faiths) together and creates a unique identity known as Bharatiya.
It does not distinguish between a Punjabi and a Maharashtrian or a Bengali and Gujarati. Interestingly, all these languages have a common root in Sanskrit, the language of Sanatana Dharma.
Tamil scholars might disagree and argue that Tamil (or Tamizh, pronounced correctly) is the oldest known Indian language. It might be true, but it does not take away from the fact that Sanskrit is an equally ancient language that has inspired various Indian languages. Most Indian languages borrow the Devanagari script used by Sanskrit. Thus, we can say that Sanskrit binds Indians together. All Hindu texts like the Vedas and the Puranas are in Sanskrit.
Hindutva – A binding ideology, a spiritual viewpoint
Hinduism is an all-inclusive religion that does not discriminate between other faiths. Hence, Hindu principles (Hindutva) state that anyone, regardless of which religion they belong to, upholding the values of righteousness practices Hindutva.
Righteousness, in simple terms, is the state of being morally upright and correct. It is more of a spiritual term than a religious one. Righteous people can transcend geographical, linguistic, and religious limitations and look at people globally as human. This quality is the core element of Hindutva.
Anyone practicing Hinduism automatically considers other people as creations of nature and thus, shares an inseparable bond with them. Hinduism does not discriminate between religions, and the true practitioners of Hinduism bond with all human beings, irrespective of their religious, social, or political affiliations.
To sum up…
India is a vast country where people speak numerous languages. Under such circumstances, there is always room for disagreement. However, Hinduism is the common binding agent that keeps Indians from all parts of India together. Hindutva binds a person to live by core principles that value humanity and righteousness over everything else. Hindutva, an integral part of Sanatana Dharma, speaks in a language understood by all who espouse the qualities of Dharma with the sole aim of attaining Moksha. Hence, the terms Hindu and Hindutva are identical and interchangeable. The time has now come for people to understand the true meaning of the words Hindu and Hindutva.