September29 , 2022

Future of Hindutva

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Editorial – Varshapratipada 5109

Written by Dr. Nachiketa Tiwari

Over past 60 years, experts on India have contested fiercely on the question: Why should India exist? For some the answer lies in advancing the cause of Indian civilization. For others, India is no different from so many other nations, it has no civilizational purpose, and that it exists merely to meet the utilitarian needs of her people. Many in this group go to the extent of arguing that dismantling of India is a historical imperative. Some consider India as a contested space with unsettled destiny.

From the Editor… 

Over past 60 years, experts on India have contested fiercely on the question: Why should India exist? For some the answer lies in advancing the cause of Indian civilization. For others, India is no different from so many other nations, it has no civilizational purpose, and that it exists merely to meet the utilitarian needs of her people. Many in this group go to the extent of arguing that dismantling of India is a historical imperative. Some consider India as a contested space with unsettled destiny.

This incoherence about India has amplified significantly in second half of 20th century. The fundamental reason for this increased dissonance about our national identity is that we have not understood the core essentials of our civilization. Half-baked theories have been advanced which portray every sacred and unifying element of India’s civilizational core in worst possible terms thereby generating self-doubt, which slowly gnaws away our civilizational roots, making us weak and effete.

This challenge to our civilization is not merely academic. Four different ideologies have forged a tactical alliance to finish off Hindu civilzation so as to advance their own selfish interests. These are the Leftists, the Islamists, the Christian Imperialists, and the Western Capitalists. Their strategy is two-pronged – to project Hindutva as an ‘us versus them’ ideology thereby reducing its appeal in general ; and to project Hindutva as retrograde – anti-women, anti-Harijan, anti-weak, anti-minority, illiberal.  

An effective response to such attacks should have three key elements – understanding the core essentials of Hindutva in precise terms, communicating this understanding to people, and developing and implementing a road-map for translating this vision into reality.

Hindutva is an abstract noun. Literally, it means Hindu-ness. Grammatically the term is a fusion of the word ‘Hindu’ and the Sanskrit word ‘tatva’, which loosely translates to ‘characteristic’. It is the glue that holds Hindu society together. Hindutva provides the foundation for the Hindu society. It is the social component of our identity and provides us with social capital.  Hindutva is not a term of religion. It does not deal with after-life theories, worship practices, nature of reality, religious beliefs, the origin and fate of universe, the nature of atman, the reality or lack of samsara, and conceptions of Ishvara. These questions lie in the realm of spirituality and religion. In all likelihood, we were given the name ‘Hindu’ by foreigners coming from West of India. They referred to us by a single term because they understood that  we, despite our spiritual diversity, have always subscribed to a common core set of unique values, thereby making us one people.

Hindu society has endured for so long, because it is united by a set of common and sanaatan values known as samaanya dharma. For Hindus, Dharma is inviolable, and supercedes beliefs. Our avataars of Ishwar descend on Earth not to enhance the number of their devotees, but to ensure that those who follow Dharma are protected. In contrast, for followers of non-Hindu traditions, beliefs are inviolable and supercede Dharma. While the unity of Hindus is anchored in our common values and duties, the unity of other traditional societies is rooted in their commonly held beliefs.

Thus, Hindutva is a reference for all those values and duties, which are shared by seemingly diverse but interconnected Indic spiritual traditions. An organic and sovereign entity run by Hindus, who are bonded by a common set of values, is called Hindu rashtra.

All Hindus, regardless of our spiritual diversity, adhere to the same set of values which constitutes the samaanya dharma for Sikh, Bauddha, Jain traditions, and Manusmriti.

All Hindus, regardless of our spiritual diversity, adhere to the same set of values which constitutes the samaanya dharma for Sikh, Bauddha, Jain traditions, and Manusmriti.

Manusmriti

Jainism

Buddhism

Sikhism

Dhriti

Forbearance

Right view

Ahimsa

Kshama

Modesty

Right intention

Brahmcharya

Dam

Transparency

Right speech

No intoxicants

Asteya

Purity

Right action

Awareness

Shaucha

Truth

Right livelihood

 

Indriya-nigraha

Self-restraint

Right effort

 

Dhee

Austerity

Rt. awareness

 

Vidya

Detachment

Rt. concentration

 

Satya

Brahmcharya

  

Akrodha

   

Then, what is the nature and purpose of a State run by Hindus? The answer to this question is very clearly provided in Vaidik texts. Here are the salient features of a Hindu rashtra.The existential purpose of rashtra is promotion of human welfare. Rashtra can fulfill its purpose only if it is strong. The Atharvaveda says; “The sages carried out austere penances for the welfare of mankind; and out of that (penance) was born rashtra endowed with strength and prowess. Let us worship this rashtra-devata”.

The Hindutva movement has plateaued. This stagnation is attributable to two principal reasons – increasing incoherence within the pro-Hindutva community, and diminishing growth in the popularity of Hindutva as an ideology. Both of these factors feed on each other. The number of adherents to Hindutva is not growing because the movement is increasingly perceived as being asynchronous with societal needs. As long as there remains a perception that Hindutva touches upon only the macro-aspects of national life (security, culture, foreign policy, etc.) its grip on popular imagination will remain limited. Hindutva should also touch upon micro-issues, such as social justice, economic well-being and good-governance. Thus, addressing individual issues constitutes the first element of a repositioning approach.

But then, the world also needs Hindutva as an anchor for development. Current developmental paradigms have their limitations, and humanity is looking for approaches that further human happiness in sustainable ways. Thus, positioning Hindutva as the provider of loka-hitam for the world in general constitutes the second element of a repositioning approach. This makes Hindutva acceptable the world over.  However, global acceptability of Hindutva will only be in proportion to its acceptability within India. Currently, about a quarter of India’s population votes for Hindutva. Growing from practically a non-existent base in 1947 to this level is no mean achievement. But then, it should also be realized that these votaries of Hindutva on their own would be unable to effect long-term self-sustaining meaningful changes in India’s polity, since they do not assure Hindutva forces a numerical majority in our governance structures.A further spread of Hindutva in India requires that it be strongly positioned as an ideology, which promises justice (social and economic) to all and also ensures that our state is strong, confident and culturally enlightened. Only once this is achieved can we embark on offering Hindutva as a civilizational alternative to people of the world. Specifically, this implies – Creating and supporting movements and organizations (NGOs) which genuinely promote human rights, social and economic justice, gender empowerment, environmental responsibility and peace; ensuring that these movements also attribute their activism to their Hindu-ness; vigorous and emotional grass roots activism to further causes of socio-economic justice; and reasoned, factual, and dispassionate articulation of the Hindutva “theory” whenever and wherever possible Indian civilization is rooted in the idea of Hindutva and that Hindutva is popular only to the extent people feel that they have a stake in its promotion. Hence, social and economic justice, are thrust areas which Hindutva forces have to focus on in order to promote Hindutva and Hindu rashtra.

Such an ideological positioning, which is consistent with our shastric edicts, will also enhance Hindutva’s support base in both quantitative and qualitative terms. Only once India emerges as the undisputed seat of Hindutva, can we credibly offer Hindutva as a viable alternative to current dominant social, political and economic paradigms, which continue to shape global institutions and societies in ways not necessarily conducive to loka-hitam.

(The Editorial was authored by Dr. Nachiketa Tiwari) 

Dr. Nachiketa Tiwari
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