September29 , 2022

Re-defining and positioning “Hindutva” for the Global Age

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Re-defining and positioning “Hindutva” for the Global Age

by Dr. Mahesh Mehta

The human race starting as nomadic tribal groups of people in prehistoric times has arrived in the Global Age today meanwhile undergoing many transformations beginning with survival instincts thru development of ideas, ideologies, isms and religions guiding their behaviors as individuals, families and societies.  These changes were aimed at the enhancement of their living conditions, fulfillment of individuals and development of purposeful missions for human life here on this planet and hereafter for Eternal Happiness. In the past three hundred years the development of science and technology has contributed significantly in advancing the understanding of the Natural Laws, the Physical laws, material sciences, health sciences and engineering.

Re-defining and positioning “Hindutva” for the Global Age 

Dr. Mahesh Mehta, Boston 

A Note for the Readers: 

The main thread of the thought in this paper is to present the evolution of human thought, the development of political ideologies in India and the emergence of Hindutva as a dynamic force to promote the values of Hindu Dharma in public life. The Hindutva movements have made significant contributions in the social transformation of India and yet have been maligned in India as anti-secular, communal or fundamentalist. While the social transformation can continue at the current rate or even at an accelerated rate in India, unless it is backed up by the political will of the elected policy makers and the central and the state governments, the results may not satisfy the needs of the society and become a hurdle in positioning India among the leaders of the world. Moreover the direction and magnitude of growth in India could very well lead the nation away from the great ancestral dream of guiding the human beings toward global harmony and hope to provide opportunities to achieve their full potential. It is therefore imperative for the leaders of modern India to launch a new political movement as an alternative strategy to challenge the current apathy or misgivings among the citizens of India by changing the political dialogue of secularism versus Hindutva to secularism versus Dharma.

 

The essential elements of the paper can be captured with a cursory reading of the details of the social issues and the role of Hindutva movements discussed in the paper.

 Human Thought Evolution  

The human race starting as nomadic tribal groups of people in prehistoric times has arrived in the Global Age today meanwhile undergoing many transformations beginning with survival instincts thru development of ideas, ideologies, isms and religions guiding their behaviors as individuals, families and societies.  These changes were aimed at the enhancement of their living conditions, fulfillment of individuals and development of purposeful missions for human life here on this planet and hereafter for Eternal Happiness. In the past three hundred years the development of science and technology has contributed significantly in advancing the understanding of the Natural Laws, the Physical laws, material sciences, health sciences and engineering.

 

The Greek and Roman philosophies, the power of Church in Europe, the European Renaissance, the development of Rational Thinking and science, the birth of the ideologies of nationalism, socialism and communism and the emergence of the American Nation based on the ideals of liberty, democracy, and capitalism all have evolved in the past many millennia.

 Western and Eastern Paradigms 

For at least the past few centuries the Western Paradigm of life is dominating the world. The contributions of ideas, ideologies, and the current economic and political systems are all Eurocentric or are rooted in western philosophies.

 

An entirely different paradigm of life developed in India thousands of years ago, long before the developments of the Greek and Roman thought, described as Sanatan Dharma or Vedic Knowledge and later named as Hindu Dharma pervading all spheres of human life from material sciences to moral laws. In the history of the development of human thought and culture this fact needs to be acknowledged by the scholars of the world. The ancient wisdom of the seers and sages of Bharat and their contributions to the development of an eastern or Integral World View has to be brought out in modern parlance using modern means of communications.

 

The ancient wisdom described as Darshan by the Hindu seers is the intuitional knowledge thru their contacts with the Cosmic Intelligence. The Darshans are revealed in deep meditation and are neither philosophies rooted in the power of Rational Thinking as in the west nor the earlier knowledge rooted in the survival instincts.

 Epistemology of words 

Ideas are stray thoughts. Ideologies are crystallized thoughts. Isms are fossilized thoughts. Darshans are intuitional thoughts. Dharma is knowledge rooted in Cosmic Intelligence. Religions are traditions, beliefs and practices to relate individual self to personal or impersonal, with form (Sakar) or formless (Nirakar), Ishwar or God. Organized religions are mass movements aimed at directing or controlling human behavior based on non verifiable claims or as articles of faith in the scriptures.

 

Darshans are not ideologies. Napoleon labeled a group of philosophers opposing his imperial ambitions as “ideologists.” The term later became integral part of Marxist proletarian movement. The monopoly of the Marxists over the use of the term ideology ended with other thoughts like Nazism or Fascism described as ideologies. Now ideology is established as a vehicle of idealists who subscribe to the ideals of radically transforming the societies to break the status quo of the realities of the human life (1).

 Emergence of the concept of Hindutva                       

In the nineteenth and twentieth century Indian leaders gave a clarion call to the people of India to drive out the British Colonial Rule from India and establish an Independent Nation. The masses were inspired by slogans like Vande Mataram, Glory to Mother India. The spirit of national consciousness was awakened with spiritual fervor by leaders like Swami Vivekananda, Shree Aurbindo and others (2, 3, 4.). The term Hindutva was coined by Swatantraveer Savarkar to describe the national identity rooted in the core values of Hindu Dharma. Later the term was adopted by organizations like Hindu Mahasabha, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and others to energize the masses with much diversity of religious beliefs, languages, customs, dresses and above all the evils of high and low castes based on birth and developing a feeling of Oneness based on Hindutva (5)

 Experimenting with Ideologies in Independent India 

The leaders of the Indian Independence movement imposed their own perceptions on millions of Indian masses in the hope of transforming India and bring her to the center stage of the world affairs. The Indian politicians of the Congress party and other leftist parties experimented with the ideologies of socialism, democratic socialism and secularism. The first step necessary after independence was to define the national identity in tune with the national spirit of India. However the partition of India at the time of independence developed a psychological complex in the Congress leaders to win the hearts of the Muslim minority by defining secularism as a political philosophy with a special twist of appeasement in favor of the religious minorities. In the post Independence era under the leadership of Pandit Nehru the nation was guided by the principles of secularism and planned economic development on the lines of the Socialist model of the USSR. An alternative model for the economic and political development in Bharat, based on the principles of Integral Humanism was proposed by leaders like Pandit Deen dayal Upadhyaya. A new political party named Bharitya Jan Sangh , under the leadership of Dr. Shyamaprasad Mukerjeee was launched in1951. This party challenged the distorted practice of secularism to appease the religious minorities by Congress- the party in power.

 Relevant Observations from Indian Constitution 

At this stage it is important to make two important observations about the Indian Constitution. First, the article one of the Indian Constitution defines the name of the country as,” India that is Bharat.”(6) The question is why the framers of the Indian Constitution and the Parliament that adopted the Constitution did not keep the ancient name of the country as Bharat or Bharat Varsha or Bharat Khand or Hindustan?  Was the name India adopted to cut out the thousands of years of Indian history and heritage?  Was it aimed at erasing the inspiring history of ancient India from the minds of the future generations of India? Second, the original Indian Constitution did not refer to secularism as a guiding principle. The words secular and socialist were introduced as the forty second amendment of the constitution during the period of Indian Emergency imposed by the then Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi in 1975-77.

 Origin and Interpretations of Secularism 

Just as the words ideology, fundamentalism, Fascism, Nazism etc were introduced in some specific context and later applied to other events over a period of time so also the word secular was introduced at some time in history and later applied with some altered meaning to it. The root of the word secular is in Latin word ‘saeculum’ meaning a ‘period’ also meaning ‘world’. According to the Holy Bible God created the world in six days and He rested on the seventh day. He, ‘The Father’ is in Heaven and hence the world is devoid of God and hence secular. This is in contrast to the Hindu view of creation as described in the Upanishads “Ishwar is pervading the entire creation and the creation is Holy.” Later in Europe the power of the State and the power of the Church came in conflict. The State declared its independence from the Church and became secular. Secularism is a system of social ethics based upon a doctrine that ethical standards and conduct should be determined exclusively with reference to the present life and social well being without reference to religion (7).  It was meant to describe the non- interference of religion in the matters of State but never meant to make the rulers irreligious or anti-religious. Even the Head of the state in the United States of America takes an oath of his office by keeping his hand on the Bible. Also the US Congress opens with a prayer by the Chaplain. Even the constitution of the USA is presented in the name of God and the US currency has the imprint, “In God We Trust.” But in India, secularism is equated with anti religious and particularly anti Hindu practice to appease the religious minorities. The advocates of secularism in India appear to be mostly agnostics or atheists and are the products of the colonial rule. Many secularists are privately practicing religion but are afraid to admit in public to maintain their image.

 

Since Independence the leaders like Pandit Nehru and others have made untiring efforts to imprint on the minds of the Indian Intelligentsia that Hindu identity is a mark of communalism, narrow mindedness, backwardness  and the national identity with Hindu Cultural Nationalism is anti-secular, lacking progressive attitude and detrimental to the secular image of India. India, a country of over one billion people, having 85% Hindu population is left confused about the national identity. Among the seventy percent people living in rural areas of India, who have very little or no knowledge of English, calling them Indians has failed to provide any sense of belonging to a great nation.

 Dharma at the root of National Identity 

The vast majority of the people of Bharat know that their roots are in the soil of Bharat, their Motherland. This majority is inspired by Dharma and keeps trying to live according to the tenets of Sanatan Dharma while following diverse modes of worship and beliefs.

Swami Vivekananda and Maharshi Aurobindo had given the linkage of spiritual vision to rebuild Bharat rooted in Sanatan Dharma. All the prominent leaders of India including Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Nehru, Lokmanya Tilak, Chakrborty Rajaji were inspired by Swami Vivekananda’s call for the worship of Bharat Mata. Thus the concept of nationality is rooted in spirituality and Dharma. In the Ramayana, Bhagwan Shree Ram expresses his love for Motherland saying,

 

“Api svarnamayi Lanka na me rochte Lakshman

  Janani Janmabhoomishcha  swargadapi gariyasi.”

 

“O, Lakshman, I do not like Lanka even though filled with gold

 My Motherland is the most adorable even compared to Heaven.”

 

The call of “Vande Mataram ” “Glory to the Mother.” inspired thousands of young men and women in India to lay down their lives for the Freedom of India. Mahatma Gandhi was deeply religious and aspired for Ram Rajya meaning Dharma Based Bharat and not Secular Bharat. 

 

On the other hand the perception is that the primary allegiance of the people of the minorities is to their religion and then comes the allegiance to Bharat. The minorities therefore hesitate from becoming the main stream society of Bharat. The special status of religious minority allows them favored treatment over the majority of the people due to the twisted meaning of secularism by the secular and leftist parties in India. This status appears at the root of the lack of urge among these people to become integrated in the national consciousness.

 Hindu, Hindu Dharma and Hindutva: Hindu in Persian Literature 

Who is a Hindu? How and when did the Hindu identity come into existence? The word Hindu has no mention in the ancient scriptures, the Vedas. Instead the value system of the people of Bharat was known as Sanatan Dharma.

 

In the book entitled Bhartiya Sanskriti the origin of the word ‘Hindu’ is explained based on the word ‘Sindhu’. The ancestors of the present Parsees who were residents of Iran knew the Aryas of Bharat by the name of Hindus. The Iranians themselves were the people of Bharat. Perhaps this is the reason they may have called the Bhartis as the Aryans living beyond Hindu River or Hindu Aryas, the S in Sanskrit pronounced as H in Persian language (8). Thus the Vedic name Sapta Sindhu is mentioned as Hapta Hindu in Avestha. Following this lead the Greeks, almost all Europe and late Americans began to call us Hindus or Indians.  

 

To quote from the book “Discovery of India” Mr. Nehru writes, “The word Hindu does not occur at all in the ancient literature but it is clear that the word is very old one, as it occurs in the Avestha and in old Persian. It was used then and for a thousand years or more lately by the people of Western and Central Asia for India or rather for the people living on the other side of Indus or Sindhu river. The word is clearly derived from Sindhu, the old as well as the present Indian name for the Indus. From the word Sindhu was derived the word Hindu and Hindustan, as well as Indus and India.

 

The land described as Sapta Sindhu covered the lands from the Caspian Sea in the west to the Hindu Kush and beyond in the east, Pamirs in the north to Punjab, Sindh and Kashmir in south. This description of Bharat in Avestha agrees with the one given by Alberuni (9).

 Hindu in Chinese Literature 

Bharat used to be known as T’ien Chu by the ancient Chinese. Yuan Chwang writes T’ien Chu (India) is derived from Shen-tu and Sien or Hien-tou, now pronounced as Yin-tu means Moon, the prominent among the stars, referring to India as the shining star among the other nations. According to Chwang Tien-Chu Shen-tu and Sien-tu are dialectical varieties of Yin-tu that is also written as In-tu referring to Sanskrit word Indu (moon) so the word Hindu appeared to be derived from ‘Sindu’ or ‘Indu’ or both (10).

 

Even if both the names Hindusthan and India have the same origin in Sindhu river, India is a name given much later by Europeans. Hindusthan or Mother Bharat relates to the entire Vedic period and the history of glorious Bharat, the history of great personalities like Prithviraj, Guru Gobind Singh, Chhatrapati Shivaji. Nehru’s preference for the name India is rooted in his psyche nourished in England and his utter disregard for religion and his belief in economic development as a strong binding force of nationhood.

 Hindu Dharma: 

The Vedas are the books of the Hindus, the primary source of Sanatan (Eternal and Universal) Dharma. Dharma is the Cosmic Law, the Natural Law, the moral and ethical law that sustains the cosmic order (3). Dharma covers the relationships of individuals, societies, nature and Ishwar. Thus Sanatan Dharma is all inclusive, revealed through human consciousness. No historic person or a Prophet can claim to be the Founder of Sanatan Dharma. One who practices Dharma is blessed with Self-Discovery of the potential divinity of the Self. Dharma therefore does not divide the humanity among believers and non-believers and does not condemn the non-believers as Pagans (non-believers in Bible) or Kafirs( infidels or non-Muslims) It does not send anyone to Eternal Hell based on his/her beliefs. Dharma therefore goes beyond the religious traditions, mode of worship or religious beliefs of the people.

 

Hindu Dharma is Sanatan Dharma. It is known as Hindu Dharma because the knowledge of the Cosmic Laws was revealed by Rishis who were Hindus. Just as we know the law of gravity as Newton’s Law of Gravity to honor Newton for revealing it to the world.

During the past 1300 years Hindus were under constant struggle to protect themselves and their heritage from the onslaughts of invaders. The invaders demolished the educational institutions and the systems providing the knowledge of Dharma. During this struggle the Hindus sustained their great heritage very informally and could not keep up with the enhancement of knowledge. The people kept hanging to some rituals and prayers in their homes. The powerful influence of Dharma was reduced to a minimum resulting in deterioration in the society. It is well known that Dharma protects those who protect Dharma. Hindu society lost its edge and suffered from all sorts of evils dividing themselves in high and low castes based on birth, the social injustice quoting scriptures and poverty caused by the exorbitant loot of the wealth by the invaders and the colonial rulers. The practice of Dharma was reduced to mere maintenance of rituals.

 Hindutva: Philosophical Foundation 

During the independence struggle in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the leaders had to restate the Vedic Truths using a different terminology to reenergize the society. The leaders appealed to all the masses to understand the underlying cultural unity in spite of apparent diversities. They gave a call to the mass consciousness in the name of the organic nation Mother Bharat. They coined the word Hindutva to appeal to the people to live as one organic nation with the diversities of languages, castes, sects, classes, regions and forge a common front to drive away the British Rulers from India.

 

Hindutva is thus the expression of the group character of the people who believe in Dharma. Hindutva is the total expression of the philosophy, the traditions, the culture and the heritage of the Hindus. It is the essence of the national consciousness of India. Hindus have made significant contributions to the development of material sciences, health sciences, mathematics, astronomy, state governance, legal system, military besides music, art, architecture, mysticism and philosophy. All these contributions are the beautiful petals of the flower called Hinduism (11, 12).

 

Hindutva is neither a political ideology nor a religious belief system. The Hindutva philosophy is based on the integral view of life searching for human happiness irrespective of their personal religious beliefs. Hindutva is therefore the spiritual thread of Bharat that is India. In Sanskrit language the word Vyaktitva means individuality meaning the sum total of the personality of an individual including physical, intellectual, emotional, moral and spiritual domains of life. Hindutva is similarly the expression of the total national life of Bharat. It is therefore the only binding force to keep the entire country as an integrated nation with her all inclusive, pluralistic, spiritual and temporal living tradition. The judgment of the Supreme Court of India (1994) on the election appeal No 2836/1989 is an important landmark supporting the views on Hindutva expressed here (13).

 Hindutva vis a vis minority religious groups 

It is an uphill task for the Hindutva movement leaders to foster this understanding among the people of Islamic and Christian faith to this view of Hindutva and to make them accept their forefathers and their achievements without giving up their religions. The minorities would have the same civil and political rights as the majority of the population. They are welcome to the Hindu (Indian) polity. The acceptance of the common national identity, irrespective of religious preferences, is the only genuine approach to keep Bharat a real secular country in the long run. Thousands of years of Hindu history welcoming and accommodating many different people like the Jews, the Parsees, the Syrian Christians and innumerable paths of worship among the Hindus is the proof for the claims made by Hindu leaders. Even the democratic set up in India is attributable to the Hindu psyche in India.

 

But the greater hurdle to the change of the psyche of minority religious people is the political agenda of the secularist and the leftist politicians of India. These pseudo-secularists would like to continue pampering the minorities, bestow upon them special privileges and continue inducing in them the fear of persecution from the majority Hindus. Besides the Indian secular intelligentsia have to be convinced about the game of the secular politicians. The English news media is the powerful weapon in the arsenal of the secularist politicians and is being deployed against the Hindutva leaders. On the other hand the Hindutva leaders have no support of media savvy journalists or ownership of media to counter the anti Hindutva propaganda of presenting secularism as the antidote of Hindutva. The headlines news, the editorials, the Op-Ed articles, the letters to the editors published in news papers all point to the planned onslaught on Hindus, Hindutva, Hindu leaders and organizations inspired by Hindutva. The Hindutva leaders need a reorientation and refocusing on the communications techniques to deliver the message without emotional outbursts and too many generalized observations and resolutions about national and international issues.

 Onslaught on Hindus 

The onslaught on Hindu interests and the indifference of secular politicians have generated among the Hindus the feelings of helplessness and frustrations. The anti-Hindu acts of the secular Government of India and the State Governments are undermining the interests of the Hindus. The take over of Hindu temples management and temple properties by the government, the selling off of the temple land, the disbursement of the temple donations to support non- Hindu causes (16), the proposal of reservations in education based on religious minority status and the move to identify military personnel of religious minorities are the acts of giving wall to the Hindus

 Hindutva and Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) The current Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), former Jan Sangh, came into existence after the defeat of Mrs. Indira Gandhi’s Congress following the imposition of political emergency

in India from 1975-1977. The BJP embraced the term Hindutva in party’s political agenda. The party has emerged as an alternative national party to the Congress party. According to the BJP, the Hindutva agenda is not aimed at establishing a theocracy of Hindus in India and the party membership is open to all without any religious bias. However the Secularists and the Leftist parties in India dragged BJP and their supporters in the debate of Secularism versus Hindutva.

 

The Hindutva agenda of the BJP included the amendment of the article 370 of the Indian Constitution dealing with Kashmir’s special status, the common civil code for all the citizens of India, the ban on cow slaughter and the reconstruction of Shree Ram Janma Bhoomi Temple at Ayodhya (14). The temple issue was originally the agenda of Vishwa Hindu Parishad and it was later adopted by the BJP at the National meeting held at Nagpur in 1989. The election results in 1998 returned 181 members of the parliament from the BJP, a significant increase from 88 seats in 1992. The demolition of the Babri structure at Ayodhya in December 1992 and the close alignment of BJP with VHP and RSS during the last decade of the last century created an alarm in the secular politicians. The speeches and statements of the Hindutva leaders were critically analyzed by media. As a result the term “Hindutva” gained a negative connotation and its supporters perceived as Fundamentalist or Communalist or Fascist Hindus. The English news media played a major role in this negative propaganda sponsored and supported by anti-Hindu forces.

 

The rise of the BJP as a ruling party in the coalition of thirteen political parties in the government of the NDA made the secularists and the leftists to be more aggressive to damage the image of Hindutva forces in the country. The BJP, to become the ruling partner had no choice but to agree to the agenda of the NDA, giving up the party’s Hindutva agenda. This strategy of the BJP backfired as the leaders could not deliver any results to satisfy their constituents and supporters from the VHP or the RSS. The BJP government did deliver some good results like positioning India as the nuclear power of the world and generating enthusiasm among certain sections of the Indian polity due to economic development programs. The BJP leaders decided to hold early elections (2004) in the hope of easily winning by riding on the wave of India Shining. According to the reports received during the pre-election period the party ignored their own supporters at the grass root levels and also the important leaders of the Hindutva Movements.  The leaders of BJP tried to move away from the Hindutva base in the hope of finding more support of the minority groups to come out much stronger in the election results. But the BJP failed to get the required number of seats to form the government in the national elections of the year 2004. Following the defeat of the NDA, the differences of vision, mission and working relations among the BJP, RSS and VHP leaders were strained and their statements provided the spices necessary for the media to demoralize the grass roots and also the supporters of the Hindutva agenda. Even the most ardent supporters of the Hindutva movement were shocked in utter disbelief observing the lack of organizational discipline and observing in their leaders’ utter disregard for the highest ideals of serving the country even at the cost of their lives.

 Hindutva and Global Scenario One additional challenge to the Hindutva leaders is the game of the international Islamic and Christian movements actively engaged in weakening India’s position in the global affairs. In the changing global scene the civilization conflicts rooted in religions have taken over the game earlier confined to the cold war tensions among the Communist and the Capitalist countries and their allies (15). Global Hindu 

The word Hindu, originally meant to describe people within a certain geographical territory, namely Bharat, has assumed a new dimension. Today over 20 million Hindus of Indian origin and over 10 million others of non-Indian origin who follow or believe in Dharma based traditions live all over the world. These people along with one billion people in Bharat need a common identity. They can accept the name Hindu or Dharmi to develop a global net-work. The people of other Dharmic traditions having their roots in the soil of Bharat and living globally include Buddha, Jain, Sikh and ancient traditions. These people share many common spiritual values and may prefer to align with Hindus or Dharmis.

 

India is the Holy land for Hindus living all over the world. All Hindus aspire to go to pilgrimage to the Holy Himalayas, taking a dip in the Holy River Ganga, have darshan of the Holy shrines and their Gurus besides visiting their relatives and friends. Hindus wish their children and grand children remain connected with the spiritual heritage of the country of their origin. Hindu Diasporas has a deep seated religious urge to be able to visit India, the country of Hindu culture and civilization. They are the stakeholders in the future India remaining the religious and spiritual center for Hindus in particular and for humanity at large in general.

 Global Realignment 

The world is undergoing a realignment process after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Earlier the alignments were among the countries that shared common ideologies subscribing to democracy, capitalism, western values of life and identified communism as their common threat. In the post Soviet era, many expected the United States of America to become the supreme leader of the world. According to Prof. Samuel Huntington (14) the world instead is moving toward multi-polarity with new fault lines developing along the common civilizations. The eight major civilizations along the religious lines are: 1 Islamic, 2.Christian, 3.Budhhist, 4.Hindu, 5.Orthodox Christian, 6.Japanese Shinto, 7.African, and 8.Sinic.Confucianism. Islam and Christianity are both proselytizing religions. According to their theology, it is the duty of the followers of Islam and Christianity to convert the people of other religions to save them from their sin. The history of both these religions has recorded Jihad and Crusades, killing millions of Kafirs and Pagans or converting them and destroying many cultures around the world. The Christian Missionary activities, as far back as 1960, in the tribal and backward areas of India are aimed at mass religious conversions using fraudulent means. The national integrity of Bharat is threatened seriously in North Eastern states of India.

  Global Terrorism 

The growing menace of terrorism perpetrated as an assertion of Islam has resulted in making sanctuaries of terrorists in and around India. Hindus have bled for centuries and survived many onslaughts from the followers of Islam invading from the north –west frontiers of India. Modern day politicians have shown no effective strategy to combat the acts of terrorism except empty slogans and weak resolutions. Following any act of terrorism, the typical reactions are the declaration of the politicians promising to deal firmly with terrorists, the statements of moderate Islamic leaders stating Islam as a peace loving religion and the fringe groups of Islam expressing their support to the acts of terrorism. In India over 40,000 Hindus have been victims of terrorist acts in Kashmir. The terrorists- attacks starting from the Mumbai blast in 1993, killing in Akshardham temple, Gujarat, Shree Raghunath temple, Shree Ram Janma  Bhoomi temple, Ayodhya, The Indian Parliament, New Delhi (2001), attack on the temple in Varanasi, serial bombings in markets of New Delhi on the eve of Hindu New Year day (Deepavali), a murder of a professor of mathematics, IIT Bangalore, RSS headquarters, Nagpur (2006), the 7/11/2006 Mumbai suburban trains blast killing nearly two hundred and injuring over seven hundred people are all aimed at Hindus and Hindu Civilization and are reported to carry fingerprints of the involvement of Pakistan based terrorist groups. The latest report of the terrorist attack on Shree Krishna Temple, Imphal, during Janmastami celebration on August 16, 2006 leave no doubt that for the terrorists India is a prime target.

 Role of Global Hindus and Dharma Gurus 

It is time for the Hindus settled outside of Bharat and the Dharma Gurus traveling around the world, to open a dialogue with other religious traditions and form a strategic alliance with the people who are opposed to terrorism. A global voice condemning terrorism and an international support countering terrorism require immediate implementation. This global initiative should compel the Indian Government to protect the Hindus and the Hindu culture from being destroyed by the Jihadis.

 Violations of Hindu Human Rights: 

Over and above the acts of terrorism causing massacre of innocent Hindus and others, the Human Rights violations sponsored or supported by States have resulted in elimination of Hindu minorities in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Kashmir. The Indian Government due to the special brand of secularism practiced in India has miserably failed in addressing the issue directly or indirectly. Even the Human Rights agencies have done very little to raise the voice against the states committing Human Rights violations of the Hindus in these countries. Any voices raised by organizations concerned for the Hindus have been maligned as communal or fundamentalist and ignored completely. Let us look at some examples of these violations over the last many years.

 

The Kashmiri Pandits, over 600,000 of them, now living as refugees near New Delhi, in their own country are the victims of Pakistan sponsored acts of terrorism. 

 

The genocide of Bangladeshi Hindus and other religious minorities in Bangladesh who are reduced from 41% in 1941 to 10 % in 2003 in a population of 140 million people is an act of ethnic cleansing sponsored by Islamic theocracy.

 

Recently Nepal, the only Hindu State in the world was forced to give up the Hindu national Identity by the Marxists working closely with other anti-Hindu forces in Nepalese territory.

 

Hindu American Foundation (HAF) has published a very objective report covering the genocide, ethnic cleansing, terrorism and discriminating laws that Hindus face everyday in many countries. In Pakistan only 1% population of Hindus, mainly in Sindh, is remaining of the 24% Hindu population at the time of the formation of Pakistan in 1947. According to HAF report, there was a spate of Hindu temples destruction in 2005, kidnapping and conversion of Hindu girls. The report also includes the story of discrimination against Hindus in Fiji and Afghanistan.

 

The other countries that are under constant threat of annihilation, religious conversions or discrimination include Indonesia, Malaysia, Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad.

 Need a New Vision and a New Strategy in Indian Politics: 

India is among the top four or five countries in the world, namely China, India, the United States of America and Brazil with population over 250 million. The demographic changes place India among the young countries of the world with a population of one billion of which over 75% population is below the age of 35 years. India is among a few nations with independent, disciplined and most powerful military forces and nuclear power. India provides the most needed technological, scientific and educated professionals to the world. But above all India gives a great hope for the humanity with her ancient wisdom of living in harmony with all. India has spread the message of peace and non- violence to the world by remaining an example that has not invaded other countries or cultures to capture power, wealth or promote her way of life causing destruction of other civilizations of the world. All these facts make one believe that it is time for India to provide the much needed leadership to the world for making the twenty first century a period of spiritual advancement for the entire humanity. It is time for the beginning of a new political era in India.

 

In the recent past the first phase of transformation of India was the Independence Movement in the first half of the twentieth century led by Mahatma Gandhi and others. The second phase in the second half of the twentieth century was the stabilization of Independent India as the largest democracy of the world and inspiring the whole generation to transform the society inspired by the Hindutva Movements. In the coming decade India needs a new political party of young leaders with integrity, dynamism and a new vision “Bharat, the Hope for Global Peace.”

 

It is time to focus on Dharma based politics in India. All the people who have faith in moral and ethical values of life (Dharma)and who are willing to clean the Indian political system and the governments at all levels need to come on one platform and develop an alliance with a common agenda for positioning Bharat among the leaders of the world.

 

How should Hindus address the most fundamental issues of the national identity, the core values of the Indian nation, the ideological orientation of the people to inspire them to strive together for the well being of all the citizens and to position India among the top five nations of the world, are some of the immediate major challenges for the leaders of India.

 

The current political debate on Secularism versus Hindutva is founded on wrong assumptions. Both secularism and Hindutva refer to the orientation of the psyche of the Indian society. The primary goal of secularism is to ensure that those in power do not impose their religious beliefs on the rest of the citizens. It is to ensure that followers of a certain religion are not given a preferential treatment in opportunities of careers, jobs or any civil rights. One major realization of Hindu Dharma that the entire creation is one family ensures the ultimate limit of secularism anyone can envision. This realization has been in practice in Hindu families where family members have the freedom of worship according to individual inclination and also among the various sects of the society. India is one nation and not an assembly of religions and communities.

 

For the vast majority of the citizens of India, the name of the country is Bharat or Hindusthan. The national identity of the people is Bhartiya or Hindu and their core values are rooted in Dharma, the moral and ethical values for all human beings. The religious traditions and modes of worship may be rooted in different sources and need not be equated with Dharma. The current practice of secularism is dividing the country among those whose religious beliefs are not having their roots in India, primarily Islam and Christianity, and the rest whose religious practices are rooted in India. It is important to note that the ancestral roots of the majority of the people classified as minorities and the vast majority of the citizens of India are common. It would be a significant achievement of the minorities if they begin to appreciate that their ancestors practiced the same Dharma and belonged to the same cultural heritage as the vast majority today. Furthermore if they realize that their adoption of different religious practices is not a reason for them to give of their pride in their ancestors, it would pave the way for their acceptance of the main stream national consciousness.

 

The vast majorities of the people in India are not allowed to claim them to be minorities even while they have different religious beliefs and practices. They are grouped together as the followers of Hindu religion even when the word Hindu refers to the identity of the civilization and not a religion. This is an anomaly. The commonality among the Hindus and the minorities is in their being the people of the same ancestral heritage and the same civilization. How can a group of people of the same ancestral heritage be divided as minorities in a country like India where diversities of religious practices and traditions are always respected? The acceptance of Dharma as the Rule of Law and the assurance of the Fundamental Rights under the Indian Constitution should be enough to protect and to advance the well being of all the citizens of India. . Dharma is at the root of Indian nation and not religious practices. This realization is essential to generate a new political debate in India about Dharma versus Secularism and not Hindutva versus Secularism.

 

The constitution of India protects the fundamental rights of all the citizens. The democratic form of the government ensures the adult franchise. Shri R. K. Sidhwa, a prominent Parsee member of the Constituent Assembly (1943) said that the ultimate phase of the political life of all Indians should be one nation, no communities.” But this ideal can not be realized till the politics of secularism gets support in the election manifestos of the political parties of India. To ensure the national integration of India, Dharma (moral and ethical values) based politics giving assurance of fundamental rights to all the citizens as per the Indian Constitution is the first step toward building India that can be among the leader nations of the world.

 Scheduled classes and Scheduled tribes The second most important step toward national integration is to take a closer look at the current state of the schedule classes and schedule tribes in India. The policy of reservations or special benefits enacted in Article 16 of the Indian Constitution is an acknowledgement of the horrible injustice done to the Dalits and other backward people in the past. In framing the policy, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar wanted to ensure that those people, who were deprived, discriminated or forgotten, were given special opportunities of education, employment and social status and eventually became integrated in the main stream of the Hindu society. Even after 59 years of Indian Independence, very little progress has been achieved in improving the lot of these people. The primary cause has been at the level of implementation of the policy. The secondary cause is rooted in the indefinite time for continuation of the reservation policy itself, encouraging the politicians in playing the vote-bank politics. The worse situation today is the exploitation of the people classified under scheduled tribes, scheduled classes or backward classes, for the political gains by those who are interested in sustaining this evil in the society to keep Hindus divided horizontally for capturing votes by giving false hopes and promises. It appears that the solution to this serious problem is not in adding special articles or more detailed descriptions of the rights or more number of reservations for these people in the Indian Constitution. It is a problem deeply rooted in the psyche of the people, a social problem, and it requires a social solution. Today there is a wave of spiritual awakening in India due to the efforts of many spiritual leaders of India.  All these spiritual leaders, the Dharma Gurus have to make a clarion call to the conscience of the Hindu society through their devotees to accept all the human beings as children of God without discrimination. The emphasis needed is to phase out gradually all the lists of the scheduled tribes, the scheduled castes and backward Classes giving every citizen the same status. Special training and education programs and employment opportunities to those who have suffered due to social injustice in the past must be made available to ensure social justice. This will ensure the development of high self esteem among all the people of India. Unless all the privileged class Hindus accept this as a challenge to do away with the social injustice, India cannot regain her glory among the nations of the world. The Hindutva Movements have definitely done a lot in this area of social development. Let the Dharma Gurus take up the unfinished work and lead the Hindu society to the real path of hope and harmony. Dharma and not Secularism an antidote for Corruption 

The single most epidemic that is eating away the confidence of people in the moral and ethical values of life is the epidemic of corruption. The corruption is rampant and the ideology of secularism has not given any positive results to free the society from this epidemic. The principles of Dharma carry a greater weight in the psyche of the Indian people. If Dharma based politics is advocated, it may inspire all the citizens, including the elected representatives, the bureaucrats and the public servants, and we may see the magical result in controlling the epidemic of corruption to a large extent.

 

Let there be public debates for and against the topics,” Is secularism or Dharma an antidote to corruption?” “Are secularists Dharmic or Adharmic?” A new tilt in political discourse is needed in redefining the real issues of the Indian Polity.

 Economic Development 

Besides the identity crisis and the rampant corruption, the other cause of frustration among common people in India is the uneven economic progress. India has definitely made major strides in the economic development in the last decade but the benefits of the overall growth of the Indian economy have yet to reach the bottom half of the Indian population.

 

The challenge before the leaders of India is to develop an economic model keeping the well being of the human beings in the center while being conscious of the interdependence of the human society on the global environment. Can India provide an alternative model of economic development to the world based on Dharma resulting in sustainable development without causing unrestrained exploitation of the natural resources?

 Hindutva for Social Transformation  

A vast country like India run by a democratic process unquestionably needs an inspiring ideology ensuring national integrity, powerful well tuned political parties as vehicles and political leadership with vision, integrity and dynamism. Bharat, Hindusthan or for the comfort of some, India, is the name of the country with thousands of years of history and cultural heritage. The people of Bharat have been known as Bhartiyas during this long history or as Hindus for at least over two thousand years and as Indians for a couple of centuries. The core values of these people are rooted in Dharma. Hindutva represents nothing but the core values of Dharma. This word though often misused and misquoted by Indian political parties, is the only word describing the real core of the Indian values, giving due recognition to ancestors, providing emotional bond to the majority of grass-roots and inspiring millions of people to dedicate their lives for the cause of India. Hindutva is the solution for Hope and Harmony in this global age.  However the magical message of Hindutva is muffled due to a lot of background noise of anti-Hindu global forces. The effectiveness of the message of Hindutva has been weakened by the thoughts and deeds of some misguided people holding the banner of Hindutva. To coin a new term to replace Hindutva, to make it popular and inspiring enough to build a new movement around it are formidable tasks and the tide of time is against it. To refocus the agenda of Hindutva based movements and to articulate effectively to media and to regain the vibrant power of Hindutva is well within the reach of many leaders of the movement. Hidutva movements have to nourish the Hindu cultural ethos at the grass-roots level.

 Contributions of Hindutva Movements 

Here is the score card of the most effective social transformation conducted by the Hindutva Movements in India and even globally. While accepting Hindutva for the social transformation, it is not a political ideology and hence a new debate is needed  to challenge the twisted form of secularism promoted as a political ideology in India.

 

The Hindutva movements in India and around the world conduct thousands of constructive social service programs. These programs are conducted by thousands of volunteers donating their time, money and energy and even their lives in some unsafe regions of Bharat. These volunteers come from many organizations like the RSS, VHP, Seva Bharti, Bharat Vikas Parishad, Rashtra Sevika Samiti, Vidya Bharti, Deen Dayal Research Institute and others. Ekal Vidyalay Foundation, Friends of tribal Society and vanvasi Kalyan Ashram focus their efforts in serving seventy million vanvasis living in over 100,000 villages and helmets in the most difficult hills and forests of India where there are no access roads for vehicles. These organizations run over 17,000 schools covering 20 states. The VHP serve over one million people with the help of 4,000 full time volunteers and 5900 projects. These projects include orphanages, leagal help centers, working women hostels, priests training, Goshalas, Gomutra medicine production centers etc. Seva Bharati and other organizations conduct over 25,000 social service projects all over India (17).

 

The volunteers of these organizations are in the forefront whenever and wherever a natural disaster strikes the people. The services of these volunteers were available at the time of Gujarat earthquake or Sunami or Katrina or disasters caused by terrorism as in New York 9/11.

 

The social service projects and programs conducted by the Hindutva movements deserve special recognition by the global human society. These projects not only provide the needs of the less fortunate people but teach them how to live with self respect and national pride in their hearts to become the integral part of Bharat.

 

These self less services rendered by the volunteers of Hindutva movements are rooted in their sense of sacrifice for the Motherland without any aspirations for personal glory or recognition. This great human endeavor is not given due publicity by the media that is engaged in maligning all the Hindutva movements as fundamentalist and communal. Whatever it be, the Hindutva Movements should continue focusing on their primary goals of awakening and serving the masses of India.

 Dharma for Indian Polity 

The new direction needs a new national political movement with a new vision, a new mission and a new leadership. The new vision is to build Bharat as an integral nation rooted in Dharma, the core values life for the universal well being of humanity. The new mission is to position Bharat as a Global leader of Hope and Harmony by the year 2020.The new leadership of   Bharat must be with a profile of integrity of character, vision and dynamism. The new party must challenge the secularists and the leftists to a new debate of Secularism versus Dharma. The current game of the secularists to keep India divided vertically among Hindus and Muslims and horizontally among High caste Hindus and Dalits, Scheduled tribes etc toward fulfillment of their narrow political objectives must be completely rejected by throwing a new challenge to them. Dharma based politics is the only hope for an Integrated Bharat to become the center of the Global hope and harmony. The immediate goals of the new party should include: a corruption free administration, economic development programs aimed to provide opportunities of earning income through education and training and health care for the lower 50% of the Indian population, implementation of human intelligence and modern technology to eliminate the fear of terrorism within the country, to  protect the country from the onslaught of aggressive foreign powers interested in destabilizing India and to make the nation’s borders safe from the neighboring countries and with a global reach programs to promote harmony among civilizations. The academicians, social workers, and other experts should be encouraged to organize Think Tanks to recommend well studied policies regarding the innumerable topics of importance in the governance of the country.

 

The new movement must focus on young leaders. Today India with one billion people has 75% of the people below the age of 35 years age. The current Indian Parliament of over 500 members has not more than a dozen young members. The choice of the young leaders is not meant to disregard the wisdom and experience of the old leaders. But the future of the country should be in the domain of individuals with an average age of 50. The services of the Elder Statesmen should be made available through the Advisory Councils of Experts.

 

The new movement should be organized with the help of leaders who are willing to bring new energy in the democratic institutions of India. The BJP has lost its credibility due to the past performance to combat the games of the secularists and the leftist parties. As of today, BJP has reduced itself to the status of a B-team of the Congress party. The Hindutva Movements should stay focused on their agenda of Hindu Cultural Renaissance, without getting organizationally involved in the day to day politics of any parties. The State level political parties, with their local agenda, will remain a significant force to reckon with. The new party will have to incorporate the State interests and to integrate them with the national agenda. The formation of a new party is a formidable challenge but not an impossible one for those who have fire in their bellies to make India the global leader of Hope and harmony.

 

                                                            REFERENCES

 

  1. Integral Humanism, K. R. Rao, p.30-48, 1995

 

  1. K. M. Panikkar in World Thinkers on Ramkrishna Vivekananda, edited by Swami Lokeshwrananda p.57.

 

  1. Karmayogin, Vol.1, 14.

 

  1. India’s Rebirth, Sri Aurobindo

 

  1. Bunch of Thoughts, M.S. Golwalkar, p 117, 1996.

 

  1. The Constitution of India.

 

  1. Webster’s Third New International Dictionary.

 

  1. Avestha- Vendidad (P 1-18)

 

  1. English translation of Alberuni, Vol. I pp. 197-98,258, 260

 

  1. Beginnings of Life, Culture and history, S. D. Kulkarni p.487, 1988.

 

  1. Indian Sciences Through The Ages Vol. 12, Part I and II, Vivekananda Kendra Patrika 1983.

   

 

  1. Science and Scientists in India, (Vedic to Modern) Nem Kumar Jain, 2001

 

  1. Supreme Court Judgment on Hindutva compiled by M. Rama Jois, 1996

 

  1. Bhartiya Janata Party Election Manifesto, 1996.

 

  1. The Clash of Civilizations & the Remaking of World Order, Samuel Huntington, 1996

 

  1. Statement Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha, Chennai, Nov. 29, 30 & Dec 1, 2003.

 

17.Seva Disha 2004, Publisher: Rashtra Seva Bharti

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