Defining Hindutva , OP Gupta, Royal Press, New Delhi, 2014
Two weeks back a book on Hinduism ‘The Hindus: An Alternative History’ was recalled by the publisher as part of a settlement in the face of a law suit over ‘heresies’ insulting to Hindus. Critics of the text have slammed the book for objectionable, incorrect and illegal representation of Hinduism. A writer from the Western world with limited understanding of Hinduism has authored the book. There are chances of the author working on hidden agenda but the more important question is why has there been no attempt by the other side to bring out a book presenting a holistic understanding of Hinduism.While it may not be fair to say that Indian writers did not undertake the task of writing about the history of Hinduism but those texts have never found a place in the Western-liberal modern academic world. There is a dire need to write series of books on Hinduism by Indian writers that is easy to understand and present generation can relate with them.
The book Defining Hindutva by former diplomat OP Gupta is an attempt to understand Hinduism and different aspects of it. The author tries to reinterpret Hindutva in the light of Vedas. For himVedas are supreme scriptures of Hindus and should be followed by all. In case of any confusion or doubt, the commands of Vedas should be held supreme. Undoubtedly, he has read Vedic scriptures thoroughly and his knowledge in this regard is enviable. His earlier book was on “Vedic Equality and Hinduism”. Gupta quotes Vedic richas to counter the allegations of the so-called progressive authorship. The two main allegations made by Leftist and secular scholars are poor status of women and caste system in Hindu society which they claim are endorsed in Hindu texts and form an essential part of the Hindu philosophy.
The author answers these allegations and comes up with eight essential ingredients of Hindutva:Vedas are supreme scriptures of Hindus; Vedas do not sanctions birth based castes; Arya-Dravid divide is a myth invented by Christian imperialists; Vedas sanction total gender equality and widow remarriage; Vedas prohibit killing of cows; Bharat is the sacred motherland of all Hindus and its sanctity has to be upheld; Ill treatment of Hindus shall be opposed; Laws, rules and regulations which impose unequal treatment on Hindus in Bharat shall be opposed through ballot boxes. With these he gives the impression of not actually defining but defending Hindtuva. It seems that he is trying to find answers to the allegations made by the leftist-liberal writers against Hinduism.
He tries to counter several questions and allegation levelled against Hindutva of being anti-minority, anti-Muslim. His analysis shows that such claims are based on distortions and falsifications that are a part of a misinformation campaign to politically divide and weaken Hindus. He has also enclosed two letters exchanged with Syed Shahabuddin to show the misconceptions prevailing against Hindutva even at the highest level of Indian elite. He tries to go into the genesis of the word ‘Hindu’ and quotes Parsi sacred text Avesta to prove that word ‘Hindu’ appeared in several contexts and not as conferred by Muslims invaders. He says that the term Hindutva has been used by Savarkar in his book ‘Essentials of Hindutva’. He also refers to Savarkar’s pamphlet Hindutva: Who is a Hindu? In his book Savarkar says that Hinduism is only a fraction, a part of Hindutva.
OP Gupta argues that Hindutva implies a feeling of brotherhood (bhai-chara) among Hindus. He quotes Savarkar, “all those who are loyal to Bharat and take it as their Matribhumi, Pitribhumi and Punyabhumi are Hindus.” It is thus an expansive and cultural definition of Hindus by Savarkar that includes Muslims, Christians and followers of other faith too. He writes, “Hindutva includes all elements which go to constitute the total Hindu psyche. Naturally it would be a mix of religious, social and cultural ethos of Hindus.” It is an all-inclusive term anchored in the Hindu ethos of ‘Vasudhav Kutumbkam’ and Rig vedic richa ‘Ekam sad vipra bahudha vadyanti’. He qoutoes Dr.Hedgewar, founder of the RSS, “Ours is the mission to organise the entire Hindu Society. No section of it, can we afford to neglect. To despise any Hindu as low is a nothing short of a sin.” The author considers Gandhiji as a grand unifier. Gandhiji frustrated the joint effort of the British and Muslim League to divide Hindus into caste camps. The author also mentions a genetic study showing that the Aryan-Dravidian divide is a myth and till a few thousand years ago there was no caste system in India as concocted by imperialists.
In Chapter Two he says that equality of all Hindus by birth and gender are the two cardinal Vedic norms. He mentions 27 Vedic richas listed in his other book which command equality of all Hindus by birth and unity and harmony among them. He also refers to 11 richas which command that professions are not birth based and there are 9 vedic richas which sanction widow remarriage.
Other chapters are informative and more of political in tone. The author talks about electoral relevance of Hindutva, shrinking job opportunities, communal violence bill, rights of Hindu refugees, secular loot and plunder of Hindu temples, Ayodhya controversy and other issues in these chapters.
While the author is sincere in his efforts and has a good knowledge of vedas, following the Vedic texts to understand Hindutva is a difficult road. The very first ingredient, that the Vedas are supreme texts of Hindutva, may be hard for some sections of the Hindu society to accept. We should also understand that there is a difference between Hindu thought and Hindu society. We can quote vedic scriptures and many more texts to defend Hinduism and Hindutva but the truth of the day is that there are certain issues which needs to be addressed. If we ignore this, we may appear to be running away from our problems by quoting vedic text. Hindu thought and Hindu society should be in tandem and not at odds with each other.
Book in Hindi by Global Rescue Foundation
Disaster management in day-to-day life by a common man himself will now be easier through the newly released book Aapda Prabandhan written in Hindi by Global Resuce Foundation chairman RN Singh with an objective that everyone should understand the importance of disaster management and adopt preventive and preparedness measures to safeguard life.
Releasing the book in Delhi on March 6, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) member Dr Muzaffar Ahmed sensitised the audience about the importance of preparedness and mitigation measures to minimise the losses due to disasters. He emphasised on more serious efforts for building capacities at grass roots level keeping in view the vulnerabilities of our country with more than 60 per cent of the land area prone to earthquakes and rest of the areas to cyclones, floods, landslides, drought and even man-made disasters.
Dr Satendra, Executive Director of National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM), said books on disaster management in Hindi and other regional languages were necessary so that the common man can understand the disaster management. Professor Kedar Nath Singh, renowned poet and academician, said the book has been written in very simple and easy to understand texts and should be in every household as reference book for managing disasters by themselves. Shri Neeraj Shekhar, MP from Balia saluted the efforts of Global Rescue Foundation in educating people about disaster management. Secretary of the Global Rescue Foundation Shri Saurabh Gautam apprised the audience of the activities being carried out by the Foundation.