Any theory that propagates about Hindutva being against the socially disadvantaged, minorities or women is false. On the contrary Hindutva is all encompassing
To discuss as to what it means to be a Hindu in a globalised world, in the present-day context is both, simple and difficult at the same time. On the one hand, when there is worldwide trend of growing interest about Hindu culture and way of life, in Bharat there is a growing tendency to denounce everything that is Hindu in the name of progressivism. Sadly, in the case of a majority of the proud Hindus, the quest to find answers to the questions regarding defining Hindu and thereby Hindu-ness has not gone too far at least at the popular level. Therefore, it goes without saying that one cannot be in favour of social reforms or stands for upliftment of the downtrodden or cannot be social reformist if she/he is talking in the name of Hindu culture/ identity. In this background, Integral Humanism and the concept of Antyodaya propounded by Pt Deendayal Upadhyaya helps us to understand, interpret and practice Hindutva which is in tune with the modern concepts of equality, gender issues and social justice.
What it means by being a Hindu very logically depends upon what characteristics go along with the concept of being a Hindu. Identifying the factors that constitute one's Hindu-ness, that is Hindutva, will take us closer to the answer of the question referred to at the beginning.
Literally speaking, Hindutva means Hindu-ness or can be explained as being a Hindu. Due to a huge multiplicity of worshiping deities, no straight jacketing is possible in Hindu faith, and as a consequence in Hindu world view. This complete denial of straight jacketing lies at the roots of spiritual democracy. Unlike Christianity and Islam, Hinduism considers that every path leads an individual to the same truth, the same Almighty and wise/knowledgeable persons refer to these ways in different ways. A firm belief in this concept, as communicated in “Ekam sat, Viprah bahuda vadanti”, it is the corner stone of Hindu religious thought. It is due to this fundamental faith in the existence of multiple ways of seeking salvation; the concept of proselytisation finds no place in Hindu religion, which is also true in other indigenous belief systems, be it Jainism or Buddhism. This fundamental character makes Bharat a shining example of centuries of peaceful co-existence of different religions and belief systems.
Antyodaya: Hindu way of social justice and gender equality
Once one accepts that every path ultimately leads to the one and the same ultimate truth, the questions of caste and creed need to be settled once and for all. Hindutva has absolutely no place for discrimination on the basis of caste. Equality of human beings is the cardinal principle. In Hindutva scheme of things, superiority or inferiority of an individual just cannot depend upon the social group of one's birth. When Hindutva aspires to put an end to such discriminations lock, stock and barrel, where comes the question of defending Chaturvarnya, untouchability or caste conflict?
The essential unity and equality of the mankind perceived by Hindutva just cannot accept any artificial divides promoted by politicians, in the garb of academicians. Theories like Aryan invasion, conflict between indigenous people and non-indigenous people, differences between aboriginals or Adivasis and others, branding of certain social groups or communities as criminals by birth, or a conflict between the victor and the vanquished etc. cannot find any place at all in the concept of Hindutva. It may be pointed out here that the adversaries of Hindutva always propagate that Hindutva is the other name of Brahmanatva. There cannot be any other statement that is farthest from the facts. The commonality of religious-cultural ethos does not ratify this propogation. The way Brahmins celebrate Diwali is in no way different from the way Mangs or Matangs and other scheduled caste groups celebrate. Similar is the case with Adivasis. Several sociologists have established that Adivasis in Bharat are not like aboriginals in Australia. There are several erstwhile nomads or even martial communities who took shelter in the thick forests during the times of turbulence, several centuries before. Today, they are identified as Adivasis, the original inhabitants, as if all others are either aggressors or outsiders. It is in this context that one has to have a re-look at the terms in which we refer to our own brethren. Again, to say that simply because some of the Adivasis eat beef or worship nature and no idols, they go beyond the purview of Hindutva is a misnomer.
In this background, it is necessary to discuss the question of social equality in general and caste based reservations in particular. It must be noted that the universally accepted and widely acclaimed concepts of affirmative action and positive discrimination for social justice are at the root of caste based reservations. Supporters of Hindutva have realised long ago that larger and lasting Hindu unity will not be possible without the so-called upper castes cultivating a mindset for creating a space, at the cost of their own opportunity; for the underprivileged classes. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the privileged and comparatively less unfortunate sections of the society also have to ensure that the weaker sections not only get reservations but are also duly prepared to take advantage of the caste based quota. Those who are committed to the cause of Hindu unity just cannot afford to be unmindful of the fact that if emotional integrity is not achieved, Hindu unity will remain a chimera. For emotional integrity to sustain, one has to promote this spirit of mutual understanding, accommodation and social responsibility while remaining fully aware about the designs of anti-Hindu unity forces to divide this society and break the cultural-emotional bonds and inter-community harmony, whatsoever.
Quotas cannot be de-linked from the wider issue of social and community identity. Small, community identities need to be accommodated and amalgamated with the wider national and social identity. Ironical as it may seem, but this can happen only through respect and recognition for smaller identities. Lest one should forgets, such identities can never be crushed. They can only be accommodated.
Vinay Sahasrabuddhe (the writer is a Vice-President in BJP and Director-General of Rambhau Mhalgi Prabodhini, Mumbai)