Recently a news website published an article titled ‘South India Is the Final Frontier in the Contest Between Hinduism and Hindutva’ which nonchalantly displays the Goebbelsian myth that Hinduism and Hindutva are mutually exclusive. Expectedly, it pits one against the other—who consider Hinduism to be good and Hindutva to be bad. That Hinduism is apolitical and Hindutva is political. Hinduism is secular and Hindutva is not. Hinduism is acceptable but Hindutva is casteist and racist!
Well, you then have the usual suspects like Ram Chandra Guha throwing in their weight thinking that it adds some credibility to this article by retweeting it with a stamp of “thoughtful, well-argued essay”, making the entire episode seem like a well-scripted drama.
Public affirmations of Hinduism by incompatible politicians is not new. In particular, the CM of Karnataka now professes that he is a believer after he probably derived some maturity from the other electoral results. Does the DMK now visit temples and priests based on compulsion? Yes. Was Krishna Jayanti in Kerala based on a necessity? Because, at last, Hindus are getting their due for years of neglect by the political class, which knew only to kindle the underlying fault lines of caste. Has it now come back to haunt them?
The said article cites the World Value survey for arguing that Southern Hindus are better in viewing co- religionists. One can understand that the surveyors’ understanding of Hinduism was minimal and there were compulsions around common questions for the entire world populace when one of the criteria chosen was—“Regularly visit temples or religious services” for that matter. Prod any Hindu across India and he shall tell you this is a foolish idea to measure any Hindu’s “Bhakti”. So yes, there are Bhakts, whom the survey grossly misunderstands to measure temple regular visits, by assuming that this is piety based on tenets of Abrahamic faiths.
Hordes of devout Hindus rarely visit temples, but treat the idols or photoes inside their homesequivalent to a temple and regularly pray. Hindus’ Vedanta teaches an inner inquiry, of which the whole world is in awe. The recent “Lingayats being separate from Veerashaivas”—a malicious social engineering project by the Congress in Karnataka speaks volumes of the amateurish understanding of Basavanna and the great legacy of his movement. Basavanna, very famously mentioned that this body itself is the temple and one rarely needs to look for external reinforcements.
Let me call out that there is a growing trend today among non-Hindus who understand the bigotry that exists within their own communities and outgrow it to identify themselves with India’s civilizational roots. Hence, there is lesser consternation today to praise and identify their community with a Babar or Aurangzeb.
On celebs, just to quote examples from the same article, Prakash Raj(i) and Sanal Sasidharan are hardly the reference points to talk of Nationalism. One would not term anyone as anti-national for any diverging viewpoints, but when people brand them as one, all of us need to understand the context. It is one of frustration at the apparent injustices and inequalities and is at the end of the line. When Sanal Sasidharan made a movie (Sexy Durga), most people would have brushed it off probably 30 or 40 years ago. Why? Because most people would have only laughed at and ignored Sanal’s ineptitude of quality filmmaking or even choosing a pertinent name. Call it collective disinterest or higher levels of ignorant forbearance. Now, people will not keep still. Does this have something to do with the growing awareness of the selective outrages and assaults that Hindus have faced? Yes. It reminds one of an incident in the late 80s, when Deccan Herald carried a story titled “Mohammed the idiot”. This was only a story of a handicapped Muslim youth. Soon there were protests, nay riots, killing four; injuring fifty people in Bangalore, à la Charlie Hebdo threats and the newspaper office almost burnt. Can anyone make such a movie at least today, titled “Mohammed the Idiot”? No. Because there is no option for discussion and logic in this case. You need your organs above your head spared to see, hear, talk and argue. Little wonder, most people even refrain from venturing into those waters. Let us take Kamal Hassan’s example of begging for mercy during his Vishwaroopam movie. Literally pleading with the Muslim clergy to allow his film’s release due to the financial troubles. This movie was based on a spy who puts to rest Islamic frenzy (again Islamic terror and not Islam, yet he had to backtrack)! That the same Hassan has conveniently resorted to Hindu bashing owing to his foray into politics is a different story but is today despised as an opportunist. Therefore, it is not just co-religionists, but those who mindfully or mindlessly align with them get their due from Hindus in the southern states.
The article provides references about the lunacy of Uttar Pradesh need to be countered with the ubiquitous Mullah sermons and prayer calls five times a day, which repeatedly disallows the Muslim mind (by saying that Allah is the only God) to accept Hindus as co-travelers in the spiritual journey.
If Hindutva (literally Hinduness) is political and repudiated by the actions of the political class, then Hindus are smart enough to see the games politicians play and figure out the politics behind it. Hindutva is neither political nor apolitical. It is beyond politics and pregnant with eternal value systems. It has a larger connotation when compared to Hinduism (limited to a religious connotation in today’s parlance) and is a collective of all the religious and non-religious pursuits of Truth. It is the collective, all-inclusive social personality of Hindus and the essential character of the Hindu civilization, tempered over millennia, resulting in the concept of Dharma (not to be confused with Religion), as also the geo-cultural Hindu Rashtra. By the way, to all the people, who regularly say, that a Hindu Rashtra will be declared soon-sorry. Bharat is a Hindu Rashtra and all its citizens are Hindus, irrespective of their mode of worship. It will remain so until there is a single Hindu by birth or belief in this geography. All that is necessary is the awareness within everyone that this is a Hindu Rashtra, which is the means and the goal of the Hindu movement in itself. An experience of Hindutva is in order to appreciate, understand and respect it. Hence, it does not need a definition that the westerners or communists etc. so desperately seek, to fit into their narratives of what it is or is not. Hindutva is for all those who consider themselves as Hindus, born in a geographical part of India or elsewhere. It is for all who believe in its civilisational outcomes. -Nachiketa Iyengar
(The writer is a blogger and a software architect)