Is it time for Hindutva? — Dr. Vijaya Rajiva. Hindutva is sanatana.
Now that everything has been tried since 1947 and the stench from New Delhi has increased beyond endurance it may be time for Bharat to return to Hindutva. The Supreme Court had defined Hinduism as a way of life. The present writer believes that this is too soft a definition and does not emphasise sufficiently the fact that India is a Hindu country by its age long culture and civilisation. The net result of this definition is a slow amnesia that has begun to overtake the Hindu population.
A stronger formulation such as that advocated by Savarkar may be the right way to go. Hindutva is the ongoing adherence to the Pitr Bhumi and the Mathrubhumi and must be accompanied by the concept of Punya Bhumi(Sacred Land). This is, ofcourse, a politically incorrect statement to make and no doubt the ‘liberal’ and the deracinated Hindus will be jumping up and down, not to mention the minorities who have long been molly coddled under the rubric of minorityism, and who have their own vested interests in retaining the word ‘secular’. One can expect in advance some flag waving and shouts of ‘fascism’, ‘nazism’ and so on.
Neverthless, the call must be made, so that the majority population of Hindus are innoculated against the devastating effects of globalisation,the ceding of their land to hostile agents and against the evils of conversion activity and at the same time have a positive and effective alternative before them which will be a Hindu alternative, not some mish mash of so called ‘secular’ ideas. The minority community cannot seriously object to the concepts of Pitr Bhumi and Mathrubhumi since both are straightforward ways of respecting one’s ancestors(Pitr) and the latter again is a world wide reference to Motherland (Mathrubhumi), although here too the Muslim community may object since there is a discriminatory bias in them against a female object of devotions.
Punya Bhumi will definitely be problematic for the minority Christians and Muslims. For them, Punya Bhumi(Sacred Land) is associated with the Holy Land and with Saudi Arabia respectively. Does this automatically preclude Hindus worshipping Bharat as Punya Bhumi , as long as it is not foisted on the minority communities ? The answer is no. The objection to Vande Mataram as the national anthem was not so much the devotion to Punya Bhumi as to the idea of worshipping anything else but Allah (according to Muslims) and to the alleged anti Muslim sentiments of the lyric by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyaya (1882). It would be ridiculous to say that minority communities can have a Punya Bhumi elsewhere, but only Hindus cannot call the land in which they were born, Punya Bhumi. The coincidence of Janma Bhumi (land of birth) and Punya Bhumi is an affliction according to hostile forces, a disease that Hindus suffer from ! Perhaps the idea behind this perverse accusation is that Hindus should also consider their Punya Bhumi to be elsewhere but not in the land of their birth !
Next comes the question of who is a Hindu ? Savarkar had not sufficiently clarified this question except mainly in geographical terms. There are long glowing descriptions of the Indian landscape in his book Who is a Hindu ? For the Hindu the Indian landscape is more than the object of a patriotic invocation of the history and geography of the land. It is the land where the Vedic seers presented their vision of the Devas and Devatas that preside over the land. Hence the Vedas are apaureshya (not of human origin) and are eternal. They represent the structure of the universe as it appeared to the Vedic seers. Hence too the importance of the Devas and Devatas who were worshipped in Vedic rituals and continue in temples and private residences and therefore are referred to as murtis.
This entire package as it were, of the Vedic Agamic tradition is what constitutes Hinduism. A Hindu then can be defined as an individual who accepts the Vedic Agamic tradition. This may or may not entail a claim to the fact that it should be universalised. That is a secondary issue. Charity, as they say, begins at home.
Until the barbarian invasions and the colonial Occupation the above premise regarding the Vedic Agamic tradition was never questioned and constituted the unity of the country. The native born religions such as Buddhism, Jainism and Sikkhism became part of the Hindu landscape. The introduction of concepts such as secularism and majoritarianism came only after the colonial Occupation. These represent, in the opinion of the present writer , an intrusion into the Hindu world view, with deliberate aim to subvert and destroy it.The insertion of that word into the Indian Constitution was an afterthought, brought about by misguided Hindus.
The word ‘secular’ has to be revisited carefully and outside of the baleful gaze of those Hindus who are still star struck by the Macaulay agenda of creating Indians who are Hindu by blood but are English(read Western) in convictions and in their thinking. At any rate, Macaulay’s project was not aimed at attaining some loft goals of secularism. It was a straightforward exercise in brainwashing and in destroying the native culture so that there would be a race of people who would be either submissive or accomplices to the looting of their country.
One need not, however, throw the baby out with the bathwater and dismiss the word ‘secular’ altogether, nor do we need to embrace it in its totality. In other words, it can be accepted to the extent that it offers new rational insights into the human polity and to the extent that it does not impinge on Hindu interests. What this latter formula means is that while motherhood and apple pie ideals should be retained , they cannot always be so retained. For example, the discriminatory provisions of the Indian Constitution against Hindus must clearly be rejected. A bogus universalism at that stage will not do.It is not even clear how and why a secular constitution should have legislation that is clearly discriminatory towards one community.A good example of discrimination against the majority community is the Hindu Religious Endowment Act which enables governments to loot Hindu temples with impunity. There is no such legislation against the minority community.
We often witness Opposition party members hastening to say that they are ‘ secular’ not communal, even while Hindu interests are at stake. Nor should the false accusations of majoritarianism be quickly accepted and used to make Hindus feel apologetic and hasten to add that they are not majoritarian. This word was used effectively by John Stuart Mill to defend individual freedoms in Britain, not to defend minority interests. Hence, the word ‘majoritarian’ is a false attribution aimed at the Hindu majority when they claim that they are being discriminated against.
Again, Hindus are stung and start back when the word ‘communal’ is hurled against them.
There is no need to feel apologetic about the majority community defending its interests, especially in a situation where the minority has been increasing its demands for preferential treatment at the expense of the majority. Opposition party members are embarassed to proudly wear the label ‘communal'(read Hindu) because they have been terrorised by the ‘secular’ brigade, which since the Nehruvian era have occupied the commanding heights of education, employment, political power and even rewritten Indian history according to the high command. One need not mention the enormous funds that go to support this activity, both from within the country and from abroad.
All of the above requires that a clearer and more emphatic view of Hindutva is advanced without further delay so that a purely defensive ‘ bringing up the rear’ approach is abandoned. It has to be a two pronged approach : the clearing of the decks in that erroneous views of Indian history and of Hinduism are thrown out, and the positive presentation of Hindutva is energetically put forward. To date, this two pronged approach has been intermittent if it exists at all. Often one finds one in isolation without the other. Both have to go hand in hand. It is indeed a monumental task, but it needs to be undertaken.
A great deal of outstanding work has been done and is being done on individual issues in both a polemical and scholarly manner, such as the critiques on the Hindu Religious Endowment Act, or the biased views of Indian history and so on. But an overall holistic approach to Hindutva has not been consistently attempted. There are some honourable exceptions such as the remarkable study undertaken by Dr. Shrinivas Tilak in his book Reawakening to a secular Hindu Nation (2008). This book is certainly one of a kind, and needs to be energetically publicised for its in depth discussions of Hindu views of polity. More such work should take place, since one swallow does not make a spring !
A good place to start would be to rehabilitate the word ‘ Hindu’ as standing for the Vedic Agamic tradition.Sanatana Dharma is irreproachable in one sense, because it focuses on the universal nature of the Vedic vision. However, it helps hostile forces to reject the Agamic side of the equation. Vedic Agamic is the best formula, both because it retains the universalism of the Vedic vision and because it is grounded in the historic practice of that vision in the homeland of the Vedas, the Punya Bhumi.
Hindus have nothing to lose,if they engage in the dual task of a polemic clearing of the decks and a vigorous presentation of Hindutva. Indeed they have a world to win !
(The writer is a Political Philosopher who taught at a Canadian university)