No nomenclature has been subjected to intensive subterfuge, even leading to pejorative connotation, as Hindutva. Hence it is imperative to comprehend the underlying esoteric signification in proper perspective. Mere indicating the suffix ‘tva’ (ness) to the noun Hindu is inadequate since Hindutva carries aloft definite thought-structure in the driving force of history.
Often we feel proud that Hinduism is non-institutional and no prisoner of any creed as of organised Church. Religion itself is a Semitic phenomenon which is strange to Indian ethico-spiritual life. Rather India unleashed a kind of sublime way of life which was tantamount to that of a cultured national community.
Shankaracharya’s Seminal Role
However, complications cropped up when alien religions made their entry to Indian soil besides emergence of certain indigenous creeds professed by certain great savants. With this kind of scenario it became necessary to delineate the people upholding the Vedas, epics, Bhagvat Gita and the vast array of literature containing Bharat’s philosophical heritage since ages. At this juncture, Adi Shankaracharya surfaced and named this stream as Sanatana Dharma. But it did not serve the whole purpose. Unless a given idea gets shaped in visible manifestation it could hardly thrive on the face of contemporary prosylitising streams. So what was needed was to provide some kind of congregational posture to keep the society intact. Keeping this objective in mind, Shankaracharya founded four holy shrines in four remote places of India, organised Kumbh Mela, composed hymns like “Gangecha Yamune chaiva….” recalling seven sacred rivers, seven holy places, seven sacred mountains and such other phenomena which would constantly strike the mind of the people recalling entirety of Bharatvarsh. Further, there had already been 51 ‘Shakti Pithas’, 12 Shaiva Pithas, and innumerable Vishnu and Ganesh temples reinforcing Bharat’s cultural integration. The two epics used to serve the same. But it needed to recall all these phenomena in nationalist perspective. The defining point is that whole Bharatvarsh had been attuned to a living spiritual entity around which entire religious life of Sanatana Dharma revolved.
Dr Hedgewar was sure that mere dwelling in theoretical acrobatic would lead nowhere and he plunged into the herculean task of Hindu consolidation. His thought-structure could well be noticed in the Sangh prayer, ‘Ekatmata Stotra’ (morning hymn) and adoration to Vande Mataram, other Sangh songs and Sangh lectures.
With kaleidoscopic advancement of history, the Greeks, Hebrews and the Persians while envisioning the river Sindh named the entire landscape as Hindustan (pronouncing Sindhustan) and the people of the land as Hindus. This term is of course descernible in certain Puranas of later days but in no place of the two great epics it could be probed out crystally. Of course, it seems elusively visible in Rig Veda as Sapta Sindhu. Anyway, those who called us Hindus had great adoration for us and we internalised it without mincing word. Omer-bin Hassan, elder brother of Prophet Mahammed, composed, “Oh Lord! Bestow me a day’s life in Hindu Desh…..”. Even the Chinese called us ‘Intu’, ‘Sintu’, symbolising lighting the whole planet as rendered by the Hindus. What is significant is that the term Hindu etymologically refers to nationality of Bharatvarsh rather than any religion. Yet since the people inherited the ‘dharmic’ heritage on this land since dawn, the given ‘sanatanis’ were made known as Hindus, and with the snowballing of history other indigeneous people even with certain differences were also included within the fold of the Hindus.
Essence of Hindutva
Fusion of Hindu and Bharat could hardly be manufactured; both emerged as the Siamese twins. Realising this fact constitutes the essence of Hindutva in theoretical approach. From this angle, Adi Shankaracharya emerged as the foremost activist of Hindutva. Without Bharat Rashtra, Hindu could hardly be conjectured and vice versa; which is unique in global wavelength. Annie Besant in her Convocation Address to Kashi Hindu Vishvavidyala (later known as BHU) in 1918 stated, “Chritianity entered India and may leave. Zoroastrianism also came to India and may go away…..Simlilar is the case with Islam. But if Hinduism perishes India would remain a dead corpse”. Four year later when Ramsay Macdonald (British Prime Minsiter from 1929 to 1934) visited India penned the Foreword of Radhakumud Mukherjee’s “Fundamental Unity of India” he compared India as the body and Hindu as the soul.
The emergence of modern renaissance witnessed realisation of this fact. Raj Narain Bose and Nabagopal Mitra organised Mitra Mela in Bengal and for the first time employed the words Hindu Rashtra and Hindutva. Dayananda Saraswati did not use these words; but his narration of Vedic Swaraj moves in the same direction. Bankim Chandra’s composition ‘Vande Mataram’ goes a long way to this end. He venerated Mother India as Kamala, Vimala and Vidyadayini. Swami Vivekananda stated, “Right from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, whole Bharatvarsh is exact incarnation of Goddess Durga”. At the same time, he exhorted to keep aside all the Gods and Goddesses for next 50 years and exclusively worship Mother India. The term Hindutva found space in his lectures as well as in the prolific writings of Bipin Chandra Pal. Aurobindo Ghose in his famous ‘Uttarpara’ speech expressed Indian nationalism in terms of Sanatana Dharma. Swami Shraddhananda asked the people to raise Bharat Mata Mandirs all across the country. All these moves were assiduously directed to asssimilate Bharatvash and Hindu.
Adi Shankaracharya depicted by Raja Ravi Varma
Savarkar Delineates Hindutva
However, the term Hindutva gained modern currency in the writing of VD Savarkar in 1923. He ventured to define Hindu to buttress his point. He wrote, “Any person who conceives the land stretched from Sindhu to Sindhu (means, from river Sindhu up to southern sea) as ‘pitrubhu’ (fatherland) and ‘poonyabhu’ (holy land) qualifies to be Hindu. Such a person claims to inherit the blood of the race what is echoed by incorporation, from the ancient Sindhu, can be said to possess the most essential requisites of Hindutva”. “Hindustan is our fatherland and holyland not because it is a land like any other land in the world, but because it is associated with our history and has been the home of our forefathers who craddled on their knees from generation to generation”. Therfore, Savarkar emphasised, “Hinduism is part of Hindutva, and Hindutva is History in Full” in Indian context.
Hindu Consolidation through RSS
Sharing this perception, Dr. Hedgewar named his organisation Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh albeit he aimed at consolidating the Hindus. Out of his perusal of history, he arrived at well founded basis to conclude that chequered march of Indian history eventually had been corresponding to the waxing and waning of the Hindus so much so that Hindus constituted the veritable nationals of this land. However, he was sure that mere dwelling in theoretical acrobatic would lead nowhere and he plunged into the Herculean task of Hindu consolidation. His thought-structure could well be noticed in the Sangh prayer, ‘Ekatmata Stotra’ (morning hymn) and adoration to Vande Mataram, other Sangh songs and Sangh lectures.
When Mahatma Gandhi querried at Sanghastan of Wardha on 24 December 1934 as to how a photo of Mahadev was not there, one activist present there explained that Bharat Mata was the exclusive god (dess) of Sangh. Bharat Rashtra is the focal rallying point of Sangh ideological framework. Dr. Hedgewar was sure that by strengthening Bharat Rashtra Hinduism could be protected and defended with certainty. It is evident that Thakur Anukul Chandra had to flee to Indian territory in 1947 when East Pakistan came into existence. The Hindus must have a base and that base is obviously Bharatvarsh. So Hindu consolidation is must and it could be materialised by means of adoring Bharat Mata. This is behavioural Hindutva. Increasing Hindu consolidation is operational dimension of Hindutva. Finally, Hindutva serves as the kinetic energy to propel Hinduism along with veritable Indian nationalism. Hindutva accentuates Hindu consolidation in action.
Entire panorama of Indian history illustrates that intermittent Hindu dynamism has preceded a kind of national upsurge. In modern times we find the Swadeshi movement which phenomenally incorporated Hindu symbols and idioms; and the outcome of nationalistic fervour was superb. In the last decade of the same century, we find the upsurge of Ram Janmabhoomi supplantig all other narrow consideration generating phenomenal patriotic fervour. This kind of Hindutva represents history in full.
To conclude, Bharat Rashtra added with Hindu phenomenon constitutes Hindutva. This is ingrained verily in Hindu practice and customs. It is evident that 95 per cent of the hymns recited by the Hindus evoke patriotism. Yet the task of meticulous consolidation could hardly be taken for granted and this Herculean task has been undertaken by RSS. Thus RSS represents the cumulative effect of the history of entire course of operational Hindutva. Successive augmentation of Hindutva accentuates the nationalist cause while realisng Hindu as the nationality. Anything short of either Bharatvarsh or Hindu would remain deficient of assessing the legitimacy of this Nation. This is Hindutva – the identification of the soul of this Nation.
(The writer is a Member of Indian Council of Social Science Research)