In more than two decades the emergence and surge of right in Indian politics have been primarily dominated by Hindutva and since may last year when BJP formed its government in centre with clear majority on its own it also brought several questions on surface of academic and political debate.
One of the most important question in all of them is the debate of cultural entity and identity of India as a nation. There are several thoughts to this notion but mainly two of them represent the common perception of the people of the country. One school of thought derives its inspiration from modern secular liberal ideas to delink faith from public issues and adherence to faith is exclusively a personal issue and confined to individuals only and any connect with history or antiquity is an idea which take society to backward in ancient and medieval ages . This school of thought takes references from western world particularly Europe after renaissance . This school of thought was under heavy influence of colonial elites and later they were influenced by Communism which gives solution to the whole debate of role of faith in public domain with an alternate to deny the faith as a whole and come out with a new group between the whole debate of whether anything like “ God” or creater exist or not and this group believes there is nothing like “ God” or creater and role of faith is aberration.
Other school of thought is cohesive to this modern phenomenon of liberal and secular thoughts but does not deny the role of faith either in private or public . When our forefathers came out with a constitution and intense deliberations took place in constituent assembly they never departed from the heritage and fundamental principles of our cultural identity which summaries itself in doctrine and teachings of “ Upnishadas” and paves the way for “ Non Dualism” as the ultimate solution to every problem which world faces today.
In between these two mainstream school of thoughts there are several other pressure groups and ideas which tries to create their own space and came out on surface from time to time.
But real political and social space had been the secular liberal space which swings right to left to centre from time to time and people of the country in large don’t like this space to be occupied by liberal left with European tilt as people of the country have strong feeling of independence and they realize the swing in favor of liberal left as compromise to independence.
The stunning defeat of Congress in last general elections was result of this public perception for Congress which was tilting towards liberal left.
The mandate of last general election has ignited another debate in country and that debate is “ Hindutva” vs “ Hinduism”. When Indian constitution was adopted it tried to not break the continuity of cultural and spiritual evolution of old nation with embracing new ideas of modern world.
Even before independence the whole freedom struggle was in some way or the other defined as the journey of its cultural and spiritual continuity. During freedom struggle the Renaissance in Bengal which led by Ramkrishna Paramhans gives new dimension and interpretation to “ Non Dualism” or “ Adwaita” by living it to it not merely preaching it and later his disciple Swami Vivekanand infused this whole vedantic philosophy with continuity of Indian old heritage and told the Europe and western world how dynamic our philosophy and teachings had been since time immemorial and his message from Upnishads to be “ Fearless” and “ get independence from your weakness” worked like magic for youngsters and his call of “ Spiritual independence” inspired people to work for the freedom from colonial rulers and country which for a long time was engaged in “ Vaishnav” philosophy of “ Incarnation” and excessive “ Bhakti” suddenly realized its self and the revolutionary movement in Bengal and other parts of the country derives its inspiration from the “ Eternity of soul” and “ Karmawad” on which our philosophical and ideological edifice founded.
Other stream which influenced the whole freedom struggle was Arya Samaj which started from Gujarat and later Swami Dayanand Saraswati scatterd it into several parts of the country particularly in western part of India which comprises Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab . Infact Swami Dayanand saraswati and his movement of Arya Samaj was the prime motive behind the first freedom Struggle in 1857. But unlike Ramkrishan Paramhans and his disciple swami Vivekanand he took the semetic path to bring Hindu Muslims together and made “ Vedas” as the base to his whole doctrine and tried to redefine the whole spiritual discourse in country in the background of semetic tradition of “ One God” and “ One divine Book” . In the philosophy of Arya Samaj the “ Vedas” replaced “ Quran” and “ Parmatma” the “ Creater” become “ Allah” and Swami Dayanand have the potential to become Prophet of Hindus and in this process he attacked various customs and traditions of Hindus and called upon some radical reform.
During Khilafat movement the whole political space was almost occupied by Indian national Congress and Arya Samaj was its guiding spiritual force and it was the reason why Arya Samaj worked with Mahatma Gandhi during his call to support the Khilafat movement to re install Caliphate in Turkey and spiritual leaders from Arya Samaj joined with Islamic leaders to oppose the Britishers but the radical appeal for the re installation of Caliphate took radical Islamic turn in India and Arya Samaj was targeted for pushing Hindu interest.
This experiment of Hindu Muslims unity to invoke some basic spiritual common ground failed miserably due to the failure of first freedom struggle in 1857 and later another attempt to bring Hindu Muslims together with Khilafat movment failed and it created a vacumn in social sphere and RSS tried to fill into the shoes and claimed to carry the legacy of Maratha Peshwas and Vijaynagar empire which in their views were Hindu empires who represent the continuity of Indian heritage and cultural entity.
After independence when constitution was adopted our forefathers took the safe path to mingle Indian cultural continuity along with contribution of Islam and modern western values as part of the composite culture of country.
Even before independence RSS and its affiliates founded its basic principles on the victimhood of majority in its own country who are basic people who form nationality of this old nation and their weakening means the weakening of India as a nation and with this ideology they promoted the theory of “ Hindus under siege” since medieval Islamic rule in country and in long organisational journey they have developed some of the “ Semitic” symptoms and their interpretation for Hinduism is flawed as it goes to Semitic way.
RSS and its affiliates describe “ Hindutva” as way of life which has been defined by a supreme court verdict but it is difficult to watch Hinduism as way of life. In my personal opinion I have never been satisfied with this definition because I have always found “ Islam” as way of life where a devout Muslim needs to adhere with some basic principles of a “ Holy divine book” and to follow the “ Sunnat” of Prophet Mohammad in every sphere of life . On the contrary Hindus are part of a continuous process of evolution of philosophical and spiritual doctrine which born in Bharat and spread itself in several parts of the world in the form of “ Ideas” . Personally being a Hindu I don’t believe that Hinduism can ever be a way of life because its teachings and principles are more than that . Hindu does not bother with uniformity of way of worship, clothing or eating habit or uniformity in customs and traditions. If Hindu ever bothers with any principle those are the principles of “ Karma” and according to that “ Karma” our future births are decided and this principle is interlinked with “ Eternity of soul beyond the body” and even these principles are not absolute in itself and the ultimate aim of human life is to liberate itself from all the bondage which limit its personality to realize that it is body and single unit alienated from universe and does not go beyond that.
Hinduism which is practiced today is the blend of continuous process of evolution of spiritual and philosophical doctrines and it contains the parts of several sects as Shaiva, Shakt, Vaishnava, Buddhism and Jainism. Even the part of Vaishanava is highly influenced from Buddhism and Greeko, Roman and Egyptian mysticism as well as its form of deities.
In modern days the whole “ Hindutva” concept is different from Hinduism due to few reasons. First , it does not believe in the power of ideas and philosophy of Hinduism which has accommodated and assimilated various sects and opposite views into it because ultimately Hinduism present a wide range of freedom and depth in philosophy and choice to go deep into it and swim around it without changing yourself .
Second, “ Hindutva” concept could not spare itself from the temptation of adopting the uniformity of followers and believing that “ One divine book” , “ One prophet” or “ One God” is the ultimate answer for Hindus to get united. This is the reason why Hindutva organisations demand to declare “ Gita” as the National scripture and india as “ Hindu Rashtra” . There are few reasons why Hindutva goes this way? The whole Hindutva movement got its momentum in 1980’s and it was the year of Khomeini revolution in Iran and Iranian revolution was the culmination of the Islamist movement which was going on in various parts of the world since early 20th century and it was in direct reaction to the European secularism and liberalism and most of the civilizations and cultures with historical antiquity and references found a answer for European secular liberal question in Iranian revolution which they fear to get imposed upon them in near future.
The whole Hindutva concept whose major component lies with Non resident Indians living abroad have given new definition to this movement as they define it in the terms of “ Semitic” tradition of uniformity and prophetic revelation and holy book. The interpretation of “ Gita” from ISKON and their description of lord Krishna is very similar to “ Semitic” tradition . The concept of reconversion or “ Gharwapsi” is also alien to Hinduism and it much different from Arya Samaj drive of “Shudhikaran” because Arya Samaj gave a theological answer to the the cause of conversion and tried to rectify it but RSS and its affiliates always adopted the path of “ Bhakti” and “ Vaishnaw” to promote their organisation which in medieval era was the potent wepon to not accept the Islamic rulers as their masters and they reinvented Ram and Krishna as their masters and gave them Godhood to keep their God intanct from Islamic influence as well as Hindu population. In the meantime they also realise the superstition and ritualistic hindrance as the major roadblock for discrimination in Hinduism and they took the route of “ Bhakti” to give flexibility in society and accommodated more and more people and definitely it was an influence of Buddhism and Jainism on Hinduism which scale down the role of rituals and academic skills to achieve the proximity of God.
In the continuity of spiritual and philosophical evolution of Hinduism the role of socio economic situation , influence of contemporary spiritual or ideological movements and political situation had always been very crucial and different interpretation of several doctrines had evolved in consonance to socio economic and political situation. As Adwiata, Dwaita, Dwaitadwait and vishithadwait or concept of “ Maya” all philosophical streams were well in accordance to the contemporary socio economic and political atmosphere.
The Hindutva doctrine needs to relook into it as it can not compromise the basic tenet of Hinduism.
Hinduism can not be equated to Islam and christianity because they have different historical background and socio economic situation in their evolution . Islam has been able to intact its followers with its unique combination of “ Sunnat” , “ Hadith” “ Haj pilgrimage” and economic system of “ Zakat” .
Christianity and Judaism are the Semitic religions which have transformed them according to the time and in modern world christianity has become the engine of biggest global corporation which is headed by Catholic pope from Vatican city . Chrisianity has been successful in making religion as the successful business model . In comparison to these religions Hinduism can prove its supremacy only with its powerful ideas and doctrine of “ eternity of soul beyond body” and liberating the bondage to enjoy the full freedom to connect with infinity.
In this global market of spirituality and religions Hinduism works as super market where you can buy anything you want but very first Hindus need to come out of inferiority complex and believe in their philosophy and ideas.