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What is Hindutva?

June 24, 2009

Whatever the actual reasons for the poll results, there are many in the BJP who feel that an erroneous projection of BJP’s Hindutva agenda had something to do with it. Not that there is a consensus within the BJP as to what brand of Hindutva to follow even now, or whether to follow it at all. Or even whether Hindutva played any part in the BJP’s poll results.

What is Hindutva anyway? Is it moderate or extreme? Religious or cultural? And how does the BJP view it?

Let’s first see what the world thinks of Hindutva.

Britannica.com describes Hindutva as an ideology which “defines Indian culture in terms of Hindu values” and mentions that this ideology is critical of the secular policies and practices of the Indian National Congress. Answers.com says that Hindutva is “Hinduness” and that it “refers to the ideology of Hindu nationalists” and that the term has fascist undertones.

The wiki says that Hindutva is “Hinduness,” and “used to describe movements advocating Hindu nationalism.” The wiki has clubbed together all the so-called “saffron” organisations with the BJP, like the RSS, Bajrang Dal, and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad as all those espousing the cause of Hindutva.

Hindutva believers may disagree with this world view of Hindutva and insist that it is not fascist or extreme in anyway but most foreigners and even many Indians think like that. That Hindutva is not moderate.

Unfortunately, while attempting to find out how Hindutva believers defined Hindutva, I came across more sites with negative references rather than positive ones (sites that came up in the first page or two). While hinduarise.com gives a moderate view and says that Hindutva is not a word but a history and culture, there are sites like hindutva.org which claim to analyse “Current Global Politics and History from a Hindutva viewpoint.” They seem to be anti-Muslim. Then there is the Bajrang Dal website which was banned by the Indian government for its views.

Hindurashtra.org calls itself the Hindutva Brotherhood and this brotherhood certainly does not seem moderate. For one thing, they wish to target Karunanidhi (Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu) for his comments about Lord Ram. Also, their “solutions” are something that can only be considered extreme. I am just quoting two:

  1. Tit for tat is the only solution. Super diabolic counter offensive is the only answer to the Muslim problem. You also force them to accept Hindutva. You also convert Muslim women to Hinduness. You can do this through discussions or even by using power
  2. We Hindus should militarize and industrialize ourselves. That is the only key for survival now. So industrialize and militarize Hindus as early as possible. In army, navy and air force, Hindus should have majority. Infact the people with double faiths should not at all be allowed to enter Indian Military. This is the only way to keep ourselves safe.

This may not be what the BJP endorses but then with so many websites (and blogs) spouting forth such ideas what are people to think? Then there was Varun Gandhi’s anti-Muslim speech just before the elections and after that the BJP gave him a ticket to contest. If Varun Gandhi espouses a certain brand of Hindutva and the BJP gives him a ticket then people will assume that the BJP has the same ideas.

And as many of the BJP’s allies are saffron parties which veer towards the right, their agenda is often confused with that of the BJP’s. At times these allies, like Ram Sene, which was responsible for dragging girls out of a pub and molesting them, may not even be a political ally, but in many people’s minds the connection is already made.

Today, L K Advani may insist that Hindutva is actually an “inclusive, tolerant philosophy which was not averse to change with the changing times” but it has been reported that this is Advani’s bid to “refashion” Hindutva. A clear indication that the BJP’s earlier version wasn’t like this. But even if they want to “re-fashion” Hindutva, will the extreme elements allow it?

There are intellectuals like Ashish Nandy who view Hindutva as the enemy of Hinduism. As far back as 1991 Nandy wrote that “Hindutva is built on the tenets of re-formed Hinduism of the nineteenth century. Reformed according to the reading of those who saw Hinduism as inferior to the Semitic creeds, in turn seen as well-bounded, monolithic, well-organized, masculine, and capable of sustaining the ideology of an imperial state”.

That is certainly an interesting way of looking at it although I can’t comment on it without a better knowledge of Hinduism and Hindutva. As of now I don’t care enough. But then the word Hindutva rolls off my back without me feeling a thing. I am far more attached to the word Hinduism and my brand of Hinduism is something I would like to practice in private.

Note 1:  Some months ago Amit asked me to write a post on “what items from the BJP’s platform” I considered “extremist Hindutva agenda” and why. I did try and write that post but then gave up because for me it wasn’t the items that seemed worrying, but the methods employed. As I have explained in the post above, one doesn’t really know how moderate the BJP is, and what is the distinction between it and the religious parties like the RSS. In fact they now say the BJP itself doesn’t know!

Note 2: Disclaimer. I am not an expert on this subject and therefore you are welcome to add your own views in the matter but please do so politely.

Related Reading: India’s Taliban on a rampage
SIMI and Bajrang Dal – can they be compared?

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103 Comments leave one →
  1. June 24, 2009 4:48 pm

    m i ?? m i ?? first ?

  2. Vinod permalink
    June 24, 2009 4:57 pm

    Perhaps there is something to learn from the ‘Gurus of Hindutva’, such as Praveen Togadia. See this video of his – between 22 min and 24 min.

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3829364588351777769

    It is the use of symbols of Hinduism (characters of Ramayana in particular) by political leaders to marshall masses of Hindus to purportedly achieve justice to the aggreived Hindu community. Most grievances are placed at the doorsteps of muslims. Second favourites for this are the Christians.

    • vasudev permalink
      June 24, 2009 8:07 pm

      vinod…i guess aggrieved hindus are eligible for some justice? why don’t you show (in comparison) all the yelpings of the hindu opponents and then accuse?

      • June 25, 2009 8:45 am

        I find it dim to edit one’s identity solely because someone else is doing something.

        The whole point (which you are missing) is – Hinduism is not Islam.

        • vasudev permalink
          June 25, 2009 10:31 am

          it becomes important for the ‘native’ hindu to do some sabre-rattling at times. nothing wrong in matching sword to sword. you aren’t pitching yourself against a mahatma but you are warding-off a ‘dur-atma’.

    • Vinod permalink
      June 24, 2009 9:35 pm

      I don’t because the topic of the post is Hindutva and not Jihad. But if you feel the need to balance it out, sure go ahead and do so.

  3. June 24, 2009 5:03 pm

    Hindutva .. no i am not an expert and i wouldnt know about it…

    Wonder if some day we can all sit and discuss Indianism as a topic… !!!

    really ! that would be a wlecome change…

    • June 24, 2009 9:37 pm

      Indianism ? whats that again?

      • June 25, 2009 8:46 am

        Waving a flag on 15 August and 26 January, I guess.

        • June 25, 2009 9:11 am

          The goose bumps you get when every morning “Now” and not during school days, when you sing/listen to our national Anthem “Jana Gana Mana!”

      • June 25, 2009 11:12 am

        Rite vishesh… how would people know it… plus its a boring topic… ! :(

        • June 25, 2009 5:33 pm

          First step towards Indianism: All Indians should know and understand the Jana Gana Mana i.e. our National Anthem. But I think its nearly impossible. Guess why!! :D

          • June 26, 2009 7:20 am

            Suda,

            U might be right. I just googled out meaning for our National anthem, and this is what it said:

            Thou art the ruler of the minds of all people,
            dispenser of India’s destiny.
            Thy name rouses the hearts of Punjab, Sindh, Gujarat, the Maratha country,
            in the Dravida country, Utkala (Orissa) and Bengal;
            It echoes in the hills of the Vindhyas and Himalayas,
            it mingles in the rhapsodies of the pure waters Jamuna and the Ganges.
            They chant only thy name,
            they seek only thy blessings,
            they sing only thy praise.
            The saving of all people waits in thy hand,
            thou dispenser of India’s destiny.
            Hail, Hail, Hail to thee.

            Which according to me is praise of beauty of India, its culture and people.

            Any second thoughts . . .

            • June 26, 2009 3:36 pm

              true , it describes the beauty of our country … But “what happened to the beauty I had inside of me” ( forgot which song this line comes in) ..

              @Final Transit: ya and then they throw it on the road and ride their Chevy’s over it ;)

  4. June 24, 2009 6:29 pm

    “Hindutva” a word which should have been a reason to be proud of, is now become a mater of shame to Hindus as it has been moderated and used in every wrong way.

    it has been totally misunderstood and misused by all.

    now it is in a state that it has become the negative image of Hinduism.

    never did Hinduism teach violence or ‘eye for an eye’ or belittling others..

    these are the manipulations by people who have no respect for humanity.

    which according to me above all.

    • vasudev permalink
      June 24, 2009 11:13 pm

      oorja…the word hindutva does not shame any ‘practising’ hindu.

      the ‘bhagwat geeta’ very clearly states one has a right to defend oneself if taken advantage of (and in doing this act of defence there might be the tit for tat and eye for eye). lord krishna exorted arjun to wage war against his evil cousins and in the process, to kill anyone who rallied opposite arjun.

      on the other hand one can safely say that hinduism has never been the invader indulging in avoidable adventurisms on others chests.

      hindutva might represent the latent soul of hinduism now reawakening to counter possible threats to its existence. i see no shame in that.

    • Vinod permalink
      June 25, 2009 7:09 am

      The real issue with Hindutva is the way it defines who the aggressors are and the way it prescribes to achieve justice. Like any religious zeal, it has a blinding effect on its proponents. It is reductionist, quickly coming to a ‘us’ vs ‘them’ view, ignoring the layers of identity and affiliation a person may have. As a result, it’s solution to its problems takes no account of the nuances that may be present in the causes for the aggression. It is too emotional to think in terms of nuances. And if left unchecked, it usually ends in a bloodbath.

      It is difficult to engage in rational discussions with those caught up in the Hindutva sloganeering. They cherry pick facts to fit their us vs them view. Any discussions with them, quite understandably, ends up in exhausting defensiveness, smart-alec comebacks and counter offensives rather than a calm and composed exchange.

      All these attributes are equally shared by the jihadists who want to establish a new world order based on the Shariah.

      The cause of such attitudes are traceable to protracted neglect or discriminatory policies in the current governance ethos and the deliberate fanning of prejudices by individuals from each community.

      Many may also point out to the characteristic of each religion as the cause. I think the teachings of each religion are a mixed bag and there is always a choice to be made by the adherents in deciding which of the teachings to follow. The choice is made based on the perceived circumtances and the injustices in it, plus or minus the individual’s capacity for tolerance.

      • Vinod permalink
        June 25, 2009 8:09 am

        I also think that there is something to the hypothesis that an individual’s sense of morality and justice is affected by the duration of repression s/he undergoes. The strong sense of vengeance or justice-at-any-cost can be an overpowering emotion. Something breaks and the boundaries of calm cool rational thinking is broken.

      • Vinod permalink
        June 25, 2009 8:10 am

        It would be very interesting if cognitive psychologists could shed some light on this.

        • vasudev permalink
          June 25, 2009 10:26 am

          on the other hand i find that there are many psychological defects amongst hindus themselves which are genetic in nature. sometimes these defects reflect as remorse against hinduism wanting to side with any forces opposing hinduism. the mental disturbances such strong emotions create in some hindus is equivalent to commiting suicide due to a total lack of comprehension of anything logical. for such individuals their own become their enemy and anything good said about their own family become unbearable. it is often found that such individuals suffered from long periods of abuse and had a very trying childhood which makes them grown into revengeful adulthood. these so-called hindus who try to pass themselves off as secular often are recognized as the enenmy-within and those who support the opponents with eyes closed. psychological opinion for such errant behaviour, which is akin to a kalidasa effect, can give some view of how such corrupt and insane minds work.

        • Vinod permalink
          June 25, 2009 10:36 am

          That’s an example of a smart-alec emotional comeback.

          • vasudev permalink
            June 25, 2009 10:39 am

            ha-ha! you are a real pattar. anyway…

  5. June 24, 2009 6:55 pm

    Here scrutiny has been taken on Hinduism with absolute frame of reference of its drawbacks and extremist ends of hindu organizations. But we forget that we live in the society which judges aspects in the frame of relative to each other. Another religion do not adapt with the same extent the foreign element and raise a new hybrid concept justifying the inclusion as Hinduism.That was key to survival of hinduism in 1000 years of supression. Example, when mughals establish rule here, hindus quickly started learning persian and with advent of British, english was learned with sanskrit & mother language. Now with the rise of USA as political power, Indians want to adopt their lifestyles.

    With the constant clashes between hindu and Muslims, a section of Hinduism is becoming hardliner. Most of time extremist hindus give the example of Zionists fight to Islamic countries. The identification with Islam have became in such an ethical orientation flow pattern, which is largely about the theological concepts haram – the Forbidden – and halal – the Permitted – structured. This view of non adaptability or slow adaptability for change of Islam to anything alien is looked with the suspicion in the eyes of even moderate Hindu. It is everybody’s business to ensure that no one is deprived of their right to say what they wish, even if it is deemed by some to be offensive. No fatwaa or pope type of rigid structure gives moderate hinduism chance of survival in all ages.

    Regrading hard liner Hindu organizations, their debacle lies in being phobic to Islam and christianity. They have done nothing for abolition of caste discrimination or to stand against any orthodox elements. The road of revival always go through reformation inside the community first for gathering base. RSS and Bajrang Dal are dominated by Brahmins who work as mind of the organization. It is not their fault only, when justice is delayed or denied to hindus & criminal from other religion ducks under cloak of pseudo secularism, RSS would be born and rejunevated again and again.

  6. June 24, 2009 7:01 pm

    I think Hindutva has too many different defintions . And the BJP was supposed to follow Integral Humanism , which is actually all inclusive , propounded by the great Deendayal Upadhyaya . It is not wrong to have an ideology , but unless the ideology is all inclusive , on a certain level , how can it be a Bhartiya Janta ‘s party ?

  7. June 24, 2009 8:05 pm

    My uneducated (since I left india before the BJP rise) opinion is that the hindutva thought is that the Hindus have/had been shortchanged in the Indian political and social environment. Thus the main underlying theme is to ensure that the status of the Hindu is “regained” (as they believe it has eroded), and is protected. This in the end would be at the expense of everything non-Hindu as necessary. This also gives rise to the “tit-for-tat” feeling. Thus if someone were to point out for a more tolerant, understanding approach (as say being more healthy), the natural response is why should we do so – look at what happened. Look at them. etc. etc. In India, I see “secular” is becoming the same kind of “bad word” as “liberal” in the US (i.e. for one section of the people). I see striking similarities.

    I could be wrong in this, but in my gut feeling, I felt that in the last election BJP had no new message, except fear in this case”Your identify is being eroded!”. They are not different from the neo-conservatives in US – who have a similar message. In fact, for every other major country, it seems there is a section of people whose message can be condensed into one word – fear.

    Perhaps, BJP is more than this, and it is that their image continues to carry that singular message. At least they did seem to focus on it a lot after Bombay attacks. Since fear does work when the environment is ripe, I think BJP perhaps thought it was so after the Bombay attacks – but it turned out be not so. Perhaps people are tired of this singular theme. Being afraid can be draining :)

    Arun

    Disclaimer: I am at this point just a casual observer of Indian politics compared to most of the people who comment here.

  8. June 24, 2009 8:38 pm

    Well you wrppaed up the post in perfect tone by claiming that “I am far more attached to the word Hinduism and my brand of Hinduism is something I would like to practice in private.”
    Hinduism as the name suggests is derived from Sindhu, i.e River Indus. The western travellers long ago called whole area east of Indus as Hindustan. From there came the name for the inhabitants, Hindu.
    The first major religion of India was Buddhism and not Hinduism. At that time there existed just a Vedic society. As other religions like Christanity and Islam reached India, the actual inhabitant who dis not take up these religions(followers of Vedas) took up the name of Hindu.
    However Hinduism was always all-inclusive. It was a melting pot of different religions and races.
    The present form of hard-core Hinduism, called Hindutva by Westerners and Indians alike, took birth in early 20th century in response to Islamic fundamentalism ushered in by Muslim League.
    It was in response to it, that Hindu Mahasabha and RSS cropped up which just fueled the existing communal fire.
    I am proud to be a Hindu, a Hindu who regards all religions as TRUE and all fellow Indians as Indians and not as Hindu, Muslim, Sikh or Christains.
    Though i’l be frank being a ‘human’, even I end up stereotyping ppl sumtimes.

  9. June 24, 2009 9:19 pm

    Good post Nita. I think the idea of Hindutva (as in “Hinduness”) has been hijacked and mis-interpreted by the extremist religious groups like RSS, Bajrang Dal etc (BJP is a political force that tries to bank upon this). Just like how the word “Jehad” has been hijacked and mis-interpreted by the extremist Muslim militant groups. Such groups are driven by their passion for power and religion is just another tool for them. At the end of the day, they make even the ordinary, religious, peace-loving Hindu or Muslim look dangerous.

  10. June 24, 2009 9:40 pm

    “divide and rule ” has always been the measure adopted by those people whose lust could only be satisfied by power..people should realize what is happening…

  11. June 24, 2009 10:51 pm

    Hindutva’s simple meaning is to respect other religion’s faith and belief along with hinduism and to spread harmony .. Hindutva is not related to any religion but it’s a way of living life which can be healthy, wealthy, peaceful at the same time ..

    Hinduism is the only religion where we say ‘Sarve Santu Sukhimayah , serve santu Niramayah’ .. Here we use ‘Serve’ that is All .. We dont say ‘Only Hindu’ or only hinduism .. We dont have terms like Kafirs or Non-believers .. By believing in Hindutva, we believe in Secularism .. we are hindus and that is the paramount reason why India is secular .. this is the reason why we had sikh PM, Christian as the leader of ruling party , muslim as ex-president and ex-cm , muslim as bollywood superstars and muslim as the captain of our cricket team .. We dont differentiate them with respect to religion or region ..

    But few peoplpe have misunderstood the very concept of Hindutva and has awfully deterioted the team as ‘Murderers of other minorities’ ..

    Only hinduism can save India and only India can save hinduism ..

    I’m proud to be born as an Indian, Gujarati and a Hindu and all in equal measures !!

    • Vinod permalink
      June 25, 2009 9:16 am

      To the chagrin of many, I’d like to take a cynical stab at the source of tolerance of Indians –

      Hinduism has its own divisive strains. But what it does not have is something that takes these divisions to the political level, like the Shariah does. Hinduism has no central doctrines that it has to protect against heretic tendencies. There are many sects in Hinduism and no one of them can claim to be representative of true Hindusim. So, at worst, it can make a bigoted individual who can use his eloquence to move masses to further his bigoted agenda. But what it cannot do is the next step downhill – justify that bigotry at the political level by characterizing it as a religious obligation or something divinely sanctioned.

      That is about intolerance and divisiveness.

      About the tolerance of Hindus, I can’t help wonder how much of it is derived from religious teachings such as the above and how much of it is derived from the modern education that we receive combined with the general apathy to religion that makes it an amorphous part of the identity of a Hindu Indian. In other words, the connection with the religion is only so much as to make it an aspect of the identity in equal footing to that of being an Indian or belonging to a particular linguistic community. The tolerance of Hindus therefore probably derives from the common sense that prevails by virtue of the lack of sharpness in the identity conferred by Hinduism.

  12. rags permalink
    June 24, 2009 11:06 pm

    The only thing I can think of …. Hinduism sounds Western and Hindutva sounds Indian.. ;-)

  13. rags permalink
    June 24, 2009 11:11 pm

    I’d say Hinduism is a vague term. Hindutva seems more concrete.

  14. June 25, 2009 3:41 am

    Wonder where people have taken the the ideas of Savarkar…he did later in life make the idea of Hindutva a little more complicated. But he always looked towards Western philosophy and idealogue than looking at Vedas or anything.

    No wonder he did not want his last rites to be bured and he never read, Vedas, Gita…etc

  15. June 25, 2009 8:52 am

    For me “Hinduism”, is what Hindu thinks. All those epic books, Geeta and Vedas are meant to guide ideology to lead a successful and peaceful life with truth and harmony.
    The way the meaning is portrayed by leaders, of various political parties, is biased. I would listen to a common man or a priest, rather than a leader affiliated to political party.
    I think time has come where we need to grow out of it. We respect ideologies. To a great extent follow it.
    But then we need to know what is more suited for country. A country which we say predominantly is a Hindu, and accommodates all others as well.

  16. June 25, 2009 10:49 am

    My definition is this. Hindutva is a right wing political ideology with fascist tendencies which uses Hindu religious symbols. sentiments and philosophy for gaining Political Power. In practise it is both anti-Indian and anti- Hinduism. Watch the march of RSS workers Is there anything related to Hinduism or India in that? It is more like the march of a Western Army .

  17. June 25, 2009 12:33 pm

    Read your post. No comments! :)

  18. June 25, 2009 1:36 pm

    Nita,it is a good but in today’s context it insa bit controvertial.I am no expert on this subject,but all i know is Hindutva is an ideology associated with Hindus and Hinduism.Unfortunately,on estays away from calling himself a hindu…the moment one does that,one is a communal fellow.Those who sit in the laps of those who are opposed to the term are secular.Ultimately…Hindutva is nothing but playing with words and playing dirty politics to be in/retain power.

  19. June 25, 2009 5:38 pm

    Personally I think we should take all good things from all religions and concentrate on better things in life like education, decreasing crime and lessen the poverty. I guess this is too much to hope, is it? Can it never be like all-is-well-gully in many hindi movies (e.g. in Delhi 6)??

    • June 26, 2009 7:24 am

      When i talked about this to one of my school friend. he says it happens only in dreams.
      Isn’t that dreams happen to come true sometime. If it is part of dreams by about at least 15% of Indians.
      I don’t see it far from near.

  20. June 25, 2009 6:43 pm

    Nita “I am far more attached to the word Hinduism and my brand of Hinduism is something I would like to practice in private.” is my take too. I am proud to be a Hindu. Compassion, generosity, tolerance, kindness, sharing, openmindedness, respect for all living creatures, honesty, courage, open to reforms, warm and inclusive – that is Hinduism for me.

  21. June 25, 2009 7:11 pm

    i think the ideology of Hindutva itself is not well – defined and it is an attempt by some to give it a moderate face but have an extremist support. Just something parallel to Wahabbism, where they come in moderate form, advise and train extremism, and after wards keep yelling ‘no, we do not endorse this’.

    tit – for – tat is an ideal way to put the country in anarchy. BTW, religion best kept personal and private matter for every individual to seek answers. I would rather give thumbs up to agnosticism, and doubt the very concept of God. Einstein, Aristotle, Plato, Socrates, Edison doubted, brought new things to world and where we are! Let’s opt for rationality.

  22. June 25, 2009 8:43 pm

    Interesting Post and Comments.

    The word “Hindutva” is the mixture (Sandhi) of two words.

    “Hindu” + Tatvam = Hindutvam (Or) Hindutva.

    “Tatvam” a Sanskrit word means “Itness”.

    “Hindutva” means belonging to Hinduism.

    Just like Vishnutva means belongingness to Vishnu.

    So called Pseudo-secular people are making all kind of noises on anything containing Hindu.

    Regarding Hindu nationalists, Are they Left, Right or Center ? They come under Rightist party.With out resistance if we can practice Hinduism than Hinduism in practice is a liberal religion…But when it includes fighting for Hindu rights or pretectionism of hindu religion than it becomes Rightest view.

    But practicing of Hindu religion is definetly signifies liberalism with so much flexibility and equality, more important is tolerance towards other faiths.

    Let me remind a verse from vedas on this occasion.
    Some people may think in Hinduism there are so many Gods But it is not true.

    “There is only one God, One & only God and no other.I am praying to God.God doesn’t have a sex.neither a male nor a female nor any other.He is not having any structure nor any figure.His presence can be felt everywhere.

    • Vinod permalink
      June 25, 2009 9:18 pm

      Usually when a middle class person with more than a tertiary education starts to get serious about religion, s/he looks for the quality of answers to the existential questions that religion provides. Whether it is tolerant to others is something that is ancillary to those. Liberalism is not something that a person goes looking for in religion. Instead they are asking more fundamental questions such as purpose of life, God and His attributes, God’s relationship to creation, death and after-death etc.

    • Vinod permalink
      June 25, 2009 9:19 pm

      Could you provide the reference to the quotation? Is it from the Yajur Veda? I know that Yajur Veda has verses that are strongly monotheistic.

    • Vinod permalink
      June 25, 2009 9:27 pm

      Kumar, do you think that you personally and Hindus in general face a pressure to portray Hinduism as monotheistic due to the dominance of the western world which followes Christianity – a pseudo-monotheistic religion? Or did you always understand Hinduism to be monotheistic?

      • vasudev permalink
        June 25, 2009 9:52 pm

        vinod…
        i do not think hindus face any such pressures. they believe that god is everywhere and in every direction. hence they do not have any need to defend being monotheistic. however, if hinduism is the modern sanatana dharma then essentially it is monotheistic in nature.

        • June 26, 2009 8:21 am

          I consider Hinduism as a way of life based on a set of philosophies rituals and thoughts. I feel it is under pressure now from forces of change in modern society like all other religons of the World

          • June 26, 2009 8:40 am

            When we talk abt Hindutva and when BJP talk abt it what everyone mean is not hinduism but the political ideology of using hinduism for attaining power The debate in bjp is not to change the core ideology but abt what kind of mask to wear to make the ideology acceptable to the masses

            • vasudev permalink
              June 26, 2009 3:04 pm

              charakan…
              religion, is politics. religion is power. religion is security.
              no one has seen god and no god has interfered in man’s game of religion.
              whether bjp does it or muslim league or christian congress, it all points to one thing: power!
              someone wants the ultimate rule in the world and the game goes on.
              why people defend themselves is precisely because they have a feeling of insecurity.
              why i want to defend hinduism is because i want my life to continue in the way i was brought-up, enjoying all the freedom i am used to.
              i also have been taught to believe in my religion and i want to die in my religion(which is a very common thought).
              and for keeping my identity alive i will support anyone who takes up my defence (irrespective of whether he gains power or not)
              now isn’t that true for every believer?

            • Vinod permalink
              June 26, 2009 3:12 pm

              Vasudev, Pakistanis thought in a similar way when they supported the jihadists against India in Kashmir. Look what has happened now. The jihadists have come back to bite them.

              One day, you or your progeny will pay the price of supporting unbridled hate today in the name of what seems like freedom.

              • vasudev permalink
                June 26, 2009 3:56 pm

                either you fight for your identity and retain it or you lose it.
                remember…hinduism is far removed from the basic tenets of abrahamic faiths.
                the pillars of abrahamic faiths rest upon total submission (read:conversion) to attain god-hood whereas hinduism does not ask you to follow any rigours to attain god’s feet.
                if a country wages war against you there are two things you can do:
                either turn back and fight
                or
                turn back and run
                which would you chose?

                • June 26, 2009 4:34 pm

                  Vasudev, My feeling is your notion that Sangh Parivar defends Hinduism is wrong It actually harms Hinduism See what happened in Orissa? Instead of reforming Hinduism and there by keeping the Dalits in the Hindu fold they are using violence against Dalits and Missionaries Can Hinduism be propagated thru violence? Actually Sangh Parivar is mimicking Abrahamic religions there Their only aim is power same as that of Taliban So they do not mind to twist and distort their religion which they claim to defend to achieve their narrow goals

                  • vasudev permalink
                    June 26, 2009 9:02 pm

                    charakan…
                    i agree to your point that sangh parivar has no good in its mind.

                    and i also agree that hindus seem to be doing pretty little to nullify caste discriminations.

                    orissa/bihar/mp are some extreme examples of apathy in governance. pure greed governs there.

                    therefore, one can keep these states aside and perhaps look at the wonderful example of gujarat.

                    no one is opposed to christian missionary work anywhere. conversions are not new topics for us. christian missionaries have been active amongst the tribals of various states for a long time. they have given service and also converted their flock. no one objected. but one never saw in the past the type of rampant conversions taking place nowadays…conversions based on stories and comics demeaning the major religion. comics depicting hindu godesses in compromising positions, making fun of hindu dieties…selling ‘christ’s ass’ for whatever it is worth really got beyond the tolerance of the otherwise ‘languid’ hindu and there was this reaction one saw in orissa, mangalore etc. so why convert based on lies/incentives/gifts/bonuses/dollars?

                    in this respect christians are as worse the terrorists as petro-saudi sponsored islamic bombers. if hindus continue to remain mute spectators to all this a time would soon come when he would find the very carpet carried away from under him.

                    sangh parivar may be agenda borne. but i do not see any wild protests from right minded christians and muslims denouncing their religion for painting or portraying another on a dirty canvass. this is the question a hindu should start asking himself.

                    • June 27, 2009 12:11 am

                      Vasudev,happy to see you agree with some of my points.But sad to see you justfy violence.In my opinion Violence in Orissa is aimed to get power over the rural poor.Upper caste ppl want the Dalits to remain as poor Dalits whom they can control.Missionaries want them to convert so that they will have power over the Dalits.If an organisation is really interested in saving Hinduism they should work for fulfilling the physical and spiritual needs of the poor Hindus. Violence against converts and missionaries may temperorily halt the conversion[due to fear],but in the long run it may help in increased conversion.

                    • vasudev permalink
                      June 27, 2009 3:06 pm

                      in reply to charakan…
                      there is something you missed…i said the conversions were ‘always’ there. it was a give service and convert kind of policy. no hindu ever objected to that.

                      when christian ‘new’ missionaries with an agenda larger than do-good came into picture in large nos and started painting hindus as filth readers, filth believers then…i prescribe on ‘annihilation’ as the medicine. andd in this the sangh parivar, bajrang dal etc all have the support of a mild mannered hindu like me.

                    • June 27, 2009 8:44 pm

                      Vasudev, I understand your anguish but there are enough laws in the country which can be used to prevent deriding if any of Hinduism. My belief is Violence against nuns and Pastors in the name of Hinduism will not prevent conversion but will only demean our culture

                  • June 26, 2009 10:32 pm

                    Charakan, but wasn’t violence used in Orissa to kill Swami Laxmanananda and other people in his ashram, including a woman? I didn’t read much about the horrific murder of this innocent woman, whereas the media was horrified when another woman was killed in the counter-attack by the mob. What makes one woman’s death so special and another’s irrelevant? If it’s just their faith/religion or the faith/religion of those attacking, then how is that secular?

                    • June 27, 2009 12:18 am

                      Amit,I never justifed any kind of violence. What I said was if the Hindusim’s resistance to conversion is thru violence like that seen in Orissa, it will find it difficult to keep the poor Dalits in its fold.

                    • June 27, 2009 1:00 am

                      Charakan, I didn’t say you justified violence – I was merely pointing out that the violence, when directed against Swami Laxmanananda (there were some previous unsuccessful attempts on his life), is ignored or brushed under the carpet by some (“chalta hai” attitude), whereas these same people bring down the skies over retaliatory violence by RSS/Hindutva. We need to have one standard – that’s my point, unless you think that violence by Christian missionaries in India is OK, but by saffron people is not OK.

                    • June 27, 2009 4:13 pm

                      Amit , Violence whether by Maoists or Hindutva forces or Missionaries should not be justified but unequivocally condemned . Sad truth is even now thousands of converted dalits are not allowed by hindutva forces to return to their villages unless they are ready to re convert Can Hinduism be promoted by fear and threats? If they really want to promote Hinduism Hindutva forces should re think their strategy

      • June 26, 2009 4:07 pm

        Dear Vinod,
        Their is no need to portray Hinduism as Monothestic as it is evident from our vedas itself that Hinduism is Monothestic.

        Regarding pressure to portray monotheism. ..There is no pressure as such..Infact When Md.Ghazni had
        invaded somnath after 16 attempts than also there was no pressure on Hindus…:)

        I understood Hinduism as a monothestic religion when i started learning about my religion during school days.I doubt even my father knows it…:).

        Actually, Hinduism way of worship is as per the level of knowledge of a person.Life is a test to know the “path of truth” in one’s Lifetime.

        Yes, I accept some of the Hindus doesn’t know that Hinduism is a monothestic religion.There is a need to propagate it and how to understand the trinity (Brahma,Vishnu & Maheswara)and the thousands of Godess who are ladders to help us reach the supreme God..

    • vasudev permalink
      June 25, 2009 9:49 pm

      kumar…
      well said.
      as regards monotheism in hinduism if hinduism originated from sanatana dharma then it should be monotheistic. because sanatana dharma started with ‘nirguna’ brahman (mono) which is supreme but without shape, size, smell, taste, image, reflection, feelings…
      ‘nirguna’ later on became ‘satguna’ and the hrishis and munis gave it attributes more palatable to mankind…and one must remember that by mankind we mean people who lived aeons ago who were less intelligent and imaginative than the modern times (a mere thousand or two yrs ago) recent monotheistic religion followers.

      • Vinod permalink
        June 25, 2009 10:11 pm

        Just a fine point that I want to make – the Nirguna Brahman idea is not analogous to orthodox Islam’s idea of God – ‘Asharism’. But it is analogous to one of the islamic sects of the past – the ‘Mutazilites’.

        • vasudev permalink
          June 26, 2009 4:09 pm

          vinod…i dunno about those two you mention but i do know there are many muslim scholars who do research in the vedas and they find it interesting that the base of hinduism is monotheism.

          quite often they ask the question: since you guys started with mono why did you drift to poly?

      • June 26, 2009 4:23 pm

        Vasu,

        “hrishis and munis gave it attributes more palatable to mankind”

        No one had given any attributes..They had only suggested the way to reach the “Supreme God”.
        Thatswhy each caste,family,tribe,village,city will have its own way of worshipping God.

        Like a
        Brahmin prays to Guru datta.
        Kshatriya Prays to Narsimha.
        Yadava Prays to Lord Krishna.
        Craftsmen Kammari (Blacksmiths) Vadrangi/Vadla (Carpenters), Ausula (Goldsmiths)., Shilpi (sculpturist who makes all kinds idols of god),Kanchara prays to “VishwaKarma”
        A tribal Hindu Prays to Godess Kaali.

        All these are for our good only.If you ask a tribal person that You need to do sandhya vandana daily and pray Guru Datta He cant understand nor can read Veda’s.
        He will be more comfortable praying Godess Kaali by giving sacrifice of an animal.But yes after birth he can always evolve himself and try understanding otherthings.

        Finally, These are just ladders to reach the one and only Supreme God.Its for our good only.

        • vasudev permalink
          June 26, 2009 11:46 pm

          kumar
          what i meant was the change-over from nirguna to satguna.

  23. June 25, 2009 8:47 pm

    To all,
    Due to some personal commitments I have been unable to answer comments on this post. I have read all of them and will try to answer them in a day or two. Thanks to everyone who has taken the trouble to comment here.

  24. June 26, 2009 12:37 am

    Hindutva is an errr…flourishing business?!? I guess!
    I think we have lost the real meaning a long time back.

    • vasudev permalink
      June 26, 2009 3:06 pm

      amit…so is every religion

  25. June 26, 2009 1:00 am

    Nita .. i usually read your blog but have not been commenting on them .. this one was so informative for me .. i never knew that there are websites on hindutva .. and even bajrang dal maintains a website .. something i thought was beyond them … thank you for doing this research and sharing this as well ..

    I know i will charred for this and branded as supporter of Varun’s or his types .. but let me say this .. i have not seen Varun saying things against muslims .. as i have not heard him naming them .. it was ‘implied’ that he made that speech against them ..

    The dismissiveness of remarks by Karunanidhi was not good .. i am a believer although hardly visit temples .. in last two years only once i have been to any temple and all i remember is that that food i had there was very good .. but then again Karuna was bad .. a project which should be analyzed based on its economic cost benefit is allowed to run into emotions .. if it makes economic sense very well go ahead a get rid of those rocks ..

    BJP or Shri Ram Sene is not the question .. question should be of law and order .. we allowed ourselves to get dragged by few thugs who were smart enough to call the TV before getting into that bashing ..

    For me hindutva is a way of live .. period .. and that makes me not to look or poke or interfare into others life and i expect the same back .. that were its not ending as others are quick to interfare into my life for my believes .. over a period of time that gets manifasted into Bajrang dal type mentality ..

  26. Vinod permalink
    June 26, 2009 10:24 am

    Here is Al-Beruni, commissioned by Mahmud Ghazni writing about the Hindus of his day –

    Here is one of his observations on the Hindus of his day:

    “The Hindus believe that there is no country but theirs, no nation like theirs, no kings like theirs, no religion like theirs, no science like theirs.They are haughty, foolishly vain, self-conceited, and stolid. They are by nature niggardly in communicating that which they know, and they take the greatest possible care to withhold it from men of another caste among their own people, still much more, of course, from any foreigner … Their haughtiness is such that, if you tell them of any science or scholar in Khorasan and Persis, they will think you to be both an ignoramus and a liar. If they traveled and mixed with other nations, they would soon change their mind, for their ancestors were not as narrow-minded as the present generation is.”

    When I read this, I thought we haven’t changed much. :)

    • vasudev permalink
      June 26, 2009 3:21 pm

      never knew they had ‘propaganda managers’ even in those days! indians…never change!

    • rags permalink
      June 26, 2009 4:24 pm

      Most historians in those days were pretty ethnocentric and cultural relativism was unknown to them unlike present day sociolgists. So these observations should always be taken with a pinch of salt. I don’t think it is possible to classify a whole country as having so and so characteristics only by a limited interaction with a few people. In every country there will always be a group of people who’d consider their culture to be the best and conversely another group who are always ashamed of their culture. The average Indian would stand somewhere in between. :)

    • Vinod permalink
      June 26, 2009 4:57 pm

      Rags, without discounting your point, to Al-Beruni’s credit he studied Indian philosophy, including the Vedas and he was an accomplished academic in a number of fields of science and arts.

    • June 26, 2009 10:21 pm

      Vinod, and this observation by Al-Beruni is 100% objective, I guess? Should I take it at its face value, and if so, then why?

      From your comments on various posts on this blog, you seem to have a propensity of disbelieving and casting doubts on anything good and positive about ancient India, whereas easily believing and highlighting anything negative. Is your own bias showing through here? :D

      • Vinod permalink
        June 27, 2009 8:16 am

        Al Beruni obviously had his biases. It is not 100% objective. But in history, epistemologically speaking, is any evidence of a person’s words 100% objective? If you must know, I actually find it difficult to believe Al Beruni because I’m not sure Hindus had a common ‘Hindu identity’ till the British contrasted them with Muslims and Christians. It is more likely that the Hindus were taking pride in their respective local identities, which he ofcourse characterised with his broad brush as ‘Hindu’. Not only that, I find his mild comments on the attacks on Somnath to be unacceptable. and unacademic.

        Now Amit, once and for all, let me tell you this – I think cynically not just about India and Indians, but about any nation/community. I have a very average opinion of the human race and all its civilizations. That is my bias.

        Amit, if you haven’t noticed I also quoted Al Beruni’s positive remarks about India. :)

        Doesn’t the ‘we’ I speak of sound familiar to you? :)

    • June 26, 2009 10:39 pm

      And who is this “we” you speak of in your last sentence? Is this “we” representative of all Hindus/Indians? :)

  27. Vinod permalink
    June 26, 2009 10:24 am

    His translator, Edward Sachau, observes:

    “To al-Beruni the Hindus were excellent philosophers, good mathematicians and astronomers, though [out of a certain self-confidence] he believes himself to be superior to them, and disdains to be put on a level with them. He does not conceal whatever he considers wrong and unpractical with them, but he duly appreciates their mental achievements … and whenever he hits upon something that is noble and grand both in science and in practical life, he never fails to lay it before his readers with warm-hearted words of approbation. Speaking of the construction of the ponds at holy bathing-places, he says: “In this they have attained a very high degree of art, so that our people (the Muslims), when they see them, wonder at them, and are unable to describe them, much less to construct anything like them.”

  28. Vinod permalink
    June 26, 2009 10:47 am

    A glimpse into the era when atheistic materialism and scepticism had a strong hold in India

    http://www.shunya.net/Text/Blog/Carvakas.htm

    What happened to that these days?

    Check out this song of creation from the Rig Veda and the radical doubts there –

    Who really knows? Who will here proclaim it? Whence was it produced? Whence is this creation? The gods came afterwards, with the creation of this universe. Who then knows whence it has arisen? Whence this creation has arisen—perhaps it has formed itself, or perhaps it did not—the one who looks down on it, in the highest heaven, only he knows—or perhaps he does not know.

    • rags permalink
      June 26, 2009 4:12 pm

      Carvaka philosophy existed in ancient India and does so even now. Only, it has always existed in the margins, I don’t think it was ever mainstream even in ancient India. India has always been a predominantly religious country.

    • June 26, 2009 10:15 pm

      Ah, the mention of Carvakas always get some people salivating and excited!!

      Vinod, I’m not sure there’s enough evidence to show that “atheistic materialism and scepticism had a strong hold in India” though I’m glad to see that you refer to the land during those times as “India”. ;)

      As for skepticism, no one stops anyone from being a skeptic in India – you are free to indulge in any kind of skepticism you want to, or believe in. :)

      • Vinod permalink
        June 27, 2009 8:17 am

        I’m glad to see that you refer to the land during those times as “India”.

        You should know me better by now. :)

  29. June 26, 2009 11:31 am

    Nita

    //the word Hindutva rolls off my back without me feeling a thing. I am far more attached to the word Hinduism //

    “ism” is an English suffix, whereas “tva” is sanskrit, and both have same meaning, we Hindus call our religion as “Hindutva” whereas westerners call our religion as “Hinduism”

    Vivek, I assume you mean the “religion” with the political context that was invented recentlyby Hindus and which they called Hindutva. I am talking of the religion of ancient India which is what I care about. Kindly delve into the beginnings of hindutva to clarify your doubts. Hinduism is the true religion, Hindutva, a relatively modern invention. – Nita

    • June 26, 2009 10:34 pm

      “I am talking of the religion of ancient India which is what I care about.”

      Nita, you mean the religion of ancient India that included Manu Smriti? :D

      very funny! :) – Nita

      • vasudev permalink
        June 26, 2009 11:42 pm

        haha! yes nita. i agree that was indeed quick wit.

    • June 27, 2009 12:29 am

      Hindutva in present day discourses means the political ideology and not the ‘religion’.Since the term ‘Hindutva’ has been hijacked by the politicians we will have to use Hinduism when we want to mention the ‘religion’.

  30. June 26, 2009 10:44 pm

    Right now I am feeling not so happy at being a Hindu. The temple near my home has organized some satsang since one week and rest I will express on my next post at my blog. (How does one make an angry emoticon here?)

    • vasudev permalink
      June 26, 2009 11:50 pm

      sound pollution? if so it is very bad. here in mumbai everything is off at 10pm.

  31. wishtobeanon permalink
    June 27, 2009 1:41 am

    Hi Nita, sorry for posting an irrelevant comment, but have you visited the website, kamat’s potpourri? – they have a wealth of information about India.

  32. June 27, 2009 6:09 pm

    to me its just a way of life..and it actually wants to live and let others live peacefully..i do not subscribe to the theory of hindus are under threat

  33. vasudev permalink
    June 27, 2009 7:56 pm

    while i have many good and enlightened christian and muslim friends in real life i am always embarrassed that at every opportunity, such as in a simple discussion like indian experience in australia, they immediately broach on the topics of human rights in india and how bad the hindus were to them at gujarat, orissa, mangalore…

    so a psychological question aimed at man’s retentivity:

    is ‘effect’ more remembered than ’cause’?

  34. vasudev permalink
    June 27, 2009 9:17 pm

    for the attention of nita:

    since yesterday my reply button to specific posts are missing.

    apparently, it is not a systemic design/error since the others do reply to me on my posts.

    for example:

    i cannot reply to charakan while charakan can reply to me and so on and so forth…

    just thought i will inform you…

    Vasudev, each thread can only take 9 replies. After that the reply button doesn’t work. – Nita

  35. vasudev permalink
    June 27, 2009 9:21 pm

    charakan…reply to your last post regarding laws…

    the court is concerned about afzal’s eating habits/learning habits/comfort levels…

    i am confused now whether the attack on mumbai happened at all within my dimesion???

    ???

  36. July 17, 2009 12:53 am

    interesting blog
    very thoughtful!!!

  37. Dr Nishith N Dhruv permalink
    July 21, 2009 2:52 pm

    Although -ism & -tva mean the same thing, Hindu-ism & Hindu-tva have taken on two different meanings at present. Neither is well-defined concept and that is why there can be an endless debate on this point. About Monotheism, we have to understand that the Vedas dealt with non-dualism(adwait) which is almost a monism. It is this basic philosophy of non-dualism that has created that all-inclusiveness of the Indian or Hindu culture. Monotheism is a worship of one God – but that often breeds intolerance to other forms of worship. This happened in India too when Monotheistic Shaivites clashed with the monothestic Vaishnavites and so on. Polytheism in our culture on the other hand has permitted tolerance to all kinds of worship – because our non-dualism has taught us that the same reality lies behind the various deities worshiped in our polytheistic culture : the vedas have said : ekam sat ( Truth of Reality is only one) wipraaH bahudhaa adanti(The wise call it by various names). It is because of this basis of non-dualism that there was an assilmilation of people worshiping various deities into a composite Indian culture. It is thus that tribes worshiping say snake were integrated into this culture – for does not the same reality dwell in the snake? We needn’t be awed by the monotheistic ideas – Polytheism suits our Indian ethos. I may say that this broad view has permitted the idea of one Nation to exist along with the individual linguistic, ethnic identities – A unique feature of this incredible nation that is India.

  38. vasudev permalink
    July 21, 2009 10:07 pm

    but monotheism is strangulating india slowly

  39. Dr Nishith N Dhruv permalink
    July 21, 2009 10:30 pm

    That is what I meant when I said that polytheism based on a philosophy of non-dualism suits the Indian ethos., not monotheism.

    • vasudev permalink
      July 22, 2009 11:59 am

      Dr Nishith…perhaps I did not make myself clear.
      The Monos who are strangulating India are Abrahamic faiths finding favour with the current congress government at the centre and in many states at the expense of the vulnerable Hindu poly.

  40. vasudev permalink
    July 11, 2009 12:18 pm

    satsangs come with old hindi songs nowadays. in mumbai especially many budding but jobless ‘stars’ try our their jarring notes belting out sri-ram katha in a kishore kumar romantic starring devanand and asha parekh doing their sensual tree-rounders. advantage:
    1) satsangs get you immediate followership
    2) in the proximity of bollywood some music director re-looks your ‘abilities’ once you get popular with many prominent satsangis
    3) temple proprietors get to invoke the blessings of many such star-struck satsangis through their fattening hundis (pure black money used for purposes requiring black money)
    while reprimanding satsangis we should not forget the pure business values these can get us.
    cotton is availalble cheap for the stuffing…

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