Attacking Hindutva is attacking the very foundation of the Sanatan Dharma and the institutions that emerge from its ideals
Whenever there is an attack on the culture and tradition of this country, it has been met with a response that has helped in further expansion of the ideology guiding the principles that govern lives of an average Indian. This explains why Islamic attacks on India or by the Christians failed to capture the hearts and minds of people the way they did in other countries. India suffered violence but never allowed its spirit to be demolished. The culture of seekers of spiritual uplift always threw a challenge to new attacks.
Critics often fail to understand that Hinduism is not a religion of the Book and it is constantly in the process of evolution where man finds ways to adjust to nature and continue with the spiritual quest. Recently, Congress leader Salman Khurshid attempted to launch an ideological attack on this ancient syncretic tradition by comparing Hindutva to terrorist organisations such as ISIS and Boko Haram.
The latest to join the chorus to defame Hindus is Mani Shankar Aiyar who claimed that the BJP doesn’t consider non-Hindus as Indians and can throw them out at any time. He also backed former Congress president Rahul Gandhi who opined that Hindutva is about beating a Sikh or a Muslim. This framework of attack demonstrates the pathological hatred for Hindu by a party that aspires to rule where more than 80 percent of the population still adhere to the philosophy of Sanatan Dharma. Naturally there would be a counter attack to expose the hollowness of such a comparison.
In his book Sunrise Over Ayodhya: Nationhood in Our Times, Khurshid says, “Sanatan dharma and classical Hinduism known to sages and saints were being pushed aside by a robust version of Hindutva, by all standards a political version similar to the jihadist Islam of groups like ISIS and Boko Haram of recent years.” Anyone who understands the inherent nature of the culture and tradition of this country would think many times before giving such statements that are objectionable and bereft of any fact.
ISIS and Boko Haram use terror to establish Islamic State where people would be governed solely by the Sharia and where rational minds and human rights would not exist. They seek justification in religious doctrines and their first victims are those Muslims who have deviated from the paths of Puritan Islam. Comparing Hindutva with these organisations intends to hurt majority Hindu sentiments and appease those Muslims who have been made to see Hindutva as a threat.
One would have done well to look at the definition provided by the Supreme Court in 1995 where it said that there was no distinction between Hindu, Hinduism and Hindutva and all of these describe the way of life evolved in India over many centuries. Any logical mind would say that while Hindu is membership of the Sanatan tradition for people born in this land, Hinduism is the qualities that define who is a Hindu such as use of reason, truthfulness, spiritual awakening, tolerance, etc, that make one a better human being. Hindutva is attainment of those ideals — the highest form of spiritual awakening where one becomes akin to God. It is the same as Buddha, Buddhism and Bodhitva where Bodhitva is finding enlightenment and salvation.
Let us try to understand Hindutva through words of some of our great minds. Adi Shankaracharya described the world as an illusion. He said that the ultimate reality is Brahman or pure consciousness, the consciousness of the pure self that is devoid of all attributes and all categories of the intellect. But this realisation comes only when ego or avidya that arises from ignorance vanishes. When people reach this state there is no conflict.
Swami Vivekananda described Hinduism as a way of life. It is our cultural, national and dharmic identity. He delved into the Vedas and the Upanishads and taught to the world the strength of the Hindu belief system. His Hinduism pervaded all aspects of national life such as character building, education, faith, etc. All these qualities were beautifully articulated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in January 2014 when he spoke about the idea of India and included among others Satyameva Jayate (truth alone triumphs) and Ahimsa Parmo Dharma (non-violence is topmost duty).
Even Veer Savarkar’s Hindutva is for all those who consider India to be a land of their ancestors. He said that everyone who is born in the country should take pride in their culture and ethnic identity. Critics find problems if this is extended to the political realm. But they forget that Mahatma Gandhi said that religion cannot be separated from politics since religion is dharma and every politician must follow his dharma of truth and trusteeship.
The attack on Hindutva and describing this as militant assertion of Hindu identity is an attempt to paint the culture of this land in the negative light. Christianity witnessed crusades against Muslims. Islam has witnessed radicalisation and terrorism. But Hinduism practiced by such a huge population has been left untouched by these devilish trends.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi and the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) sought to create Hindu terror narrative to counter balance Islamic terrorism. In 2009, Rahul Gandhi had told then US Ambassador Timothy Roemer that extremist groups among Hindus were bigger threat than Islamic terrorism. We all know how the Hindu terror narrative has fallen flat and Pragya Thakur, who was haunted and tortured for UPA machinations, is now an honourable member of the Lok Sabha.
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat has categorically said that those who say that Muslims should not live in India, are not Hindus. “Those involved in lynchings were against Hindutva,” he asserted and added that “nationalism and glory of ancestors” should form the basis of Hindu-Muslim unity. The Prime Minister has already condemned those who take law in their hand in the name of cow vigilantism. They are criminals by the night, he had said.
Describing incidents that relate to law and order as extension of militant Hindutva is a big fallacy. Those who say that temples are places where boys visit to eve-tease girls and those who wear janeu (sacred thread) over the coat to show he is a Hindu cannot understand Hindutva. Hindutva is truth and people will accept you if you are truthful to your calling irrespective of whether you are a Muslim, a Hindu or a Christian. Late APJ Abdul Kalam, who became the President of India, is a shining example. He is the most admired leader of this country.
Rahul Gandhi and the Congress should know that people of this country are smart enough to separate the fake from the real. The RSS, the BJP and PM Modi have made an indelible impression in the hearts of people because of their uncompromising commitment to a strong nation based on the country’s cultural ethos. If you are guided by selfish motives and Western stereotypes you would not succeed. Attacking Hindutva is attacking the very foundation of the Sanatan Dharma and the institutions that emerge from its ideals.
The writer is the convener of the media relations department of the BJP and represents the party as a spokesperson on TV debates. He has authored the book ‘Narendra Modi: The Game Changer’. The views expressed are personal.