Term paper submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the course on Sociology
Hindutva: A fascist ideology
Pranav Mani Chinnaswamy
Hindutva, a term coined by V. D. Savarkar, literally translates to Hindu-ness. Savarkar defined it as a coherent pattern of concepts that applied only to Hindus. Hinduism and nationalism simultaneously developed and progressed throughout 19th and 20th century India. Towards the end of the British era, Indians were confused about their national identity and it was this identity crisis that gave birth to the concept of Hindutva. This was also the time during ...view middle of the document...
Nehru firmly believed that all Indians, regardless of their religion, caste or sex, were inheritors of a deeply diverse yet common historical tradition. This historical tradition included a common culture and lineage (Nehru, J. (1961) The Discovery of India, Bombay: Asia Publishing House)
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, in his speech in Aligarh Muslim University, in 1948 said, “You are Muslim and I am a Hindu. We may adhere to different religious faiths or even to none; but that does not take away from that cultural inheritance that is yours as well as mine. The past holds us together; why should the present or the future divide us in spirit” ("Secular Outlook." - Mainstream Weekly. Web. 12 Nov. 2014.)
Gandhi did not believe in segregation of an individual’s life into the different realms of religion and politics. He advocated politics that was inclusive of religious ethics and was stringently opposed to the idea of conforming religious communities in accordance to political ideology (Gandhi, M.K. (1980) The Spirit of Hinduism, New Delhi: Pankaj Publications).
Savarkar seems to profess Hindutva as an ideology with an extremely narrow purview. It limits the ambit of the ideology and permits it to include allegiance to a common native land only by adhering to some strict conditions. One must be cautious and not confuse native land with land that is considered to be pious (Savarkar, V.D. (1989) ‘Hindutva’ from Hindutva: Who is a Hindu?, 6th edn, Delhi, Bhartia Sahitya Sadan,)
Today, violent communalism is taking to the forefront. It coerces people to choose between the perspectives of Hinduism as mentioned above. The choice, then, is between their communal and national identity.
Although Savarkar’s vision of Hindutva might seem at first to be contemporary and nationalist, it is, in reality, authoritarian, militant and chauvinistic. It is the opposite of Gandhi’s version of Hinduism, which allows different forms of Hinduism to coexist. Gandhi envisages the synthesis of unity through a thread of common nationality and citizenship. He pictures the Indian as an individual capable of developing a supra-regional and supra-religious identity, i.e., an identity that can, then, be shared by a cocktail of the Indian populace of various regions and religions not sharing a common language, but only an overlapping culture and common nationality. Hindutva groups, on the other hand, define India as a Hindu nation that must comprise only Hindus. One cannot term Hinduism, which is a way of life, as an orthodox religion, yet Hindutva groups do precisely that.
Gandhi’s version of Hindutva ideology exists in contradiction to that which Savarkar propagates. Hindutva ideologues like Savarkar and Modi are staunch supporters of nationalism that is devoid of religiosity in any form whatsoever. This form of religious fundamentalism poses a threat to the idea of an India that is plural, inclusive and democratic. It betrays the fundamental idea of unity in diversity...