Tradition of ‘Fraternity’ is Hindutva
At a recently held lecture series, the Sarsanghachalak of Rshtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Dr. Mohanji Bhagwat, said, “‘Fraternity’ is the essence of the Sangh’s activities, and exemplifies our country’s ‘unity in diversity’.”
“It is this tradition of fraternity that is referred to as “Hindutva”, Dr. Bhagwat continued. “And that is why we say that Bharat is a Hindu Rashtra, where ‘Rashtra’, stands for ‘people’. This does not mean that we do not want Muslims in it. Because Hindutva sees the entire world as one family – Vishwakutumb.” Some in the audience were perplexed by this statement.
Confusions arise because people tend to focus on particular positions that we take in response to prevailing conditions, losing sight of the original spirit that defines us. The same is true for the soul of Bharat and its identity – Hindutva. Hindutva is the view of life that is inherently inclusive and stands for the good of all of creation.
This is why Hindus never identified as ‘Hindu’. When they traveled abroad for trade, they were called ‘Hindus’ indicating that they came from beyond the river Sindhu. Invaders also called us Hindu, in the same vein. Thus Hindu became the descriptor for all those who live in this region, and believe in Ekam Sat Viprah Bahudha Vadanti: ‘the truth is one, but there are many ways of finding it.’
While opposing British rule Hindu and Muslims worked in the first war of independence in 1857. In 1905 too while opposing the unjust partition of Bengal they stood and succeeded together. Subsequently, however, the British planted the seeds of divisions and hatred between the communities, leading to the partition of the country. In those tumultuous years, the Muslim view completely negated the essence of Hindutva and Bharatiyata. Subsequently, the Hindu opposition to partition evolved into an articulation that was against Muslims. If in those years Hindu leaders reflected anti-Muslim sentiments, it was a reaction to the violence and venom – a reaction that failed to reflect the eternal inclusive thought that defines Hindutva or Bharatiyata.
It should always be kept in mind that the Hindu view is not exclusivist and does not believe in ‘otherising’. This is why Swami Vivekananda said in his famous speech in Chicago that he was proud to belong to a faith which, in its ancient Sanskrit language, has no equivalent or substitute for the English word ‘exclusion’.
Semitic thought divides humankind into two groups: those who are believers and those who are not. Those who do not follow Semitic faiths are shunned and threatened. This exclusivist conception even influences socio-political ideologies like Communism that have roots in societies that subscribe to semitic faiths. If you do not subscribe to Communism, then you are branded a right winger and silenced. The people who subscribe to such thought have hence represented Hindu“ism” as an “ism”– something that is (antithetical) ironclad and discriminatory towards those outside its fold. Hence in our opposition to this ironclad misrepresentation of an all-encompassing faith, we have also drifted towards this understanding of being Hindu and begun using a derivative lexicon and reference points.
Independence came to Bharat alongside a partition of British dominion and transfer of population that was not intended. The people of this subcontinent had been one since ancient times. In one part of Bharat, Bharatiya Muslims comprised a minority and in the other, what became Pakistan, the Hindus were the minority. Both constitutions were written at the same time. Pakistan’s constitution drew from Semitic thought and so a delineation between Muslim and Non-Muslim citizens was written in denying equal rights to all. However in Bharat’s constitution, keeping with the Hindu view of life, all religions were given equal rights.
Because Pakistan followed Semitic traditions, they introduced the concept of minorities. However Bharat, followed the essence of Hindutva and preserved a tradition of not discriminating among people on the basis of religion. Hence the concept of “minority” is irrelevant in the context of Bharat.
In post-independence India opposing Hindutva and appeasing Muslims and Christians for votes became the hallmark of party politics. At times, Hindu society had to counter the aggression of violent fundamentalist Muslim elements. As a result anti-Muslim sentiment sprouted up in the Hindu’s mind. However the Muslims and Christians of Bharat have a Hindu origin. Because the Hindu society was weak, some were compelled to change their faith. Muslims may forget this, but Hindus must not. They must, together with our Muslim brethren, plant the seeds of a prosperous Bharat.
The Sangh’s second Sarsanghchalak Pujaniya Shri Guruji Golwalkar articulated this in an interview with journalist Saifuddin Jilani.
“Dr Jilani – Much has been said about ‘Indianisation’ and a lot of confusion has arisen over it. Could you please tell me how to remove the confusion?
Shri Guruji – ‘Indianisation’ was of course the slogan given by Jana Sangh. Why should there be such confusion? ‘Indianisation’ does not mean converting all people to Hinduism.”
Indianisation is the realization that that we all owe allegiance to this land. We share common ancestors, culture and aspirations. It does not mean quitting one religion for another. In fact, we believe that a single religious system for all humans is not suitable.
During his lecture series Dr Bhagwat said, “As a people we all have a Hindu identity. Some feel pride in referring to themselves as Hindus while others, due to some material considerations or political compulsions, only say they are Hindus in private. Then there are those who have simply forgotten. All these people are our own and no one is our enemy. There may be those who have declared us their enemies, but whilst we may defend ourselves, we aspire to take them along with us too. This is Hindutva.”
Veer Savarkar had also said, “You are a Muslim, hence I am a Hindu, else I am a ‘Vishwa Manav’ a global human”. The following lines sum up the essence of Hindutva for me –
“He drew a circle and shut me out-
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But love and I had the wit to win.
We drew a circle and took him in.
– Dr. Manmohan Vaidya
Sah Sarkaryavah (RSS)