Thursday, Dec 09, 2021
Outlook.com
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A Faith Besieged

The siege is from within. A way of life has been seized upon as a means to political power and a religion held hostage.

A Faith Besieged
AP
A Faith Besieged
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

In the shrill din of the mob that extols the virtues of Hindutva in India today, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan’s prescription for a Hindu way of life finds no takers. Remind the demagogues that syncretism is a natural, ancient impulse in Hinduism and they will scoff at you. They’ll also possibly ask you to look up a ‘defining’ 77-page pamphlet called We or Our Nationhood Defined, written in 1939 by Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar, who once headed the RSS, the 77-year-old ideological fountainhead of the Hindutva upsurge. "The non-Hindu people in Hindustan," wrote Golwalkar, "must cease to be foreigners, or may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment—not even citizen’s rights." Over half a century later, in the RSS-VHP-BJP’s rhetoric of schism, Hinduism and Hindutva have become synonymous. "I accept the Hindutva of Swami Vivekananda," said Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee after the two-month-long, state-supported communal riots in Gujarat left almost a thousand dead. "But the type of Hindutva being propagated now is wrong and one should be wary of it."

Hindutva of Swami Vivekananda? The youthful monk, as we all know, rejected exclusiveness in matters of belief and believed strongly in syncretism through conscious acceptance of all faiths. When did Hindutva—a modern, ultra-nationalist ideology built around a phoney, reimagined glory—become synonymous with Hinduism? It’s important to be unambiguous in these surcharged times. Scholars of religion will tell you Hindutva has nothing to do with the historical tradition of spiritual practices that we call Hinduism. (Hindu Mahasabha leader V.D. Savarkar, a key progenitor of the new stream, says Hindutva is an articulation of the political and material interests of Hindus and Hinduism just one of its elements).

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