Sunday, Jul 03, 2022
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Opinion

Everything That's Wrong With Rewriting History Under Hindutva Nationalism

The BJP, with its insistence on the purity of Hindu Rashtra, would sadly reduce the soaring generosity of their founding vision to the petty bigotry of majoritarian chauvinism.

Mahābhāratakālīna Bhāratavarshācā nakāśā: A map showing place names in associated with the Mahābhārāt
Mahābhāratakālīna Bhāratavarshācā nakāśā: A map showing place names in associated with the Mahābhārāt Photo: Getty Images

In all the debates about the ruling establishment’s resurrection of history as an instrument of its majoritarian politics, many of us are guilty of not looking beyond the Hindutvavadis’ obvious political misuse of the past to further their interests in the present. In fact, history plays a profoundly important role in the Hindutva conception of Indian nationalism, and it is worth delving into its ideological underpinnings to understand its present significance.

The concept of nationalism arose around the world, as I pointed out in my book The Battle of Belonging, when the absolute power of the traditional ruler became untenable in more complex societies, and power began to be diffused. At that stage, people began to relate to each other by identifiable and unchanging common features that could be considered the attributes of a nation—a political entity broadly understood to be united by a defined geography, ethnicity, language, religion, and culture, common (and idealised) heroes, and a shared identity and sense of community for all its constituent people.

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