April 24, 2009

The same two questions

Read this somewhere recently: "the ideology of the BJP is Hindutva".

This prompted me to dig up two questions I asked here, almost two years ago. Smack in the middle of elections, I'd like to ask them again.

These two questions:

What is Hindutva? Why should it appeal to me?

These are serious, sincere questions.

If you're willing to answer them in that same spirit, please leave a comment. In your own words, explained as you understand it and you'd like others to understand it: simply, clearly. No links, no pointers to what someone else has said or written. (Where I read that line at the top, we were directed to the leaders of the BJP to find out what it is).

Any responses like that will be appreciated. (And will, in turn, get responses from me in the same spirit).

Abuse, if any, will be ignored.

Thank you.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hindutva is about being really secular. Not pseudo secular like the media and kangrass and other parties.
No religion is more secular than Hinduism, since Hinduism itself is just a term that represented people who were following similar culture. If not for Hinduism (or its earlier form) we would never could have seen so much diversity in India. At the same time the diversity should not end up eating the hands that fed it.

Surya

Anonymous said...

You are a sucker for punishment, aren't you, Dilip? :-)

The best I can do is that Hindutva seems defined by a set of negatives.
Using LaTeX terminology - which I'm sure you know - one can write

Hindutvavadi \subset [~(Congressvadi) \cap ~(Communistvadi) \cap ~(DMKvadi) \cap ....]

Is the inclusion strict? Unfortunately, I don't know. Even if it is an equality, it's not very helpful, is it?

Have fun.

PR said...

What is Hindutva?Hindutva is the quality of being a "Hindu". "Hindu" is someone who associates himself/herself with the culture that was developed in todays south asia.

Why should it appeal to me?It appeals to many because:

(a) It is a pluralistic culture.

(b) It allows each person to have his/her own religion(with god(s) or without any god at all).

(c) It does not believe in the idea that if you do not worship a certain God, you are a sinner.

The misconception among many is that "Hindu" is just another "religion". It is not. Even those who follow popular religions like Christianity, Islam etc can be a Hindu, if they adhere to the ideas (a),(b) and (c) described above. For example, Abdul Kalam is a Muslim by religion and Hindu by culture. As far as i understand BJP has highest regard for Abdul Kalam.

Arby K said...

Hindutva, like Hinduism, is our "uniform civil code" - Ambiguous, undefined and open to interpretation by its users.
As I understand it, it is supposed to incorporate the identity of people belonging to the Indian subcontinent, both religious and historic, like the Roman religion. But unlike the Roman religion, it has no definite structure nor hierarchy, which is what makes it ambiguous.
It should appeal to you because it is all inclusive, at least in theory. But given the lack of a definite definition, whether you should find Hindutva, as BJP has chosen to portray it through its action or inaction, appealing is a completely different question. That can be answered only from ur opinion of their performance on religious tolerance during their rule.

Anonymous said...

"Hindu" is someone who associates himself/herself with the culture that was developed in todays south asia.Interesting definition of "Hindu." Are you by any chance related to Humpty Dumpty? You know the one who famously said "When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less."

PR said...

@anon
That is how I define the word "Hindu". If a word is ambiguous, I would like to define it first, and I will try to explain everything based on this definition.

Anonymous said...

That is how I define the word "Hindu".Exactly; Humpty Dumpty. With regard to why Hindutva should appeal to someone:

a) It is a pluralistic culture.Hindutva is a political ideology, not a culture. Many ideologies are compatible with tolerance; Hindutva is hardly alone. One can even have an explicitly religious state which is tolerant - Ashoka ran a Buddhist state but his rule is widely regarded as tolerant. In Tamil Nadu, the Chola kingdoms had an explicit state religion but were nonetheless tolerant of other faiths.

(b) It allows each person to have his/her own religion(with god(s) or without any god at all).So do most European states. We even have the example of the UK which is explicitly Christian with an official church (Church of England) but which nonetheless allows freedom of religion. The UK even supports financially "faith schools." Hindutva is hardly unique here.

(c) It does not believe in the idea that if you do not worship a certain God, you are a sinner.Are you talking about Hindutva or some variant of Hinduism? Or are the two the same? If Hindutva is a political ideology, why bring in questions of sin?

Just out of curiosity, suppose I do believe that if you don't worship a certain God, then you are a sinner. What does Hindutva advocate be done with me? That I should be treated as a second-class citizen?

Now, most practicing Christians believe that if you do not accept Jesus, you are destined for hell. I suppose this applies to the Church of England too. And yet, as I have indicated before, the UK is a tolerant country. Tolerance and belief are not mutually exclusive.

What does come through clearly is your own *intolerance* despite your own claims to the contrary. The most disgusting thing for me in Hindutva is that it has people mixing up Hinduism with Hindutva.

The misconception among many is that "Hindu" is just another "religion". It is not.You unilaterally determine this?

I am not going to engage you further. I have seen enough to know where this is going to go. Bye.

PR said...

@anon
Many ideologies are compatible with tolerance; Hindutva is hardly alone.
So ? Did I say that there is no other ideology that is compatible with tolerance ?

So do most European states.

Did I make any claim about European states ?

suppose I do believe that if you don't worship a certain God, then you are a sinner. What does Hindutva advocate be done with me?
Friend, Hindutva is not a set of rules or instructions! In India, Hindus follow the Indian constitution! Hope you know that!

What does come through clearly is your own *intolerance* despite your own claims to the contrary.
Can you please quote *one* sentence of mine that shows my "intolerance"?

Dilip D'Souza said...

Anon 910p and 1147p: I don't see the intolerance in PR's comments at all. There's no reason for your hostility.

PR: I appreciate your effort to explain. The way you do it, as the way a few people did the last time I asked this, I have no problems with it.

My problem is with the language, attitude and veiled warnings typified by the first comment here. Too often, and by the BJP and its fans as well, Hindutva has been painted in those terms. Not calculated to appeal.

Anon 729: OK, but as you probably guess, what I'm looking for is Hindutva defined not by what it isn't, but what it is. Can LaTeX help with that?

Anonymous said...

My understanding of Hindutva is

1. No more invasion by foreign countries - direct, indirect, proxy etc....especially in the name of religion.

2. No more forced conversions

3. Restart reforms initiated by Adi Shankaracharya and Ramanuja.

4. Peaceful coexistence of all religions in the spirit of Sarve Jana Sukhino Bhavanthu. Actively debate in the quest of the Unknown.

5. Invest in Yoga, Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani, Homeopathy in order to reduce the cost of medicine, treatment and to improve well being.

Dilip...In the spirit of Bhashya, looking forward to your critique of each and every point.

Either we depart as enemies or friends...but depart we will...for our existence is nothing but a speck in vastness of Time.

--SK

Anonymous said...

Dilip, yes you ar right I am a BJP fan. What is bothering you, the truth? That you do not belong to it?

Anonymous said...

Dilip, yes you ar right I am a BJP fan. What is bothering you, the truth? That you do not belong to it ? - Surya

Dilip D'Souza said...

> Dilip, yes you ar right I am a
> BJP fan. What is bothering you,
> the truth? That you do not
> belong to it ?

Am I bothered that you are a BJP fan? I am bothered for your state of mind, yes, but apart from that, not in the least.

Am I bothered that I "do not belong to it?" Well, considering I cannot divine what "it" is, I'm not particularly bothered.

All I'm saying is this: one big reason the BJP has never been able to capture a LS majority on its own, and has in fact never managed to attract more than about 25-30% of the popular vote, is the attitude and language of many of its fans. Like you.

If that state of affairs for the BJP - i.e. it's perpetually limited appeal - is fine with you, it's fine with me.

Pareshaan said...

Hindutva - won't it be defined by the post electoral scenario?

Like everything else.

Hindutva: is a tragedy. And what is worse is that it isn't alone. It's stacked in there with a lot of other ideas, philosophies, budding socio-cultural mainstays.In that overcrowded bin of asphyxiating tortured thought that is the Indian mindspace.
All these ideas suffer from the same malaise. A predominance of fear. A lack of confidence and courage in society.
No idea (good or bad) can it seems flourish in India today. Able minds seem too Maukaa-parast to be capable of honest cogitation any longer.
Who has the time to think things through? Who is secure and prejudice-free enough to be able to honestly develop an idea for the good of humanity? How important is it vis-a-vis a get rich quick scheme or a let's grab power scheme? And how can one banish fear from one's mind when one is so hung up on making it? When there is so much to lose?
In India there is little premium on thought right now. To talk of ideology is absolutely ridiculous. Most people consider it to be little more than the requisite homage to the idea of man. Empty lip-service to a vestigial ideal.
I think the well-intentioned among us can only push the idea of Hindutva being a long overdue Hindu Renaissance.
Repeatedly utter reassuring words like
" Sarve santu sukhinah,
sarve santu niraamayah,
sarve bhadraanrhi pashyantu;
Maa kashchida dukha bhaagbhavet"

and hope that somewhere deep down the promoters of Hindutva had those ideals as the basis of their philosophy.

In an environment of panicked opportunism and greed do you really think discussing ideology is relevant?

To get some measure of peace most people just make shit up. They will believe whatever makes them comfortable.
In such a situation one can only hope that we the masses, maintain that certain minimum level of sanity required for the economic subsistence of our society and the the continued socio-political integrity of India.
And wait for a more ideal time, when Ideas come to mean something again for India.

PR said...

@Surya (anonymous)
No religion is more secular than Hinduism...
What exactly do you mean when you say a religion is "more" secular or less secular ? I thought, a religion is either secular or not secular. What is this "more" or "less" ?

Hope you realize that in this 21st century, there are many secular people in other parts of the world too, like Hindus.


@Dilip,
Thanks! I appreciate your effort to discuss.

By the way, please don't assume that guys like Surya are BJP guys. You never know!

Devesh said...

Dilip-

Hindutva is just nationalism with the "nation" being those whose putrabhoomi and punyabhoomi (homeland and holyland) are India. This was Sarvarkar's definition as I recall. By the definition itself its clear that it is not the same as the Hindu religion- for ex Hindus in Bali would have Indonesia as their motherland.

As such there is no reason it would appeal to you, just like Marathi nationalism (Shiv Sena) or Tamil nationalism would not.

The BJP has not been able to get a LS majority or more than 30% of the popular vote because linguistic and caste nationalisms are powerful competitors to it: that is, divisions between Hindus are just as important as between Hindus and Muslims or Christians.

The problem you (and I) have with Hindu nationalism is, while they build bridges between different Hindus across caste/nationality, they also inflame divisions between Hindus and non-Hindus.

Don't all nationalist movements have the same problem though? Indian nationalism (of the Congress variety) is still separating Indians from non Indians. I feel this Indian nationalism is better but I am not sure why. Maybe because divisions in society between Indians and non Indians are minor compared to those of different religions/caste/ linguistic groups?

harini calamur said...

Hindutva is the 'grand unifying theory' that declares all people who follow 'Hinduism'- which includes everything from atheism to animism and everything in-between - to be one.
this part is easy. And, if it was only this --- i would have no issues with it and be fairly ok with it being around.


the problem is that it gives it a geographical / nationalistic context in terms of culture and nationalism. Which is kind of confusing. Because i as a Tamil Hindu Shaivite brought up in Mahrashtra have nothing in common culturally with a close friend who is a Bangla Hindu Vaishnavite brought up in kolkotta.

For me, Hindutva is trying to get an organisation into a religious tradition that is very, very, individualistic and personal. And, it is defined more by stuff that it opposes than what it really is!

Since Hindutva is an invented concept it can pretty much mean anything it want - from beating up women in pubs to burning down libraries that store books, to preventing people from eating beef. It claims to be inclusive, but if anything it is not. It is the Hinduism of Manu - its terms maybe different, but the exclusion/inclusion is the same- , as opposed to the Hinduism of Krishna or Jayadeva or even Adi Shankara.

don't get me wrong. I am Hindu - and very comfortable with it. Devout and spiritual and follow whatever i can of my family's religious tradition . What Hindutva preaches, has no resemblece to the faith and practises that i have been brought up in and am comfortable with.

why should it appeal to you:
a) if you are an absolutist it will
b) if you are not, it wont
c) if you are someone who believes that all your problems are caused by someone else, it will - else, it won't.

lastly - Hindutva and Hindusm are different entities. Most Hindus' don't support Hindutva - which is reflected in the way they vote or participate in mass Hindutva activities.

hope that helps

PR said...

@harini calamur

Hindutva and Hindusm are different entities.
Without defining Hindutva, how do you say that it is different from Hinduism ?

i as a Tamil Hindu Shaivite brought up in Mahrashtra have nothing in common culturally with a close friend who is a Bangla Hindu Vaishnavite brought up in kolkotta.
The very fact that you and your friend are happy associating with each other (even though you follow different "religions" (gods)), itself is the commonality. It is part of your culture. This is nontrivial. In other words, the very idea that you can follow different gods and still be friends or whatever is a part of your culture. And that is what is common between you.

Since Hindutva is an invented concept it can pretty much mean anything it want - from beating up women in pubs to burning down libraries that store books, to preventing people from eating beef.
First of all, Hindutva cannot mean anything. According to the culture, Hindus generally follow the law of the land. There is a tradition of "smritis". "Smritis" are a set of rules/instructions valid only for a certain period (not valid for ever). The people who compose these smritis are called "Manu"s. Each period in our history had different "Manus" and therefore different rules. Today we have a set of rules composed by Ambedkar et al and "Hindus" follow that. In short, "Hindus" are supposed to follow the law of the land (which changes from time to time depending on the political,social circumstances). So *anything* that goes against our current laws (Indian constitution) is against Hinduism. That ends the debate on various atrocities committed by goons in the name of "Hindutva" (like Sriram Sena etc).

Since our constitution does not prevent beef eating, everyone can eat beef as they wish. Then what about all this beef utterings by some BJP leaders. My take on this is the following. We can debate whether protecting cows will help our economy (based on agriculture)/environment, and not eating beef would keep us more healthy. Those BJP guys who wish to argue that protecting cows is necessary are free to argue their case, and it is up to the people of India to vote for them or not vote for them. As far as I know, BJP does not expel its beef eating members. So the "no beef" thing is just their opinion and they have all right to shout it as loud as they want, and you have the right to shout against it as you wish!

PR said...

In every debate related to India and Hinduism, some people argue that there is *nothing* common between different parts of India. Is this true ? It is worth debating I think. My understanding is the following. Though diversity is the hallmark of Hinduism, there are some common ideas that almost all "Hindus" agree:

(1) The idea that there can have
different "gods"/"religions" and they are all different ways of understanding the reality.

2)The idea that each period can have its own "prophet" or "guru" or whatever you call it. There is no final prophet or guru.

3) The idea that you follow the law of the land and law of that period. Laws keep changing from period to period and place to place.

What do you all think ?

Anonymous said...

Folks, you should understand that Mr. Dsouza is not really interested in getting the answers to these questions. He is an ideologue and just wants to question those who are not afraid to utter the word Hindu.

Oldtimer said...

Come on DSouza, we know your game. You and your types are just anti-Hindu freaks posing behind masks. Hindutva is primarily about showing you mierable Chriatians and the Islamofascists Muslims their place. There. It's is that simple.

Dilip D'Souza said...

OK, 21 comments so far! Let's see.

PR, I wonder if you can be a little more clear about "associates himself" and "quality of being a Hindu". What is that "quality"? I know plenty of people steeped in the culture of wherever they live in India. What is the "quality" of their existence that amounts to Hindutva? I can't quite grasp this.

Later, you say:

The very fact that you and your friend are happy associating with each other (even though you follow different "religions" (gods)), itself is the commonality. It is part of your culture.

But doesn't this hold with any reasonably liberal, broad-minded person anywhere in the world? I have Presbyterian friends in North Carolina, for example, and when we meet we get along very well. What's the common culture at work in our case, then?

As for what's common between different parts of India, I often wonder just that: what is common between the guy from Manipur and me, to the extent that we both can say we are Indian?

SK, I have nothing to argue with, on all 5 counts! Yet how is it that so few Hindutva ideologues/fans/political leaders talk the language you do?

Pareshaan, allow me to share your cynicism and despair about ideas, reassuring words and ideology. Yet what choice is there but to keep proposing and debating ideas? They will mean something if we take the time to stop and find meaning in them, instead of the easy hostility we have all got so used to.

Devesh, you're on the button about my problem with nationalism(s). They tend to pit us against each other, often for reasons that are completely illogical to me. My problem is also with the putrabhoomi and punyabhoomi ideas, for this reason: it's too easy for people to simply say India is their punyabhoomi, and then live a completely different way, raping India in every way. Yet their earlier pronouncement somehow absolves them of any accountability for that rape. Why?

More soon.

I wanted to make (or reiterate) this point: the reason for this post is that most of the more vocal champions of Hindutva I've heard are invariably arrogant and abusive to those who are not fans (examples on this page). If the idea is to persuade others of the virtues of Hindutva -- and surely this is true? -- such abuse is not only offensive, it is completely futile.

Anonymous said...

The champions of secularism are not only arrogrant, but are also abusively dismissive of anyone who does not reflect their own beliefs. Make no mistake, Mr. Dsouza has no intention of listening to arguments and then making up his mind. His mind is already made up; you cannot convince an ideologue. Move on and talk to normal, sensible people who do not have a poltical agenda in everything that they do and say.

PR said...

But doesn't this hold with any reasonably liberal, broad-minded person anywhere in the world?
Yes, of course! But when one learns/acquires these liberal values from various Indian texts and Indian gurus, one would call him/her "Hindu". That is what I meant by "associate". I associate my liberal values to various teachings of Indian gurus and my family (eg. my father taught me the idea behind "ekam sat vipra bahudha vadanti". upanishadic/purana stories taught me various principles.) So I "associate" this knowledge of mine, to our "culture".

Some other person at some other part of the world might learn these principles from some other source. So instead of associating with Hinduism he might associate himself with some other culture or something else. Nobody said that only Hindus can learn great principles. It is that Hindus do learn those principles as a part of their culture.

I have Presbyterian friends in North Carolina, for example, and when we meet we get along very well. What's the common culture at work in our case, then?
First of all, I did not claim that whenever two persons get along, there must always be some "cultural" connection. I guess your friends are liberal too and that might be the commonality. (even though you all might have acquired those liberal values from different sources)

In the case of harini and her friend, I assumed that they acquired these values from their "Hindu" culture.

About "quality": Examine different words in sanskrit which ends with a suffix "-tva". I guess you will get the answer (don't have time to explain now. might come back later)

Shyamala T said...

"Move on and talk to normal, sensible people who do not have a poltical agenda in everything that they do and say."

U are now twice saying the same thing. I let it go once time, but after second time I feel like asking ... Are u too scared to explain ur blfs? or do u not blv it urself?

Anonymous said...

"U are now twice saying the same thing. I let it go once time, but after second time I feel like asking"

Thanks for doing the favor of letting it go the first time. I am soooo thankful!

"Are u too scared to explain ur blfs? or do u not blv it urself?"

I am just not willing to give you the legitimacy of awarding certificates for my beliefs. Who gave you that right?

Shyamala T said...

"I am just not willing to give you the legitimacy of awarding certificates for my beliefs."

Okay. So u dont blv them urself. Understood.

st

Anonymous said...

Dilip,

W.r.t to my posting on April 25, 2009 4:27 PM and your reply on

"SK, I have nothing to argue with, on all 5 counts! Yet how is it that so few Hindutva ideologues/fans/political leaders talk the language you do?"

I can assure you that majority of Hindu religious share my views. But we are concerned we may return to the bad old days of temple breaking and Jaziya due to

1. The compeitive politics being practised in our country

2. The self serving and fame seeking attitude of the chatterati, glitterati and fashionistas. After all it is these people who betrayed us to the British. I don't think the Mughals would have listened to them. In all probalility they would have put this lot to the sword.

Some of my fellow Hindutva co-travellers seems to have gone paranoid and their actions have descended into violence. This has to be condemned. After all I didn't resort to violence despite having similar concerns. But with the internal security situation on the decline, I'm worried that more and more of my Hindutva co-travellers can become paranoid and slide into violence.

I suppose the same could be said of Muslims and other communities.

That's why I think a direct dialogue, where concerns can be expressed and assauged, between the various religious is very important....a dialogue outside of politics and without the interference of chatterati, glitterati and fashionistas....a dialogue conducted in the spirit of Bhashya

--SK

wise donkey said...

i dont think BJP's "Hindutva" is my Hindutva.

My take, Hindutva is one of the spiritual paths to realise the divinity which resides in each one of us. And it says you can do it by work (karma), worship (bakthi) psychic control(raja) or philosophy (jnana). (the 4 paths).

I like the equality and respect part when i think of the term divinity in each one of us. And I prefer the comfort relationship with God. I dont have to think of God as someone with a stick, to whom I can never measure up. But as a goodness, which is within me and also like a mother, who knows what the child needs even if the child's wants are different.

Practically, I am blessed to have a guru, who doesnt ask me for money and yet feeds me when i visit him, who emails me back when i am troubled, and who happens to have not just a temple but other places of worship too in his ashram.

And the character of Ram appeals to me at a simple level. After all he rejected the kingdom when none would have questioned him if he had accepted it from Bharat. Power is the true test of character. And I think one builds temples for Ram by following rules even when we can get away with it. The BJP could follow it with a corruption free govt, not by tearing down a mosque and endorsing murders and murderers.

Why should Hindutva appeal to you? My spirituality is like my mother, and mother's love is pretty similar everywhere, just the names of the mothers are different.
So it doesnt make a difference if you are appealed by it or not. But hopefully you are not repelled by it and wouldnt judge others harshly based on my limited view of Hindutva.

Anonymous said...

You can never understand.Portuguese slave.

HIndi said...

For a Indian Citizen like me, (who is also a Nationalist, Patriot (and a Common Man). This is the term that i get to hear every time elections are coming near. May it be a Corporation Election or State or any other. If I reflect back and try to list I would definitely have more sad memories than good things about the term. Being from Hindustan Since time can remember for me it (Hindutva) has never helped in any way, whether it is my spiritual issue (My Gurus have helped me - they do not follow your Violence brewing Hindutva), My Daily life and bread issue (My society and Education has helped me). I was raised in a very Indian context - mixed Basti. Where definitely I got to know the great Indian Culture(which I am Proud of very much and it does not belong to any religion) but never anything like - Hindutva. Yes the term has always hurt me whenever it cropped up in the form of Communal Violence - I have lost many family members, friends and relatives and fellow Indians (irrespective of their belief/religion)in clashes promoted by champions of Hindutva.
I really wonder which one is going to win Democracy or caste based politics and also worry a lot about the future of India and its coming generations. But yes many a times; after reading stuff on the internet I have felt like I should Kill all the terrorists and outsiders. But the issue is I do not understand who are the outsiders and who are terrorists because they are from all religions, caste creed and community. There is not a single group or community who understand or explain in clear, non violent terms the difference between Indian culture and Hindutva ideology. My heart just sinks into depths of loneliness and hopelessness due to the way our country (includes citizens of all religions) is being exploited for political, personal and monetary gains.
God Save INDIA.