'Hindutwa' is a secular concept

Defining Hindutwa (Indianness) is formidable. It is beyond definition. Hindutwa is neither Hindu religion, nor a political ideology. It cannot be expressed in concrete terms. It is an abstract value system that manifests itself in behavior and reactions of Hindus in general. It is a mindset that Hindus have inherited through centuries. It represents their collective psyche. It is a way of life for them, which defies description. Just as fragrance permeates the whole being of a flower, so does Hindutwa in relation to Hindu society in particular and Indians in general. An attempt can certainly be made to identify this fragrance:

1. When I was a child, my mother would not let me go to garden to pluck a flower, fruit or leaf at night. Her reason was that plants sleep at night. They should not be disturbed. Prevention of cruelty not only to animals, but even to plants is Hindutwa.

2. No Hindu religious book lays down that Hindus should feed the ants. Yet in many traditional localities, people going on the morning walk may be seen with packets of white flour or sugar grains, for feeding the ants. What motivates them to do so? Obviously Hindutwa.

3. With the occupation of India by the British, the study of English became the only passport for Government jobs and other careers for both Hindus and Muslims. It was a level playing ground for both of them. While Hindus took to western education with enthusiasm, the Muslims lagged behind. The result is that today the Hindus are educationally far more advanced than Muslims. Most of the high profile jobs in field of medicine, law, science and technology are held by Hindus in India while Muslims largely work as lowly artisans. This differing attitude towards education can only be explained by Hindutwa, and not Hinduism.

4. No religious book of Hindus lays down that all Hindus should be exclusively vegetarians. In fact, in ancient times, animals were killed as sacrifice to appease a goddess in temple precincts. Still this practice is in vogue in certain remote parts of the country. And not all Hindus are vegetarians. Yet vegetarianism is regarded as a virtue by Hindus in general. Even those who partake meat would not be able to suffer cruelty to animals or watch them being slaughtered. Hindus insist that they would only eat the Jhataka meat which means the meat obtained by slaughtering the animals only with one stroke (Jhatka). Thus, jhatka is a meat that is obtained through a process in which the animal killed suffers the least pain. Concerned for the pain suffered even for those animals being killed.

5. One year of the day, called 'Nagpanchami' is traditionally fixed for feeding milk to snakes. In actual practice, it is not possible to bring the snakes to the house to drink the milk. Yet, symbolically, a bowl of milk is kept overnight in some remote corner of the house in evening and next morning, it is presumed that snake has partaken it. This ritual symbolizes Hindus respect for all living beings, even for venomous snakes. No Hindu scripture lays down any injunction in this regard. Yet, Hindus do so. Only Hindutwa can explain this phenomenon.

6. Till not in too distant past, in most of Hindus households, the first bread baked in kitchen was given to a cow and the last bread was for crows and dogs. No scripture of Hindus lays down such 'dos'. Yet Hindus did so. Why? Only Hindutwa is the answer.

7. It is universally known that Jewish people were persecuted in all countries of the world, wherever they migrated or took refuge, except India. India is the only country of the world, where Jewish people were not persecuted. Instead they were respected and given full freedom to build their synagogues and follow their religion. What makes Indians different from other people of the world? It is Hindutwa.

8. Before the Arab invasion, people of Iran followed Zoroastrianism. It was a religion founded by their prophet Zarathustra in 1500 B.C., with their god's name as Ahur Mazda. After the Arab invasion and conquest, the Iranians were forcibly converted to Islam. Those who refused were either killed or escaped to the other countries seeking refuge. A group of such Iranian refugees (called Parsis by Indians) sought shelter in India more than a thousand years of back. The Hindu king who had granted the shelter did not put any condition on them and gave them full freedom to pursue their religion. Why did he do so? Obviously he was conditioned by Hindutwa.

9. Mohammad Gauri, the Turkish king of Ghazni (Afghanistan) founder of Muslim rule in India, defeated the Hindu king Prithviraj Chauhan in the battle of Tarain (1192) and thereby laid the foundation of Muslim rule in the country that lasted seven centuries. The defeated Prithviraj was imprisoned and beheaded. Only a year earlier the Hindu king had inflicted a crushing defeat on the invading forces of Mohammad Gauri and captured him. But Prithiviraj decided to be chivalrous. He pardoned Mohammad Gauri and released him. Why did Prithiviraj not kill his defeated foe Mohammad Gauri, the way latter killed the former in identical situation? The answer is Hindutwa.

10. India was partitioned in 1947 and Palestine in 1948. The Hindus reconciled to the partition, whereas Palestinians even after six decades have not accepted it and are continuing their war to overthrow the Israel. What explains the differing conduct of Palestinians and Hindus? The answer is Hindutwa.

11. India was partitioned in 1947 on purely religious basis. Muslims living in India before the partition declared under the leadership of Mohammad Ali Jinnah that Hindus and Muslims constitute two different nations and the two cannot live together. Indian Muslims should have a country of their own. To coerce the Hindu leaders of the Congress Party to accede to their demand of partition of the country, the 'Muslim League' unleashed the reign of terror and killing of Hindus. To prevent further bloodshed, the Congress Party, consisting mostly of Hindu leaders was unnerved and gave in. Pakistan was carved out of India which promptly declared itself a Muslim theocratic State. Logically India should have declared itself a Hindu State, but it did not do so. Instead it chose to be a secular State. Why? The answer is 'Hindutwa'

12. At the time of creation of Pakistan, its Hindu population was 24% of its total population. Today it is hardly l%. Against it, the population of Muslims of India at the time of partition was 8%. Today it is about 15%. Pakistan got rid of Hindu population by killing Hindus, converting them to Islam or forcing them to migrate and take refuge in India. There was some reaction to Hindu killings in Pakistan in India but the Indian Govt., overwhelmingly manned by Hindus, largely contained it and crushed the Hindu retaliation. Unlike Hindus in Pakistan, Muslims in India have prospered in last six decades, numerically and economically. Why the Hindu leadership of Congress Party in India did not react to Pakistani atrocity on Hindus and pursued a different policy? The answer is Hindutwa.

13. The Muslim rule in larger parts of India lasted for about seven hundred years (precisely from 1192 to 1857 AD. During these centuries, it was customary for the Muslim rulers to inflict worst possible atrocities on Hindu population. Their wholesale massacre was normal feature. The women were worst sufferers. They were raped and sold in slave markets in India and aboard. Thousands of Hindu women were interned in the harems of Sultans and nobility. But when Shivaji the mighty Hindu rebel of Maharashtra (South west, India) revolted against fanatic and fundamentalist Mughal ruler Aurangzeb and seized the town of Surat. His generals to into custody the beautiful wife of its Muslim governor. Following the practice of the Muslim rulers of the day, they decided to repay them in their coins. They presented her to Shivaji, who was stunned by her beauty. He looked at her for some time, then told her- "How I wish you were my mother." There was uneasy pause all around. He further said "Then I would have been as beautiful as you are". He ordered his subordinates to treat her courteously and restore her to her family. No religious book or scripture of Hindus lays down any rule or injunction as to how wife of a defeated enemy should be treated. Yet Shivaji did as he did. His conduct was guided by his elusive mindset, which is Hindutwa.

14. After independence, distribution of land to landless farm labor was a challenge. Before the Govt. could bring legislation, Gandhian leader Acharya Vinoba Bhave came up with a moral solution to the problem and went about the country to appeal to the land-owners to donate part of their holdings to landless. What inspired him to do so? Obviously Hindutwa.

15. In a bid to solve the chronic dacoit problem of Chambal ravine, Jai Prakash Narain persuaded the dacoits to give up the brigandry and surrender arms. Anywhere in the world, even such a suggestion would have been ridiculed. But not in India. The dacoits did surrender: Hindutwa was surely at work.

16. According to an estimate, about 30,000 Hindu, Buddhist and Jain Temples were destroyed in over 700 years of Muslim rule in India. Ram, Krishna & Shiva are the most revered deities of Hindu pantheon. Rama Temple at Ayodhya, Krishna Temple at Mathura and Shiva (Vishwanath) Temple at Varanasi where demolished by Mughal emperors. But even in mediaeval times, the Hindu rulers like Shivaji, Rana Pratap, Chhatrasaal, Guru Govind Singh and Vijay Nagar Kings never retaliated by destroying a mosque. Respect of other religions is integral to Hindutwa. The only exception to it is the destruction of Babri structures in 1992. This structure was not a mosque but a temple, housing the idols inside it. The Babri structure was destroyed by masses to enable the erection of a new temple in its place. It was one of the rarest of rare occasion, where Hindus behaved like Muslims for the first time in over a thousand years. It is not likely to be repeated. It was an exception & an exception does not make a rule.

The above examples are illustrative of Hindutwa-in-action. Hindutwa is manifested in religious tolerance, harmony with nature and the animal world, forgiveness, acceptance of disagreement, non-aggression, brotherhood of mankind, pluralism, diversity in unity etc.

Hindutwa and Hinduism

The words Hindu, Hindutwa and Hinduism are not synonymous. They are different with distinctive connotation. A Hindu is one who is adherent of Hindu religion, while Hinduism indicates the religion based on Hindu beliefs, scriptures, gods, after life, rituals and mode of worship etc. All Hindus who follow Hinduism are characterized by certain mindset, distinctive behavior and attitude which can be called 'Hindu-ness'. Hindutwa is thus 'Hindu-ness'.

Hindutwa is certainly not Hinduism. But Hindutwa is a mindset that is based on Hinduism, which itself is imbued with Indian culture. Hindutwa is thus representative of Indian cultural ethos, transcending the narrow boundaries of different religions.

Hindutwa and Indian-ness

There is no difference in Hindutwa and Indian-ness. It implies that even non- Hindus, living in India have a mindset to a greater or lesser degree, inspired by Hindutwa.

What distinguishes Indian Muslims from rest of the world is their Hindutwa (Hinduness or Indianess) inspired mindset.

The Shia-Sunni differences are almost as old as the Islam itself. The strife between the two is a fact of history. In the aftermath of the downfall of Saddam's dictatorship in Iraq, the bloody conflict between the two Islamic communities is a reality, impossible to be brushed aside. Nearer home, in Pakistan, Shias and Sunni do not pray in the same mosque. They pray in separate mosques. Their communal militant organizations frequently kill each other and put bombs in their rival's mosques. But it is not so in India. Here the Shia-Sunni divide is not that sharp. They pray in same mosque and the riots between the two are a rarity. The decline in the level of militant exclusivisism in Indian Muslims as compared to their Pakistani counterparts is certainly gift of a Hindutwa. Similarly, the fact that Indian Muslims have not declared Ahmediyas as non-muslims, as in Pakistan, is again due to the Hindutwa influencing their mindset.

Summing up, it can be said that Hindutwa is a mindset shared by all Indians, in larger or lesser degrees, Hindutwa can also the defined as an abstract value system bequeathed by Indian culture and shared by all Indians, irrespective of their religious affiliations. Hindutwa is thus a secular concept.

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