Hindutva : An ideology of hate by Aakar Patel

Tribune: Like most middle class Hindus, especially Gujaratis, I grew up with particular ideas about nationalism and religion. When one is young, it is easy to be attracted to the idea of Hindutva, because its essence is quite basic and unexceptionable. It seems to rest on a surging love of nation and culture, and both of these are folded into one element, which is the Hindu religion. So the word Hindu carries not only the markers of religion, but also nationality and culture. And all of this we accept as true because some very great people said it.

In India we revere more than we read and so it is natural to think of the greatness of people purely because their names are repeated to you often enough. I was in my twenties when I actually read Savarkar’s text Hindutva and it disappointed me. I couldn’t understand why he was thought to be so great. I thought it was a very ordinary text and had nothing of originality. Savarkar himself was not well read and there were few references to the works of others. His main idea was unconditional love of nation, but that is something, as I have said, that comes to most of us quite easily in India.

Encountering Vivekananda’s writing (his collected works, mainly speeches and letters, are in eight volumes) continued my puzzlement. It was after I finished reading Golwalkar (also mainly speeches and interviews) and the slim works of the RSS ideologue Deen Dayal Upadhyaya that it dawned on me that this was all there was to Hindutva. It was an ideology for those who were closed of mind, and it was more about passion than intellect.


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