In a recently published Op-ed of Prime Minister Imran Khan in New York times, it was fascinating to read his statement that “we were up against a New India”. To PM Khan, the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his blue eyed, thoroughly bred, groomed and indoctrinated cabinet members by the notorious Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is the reason behind the new India. PM Khan’s conception of “New India” is no less thought provoking but, it has another nationalistic layer predicated on the philosophical teachings espoused by Vinayak Damodar Savarkwar in “Hindutva: Who is a Hindu?” in 1928 and later developed by Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar in “We, or Our Nationhood Defined” in 1939. To understand the “New India”, a discussion of Hindutva and the premise of its ideological foundations is indispensable to understand the ideological manifestations of this early 20th century philosophy in today’s India.
Long before BJP existed, the British invasion of the Indian sub-continent saw the rise of a secular anti-imperial economic hegemony in the form of Indian National Congress. A rising discontentment with the dominance of Congress’s idea of India as a “secular country” over the Hindu population, prompted religious centric nationalism, pivotal to which were the teachings of Savarkar and Golwalkar. Fundamental to their philosophy was that, only Hindus belong to Hindustan. To answer that, they had to determine “who was a Hindu” and “who was not a Hindu”.
The land of Hindustan is a hereditary territory of Hindus and they solely were the true and natural heirs of the indigenous people of the Indus Valley Civilization. Savarkar and Golwalkar were clear in enunciating that as Aryan race was the first Hindu nation to live in the Indus Valley Civilization, by that virtue Hindu nation is also a race. By Hindus, they did not circumscribe the meaning to Hinduism limited merely to faith. To them, it connoted Hindus as a cultural and a national entity, in which Sikhs and Jains also had a place. The rationale was that not only their forefathers were resident and indigenous to India, their principle place of worship, religious deities, pilgrimage are conducted in and local to India. Therefore, Sikhs and Jains were also culturally and nationally Hindus because India historically have been their fatherland as well as motherland. The idea of including Sikhs and Jain in to the ambit of Hinduism in propounding the theory of Hindutva does seem superficial as there are numerous ideological differences between them. However, the idea behind was not to put forward a religious description of Hindus but to emancipate the true Hindu spirit in politics by broadening the base of political allies when on the one hand, the secular Congress was popular amongst Hindus in the time of the British raj.
As to who is not a Hindu in their hypothesis: “Muslims” and “Christians”. Suffice it to say that, Savarkwar in his speeches in 1938 and 1939 is reported to have shown great admiration for Hitler and approved of Nazi occupation of Sudetenland while comparing the Muslim in India with the Jewish settlement in Germany. Both foreign, untrustworthy, racially impure, not possessing the Aryan bloodline.
“But as it often happens in history this very undisturbed enjoyment of peace and plenty lulled our Sindhus- than, in a sense of false security and bred a habit of living in the land of dreams. At last she was rudely awakened on the day when Mohammad of Gazni crossed the Indus, the frontier line of Sindhusthan and invaded her. That day the conflict of life and death began. Nothing makes Self-conscious of itself so much as a conflict with non-self.”
“The Race Spirit is too tenacious to be dead so easily. And when the first real invasions of murdering hordes of mussalman free-booters occurred, they indeed found the nation divided against itself and incapable of stemming the tide of devastation they brought in their wake… Then came the glorious period of Hindu revival under the Great Shiwaji and the whole illustrious line of Hindu warriors, who overthrew the Moslem domination right up to the Sindhu river, and shattered the throne of the ‘Great Moghul’, the emblem of Muslim Victory”
In their works, they described Islam as a barbaric religion, Muslims as invaders. In propagating Hindutva, they described the Mughal era as clothed in darkness with the Marathan Shivaji, a Hindu Brahmin and enemy of every Muslim who valiantly fought against the Mughals hordes. The reason for contempt against the Muslims is because of their “Divided Love” between India and Arabia. To them, the former is the land of their forefathers, while the latter is their holy land which is an alien land to India with different cultural underpinnings therefore nationality.
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It emanates from their idealist Hindu doctrine of “Divided Love” that, the only way in which Muslims and Hindus can co-exist is by way of “assimilation or total expulsion”. Therefore, Muslims could only assimilate in to the Hindu nation if they adopted the ways Hindu nation and people. Possibility of assimilation was bleak as it was contingent on Muslims renouncing their sense of belonging to Arabia as certainly, doing so would be tantamount to renouncing Islam as their identity and faith. Unpopular as this proposition would be amongst the Muslims thus, they would have to be excluded from the Hindu nation.
The seeds sown of sectarian division by Savarkwar and Golwalkar by declaring the incompatibility of Muslims with Hindutva cannot be better put to words than the stark image of 1992 Babri Mosque desecration by the blood thirsty fanatical Hindus. Blinded by the fervour of Hindutva, they believed the Mosque had been built by the Mughal emperor Babur by demolishing a Hindu temple signifying the birth of Lord Ram. The fire of violence and vendetta was further stoked by BJP’s highest ranking officials including L.K. Advani and A.B. Vajpayee to boost their electoral standing by arranging mass processions across India with statutes of Lord Ram affixed to Chariots. As the world witnessed the political rise of the BJP in to a political behemoth relentlessly tapping on the TV-Savvy middle class Hindu vote bank. India as conceived by Nehru and Gandhi withered away and their legacy buried while, the teachings of Sarvarkwar and Golwakar took the reins transforming India truly into a Hindutva, Hind and Hindustan, only for Hindus.
A candid example of the chauvinistic BJP forcibly assimilating Muslim to the Hindu way of life pursuant to Savarkwar’s and Golwakar’s ideology is their inaction to the prevalent Mob lynching of Muslims and other minority sections for consuming beef, succumbing to the radical Hindu pressure the once secular country acted by banning beef altogether.
The India of today represents an unassailable example of the inherent success of the two-nation theory. Had Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah been a spectator to Sarvakwar’s and Golwalkar’s Hindustan, he may have chuckled and said to himself “Pakistan was the right decision”. After all, his sharp foresight understood that, a cow is more sacred in India than a Muslim life.