It might confuse you but give you a whiff of an understanding. A very basic understanding- incomplete yet, alluring. Perhaps, carrying a hint of nationhood. Yet, it is a paradox often hotly debated albeit understood by a very few. What on earth does Hindutva mean? Let’s begin with a common analogy. The Rainbow has 7 different colours but one combined appearance. A singular essence. It might seem divided at the core but is united as one identity. The essence of Hindutva has often portrayed myriad views akin to a rainbow’s colours- each different from the other in reflection and shade- but is still a single ideology.
At its core, Hindutva stands for an all-encompassing Hindu way of life. Concerning an utterly Hindu sense. The classicists have described it with seemingly similar terms and phrases- that complement each other- Hindu. Hindustan. Hindustani. That said, fundamentally it isn’t and wasn’t supposed to be a totalitarian idea. Suggestive of autocracy. Even if, it seems so. And hell, might just be to many who’ve come to oppose the thought with vehemence.
In the proverbial sense of the word, Hindutva, suggestive of an idea where India is supposedly about Hindu’s and therefore, a purveyor of a very Hindu essence is not a philosophy. It isn’t an ideology either. That said, it’s both dogmatic and ill-conceived a thought and cannot be termed as either any philosophy or an ideology since both ideologists and philosophers base arguments and submissions on thoughtfu contexts. There is a stmulus for an argument. A validity for probing a thought.
Proverbially, Hindutva is a blind man’s elephant. Carrying myriad views. Multiple viewing points. But, it could be argued, for it being centred on stream of thought and just that alone- a very vague subject. You’d be wrong to think that it is a term concocted by any political party, even though it has today sadly become a subject of mass propaganda, a tool using which self-centred political minds accentuate and propagate their own ideologues. Hindutva isn’t a Narendra Modi term. Hindutva doesn’t rest toward the congress.
Several decades ago, toward the end of the 1930s, the eternally brave and tireless freedom revolutionary, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, also hailed as Veer Savarkar, propounded the concept of Hindutva. He was and is a legend and is worshiped for his die-hard passion and love for India, a country, according to him, was a ‘Fatherland’. Not a motherland, as it’s often referred to. At a time when India was wounded, belted, charred and besieged by the traumatic British/Colonial rule, Savarkar’s forebearance and wisdom behind Hindutva was to unite the often intellectually and nationally scattered countrymen who thought of themselves as- Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and Hindus.
Consider this: You are a citizen of Gurgaon. Does it matter if you are a Muslim or a Hindu? Your geographical identity is a Gurgaon-ite. Just like the Marathi’s, Punjabi’s and those hailing from Southern India in Mumbai are termed Mumbaikars. Even though, not everyone necessarily is a Maharashtrian in the colloquial sense of the word. Savarkar’s Hindutva was a concept more elaborately embued toward an India keen to discover their cultural identity. Hindutva today has been constantly hurried into, immensely debated around the country, more vaguely than the idea ever was, hurled abuses at and tied to varying measures that have either belittled its founding principle or demeaned the ideas’ DNA. The fundaments of Hindutva carried an essence built around a Hindu conception. Spirituality, eternal love toward the ‘Fatherland’, seeing things as sacred and peaceful co-existence were the essential custodians of the thought.
But in the post-Savarkar era, soon upon the formation of the Sangh Parivar- the RSS, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Hindutva was morphed and coloured as if it were a living being capable of changing clothing, colour and skin. It could be argued that the failure of the liberal secularist institutions of India have led to the growth of controversy, an extra formation of skin around an already layered idea called Hindutva. Classically, it won’t be wrong to suggest that Hindutva was a response to the threat of secularism. The Hindu nationalists who aspired to revive a long forgotten but ‘checkered’ glorious Hindu past, perhaps wanting to base India around the context of everything Hindu viewed secularism as an eminent threat against the lasting of Hindutva. Today, it is a sharp, double-edged sword that either appears morphed in front of its original founding idea or bleeds from acerbic, half-hearted, ill-conceived views that stem from political lobbying and serve no relevant purpose.