The essay 'Revisiting Hindutva’s Nationalistic Significance through Secularism and the Identity of Bharat' aims to examine Hindutva, Secularism, and Nationalism without the influence of historical or ideological biases, in order to gain a fresh and unbiased perspective on them.

The essay 'Revisiting Hindutva’s Nationalistic Significance through Secularism and the Identity of Bharat' aims to examine Hindutva, Secularism, and Nationalism without the influence of historical or ideological biases, in order to gain a fresh and unbiased perspective on them. Hindutva is intended to facilitate the restoration of India's cultural heritage, which has been marred by invasions and colonial rule.

Our Nation is not the product of the Constitution, the reality is the converse of it. Secularism is not a constitutional product, rather it is a civilizational product. Instances of accommodation of minorities were present in the civilizational ethos of Bharat, examples of which are the Parsis and the Jews who were accommodated in this ethos way before the idea of an Indian Constitution was even conceptualized. So, to attribute secular practices in Bharat to the Constitution shall do grave injustice to the cultural integrity of Bharat itself.

This socio-cultural ethos is what is denoted by the word ‘Hindu’ keeping aside its religious connotations, and in the pursuit of protecting the ‘Hindu’ integrity or the cultural identity of Bharat, ‘Hindutva’ emerged as a retaliatory force. This idea was not exclusionist, rather it was inclusive as well as it was the protector of the ‘Bharatiya Identity’. This Bharatiya Identity is Nationalism and we should not draw parallels between ‘Bharatiyata’ and the Western concepts of Nationalism because Nationalism itself demands pride in one’s nation and thus it becomes essential to get rid of the Western colonial mindset.

The essay tends to synergize Hindutva, Secularism and Nationalism to remove the ideological baggage of the past and have a clean slate perspective of these popularly yet casually used terms, even at the expense of upsetting the ideological apple cart for a few.

Revisiting Hindutva’s Nationalistic Significance through Secularism and the Identity of Bharat

The idea of secularism is, not only the basic structure of the Constitution of India but also is a basic and intrinsic element of the Indic culture as well. This is to suggest that secularism wasn’t a term which was invented through the means of the Constitution, rather it was present and rooted in the Indian civilization much before 1950.

It is the need of the hour that we must realize and reflect upon the definition of secularism as it exists and as it ought to exist. Rather than secularism, pseudo-secularism is being practised primarily by the self-proclaimed secularists themselves and has pervaded the domains of our social consciousness. A plain look at the definition of secularism propounds an idea for the freedom of every person to profess, practice and propagate his or her religion as well as the disassociation of the State in matters about one’s faith and religion subject to certain reasonable restrictions.

This definition has been utterly distorted in the practical realities of the present day. The aspect of propagating one’s religion has never been distorted barring a few exceptions. Overall, the practice has been that the propagation of one’s religion has never been a matter of much dispute. But actions about a person professing his or her religion have been put under scrutiny and have not been accepted and practised in our society.

A critical point of concern that has emerged within our society has been that false equivalences have been drawn to say that openly professing one’s religion has been deemed to be a non-secular practice. Nowhere can any argument which purports to impose a narrative that disassociation from a particular religion shall tantamount to a person being secular, pass the test of legality, constitutionality and reasonable logic.

This proposition has been fueled indirectly by the establishmentarian forces to lay the foundation for the idea that secularism shall be proved only by the means when one is defensive of his religion and adopts superficial appeasement tactics by performing practices of other religions that are in numerical minority to show one’s allegiance to this created-idea of secularism.

The idea of pseudo-secularism has been engrained into our social consciousness for many years which history has witnessed itself but we as a society have unfortunately put blinkers upon our eyes. The Khilafat Movement in India which is undoubtedly a defining moment in the bartering of Muslim support by appeasement in the garb of attainment of freedom from the colonial establishment is nothing but sowing the seeds of establishmentarian pseudo-secularism or rather state-sponsored appeasement. It is of no concern for the Indian Muslims to think that they being British colonial subjects, shall have a say in deciding upon who shall be the Caliph of Turkey in British-controlled Turkey.

Ever since India attained freedom, there has been a concerted effort to dilute the Hindu population of its identity and lay down a false definition of secularism which means that only working for the interests of the minority religious community shall give justice to the meaning of ‘secularism’.

Hindutva, as opposed to popular opinion, emerged as a defensive mechanism against these forces which aimed at subverting the cultural identity of the Hindu population. It is common knowledge that after the decline of the Mughal Empire after the death of Aurangzeb in 1707 and the emergence of the Maratha Empire among others as a dominant empire, the religious elites in Islam assumed greater power and never wanted to be ruled by those people whom they had ruled over for centuries which ultimately culminated into the idea of Wahabism and Jihad.

The idea of ‘not being ruled by the ones whom we have ruled’ and rampant forceful conversion culminated in the distortion of the cultural identity of Bharat which had catastrophic ramifications. Hindutva has a greater cultural connotation as compared to its, popularly known, theological connotations.

‘The forbidden fruit is always the tastiest’ captures the reality of present-day India’s quest to know its actual historical and cultural significance which has been overshadowed by a linear monochromatic view of India’s freedom struggle as well as its cultural identity. India has always been showcased as pusillanimous or as an ‘Invader’s Disneyland’ which completely sidelines the valour of our warriors and revolutionaries. The Khilji, the Tughlaqs, The Mughal and many more Delhi Centric dynasties have overshadowed the valour and might of several other empires such as the Vijayanagar Empire, The Chola’s, the Ahom’s and many others. Hindutva emerged as a socio-cultural response to these proselytizing attempts made to dilute India’s ethos.

Hindutva, in its true essence, has been meant for India’s cultural revival which has been tarred with invasions and colonialism. The true essence of Hindutva lies in solidarity and brotherhood but it also lies in pride and protection of one’s own culture. Hindutva does not propose a ‘Hindu Rashtra’ in its religious sense, rather it connotes a cultural meaning to it. It proposes that all communities should have a cohesive atmosphere but at the same time, there should be respect and regard for everyone’s religion.

It is also necessary to revisit some of the flawed arguments about Hindutva. The argument that the Hindus are in the majority and they should be the perpetrators per se, I believe doesn’t have an iota of logic or reasoning because if we were to say that numerical supremacy shall tantamount to a particular group being the proselytizer, then India should never have been under the rule of various foreign dynasties and colonial powers for centuries.

Thus, to set the motion at rest, Hindutva embraces within its ambit a cultural philosophy as opposed to a religious philosophy. Hindutva preaches us to take pride in Bharat, its cultural ethos, its historical pride, and its social cohesiveness and not buy on the West-sponsored ideas about India being a land of losers.

As Winston Churchill once said if the Britishers ever left India, it would be run by the goons. Now, the tables have turned and India has surpassed the British economy and a person of Indian origin has occupied the highest political office in the United Kingdom. India for centuries has showcased its intellectual might in various forms. India can build a Nalanda as well as a Chandrayaan-3 and become the first country to reach the Moon’s South Pole surpassing the United States of India, Russia and many more. Now, it is time India reclaims its lost might and glory and the initial step is to acknowledge our roots.

Hindutva attempts to highlight this aspect of Nationalism. Nationalism indeed ensures the existence of Secularism, but Hindutva too embraces Secularism. Nationalism lies in pride in our country and not a community. Hindutva enchants Bharat’s pride and not the pride of the Hindus. Hindutva attempts to protect Bharat’s identity and not the identity of the Hindus. Hindutva is not against any religion; it is for only one religion and that is Bharat.

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Nooransh Grover

Nooransh Grover

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