(Last Updated on : 18/04/2012)
It is an ideology that sees modern state of the Republic of India as a Hindu nation ("Hindu Rashtra") and it seeks to preserve the Hindu heritage. Although the concept of "Hindu Rashtra" has been used in slogans and pamphlets of the Sangh Parivar (the main grop that promotes it), it has not been clearly and unambiguously defined in any of their literature. The notion of "Hinduness" (Hindutva) promoted by this group is intended to be inclusive of the multiple "indigenous" traditions of India, including Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism
. Hindu nationalism has played a crucial role in the recent history of India and that of Hinduism. Due to offensive propaganda of Christian Missionaries like westernization of many educated Hindus, forcible conversion to Islam
,etc, various Hindu Reform Movements, led by Dayanand Saraswati, Swami Vivekananada
and the others came to be in existence.
The Arya Samaj
was later founded by Dayananda Saraswati in the later 19th century to revive Hindu society,that was entrenched deeply in the social schisms of untouchability, sati, as well as poverty, xenophobia and illiteracy. The Samaj prescribed a return to the Vedas
; they were monotheistic in their approach to God.
Another 19th century revivalist was Swami Vivekananda, re-established the ideals of the Hindu religion which were rooted in the ideals of acceptance, tolerance, respect, truth and renunciation. He was the first modern seer or philosopher to opine that religion and science need not be at loggerheads, they can be synthesized. Vivekananda at the Parliament of Religions proved the supremacy of the multidimensional Hindu religion, with its multiple paths to the divine unlike the parochial singular pathway abrahamic faiths. He was the supreme patriot sage of India, who was able to conceptualise the concept of a politically free India which included both Hindus and Muslims (Gandhi couldn't conceive the idea of a nation until 1929) Ramakrishna Mission
he founded has grown into one of India's most important charities and community organizations.
Sri Aurobindo was a nationalist who was one of the first to embrace the idea of complete political independence in India. Swami Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo are credited with having found the basis for a vision of freedom and glory for India in the spiritual richness and heritage of Hinduism.
Vinayak Damodar Savarkar ,freedom fighter and Hindu nationalists propounded the term 'Hindutva' and the associated ideology. He defined Hindu Nationalism as different from Hinduism. According to him the former defines a Hindu nation and latter defines religion. The "Hindu Nation" is concieved collective indians belonging to religions like Sikhism
, but whether Indian Muslims and Christians are also included, is still a point of debate within the Hindu nationalists,as they expect each citizen to express his or her loyalty to the nation.
For Savarkar at least, they cannot be Hindus as long as the origins and sacred sites of their religions lie in West Asia. Savarkar identified India as a Hindu Rashtra ("Hindu nation") in terms of culture and heritage. It asserted that all of its people had in history adhered to Hindu religious values, and thus should be identified as Hindus not only as a religion but also as a nationality.
Independence movement and Partition of India
There were repeated attempts by Hindu nationalists to assassinate Mahatma Gandhi
which they finally succeeded on 30 January 1948.Indian National Congress
was recognized by majority of Indians as their representative in the struggle for freedom from the British Raj during Indian Independence Movement. Hindu nationalist movement desired freedom not only from European colonialism, but also wanted to avoid return of Muslim rule. National leaders like Bal Gangadhar Tilak instilled Hindu history, heritage and culture into Indian nationalism and politics during the Indian Independence Movement.
The Partition of India outraged many Hindus, as millions of Hindus and Sikhs were ethnically cleansed from their homes in West Pakistan and East Pakistan, and hundreds of thousands of Hindus and Sikhs were killed during the process of migration and on the streets of cities by murderous mobs. The lack of aid and protection from the Government of Pakistan created an atmosphere of insecurity for non-Muslims in Pakistan. This insecurity led to mass killings of non-Muslims in Pakistan, Hindus retaliated and the Partition riots began.
Savarkar and members of the Hindu Mahasabha were extremely critical of Gandhi's leadership. They accused him of appeasing the Muslims to preserve a unity that did not exist in their opinion (Savarkar endorsed the Two-nation theory). Some Hindu nationalists also blamed Gandhi for conceding Pakistan to the Muslim League via appeasement. And they were further inflamed when Gandhi conducted a fast-unto-death for the Indian government to give Rs. 55 crores which were due to the Pakistan government, but were being held back due to the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947.
After the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi by Nathuram Godse, the leader of India's freedom movement by Nathuram Godse, the Sangh Parivar was plunged into distress by Jawaharlal Nehru
, as the RSS was accused of organizing his murder. Along with the conspirators and his assassin, Nathuram Godse, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar was also arrested. The Court acquitted Savarkar on lack of evidence, and the RSS was found be to completely unlinked with the conspirators. The Hindu Mahasabha, of which Savarkar had been president and Godse a member, lost membership and popularity. The effects of public outrage had a permanent effect on the Hindu Mahasabha, which is now a defunct Hindutva party.
Advocates of Hindu Rashtra contend that Hinduism's strong legacy of tolerance for diverse philosophies and reform movements, and the root idea of universal human brotherhood is the reason for the country's vibrant fabric of diversity, and thus every person, community and institution is perennially Hindu. In that sense, it is contended that the term Hindu in this case is a synecdoche for all indigenous Indian religions and philosophies. In that vein, some advocates of the "Hindu Rashtra" prefer to think of the concept as inclusive of religions that evolved in India (such as Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism), and thus are believed to be compatible with Indian social ethos. The adherents of the Hindu Rashtra philosophy claim that the English term nation is only a crude translation of the Sanskrit term rashtra. It does not mean a European-type nation with one ethnicity, one common history, one language and one religion.
The Sangh Parivar
The Sangh Parivar is a collection of social, religious and political organizations that are Hindu nationalist in character and purpose, and often exponents of Hindutva and other forms of Hindu expression. It is today the largest organized foundation of Hindu nationalist expression and activity in India. The Sangh Parivar consists of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bharatiya Janata Party, Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram and other organisations.
Violence rose among Hindus and Muslims in the 1940s, when Muslim separatism was increasing in popularity. Vinayak Savarkar publicly endorsed the Two - Nation theory of Muhammad Ali Jinnah
, the founder of Pakistan, but opposed any partition of Indian Territory to create a Muslim nation. Savarkar stated that if Muslims wanted a separate country from Hindus, there existed many in the Middle East. However, extremism and anti-Muslim feelings were on the rise, as is evidenced by Syama Prasad Mookerjee, a prominent Bengali politician leaving the Hindu Mahasabha in 1948 over its political extremism and alleged involvement in the murder of Mahatma Gandhi. Savarkar however never endorsed racist or racialist ideas, and was known to work against untouchability and the caste system.