Gradual Rise of Hindutva

By Naveed Qazi | Editor, Globe Upfront

India and Pakistan were formed through a tryst of destiny. 

The so called revolutionaries rose to find the soul of their nations, which were long suppressed according to their free thinking. Soldiers, adventurers, business men and administrators were the proudest possessions to exploit this part of the continent, which was getting free from the Empire of the Colonial British - they left, but kept their senates, their language and their institutions in their respective vassals.

British ruled from Khyber Pass to Cape Camorin – India.  Through the quarter of the century of inspired agitations and protests, the nationalist movement grew to an unusual prominence, which made the British leave India. 

The roots of this uprising was an age old antagonism between India’s Hindus and Muslims - sustained by a tradition of  antipathetic religious differences, economic inequality, subtly exacerbated by Britain’s 'divide and rule' policy. Thus, there was a birth of ideologies and leaders, born out of the revolting masses, who freed themselves from the British, to chalk out a future of the sub-continent.

Muslims demanded an Islamic State of its own, arguing that if it didn’t happen, it would result in the bloodiest pogrom in Asian history. The reason for that was the emerging force of Hindu Mahasabha – the Great Hindu Society, an ideology that had a strong Hindu nationalist socio-politico overtone, with no space for Islamic reformists or even secularists, in the emerging homeland. Even for the Congress Party, who were representing millions of majority Hindus at that time, the rise of Islamist State was mutilation of their homeland, almost sacrilegious in nature, to which they eventually conceived. Therefore, Britain was trapped between two apparently irreconcilable positions, sinking slowly into the quagmire from which the British Empire in India was unable to extricate itself.

Hindu Mahasabha’s central core was a society called the Hindu Rashtra Dal, which Savarkar, the movement’s dictator, founded in Poona on 15th May, 1942. They shared that the leadership should be derived from the most restrictive and meaningful Indian bonds – caste. It had guardianship of elite Brahmins, the heirs of Peshwas. The Brahmins in Hindu mythology descended from Seven Penitents, whose spirits were transformed to social and priestly elite, and were believed to be born twice like birds. Hinduism, as a religion, represented ‘anarchic Hindu-ness.’ It was a cultural and a religious phenomenon, while as ‘Hinduvta’ was politicised faith, through esoteric and elite Hindu circles, guarding politics for their respective subjects, even though the movement claims to remove the vices of social inequality in times like today. Hinduvta also amalgamated other religions such as Sikhism, Buddhists and Jainism, but were generally biased towards Muslims, Christians, and had called for a reverse in political strategy due to their historic cultural influence, in India, which they essentially regarded as a Holy Land of Hindus.

To Muslims, it is generally accepted that integrating into a ‘Hindutva Society’ is to compromise the Muslim identity, and the theology of the Koran, which taught monotheism, like other Abrahamic religions, when a competing faith in politics is ruling the minority.

‘Hinduvta’ is a religious movement in the polity. It has three identifiers: ‘religious, cultural and geographical’.  For Hindus, religion is derived from polytheism. Islam is against this phenomenon. To Jinnah, the two nation theory was expounded for a reason that the two religious communities belonged to two different philosophies, with different social customs and literature, having no intermarriage between various concepts emerging through a civilisational evolution.

Even for Allama Iqbal, guardianship and emancipation of 80 million minority Muslims before the partition era in a majority Hinduised society was prone to dangers of extremism and militarism towards civil wars. Savarkar once summarised: “The State will not guarantee secured Muslim seats in the Legislature or in the Administration and, if such guarantee is insisted upon by the Muslims, such guaranteed quota is not to exceed their proportion to the general population.” Constitutionally, India recognises Muslims as equal citizens - a winning reminder to these ideologues. Jinnah, on the other hand, negated any form of faith based nationalism and propagated equal treatment of non-Muslims in the Pakistani society. So was this civilisational conflict, the birth of Pakistan as a nation, a necessary evil to attain peace in South Asia? 

To what extent, Hinduvta proved pivotal towards the propagation of two nation theory, and how will Sarvarkar’s ‘Ahkand Bharat’ (United India, Pakistan and Bangladesh) be a reality, when a country, with advantageous Hinduised socio-politico dictatorship ordains over a harmonious and a collective society in South Asia? At the same time, Sarvarkar propagated a separate homeland for Jews in Israel, so why didn’t he have same perceptions for a separate Muslim homeland? 

Academics and politicians should answer the growing communal indecencies in Indian politics because when we look at the condition of Muslims in India, they work in apathy and live in uncared ghettos. Ignorance and lack of secular education is also a problem for Muslims in both the nations, but communal wars between these two communities, in the past, serve as a dangerous predicament, for an ever growing tussle between the tenets of a Hindu Rasthra and an Islamic State - a deepening divide between majority and minority communities.

So why is it a shame when Indian Muslims cannot integrate fully into a fascist leaning cultural Indianess of a Hindutva society? Secularism should be an answer, it should be strengthened, but it hasn’t fully been attained in a huge country like India or even in Pakistan due to dangers of religious indifferences, civilisational argumentations and extremism - which is still prevalent today, as it was during the pre-1947 era. 

There needs to be liberality, economic prosperity, freedom of expression, tolerance, justice, peace and interdependence through depoliticising faith - but it is an utopian dream, until people of respective religious communities, in this huge region, don’t make an ideological shift so that the place releases itself from the shackles of communal destitute and extreme nationalism – the main forces against seeking a pluralistic union of South Asia.


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