“Hinduism vs. Hindutva” is an extremely popular topic in “intellectual” and “secular” discourse in India―actually since the mid-nineteenth century, but more particularly since the beginning of this new millennium. Many who are (apparently) lovers of Hinduism (and simultaneously opponents of Hindutva) emphasize the “difference” between Hinduism and Hindutva. In fact the two are not just “different” they are supposed to be diametrically opposed to each other!
It is necessary to examine this question in some detail. We will do this under the following heads:
1. Hinduism vs. Hindutva: Oxism vs. Oxatva.
2. The true agenda of the anti-C.A.A. “movement”.
Hinduism vs. Hindutva: Oxism vs. Oxatva
One vital question is: when these critics of Hindutva (and, presumably, admirers of Hinduism as contrasted with Hindutva) say “Hindutva is more like Christianity and Islam than like Hinduism”, and sharply criticize and oppose Hindutva, are they then simultaneously acknowledging that Christianity and Islam are equally deserving of equally sharp criticism and opposition while Hinduism by contrast only deserves praise? Or do they actually mean that the followers of Christianity and Islam have a right to be and do whatever followers of Hindutva are accused of being and doing, but the followers of Hindutva do not have this same right―and that therefore both Hinduism and Hindutva are to be criticized while both Christianity and Islam are to be praised?
This always reminds me of the Aesop’s fable about the lion and the four oxen. A lion came upon four oxen living in a field. He decided that they would provide him with food for a long time, and started prowling around the field to kill them. However, the four oxen, who had long and sharp horns, kept him at bay for weeks and weeks by adopting the following strategy: every time he made a run for them they stood in a formation with their tails together and facing all four directions and struck their horns at him from whichever direction he attacked them. The lion did not dare to approach them closely from any direction because of their unity and aggressiveness.
The fable has a sequel: the four oxen in the course of time developed personal differences and grievances and stopped even speaking to each other. Obviously adopting a united stand was out of the question as they kept away from each other, and the lion managed to finish them off one by one. The moral of the fable is that disunity leads to destruction. Very relevant for Hindus.
But there is another moral for us. Suppose there were other (leftist/secularist) animals, including other oxen, in other areas whose agenda was to brainwash oxen into following “oxism”―where it was supposedly the dharma of an ox to allow itself to be attacked and killed―as opposed to “oxatva” where oxen tried to unite to defend themselves against attackers and killers? Suppose the oxen separated from each other and refused to unite against and confront their attacker because they did not want to be untrue to their “dharma” of “oxism” by behaving aggressively like the lion in resisting his attacks? What if that was the reason the lion managed to finish off the oxen that were determinedly being true to their “dharma” as defined by others (other oxen and non-oxen)?
This business of people teaching their enemy religionists the “true essence” of their (enemy) religion is something incredibly incomprehensible. During the Ayodhya movement, we had any number of Ayodhya supporters―including many VHP leaders―telling Muslims that they should give up the site because “Allah does not accept prayers offered from a site stolen from others, i.e. other religions”!!!! Obviously the Muslims know their own religion better, and they know exactly what Allah and Mohammad would have wanted from them, better than these non-Muslim pontificators.
At the same time we had secularists (and even Muslims and Christians and leftists) advising Hindus to give up their claims to the site since even Rama himself would have disapproved of this attempt to take back his birthplace in order to replace a mosque-structure occupying the site with a Rama temple!! Of course, Hindus (unlike Muslims) are ever ready to be taught the “true essence” of their own religion by their enemies. But any Hinduism-follower (even if distinct from a Hindutva-follower) could read the Valmiki Ramayana, Yuddha Kanda, 115 to see what Rama would have said. Rama here tells Sita (Gita Press Gorakhpur translation):
“You stand here won back (by me after conquering the enemy) on the field of battle. O blessed one! That which was worth doing (for me) through human effort has been accomplished by me. I have attained the reward of my indignation; nay, the wanton offence given to me (by your abduction) has been fully requited and the indignity offered to me as also the enemy (who did it) have been wiped out all at once by me. Today my manliness has been witnessed, today my exertion has become fruitful, today I have fulfilled my vow and today I am the master of myself once more….. What purpose will be served by the prowess, however great, of that petty-minded fellow who does not avenge by his might the insult suffered by him?” There is more―not all very palatable―but that is enough for the issue here about what Rama would have wanted or what Hinduism requires of “true Hindus”. Rama, if we go by the Valmiki Ramayana, would have wanted the mosque destroyed and his honor restored―whether or not a temple was ultimately built on the spot! Clearly Hindutva is true Hinduism, and we do not require our enemies to teach us the true essence of Hinduism.
It is time Hindu-haters decided once and for all whether, as per their own logic:
a) Hinduism and Hindutva are different from and even opposed to each other. Hinduism is good while Hindutva is bad. And therefore, Christianity and Islam are also bad, since it is with these religions―rather than with Hinduism―that Hindutva, according to them, bears closer resemblance. And therefore it would be better for Christians and Muslims to give up their bad religions and become Hindus! OR
b) Hinduism and Hindutva are the same (even if both or any one of them in particular is, bad rather than good) and therefore all Hindus should also become Hindutvites if they want to be true Hindus!
Instead of arriving at the two above conclusions, their multi-point logic seems to be:
1) Hinduism is good while Hindutva is bad.
2) Hindutva is like Islam and Christianity rather than like Hinduism.
3) Nevertheless Islam and Christianity are good while Hinduism is bad.
4) Many things done by Muslims and Christians are good, whereas if the same things are done by Hindus they are bad.
5) Islam (and Muslims) and Christianity (and Christians) have the right to attack Hinduism (and Hindus), and when they do so it is good or at least excusable. But Hinduism (and Hindus) have no right to defend themselves from attacks by Islam (and Muslims) and Christianity (and Christians), and if they even try to do so it is bad and inexcusable.
We cannot expect the enemies of Hinduism (and Hindus) to shed their venomous hatred. It is time for Hindus to change their slave mentality, firmly refuse to accept any distinction (let alone opposition) between “oxism” (Hinduism) and “oxatva” (Hindutva) insisted upon by their enemies, and to firmly, forcefully and unapologetically decide that:
1) The enemies of Hinduism (and Hindus) have no right to set the criteria for deciding what “true” Hinduism is and what it is not, or who is a “true” Hindu and who is not.
2) Hindutva is nothing but Hinduism which can defend itself from attack. In fact, Hindutva is Hinduism at its truest and best.
3) A “true” Hindu is not defined by his religious beliefs or practices: a theist, an agnostic and an atheist are all equally Hindu; a person practicing strict vegetarianism, principles of ahimsa, pure teetotalism, ultra-hygienic practices, and brahmacharya, is as Hindu as a tantric practicing bloodthirsty animal sacrifices with consumption of flesh and alcohol and gory sexual rituals in a cemetery at the midnight of amavasya (new moon), and both are as Hindu as a person who does not believe in any rituals or practices at all. A spiritualist and a materialist can both be “true” Hindus.
4) A Hindu is simply anyone following a religion or philosophy or ideology (including atheism) of Indian origin―or not following any particular religion or philosophy or ideology at all―as differing from a person following a religion or philosophy or ideology of foreign origin and with foreign affiliations and loyalties.
5) A true Hindu is one who stands up for Hinduism when it is under attack, especially from predator foreign religions and ideologies. And a “Hindu” by name, birth or claim, can be called non-Hindu or not being true to Hinduism only when he gangs up in any way with these predator foreign religions and ideologies against Hindus and Hinduism.
At the same time, it must be noted that the oxen paradigm (oxism and oxatva) is used here because it best explains the anti-Hindu strategy of trying to pitch Hinduism against Hindutva. But it in no way means that Muslims are lions and Hindus are oxen. While in the fable the two are indeed distinct animals of two different species with distinct natural characteristics (lions can kill and eat oxen, but oxen would never be able to kill and eat lions), in reality Muslims, Christians and Hindus are all members of the same human species, and Hindus are fully capable by nature of paying back Muslim or Christian aggression in the same coin, even if their religious ideology is different from the predator religious ideology of Islam or Christianity― without it bringing their religious identity or “trueness” into question. Hindus need not be “oxen who kill and eat lions”, but they can be oxen who will be uncompromisingly unwilling to allow themselves to be killed and eaten by lions, and who will see to it that this message goes very clearly and unmistakably to those who think they are lions or that Hindus are oxen. As none other than Mahatma Gandhi himself wrote (and this is not a fake quotation): “My own experience but confirms the opinion that the Musalman as a rule is a bully, and the Hindu as a rule is a coward…. Bullies are always to be found where there are cowards”.
That was an observation by Gandhi on the more undesirable fall-out of the otherwise commendable universalist, tolerant and respectful nature of Hinduism and Hindus: no-one should think that Hindus are also fools and they will perpetually take this observation as a canonical statement of the dogma that they must follow in order to show themselves to be “true” Hindus!
What is the true mentality of these people (the openly declared mentality, declared by themselves, not some secret one being alleged by their critics) who want to teach Hindus the distinction between Hinduism and Hindutva? I have already, in my article “Leftists and Rightists” pointed out that the very essence of Leftist ideology in India is pure, unbridled hatred for Hindus, Hinduism, India, Indian culture and India’s ethos and identity. The slavering-at-the-mouth hatred is so venomous and vicious that it just explodes out of their every word and action. There are millions of examples that could be given, but they would (as I wrote elsewhere about the treacheries of India’s “Hindutvavadi” politicians, though those are born out of Greed, not Hatred) fill an encyclopedia, or several encyclopedias. Just one recent pedestrian example which comes to mind (out of literally countless recent ones) is the hypocritical and pretentious leftist Youtuber Dhruv Rathee who gleefully found “fun facts” in the recent incident of the vicious slaughter of the old sadhu in Palghar!
These leftists who want to define Hinduism for us are those who falsify, ignore, whitewash, defend, and even glorify the evil aspects of Islamic and Christian religion and history (the hatred for other religions and religionists preached in their texts and central ideology; their jihads, crusades, and inquisitions; the heinous, scandalous and barbaric acts of their central religious figures; the destruction of millions of religious structures of other religions; the extremist excesses of their theocratic states; the wiping out and replacements of the cultures and civilizations of entire nations and even continents; their slanderous academic misrepresentations of the tenets and the history of other religions (including the Pagan ones attacked and wiped out by them); their continuing organized multi-trillion-dollar onslaughts on other religions, etc.) while highlighting the smallest negative point in Hindu religion and history to blacken and condemn Hinduism and its religious and historic personalities.
This becomes hilarious sometimes: a communist friend of my sister’s (who goes berserk over every tiny ridiculous “intolerant” Hindu word or act) recently presented Imran Khan, the PM of Pakistan, as a model and beacon of great religious tolerance and secularism who should be emulated by communal Hindu public figures. She presented a “news report” which said that Imran Khan had sanctioned money for the repair of some Hindu temples! Remember similar claims for Aurangzeb?
Another amusing example is these leftists citing recent reports of blatantly and officially Islamic countries―which treat their religious minorities as slaves or people living there under sufferance―criticizing India’s treatment of minorities in India, as an indictment of Indian/Hindu intolerance towards and persecution of minorities!
Another example is a tweet by the mentally disturbed “stand-up comedian” Kunal Kamra (who recently pushed himself into the limelight by trolling Arnab Goswami inside an aircraft) which presents as an ideal Gandhian patriot none other than Umar Khalid of JNU fame!!
These deep levels of seething hatred, boiling and bubbling within these leftists like a volcano constantly seeking outlet, represent a kind of mental sickness which is incurable. It cannot be defined, analyzed, explained or commented upon: “Sirf ehsaas hai ye, rooh se mehsoos karo”.
According to these people, Non-Hindus (and Hindu-haters in Hindu clothing) have the right to criticize, attack and try to destroy Hindus and Hinduism, but Hindus have no right to defend themselves, and stand out as criminals and sinners if they even try to do so―or even if they fail to militantly condemn other people who try to do so!
Just one example of the omnipotence and omnipresence of this hate-propaganda machine will suffice: the demolition of one mosque structure in Ayodhya on the 6th of December 1992. This, probably the first non-Hindu religious structure deliberately demolished by Hindus in the whole of historical memory in order to make way for a Hindu temple, is today branded as one of the most atrocious and momentous acts in human history, easily comparable with the holocaust of Jews in Nazi Germany. This single demolition followed a 1400-year old long history of deliberate destruction and demolition of literally millions of temples all over India and their replacement by mosques (including in the last seven decades itself, countless temples in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Kashmir; and including in fact the very Hindu temple, as the Indian judiciary itself has now confirmed, which originally stood on the very spot occupied by the mosque-structure demolished on 6/12/1992), recorded in ruthless and gleeful detail by the Islamic historians themselves. And yet, this demolition of a single mosque structure was treated as something more cataclysmic than the explosions in Hiroshima and Nagasaki: from the day the demolition took place, it has been the subject of truly countless and endless newspaper headlines, books, articles, speeches, intellectual discussions, demonstrations and rallies (including maatam rallies), and endless rhetoric.
The very next day after the demolition took place, the whole country – and in fact, the whole world – erupted and exploded in “shock”, “indignation” and “outrage”. Every other newspaper carried front page pictures of thousands of “outraged” secularists (including members of organized NGOs) demonstrating outside the offices of Hindu organizations held responsible for the demolition, holding up placards with slogans like “sharm se kaho ham Hindu hain” (say with shame that we are Hindus). The same secularists who insisted that the Islam which expressly authorizes the demolition of non-Islamic religious structures (unlike Hinduism which requires respect for all religious structures) is a “noble” religion, and that Hindus must forget (and even feel ashamed for remembering at all) the demolition of hundreds of thousands of Hindu temples, want Hindus to feel eternal “shame” for this single demolition of a demolished-temple-turned-into-a-mosque structure.
Most importantly, this cataclysmic event is now held fundamentally responsible – in fact, as the fundamental root cause – for every single Muslim riot, grievance, and terrorist act since that date (and, one assumes, retrospectively, for every invasion, conquest, massacre, temple-demolition, riot and terrorist act which took place in the last 1300 years before 6/12/1992 in anticipation of this horrific event). All this in spite of the fact that the Supreme Court (by a bench including a Muslim judge) has unanimously accepted that a Hindu temple stood below the Babri structure.
In such an atmosphere, where Hindus are eternally in the sinful role of Oliver Twist asking for more, the least that Hindus can do is reject, with the contempt it richly deserves, these attempts by Hindu-haters to define Hinduism and Hindutva.
Featured Image: Feminism in India
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. IndiaFacts does not assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information in this article.
Shrikant Talageri is a scholar and acclaimed author of The Rigveda: A Historical Analysis, the seminal work on the Aryan Invasion debate. His latest work is “Rigveda And Avesta The Final Evidence.”