If the essence of the Hindu explanation of life is accepted as a premise, almost all life,
socio-economic as well as political, would flow logically. The basic tenets of the Hindu
explanation are four:
1. All living beings, humans, animals, birds, reptiles and worms, are a part of the Hindu
2. That each has a soul or a jeevatma whose endeavour is to strive and prove
itself, albeit through a series of lives, elevated enough to mingle with the parmatma
or the total soul.
3. That the paths for achieving this salvation from the cycle of birth and rebirth could
be many. Each individual is free to choose his or her path.
4. That while all the jeevatmas are endeavouring to elevate themselves, upon
death their souls transmigrate amongst the various living beings.
The Hindu ethos considers the individual as supremely important. Society and the state
exist for the individual. Two of the three well known Hindu paths for the pursuit of multi
or salvation, namely the bhakti and the gnana yogas, bypass society.
For, one can be pursued through devotion or worship, with or without a temple; whereas the
other can be practiced by thought and meditation within or without an ashram. Karma
yoga is the only path which must transit through society.
Hinduism does not need a comprehensive code or message or, for that
matter, an authoritative scripture, neither book nor manifesto.
Self actualisation (self improvement or fulfilment), rather than social
performance, is the central theme of Hinduism. The individual is free not only to pursue
his own goal but also to cultivate any of his own aptitudes in order to fulfil himself. He
may compete with his fellow beings or he may not. Neither comparison nor competition is
induced by his faith. In other words, he does not have to run the rat race of success. He
can easily make happiness his goal through self-fulfilment, as distinctfrom success.
Conceptually then, the average Hindu has little or limited interest in
superintending or controlling his community or, for that matter, anyone else's. This
explains why Hinduism has never had, unlike Christianity, a network or hierarchy of
priests. Priests, or pujaris or pandas are usually confined to the
individual temple. Nor is there any mode or method of inducing others to become Hindus.
The question of Hinduism controlling the state or government can never, therefore, arise.
The question of conquering and colonising the territory of others is irrelevant. Imperial
ambitions do not come naturally to the Hindu.
The Hindu inclination is to leave people alone. This preference for
non-interference discourages any tendency in the Hindu towards autocracy or dictatorship.
To that extent, the average Hindu is amenable to democracy. He is ready to concede the
freedom of others to have asay in their affairs. It follows that he disapproves of
intervention in his style of life. Nor does centralization fit in with the Hindu psyche.
The Hindu's preference for non-violence, however, is rooted in the
belief that every living being carries a part, however minute, of the parmatma. The
theory of samsara or transmigration, only reinforces the Hindu reluctance to hurt
or to kill. Carried to its logical conclusion, the jeevatma of one's departed
parents or grandparents could be residing in the body of any animal, bird or human being.
This makes violence generally repugnant. The preference for a vegetarian diet is a
corollary of this repugnance.
True, the opposite of violence is more than just nonviolence. It is
tolerance or a ready acceptance of the rights of others to do their things their own way.
Violence results from intolerance of the wits of others. This explains why, in many ways,
Hinduness and tolerance are synonymous.
Can state policies flow from Hindutva? The answer is yes, because
Hinduness is dialectical. It has the potential for becoming a mainspring from which can
flow policies appropriate with changing times. In analysing Hindutva I said that imperial
desire does not come naturally to the Hindu. A country that does not have any desire to
dominate another can only have a foreign policy that is confined to the maintenance of
cordial relations with other countries so that no country is easily provoked to attack.
Its citizens across the world can then enjoy respect and protection and its international
commerce would flow safely. Such a foreign policy needs a military backing designed
essentially for defence, as distinct from offensive wars. The borders, the coastline and
the skies over the country only have to be secured against aggression.
At home, the policy would lend itself to decentralized governance. Just
as the individual is free to self actualise himself/herself, every little region of the
country too should be allowed to fulfil itself.
We have seen that one of the foundations of Hindutva is liberty. It
follows naturally that it would favour decentralization. Hindu worship has set the example
by, more or less, each temple or mutt being self-managed. It is seldom part of an
ecclesiastical network or an hierarchy of priests. Nor is there a prescribed or a common
formula of prayer. The message of Hindutva is in favour of a federal structure as well as
small states and small districts.
As all living beings are considered members of the Hindu universe, it
follows that the environment should be so protected as to enable all of them to flourish.
The peepal tree as an object of worship is symbolic of this concern for the
ecology. And in its turn is the basis of a policy for environment.
The concern for ecology logically extends to the need for a balance in
population. Too many human beings could upset the balance. The animal population has
declined and the current concern for wild life is a result of this unfortunate imbalance.
The ecological damage is not confined to the physical or the spiritual but also leads to
poverty and misery.
Hindutva stands for a correction of this imbalance by, if necessary, a
control on human birth. Conceptually, there should be no objection even to abortion as a
means of birth control. True, a foetus has a body and life but it has no soul until it is
born. Without the ability to perform karma, there can be no soul to a life.
Abortion is therefore not a sin.
The dialectics of Hindutva can lead one to a preference for a free
market, as distinct from controls associated with either welfarism, socialism or
communism. Control would militate against the faith inliberty. There is an implicit
promise of liberty of each citizen to participate in the market freely. In other words,
the duty of society, or its representative in the state, is to ensure that no citizen
takes the law into his hands and disturbs the liberty of anyone else. To this extent, the
state must take interest in the running of the economy.