The tide of Hindutva in the nineteenth century A.D. was inaugurated by Rajnarain Bose and
Nabagopal Mitra who, in 1886, started the Hindu Mela. The latter also set up gymnasia that
became training schools in martial arts teaching Bengali youngmen to wield the lathi, the
daggerand the sword. The wealthy zamindar Debendranath Tagore, father of Gurudev
Rabindranath Tagore, lent his support to the Hindu Mela.
With the publication of the novel Anand Math in 1882, Bankim Chandra
Chatterji offered the next milestone for those marching on the road of Hindutva. Vande
Mataram, overnight became the anthem of Hindutva. Many a sentence contained in Anand Math
epitomised the essence of nationalism:
"He (the child) alone is worthy of this duty who has renounced
everything for the sake of Mother India. The man whose heart is tied with the string of
human attachment is like a kite that is tied to the reel; it cannot fly high or far from
the earth below"
"Splendid! Do you both renounce your castes? For all children
belong to the same caste, in our work there is no Hindu or Muslim, Buddhist or Sikh or
Parsee. We are all brothers here-all children of the same Mother India.
"I want to tell you that this country belongs to us. This is our
motherland. Why don't you Englishmen, like true Christians, return peacefully to your own
"I have addressed only my Mother India as mother. I can never
allow myself to cause my husband to leave his path of duty. If husband has to die at your
command, let him die. I can never, never ask him not to die"
Swami Vivekananda awoke the interested western world to the wisdom that
is Hinduism. This perennial explanation to the mysteries of life on earth was unknown to
almost everyone in Europe and America. He began his international mission in 1893 at the
Parliament of Religions held at Chicago. In the event, he laid the foundation of
acquiring legitimacy for Hindurva in overseas eyes. If only we all can now communicate
half as well as he did, single handed in a matter of a few years, Hindutva may well become
the world's dominant ideology. To quote a few of his sentences:
"The one common ground that we have is our sacred tradition, our
religion... in Europe, political ideas form the national unity. In Asia, religious ideals
form the national unity. The unity in religion, therefore, is absolutely necessary as the
first condition of the future of India. What do I mean by one religion? Not in the sense
of one religion as held among the Christians, or the Mohammedans, or the Buddhists. There
are certain common grounds; and within their limitations this religion of ours admits of a
marvelous variation, an infinite amount of liberty to think and live our own lives".
"We see how in Asia, especially in India, race difficulties,
linguistic difficulties, social difficulties and national difficulties, all
melt away before this unifying power of religion. We know that to the
Indian mind there is nothing higher than religion's ideals, that this is the keynote of
Indian life... it is the only possible means of work; work in any other line, without
first strengthening this, would be disastrous. Therefore the first plank in the making of
a future India, the first step that is to be hewn out of that rock of ages, is this
unification of religion.
'"We have seen that our vigour, our strength, nay our national
life, is in our religion ... you have withstood the shocks of centuries simply because you
took great care of it. You sacrified everything else for it. Your forefathers underwent
everything boldly even death itself, but preserved their religion. Temple after temple was
broken down by the foreign conqueror, but no sooner had the wave passed than the spire of
the temple rose up again. Some of these old temples of southern India and those like
Somnath of Gujarat will teach you volumes of wisdom, will give you a keener insight into
the history of the race than any amount of books. Mark how these temples bear the mark of
a hundred attacks and a hundred regenerations, continually destroyed and continually
springing up of the ruins, rejuvenated and strong as ever.."
Swami Dayanand's outstanding contribution was the revival of Shuddhi.
This was an ancient Hindu concept of purifying any Hindu, Through prescribed rituals, who
got polluted. For instance, crossing He ocean of black waters or the seas was often
considered a cause of pollution.
The second use of shuddhi was for the reinstatement of a
lapsed Hindu like someone who, or whose ancestor, had got converted, say, to a religion of
the book. During the medieval period or the dark ages of Hindutva, this ancient custom was
forgotten. The Atharva Veda prescribed the rite vralyastoma for readmitting those who had
fallen beyond the pale of society.
The Swami was awakened to the need for introduction of shuddhi
at Calcutta, which he visited in 1872, perhaps as a result of his contact with Brahmo
Samaj leaders like Keshub Chandra Sen. For Hindutva, the Swami's was indeed a contribution
of great potential. Remember that the overwhelming majority of Christians and Muslims in
our country are lapsed Hindus. It is quite possible that some of them some day may wish to
return to the Hindu fold. How can anyone be welcomed unless there is a gateway? Dayanand
reopened the gate which had been shut and forgotten for centuries.
Sri Aurobindo was another sage whose thinking has enriched the
philosophy of Hindutva. In 1907, he wrote: "Nationalism depends for its success on
the awakening and organising of the whole strength of the nation: it is, therefore,
vitally important for nationalism that the politically backward classes should be awakened
and brought into the current of political life, the great mass of orthodox Hindustan which
was hardly even touched by the old Congress movement, the great slumbering mass of Islam
which has remained politically inert throughout the last century, the| shopkeepers, the
artisan class, the immense body of illiterate and ignorant peasantry, the submerged
classes, even the wild tribes and races still outside thepale of Hindu civilization.
Nationalism can afford to neglect and omit none."
In 1908, he wrote: "The new nationalism overleaps every barrier,
it calls to the clerk at his counter, the trader in his shop, the peasant at his plough;
it summons the Brahmin from his temple and takes the hand of the Chandala in his
degradation; it seeks out the student in his college, the schoolboy at his book, it
touches the very child in its mother's arms; and the secluded zenana has thrilled to its
voice; its eyes searches the jungle for the santhal and travels the hills for the wild
tribes of the mountains. It cares nothing for age or sex or caste or wealth or education
or respectability; it mocks at the talk of a stake in the country; it spurns aside the
demand for a property qualification or a certificate of literacy. It speaks to the
illiterate or the man in the street in such vigorous language as he best understands, to
youth and the enthusiast in accents of poetry. In language of fire to the thinker in the
terms of philosophy and logic, to the Hindu it repeats the name of Kali, to the Mahomedan
it spurs to action for the glory of Islam. It cries to all to come forth, to help in God's
work and remake a nation, each with what his creed or his culture, his strength, his
manhood or his genius can give to the new nationality. The only qualification it asks for
is a body made in the womb of an Indian mother, aheart that can feel for India, a brain
that can think and plan for her greatness, a tongue that can adore her name, of hands that
can fight in her quarrel. The new Nationalism is the rebirth of India of the Kshatriya,
In 1909, he wrote: "An Indian Nationalism, largely Hindu in its
spirit and traditions, because the Hindu made the land and the people and persists, by the
greatness of his past, his civilization and his cultureand his invincible virility."
In 1926, Sri Aurobindo wrote: "Did India have the national idea in
the modern sense? The "Nation Idea" India never had. By that I mean the
political idea of the nation. It is a modern growth. But we had in India the cultural and
spiritual idea of the nation".
Bal Gangadhar Tilak: He is most remembered for his swearing that
swarsaj is my birthright. Although a member of the Indian National Congress, he had,
according to Dr. Parshotam Mehra, professor of history at the Punjab University, a
profound respect for Hindu tradition, religion, philosophy and ethics. The Gita Rahasya is
a monument to his scholarship. But he did not merely comment on the Gita; he lived it.
Tilak tried to arouse national pride and Hindu unity by vitalising well
known religious festivals, and resurrecting forgotten national heroes.
Thus in 1894 he revived the Ganapati festival and two years later the
Shivaji festival. He later refuted the charge that his propagation of these celebrations
had any anti-Muslim inspiration. His prime motive was to unite all Indians.
Veer Savarkar's magnum opus HINDUTVA was the first serious effort to
define this concept of cultural nationalism. The book was published first in 1923 when
Savarkar was in Ratanagiri jail. Its authorship was therefore ascribed to "A
Maratha". The ideas however were formed over the many years since 1906 when he was
studying law in England.
A Hindu, according to Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, is anyone who
acknowledges Hindustan as his fatherland or pitribhu as well as his holyland, punyabhu.
Whether he or she is a devotee of sanatan dharms is unimportant, anyone who
himself or his ancestor was born in undivided India and who is even a Buddhist,
whomsoever's ancestor was a Hindu but was converted to, say, Islam or Christianity is also
welcome back to the Hindu fold, provided he accepts India as his fatherland-cum-holyland.
Hindutva is not a word but a history. Hinduism is only a derivative,a
fraction or a part of Hindutva or Hinduness. Common blood, common culture, common customs
and laws, common history all add up to Hindutva, according to Savarkar. His exercise in
definition was novel and well thought out. It was an intellectual effort and influenced by
the European ideas and idioms of his day. To that extent, Savarkar's thinking was not as
deeply rooted in the Indian soil as that of, say, Swami Vivekananda who felt that Asian
proceed from religion to politics and unlike the Euro-America the other way about. To us
India is mother and not father. Fatherland is a German and Russian idiom.
Mahatma Gandhi understood the Hindu psyche like the back of his palm.
He could therefore move the masses of India more than anyone else before or after him.
Although he was no orator, his contribution to development of Hindutva as an ideology was
much less than his exemplary insight into how the collective Hindu thinks and feels.If
this experience is used appropriately it could bring a more widespread following for the
cause of Hindutva.
Look, how he was able to appeal to the people of India and win their
faith. He quit sansar, became a celibate and let it be known widely. That was his
last gesture of tyaag. Yet he did not don bhagwa or saffron clothes. Such
sanyasis were cheaper by the dozen and Gandhiji might have been misunderstood as a
hypocrite. To be seen to be a tyaagi is crucial in our country. In the eyes of the
people at large it is a testimonial of being a person of integrity. Indians have
implicitly trusted legitimate monarchs or leaders who are known to have made a sacrifice.
The Mahatma chose non-violent non-cooperation because Indians,
especially the Hindus, abhor violence. Some young men and women might have volunteered to
take to the gun but the masses could not have come to agitate on the streets; certainly
not women, children or even older men. He conveyed to the people living even in remote
villages what freedom was all about with the help of the charkha and khadi.Remember,
the media available in his days was very limited. Indeed he completely understood the
Keshav Baliram Hedgewar was described by Guruji Madhav Rao Sadashiv Rao Golwalkar as a
child of greatness. He went on to write that the greatest of men who grace the world stage
often cast that spell to make others unaware of their greatness so that they may not shirk
and shudder at their greatness but come and freely mix with them in aspirit of
comradeship. Sri Krishna by his childish pranks had cast a spell all over in Gokul near
Mathura. None, not even Yashoda, would remember that he was an avataar. Once when
he was reported to have eaten dust and Yashoda forced him to open his mouth, she saw
illimitable universes dancing in that little cavity. She was shocked and dumbfounded.But
that was only for the moment. The same old smiling, mischievous, teasing pranks of the
child Krishna made her forget that fleeting realisation. Doctor Hedgewar's disarming
simplicity had cast a similar spell upon all those who came near him, even his nearest
friends and co-workers. It was only rarely that they would remember, as if in a flash,
that they were in the company of a great soul of unsurpassable majesty born but once in
centuries for the redemption of the people. And they would be surprised at the free and
almost equal way in which they mixed with him, sometimes even taking liberties with him.
But that was all for a moment. Again the simple, smiling figure of the Doctor would cast
its spell and they would forget all about it.Such was the Doctor, the Hindu ideal of a man
in flesh and blood: the embodiment of the saying that the great ones achieve great tasks
not because of external aids but by their intrinsic merit, a guiding light for all
generations to fashion their lives in its effulgence for glorious and immortal national
Guruji Golwalkar: In describing the bedrock of national integration,
we often hear our political leaders speaking of national integration, emotional
integration and so on. But what is that common emotion, that basis on which all can come
together? What are those eternal life springs of our national life that go to make it
unified, resurgent and glorious? These are:
In the first place, the feeling of burning devotion to the land which,
from time immemorial, we have regarded as our sacred matribhoomi.
In the second place, the feeling of fellowship of fraternity, born out
of the realisation that we are the children of that one great common Mother.
In the third place, the intense awareness of a common culture and
heritage, of common history and traditions, of common ideals and aspirations.
This trinity of values or, in a word, Hindu nationalism, forms that bedrock of our
On the other hand, the idea of domination through brute strength is absolutely alien to
our culture and tradition. Our whole being revolts against this un-Hindu concept. Numerous
faiths and creeds have flourished here from ancient times. We have had a variegated
pattern of political institutions. We have had republican governments and hereditary
kingships. Under all conditions the people were free to follow their healthy persuasions
in every walk of life. Everyone was encouraged to develop himself according to his
individual genius, nature and inclination. In keeping with that spirit, the work of the
Hindu missionaries for rousing and organising the society has always been through love and
service, character and sacrifice and never through brute force or political power.
In the words of Prof. Sitaram Chaturvedi, the Banaras Hindu University
is, quite literally, the creation of Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya. With the establishment
of the Universities at Bombay, Calcutta, Madras, Lahore and Allahabad, a new class of
young men came up in India, whose ambition was to secure administrative jobs under the
In the light of these developments, it became necessary to establish a
national university where oriental and occidental arts, humanities and sciences could be
taught without losing contact with Indian culture and thought. In the year 1904, Malaviya
ji formally moved the resolution for establishing a Hindu University at a meeting held in
Pandit Malaviya was a committed nationalist who, evidently felt that
one sure way of capturing the ground for Hindutva was to educate young minds. The
contribution of the university is well known.
SardarVallabhbhai Patel's contribution to the future of Hindutva can be
imagined only if we recall that, on the eve of partition, about two/fifths of the Indian
territory was ruled by some 565 princes. These were independent rulers subject only to the
British Crown being paramount or suzerain. While decisions were going to be taken, one
British proposal was to divide India three ways: Hindustan, Pakistan and Princestan, the
last comprising of these states.
Fortunately, this plan got overruled when the well known June 3 plan
was evolved and on the basis of which the Independence of India Bill was passed by the
British parliament. Only a few princely states happened to be located within the territory
that was eventually demarcated for Pakistan.
Upon the departure of the British on 14 August 1947, the pararnountcy
was to lapse. Which meant that the states became technically free to join either Hindustan
or Pakistan or even declare independence as indeed the Nizam of Hyderabad tried to do.
Mohammad All Jinnah expected not only Kashmir, Hyderabad and Bhopal to
join his new dominion but also Indore, Jodhpur, Junagadh, Jamnagar and even Baroda. Sardar
Patel was the Home Minister as well as the Minister of States (princely). The entire
responsibility therefore fell upon him to invite, to persuade, to cajole, to coerce,
tothreaten all these states which lay within the boundary of Hindustan.
Hyderabad was the only state against which some force had to be used.
For the rest, it was achieved by the tact, dedication and determination of Vallabhbhai
Patel. Since he succeeded with aplomb within a few months, his achievements have tended to
be taken for granted. Had he wavered or failed, imagine the disaster! The map of India
could have seemed tragically like a sieve. The Sardar was a nationalist and for which the
Nehruites criticised him by insinuating that he was communal.
It is this type of elastic and self-expressive pattern of organisation
that has helped our society to keep alive its spirit of coherence in spite of being
subjected to unparalleled atrocities and aggressions. If the pattern had been rigid and
imposed from above, our society would have today remained merely as a fossil, just as some
of the huge animals became immobile and gradually perished under the dead weight of their
rigid protective covers. The devotees of Hindutva have therefore rightly eschewed all such
self-defeating alien types of organisations and stuck to our pure and healthy national
system for rebuilding society.