In recent times, the idea of Hindutva being tagged as ‘Hinduistic’ in behavior has surfaced. However, both are completely different concepts and cannot be put on the same pedestal. It’s crucial to understand the difference between the two.
Hinduism is one of the oldest religions in the world. As noted leader and thinker, Shashi Tharoor says, “Hinduism is ‘Anant’. It has neither a beginning nor an end.” Swami Vivekanand’s speech at the ‘World Parliament of Religions’ in Chicago in September 1893 too resonates with this idea. It consists of the following ideologies;
1. The concept of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ is entrenched in Hindu philosophy. The world is one family is a central idea of Hindu worship. Hinduism in its simplest form teaches this aspect
2. Hinduism is a religion that is built on duality. Both form (Saguna) and formless (Nirguna) aspects of god are worshiped. Men and women are depicted as encompassing aspects of ‘Purush’ (Man) & ‘Shakti’ (Woman). It has arguably the largest collection of gods in human existence numbering close to 330 million which are connected with almost all aspects of existence that existence itself is built upon.
3. Hinduism is built on the idea of active discussions. The system of ‘Gurukul’ promotes critical learning and doesn’t essentially promote discriminatory attitudes. Caste system in ancient Hindu philosophy was based on ‘division of labor’ that was horizontal and not vertical
In contrast, Hindutva is a rigid institution. The most probable reasons for the evolution of radical Hindu thought is said to be foreign interventions by Muslim & Christian invaders. Nevertheless, true Hinduism is not built on the idea of alienation or isolation but on acceptance and collective growth. Hindutva in contrast with Hinduism suffers from a few noteworthy cons;
A. It seeks to impose a narrow set of beliefs, practices & doctrines based on glorifying the ancient ‘Hindu’ past.
B. Such a rigid narrative leads to extremist and fanatical ideologies that even justify the killing of individuals that don’t subscribe to the Hindutva narrative. The recent killing of innocent Muslim folks by ‘Gou Raksha Samitis’ (Cow Protection Squads) supports this narrative. It’s unfortunate that these fanatics don’t display the same zeal over eliminating the sorry state of the millions of cows who die everyday on roads eating garbage and plastic or eradicating poverty and illiteracy with the same panache.
C. Hindutva philosophies were the main catalyst behind the Ram Mandir crisis in Ayodhya that has continued for close to 3 decades & still evokes passionate reactions from hindutva forces. If ‘Ram Rajya’ is supposed to be built on a pedestal where corruption, violence, lust, greed and ego are to be vanquished, can it be achieved on the dead bodies of innocent people of both faiths? Never!
Looking at the situation today, the idea of Hinduism is under threat from Hindutva forces that seek to create an atmosphere of tension, intolerance and imposition. Only active engagement and rational discussions can reduce ideological extremities and foster an atmosphere of understanding and tolerance.