By Prem Verma*
I am a devout Hindu but not a believer of RSS Hindutva form of Hinduism which brings about hatred of other religions. My Hindu religion has not taught me to look down on other religions and neither has it instilled in me to go about converting others to my religion because my religion is superior.
Hinduism has shown me a way to interact with my God with humility and adoration and at the same time allowed me to look at other religions with respect and acceptance of their choice. Above all Hinduism has given me the inner strength to accept truth and non-violence as twin virtues to pursue and to remain in peace with all mankind no matter what their individual beliefs are.
An expert has summarized very well the difference between Hinduism and Hindutva as follows:
The core concept of Hinduism is leading a meaning-full life whereas that of Hindutva is hegemony of Hindu beliefs and practices.
Hinduism guides people towards Moksha, whereas Hindutva guides people to acquire political power.
Hinduism is a religious believe, but Hindutva is a political movement.
Hinduism never supports violence to believers of other religions. Hindutva, on the other hand, promotes non-tolerance, even hatred to other religions.
Hinduism holds a pluralistic view of society, but Hindutva believes in a monolithic society with Hindu domination.
Hinduism is followed by overwhelming majority of Hindus, but only microscopic minority of Hindus follow Hindutva.
Hinduism recognizes a number of Gods and Goddesses, but Hindutva ionizes Lord Rama as trade-mark of Hindutva.
Hinduism is a large umbrella that welcomes all to its shelter no matter what their religious beliefs may be. I am proud to be a Hindu but do not suffer from a superiority complex in believing that all other religions are inferior. All are children of God and while we may be treading different paths through different religious beliefs we will all meet at the end in the Almighty’s kingdom.
Hinduism has nothing to do with the violence being perpetrated in its name. Hinduism is a peace-loving religion that treats all human beings as equals and unflinchingly believes in non-violence as a life-long goal. There is no place in Hinduism for anger, jealousy, killing, feeling of superiority and looking at other religions as being inferior.
Our Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi very lucidly interpreted Hinduism many times as given below:
“Hinduism is not an exclusive religion. In it there is room for the worship of all the prophets in the world. It is not a missionary religion in the ordinary sense of the term. It has no doubt absorbed many tribes in its fold, but this absorption has been of an evolutionary, imperceptible character. Hinduism tells every one to worship God according to his own faith or Dharma and so it lives at peace with all the religions.”
“The beauty of Hinduism lies in its all embracing inclusiveness… Hinduism tells everyone to worship God according to his own faith or dharma, and so it lives at peace with all religions. Its freedom from dogma makes a forcible appeal to me inasmuch as it gives the votary the largest scope for self-expression.”
To quote Gandhiji further:
“My Hindu instinct tells me that all religions are more or less true. All proceed from the same God, but all are imperfect human instrumentality… on-violence is common to all religions, but it has found the highest expression and application in Hinduism. What of substance is contained in any other religion is always to be found in Hinduism. And what is not contained in it is insubstantial or unnecessary.”
Hinduism tells every one to worship God according to his own faith or Dharma and so it lives at peace with all the religions
The great Saint Swami Vivekanand similarly spoke about Hinduism as follows :
“I am a Hindu. I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true.”
Hinduism is an old religion rich in traditions which has no axe to grind against other faiths. It is for this reason that India has attracted people of all faiths to live in harmony in this country. By this process we have learnt the good points about other religions and adopted them in our daily lives. Hinduism is unique when compared to other religions in as much as it believes that no religion is untouchable and that all can co-exist amicably. Peace, non-violence and empathy are Hinduism’s salient features.
Hindutva on the other hand as preached by RSS and present BJP’s leadership is a monolithic thought process that brooks no challenges. Hindutva spreads fear and hatred against non-Hindus that lead to violence and deaths in a number of cases. Hindutva believers indulge in mob lynching on suspicion of beef eating or cattle being taken for cow slaughter, violence against youth in the name of love jihad, beating for not reciting ‘Jai Shri Ram’, anti-Muslim and anti-Christian rhetoric so that they can leave the country for Bharat to become homogenized, etc. etc.
What we are witnessing today under the present regime is an attempt to make India of one colour instead of the rich coloured rainbow of religions, thoughts, ideas, languages and traditions. The variety that is India that the world praises has to be preserved and therefore it becomes our duty not to allow anyone to change and destroy the same.
Religion of course is a personal matter and we cannot allow anyone to make it a public event coercing us to follow their dictates on our personal beliefs. Uniformity of thought breeds dictatorship whereas variety of ideas waters the plant of democracy.
As Vikas Pathak clarified in “The Wire”:
“Hindutva isn’t the same a practised Hinduism. It is basically a modern ideology that seeks to organise Hindus by projecting the Muslim as the Other. Translated as Hindu-ness, the term Hindutva was popularised by VD Savarkar in 1923. In his text Hindutva, he argued that all those whose fatherland and holy land were in India were Hindus. This marked a sharp distinction between Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists, on the one hand, and Muslims and Christians, on the other.”
If the above definition of Hindutva is not communalism then what is it?
This story first appeared on counterview.net