By Rajeev Ramachandran

Malayalam poet P. N. Gopikrishnan’s latest book, Hindutva Rashtreeyathinte Katha (The Story of Hindutva Politics), traces its ideological foundations, from figures like Vinayak Damodar Savarkar to the rise of Hindu nationalism in recent years, shining light on its social, cultural, and political implications. The book explores the critical role of Chitpavan Brahmins and the historical context that shaped this ideology, offering a comprehensive understanding of India’s nationalistic landscape.

The writer’s first, thorough exploration into the Hindu nationalist movement in India has been inspired by Christophe Jaffrelot’s 1996 book, Hindu Nationalist Movement and Indian Politics: 1925 to the 1990s, which has formed our perception of the progressive trajectory of Hindutva and its sway over Indian politics. The book contends how the political unrest in the 1920s, fuelled by perceived and actual threats of colonialism, set the stage for the rise of assertive Hindutva in India.

The mobilisation aspect of Hindu nationalism, a socio-political phenomenon, has constituted a focused area of study in India for at least four decades. This particular strand of research has sought to delve into the mechanisms, strategies, and dynamics employed by the proponents of Hindu nationalism to galvanise support, consolidate the ideological base, and mobilise followers.

Scholars have examined the historical, cultural, and socio-political underpinnings that fuelled the mobilisation process, offering insights into its evolution and impact. In addition to Jaffrelot’s writings, books by writers such as A G Noorani and Shamsul Islam, too, have put Hindu nationalist movement under scanner. Jyotirmaya Sharma’s examination of Hindu nationalism also offers critical perspectives.

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