Myths and realty of Hindutva

Shamsul Islam

Hindutva : Myths and realty

[This essay is in response to demand from friends across the globe to make available a concise primer on the toxic ideology of Hindutva based on its own archives for ready reference.] Introduction The term Hindutva took birth with the appearance of VD Savarkar‘s book titled Hindutva in 1923. Savarkar’s Hindutva was declared to be the Holy Book of Hindu Sangathan or organization. M. S. Golwalkar, who headed the RSS after K. B. Hedgewar, too regarded Savarkar’s Hindutva as a great scientific book which fulfilled the need of a text-book on Hindu nationalism.[1] According to a biography of founder of RSS, Hedgewar published by the RSS, “Savarkar’s inspiring and brilliant exposition of the concept of Hindutva marked by incontestable logic and clarity, struck the cord of Doctorji’s [Hedgewar’s] heart”.[2] Despite such statements glorifying Hindutva as priceless contribution in defence of Hindu nationalism, the contents of the book did not attract many Hindu leaders and remained beyond the comprehension of common Hindus. In fact, even the title of the book seemed to have been an afterthought. A perusal of the original edition (1923) will show that the booklet was printed with the title Hinduism but subsequently a separate piece of paper on which Hindutva was printed was pasted on the title page of the book. Since the term remained alien even to the Savarkarites, by the 4th edition Hindutva as title was dropped and it was published under a new title Who Is A Hindu? In 1963 Maharashtra Provincial Hindusabha published it as part of Savarkar’s collected works with the title Essentials of Hindutva. Another notable fact about this book was that it was published under the pen name ‘A Maratha’ signifying a regional identity of the author where as book stressed only the Hindu identity of the country and its inhabitants. Savarkar admitted at the outset that the ‘term Hindutva defies all attempts at analysis’.[3] He began by trying to make a clear-cut distinction between his theory of Hindutva and religion Hinduism. But few pages later it became clear that Hindutva was nothing else but political Hinduism. According to his…