Hinduism - HINDUISM, YES; HINDUTVA, NO
by Suma Varughese
The heart of the spiritual approach as opposed to the Hindutva one is that it gives no credence to reactivity, and that one has control over only one's own actions
Now that Godhra and its aftermath have happened, the VHP, the RSS, the BJP and other Hindutva forces believe that they are on the up and up.
At the surface level, there's little to distinguish me from them. It would be easy for me, as for all seekers, to be seen as one of them. I, too, am enthusiastic about Hinduism and the great Vedic heritage of this civilization. I, too, believe that there is a great need for us Indians to return to roots and take our cues from the holistic philosophy of our country. I, too, believe that western civilization has damaged the environment and the individual and that it has no future. I, too, would prefer that we cultivated indigenous political and economic systems and adapted them to our own culture and needs. I, too, am no great admirer of MNCs, I, too, believe that India is one of the greatest countries in the world and am deeply proud to be an Indian.
What distinguishes me from the Hindutva brigade then?
Perhaps only one factor. I passionately believe that none of these ideas can be imposed upon anyone; they have to be allowed to happen by themselves. You cannot force people to change. You cannot manipulate changes of heart or mind. You cannot insist that Muslims and Christians accept the Hindu heritage. You cannot insist that they stop conversions. You cannot make them pay for what happened hundreds of years ago. Of course, you can try, as Narendra Modi and his band did in Gujarat. But have they succeeded? They may have cowed down the minorities for the moment, but if there is anything calculated to alienate them, these recent riots are it. Is anyone likely to buy the concept of Hinduism after seeing its self-styled representatives at work? If the situation gets worse, the Christians and the Muslims may close ranks and keep a low profile or even be smoked out of the country, but as for opening their minds to Hinduism, not a snowball's chance in hell. Like a bully or a dictator at work, the majority community can force compliance, but it can never win an allegiance to its values. As a Christian striving to return to roots, I cannot tell you how deeply I regret this. The Indian civilization is truly beautiful and I believe it is the saving of this planet, but who am I likely to convince now? Certainly not my fellow Christians.
Perhaps the heart of the spiritual approach as opposed to the Hindutva one is that it gives no credence to reactivity. It would militate against opposing the actions of others for it believes that one has control only over one's own actions and not that of others. Beating up, burning, killing and looting members of other communities simply has no justification in the spiritual handbook. Employing these tactics in the name of God or religion is tantamount to betraying these concepts. The votaries of Hindutva are therefore traitors to the very concept of Hinduism for the heart of its approach and the reason for its longevity is a limpid acceptance of all that is. Its fabled tolerance for differing ideas and religions is what has given it its syncretism.
The ability to accept and through that acceptance to transform situations is what distinguishes the spiritual approach from all others. We transform not by torment, torture, murder and rape, but by love, compassion and a commitment for the welfare of the other.
Is there anything even remotely approaching these qualities within the Hindutva ranks?
I believe it is we, the spiritual seekers, who are the real flag bearers of this country's ancient values and civilization. And we should make it clear that despite the presence of all the sadhus and sants (sages), the pujas and shilanyas (religious rituals), there is nothing even remotely Hindu or spiritual about the Hindutva movement. It is only about giving vent to the very worst of human tendencies, not to the best as spirituality aspires to do.
So yes, I may listen to Vedic chants, revere the Vedas, etc., but no, I am not for Hindutva.