Monday, February 11, 2008

Various Faces of Hindu Internationalists

Do you know that Hindu nationalists are not a monolith. Check out all the hues and colours of Hindu nationalism.
Media often portrays Hindu nationalists as a lunatic fringe bent on creating a theocratic state. However, there is more than what meets the eye. Hindu nationalists are not a monolith. There are different shades among them – which is usually not caught by the lens of the media that is so much obsessed with the west.

Hindu nationalism is chiefly an intellectual movement that aims at removing the vestiges of colonialism, Islam, Communism and Christianity from the Hindu mind. The mission intent of conservative Hindu nationalists is to establish Hindu Rashtra. However, in the age of globalisation, most of the Hindus believe in nothing short of a Hindu world. This, many believe, is possible through an assertive international Hindu lobby. Hindu internationalism--an extension of Hindu nationalism -- is an ideology that is catching on.

Different Shades: Over the years, Hindu nationalists have branched into several hues and shades. They have also been influenced by the ideologies of their adversaries besides having their own indigenous ideals. The Hindu nationalists who are influenced by their adversaries in an attempt to overcome them can be broadly framed into four categories (1) Jehadi Hindu nationalists (2) Left Hindu nationalists (3) Evangelical Hindu nationalists (4) Corporate Hindu nationalists.

(1) Jehadi Hindu nationalists: They are those who are influenced by Islam and insist that the Muslims be paid back in their own jehadi coin.

The best known among this school of thought is Sadhvi Ritambara. There are several others who endorse this school of thought but are unwilling to come out in the open for the fear of being branded as fundamentalist. On the question of Indian Muslims, the fiery Sadhvi had remarked in one of her speeches that Indian Muslims have only two places left for them – Pakistan or Qabristan (Pakistan or the graveyard). She further quoted the Koran to say that the holy book directs the true Muslims to wage an all-out war against the Kafirs and that Hindus have no choice but to retaliate in the same manner and even more effectively. The logic is that Hindus should also turn jehadi to counter Islamic jehad. Her words have translated into reality. The normally docile Gujarati Hindus turned Islamic in response to the burning down of the S-6 Sabaramati Express train in Godhra by Muslim extremists.

This is what Rajeev Srinivasan, a columnist from had to say: Let us remember what happened: A group of 59 Hindu pilgrims returning from Ayodhya, mostly women and children, were burned alive in a railway coach when the train was stopped in a Mohammedan area. Commonsense suggests, given that a large crowd of Mohammedans had gathered at 7 am in an area that had seen widespread infiltration by extremists, that there was some malice aforethought and it is likely that the Mohammedans in fact set the train on fire. Nobody else had the motive or the means. Torching 59 women and children, most sane people would concede is extreme provocation. Consider what the Americans did hen there was similar grave provocation against them, and 3,000 of them were killed on 9/11. I said then that they didn’t riot because they knew the State would take revenge for them (unlike in India). The American military invaded Iraq, and have killed some 500,000 Mohammedans so far, in addition to destroying large parts of Iraq. This, in addition to the estimated 500,000 Iraqi children – an entire generation – killed, because of punishing American embargos. The kill ratio: 500,000 to 3,000 – Sevneteen to one.”

At the ground level, there are numerous Hindu activists who claim that they are tired of pacifist methods adopted by Hindu leaders and it is high time that the Hindus turned Islamic in response. However, the mainstream Hindu nationalists, especially leaders do not endorse this line.

(2) Left Hindu nationalists: They are those who are influenced by the left, have leftist traits in them like atheism, activism, revolution and fighting fro the underdogs. However they also happen to espouse the cause of Hindu Rashtra.

To a certain extent, Veer Savarkar falls in this category. He was an atheist and advocated revolutionary changes in Hindu society like making it casteless and non-vegetarian. Most of the time he was the underdog as he had to contend with the mighty British empire first and the massive Congress party later. Most of his suggestions were so radical that it was unacceptable to the normally conservative Hindu society at large. The Hindu Mahasabha (the party that he led) had received a major blow during his time as Shyama Prasad Mookherjee had resigned following assertions that Savarkar’s Hindutva was out of touch with Hindu society, which allows only for gradual changes.

Another Hindu nationalist who can be framed into this category was BMS leader Dattopant Thengadi. He spent time with Communist trade unions to study their pattern. He later conceived Bharathiya Mazdoor Sangh – which became the world’s largest trade union – beating the Communists at their own game. However, he continued his tirade against globalisation even when the NDA was in power – which many believed was the result of his long association with the left school of thought.

(3) Evangelical Hindu nationalists: They are those who favour the spread of Hinduism through service and pacifist methods. There are many Hindu missionaries who have emulated the Christian model, though not with as much ferocity and success. Srila Prabhupad of ISKCON, Mahesh Yogi, Sri Sri Ravishankar are popular while the most popular tele-evangelist today happens to be Baba Ramdev. The only son of God theory holds good as most of these Gurus have a messiah mentality and their organizations have the trapping of cults.

(4) Corporate Hindu nationalists: They are those who favour the corporate mode of development. They are supporters of globalisation and also happen to be supporters of the Hindu cause. Most of the second generation BJP leaders today, including Narendra Modi, Arun Jaitley and Arun Shourie fall in this category. However, this school of thought does not find much favour with the mainstream Hindu nationalists, though they are considered indispensable. The Hindus are equally suspicious of US intentions. The saffron idealogue S Gurumurthy – in his column- had claimed that the Federal Reserve – which prints the US dollars – was an enigma wrapped in mystery. His contention was that a clique which the world hardly knows is manipulating the global economy and the Federal Reserve – which is accused of overprinting the US dollar – now needs a global watch. After all, the US economy is now hit by recession.

The Original Hindu nationalists: It must be mentioned that all the above-mentioned categories are largely a reaction and a way of counteracting the ill-effects of the alien ideologies. The original Hindu Nationalists are very much tuned to the spiritual culture of Bharatvarsh and are in no way affected by either Islam or Christianity, or Marx and Macualay. The original Hindu nationalists are indigenous

Indigenous Hindu nationalists: They are the ones who advocate the return to the roots. Organic farming, natural lifestyle, yogic discipline, holistic living, decentralization, rural reforms and eco-sensitivity are high on their agenda. They are the Hindu nationalists at their pristine best. However, the only problem is to translate their vision into reality, given the high degree of urbanization, pollution and corporatisation during the day. Most of the Hindu nationalists of yore belong to this category. The best known among them was M S Golwalkar, better known as Guruji in nationalist circles. He was more interested in matters spiritual until his Guru directed him to go back to where he belonged.

Not a monolith: Besides Hindu nationalists are not a monolith as suggested by a section of the media. There are several instances of differences. Savarkar – the founding father of modern Hindu nationalism – had little faith in RSS. Ashok Singhal of the VHP and L K Advani of the BJP had differences on the issue of Ram Temple. More famous is the spat between Dattopant Thengadi and A B Vajpayee on issues of globalisation. There were differences of opinions on the positioning of the Hindu ideology between Sitaram Goel – the founder of Voice of India – and H V Sheshadri – the RSS idealogue. VHP’s Pravin Togadia had accused Narendra Modi of not doing enough for the Hindu society.


Anonymous said...


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-- Om Shanti --

sapient said...

Pretty interesting blog Deepak...

Given the nature of Hinduism, I am skeptical if it is possible to have Jehadi Hindu nationalists. Whatever happened in Gujarat reflects the normal herd mentality. People in slum killing other people in other slums after being misguided by politicians. It's happening in India for ages. Don't you think so?

Hindu nationalism itself seems impossible to me as it is hard to define are either Brahman or yadav or bania or punjabi or gujarati to name a few and hindu later :)

Anyway Congratulations for the new blog. Keep writing. Its good to read people who write with an open mind without defined dogmas. :)

Anonymous said...

Good write up. Good that you have brought out different faces of hindutva. Do this RSS people also fall under evangelical hindutva? what do you feel about it? or they are jehadi hindus?

Deepak Kamat said...

Those in the RSS are a mix. There is nothing called as a RSS mind. RSS only believes in organising Hindu society.

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Deepak Kamat said...


Since this work of mine is not commercial, I would say that anybody is free to pick up anything that I have written. I would be happy that if my "book" will be read far and wide. Even you (or for that matter anybody) can copy anything on this blog and use it for your site. Of course, if you are interested, you may go ahead and register the domain name. THe rest will be taken care of as time goes. I am only 33-year old. I still have a long innings in the movement.

Right now I am busy more in intellectual pursuits. However, you may initiate any action as you deem fit in your wisdom. I will download the entire book on the web as and when I a finish it.