BJP is a communal party, the only way it can win an election is by brining Hindu, Hindutva and Hinduism in its election campaign. It uses its politicians and leaders to use Hinduism and Hindutva to polarize the elections. Maybe this time they asked Rahul Gandhi to polarize the elections. And Rahul Gandhi accomplished the task brilliantly. Now everyone is talking about the philosophy of Hindus.
Rahul Gandhi asserted that Hinduism and Hindutva are different. “Why do we use the word Hinduism and why don’t we use the word Hindutva if they are the same thing? Obviously they are different things.” He further adds that “we need to understand and explore these differences, we need to build a group of people, 100-200-500 people, who deeply understand these differences and apply to different issues and actions”. Rahul Gandhi did not stop here with his questions regarding the differences between Hinduism and Hindutva, he went a step further. He went ahead and differentiated Hindu and Hindutva. As a matter of fact, I do agree with Rahul Gandhi on these points. I agree that we need to deeply understand what are differences between Hinduism and Hindutva or what being a Hindu actually means; after all we are a civilization of seekers and not believers. Seeking, exploring and asking questions are inherent idiosyncrasies of being Hindu.
Different people have different say in this case. Some believe they are one and the same thing, some believe they are two different things. What do I think? Let me first give a brief overview of what do people say for these before I talk about what I think.
Some say: Hinduism and Hindutva are not the same, they are different. हिंदुत्व (Hindutv) is a word formed by using a base word हिंदु (Hindu) and a suffix -त्व (-tva) . (-त्व) as a suffix forms abstract nouns. Abstract noun is a noun that denotes an idea, emotion, quality, an intangible concept etc. For example – नारीत्व (women + ness) – characteristics that make a women a women or प्रभुत्व (lord + ness/ship) characteristics that make something or someone as lord. Hinduism on the other hand is just a subset of Hindutva, a word used to contain certain aspects of “Sanatan Dharma” in the conventional religious template for the sake of uniformity and talking about customs, rituals and practices etc. For example – in Hindu religion or Hinduism people worship statues where as in Islam statues are not worshipped. Somebody might say, even if Hinduism is a subset of Hindutva, it is a real representation of “Sanatan Dharma” considering the religious aspects, then what’s the problem?
The problem is a word to word translation; Dharma is not the same as Religion. And when it is considered as the case, every teaching is interpreted out of context.
Let me give you a very good example to explain the difference. I found this while searching for articles written on Hinduism vs Hindutva.
Somebody wrote an article claiming Verse 193 of Quaran is not different from what Krishna taught Arjun. Both preach violence against the followers of those who believe in a different religion.
As per Verse 193:
Fight them until there is no [more] fitnah and [until] religion [i.e., worship] is [acknowledged to be] for Allah. But if they cease, then there is to be no aggression [i.e., assault] except against the oppressors.
Below is an excerpt from Bhagvad Gita and its translation in English
BG 2.33: “अथ चैत्त्वमिमं धर्म्यं संग्रामं न करिष्यसि। ततः स्वधर्मं कीर्तिं च हित्वा पापमवाप्स्यसि। (O Arjuna! If you do not fight for this religion and turn away from your religion, then you will lose your fame and glory).
Do you see the problem?
Is there a difference between what Gita says and what Quran says?
Yes, there is! And a very big and crucial one. If anyone had seen or read Mahabharat even a little, he would know Arjun was not fighting a different religion, he was fighting his own brothers i.e. the exact same religion. The usage of Dharma in Gita is in the context of virtue and righteousness. The war talked about in Gita is between right and wrong; and not between the followers of one god with the followers of another. For instance, you could understand the usage of the word Dharma as: It is our “dharma” to respect elders. If you disrespect your elders you are “adharmi“. Sanatan Dharma is not equal to Hindu Religion or Hinduism so to say. As a matter of fact, in both Ramayana and Mahabharata, the war was between right and wrong and never between the worshipers of two different gods.
Others say Hinduism is an English word and Hindutva हिंदुत्व is a Hindi word. Just because we can use English alphabets to write Hindutva, it won’t become an English word. By the way what is the difference between मुस्लमान(Musalaman) and Muslim; between Christian and ईसाई (eesaee)? If you don’t believe me, you could use a शब्दकोश or to say a Dictionary in English. Somebody can ask a genuine question, why do we have two words for the same thing? Shabdkosh and Dictionary. If they were the same thing, why two different names? Infact, If we go like this, we can also say that Rahul Gandhi is a man but he is not a Purush (पुरुष) or vice a versa; Rahul Gandhi is a Purush (पुरुष) but not a man. Does it make sense?
We could probably use Apples and Seb (सेब) in place of Apples and Oranges or maybe Oranges and Santre (संतरे). Different words!! Sounding rubbish?
So, what do I think?
I think Rahul Gandhi and his party are in a panic mode, they are gasping for air and fighting for their existence. They have found no valid issue to build an election campaign around and bring down the government and that’s why such discussions.
Modi came to power with Gujarat Model in 2014, even if you hate Modi and don’t believe it to be true, the election campaign was built around this model; Congress has been ruling Punjab for last 5 years, where is the Punjab Model? Is there a Punjab Model? The irony is that the former chief minister of Punjab quit Indian National Congress and joined hands with BJP. This is the Punjab model. So why should I vote for Congress if not for philosophical questions like idea of India and difference between Hinduism and Hindutva?
BJP rose to power in 2014 by raising issues of corruption and scams 2G, 3G, Coal G, Commonwealth and what not. However, Congress today is failing to find one instance of any such scams; although they tried to fabricate one in the name of Rafale and Rahul Gandhi ended up apologizing for that. BJP rose to power in 2014 on the issue of sky high inflation. The irony is, Rahul Gandhi by his controversial definition of Hindutva tried to divert his own party’s fake inflation event. He and his party knows inflation is half of what it was during their tenure. Petrol prices are not the only costs that contribute to inflation. You could read more about this topic here: Shameless Ravish Kumar’s Prime Time on Inflation and Petrol at 100; Is it the new normal? So, why should I vote of Congress if not for Gandhi, Godse and Savarkar?
BJP rose to power in 2014 by citing Congress’ poor track record in providing safety and security to the nation. There were a bevy of external or internal terror attacks and communal riots in various parts of India during their rule. I think Rahul by asking people “to form groups of 100, 200, 300 or 500 and try to “explain and convince” people the difference between Hinduism and Hindutva” is simply asking people to create communal tensions in the society and create circumstances leading to confrontation. And once the situation goes out of hand, they would have a reason to question the government. At least I would. Wouldn’t you? So why should I vote of Congress if not for Hindu Muslim politics?
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Wish you all a very happy and prosperous new year!!