Hindu Fundamentalism What It Is – Dr SS Mantha
There seems to be an itch for a debate on Hinduism and Hindutva with various rulers stoking the embers in a way that can only be described as inflammatory. Certainly this is a very sensitive subject for most Hindus in India and in the rest of the world. With a very senior leader comparing Hindutva to ISIS and Boko Haram, the die is indeed cast. Several other scholars and informed as well, have joined in the recent past in comparing it to hooliganism. Let’s explore what the truth is then.
Hinduism is the oldest “religion” in the world with roots and customs dating back over 5,000 years. There are over a billion followers of which 95% live in India. For all, Hinduism is the “Dharma” or a way of life which defines the true purpose of a person in this life.
Hindus believe that the truth is eternal, that ‘Brahman’ is this truth, that the Vedas are the ultimate authority, that everyone should strive to attain dharma, that individual souls are immortal and that the goal of the individual soul is moksha or liberation. The idea of a soul in every living being, which is also part of the supreme soul, paves the way for a virtuous life.
There are three ways of Hinduism that are practiced. “karma-marga”, “jnana-marga” and “bhakti-marga”. In Hindu religious life, one can even be a member of more than one tradition at a time. Isn’t Jain a Hindu? Are not the Nepalese both Hindus and Buddhists? Is Hinduism then a religion in the strictest sense of the definitions? By the way, Religion, a western term, was first used by the British during census operations in 1871, as they believed that a human being can only subscribe to one thought in life. This effectively killed a true Hindu virtuosity with multiple identities.
Hindus strive to attain the four “Purusharthas” necessary to lead a morally and ethically correct life such as dharma, kama, artha and moksha. Throughout their life, Hindus try to end the cycle of “samsara” and behave in such a way as to provide good “karma” or good deeds in this life so that the next will be even better. Such an explanation of Hinduism must emphasize internal strength and endless internal energy. In a broader sense, are they not the core values for anyone who practices another religion or even for someone who does not?
That the contemporary world regards Hinduism as a religion is a poor understanding. It is much more than a religion. It is beyond the definitions of any theology that exists.
What then is Hindutva? For me, it is the practice of Hinduism. It is living in Hinduism. It is part of Hinduism. It defines the culture of Hinduism. In this sense, every Hindu is part of Hindutva. Or everyone who shares a culture of Hinduism is a Hindu. For me, religion will divide. Culture will unite. As long as I practice the principles or virtues of Hinduism, I am a part of Hindutva. Are Hinduism and Hindutva then inseparable? The debate will go on for eternity, I’m sure. Whether Hindutva is used as a political ideology or as a political tool may not be ethical. But is it bad in law?
People, regardless of their religion, tend to go beyond so-called social norms due to ignorance or arrogance, and then societal structures and / or religious boundaries will strive to push them back. in the folds of normative behavior. This happens either in temples, or in mosques, or in churches or other mansions that people themselves have created for the gods. The gods are only manifestations of our fears or our confidence. If political parties use these proposals, what about?
That people have come to attribute negativity to Hindutva as a political philosophy is unfortunate. What people need to understand is that Hindutva defines and qualifies the practice of Dharma embedded in Hinduism. He does not build machismo around Hinduism. If Hindutva is interpreted as Hindu nationalism, what about? Anyway, Hindus live and die according to the “dharma” defined by Hinduism.
It is quite derogatory to separate Hindutva from Hinduism by viewing it as analogous to the relationship between Christianity and Christian fundamentalism or Islam and Islamic fundamentalism. What is the difference?
While Hinduism is a plural tradition, Christianity or Islam have well-defined universal formulations of belief. While the formulations of beliefs in Christianity focus on the unique Christian identity of God as presented in the scriptures, the principles of Islam are based on the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad. Hinduism recognizes “trayastrimsati koti” or 33 million gods and that all of them merge into one truth, “Brahman”. Unlike Hinduism, there are authoritative codifications of beliefs or opinions, formulated statements of major articles of Christian beliefs or Islamic beliefs. Hindoutva includes only Hinduism in its beliefs while Hinduism advocates the path of “karma”, “renunciation” and “moksha”
Hinduism preaches tolerance. It is a civic and religious virtue for every Hindu. Didn’t Hinduism coexist with many others like Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam? Probably, the religious principles of Hinduism were too thin in religious content compared to other beliefs. How then can Hindu fundamentalism exist?
While the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or ISIL, or known as the Islamic State and Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, ISIS also known as Daesh is a militant Sunni Islamist group Following a Salafist jihadist doctrine, Boko Haram is a people’s group of the Sunnah for Preaching Jihad and a classified terrorist organization based in northeast Nigeria, which is now part of the Islamic State. The avowed goal of the Islamic State’s caliphate, it claimed religious, political and military authority over all Muslims around the world. How can there be a comparison with the Hindutva, whose roots are in Hinduism?
The dictionary mentions hooliganism as violent or rowdy behavior by young troublemakers, usually in a gang like the one seen among the crowds coming to watch football matches. What does this have to do with a faith, ideology, religious practice, or religion? It can happen in any group of people. How then do we try to identify with the Hindutva? Are not such epithets malicious?
Of course, modern India is built by all of its citizens, and its future belongs to each of them. But then, does Hinduism or Hindutva take away the rights conferred by the constitution on one of its citizens? Doesn’t Hinduism offer secular references in its definition? Does it impose itself on other religions? Even Hindutva as understood by its detractors does not take away these rights. Isn’t secularism a separation of Church and State? So what are we talking about?
India, to be sure, over the past 600 years has been ravaged by foreign rulers. Ideologies and practices have undergone major changes. Hinduism, Hindutva and therefore Hindu identity have taken a hit. Does a resurgence make them terrorists like ISIS or Boko Haram? It is absurd and misleading.
Yes, there could be a debate about Muslim Pakistan and a Hindu India and why ancient Hindu India was divided. There can also be a debate between a theocratic Pakistan and a secular India. It is up to the intellectuals of the two nations to explain it. However, that in itself cannot deny the fact that both are ruled by their own ideologies. As generations change with their thinking and thought processes, why can’t ideologies change? Even Hindutva has undergone several changes over the hundreds of years. On the contrary, he avoided several practices rooted in the culture. How then can we qualify her as a fundamentalist?
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