Saturday, August 29, 2009

BJP's Hindutva

Dilip D'Souza has sparked a discussion on his blog on the subject of Hindutva. He asked what exactly does BJP's Hindutva ideology mean: what are its core tenets? Many people, including myself, partook in the discussion.

I was of the opinion that BJP's ideology is essentially one about what Muslims and Christians should or should no do. It has precious little to offer to a Hindus per se wanting to understand his or her culture better. Of course, there were others who felt BJP had somehow lent pride to Hindus. Most posts in this context were aggressive, but one by a certain Chandru K seemed more sincere.

Here is what he says:

On Hindutva: "It's more in identifying with 5000 years of Indian civilisation, in embracing that as one's own. Which means feeling easy referring to Kalidasa, Aryabhata, the Mahabharata, the Vedas, Khajuraho, Sushruta and Charaka, Vikramaditya and Rajendra Chola, Vijayanagar and many more. Moslems, barring exceptions like Kalam, have enormous difficulty identifying with all this; Christians also have difficulty making Hindu/ancient Indian references. This matter goes to the heart of Indian spiritual unity."

But, what I am wondering is does BJP want Muslims to engage with our symbolisms or just pay homage to them? Because with engagement comes questioning, debating, playing with the ideas and taking them further. Are we mature enough to be able to stand up to such questioning and debate without reducing to childish abuse and threats?

When MF Husain tried to engage with our Hindu symbolism - and he was genuinely celebrating Hindu godesses through his art - why were we so enraged? After all, we are not enraged by Khajuraho that celebrates sensuality on temple walls? Or much of our literature, which is highly sensual in its descriptions of our gods and goddesses?

What about Kalidasa and his most famous work, Shakuntalam. Suppose a Muslim scholar decides to study it and write a thesis on the depiction of women in Sanskrit poetry. It may or may not be all laudatory. Will BJP be mature in debating it then? My guess is BJP will:

a) show no interest in trying to understand what his argument is (the way they are treating poor Jaswant Singh);

b) nevertheless, shower him with abuse, threats, and physical violence if they can help it for daring to question a great work of Hindu art.

BJP doesn't want any genuine engagement on the part of non-Hindus with our religion and culture. It simply wants absolute surrender. And my real pique is that it doesn't mind using physical violence to get it.

Dilip D'Souza's blog: Death Ends Fun


Girish Shahane said...

You put forward really good arguments in response to comments on Dilip's blog, but the counter-arguments probably made you see how futile it is to discuss this stuff with Hindutvavadis. They begin by saying, "I'm no supporter of the BJP, but..."; then go on to make silly statements against Muslims and Christians. They stubbornly refuse to answer specific questions you raise, and instead charge you with changing the subject.
I've entirely given up engaging these dolts.

globalbabble said...


Yes. I agree. Which is why I kept hovering on the "publish your comment" for nearly five minutes before my last comment. I guess I am still learning :-)

globalbabble said...

Hi Girish,

I also feel that most people do not want to identify with the violent side of BJP. Hence the "I am no supporter of BJP..." refrain. But they somehow feel that Hindus should be respected more - that they should first among equals.

The problem is that the only way you can get more than your share - and hence be first among equals - is by resorting to violent tactics.