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Published in the 1-15 Aug 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Advani’s Hindutva and ‘Saanskritic Rashtrawad’

By Mahesh Dave

On 13th May 2004 Lok Sabha election results were announced. BJP’s ‘Vichaar-purush’ and ‘Loh-purush’ Advani kept mum for fifteen days. He broke his silence on 28th May - Baar varase baavo bolyo (The saint’s silence ended after 12 years). The navneet (butter) which came out of Advani’s vichaar-manthan (thought-churning) is something like this: "There was no appeal of election slogans like ‘Bhaarat Uday’(India Shining)”

Why? Are words like ‘We are happy’ and ‘India is on top of prosperity’ not appealing? Why Advani felt they were unappealing?

In fact, what Advaniji wanted to convey was that those slogans were not exciting enough, because in the next breath, he said that BJP had not given up the goals of Hindutva and Saanskritik Rashtravad (Cultural Nationalism). Of course, the aims are highly inciting. The majority community can be excited for mandir (temple) in the name of Hindutva. In the name of Saanskritik Rasshtravad, secularism (in their words, ‘pseudo-secularism’) is being abused. Advani’s words give a signal that now BJP intends to rely on such exciting and inciting slogans. Cultural nationalism means, in the opinion of BJP, that a person of foreign origin should not be considered a citizen of India. In the opinion of BJP, Muslims and Christians too must be of foreign origin, because, their ancestors came here from other countries.

What then does Hindutva and Saanskritik Raashtravad mean? Advani had once said that a Muslim, Chirstian, or a Sikh in Bharat (India) is also a Hindu. If it is so then why they allow communal riots, and try to annihilate Muslims through massacres? Why legislation against conversions if a person becomes a Christian on the call of his conscience? Why there was anti-Hindu feeling among Sikhs against Hindu superiority and massacre of Sikhs by Hindus in 1984? For the BJP and the Sangh Parivar the meaning of Hindutva is very narrow. Hindutva means supremacy of Ved Dharma (Vedic religion) and its sects. Bharat Desh (India) is only for such Hindu sampradays (communities). But those who came and settled in India later or those who believe in other religions, despite being Indian citizens, their citizenship is considered of a lower rank. They must depend on the mercy of Hindus.

Saanskritik Raashtravad means to live according to Hindu sanskaar (culture). In the opinion of Sangh Parivar, Hindu Sanskar means ancient Hindu parampara (traditions), and to believe that Sanskrit is the language of Devs (gods), living and behaving as per Sanskrit Shaastras (scriptures), maintain the Varnashram Dharma (division of mankind into four categories according to works assigned to them), believe that ancient India had all kinds of knowledge including sciences, learn Jyotish Shastra (astrology) and sectarian laws and rules. Indian history to them means the history of the shoorveers (brave heroes), believing in violence and to write and teach history that the Hindu heroes’ defeat was due to fraud of the Yavans and Malechhas.

It is from this thought of Hindutva and Saanskritik Raashtravad that indecent ideas flowed like "Miyan,” "Italian Kutiya," "Christian Election Commissioner," "Ham paanch-Hamaare Pachees," "Jarsi gaay (cow)-Jarsi Wachhera (calf)," "Kulnashak-Deshnaashak pardeshi naari, gaandhaari" (if a foreign origin person becomes prime minister, it means widowhood)...

Advaniji should realise that such thoughts of Hindutva and Saanskritik Raashtravad contributed significantly to the defeat of NDA. A Muslim gives green signal to ‘Bharat Yatra,’ separate conventions are called of some Muslims wearing of green turbans, prevailing upon Imam Bukhari to issue appeals and Muslims being lured by job promises. All these tactics could not fool the minority community. They have well realised that "Vajpayee to mohra hai, Modi asli chehra hai" (Vajpayee is only a symbol, the true face is Modi). That is why NDA lost in the areas where Muslim votes were decisive. Not only this, even BJP’s Muslim candidates like Arif Mohammad and Shahnawaz lost in Muslim majority areas because they were assoicated with BJP! The BJP also lost because of praising the awkward face of Hindutva seen in Gujarat. 

The true nationalism has been shown in Ravindranath Tagore’s famous novel Gora in a subtle manner. Gaur Mohan Gora is brought up as an inert, traditionalist Hindu child. He is a staunch opponent of other sects and religions. Not only this, he is deadly against even Brahmo Samaj. But at the end he comes to know that he is not a Hindu but an offspring of an Irish couple. Gora comes to conclusion: ‘Today I am Indian, now there is no prejudice in my heart towards Hindus, Muslims and Christian. All the Indian communities are my community. I eat what they eat. Now Gora mixes up with all other Indians…"

Tagore explains how Bharat came into being. A great pot accommodating all other smaller pots. When the Sangh Parivar realises this truth then nationalism would not require any adjectives like Hindutva and Saanskrtik Raashtrawad. 

This article appeared in Gujarat Today on 6 June 2004. It was transtated by S Akhtar Patel for MG.

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