Veer Savarkar, Hinduism, Hindutva and the ‘liberal’ strawman arguments
--- Consider reading the article Veer Savarkar, Hinduism, Hindutva and the ‘liberal’ strawman arguments on OpIndia website ---
Strawman- An Argument, claim or opponent that is invented in order to win or create an argument- defines Cambridge. It also defines Strawman alternatively as someone, often an imaginary person, who is used to hide illegal or secret activity.
This Strawman argument refers to the creation of a fake and fraudulent image of the opposition in order to attack it. This is used by lazy debaters who have neither the truth nor tenacity (to debate) on their side. What they do is they stretch the opponent to one extreme and thereby create an evil out of something they personally hate and then attack it. American Journalist James Lileks referred to this as he wrote – When your opponent sets up a strawman, set it on fire and kick the cinders around the stage.
Once you read this, understand the concept, you realise what Rahul Gandhi is doing by dragging Hinduism and Hindutva debate into the political equation. The strawman here is a Hindu who is violent, angry, almost Taliban-esque in the propensity to indulge in terror activities. If one looks at Rahul Gandhi’s tweets on Social Media and puts it in perspective, one realises that Rahul Gandhi is least concerned about the upcoming elections in UP, Punjab and Goa. When he claims that his fight is ideological, one needs to take him seriously. His object is to attack the Hindu faith, whether you call it Hinduism or Hindutva. This is an effort that started with Nehru, who still went around proudly calling himself Panditji as a Hindu. Two-generation later, son to a Parsi father and Catholic Christian mother, Rahul Gandhi has become a self-appointed Hindu pope, who has meticulously worked to create a strawman image of Hindu, in order to convince everyone to hate him and attack her.
Rahul Gandhi’s Hindu is an extremist. And why? Because Common Strawman is an extreme man. You need to create a strawman as an extreme man because Extreme positions are more difficult to defend since they leave little room to manoeuvre around. Savarkar is the representative of this Hindutva man, not the real Savarkar, but the Savarkar around whom a whole industry was created to make an extremist personality which will not be acceptable to any Hindu who, by nature, being the follower of a non-military religion, is tolerant and moderate.
In order to attack the Hindu faith, Savarkar is needed, an angry Savarkar. So an extremist strawman is created who can easily be defeated because his position, which is not exactly his position, rather the one thrust upon him, becomes indefensible on account of irrationality and inflexibility. Partition of India is still a scar on anyone nationalist at heart. So, Savarkar, the Strawman, is blamed to be the proponent of Two Nation Theory. This theory has gone on for way too long. It now appears to be the truth.
Not many know that the Two-Nation theory was propounded by Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, the founder of AMU and a great friend of the British, in 1878 when Savarkar was still a toddler. How this theory evolved from Sir Syed to Mohammad Iqbal to Rahmat Ali to Jinnah is a story for another day? The attack of Rahul Gandhi is beyond politics, it is about ideology. His attack is not on BJP or RSS. Nor is Savarkar his target.
His target is the Hindu faith which he for some reason hates. We do not know if it is because he is raised that way, or because as a Non-Hindu he hates that he has to enact the part every election. Even when Akhilesh Yadav makes nonsensical poll promises, it is based on a premise to win the election. When Rahul Gandhi uses the state machinery in a state his party rules to call a rally to protest against Inflation and ends up teaching people about Hinduism and Hindutva, wrongly quoting Savarkar, we know this man has no interest in winning the election. His objective is to destroy the Hindu faith.
Since he quotes Savarkar to define Hindutva as a vengeful and violent faith, which he says and I quote – wants to beat Dalits and Sikhs (for some reason he pronounces Sikhs as Seekhs as in Seekh Kabab, possibly from some images of 1984 that his father created); let us examine what Savarkar wrote. First, let us settle that Savarkar was not the first person to coin the term Hindutva. The term first gained public attention when a writer from Bengal, Radha Kumud Mookerjee first published a book named Hindutva in 1892.
Savarkar wrote about Hindutva in 1922. Savarkar was arrested at the age of Twenty Eight in 1910 and was incarcerated in the dreaded Cellular prison till 1921 when he was moved to Ratnagiri Prison. It was here that he wrote his book Essentials of Hindutva. As most of the work of Savarkar has been removed from public spaces, this book is oft-quoted and mostly misquoted to create the myth of violent Hindutva, blaming Savarkar and the Hindu faith for a fictional fanaticism.
The Rahul Gandhi cult claims that Savarkar said Hinduism and Hindutva are two different things. This is true. Savarkar did say that the two are not the same. But then this Congress Cult proceeds to claim that Hinduism and Hindutva are not connected and linked. This is where they lie. Savarkar in his book says – Hinduism is only a derivative, a fraction, a part of Hindutva. The point which Savarkar seems to be struggling to make here is that Hinduism is an ism, like Leninism and Marxism, philosophy of faith. Hindutva, on the other hand, is the way people of this land live, it is their entire existence, their ethos. They two are different but are not alien and disconnected from one other as the detractors claim.
Savarkar’s Hindutva is a nationalistic ethos. It carries a cultural fervour, beyond religious or communal dogma. This is very critical and pertinent for Hindus even as an internal principle as the Hindu faith itself is not unidimensional, one-book faith. Hindutva has the scope to grow, expand and include a multi-dimensional society within its fold. Savarkar says Hinduness as a term is closer to the idea of Hindutva than Hinduism. Savarkar quotes the shloka from Vishnu Purana which defined the land between the Himalayas and the Seas as Bharat and the decedents of Bharat as one nation to come close to his definition of Hindutva.
Savarkar dwells into the history of the term Hindu quoting from Chan Bardai to Bhushan to Smarth Guru Ramdas, the revered saint and Guru of Chhatrapati Shivaji. Savarkar’s definition of Hindu is an all-encompassing definition of nationalism when he writes – A Hindu is he who feels an attachment to the land that extends from Sindhu to Sindu (Sindhu River to the Oceans), as the land of his forefathers- as his Fatherland. Contrary to the claims of Rahul Gandhi that Savarkar’s Hindutva was against the Sikhs, Savarkar throughout the writing labours hard to bring home the point that Sikhs and Hindus belong to the same stalk when he writes that while the religion of the majority of Hindus can be called Sanatan Dharma, the religion of remaining Hindus will continue to be denoted by their respective names Sikh Dharma or Arya Dharma or Jain Dharma or Buddha Dharma.
And this is not a binding weight on the independent beliefs, it is accommodative of it. Savarkar writes that Let the Sikhs are classed as Sikhs religiously but as Hindus racially and culturally. This kind of oneness will not appeal to those whose entire politics rest of dividing the society and the nation at large. He then turns to non-indigenous religion and acknowledges that most of the Indian Christians and Muslims come from the same parentage, and says – Ye, who by race, by blood, by culture, by nationality possess almost all the essential of Hindutva and had been forcibly snatched out of our ancestral home by the hand of violence- ye only have to render wholehearted love to our common mother and recognise her not only as fatherland but even as a Holy land, and ye would be most welcome to the Hindu fold.’
And a unifying figure and nationalist to a fault, Savarkar further writes- This is a choice which our countrymen and our kith and kin, the Bohras, Khojas, Memons and other Mohammedan and Christian communities are free to make- a choice again which must be a choice of love. Savarkar’s Hindutva is not isolationist, it is all-embracing when he writes- Let our minorities remember that if strength lies in the union, then in Hindutva lies the firmest and yet the dearest bond that can affect a real, lasting and powerful union of our people.
Now, this is a Savarkar that Rahul Gandhi and his Cult will not want you to know. Their politics started with the acceptance of the Two-Nation theory and proceeded to Hindus versus Sikhs, Hindus versus Buddhists and now Hindus versus Hindutvavadis. We must read more, understand more and know more to find real heroes and keep working towards a united nation. Those who want to break the nation in the name of identity politics must be shunned and not given an inch in national politics. They hate Hindutva because to them Hindutva represents an ancient all uniting cultural One-ness of India which transcends communal divisions. That is the reason that this Strawman must be dissected, understood and then thrown away.