Shri Rahul Gandhi had challenged the politics of sectarianism a few weeks ago in Jaipur and had said that this country belongs to Hindus, not to Hindutvadis. Today, the country is reverberating with his message that being a Hindu and being a Hindutvadi are two different things. Since Rahul Ji’s initiation of the challenge, the Sangh-Giroh and the Bharatiya Janata Party have lost their senses. That’s why they are trying hard to give momentum to their conspiracies to present Rahul Ji’s words in a distorted way.
The Sangh-Gang has been propagating the idea that Hindu and Hindutva are one and the same thing and Congress has no understanding of history, while, the truth is that Hindu religion and Hindutva are not the same thing. They are poles apart. Hindu is a way of life. But let’s consider it to be religion. Since ‘dharma’ is that which is imbibed, so, the lifestyle that we adopt becomes our religion. But Hindutva is a political ideology.
The term ‘Hindutva’ was first coined by ChandranathBasu in 1892. He was a scholar from Bengal and one of the contemporaries of Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay. He had studied at the Presidency College and started working in the education department later on. Thereafter, he became the Deputy Magistrate only to return to the world of education and became the Principal of Jaipur College, Kolkata. He also served in the National Library of Bengal. He wrote an important book ‘Shakuntala Tatva’ and also translated Kalidasa’s ‘Shankutalam’ into Bengali.
In 1892, Basu wrote a book titled ‘Hindutva’. This was the first time the term was used. The book explained in detail about various traditions and sects prevalent in Hindu religion from time-to-time. Later in 1923, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar wrote the book ‘Essentials of Hindutva’. There had been a difference in the concept of ‘Hindutva’ of Basu and that of Savarkar’s. Savarkar worked for bringing ‘Hindutva’ into circulation as a malicious political idea. Savarkar was the one who converted ‘Hindupan’ (Hinduism) into a staunch Hindutva.
Salman Khurshid, in his book released two months ago, had said that Hindutva was showing signs of ISIS and Boko-Haram. His view attracted an uproar from the Sangh-Crew. But Khurshid had not said anything wrong. He had just meant that the generosity, kindness and compassion of the saints and sages, from which Hindupan (Hinduism), Hindu way of life or Hindu religion got its identity, is side-lined by some forces and Hindupan (Hinduism) has been converted into such a ‘Rustami-Hindutva’ that if you weigh it on any scale of criteria you will only end up seeing the dark shadows of ISIS and Boko-Haram type tendencies popping up from it.
It usually happens that talented and scholarly people in politics fail to explain their points in detail in a language easily understood by common people. Scholars like Salman Khurshid and Mani Shankar Aiyar are highly well-intentioned, but they do not realize that their audience and readership do not share their intellectual plane of understanding where they stand and speak from. Firstly, most people do not go into the details of the things and secondly, nowadays, people do not even have enough time to lend their sincere ears to someone. And after all, it is the job of the squad of rumor-mongers, garnered by the Sangh-Parivar, to spread trivial meanings of said words and to create a mountain of a molehill.
Since Rahul Gandhi Ji did not make this mistake in his passionate speech on ‘Hindu’ and ‘Hindutvad’ in the Maharally of Jaipur and explained his point in detail, that is why he could reach people clearly and his idea of positive Hinduism is being discussed all over the country where he emphasised that if we do not differentiate between noble-meaningful Hindus and wantonly arrogant Hindutvadis, we would be doing a grave injustice to the future of India. This analysis of Rahul Ji is overflowing into the veins of India today and the Sangh-Giroh is finding extremely difficult to address the challenge posed by Rahul ji. It was Rahul Ji who brought the country and the world to this understanding that they will have to learn to differentiate between a good-hearted Hindu and a Hindutvadi who perpetuates hatred. He said that in India, there is place only for Hindus and not for wanton/lustful Hindus. His call is crystal clear that it is imperative to free ourselves from the dictatorial and oppressive government.
The difference between Hindu and Hindutva can be understood as the one that is there between a God and Godliness, a Brahman and Brahmanism, a Man and Manhood. A Catholic is Catholic because he considers Jesus to be the son of God. A Muslim believes that there is no God other than Allah and that Muhammad is the prophet of Allah. Jews follow their Torah. Parsis worship at the Fire Temple. Sikhs consider Guru Granth Sahib as the most sacred and supreme. There is no equivalent of any of these in Hindu religion. There is no mandatory condition for being a Hindu. Even believing in God is not a pre-condition to be a Hindu. There are many Hindus who are atheists but are Hindus, still.
Bhartrihari has defined what it means to be a human being in his ‘Nitishatak’. The Sangh-Gang fails to stand the test of that definition, let alone their point of being Hindus. But, most of the television anchors do not have the brains to understand what meaning the suffix ‘tva’ lends to any word. Since the media is full of utterly semi-literate but self-appointed omni-scientists, a strong foundation has to be prepared to counter the propaganda against Rahul Ji and the Congress. Congress is the largest party of the opposition and we should work on creating an infantry of thoughtful warriors.
The ideological clarity of Shri Rahul Gandhi is commendable. Smt. Priyanka Gandhi is also leaving no stone unturned in putting in her hard work and efforts. The need is that Congress must be represented in the media by such faces who are not perceived as mere enthusiastic participants in a debate competition of secondary or higher secondary schools. They should be seen as scholarly, serious and logical. Let us leave the task of unnecessarily shouting and throwing the laughable half-cooked foolish arguments to the spokes-persons of BJP, RSS and their affiliate organisations. The Congress has to secure the pedestal it deserves in the discussion forums, which it is being deliberately denied and as a result of which our young generation is perceiving propagandists of the Sangh-Syndicate as great thinkers and philosophers. We cannot emerge as victors in this ideological battle, unless we prepare to deal with this menace.
We will have to fight this issue of Hindu and Hindutvad inside-out. The hard work that Rahul Ji has invested in 17 years is unmatched, especially in the last 7-8 years, the courage with which he has fought is remarkable. When Rahul Ji had taken over as the Vice-President of the Congress party, the speech delivered on that stage of the party convention still resonates in our ears. The spirit with which he took over the reins was astonishing, but unfortunately, he did not get the support he deserved from his own people. The vested interests of many leaders to realize their personal ambitions have done a great deal of damage to the Congress organization.
We will all have to fulfil our responsibilities as allies of Rahul Ji’s willpower, candour and compassion. Rahul Ji has firmly upheld the ideals of positive and meaningful politics. Nothing can be more unfortunate to the Congress than letting his courage to go uphill and confront the unjust system wear-away. There are two types of people in Congress - One who are in the Congress Party, others in whom lives the Congress Party. I request all the tall leaders to definitely give attention to the former, but give preference only to the latter.
The concrete opposition that Rahul Gandhi ji has made against the misdoings inflicted upon our all-encompassing religion and liberal-tolerant-communal culture, is unparalleled. He has cut a new edge in the ideological struggle. He has brought into limelight the core of being Hindu which has been forming our true tradition and social values and whose greatest symbol was Mahatma Gandhi, overshadowing the communal Hindutva of the Sangh-Giroh. Rahul ji has challenged the communal elements and the perpetrators of pseudo-nationalism. This task of establishing a good, true and moral Hindu as against a cynical and evil one, is no small feat.
If you take any resolution for the new year, let it be to protect the all-encompassing, liberal and tolerant Hindu, who is protecting this multi-religious, multi-caste and multi-lingual society of ours from the oppressive Hindus sitting in power at the centre. Let this be your religion from today onwards and so do ours.
(The author is the Secretary, Department of Hindi, All-India Congress Committee)