My idea of Hindutva is from what I have seen in my friends associated with RSS, VHP, etc. And that is: “Hindutva” is merely the Hindi/Sanskrit word for “Indianness”. It is just an umbrella word for everything that is “uniquely Indian and good” – our festivals, cuisine, music, dance, drama, literature, architecture, sculpture, dress, customs, religions, philosophies, etc.

The question remains on what should be the stance of people who want to follow a different culture. For example, we wear Western clothes, hear Western music, eat Western food, etc. When asked, the answer I got was that we need to be open to all cultures, without giving up our own. As long as our cultural elements are dominant in our life and the others are taken up to know and experience them as additions to our life, it is fine. As the famous Hindi movie song says: “Fir bhi dil hai Hindustani”.

Things become controversial when priests of other religions wear the clothes similar to those worn by Medieval people in the middle-east. The music and rituals are of Medieval Europe, the buildings are Gothic, etc. There have been attempt by people of those religions to follow Indian cultural elements and that too got opposition as trying to dupe the local people into conversion.

An interesting analogy to understand this complex cultural phenomenon is to relate local culture as Masala Dosa and the incoming alien culture as Pizza. Now, we can discuss at length what should be role of Masala Dosa and Pizza in our daily life, what should be supported, what should be protected, what should be given special privileges, etc. etc. and then replace the words.

The bottom line is this: There are several cultures and countries to protect and nurture other cultures. The people and institutions in this land have the special duty to protect and nurture the culture that is unique to this land. This is what is called Hindutva. It goes without saying that this has to be done in a manner that is non-violent, more so because non-violence itself is one of the specialties of the Indian culture.

The position of Mahatma Gandhi is significant and exemplary here: “I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all the lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any.”  This is exactly the philosophy of Hindutva.


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One Response to Hindutva

  1. Viswanathan SV says:

    The trouble is that Hindutva and Hinduism are treated synonymously. Therefore, the present write-up, in my opinion, is a misfit in the columns of “Practical Philosophy and Rational Religion” .

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