Hinduism and politics

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Politics is the work of the Kshatriya and it is the virtues of the Kshatriya we must develop if we are to be morally fit for freedom. - Sri Aurobindo
I say no longer that nationalism is a creed, a religion, a faith; I say that it is the Sanatan Dharma which for us is nationalism. This Hindu nation was born with the Sanatan Dharma, with it it moves and with it it grows. When the Sanatan Dharma declines, then the nation declines, and if the Sanatan Dharma were capable of perishing, with the Sanatan Dharma it would perish. The Sanatan Dharma, that is nationalism. - Sri Aurobindo

Hindu nationalism has been collectively referred to as the expression of social and political thought, based on the native spiritual and cultural traditions of the Indian subcontinent.


Quotes about Hindu politics[edit]

  • There was not the idea of 'interest' in India as in Europe, i.e., each community was not fighting for its own interest; but there was the idea of Dharma, the function which the individual and the community has to fulfil in the larger national life. There were caste organizations not based upon a religio-social basis as we find nowadays; they were more or less guilds, groups organized for a communal life. There were also religious communities like the Buddhists, the Jains, etc. Each followed its own law'Swadharma'unhampered by the State. The State recognized the necessity of allowing such various forms of life to develop freely in order to give to the national spirit a richer expression.... Then over the two there was the central authority, whose function was not so much to legislate as to harmonize and see that everything was going on all right. It was generally administered by a Raja; in cases it was also an elected head of the clan, as in the instance of Gautama Buddha's father. Each ruled over either a small State or a group of small States or republics. The king was not a law-maker and he was not at the head to put his hand over all organizations and keep them down. If he interfered with them he was deposed because each of these organizations had its own laws which had been established for long ages.... The machinery of the State also was not so mechanical as in the West... it was plastic and elastic....
    This organization we find in history perfected in the reign of Chandragupta and the Maurya dynasty. The period preceding this must have been a period of great political development in India. Every department of national life, we can see, was in the charge of a board or a committee with a minister at the head, and each board looked after what we now would call its own department and was left free from undue interference of the central authority. The change of kings left these boards untouched and unaffected in their work. An organization similar to that was found in every town and village and it was this organization that was taken up by the Mahomedans when they came to India. It is that which the English also have taken up. The idea of the King as the absolute monarch was never an Indian idea. It was brought from Central Asia by the Mahomedans.... The English in accepting this system have disfigured it considerably. They have found ways to put their hand on and grasp all the old organizations, using them merely as channels to establish more thoroughly the authority of the central power. They discouraged every free organization and every attempt at the manifestation of the free life of the community. Now attempts are being made to have the cooperative societies in villages, there is an effort at reviving the Panchayats. But these organizations cannot be revived once they have been crushed; and even if they revived they would not be the same.... If the old organization had lasted it would have been a successful rival of the modern form of government.... You need not come back to the old forms, but you can retain the spirit which might create its own new forms.... It has been a special feature of India that she has to contain in her life all the most diverse elements and assimilate them. This renders her problem most intricate.... The 'nation idea' India never had. By that I mean the political idea of the nation. It is a modern growth. But we had in India the cultural and spiritual idea of the nation...
    • Sri Aurobindo, June 29, 1926, quoted from Sri Aurobindo, ., Nahar, S., Aurobindo, ., & Institut de recherches évolutives (Paris). India's rebirth: A selection from Sri Aurobindo's writing, talks and speeches. Paris: Institut de Recherches Evolutives. 3rd Edition (2000). [1]
  • I do not regard business as something evil or tainted, any more than it is so regarded in ancient spiritual India.... All depends on the spirit in which a thing is done, the principles on which it is built and the use to which it is turned. I have done politics and the most violent kind of revolutionary politics, ghoram karma, and I have supported war and sent men to it, even though politics is not always or often a very clean occupation nor can war be called a spiritual line of action. But Krishna calls upon Arjuna to carry on war of the most terrible kind and by his example encourage men to do every kind of human work, sarvakarmani. Do you contend that Krishna was an unspiritual man and that his advice to Arjuna was mistaken or wrong in principle?... I do not regard the ascetic way of living as indispensable to spiritual perfection or as identical with it. There is the way of spiritual self-mastery and the way of spiritual self-giving and surrender to the Divine, abandoning ego and desire even in the midst of action or of any kind of work or all kinds of work demanded from us by the Divine.... The Indian scriptures and Indian tradition, in the Mahabharata and elsewhere, make room both for the spirituality of the renunciation of life and for the spiritual life of action. One cannot say that one only is the Indian tradition and that the acceptance of life and works of all kinds, sarvakarmani, is un-Indian, European or western and unspiritual.
    • Sri Aurobindo, Mid-1940s(From a letter.), quoted from Sri Aurobindo, ., Nahar, S., Aurobindo, ., & Institut de recherches évolutives (Paris). India's rebirth: A selection from Sri Aurobindo's writing, talks and speeches. Paris: Institut de Recherches Evolutives. 3rd Edition (2000). [2]
  • Politics is the work of the Kshatriya and it is the virtues of the Kshatriya we must develop if we are to be morally fit for freedom.
    • Sri Aurobindo, Bande Mataram, 1907, quoted from Sri Aurobindo, ., Nahar, S., Aurobindo, ., & Institut de recherches évolutives (Paris). India's rebirth: A selection from Sri Aurobindo's writing, talks and speeches. Paris: Institut de Recherches Evolutives. 3rd Edition (2000). [3]
  • “At most periods of her history India, though a cultural unit, has been torn by internecine war. In statecraft, her rulers were cunning and unscrupulous. Famine, flood and plague visited her from time to time, and killed millions of her people. Inequality of birth was given religious sanction, and the lot of the humble was generally hard. Yet our overall impression is that in no other part of the ancient world were the relations of man and man, and of man and the state, so fair and humane. In no other early civilisation were slaves so few in number, and in no other ancient lawbook are their rights so well protected as in the Arthasastra. No other ancient lawgiver proclaimed such noble ideals of fair play in battle as did Manu. In all her history of warfare Hindu India has few tales to tell of cities put to the sword or of the massacre of non-combatants…There was sporadic cruelty and oppression no doubt, but, in comparison with conditions in other early cultures, it was mild. To us the most striking feature of ancient Indian civilisation is its humanity.” (pp.8-9)].
    • A.L.Basham in his “The Wonder That Was India” quoted in [4] [This article is a major extract from the article "Sita Ram Goel, memories and ideas" by S. Talageri, written for the Sita Ram Goel Commemoration Volume, entitled "India's Only Communalist", edited by Koenraad Elst, published in 2005.
  • A Hindu-friendly India-watcher of the Foreign Broadcast Information Service, a parastatal world-watch bureau in Washington DC, has remarked that this alleged semitization, which is but a pejorative synonym for self-organization, may simply be necessary for Hinduism's survival. He points out that in Africa, the traditional religions are fast being replaced by Christianity and Islam precisely because they have no organization which can prepare a strategy of self-defence. African traditionalists are not denounced as 'semitized fundamentalists' because in effect, they submit to the liquidation of their tradition by mass conversions....It is hard to find fault with this observation.... Consider: why was the Roman Empire christianized, but not the Persian Empire? ...the difference was precisely that the Roman state religion was not 'semitized', while the Persian state religion was. The Roman state religion was pluralistic and didn't have much of a policy, while the Mazdean state religion in Persia did organize the opposition against Christian proselytization, mobilizing both the state and the population, and developing a combative 'Semitic' character in the process (the Mazdean oppression of Christianity led to the migration of some Syrian Christians to Kerala in the 4th century, where they survive till today). ... Ram Swarup analyzes the political intention behind laudatory labels like 'tolerant' and hate labels like 'Semitic'. He too points to Africa as an instance of what to avoid: 'The African continent has been under the attack of the two monolatrous religions, Christianity and Islam, for centuries. Under this attack, it has already lost much of its old culture. .... Some time ago, there was an article in the London Economist praising it for taking this attack with such pagan tolerance...' This praise of religions which submit to being annihilated ('tolerant') and the concomitant opprobrium for religions which don't, indeed the condemnation of the very will to survive as 'fanatical', is reminiscent of a French saying: 'This animal is very mean: it defends itself when attacked.'
    • Elst, Koenraad (2002). Who is a Hindu?: Hindu revivalist views of Animism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and other offshoots of Hinduism. ISBN 978-8185990743
  • Whenever a Muslim called upon the Muslim society, he never faced any resistance-he called in the name of one God ‘Allah-ho-Akbar’. On the other hand, when we (Hindus) call will call, ‘come on, Hindus’, who will respond? We, the Hindus, are divided in numerous small communities, many barriers-provincialism-who will respond overcoming all these obstacles? “We suffered from many dangers, but we could never be united. When Mohammed Ghouri brought the first blow from outside, the Hindus could not be united, even in the those days of imminent danger. When the Muslims started to demolish the temples one after another, and to break the idols of Gods and Goddesses, the Hindus fought and died in small units, but they could not be united. It has been provided that we were killed in different ages due to out discord. Weakness harbors sin. So, if the Muslims beat us and we, the Hindus, tolerate this without resistance-then, we will know that it is made possible only by our weakness. For the sake of ourselves and our neighbour Muslims also, we have to discard our weakness. We can appeal to our neighbour Muslims, `Please don't be cruel to us. No religion can be based on genocide' - but this kind of appeal is nothing, but the weeping of the weak person. When the low pressure is created in the air, storm comes spontaneously; nobody can stop it for sake for religion. Similarly, if weakness is cherished and be allowed to exist, torture comes automatically - nobody can stop it. Possibly, the Hindus and the Muslims can make a fake friendship to each other for a while, but that cannot last forever. As long as you don’t purify the soil, which grows only thorny shrubs you can not expect any fruit.
    • R. Tagore. “Swamy Shraddananda’, written by Rabindranath in Magh, 1333 Bangabda; compiled in the book ‘Kalantar’.

Quotes about Hindu nationalism[edit]

  • I say no longer that nationalism is a creed, a religion, a faith; I say that it is the Sanatan Dharma which for us is nationalism. This Hindu nation was born with the Sanatan Dharma, with it it moves and with it it grows. When the Sanatan Dharma declines, then the nation declines, and if the Sanatan Dharma were capable of perishing, with the Sanatan Dharma it would perish. The Sanatan Dharma, that is nationalism.
  • “It is the subtle scheme of political propaganda to describe the Hindu as pro-Fascist. It is a cruel calumny which has been spread in America and other countries. The Hindu Mahasabha stood for Savarkar’s policy of militarization and industrialization. We recognized that Fascism was a supreme menace to what is good and noble in our civilization. Due to Veer Savarkar’s call thousands of young men joined the Army and Navy and Air Force and shed their blood for resisting Nazi tyranny and for real friendship with China and Russia. But as the Hindus had the temerity to ask for National Independence and took the lead in rejecting the Cripps offer, they were maligned and the subtle forces of organized British propaganda were let loose to blackmail the Hindus.”
    • Nirmal Chandra Chatterjee. (Hindu Politics, p.103) . Quoted from Elst, K. : Was Veer Savarkar a Nazi? , 1999 [5] also in Elst, K. (2010). The saffron swastika: The notion of "Hindu fascism".
  • The idea of the ‘Hindu right’ is largely a ploy to discredit the Hindu movement as backward and prevent people from really examining it.
    • David Frawley, The Myth of the Hindu right [6]
  • The causes taken up by the Hindu movement are more at home in the New Left than in right wing parties of the West. Some of these resemble the concerns of the Green Party. The Hindu movement offers a long-standing tradition of environmental protection, economic simplicity, and protection of religious and cultural diversity. There is little in the so-called Hindu right that is shared by the religious or political right-wing in western countries, which reflect military, corporate and missionary concerns. The Hindu movement has much in common with the New Age movement in the West and its seeking of occult and spiritual knowledge, not with the right wing in the West, which rejects these things. Clearly, the western right would never embrace the Hindu movement as its ally.
    • David Frawley, The Myth of the Hindu right [7]
  • But some media outlets have chosen to craft a false narrative of intrigue by profiling and targeting all of my donors who have names of Hindu origin and accusing them of being “Hindu nationalists.” Today it’s the profiling and targeting of Hindu Americans and ascribing to them motives without any basis. Tomorrow will it be Muslim or Jewish Americans? Japanese, Hispanic or African Americans? I too have been accused of being a “Hindu nationalist.” ... To question my commitment to my country, while not questioning non-Hindu leaders, creates a double standard that can be rooted in only one thing: religious bigotry. I am Hindu and they are not. ... Religious bigotry and attempts to foment fear of Hindus and other minority religions persist. During my 2012 and 2014 elections, my Republican opponent stated publicly that a Hindu should not be allowed to serve in the U.S. Congress and that Hinduism is incompatible with the U.S. Constitution. In the 2016 race for Congress, my Republican opponent said repeatedly that a vote for me was a vote for the devil because of my religion. ... Those who are trying to foment anti-Hindu sentiment expose the dark underbelly of religious bigotry in politics and must be called out. To advocate voting for or against someone based on religion, race or gender is simply un-American.
    • Tulsi Gabbard: Religious bigotry is un-American, 2019 [8]
  • Bombay also used to be considered a pearl of the Orient, with its necklace of lights along the corniche and its magnificent British Raj architecture. It was one of India's most diverse and plural cities, and its many layers of texture have been cleverly explored by Salman Rushdie—especially in The Moor's Last Sigh—and in the films of Mira Nair. It is true that there had been intercommunal fighting there, during the time in 1947-48 when the grand historic movement for Indian self-government was being ruined by Muslim demands for a separate state and by the fact that the Congress Party was led by a pious Hindu. But probably as many people took refuge in Bombay during that moment of religious bloodlust as were driven or fled from it. A form of cultural coexistence resumed, as often happens when cities are exposed to the sea and to influences from outside. Parsis—former Zoroastrians who had been persecuted in Persia—were a prominent minority, and the city was also host to a historically significant community of Jews. But this was not enough to content Mr. Bal Thackeray and his Shiv Sena Hindu nationalist movement, who in the 1990s decided that Bombay should be run by and for his coreligionists, and who loosed a tide of goons and thugs on the the streets. Just to show he could do it, he ordered the city renamed as "Mumbai," which is partly why I include it in this list under its traditional title.
  • "It is sheer dishonesty or naivete to suggest, as is being widely suggested these days, that Hinduism can admit of theocracy. That is a Muslim privilege which no one else can appropriate."
  • The examples of systematic institutional minorityism cited most often [by Hindu nationalists] are the separate personal law based on the Shariat, the special status of the Muslim-majority state Jammu and Kashmir, the immunity of minority schools and places of worship from government interference or take-over. Examples of occasional political minorityism are the numerous unequal treaties before independence between Congress and the Muslim league, the creation of a Muslim-majority district in Kerala by redrawing of district borders, the overruling of the Shah Bano verdict with legislation, the creation of a minorities commission (under the Janata government of which some BJP leaders were Cabinet ministers). These do not add up to a full oppression of Hindu society by the Muslim minority, but they do constitute real discriminations... But Hindus point out that they are really discriminated against in the laws of the land, and that minorities do get privileges which are unthinkable in most genuinely secular states.
    • Quoted from Elst, Koenraad (1991). Ayodhya and after: Issues before Hindu society.
  • Finally, we should add that the concept of civilization-state has the merit of being more true to India’s real status than the concept of “nationalism”. In the days of the Freedom Movement, it made sense to be a nationalist for it meant not being loyal to foreign rulers. Heirs of that period, such as the Congress Party and the RSS “family”, still go on swearing by this concept. But now it is time for a more nuanced and precise understanding of what India is. Nationalism with its connotation of homogenization cannot do justice to India’s profound pluralism and respect for differences. Depending on how you define “nation”, India has known several divisions into what would be rated as “nation” elsewhere. Of course we can fuss over definitions and maintain that even complex and pluriform India is still a nation-state somehow. But it is more economical and more credible to dispense with this terminology altogether and call India a civilization-state.
    • Koenraad Elst, On Modi Time : Merits And Flaws of Hindu Activism In Its Day Of Incumbency – 2015 Ch 18
  • That same thing which they call fascism when they wrongly attribute it to Hindu Rashtra, is effectively accepted in the case of a Muslim Rashtra, such as Pakistan. I at least have never heard any of them refer to Pakistan as fascist.
    • Elst, Koenraad (1991). Ayodhya and after: Issues before Hindu society.
  • For the difference between "Hindu nationalism" and the broader term "Hindu revivalism", consider ... Swami Shraddhananda and .... VD Savarkar. They overlap, but it is necessary to distinguish them, and the term "Hindu revivalism" fits Shraddhananda's work perfectly; whereas "Hindu nationalism" obviously applies to Savarkar's and later RSS founder KB Hedgewar's line.
    • Elst, Koenraad (2012). The argumentative Hindu. New Delhi : Aditya Prakashan. (228)
  • The current tendency to accuse the Hindu movement for cultural decolonization of India of “fascism” is nothing but a replay of an old colonial tactic against the freedom movement. More generally, we can say that every propaganda trick tried against the Hindutva movement by the secularists was once tried against the freedom movement either by the colonialists or by their Muslim communalist allies... Their programme of a non-communal democracy in an independent and united India was countered with scare stories of majoritarian Hindu oppression including the ultimate calumny of "fascism".
    • Was Veer Savarkar a Nazi? by Elst, K., 1999 [9] and in Elst, K. (2010). The saffron swastika: The notion of "Hindu fascism". I.503.
  • We have to agree that it [Hindu nationalism] is a type of nationalism, though as such it really is only the most conspicuous tendency within a broader movement vaguely known as Hindu revivalism... Hindu nationalism entirely falls outside the category vaguely designated as "authoritarian nationalism".
    • Elst, K. (2010). The saffron swastika: The notion of "Hindu fascism".
  • To speak of Hindu fundamentalism, is a contradiction in terms, it does not exist. Hinduism is not this kind of religion.
    • V.S. Naipaul, India: A Wounded Civilization
  • To speak of Hindu fundamentalism, is a contradiction in terms, since Hinduism is a religion without fundamentals.
    • Shashi Tharoor, The Elephant, the Tiger and the Cellphone. p. 64.
  • In fact, India is by no means a Hindu state; it was not based on the refusal to co-exist with others, as Pakistan was; and it is not squeezing out its minorities, as Pakistan is. The best refutation is provided by the highly anti-symmetrical migration stream: the constant trickle of Hindu refugees from Pakistan and Bangladesh is not matched by a similar trickle of Muslim refugees from India, but by a vast movement of Muslim migrants from Bangladesh illegally settling in India. [...] In Leftist writings, it is not uncommon to see Hindu revivalism, particularly its political section, described as “the Hindu Right”. Though there is nothing pejorative in the term “right” in itself....The term Hindu Right only applies if an extreme-Leftist viewpoint is assumed (as is effectively the case for numerous Indian Hindutva critics): only from that angle is Hindu nationalism consistently found to one’s Right... But the decisive objection against the term Hindu Right is that the people concerned will not accept it. In fact, the BJS explicitly described itself as “centrist”...One workable measure of objectivity and neutrality in newsreading and scholarship is whether people and groups are classified with terms in which they recognize themselves. When we apply this simple yardstick of objectivity to the available literature on Hindu revivalism, we find most of it wanting.
    • Decolonizing the Hindu Mind (2001) by K.Elst
  • Our main plank is Veer Savarkar’s message which he preached at the Calcutta session: ‘Equal rights for all citizens and protection of the culture and religion of every minority’.
  • One of the cornerstones of the cultural foundation of the ancient mansion of Hindu rashtra is 'unity in diversity'.
    • K.S. Sudarshan, in HV Sheshadri et al, Why Hindu Rashtra, p. 13, and in Elst, K. (2010). The saffron swastika: The notion of "Hindu fascism". p 662
  • Nationalism, far from being reversed, made further headway. The biggest and most frightening setback came in India, where a democratically elected Narendra Modi is creating a Hindu nationalist state, imposing punitive measures on Kashmir – a semi-autonomous Muslim region, and threatening to deprive millions of Muslims of their citizenship.
    • George Soros, At the World Economic Forum at Davos 2020, quoted from Malhotra R. & Viswanathan V. (2022). Snakes in the Ganga : Breaking India 2.0.

Quotes about Hindutva[edit]

  • "Question: I believe you are acquainted with the ideology of the Sangh Parivar.
    Answer: Yes, indeed, since 30 years. Of course, I have also come across some critical views regarding these organizations. But, at the same time, I find that the Parivar is very much concerned about the preservation of India's national identity and culture. This aspect has impressed me greatly. Frankly, there are in this country people who are infatuated with the western way of life. I have always told my Indian friends that there is no point in neglecting their own rich cultural heritage. As such, any organization working for the preservation of India's traditional values and norms certainly deserves the support of all well-meaning people."
    • Dalai Lama, [Interview conducted by S. Suresh in the ABVP conference in Kanpur which appeared in Organiser, November 22, 1992.]
  • Justice for all and appeasement of none.
    • BJP's credo. cited in Times of India August 15, 2018 [10]
  • The forced attempt to forge a Semitic, monolithic, chosen people identity for Hindus... stand in sharp contrast to the enlightened effort at founding a modern, social rationale for religion as say, in Vivekananda.
    • Praful Bidwai, The Sena/VHP Offensive. 1991. quoted in Antony Copley, Indian Secularism Reconsidered, Contemporary South Asia 1993 2.1. p 45-65. and in Elst, K. (2010). The saffron swastika: The notion of "Hindu fascism". p 951
  • "Such is the grip of the misrepresentation of Hindutva in anti-Muslim terms that (even) its proponents, including some leaders of the Bhartiya Janata Party, themselves, speak of it defensively".
  • "The BJP is not a communal party; it cannot be, for the simple reason that Hindus have never been, and are not, a community in the accepted sense of the term. They represent an ancient civilization not known either to draw a boundary between the faithful and the faithless, the blessed and the damned, or to engage in heresy hunting and its counterpart, persecution of other faiths. Hindus are, in western terms, pagans."
  • "Unlike Islamic fundamentalists, the BJP does not claim to possess a blueprint. It shall have to struggle to evolve an Indian approach to modern problems."
  • The strange thing about the BJP is that its voters consider it a Hindu party, its enemies denounce it as a Hindu party, but the party will call itself anything except a Hindu party.
    • Koenraad Elst, BJP vis-a-vis Hindu Resurgence. Quoted from Makarand Paranjape (2017) Imagining India: Aurobindo, Ambedkar, and After, South Asian Review, 28:1, 159-185, DOI: 10.1080/02759527.2007.11932508
  • To conclude..., it deserves mention that most original Western publications dealing with the Hindu Mahasabha, RSS, Jan Sangh or BJP, just don't seem to be aware of the notion that these could be fascist movements, or they reject the allegation explicitly after closer consideration. Objective outsiders are not struck by any traces of fascism in the Hindutva movements, let alone in the general thought current of anti-imperialist Hindu awakening. While one should always be vigilant for traces of totalitarianism in any ideology or movement, the obsession with fascism in the anti-Hindu rhetoric of the secularists is not the product of an analysis of the data, but of their own political compulsions.
    • Quoted from Elst, Koenraad (1991). Ayodhya and after: Issues before Hindu society.
  • After the Ayodhya demolition, the Congress government threatened to outlaw the BJP... but several socialist and casteist parties, the BJP's erstwhile allies in the struggle against the Emergency, refused to support the necessary legislative reform because they remembered all too well how small the distance is between such rhetoric of "protecting democracy against the communal forces" and the imposition of dictatorship... In several cases, moreover, elected candidates for the BJP or the Shiv Sena have been taken to court for "corrupt electoral practices", meaning the "use" of religion in their campaigns; some of them won their cases, some of them lost, but the danger inherent in openly identifying with the Hindu cause was certainly driven home. [...] Without exaggeration, the BJP's Ayodhya campaign was the single biggest public relations disaster in world history. [...] But then there is the other, unrealistic face of Gandhi, the morbid face of "when slapped, turn the other cheek". Even in this extremist view of non-violence, the RSS is often a follower of Gandhi... When in ca. 1990, and again in 1996, Communist militants started killing RSS men in Kerala, the RSS was very slow to react in kind. The Islamic bomb attacks on Sangh centres in Chennai and elsewhere, the murders of BJP politicians in UP, Mumbai and elsewhere, they all have not provoked any counter-attacks. Anti-Hindu governments in Bihar and West Bengal have achieved some success in preventing the growth of sizable RSS chapters by means of ruthless intimidation and violence, all without having to fear any RSS retaliation. [Quite often, Sangh-related people tell me interesting and potentially explosive background stories about riots (and other controversial matters such as discrimination of Hindus, connivance at Bangladeshi infiltration etc.), but when I ask them for exact names, times, places, it usually turns out that they have not bothered to record anything: what would have become a credible-sounding propaganda story in the hands of A.A. Engineer remains a rumour headed for oblivion in the hands of Sangh people.] [...] But history moves in strange ways, and yesterday's disaster may be today's blessing. For Hinduism as such, Partition has by now proved to be a blessing in disguise, a last chance to survive....The last offers made to Jinnah to make him abandon his Partition plans included 50% reservations for Muslims at all levels and an effective predominance of the Muslims in the government.... For all its Muslim appeasement and anti-Hindu discriminations, the Indian state is not aggressively anti-Hindu: the Hindu-born ruling class may sell itself for petro-dollars, but it does not organize the kind of oppression which exists in Pakistan. It does not support Hinduism, but at least it passively allows Hindu culture to flourish on its own strength. [...] Even though the BJP's White Paper on Ayodhya and the Rama Temple Movement (1993) is a well-written and generally complete document, certainly the best chronology of the whole Ayodhya dispute, it leaves out a discussion of the one historical fact that justifies and lends importance to the Ayodhya movement, viz. that the demolition of the medieval Rama temple at the site was by no means an isolated event, but a necessary consequence of Islamic doctrine.
    • Elst, Koenraad. (1997) BJP vis-à-vis Hindu Resurgence
  • [The term Hindutva] was coined by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar in 1923, and though some contemporary RSS middle cadres try to push it as a synonym and replacement of "Hinduism", Savarkar himself had explicitly written that the two are not synonyms; in practical terms, "Hindutva" is a synonym of "Hindu nationalism", an ideology and behind that also a national sentiment, but not a religion in any usual sense of the word. "Hindutva" was the banner of the Hindu Mahasabha and was subsequently adopted by the RSS, organizations of which the said independent authors were never members nor camp-followers. ... It is very common in secularist polemic to start from a general assumption about what they label the "Hindutva" movement, and then apply this assumption to each author whom they choose to include in that category, without bothering to check his own writings. I am rather used to this sloppy reasoning by secularists, attributing viewpoints to me which are not mine or which I have explicitly criticized, on no other grounds than that they are deemed to be "Hindutva" viewpoints. Given the secularists' unchallenged hegemony, it is unlikely that they will soon feel any need to correct this ugly habit.
    • Elst, Koenraad. Return of the Swastika: Hate and Hysteria versus Hindu Sanity (2007)
  • Not all Hindu activists would accept the label Hindutva, a coinage by V.D. Savarkar ca. 1923 embraced by the Hindu Mahasabha and later the RSS. Conversely, the insistence on labelling all Hindu activism or all Hindu discourse critical of Islam and "secularism" as Hindutva is an undisguised attempt to distort the picture by blurring the distinctions within the broad Hindu spectrum of opinion. ... Hindutva is a fairly crude ideology, borrowing heavily from European nationalisms with their emphasis on homogeneity. Under the conditions of British colonialism, it was inevitable that some such form of Hindu nationalism would arise, but I believe better alternatives have seen the light, more attuned to the genius of Hindu civilization.
    • Elst, Koenraad. The Problem with Secularism (2007)
  • Today the BJP is the only major party with a fully developed and actually functioning intra-party democracy.
    • Elst, K. (2010). The saffron swastika: The notion of "Hindu fascism". (p671)
  • The physical danger in writing against the temple is imaginary; by contrast, it is dangerous to uphold rather than oppose Hindu activist positions. It is a fact that throughout the 1990s, many office-bearers of the RSS, the BJP and their Tamil affiliate Hindu Munnani have been murdered; but that was more because of the demolition and other political matters than because of any statements on the historical background of the Hindu claims on Ayodhya. At one point, the publishinghouse Voice of India, which has published the Vishva Hindu Parishad’s statement and several other writings on the Ayodhya evidence, has had to seek police protection for a few days, but the threats had to do with “insults to the Prophet” and not with the Ayodhya evidence.
    • K. Elst, Ayodhya: The Case Against the Temple (2002)
  • During the Khalistani separatist struggle in Punjab (1981–93), hundreds of RSS and BJP men were killed by the Khalistanis, yet this did not provoke a single act of retaliation, neither against the actual perpetrators nor against the Sikh community in general. On the contrary, when Congress secularists allegedly killed thousands of Sikhs in 1984, it was the Hindutva activists who went out of their way to save the Sikhs. When in the 1980s, and again from 1996 till the time of this writing, Communist militants started killing RSS men in Kerala, the RSS was very slow to react in kind. The bomb attacks on Hindutva centres in Chennai, the murders of BJP politicians in UP and Mumbai and elsewhere, have not provoked any counter-attacks. Anti-Hindu governments in Bihar and West Bengal have achieved some success in preventing the growth of sizable RSS chapters by means of ruthless intimidation and violence, all without having to fear any RSS retaliation. [...] The creation of Sindh and the NWFP as separate provinces meant that the small Hindu minorities there were left at the mercy of the Muslims. This had been a Muslim demand, and while Gandhi agreed to it, no one can tell what the Hindus got in return for it. Gandhi never claimed to represent the Hindus as such anyway: while the Muslims could press demands as Muslims, both through the Muslim League and through the intra-Congress Muslim lobby, the Hindus were only heard as nationalists. The only expressly Hindu lobby group, the HMS, was treated with indifference or hostility by the Congress leadership, much in contrast with the deferential treatment which the Muslim lobby and the Muslim League received... The grand finale of this trail of concessions was Partition amid bloodshed.
    • Elst, Koenraad (2018). Why I killed the Mahatma: Uncovering Godse's defence. New Delhi : Rupa, 2018.
  • So let's get back to the more eventful Hindu-Muslim relationship. Having discussed the phenomena of street riots and mass terrorism sufficiently for now, let us focus on a third form of communal violence: targeted killings of specified individuals. Like with terrorism, the vast majority of victims in this category of violence have been Hindus. In the months and years after the Mumbai riots of January 1993, a number of Maharashtrian politicians belonging to the BJP and the Shiv Sena have been murdered, mostly by assailants who were never apprehended. In Kerala in the 1990s, dozens of ordinary Hindutva activists have been murdered by the Communists, the dominant party in that state. When I visited the Hindu Munnani office in Chennai in 1996, the building was really impressive, having just been rebuilt and redesigned after a bomb blast. Shortly after, it was destroyed once more in another bomb blast. In this series of attacks on the Hindu Munnani leadership, several activists were killed. And after the Gujarat carnage, the Gujarat Home Minister, Haren Pandya, was murdered by Muslims.
    • Koenraad Elst: The Struggle for India's Soul A reply to Mira KAMDAR by Dr. Koenraad ELST, in : The Problem with Secularism (2007) by K. Elst
  • However, contrary to what the observers all think or say, the present BJP government under Narendra Modi, while numerically strong, is ideologically extremely weak. It is not in any way Hinduizing or "saffronizing" the polity or the education system. It is continuing the Congressite-Leftist anti-Hindu policies mandated by the Constitution, or at best looking the other way but not changing the Constitution to put a definitive stop to such policies. Thus, subsidized schools can be Christian or Muslim, but not Hindu: in the latter case, either they get taken over by the state and secularized, or at best, they have to do without subsidies. Temples are nationalized and their income channeled to non-Hindu purposes, a treatment against which the law protects churches and mosques. And this is no less the case in BJP-ruled states, where the Government could have chosen not to avail of the opportunities given to it by the Constitution.
    • Elst, Koenraad. Hindu Dharma and the Culture Wars. (2019). New Delhi : Rupa. Chapter 16, RSS in western media
  • The BJP seeks to link up internationally with the democratic, non-racist Right. [...] the invention of a category of Third World mass identiarianism would be more pertinent than the never-ending references to fascism. [...] The communists ... reject 'Congress dictatorship' but would welcome a strong state which would crush the communalists, esp the Hindu ones... In the present configuration, the drift to authoritarianism can only come from the Congress apparatus.
    • Gerard Heuze, Ou va l'Inde moderne. p 58ff, 123. in Elst, K. (2010). The saffron swastika: The notion of "Hindu fascism". p 713-4
  • People ask me about the forces of Hindutva in India. I got into trouble a couple of years ago when I said that with this new kind of self-awareness in India, the Hindu idea is almost a necessary early, stage. It contains the beginnings of larger, new ideas: the idea of history, the idea of the human family, of India. I hope this self-awareness doesn't stay there, and I don't think it will, but it's necessary. We are dealing with a country that has started from a very low point, a very low intellectual point, a low economic point. When people start moving, the first loyalty, the first identity, is always a rather small one. They can't immediately become other things. I think that within every kind of disorder now in India there is a larger positive movement. But the future will be fairly chaotic. Politics will have to be at the level of the people now. People like Nehru were colonial-style politicians. They were to a large extent created and protected by the colonial order. They did not begin with the people.
    • V.S. Naipaul, A Million Mutinies, V.S. Naipaul, India Today Date: August 18, 1997 [11]
  • A Hindu marrying a Hindu may lose his caste, but not his Hindutva.
    • VD Savarkar, Hindutva, p 90
  • As far as the BJP is concerned, our belief has been the same for years. Justice to all, appeasement of none. We cannot support divisive politics. We strongly believe in President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam when he says we need 'unity of minds'. People who played the politics of appeasement have ruined the country, not us. Blame them.
  • In some states, hundreds of our workers have been killed because of their political views. Political untouchability is gaining ground by the day. In some places, just the name of BJP is enough to create an atmosphere of untouchability.... Why are our workers killed or attacked in Kashmir, Kerala or Bengal? It is shameful and anti-democratic... But today, in the political canvas of the nation, if there is one party that lives and breathes democracy, it is the BJP.
    • Narendra Modi quoted in BJP Lives And Breathes Democracy Despite Facing Political Untouchability And Violence’: PM Modi In Varanasi [12] NDTV
  • On the Indian front, [the Hindutva movement] should spearhead the revival, rejuvenation and resurgence of Hinduism, which includes not only religious, spiritual and cultural practices springing from Vedic or Sanskritic sources, but from all other Indian sources independently of these: the practices of the Andaman islanders and the (pre-Christian) Nagas are as Hindu in the territorial sense, and Sanâtana in the spiritual sense, as classical Sanskritic Hinduism. (…) A true Hindutvavadi should feel a pang of pain, and a desire to take positive action, not only when he hears that the percentage of Hindus in the Indian population is falling due to a coordination of various factors, or that Hindus are being discriminated against in almost every respect, but also when he hears that the Andamanese races and languages are becoming extinct; that vast tracts of forests, millions of years old, are being wiped out forever; that ancient and mediaeval Hindu architectural monuments are being vandalised, looted or fatally neglected; that priceless ancient documents are being destroyed or left to rot and decay; that innumerable forms of arts and handicrafts, architectural styles, plant and animal species, musical forms and musical instruments, etc. are becoming extinct; that our sacred rivers and environment are being irreversibly polluted and destroyed…
    • Talageri in S.R. Goel (ed.): Time for Stock-Taking, p.227-228.
  • In much of the Hindu nationalist writing, Muslims are treated as the evil other against which Hindus define their own identity: to borrow from Jyortimaya Sharma (2007) "they are icomplete, uncultured and demonic" while "we are immortality's children". Such poisonous representations have had terrible consequences.
  • Hindutva militants have truly sinister intentions of denigrating religious minorities.
  • “the word Hindutva is being used as a term of abuse […] it is used mostly in pejorative terms […] the debate appears no longer confined to the cloistered world of priests, or even the self-serving one of politics, it has expanded into a challenge to Hindu civilisation […] the wider attack on Indian civilisation that this pejorative use of the word Hindu represents. It bothers me that I went to school and college in this country without any idea of the enormous contribution of Hindu civilisation to the history of the world. It bothers me that even today our children, whether they go to state schools or expensive private ones, come out without any knowledge of their own culture or civilisation […] You cannot be proud of a heritage you know nothing about, and in the name of secularism, we have spent 50 years in total denial of the Hindu roots of this civilisation. We have done nothing to change a colonial system of mass education founded on the principle that Indian civilisation had nothing to offer […] our contempt for our culture and civilisation […] evidence of a country that continues to be colonised to the core? Our contempt for who we are gets picked up these days by the Western press […] racism [is] equated with Hindu Nationalism. For countries that gave us slavery and apartheid that really is rich, but who can blame them when we think so badly of ourselves. As for me I would like to state clearly that I believe that the Indic religions have made much less trouble for the world than the Semitic ones and that Hindu civilisation is something I am very proud of. If that is evidence of my being ‘communal’, then, so my inner voice tells me, so be it.”
    • Tavleen Singh in : Indian Express (Sunday 13/6/2004) by Tavleen Singh, quoted in article by Talageri in Goel, S. R., & Elst, K. (2005). India's only communalist: In commemoration of Sita Ram Goel.
  • “When I read today all the subversive, communal propaganda the media attributes to RSS shakhas, I am frankly baffled. My memories of what happened at our shakha between 6 and 7 p.m. each weekday evening are completely different—we marched about in our khaki shorts, did some yoga, worked out in a traditional outdoor gymnasium with no fancy equipment, sang songs and chanted Sanskrit verses that we did not understand the meanings of, played games and had a bunch of fun with our fellows.”.... “The whole thing was overseen by a team of mostly-well-meaning—if not always inspirational—adults, who truly believed they were helping raise good ‘civilian soldiers’— boys respectful of authority, well-behaved in the presence of adults and well-aware of the importance of physical fitness— who would put their efforts into nation-building when they grew up.”
  • In expounding the ideology of the Hindu movement, it is absolutely necessary to have a correct grasp of the meaning attached to these three terms. From the word " Hindu" has been coined the word "Hinduism " in English. It means the schools or system of Religion the Hindus follow. The second word " Hindutva " is far more comprehensive and refers not only to the religious aspects of the Hindu people as the word " Hinduism " does but comprehend even their cultural, linguistic, social and political aspects as well. It is more or less akin to " Hindu Polity " and its nearly exact translation would be " Hinduness ". The third word " Hindudom " means the Hindu people spoken of collectively. It is a collective name for the Hindu World, just as Islam denotes the Moslem World.
    • V.D. Savarkar quoted from B.R. Ambedkar, Pakistan or The Partition of India (1946)
  • "The media’s politics of labelling," says Mayaram, "can have a bad effect. The papers keep talking about the saffron brigade. Historically, saffron is the colour of renunciation. Now you have taken away the colour from the believing Hindu and given it a pejorative ring."

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