Hindu politics

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Hindu politics refers to the political movements professing to draw inspiration from Hinduism. Hindu nationalism is the numerically most significant among the current political movements claiming to be inspired by Hinduism.

Quotes[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.
  • 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]
  • Justice for all and appeasement of none.
    • BJP's credo. cited in Times of India August 15, 2018 [4]
  • 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 [5]
  • 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 [6]
  • 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 [7]
  • "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."
  • "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
  • 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
  • The RSS was not founded as a vehicle of some deep "identitarian" strategy, but as a simple vigilante group protecting Nagpur Hindus against Muslim rioters in the post-Khilafat tension.
    • Koenraad Elst : The Ayodhya Demolition: an Evaluation, in India., & Dasgupta, S. (1995). The Ayodhya reference: The Supreme Court judgement and commentaries.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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 [8]
  • The epitaph of an RSS man will be: he was born, went to shakha, and died.
    • V.D. Savarkar. Quoted from Elst, Koenraad (2014). Decolonizing the Hindu mind: Ideological development of Hindu revivalism. New Delhi: Rupa. p. 256
  • 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)
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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’.
  • 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
  • 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)
  • 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’.
  • Immigration from Bangladesh is of two types. Firstly there are members of the minority communities fleeing occasional waves of per­secution or the more general sense of being second-class citiz­ens under the Islamic dispensation. Few Hindus would disput­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­e their right to settle down in India. Secondly, there are Mus­lims seek­ing econom­­ic oppor­tunities or sheer living space, which dirt-poor and inten­sely overc­rowded Banglad­esh cannot offer to the ever-larger num­bers of newcomers on the hous­ing and labour market... The BJP argues that refugees from persecution and illegal economic migrants merit a different treat­ment, as is assumed in the arrangements for refugee relief of most countries. But sec­ularists see it differently, for "unlike the BJP, the Congre­ss (I) views both Hindus and Muslim from Bangladesh as in­filtrat­ors". Terminology is a part of the problem here, with secularists systematically describing Hindu refugees as "migrants" if not "infiltrators", and Muslim illegal immigrants as "refugees"... The Hindu population in East Bengal had declined from 33% in 1901 to 28% in 1941. It fell to 22% by 1951 due to the Partition and the post-Partition exodus, and to 18.5% in 1961. By 1971, it had fallen to 13.5%, partly due to the 1971 massacre by the Pakistani Army, partly due to intermittent waves of emigrati­on. The 1981 figure was 12.1%. In 1989 and 1990, due to "large-scale destru­ction, desecration and damage inflic­ted on Hindu temples and religious institutions", "clandestine migrat­ion­­­ by the Hindus to India went up".
    • Shourie: Secular Agenda, p.272,D.P. Roy, joint secreatry of the All-India Congress Committe. Quoted from Elst, Koenraad. (1997) The Demographic Siege, quoting A. Shourie.

See also[edit]

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