• Every time Rahul Gandhi visits a temple we are told he is practicing ‘Soft Hindutva’. Chief Minister Fadnavis never tires saying what unites BJP and Shiv Sena is their commitment to Hindutva. Few know what Hindutva means. This article refers to Savarkar on Hindutva and next, in a rational and unemotional way, gives a contemporary and comprehensive meaning of the term.

Ask what Hindutva means and most will fumble, some might say it means construction of a Ram Mandir at Ayodhya.


This article has two parts. First is Veer Savarkar’s meaning of the word Hindutva, as stated in 1923. Next what Hindutva means in a contemporary context and is in the form of an 8 point charter.


So what is Hindutva?


Dhananjay Keer wrote in ‘Veer Savarkar’, “The word Hindu is the heart of that ideology, and Hindustan its geographical centre. According to Savarkar “every person is a Hindu who regards and owns this Bharat Bhoomi – this land from the Indus to the seas, as his Fatherland and Holyland – the land of origin of his religion and the cradle of his faith.” 1


Simply put, for Savarkar Hindutva was based on individuals who believed that their pitrabhu (fatherland) and punyabhu (holy land) were part of India and helped forge a national identity. Savarkar was against Pan-Islamism (Khilafat Movement) because i.e. what loomed large then. (Since India was ruled by Christians then, Pan-Christianity was not an issue. It is something Indians got to know about recently when rape accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal’ appointment and being temporarily relieved of his pastoral responsibilities was decided by the Vatican).


Keer adds, “Therefore it follows that the followers of Vedism, Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism and all Hill-tribes are all Hindus. Around this life-centre moves Hindutva which Savarkar defines are not only the spiritual or religious history of our people, but the history in full pervasion. Hinduism is only a derivative, a fraction, a part of Hindutva. Hindutva is not, he observes, particularly theocratic, a religious dogma or a creed. It embraces all the departments of thoughts and activity of the whole being of the Hindu race. Forty centuries, if not more, he states, had been at work to mould it as it is. Prophets and poets, lawyers and lawgivers, heroes and historians, have thought, lived, fought and died just to have it spelled thus.” 1 Pg. 263


No wonder Shashi Tharoor wrote, “For Savarkar, Hinduness was synonymous with Indianness, properly understood. Savarkar’s idea of Hindutva was so expansive that it covered everything that a scholar today would call ‘Indic’”.


According to Keer a nation is a group of mankind which is bound together by some or all of these common ties such as common religion and culture, common history & traditions, common literature and consciousness of common rights & wrongs etc. He adds the principal elements instrumental in the formation of a nation are a common past, a common tradition and a common will to live together.


Common rights and wrongs are at the heart of the Ayodhya Movement. Followers of Indian religions want a temple to be made and undo a wrong whilst Indian Muslims are against correcting a historic wrong - destruction of temple by a Muslim invader.


In a sense nothing has changed between the 1920’s and now. During the pre-partition period or now Hindutva was meant to unite the followers of Indian religions.  


So was Savarkar’s approach exclusive?


Not at all. Keer wrote that “from the point of nationalism, humanism, universalism Savarkar gave his immortal message to the land of Ram, Krishna, Buddha, Mahaveer, Vikramaditya, Pratap, Shivaji, Guru Govind Singh, Banda, Dayananda, Vivekananda, & Tilak: Therefore, ye, O Hindus, consolidate and strengthen Hindu nationality: not to give wanton offence to any of our non-Hindu compatriots, in fact anyone in the world but in just and urgent self-defence of our race and land; to render it impossible for others to betray her or to subject her to unprovoked attacks by any of those ‘Pan-isms’ that are struggling forth from continent to continent!”. 1 Pg. 273


What Savarkar said was that Hindus must unite to defend their land against those who betray India, either singly or through global movements (in a contemporary sense the word would be Jihad, then it was Pan-Islam). Nevertheless Savarkar was not against non-Hindus.


The word Hindutva became very popular again during the Ayodhya Movement. It was meant to be an assertion of Hindu rights, construct a grand temple at Ayodhya and little else.


It needs to be clearly understood that what distinguishes Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism) from the rest is that it changes with time and is “guided by the sum total of human wisdom that is not considered to be embodied in one person, or one book, or one period of human history.” Hence, terms have to be reinterpreted as situations change.


Therefore, it is imperative for Hindutva to have a contemporary perspective. It is an assertive rational-humanist line of reasoning and arises from a desire to have a Hindu identity. 


Hindutva = Equal Human Rights for Hindus. What this means is spelt out below.  


One, Hindus should be allowed to manage their temples, without government interference, just like followers of other religions do.


Donations by devotees shall not become part of the state government treasury but shall be used by the Hindu community for the benefit of all with no restrictions imposed by law.  


Two, donations so received shall be used by the Hindu community for preserving and teaching traditional Indian knowledge systems, ancient texts and rituals in educational institutions/gurukuls, restoration of dilapidated temples and promotion of Indian literature, art and dance forms.


Donations received can also be used for helping society at large during national calamities, war etc. Such contributions shall, however be voluntary.


Three, Hindus should be given the same freedom to manage their educational institutions as is with the followers of other religions. The reservations prescribed by the Right to Education Act should be applicable to all educational institutions.


Read Hindu schools buckling under Right to Education law


Four, the FCRA (Foreign Contributors Regulation Act) should be amended such that only Non-resident Indians or Persons of Indian Origin can make contributions to Indian NGO’s. Foreign organizations are free to make contributions through the government of India.


This is because the global and organised nature of Christianity and Islam have enabled Indian Muslims & Christians to receive significant funds from the Middle East and Church, thus putting Hindus at a substantial disadvantage.


Read Foreign Funding of Indian NGO’s


Five, introduce a bill that when persecuted worldwide Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains would naturally be given citizenship of India. This is because India is their only home, there are tens of countries that Muslims and Christians can settle in.


The law must explicitly provide that any Muslim whose ancestors chose not to stay in India in 1947 or thereafter but chose to reside in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Bangladesh will not be granted refugee status in India.


This provision is required because residents of these countries have realized, that due to the failure of democratic institutions and lack of economic progress in countries referred to above, India is a far better country to live in. Current state of Pakistan is a classic example.


Read India is the only home of the Followers of Dharma


Six, economic status not religion should be basis for availing benefits under government schemes.


Read Why India must have no place for religious minority


Seven, since it is the residents of Kashmir Valley who oppose the removal of Article 370 / 35A it is best to divide the state into three. Let these articles continue in Kashmir Valley whilst making Jammu an independent state and Ladakh a Union Territory.


This will also address grievances of the people of Jammu and Ladakh regions and allegations of consistent manipulation of the census in J&K.  


Read Is it time to divide J&K into three

Making sense of the Jammu & Kashmir Census 2011 numbers


Eight, pass a law and effectively implement to make smuggling cattle to Bangladesh and Pakistan a non-bailable offence with huge financial penalties.  


Temple visiting by politicians or Ram Mandir is not Hindutva.


If any political party wants Hindu votes it must present an Action Plan on each of the above points. Anything less would be an attempt to hoodwink the voter.

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti.  



1 ‘Veer Savarkar’ by Dhananjay Keer


Also read

1 The Controversial legacy of Veer Savarkar

2 Why Hindutva arose

3 Redefine Hindu identity & promote Dharmic values – How to renew the eternal way

4 How Supreme Court views the terms Hindu, Hinduism & Hindutva in its rulings

5 How did Hindus become Hindu and why Hindutva is not Hinduism?

6 Why Secularism is not an Indian concept? 

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