If Hindutva is Hinduism then the Ku Klux Klan is Christianity
Before I begin, let me read a response I sent to one of the many who have warned me over the past few weeks.
All the hateful messages I received went straight to my trash. Your letter is of real concern, so I am responding to you.
I was also once a student in America and I understand that Indians in the diaspora face racism and discrimination and must feel a sense of pride for their homeland. It’s natural. The question is, can we choose what to be proud of and what to be ashamed of to become agents of positive change?
i feel proud about Mahatma Gandhi and the inclusiveness he practiced in the name of Hinduism, not by ritual, but by deed. He was perhaps the first (in quotation marks) Hindu of the “upper caste” to insist on manual cleaning of the nocturnal earth and not to depend on the lower ranked to perform work considered unclean and unclean.
Towards the end of Gandhi’s life, he strongly advocated inter-caste marriage so that future generations would be caste-free. And he died a martyr for the cause of bridging the Hindu-Muslim divide so meticulously maintained by British colonialists.
i feel proud about Dr Ambedkar, born Dalit and victim of discrimination, who broke the taboo against education, obtained doctorates abroad and returned to India to lead the fight for an egalitarian world. He led the drafting of the Indian Constitution and became our Prime Minister of Legal Affairs. Later, with thousands of followers, he converted to Buddhism, a religion that did not believe in caste.
i feel proud about Abdul Ghaffar Khan, also known as Badshah Khan, or Fakhr-e-Afghan, or Frontier Gandhi, whose legendary nonviolent fighters named Khudai Khidmatgars, faced the British massacres with the greatest bravery of all the struggle for independence. Badshah Khan never compromised his ideals and spent half of his adult life in prison, first in British India and then in Pakistan.
i feel ashamed about the upper caste conspiracy against Gandhi which began after 1932 when an agreement between Gandhi and Ambedkar granted reservations for the listed castes and tribes. At this time, temples and village wells were opened to the Dalits, temporarily raising hope for a Renaissance. Angered by this, a gang of upper caste men began a series of assassination attempts on Gandhi, the first being a bombing in Poona in 1934.
After six unsuccessful attempts, the seventh was successful in 1948. VD Savarkar was referred to as “the mastermind” by an approver, but was acquitted for lack of supporting evidence. It wasn’t until after Savarkar’s death in 1966 that evidence surfaced in the Kapoor commission report.
Today there is much to be proud of and ashamed of in India. Just like in the United States, we can be proud of the “Black Lives Matter” movement and of all those who fight for disarmament and peace, and against climate change. But one can only be ashamed that the United States for its short-term interests created religious jihad. Today, after spending billions of dollars and extinguishing thousands of lives, he has surrendered to his own creation.
There is more to say, but I highly recommend that you attend the conference with an open mind. You will hear things that might surprise you in a positive way or things that might upset you, but use each one to do more research. More research, in all directions, can never hurt.
Let us be proud not of the 1% who have lived for centuries enslaving and exploiting others, but of the 99% who, despite being denied opportunities, are finding their voice.
Illogical and anhistoric claims
The title of my speech today is: Hindutva is as Hindu as the Ku Klux Klan is Christian.
The term Hindutva was coined in the 20th century and popularized by Savarkar in his book of the same name. Published in 1923, the book was originally titled Hinduism but its title was covered with a paper sticker with the word Hindutva.
The book makes anhistorical, illogical and contradictory claims and must have been confusing even to supporters of Savarkar, for 80 years later, until 2003, when the Bharatiya Janata Party began to glorify Savarkar, only seven editions were published. . Savarkar claimed the deepest antiquity for Hinduism, treated the Ramayana as real history, while admitting that the term Hindu originated from the Greeks, Persians and Arabs. This is because the Hindu term cannot be found in scriptures like the Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagvad Gita or any of the Smritis and Puranas.
How then to differentiate Hinduism from Hindutva? In 2018 we completed a movie Reason / Vivek, who, in addition to documenting atrocities against Muslims and Dalits, examines the killings of rationalists like Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare, MM Kalburgi and journalist Gauri Lankesh, all born Hindus. The murder trials are not over, but several Hindutva activists are under arrest.
I am quoting a scene showing sword-wielding activist men and women of the twin groups Sanatan Sanstha and Hindu Janjagruti Samiti, a few of whom are currently in detention, marching through the streets of Mumbai.
The comment says:
“Hinduism is a dynamic composite of cultural practices, both indigenous and borrowed from the currents of passage.
Sanatan, Aryan, Vedic, Hindutva on the other hand, is a Brahmanic project of supremacy.
Knowledge, controlled by an elite of caste, recruits the powerless in an endless war against imaginary demons.
These sentences are very compressed because our film was already four hours long, but it might be worth teasing them here.
The first point is that Hinduism is less a religion set in stone or written by the hand of God than a set of cultures that have evolved over time as indigenous people have come into contact with it. an endless stream of visitors, some who came temporarily and others who stayed. permanently. Our syncretism has evolved in such complex ways that only a colonial power or ruling elite interested in divide and rule would attempt to separate the currents.
The second sentence looks at the phenomenon of divide and rule, otherwise known as the caste system. Sanatan (which literally means “eternal”), Aryan, Vedic, Hindutva are all claims to antiquity. Brahmins (the priest caste) are at the top of the caste hierarchy and it is certainly no coincidence that people like Savarkar who ruled the Hindu Mahasabha, or KB Hedgewar and MS Golwalkar who ruled the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, were Brahmins. It is also a historical fact that the Hindu Mahasabha, the RSS and the Muslim League all collaborated and formed governments with the British in 1942 even as the struggle for Indian freedom reached its peak.
Which brings us to the last sentence. The Brahmins historically controlled knowledge to maintain themselves and their upper caste allies in power while ensuring that the working class majority did the dirty work. To some extent, the struggle for independence and the ideals of secular democracy have loosened their grip on power, so we see an attempt to reaffirm caste superiority through the subterfuge of creating a common enemy.
Hindutva ranked his enemies in order – Muslims, Christians and Communists. He applauded Hitler’s “national” pride and invoked the Nazi model of treating minorities. Like Hitler, Hindutva believed in racial superiority and dreamed of world domination. Yesterday he collaborated with the British. Today, he displays the tricolor that he had openly denigrated, claims to defend a Constitution that he wanted to replace by the Laws of Manu, a misogynist and Brahmanic text, and is busy selling all available public goods at most. close foreign or Indian boyfriend.
Without saying it in words, their murder of Gandhi in 1948 added a new enemy to the list – the Hindus who opposed the Hindutva project.
I have compared the Hindutva to the Ku Klux Klan although the Klansmen are buffoons compared to the sophistication of a Brahmanism developed over the centuries. Fortunately, Brahmanism has never been the only current and resistance to it is centuries old like Charavak, Buddha, Basava, Kabir, Guru Nanak, Ravidas, Meera, Tukaram, Bulle Shah, Jotirao and Savitri Phule, Bhagat Singh , Badshah Khan, Gandhi and Ambedkar and so many of our inspiring teachers have shown it.
Fortunately, casteism is not genetic, so not all Brahmin births are doomed, but not all non-Brahmins are immune. There is a war between exclusive and inclusive ideas and what we need is a rainbow alliance that includes not only the dispossessed but also that part of the privileged who no longer chooses to side with the privilege side.
If it were armed, our revolution would be easily crushed by any modern state. Our revolution must then be a revolution of ideas and culture, and of our weapons: Knowledge, Reason and Compassion.
Anand Patwardhan is a filmmaker. This speech was delivered at the Dismantling of Global Hindutva conference from September 10 to 12.