Most Indian regional languages use Tattva Shastra as an equivalent of Philosophy. The word Philosophy–meaning love(r) of knowledge or wisdom–is quite inadequate to define or explain the full import of Tattva Shastra.
One of the fundamental aphorisms that embodies the whole of Sanatana Dharma in it is Tat Tvam Asi (You are That). The Tvam or Tva concerns us here.
Tva in its fullest sense can also mean “the state of becoming the object itself.” Like sugar that merges its identity with water upon dissolution. That is how I define Hindutva: Hindu + Tva(m).
As a political movement, Hindutva was a product of its time in the pre-Independence days. An essential product because the Congress party steadily began making ridiculous concessions to extremist Islamic demands. Not too many people remember that the Congress party was dubbed as a party of “Hindus who sought to tyrannize the Muslim minority.” That refrain continues to date sung by our Prime Minister. On the other side of the fence, the Muslim leadership gave robust calls to restore the pristine Islamic glory that was India under the Mughals. Hindutva as a political ideology grew in both strength and numbers when the Congress party’s subsidences to Muslim demands accelerated under Mahatma Gandhi’s leadership.
The version of Hindutva one hears and reads about in the media is heavily biased against it. Issues like the Babri Masjid and Gujarat violence are blown out of proportion to convey the impression that Hindutva stands for only this. Some vocal proponents of Hindutva need to share part of the blame for this representation because the climate of today’s public discourse has altered. A small picture of a RSS worker with a Trishul in his hand splashed across front pages and TV screens convey very powerful impressions. Indeed, the most powerful and respected defenders of Hindu causes stemmed from, and are located outside organizational frameworks.
Hindutva is simply a revival of the rich spiritual tradition of India sans numerous evils that crept in with time. It has nothing to do with banning western clothes or books or films. Least of all, it doesn’t concern politics, a common Leftist misrepresentation, which equates a Hindu spiritual head with a Mullah. Hindutva seeks to revive, expand, and promote the way of life that gave birth to concepts like Rta, Dharma, and Brahman. The fact that few understand these terms and/or ridicule them as backward, illogical, and fictitious makes the need for their revival more urgent. These concepts and their application to practical life has made possible the “tourist attractions” (temples, sculptures, etc) that India offers.
Most political parties who profess Hindutva are ignorant, confused, power-hungry or all of the above. The ones who work towards reviving the Hinduism based on what I just mentioned are typically outside the pale of politics. The kind of politics practised today cannot revive Hindutva–at best it results in antics like banning Western clothes, distributing Trishuls etc.
The true revival of Sanatana Dharma should begin by practising it till you finally manifest it within yourself: Tat Tvam Asi.
Crossposted on Desicritics.