Hindu nationalism

ideology
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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.

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

Quotes edit

  • I spoke once before with this force in me and I said then this movement is not a political movement and that nationalism is not politics but a religion, a creed, a faith. I say it again today, but I put it in another way. 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. This is the message that I have to speak to you.
  • “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 [1] 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 [2]
  • 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 [3]
  • 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.
  • "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.
  • For all their focusing on the all-purpose bogey of Hindu nationalism (or worse isms), it is remarkable that Indian Marxists and their Western disciples have completely failed to study this ideology. During my Ph.D. research on this very topic, I found that practically all secondary publications in the field, including some influential ones, dispensed almost completely with the reading of primary sources. Typically, a few embarrassing quotations, selected by Indian critics of Hindutva from some old pamphlets (mostly Golwalkar 1939), are repeated endlessly and in unabashedly polemical fashion.
    • Elst K. Asterisk in bharopiyasthan: Minor writings on the Aryan invasion debate (2007)
  • An authentic Hindu perception of history and of the present scene would use the secular concept of 'nation' more sparsely, and certainly not make it the cornerstone of Hindu politics. It is increasingly clear that 'Hindu nationalism', the attempt... to formulate the defence of Hindu interests in terms of secular nationalism, will turn out to be only a passing phase in the Hindu revival.
    • Elst K. The Saffron Swastika (2001), Volume I
  • 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)
  • 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".
  • 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
  • Today in the West, nationalism has gone out of fashion; but in India, nothing ever dies, and so nationalism keeps on working its distortive influence on the movement for Hindu self-defence.
    • Elst K. Hindu Dharma and the Culture Wars (2019) Guhas Golwalkar, chapter 15
  • 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.
  • 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 incomplete, uncultured and demonic" while "we are immortality's children". Such poisonous representations have had terrible consequences.
  • That Hindus — alongside countless Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, agnostics and atheists — support me should not be newsworthy. 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.” My meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India’s democratically elected leader, have been highlighted as “proof” of this and portrayed as somehow being out of the ordinary or somehow suspect, even though President Obama, Secretary Clinton, President Trump and many of my colleagues in Congress have met with and worked with him. India is one of America’s closest allies in Asia and is a country of growing importance in a critical region of the world.
  • The notion of a single Hindu culture, incommensurable with Islamic or western epistemes and forms of organization, is the real fiction at work here, imposed by orientalism and painstakingly promulgated, organized, and reformulated by generation of Hindu nationalists and other Indian nationalists for more than a century. [...] In order to understand Hindu nationalism we need to analyze carefully the official secularism it opposed. Textbook versions of secularism as the absence of religion from the public sphere, or a more fashionable understanding of secularism as a metonym of scientific rationalism, will not suffice. We need to take a closer and more informed look at the practices and meanings of secularism in the public culture of independent India. The dominant interpretation of secularism in India did not entail the removal of religion from the political sphere, but rather the belief that religion and culture were elevated to an ostensibly apolitical level, above the profanities of the political. This institutionalized notion of culture and religion as apolitical, and the derived notion of selfless "social work" as ennobling and purifying by virtue of its elevation above politics and money, provided an unassailable moral high ground to a certain genre of "antipolitical activism," conspicuous among social and cultural organization but also often invoked in agitations and in electoral politics in India. I submit that it was from this discursive field of "antipolitics" and "religious activism" that the Hindu nationalist movement, with great ingenuity, built its campaigns and organizational networks for decades. Like other forms of cultural nationalism, the Hindu nationalist movement always entertained a complex ambivalence vis-à-vis democracy and apprehension toward the "political vocation." The evolution of the movement, its organization, and its political strategies must be understood in the context of a constant negotiation and oscillation across the deep bifurcation in modern Indian political culture between a realm of "sublime" culture and realm of "profane" competitive politics.
  • Singh and I had developed a warm and productive relationship. While he could be cautious in foreign policy, unwilling to get out too far ahead of an Indian bureaucracy that was historically suspicious of U.S. intentions, our time together confirmed my initial impression of him as a man of uncommon wisdom and decency…. What I couldn’t tell was whether Singh’s rise to power represented the future of India’s democracy or merely an aberration.... In fact, he owed his position to Sonia Gandhi…more than one political observer believed that she’d chosen Singh precisely because as an elderly Sikh with no national political base, he posed no threat to her forty-year-old son, Rahul, whom she was grooming to take over the Congress Party... He feared that rising anti-Muslim sentiment had strengthened the influence of India’s main opposition party, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)... In the dim light, he (Singh) looked frail, older than his seventy-eight years, and as we drove off I wondered what would happen when he left office. Would the baton be successfully passed to Rahul, fulfilling the destiny laid out by his mother and preserving the Congress Party’s dominance over the ‘divisive nationalism’ touted by the BJP?
  • After the outbreak of Covid-19, one was hoping that the global calamity will be combated on top priority without any consideration of race, ethnicity and religion. [...] Overall, during the last couple of months, the hate-filled atmosphere has taken a sharp upturn and the popular talk is veering towards shun Muslims and boycotting their trades. This does remind some of the boycott of Jew traders before the "final solution" was put into action in Germany. Already the myths, stereotypes and biases against Muslims in particular and partly against Christians abound in the society. A hate-creation mechanism is already in place. This mechanism has become robust during last few years. The roots of this mechanism are fairly deep and it has been actively nurtured by communal elements. That a human tragedy like Covid-19 could have boosted divisive processes was unthinkable a few years ago. To create a negative image, to manufacture stereotypes and biases against the minorities, a large network of trained people, owing allegiance to Hindu nationalism have spread far and wide, deep into the vitals of society.
  • In the interests of 'secularism', most Indian schools and colleges provide only limited courses for the study of ancient India, Vedic Hinduism and Sanskrit literature. So the vast majority of Indian children grow up with a sense of being Indian that is restricted to a religious identity. When this gets infused with a toxic sort of nationalism, as happens in RSS educational institutions, the result is bigotry of a lethal kind.

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