Over the years, in my online interactions with people, I have said a lot of things. Some people (usually educated English speaking Indians of my social class and educational background) have accused me of being a "supporter of Hindutva" - as if I have some deep desire to cremate all Muslims alive and rip open pregnant bellies of Muslim women. In online conversations they usually illustrate any views they don't like with a linked online image of the stereotypical "Hindutva-vadi". The stereotype hated "Hindu nationalist" is typically a figure wearing shorts, a hastily smeared tilak (a messy patch of vermilion on the forehead), sometimes with orange flag or robes - with his fist raised and mouth open ostensibly calling for the killing of all people dubbed as non Hindu. In these days of photoshop the Hindutva-vadi of "Hindu nationalist" image shows dead people or burning buildings in the background
This is an interesting tactic that forces any Indian who claims patriotism or nationalism on the defensive, accusing him of being a supporter of genocide and a person who wishes to drive all Indian Muslims to Pakistan; to kill all Muslims and Christians. The fact that Pakistanis and evangelist groups purporting to represent Indian SC/ST groups do this is beside the point. Indians, who are Hindu in most ways and hold a different political view also claim that there is a separate form of suicidal, self destructive and violent nationalism that is called "Hindu nationalism" which needs to be suppressed and rooted out in order to bring civilization into India.
The idea that is being pushed is that there is "nationalism" which is OK and "Hindu nationalism" which is a murderous deviant thought process.
I argue here that this is utter nonsense and this smearing of Hindus for being "religious" nationalist and therefore bigoted by definition is part of the process that led to the partition of India. It is part of the process that seeks to pacify Muslim passions that post partition leaders were worried would be inflamed from across the border by saying "We Hindus are not like that and we will oppose other Hindus if they mention nationalism." (this is pseudosecularism). It is also a tactic used by Church groups funded from abroad to win more followers and prove the hatred of Hinduvta versus the love of more "civilized" religious beliefs.
For partition to occur on Muslim/non-Muslim lines, "Muslim nationalism" was created as a rallying point before 1947. One of the targets of Muslim nationalism that called for unification of a Muslim nation was the need to demonize a counterpart "Hindu nation" that was imagined as a mirror image that stood opposed to Muslim nationalism.
There is definitely a Hindu viewpoint of nationalism and I argue that India has held together as a nation primarily because of Hindu nationalism. It follows from this statement that this unifying Hindu nationalism is also not murderous or or expansionist outside the borders of a historic Hindu view of India. There is no religion that is banned or suppressed by the Indian state. No religious group has seen its numbers being reduced by coercion by legal sanction, and in fact Hindu numbers have been "poached" so to speak by conversion, is a grievance that causes some disquiet.
Before I speak of a Hindu view of India and Indian nationalism - I would like to point out that in our education we are taught two separate subjects called "history" and "geography" as if these are two separate watersheds. This is a typical reductionist view that finds useful application in science, but it causes confusion because history is a story of humans and the story of humans can never be divorced from geography. When people are taught history like "Henry the 8th did blah blah blah" it is assumed that the setting was England, not South America or France. When people are taught about George Washington, it is US history, not based in Japan.
The idea that Indians did not record history is again complete nonsense and I am irritated to see educated Indians believe this piece of misinformation in this day and age. The act of denying someone's history can only be an act of subterfuge that seeks to undermine a civilization. The fact that this has been done to India and continued by educated Indians is something that we Indians, who generally think we are very smart, need to understand. Indian history is recorded in its ancient texts and folklore. These texts and folklore have been shared in Indian languages and in Sanskrit. Just because YOU can read only English does not mean that those tales are rubbish or that they do not exist. The problem is yours, not that of India or its history.
Indian history is totally linked up with the geography of India. People names and place names are linked with rivers, mountains, valleys and seas all across India. There does exist a type of narrow North Indian chauvinism in the cow belt that consider their particular history to represent the core history of Hindu India, but that is a blinkered view of the fact that for people in Maharashtra, Andhra, Tamil Nadu and Assam - there are place names and river names, mountain names and people-names and memories of events and kings that tie up all of India from the Himalayas to Kanyakumari, from Gujarat to Assam. Of course Indian history also includes modern day Pakistan and parts of Afghanistan. Sri Lanka features in Indian history. But China is not part of India in Indian history. The far east, while being influenced by India, again is not part of Indian history. Persia and Greece find mention in later Indian history - in an era which is called "pre-history" in western terms. Neither Persia nor Greece are considered India, in the Indian mind that is informed by Indian history.
The point I am getting at is that the idea of India is not a "Hindu religious" idea based on a particular God, or a linguistic one based on any particular language, or even an ethnic one based on any particular group of people with common physical or cultural characteristics. India is India because it has been India in its existing borders for thousands of years. Not because its people speak one language; not because its people worship a single God; not because its people look and dress the same. This group of people are united by history recorded by Indians in India variously knows as the Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas, Mahabharata and Ramayana. Of course the obvious name for this history is "Hindu history". India is united by Hindu history. It is as simple as that.
Let me briefly digress into a related issue. I have used the term "Hindu history". If "Hindu history" is a "religious history" it is essential that we look at the histories of other religions to see if there is any commonality or any differences.
If we start with the history of Christianity - it started as a small group in west Asia and then expanded massively to cover all or Europe, North America and most of Africa. Christian history is one of expansion of geography, and has no specific attachment to geography.
Islamic history is almost exactly similar. It started in Arabia and expanded massively - mostly by force and coercion. Islam too did not have any love of a specific geography. Other than the life history of the Prophet and the Kaaba, there is no special attachment to geography within Islamic history. Islam is where Muslims are. Of course the idol worship of the area of the Kaaba and the sanctity of Makkah and Madina are more a Saudi Wahhabi construct that anything else - to the detriment of other Islamic historic regions like Iraq and Turkey.
So what is the similarity between Christian history, Islamic History and Hindu history? Let me see if I can tabulate what I think:
Does this history revolve around one single God and his followers?
- Christian history - yes
Islamic history - yes
Hindu history - no
Has the history been one of continuous and relentless expansion since establishment
- Christian history - yes
Islamic history - yes
Hindu history - no
Is the history inextricably linked to any geographic region?
- Christian history - no
Islamic history - no
Hindu history - yes
Anyone who looks at the above table will see that "Hindu history" is totally unlike the history of Christianity and Islam. The latter two are histories of religion. Hindu history is more one of geography and culture. The geography is intrinsic to Hindu history. Expansion and the requirement of following one God are both not parts of Hindu history.
It is Hindu history that unites India within India's historic confines
It is Hindu history that keeps Indian in India without expanding and occupying other lands by forcing the "Hindu religion"
Hindu nationalism is the acknowledgement of Hindu history that defines the geographic region and culture even while avoiding expansile and coercive conflict outside this geographic region, or the imposition of one religion or one God on all people in India . How would this definition of Hindu nationalism be any different from Indian nationalism?
Why then should we have a situation where
1. Hindu history is dissed as non existent and worthless?
2. Those who speak of pride in Hindu history are dissed as violent chauvinists whose views need to be rejected?
3. Hindu nationalism is said to be an abhorrent monster?
Surely these views are only designed to destroy India as a nation and not unite.
If you got this far, thanks. I will read other opinions, whether i agree with them or not