ideology of Hate

Hindutva or Hindu Nationalism Defined

Hindutva is an ideology seeking to establish the hegemony of Hindus and the Hindu way of life. (Encyclopedia Britannica)

The Hindu nationalist movement, known as Hindutva, advocates for Hindu supremacy and seeks to transform India, constitutionally a secular state, into an ethno-religious nation known as the Hindu Rashtra (Hindu nation). Hindutva is the official platform of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), an extreme right political party in India that is now effectively in power in India.

Hindutva asserts that believers of Abrahamic faiths (i.e. Judaism, Christianity & Islam) are foreign invaders who must be displaced from India or converted to Hinduism and that members of the Non-Abrahamic faiths (i.e. Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism, etc.) must be absorbed within the Hindu fold.

Hindutva ideology rejects diversity as a social value, instead seeking an extreme form of homogeny. VD Savarkar, the godfather of Hindutva ideology, taught that Indians who identified as members of other religions were, rightly, Hindu, thereby seeking to deny individuals and social groups of agency and identity. Today, some Hindutva groups and individuals engage in ghar wapsi (“returning home”) or converting non-Hindus—especially Muslims, Christians, and indigenous people – to Hinduism. Hindutva makes strong claims on Hindus as well, narrowing the range of possible expressions of Hindu identity in severe ways that are opposed by many Hindus (here, here, and here).

Distinguishing Hindutva and Hinduism

Hindutva is distinct from the religion of Hinduism, although it arrogates to itself the right to speak for all Hindus. Hindutva is a modern and narrow political ideology whereas Hinduism is a broad-based religious tradition. Many Hindus oppose Hindutva ideology, both in India and in the US-based diaspora, and it is offensive to conflate the two.

Those who advocate Hindutva views sometimes try to shield their far right politics and prejudices from criticism by claiming—in bad-faith—that they are expressing Hindu religious views. This attempted cover-up is harmful on several counts. One, it seeks to deflect legitimate criticism of an extreme political ideology that is harmful to many groups and individuals. Two, it tries to narrow the diverse range of Hindu traditions and expressions of Hindu identities, a move unwelcome by many within the broad-based Hindu tradition.

Hindu Nationalist Network in India

Hindutva ideology is promoted by an array of vigilante, political, and cultural groups, known collectively as the Sangh Parivar.

Hindu Nationalist organizations in India combine their cultural and political power with violence to oppress minorities, quash dissent and subvert Indian democracy. Hindutva also seeks to erase the presence and rights of non-Hindu religious communities in contemporary India and even in the historical past.

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, known more commonly by its acronym, the RSS is an armed, uniformed, all-male Hindu nationalist paramilitary in India which is implicated, including in reports from many US government entities, in acts of extreme violence against Indian religious minorities and others.

RSS is the fountainhead of this ideology of Hindutva. It controls one of the largest militias in the world and is at the center of the Sangh and sets the priorities and tactics for promoting Hindutva ideology. Today, the RSS — as the parent organization of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) — holds vast influence over India.

Through grassroots dissemination of its ideology, predicated on the notion of Hindu victimhood at the hands of religious minorities, the RSS has grown to a membership of 6 million with members participating in daily training in more than 50,000 training camps across India. The RSS has hundreds of thousands of chapters in the towns and villages of India.

RSS and its influence on India is destroying the country’s religious and social fabric beyond repair and because of its influence globally, it is a clear and present danger to the secular, democratic, and pluralistic ideals of any society or nation.

Killers of Mahatma Gandhi

The RSS idolizes Hitler and was responsible for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi

SEE: Gandhi’s Killer Evokes Admiration as Never Before

Less than six months after Independence Day, Gandhi would be assassinated by Nathuram Godse, a fanatic Hindu nationalist from Maharashtra, who believed that Gandhi’s efforts to bring peace, brotherhood and friendship between Hindus and Muslims were detrimental to the interests of India’s Hindus, and he was therefore better dead than alive.

Godse’s belief emerged from an ideology first propounded by his guru, Vinayak Savarkar, back in the 1920s, that considered non-Hindus, especially Muslims and Christians, as aliens to the land and not deserving of equal rights as citizens of India. Savarkar’s ideology inspired the formation of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the RSS, in 1925, which would over time became the frontispiece of a Hindu-only xenophobic ideology.

By many accounts Godse had been a member of the RSS, even though the RSS denies it today. When Gandhi’s assassin Godse walked to the gallows after being sentenced to death, he sang the RSS’s anthem. Even Savarkar was accused of being a co-conspirator in Gandhi’s assassination but was let off on legal technicalities. As India’s first home minister Sardar Patel, a disciple of Gandhi, noted at that time, RSS members had celebrated Gandhi’s murder by distributing sweets.

When India adopted the saffron-white-green tricolor national flag, the RSS rejected it saying that green represented Islam and only saffron was the Hindu color. When India adopted a pluralist Constitution in 1949, the RSS rejected it saying India’s Constitution should be based not on modern principles of equal rights for all but on ancient Hindu scriptures.

It is remarkable that seventy-four years later, India finds itself at exactly the same crossroads as it did in 1947, battling the two opposite ideologies of Mahatma Gandhi and Vinayak Savarkar.

It is true that at the moment, Savarkar’s ideology appears to be winning with India’s ruling party, the BJP, being a subsidiary of the RSS, and India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, a self-avowed Hindu nationalist, being an RSS member from the age of eight.

Fascist Origins of Hindutva and RSS

RSS was founded by people who were inspired by Fascist movements in Europe. They met Nazi regime officials as well Mussolini and his officers in Fascist Italy and came back to setup a Fascist organization in India modelled after Bailila, the youth wing of the Fascist movement. RSS is the largest and oldest continuously running Fascist organization in the world.

RSS was founded in 1925 at the exact same time that the European fascist movements were developing in Italy and Germany. Its founders and ideologues pointed directly to the structure of Mussolini’s fascist outfits, to the “race pride” of Hitler’s Germany, and to the territorial expansionism of both fascist Italy and Germany as examples for the RSS to follow. One of its co-founders even traveled to Italy to meet Mussolini, subsequently describing the RSS as of an identical kind to the Italian fascist outfits.

The co-founders and other leaders of the RSS publicly defended Hitler on numerous occasions and advocated for adopting Hilter’s solution to the “Jewish problem” for Muslims and Christians in India. V.D. Savarkar, one of the cofounders of the Hindu Nationalist movements, defended the Hitler, Nazism and the persecution of Jews in the following words:

“A Nation is formed by the majority living therein. What did the Jews do in Germany? They being a minority were driven out from Germany” – Dec 11th 1938
“Who are we to dictate to Germany, Japan or Russia or Italy to choose a particular form of policy of government simply because we woo it out of academical attraction? Sure Hitler knows better than Pandit Nehru does what suits Germany best. The very fact that Germany or Italy has so wonderfully recovered and grown so powerful at the touch of Nazi or Fascist magical wand is enough to prove that those isms were the most congenial tonic their health demanded”
“Germany has every right to resort to Nazism and Italy to Fascism and events have justified that those isms and forms of governments were imperative and beneficial under the conditions that obtained there” – Aug 1st 1938

Most notoriously, in 1939 (a year after Kristallnacht, the first Nazi pogrom of the Jews, and amidst the Nazi annexation of Austria and invasion of Poland), the RSS’s longest-serving leader praised Hitler’s “purging of the Jews” as a “good lesson for us… to learn and profit by.”

“…To maintain the purity of the Race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic Races—the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by.”

(Golwalkar, We Or Our Nationhood Defined, Bharat Publications, Nagpur, 1939, p. 35.)

Since its founding, the RSS has advocated for complete subjugation, enslavement and/or genocide of Muslims and Christians in India, who – it alleges – subscribe to foreign (non-Indian) religions. In the words of M.S. Golwalkar, one of the co-founder and head of RSS:

[The] foreign races in Hindusthan must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but those of the glorification of the Hindu race and culture, i.e., of the Hindu nation and must lose their separate existence to merge in the Hindu race, or may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu Nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment—not even citizen’s rights.” – M.S.Golwalkar, “We, Or Our Nationhood Defined” – 1935, p.35:

The Nazis primarily targeted Jewish people. In the case of the RSS, they primarily target Christians and Muslims (for elimination), while also seeking to forcibly assimilate Buddhists and Sikhs. In the case of Muslims and Christians, RSS founders and ideologues smeared them as members of “foreign races,” as an “internal threat,” or, in so many words, as “traitors.”

The RSS and its members and affiliated organizations have been implicated in countless acts of massacres, ethnic cleansing, terrorism, forced-conversions and other forms of violence against religious minorities in India. In both the magnitude of hate it represents, and in its track record of mass violence against minorities, including rape, arson and genocide, the RSS is the Hindu equivalent of ISIS.

RSS leaders openly proclaim of “wiping off” Christianity and Islam from India and advocate for denying Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism a separate religious identity, and insist that there are branches of Hinduism.

The RSS was banned thrice by the Indian government for its violent actions. It was banned the first time when a member of the RSS killed Mahatma Gandhi. It was also banned after its members destroyed the historical Babri mosque in India, leading to the deaths of over 2,000 people, mostly Muslims, in the violence that followed.