By Ashiq Hussein Bhat
Who is a Hindu? According to the Hindu Mahasabha ideologue, V. D. Savarkar, many thousand years ago Aryan people, coming from the Arctic region, settled on the banks of the river Indus. The river was called “Sindhu” in Sanskrit language and the Indus river system, containing seven rivers (Indus, Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Sutlej, Beas, and perhaps Saraswati) was called the “Sapta Sindhu” – (“Sapta” in Sanskrit signifying “seven”). The Aryan people derived their name from the river system and came to be called “Saptu Sindhu”. This term later got Persianized and became “Hapta Hindu”; because in the Persian language the sound “s” gives way to the sound “h” – (“Hapta” in Persdian meaning “seven”).
Still later the term “Hapta Hindu” got abridged to “Hindu”. So the Aryan people who had settled on the banks of Indus gradually came to be called “Hindu”.
The river system thus welded the Aryan people into a nation. In return, the “Hindus” revered the river and worshipped it (Essentials of Hindutva , V.D. Savarkar). This “Hindu(ness)” of the people and country is what is called “Hindutva”. Thus “Hindutva” is a much wider term than “Hinduism”. “Hinduism” is only one of the many component parts of “Hindutva”.
The Aryan people reached the geographical limits of their adopted country when Prince Rama Chandra (man, warrior, and reincarnation of god Vishnu ) of Ayodhya entered Ceylon (Sri Lanka). The Prince Rama thus became sovereign from Himalayas to the sea; everyone swore allegiance to him, not only the Aryans from the north, but also Hanuman, Sugrive, and Bhibisana from the south. “This was the real birthday of the Hindu people,” wrote V. D. Savarkar in 1921-22.
Although the greatest kings and emperors of India belonged to Buddhist period, and it was during Buddhist times that India extended its influence beyond its natural borders, the advent of Buddhism was a setback to the Hindu Nation. They lost their hold on religion. The Buddhist “viharas sheltered loose, lazy, and promiscuous crowd of men and women who lived on others and spent what was not theirs on disreputable pursuits of life” (Essential of Hindutva V.D. Savarkar).
After the fall of Buddhism, Hindus experienced a national renaissance when the institution of varna (caste) system was revived,( verna system being the foundation stone of the Hindu Nation). Where there is no caste system, there is the Mleccha (foreign, barbarian, impure) country. From Attock to Cuttak and from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, there is Hindusthan (the land of Hindus), rest is Mleccha land.
With the fall of Buddhism, the Sanskrit language gave way to local dialects, Hindi being the one among these many dialects that is universally understood.
Hindus received another setback when Mahmud Ghaznavi crossed the Indus and despoiled Hindusthan. For next 1000 years, Hindu national history was not properly surveyed. During this period Hindu Nation remained busy fighting battles for survival in hundred battlefields.
And what is Hinduism? It is a set of dogmas that a Hindu believes in and the religious practices that he performs.
Again, what is Hindutva? Hindutva is a national and cultural term. The first essential of Hindutva is that the motherland is a living Being which has clear cut geographical and physical features encompassed in between the Indus and the Indian ocean. This motherland is the land of Hindus, the Hindusthan. The terms “Hindu” and “Hindi” signify “Indian” in English. All Hindus are Indian citizens.
But what about Muslims resident in India? Is he a Hindu? No, because there are other essentials of being a “Hindu”, says Savarkar.
“A Muslim is not entitled to be called a “Hindu” so long as he doesn’t disown the dogmas that he believes in; so long as he doesn’t revere the culture and history of Hindus which entail belief in the systems of varna( four castes Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya, Shudra) and ashrams (four stages of Hindu life, Brahmacharya, Grihastha, Vana Prastha, Sanyas); so as long he doesn’t believe in salutation and worship of motherland goddess Hindusthan; so long as he doesn’t revere the Aryan race spirit; so long as he doesn’t revere and worship the cow (including, perhaps, drink its urine); so long as he doesn’t revere and worship idols of the gods and goddesses of Hindus; so long as he doesn’t reverence Sanskrit and Hindi as sacred languages”, according to Savarkar.
Since Muslims, and also Christians, are not prepared to subscribe to the above conditions, they have no place in Hindusthan. Savarkar writes: “That is why in the case of our Mohammadan or Christian countrymen who had originally been forcibly converted to a non-Hindu religion and who consequently have inherited along with Hindus, a common Fatherland and a greater part of the wealth of a common culture – language, laws, customs, folklore, and history – are not and cannot be recognized as Hindus”.
Savarkar adds, “For, though Hindusthan to them is Fatherland as to any other Hindu yet it is not to them a Holy land. Their Holy land is far off in Arabia or Palestine. Their mythology and Godmen, ideas and heroes are not the children of the soil. Consequently their names and their outlook smack of foreign origin…Look at the Mohammadans. Mecca to them is a sterner reality than Delhi or Agra. Some of them do not make any secret of being bound to sacrifice all India if that be to the glory of Islam or could save the city of their prophet”.
The Hindutva ideologue then calls upon Muslims and Christians to return to Hindu fold: “Then come ye back to the fold of your brothers and sisters who with arms extended are standing at the open gate to welcome you – their long lost kith and kin”. It may be added here that in the coming years, 1920s, the Arya Samajists launched a ruthless campaign called Shuddi (purification) to reconvert Christians and Muslims to Hinduism. For now the term “Shuddi” has given way to “ghar wapsi(home coming).
He suspects the loyalty of Muslims and Christians to India and cites the example of Christians of Armenia who were unfaithful to Turkey and sided with its enemies in the war. “Take the case of Turkey. The young Turks after the revolution had to open their Parliament and military institutions to Armenians and Christians on a non-religious and secular basis. But when the war with Serbia came the Christians and Armenians first wavered and then many a regiment consisting of them went bodily over to the Serbians who politically and racially and religiously were more closely bound up with them”, Savarkar concludes.
—The author is a political historian. He can be reached at: [email protected]