‘Dismantling Global Hindutva’: Western academic perspective

The late 70s to 80s is the high season for drugs, hippie culture and Harry Krishna Harry Rama. The idea of ​​salvation in a colorful, mythical magical land in the name of ashrams and yogis was a popular phenomenon. In search of a meaning for their existence on earth, the youth in particular followed the centuries-old mythologies, which looked on the one hand exotic and on the other hand harmless. Therefore, no one paid any attention to an impending tsunami of ideas based on these mythologies.

India – the land of colors, diverse cultures, magic and Hinduism – caught the attention of the West. People from India opened their religious training centers called ashrams, and thousands of Indians who lived abroad chose the profession of “yogue”. People have paid to live in these religious centers to learn a different way of life with centuries of wisdom and philosophy. The exotic yellow became fashionable alongside the nose piercing. Western science and intelligence seemed to be content with it until the very core of these practices, “Hinduism”, was politicized – unfortunately not by outsiders, but from India itself – and that tainted all those colorful redemption rituals that provided the infamous term Hindutva .

This formation of Hinduism was a political version of Hindu ideology. For political benefit and gain, it filters out the most cherished aspect of harmony and coexistence and propagates the extreme version of religion for politics, power and wealth. The idea of ​​Hindutva is a selected puristic form of the Hindu religion that promotes Brahmins, purity and piety based on the caste system and leaves no room for non-Brahmin and non-Hindus.

Hindutva’s “narcissism” came to the surface in the light of day during the period of current political government and attracted global attention by causing unrest in society. Their ideology that Hindu Brahman is first and highest is utterly indigestible to human rights, and the list of crimes based on this idea is long enough to attract worldwide attention.

I had the opportunity to attend an international online conference entitled “Dismantling Global Hindutva” which was the first academic effort initiated by science to explore the undercurrent of Hindutva and its impact on Western societies including Western campuses Understand universities. The conference was held by speakers from leading universities around the world, including Stanford, Harvard, Princeton, University of Chicago and Berkeley. Over 600 academics from around the world attended the online event.

Participants expressed concern that Hindutva is becoming a global phenomenon and that Western universities are also unsafe from its impact on South Asian students. They believed that hatred is generated by the Hindutva narrative and that it is not against any religion but against humanity, since this philosophy presents Hindutva as a vehicle and the message is actually the supremacy of the Brahmin Varna over every human being. Speakers believed that Hinduism has been promoted as a culture rather than religion in the western world for the past half century, but now it has changed its face as a brutal and extremist religious monster aiming to kill all but brahmins.

Hindutva wants to change the attitudes of followers to see the world with only Hindutva’s extremist ideology. This puristic approach contradicts the basic human rights that the modern world guarantees to people. Hindutva has a history of mistreatment of women, zero respect for transgender rights, exploitation of minorities and extreme policies towards Muslims, Christians, Jews and non-Brahmins. It violates the fundamental rights of anyone who is not a Brahmin.

The conference highlighted that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) promotes Hindutva. Motivated by the Nazi ideology, its principle of regulation is to transform India from a secular democracy into a brahmin state in which Muslims, Christians and other religious minorities are degraded to second-class citizens. Speakers believed that Hindutva is a political philosophy in the style of early 20th century European fascism, an ideology that favors a personality cult and authoritarian leadership.

On behalf of Hindutva, the current Indian government has introduced discriminatory policies including beef bans, restrictions on religious conversion and interfaith marriages, and the introduction of religious discrimination into Indian citizenship laws. These measures led to a shocking rise in religious and caste-based violence, including hate crimes, lynching and rape against Muslims, unconfirmed Dalits, Sikhs, Christians, Adivasi and deviant Hindus. Women in these communities are particularly addressed. Conference speakers believed that the term Hindutva is a strategy based on violence, hatred and terrorism. She is an enemy of democracy and has been aiming for freedom of expression since the BJP came to power. Several cases of harassment of journalists were cited by speakers and participants.

Well-known speakers at the conference were Gyan Prakash, Christophe Jaffrelot, Meena Kandasamy, Anand Patwardhan, Jens Lerche, Pritam Singh, Vamsi Vakulbharnaman, Gajendran Ayyathurani, Meena Dhanda, Bhanwar Megawanshi, Leena Manimekalai, Akansha, P Sivadong Junasini, and Mekansha, P Sivadong Junasini , Raja Bhattar, Brij Maharaj, Sunita Vishwanath, Anjali Arondekar, Demetrius Eudell and Deepa Kumari.

We have read in history that power-hungry groups have used either social norms or religion to grapple with society so that their actions cannot be questioned. India today is going through the same phase in which Hindutva is used to subjugate non-Brahmins, while the majority of Hindus are desperately speaking out that this idea and group have nothing to do with their practices because of Hinduism in the Has interacted and mingled with multiple religions and even with indigenous cultures over the past thousand years and established the philosophy of coexistence and harmony.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 21NS, 2021.

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