A History and Hermeneutics of the Hatred Against Hindu Rashtra
The quite old and constructed fear in both Indian and international media as well as academia has grown exponentially since 2014 when the Bharatiya Janata Party won the General Elections and formed the government at the center in India. The fear that has been provoked and the hysteria that has been “manufactured” are indications of the rabid hatred of the idea of Hindu Rashtra and the growing space for Hindu/Bharatiya nationalism allowed by the people’s choice of the BJP.
Numerous labels have been used to characterize and caricature the BJP and its supporters, and these labels rob or deny the opportunity for any honest debates about the nature of Hindu nationalism, Hindu Rashtra, and who or what are opposed to them for what reasons, and whether there are other kinds of nationalisms or schemes to deny the majority Hindus of their space in India, and about their ability to use their culture and their past as the glue that binds a diverse nation. Interestingly, Hindutva agencies and Hindu activists have also started responding in kind with their own set of labels as a foil to the intolerant and exclusivist nature of these self-certified champions of democratic ideals.
Let us take a summary look at a range of false or misleading narratives that have been created and assigned to the idea of Hindu Rashtra to debilitate or incapacitate it.
Hindu Rashtra as Anti-Minority:
Aakar Patel, in his book Our Hindu Rashtra: What it is. How we Got Here, says that the idea of Hindu Rashtra “is purely about the exclusion and persecution of India’s minorities, particularly, Muslims. That is the only meaning of the Hindu Rashtra in India. It imagines India as a Hindu nation where the Muslim and Christian exist on sufferance… It is hollow and bankrupt as an idea once its content of hate and prejudice is emptied out. The acquisition of authority in Hindu Rashtra is not towards bettering the lives of Hindus but damaging, excluding, and handicapping those who are not born Hindu”.
Julio Ribeiro, a retired IPS officer, writing for the Times of India says that Hindu Rashtra will turn India into a “saffron Pakistan” . Another columnist in The Quint who introduces himself as a “devout Hindu,” a Shiv Bhakt and claims to have learnt Durga Saptasati and Gayatri Mantra in his childhood, questions whether “Muslims (should) be stripped of all fundamental rights” and “purged, disenfranchised, stripped of their fundamental rights, or sent to detention camps/Pakistan?” This is typical the thinking that is prevalent now that associates Hindus either with a plot to rid Indian of “minorities” or Hinduism as merely a hodge-podge of prayers, worship, and rituals and therefore cannot become a banner for Hindu revival or assertion. For such critics, Hinduism has nothing to offer and has contributed nothing to human civilization and culture.
Asim Ali in the Wire describes the “content”  of Hindu Rashtra as a…
“…state where the minorities live in fear as effective second-class citizens and where leading Hindutva organisations enjoy, in practice, extra-legal powers to coerce and intimidate,” and Saba Naqvi writing for Scroll.in  defines Hindu Rashtra as “A sort of cultural fascism that is sought to be imposed since legally, the Hindu Rashtra cannot exist”. She further says the Hindu Rashtra will “overtly and covertly” give credence to “Jinnah’s two-nation theory”.
This is just the tip of the iceberg that maligns the age-old concept of Hindu Rashtra and turns it into some sort of a supremacist and intolerant ideology. But what we cannot understand at first glance is this hatred all things Hindu or this Hinduphobia among the deracinated Hindus, the Islamists masquerading as Indians first, and a well-entrenched intelligentsia that has supped at the “secular” trough long enough that they will do anything to destroy the will of the people to create a Hindu Rashtra.
Many people in the media and in academia seek to dismiss or diminish the profound implications of the idea of Hindu Rashtra. They want to make it appear that the concept of Hindu Rashtra is no different than simplistic modern concepts of the state. This works well for them and allows them to name and shame those who seek to recover and adumbrate upon the nature of rashtra that is Hindu –based on the grand principles of “Sarve janah sukhinau bhavantu,” and “Vasudhaiva kutumbakam”. By reducing Hindu Rashtra to the mere “blood and soil” approach to the idea of nation among Europeans denies the people of Bharata their heritage of grand inquiry into the nature of the human condition and therefore to their unique identity of being builders of “open software”.
From what one can observe, this ideological echo chamber has been created mostly by s distinct set of ‘Nehruvian’ scholars and Marxist “intellectuals” over the past few decades. They have employed the romantic Marxist idea of class struggle between zamindars, moneylenders, and the peasantry to explain the rise of what one can plainly call communal forces, fanned by the divide and rule policies of the British Raj, and particularly during certain phases of the independence movement in the country. Bipan Chandra in his book “India’s Struggle for Independence 1857-1947”  says this:
From the 1870s, a section of Hindu zamindars, moneylenders and middle-class professionals began to arouse anti-Muslim sentiments. Fully accepting the colonial view of Indian history, they talked of the tyrannical Muslim rule in the medieval period…. In U.P. and Bihar, they took up the question of Hindi and gave it a communal twist, declaring that Urdu was the language of Muslims and Hindi of Hindus. All over India, anti-cow slaughter propaganda was undertaken in the early 1890s, the campaign being primarily directed not against the British but against Muslims… Consequently, this agitation invariably took a communal turn, often resulting in communal riots.
The left/Marxist historians blame Hindu nationalism for the rise of communalism. Bipan Chandra writes: 
A strong contributory factor in the growth of communalism was the pronounced Hindu tinge in much of nationalist thought and propaganda in the beginning of the 20th century. Many of the extremists introduced a strong Hindu religious element in nationalist thought and propaganda. They tended to emphasize ancient Indian culture to the exclusion of medieval Indian culture. They tried to provide a Hindu ideological underpinning to Indian nationalism or at least a Hindu idiom to its day-to-day political agitation.
Thus, if one at all goes by this sort of logic, then one will have to concede that Lokmanya Tilak through his public Ganapati and Shivaji festivals in Maharashtra, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay through his fiction in Bengal, and similarly others in different parts of the country in their own way sowed the seeds of Hindu nationalism that apparently led to “communalism”. This is indeed so, according to Bipan Chandra’s view of the Hindu world:
- Muslim rulers and officials were portrayed as tyrants, tended to produce resentment among literate Muslims and alienate them from the emerging national movement.
- It enabled the Government and the Muslim communalists to use it to keep large sections of Muslims away from the nationalist movement away from the nationalist movement and to instill among them the feeling that the success of the movement would mean Hindu supremacy in the country.
- It made difficult for the nationalist movement to eliminate the Hindu communal political and ideological elements within its own ranks.
- It also helped the spread of a Muslim tinge among Muslim nationalists.
According to these authors, Hindu nationalism was not part of the mainstream nationalist movement in India. It was the secular pan-Indian nationalism of Gandhi, Nehru, Maulana Azad, Patel and others that was the “mainstream”. The latter failed to keep the former in check. Bipan Chandra , however, accepts that “religion” was used as a “mobilizing factor by the communalists” but “religion was not responsible for communalism”. It was rather “religiosity” which was “a major contributing factor” for growth of communalism. Religiosity is, according to him…
…intense emotional commitment to matters of religion and the tendency to let religion and religion emotions intrude into non-religious or non-spiritual areas of life and beyond the individual’s private and moral world… Secularization did not, therefore, mean removing religion but it did mean reducing religiosity or increasingly narrowing down the sphere of religion to the private life of the individual.
Before analyzing this now formulaic “Nehruvian” way of presenting India’s past and present, we must reiterate that history, as written, does not capture the complex nature of the past, with historians having to rely on what was written, built, or said. We cannot capture the events in our own life fully. We cannot, indeed capture the events of a day fully, despite what may want to think of Joyce’s Ulysses. But leftist historians do believe and assert with conviction just the opposite or do so according to convenience. Their model and method of history writing has striking features, some of which can be listed here:
- Negationism: They have used the alien, Marxist lens of class conflict to analyze communal problems in India. With economic determinism they have de-contextualized Bharatiya civilization’s challenges and negated the historical contexts in which these challenges were overcome. Every atrocity committed on Hindu culture with the rise of Islam on the subcontinent, namely mass conversion, iconoclasm, loot and pillage, torture, murder, rape, faith-based economic discrimination like ‘jiziya’ taxation, cultural subjugation etc., are simply ignored or deleted in their narratives. The ideological and institutional underpinnings of radicalization among Muslims are also completely ignored. According to these agencies of negationist propaganda, the bottom-line is Hindu and Muslim communalisms are mirror images and “to decide which communalism came first is like answering the question: which came first, the chicken or the egg?” 
- Identity subjugation: Hindus are made to feel ashamed of who they are. Their mere social-cultural existence is suspect in their world of “competitive secularism”. The slaughter of the milch cow, sacred to Hindus for many millennia, was used to humiliate and torture Hindus during the regimes of the Islamic dynasties. The defenders of Hindu society rallied around the symbol of “gau mata” to energize Hindus. Yet it is Hindus who are blamed in modern reporting about cow slaughter, turning the thieves and butchers of cows to “lynched” martyrs and those who opposed cow slaughter as the plotters of communal riots. The blame that should have gone to the leaders of Muslim separatism during 1946-47 is instead foisted on the shoulders of the Hindu community for organizing themselves around cultural motifs and historical figures, against invasive, anti-Hindu imperialist forces.
- False equivalence and falsehood: By putting the blame of the partition of India on Hindu nationalists, whether within the Congress or other parties and groups like the Hindu Mahasabha, and the Muslim League under Jinnah, these narrative agencies have created a false equivalence. Significantly, Venkat Dhulipala explains in his book Creating a New Medina: State Power, Islam, and the Quest for Pakistan in Late Colonial North India  that the creation of Pakistan did not just stem from a vague idea or accident of history. He points this out: “…the trajectory of (the) Pakistan movement in the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh (now Uttar Pradesh., India), whose Muslims played a critical role in this nation-state’s creation despite their awareness that U.P. itself would not be a part of Pakistan…it is here that the idea of Pakistan arguably found the earliest, most sustained and overwhelming support, much before it found traction in the Muslim majority provinces of British India where it was realize…it was not just envisaged as a refuge for the Indian Muslims, but as an Islamic utopia that would be the harbinger and renewal of rise of Islam in the modern world.” The role played by Deobandi ulemas of U.P. to this effect was of paramount importance. Thus, equating Hindu nationalists with Muslim separatists or blaming Hindu nationalists for communalism is malicious. Much of this was seen during the media circus that transpired in December 2019 with rioters picketing places like Aligarh and Northeast Delhi and heard calling for the death of Hindutva and thus of Hinduism.
- Secularization: Secularization as a process started in Europe after the Protestant Reformation of Martin Luther, John Calvin, and others as a protest against the vagaries and evil practices of the Roman Catholic Church. The dark ages, when the Catholic Church in Rome and the monarchy of Europe were hand in glove in controlling every aspect of people’s lives and sought to squelch any opposition to their unjust, cruel, irrational rule. The middleman between the Christian God and the Christian man on earth — the Church — was removed and religion was opened for individuals to access and to enjoy on their own terms. But to think that the European experience in the Dark Ages should be treated as both a potential and a reality everywhere else and in the present context is ludicrous and speaks for the intellectual hollowness and the colonial mentality of many of modern India’s historians and political commentators. It seems like these “intellectuals” lack a fundamental understanding of and grounding in the vast corpus of Hindu spirituality and cultural traditions. They have created a mythical and unsubstantiated dichotomy between secular Indian nationalism and Hindu nationalism.
The culture and religion of India are so intertwined that when we forcibly attempt to secularize Indian society, we are left only with western subservient elitism. The desired division between religious and non-religious spheres of a society or a nation is nothing but the blind acceptance of the supremacy of European, white, colonial value systems over indigenous ones.
But this subjugation is not so easy to comprehend given that they are explicitly aimed at certain individuals and organizations that are Hindu. Anybody else who stands for any Hindu cause is branded in those same terms. This helps in sustaining and strengthening the Hinduphobic narratives all the more.
For example, these “Nehruvian intellectuals” have portrayed V.D. Savarkar — the ideologue of Hindutva — and M.S. Golwalkar and the R.S.S. (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) as fascists, communalists, and Hindu nationalists. It is imperative that every ideology and personality should be scrutinized and critiqued, whether it is Hindutva, Gandhi’s ahimsa and satyagraha, communism, capitalism, and so on. The deification of personalities like Mahatma Gandhi or B.R. Ambedkar is not really a sign of a vibrant society as they had their own flaws and made their own mistakes. Similarly, Savarkar’s “Hindutva”  cannot be accepted in toto. It was a product of its time.
But the problem is that the media and academia have been able to corner the Hindu Rashtra bashing project as a political enterprise. Here are a few examples of this:
- An essay  in in after the Delhi riots says the following: The Hindu-Rashtra strategy is leery of reason and fact, hostile to minorities, benevolent towards fake news and hate speech, manipulative of law and derisive of scientific inquiry… If the Hindu-Rashtra strategy was first evident in Gujarat after the turn of the century, Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh are now its main laboratories. Detentions, preventive or otherwise, on specious or non-existent grounds are common, the state has dropped democratic pretense, elements of majoritarian cultural hegemony are increasingly visible, and journalists are commonly subjected to intimidation through criminal cases or imprisonment…The Hindu-Rashtra approach is more gradual but equally effective, as evidenced by the state of journalism in India. The whittling away of independence has been quiet, beginning in Modi’s first term and accelerating in his second… propagandist media are essential cogs in the Hindu-Rashtra strategy, speedily deployed to turn an unfavourable narrative or create one. That is how terms like “love jihad” or “urban-naxal” or “jihadi” – once dismissed as imaginations of a fevered, somewhat insane minds –came to be firmly entrenched in WhatsApp forwards, political speech, printed book and police charge sheet.
- Similarly, articles and stories in The New York Times and The Washington Post are full of such pejorative language reserved for the Hindu community while masquerading as political critique of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party government and its leaders. A column , on the Citizenship Amendment Act that is intended to give citizenship to persecuted minorities in the three neighboring Islamic nations of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, published in The New York Times describes the unfolding of events as — “ Modi intends to turn India into a Hindu-centric state that would leave the country’s 200 million Muslims at a calculated disadvantage.”
- An article  in The Washington Post after the special status of Jammu & Kashmir was nullified and it was bifurcated into two Union Territories described it “a Hindu victory over Islam.” It further says — Modi’s sudden takeover in Kashmir is the fulfillment of a long ideological yearning to make a predominantly Muslim population surrender to his vision of a homogeneous Hindu nation. It is also a way of conveying to the rest of India — a union of dizzyingly diverse states — that no one is exempt from the Hindu-power paradise he wants to build on the subcontinent…By seizing Kashmir, Modi has mollified votaries of Hindu nationalism and established himself as the father of what they proudly call the “New India.” Kashmir was always at the top of their wish list, which also includes the construction of a temple in Ayodhya, where a mosque stood for half a millennium before Hindu nationalists razed it in 1992; the erasure of small privileges granted to minorities (such as a subsidy for the Muslim pilgrimmage to Mecca); a legal end to religious conversions by Hindus; an extra-legal suppression of interfaith romance and marriages, especially when the bride is Hindu and the groom Muslim; and, ultimately, the rewriting of the constitution to declare India a formally Hindu state.
- Another essay in The New York Times, just before 2019 Lok Sabha elections in India, blames a Hindu nationalist surge for creating fault lines in India albeit under Narendra Modi. It is the same old story as we have seen earlier. Hindus are portrayed as lynch mobs going on a rampage to kill Muslims and lower caste people. Even scientific research on paleo-channels of the once extant Sarasvati River is painted as “extremist Hindu priorities”.
- According to journalist N. Ram, the Hindu Rashtra ideology denies “equality, fairness and justice to all citizens of the country.” 
There are a few patterns that emerge in such blatant propaganda against the concept of rashtra and Hindu nationalism. First, many complex issues are de-contextualized and presented bereft of facts. Take the case of the Kashmir issue. Hardly would one find mention of the several exoduses of Hindus that happened in the last millennium till the last one in 1990, or the spate of conversions that changed the demography of the valley. Kashmir Shaivism as a sect came under severe threat and its rich temples were plundered and lie in ruins today. Yet Hindu nationalism is presented as majoritarian aggression and is blamed for homogenizing and trampling Kashmiri culture.
Another example is this condescending opinion in The Print by Zainab Sikander : “Not Ram Mandir, the ‘love jihad’ laws are the foundation of Hindu Rashtra”. The author paints Hindu Rashtra as a patriarchal state denying autonomy to women and opposing any form of interfaith marriage. It dismisses the numerous documented cases of “grooming,” or “love jihad” where non-Islamic women are converted, tortured, raped, or killed by Muslim men, often under false identity. Even judicial, executive and legislature decisions in this matter by numerous states and High Courts are all characterized as “figments of political imagination”.
These articles and books often cite reports of western non-governmental organizations, many of which were created with the purpose of maintaining the West’s hegemony over global politics and for acting in critical situations as power brokers. These organizations set standards of human rights, democracy, press freedom as per their own whims and caprices and very selectively use data and information to fit their hypotheses about the efficacy of a government or about the modernization of a culture. For example, while the issue of the entry of menstruating women to the garbhagriha of Sabarimala Temple becomes an example of how “regressive” Hindu culture is, the ban on triple talaq and its criminalization is presented as an attempt to weaken Muslim solidarity and identity and denying Muslims the opportunity to right their wrongs.
Civilizing the Natives:
This negative portrayal of India is nothing new. The British colonizers and European imperialists who came with a civilizing mission for the native populations of the world, including India, had similar visions about this country and its people. For them, India then was not fit for self-rule nor is it today a mature democracy. India, according to them, does not constitute a nation for it lacks in the ingredients that go to make a nation.
Yogendra Yadav says that India is a “state-nations” . As the Indian state is a sovereign over multiple nations inside the present territory and India has not been able to constitute itself into a single nation like France did after the French Revolution. According to another article , published in the Wire.in, the idea of Bharatavarsha is different from what the present-day Indian nation stands for. There was no Indian nation-state that existed in the past, apparently. The latent objective behind such commentary is to create a gulf between Bharata’s civilizational identity and post-independence political identity. Therefore, the decolonization of Indian socio-political consciousness is imperative.
The myopic idea of Bharata as presented deracinated commentators and activists has done much harm, and therefore we see the violent opposition to the Ram Mandir construction in Ayodhya  or to the Citizenship Amendment Act. The Ram Mandir recovers the grand heritage of this civilization, and the CAA recognizes Bharata as the only homeland of the last standing polytheistic cultures of Asia.
Self-Hatred and Hinduphobia:
When one digs deeper into this mess, it is clear that those who are Hinduphobic have accepted the political and cultural subjugation by the followers of Abrahamic religions with their idea of irrational exclusivity, and conformity with the strict belief system under a centralized authority. They are willing to ignore the long history of oppression, of civilizational violence, subjugation, and opposition to scientific ideas in their rush to paint Hindus as regressive.
The pantheon of Hindu “religions” with all the accompanying philosophies, its yogic sciences that offer ways of elevating one’s own consciousness, its rich culture and discoveries in medicine, astronomy, and arts are all force-fitted into the frame of intolerance, majoritarianism, and hate. Hindu religiosity that is ingrained into the Indian mindset is the target of more hatred than anything else in this world.
There are social problems across time and geographies of almost all human societies. Some institutions and practices turn discriminatory with change in material conditions over time. But the Shruti-Smriti tradition of Hindus allows course corrections and realignments to the fundamental nature of humanity and nature. But the idea of historical specificity, often a characteristic of political dominance in the guise of religion, is used to judge Hindu societies. This view, coupled with years of toxic atrocity literature results in attaching some social ills, like untouchability, sati, and misogyny permanently to Hindu Rashtra whereas it is true that the mainstream of Hindu society has left these social evils behind and has proceeded to correct its own course.
Nor is a mad rush for being “modern” a characteristic of Hindu Rashtra, without any regard for sustainability. The description of Hindu Rashtra as medieval is but a reflection of the value superiority of ideas like consumerism or utilitarianism that have created havoc on this planet. Thus, in ways more than one, this Hinduphobia is suicidal for humanity.
But apart from this self-hatred, what one finds is blatant hypocrisy and elitism in media produced narratives. How else can one explain the irony of Julio Riberio’s statement that his ancestors in Goa converted to Christianity as an “accident of history”? Are the Goa inquisitions or conversions of innocent and threatened people by foreign-funded missionaries to be dismissed merely as “accidents of history”? Ignoring the holocaust of Jews is considered a crime in many countries but ignoring the most brutal genocides over centuries in India perpetrated by followers of both Islam and Christianity is considered historically accurate and ‘liberal’. Hinduphobia emerges from what has been popularly termed as “Breaking India”  forces with a clear purpose — power hegemony and disenfranchisement of the people.
Rashtra In a Nutshell: 
To explain Hindu Rashtra in detail is beyond the scope of this article. But some misconceptions need to be cleared. A rashtra is not just a political entity like a theocratic or democratic state. It encompasses every aspect of a society — political, economic, social, and environmental. A rashtra is held together not just by any external markers of race, language, ethnicity, color, or creed. Nor it is simply a political arrangement made by empowered elites to create nation states based on a Westphalian notion of sovereignty. Today when Big Tech firms are dictating how the world should behave and the nation-states model has failed almost entirely, it is the rashtra model that can respond to and solve such global challenges.
In the rashtra, dharma manifests through its culture. It gives meaning and method to an individual to fulfill ambitions and desires and to transcend a limited identity. The liberal ideas of “minority rights” or “equality” are hollow as they operate on a superficial and external level only. Rather the age-old civilization of Bharatavarsha and the profound knowledge systems it has created for itself helps us understand realize the subtle unity of both the microcosmic and macrocosmic worlds. But for the rashtra to sustain and thrive it is primary that the protection of its ideals, institutions, and images must be ensured, if not by the government, then by the people themselves. It is therefore imperative for the Hindu to steer clear of divisive and distortive forces and embark instead on a journey of knowing one’s own cultural history and the essence of one’s Hindu identity.
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