The Hollowness of Hindutva


It was always evident that Hindutva is not an ideology.  The simple reason is that it was based on hatred; hatred of Muslims, Christians, and the whole world that didn’t fit in the ‘emotive’ structure defined by whoever considers himself a follower of Hindutva.

It was Vinayak Damodar Savarkar [who was not all Vir as proved by his grovelling letters to the British in the days of the Raj] who coined the word ‘Hindutva’.  Savarkar was merely trying to impose the fossil of a defunct system of Brahmaminism on Indians in the name of Hindutva.  “We Hindus are not only a Rashtra, a Jati, but as a consequence of being both, own a common Sanskriti, expressed, preserved chiefly and originally through Sanskrit, the real mother tongue of our race.”  [quoted by Jyotirmay Sharma, Hindutva] Whose language was Sanskrit?  Any Shudra or woman who even heard the Sanskrit verses by chance would have molten lead poured into his ears, according to Manusmiriti.  Sanskrit along with all the wisdom contained in that language was the sole prerogative of a tiny minority who controlled all the lands [the only source of income in those days]. By asking us to go back to Sanskrit, whose Rashtra did Savarkar want to establish in India?  The answer should be obvious.

Now comes, in the 21st century, the BJP’s version of Savarkar.  It’s Arun Jaitley, the leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha.  According to the Wikileaks, he said that the Hindutva is merely a political ploy to win votes.  When the cable was published by The Hindu on March 26, 2011, Jaitley merely answered that he had not used the word ‘opportunistic.’ 

True, he had not used the word [as he claimed one day after the leaks].  But does the word matter?  Or does the meaning, the intention matter? 

This is exactly where the BJP goes wrong.  It plays.  It plays games with words [all the present leaders of BJP].  It plays games with riots [Narendra Modi].  It plays games with history’s antiquated symbols [L K Advani]. 

Why doesn’t BJP stop playing and start taking life seriously? 

Politics is not just a power game like in the days of the ancient kings. 

Has the BJP ever shown any creative, productive activity at any time anywhere?  Remember Karnataka where it came to power and what it did to the minority community in many places.  Or even to its own community members who dared to visit the pubs.  Remember the unforgettable catastrophe against Muslims in Gujarat under Narendra Modi’s reign.  Remember Orissa, where they did not have power and yet…  Remember demolitions.  And only demolitions.  No creations. 

That’s where the BJP went wrong.  It never had a constructive ideology.  It always wanted to seem to go back to the Vedas  and their Sanskriti.  Seem to.  Never in reality.  Because in reality it cannot go back.  No nation can go back to the history and the civilisation of millennia ago.  Nations go forward.  That’s why the Hindutva ideology will fail in India.  That’s why Arun Jaitley has to eat his words symbolically.  That’s why the BJP will not come to power in India. 

The BJP can come to power if it gives a relevant ideology to the people of India.  Relevant to the 21st century.  Forget Savarkar.  Leave aside hatred.  Start from something tangible, something other than no, no.  Start saying yes to something, please.

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9 Responses to The Hollowness of Hindutva

  1. nyatibl says:

    currently Hindu, Dharma etc words are misused., misexplained, misinterpreted.
    shrimad bhawat puran-skandha eleven-adhayay fourteen- shloka 5 to 7, is self explainatory.
    any type of criticism or praise is not advisable.
    Thank you for writing on public interest.

    • matheikal says:

      The misue, misinterpretations, etc are intentionally created – political motives. Otherwise you’ll find people of different communities living in harmony in India!

  2. aram says:

    Very insightful. Because of some arguements given by my friends abt the development work taking under nda i had started appreciating nda… I wonder what government will do some good and make life less miserable for the common man!!
    I specially like the frontline article u had linked the article to… Are we a nation of controversial heroes?

    • matheikal says:

      Develpment, yes. But at what cost? Since you liked the Frontline article, let me give you another Frontline link, an interview in which you will get the following statement too: “In the case of Modi, what is also ‘interesting’ is that he was cornered by the Supreme Court, the intelligentsia and the media in such a way that he had to overemphasise development as a plank to compensate for this bad name he had acquired.”

      Isn’t Sheila Dikshit bringing development to Delhi?

      Yes, the common man is the real victim now, as you say. Which govt will do something for him? I don’t know.

  3. Aditi says:

    The ethos of India is assimilation of many cultures, because of which any overwhelming projection of political Hindutva as a raison de-etre of any political party cannot excite the average Indian voter, despite her being a Hindu and in majority, demography-wise, unless there is a perceptible insecurity and persecution related to life and property otherwise to people because of the religion.

    Therefore, whether Arun Jaitley actually used the word ‘opportunistic’ of not, it is a fact that Hindu sentiments can be successfully whipped up only when there is a perceptible threat of Hindus being outnumbered as in the border States in the East and the Northeast, and not in other areas of india. In the East and the Northeast,illegal Bangladeshi immigrants have occupied land by force, married locals, and ousted and outnumbered the original residents, with encouragement of the State Governments there for petty vote-bank politics.

    • matheikal says:

      Aditi, I lived in the Northeast state of Meghalaya for 15 years. I worked there as a teacher. I saw more Hindu Bangladeshi migrants married to local tribal women than Muslims!

      • Aditi says:

        I have no personal experience of this Matheikal, the IAS officer colleagues from Assam are the source of my information about this aggressive ‘ Muslim’ B’deshi encroachment and the problems that the official machinery faced during enumeration for correctly drawing up electoral rolls. Their general observation was that the illegal Hindu immigrants, mostly very low castes and economically marginalised in B’desh, were timid, while the Muslim immigrants were the aggressive ones. While of course I can not question your personal observation, I have no reasons to doubt the veracity of what my colleagues narrated as their professional experience on field in border regions of the Northeastern States.

      • matheikal says:

        The situation in Assam is different. there’s a whole region of Assam that has been bequeathed to the Bangladeshi Muslim migrants by different political parties, especially the Congress, for the sake of votes. But that is not the case with the other states where the rather artless tribal folk were exploited cunningly by the Hindu migrants. These Hindu migrants who married the tribals accepted the tribal identity too for the sake of the benefits that go with it! Hence you won’t find the Hindu identity in the records.

  4. DD says:

    “Hindus Beyond the Hindu Kush: Indians in the Central Asian Slave Trade.” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society. Vol. 12, no. 3. (2002): 277-288. Scott C. Levi.

    “The World’s Oldest Trade”: Dutch Slavery and the Slave Trade in the Indian Ocean in the Seventeenth Century. Journal of World History, Vol. 14, No. 2. Markus Vink.


    EXCERPTS, below


    Historical analyses of slavery in India generally emphasize the escalation of this social institution during the era of Muslim domination in north India. The present study is not an exception to this rule. The slave population of early modern Central Asia was considerable; virtually every affluent household included several slaves to look after its affairs and maintain the garden, and large numbers of slaves were used to cultivate the land and watch over livestock on the plantation-style farms of Central Asia’s wealthy families. Slaves were also used for such purposes as soldiering, maintaining irrigation canals, working in brick factories, and many were trained in construction engineering. the common practice of rival political powers enslaving and relocating large numbers of artisans following successful invasions. Because of their identification in Muslim societies as kafirs, “non-believers”, Hindus were especially in demand in the early modern Central Asian slave markets. They were by no means, however, the only ethnic or religious group present in large numbers. It is well known that the slave markets were also stocked with considerable numbers of Iranian slaves, whose association with the Shia sect of Islam made them legitimate targets for the Sunni Muslim Uzbek and Turkman slave traders. Signifcant numbers of Indians were taken to the slave markets of Central Asia in a variety of ways.Smaller numbers of skilled slaves were also commonly included in the gifts sent between the rulers of India and Central Asia.Probably the greatest factors contributing to the increased supply of Indian slaves for export to markets in Central Asia in this period were the military conquests and tax revenue policies of the Muslim rulers in the subcontinent. The revenue system of the Delhi Sultanate produced a considerable proportion of the Indian slave population as these rulers, and their subordinate iqtadars, ordered their armies to abduct large numbers of Hindus as a means of extracting revenue. While those communities that were loyal to the Sultan and regularly paid their taxes were often excused from this practice, taxes were commonly extracted from other, less loyal groups in the form of slaves. An even greater number of people were enslaved as a part of the efforts of the Delhi Sultans to finance their expansion into new territories.By and large, the enslavement of Hindus and their exportation to Central Asia continued unhindered throughout the Mughal period. Unfortunately, there is no means by which to determine precisely how abundant Indian slaves were in early modern Central Asia.The Central Asian slave trade continued at an active level throughout the eighteenth century, although during this period there were considerably fewer Indian slaves exported to Central Asian markets. The Central Asian slave trade remained active up to Russia’s nineteenth-century expansion into the region. First-hand accounts report of tens and even hundreds of thousands of slaves owned by the Turko-Afghan rulers of the north India. While many of these individuals were enslaved as a result of the expansionist efforts of the Delhi Sultans and Mughal emperors, others were forced into slavery to satisfy the tax demands of the state treasury. Still others were motivated to sell their children, or themselves, in an effort to avoid starvation during times of famine or other economic hardship. The presence, perhaps even dominance, of Hindus in the Central Asian slave markets continued up to the early eighteenth-century decentralization of the Mughal Empire.


    The first circuit or subregion, the Indian subcontinent (Arakan / Bengal, Malabar, and Coromandel), remained the most important source of forced labor until the 1660s (see Table 1). Between 1626 and 1662, the Dutch exported with reasonable regularity 150–400 slaves annually from the Arakan-Bengal coast. During the first thirty years of Batavia’s existence, Indian and Arakanese slaves provided the main labor force of the company’s Asian headquarters. For instance, of the 211 manumitted slaves in Batavia between 1646 and 1649, 126 (59.71%) came from South Asia, including 86 (40.76%) from Bengal. Slave raids into the Bengal estuaries were conducted by Magh pirates using armed vessels (galias), joining hands with unscrupulous Portuguese traders (chatins) operating from Chittagong outside thejurisdiction and patronage of the Estado da India. These raids occurred with the active connivance of the Taung-ngu (Toungoo) rulers of Arakan. The eastward expansion of the Mughal Empire, however, completed with the conquest of Chittagong (renamed Islamabad) in 1666, cut off the traditional supplies from Arakan and Bengal. Until the Dutch seizure of the Portuguese settlements on the Malabar coast (1658–63), large numbers of slaves were also captured and sent from India’s west coast to Batavia, Ceylon, and elsewhere. After 1663, however, the stream of forced labor from Cochin dried up to a trickle of about 50–100 and 80–120 slaves per year to Batavia and Ceylon, respectively. In contrast with other areas of the Indian subcontinent, Coromandel remained the center of a spasmodic slave trade throughout the seventeenth century. In various short-lived booms accompanying natural and human-induced calamities, the Dutch exported thousands of slaves from the east coast of India. A prolonged period of drought followed by famine conditions in 1618–20 saw the first large-scale export of slaves from the Coromandel coast in the seventeenth century. Between 1622 and 1623, 1,900 slaves were shipped from central Coromandel ports, such as Pulicat and Devanampatnam. Company officials on the coast declared that 2,000 more could have been bought if only they had the money. The second short-lived boom in the export of Coromandel slaves occurred during a famine in the wake of the revolt of the Nayaka Hindu rulers of South India (Tanjavur, Senji, and Madurai) against Vijayanagara overlordship (1645) and the subsequent devastation of the Tanjavur countryside by the Bijapur army. According to indigenous informants, more than 150,000 people were taken by the invading Deccani Muslim armies to Bijapur and Golconda. In 1646, 2,118 slaves were exported to Batavia, the overwhelming majority from southern Coromandel. Some slaves were also acquired further south at Tondi, Adirampatnam, and Kayalpatnam. A third short-lived boom in slaving took place between 1659 and 1661 due to the devastation of Tanjavur resulting from another series of successive Bijapuri raids, creating the usual “famine-slave cycle.” At Nagapatnam, Pulicat, and elsewhere, the company purchased 8,000–10,000 slaves, the bulk of whom were sent to Ceylon while a small portion were shipped to Batavia and Malacca. A fourth boom (1673–77) was initiated by a long drought in Madurai and southern Coromandel starting in 1673, exacerbated by the prolonged Madurai-Maratha struggle over Tanjavur and resulting oppressive fiscal practices. Between 1673 and 1677, the VOC exported 1,839 slaves from the Madurai coast alone. A fifth boom occurred in 1688, caused by a combination of poor harvests and the Mughal advance into the Karnatak. Reportedly thousands of people from Tanjavur, mostly girls and little boys, were sold into slavery and exported by Asian traders from Nagapattinam to Aceh, Johor, and other slave markets. In September 1687, 665 slaves were exported by the English from Fort St. George, Madras. The Dutch decision to participate was belated for the boom ended as abruptly as it had started as a result of the abundant rice harvest in early 1689. Finally, in 1694–96, when warfare once more ravaged South India, a total of 3,859 slaves were imported from Coromandel by private individuals into Ceylon.

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