Hindu politics

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Hindu politics refers to the political movements professing to draw inspiration from Hinduism. Hindu nationalism is the numerically most significant among the current political movements claiming to be inspired by Hinduism.

Revivalism[edit]

Hindu revivalism started with a reassertion of Hinduism in British India, mainly in its largest province, Bengal. Hindus were trying to incorporate things from the West, but while some were trying to make a clean break from their past, others tried to preserve their heritage in an adopted form.[1] Swami Dayananda Saraswati, Bankim Chandra Chatterjee and Swami Vivekananda were the earliest to formulate a political vision and a social reform program for India on the basis of Hinduism. Later, Aurobindo, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar and Golwalkar formed much of the political direction of the Hindus in India.[2] [3] Taking into account just how ancient the features of Hinduism were, it is clearly understandable why many maintained a nationalist Hindu mentality.

The revivalism movement from other Hindu groups, however, was brought about in hopes of incorporating Western ideas into their ritualistic political practices.

What revivalists failed to realize though, was that by forcibly impressing the unpracticed thoughts of Western culture into fellow Hindus, it further distanced their potential to achieve what they were ultimately hoping for. Instead of attaining a society that grew in part of Western political processes, what revivalist Hindus contracted was plainly a broadening of their existing culture; Hinduism expanded, and continues to expand, by claiming more and more religions as acceptable, such as Christianity and Buddhism.

By their attempts to christen Hinduism as spiritual, not religious, it severed the possibilities to connect existing traditional Hindu culture to what was being practiced in the West.

The efforts to modernize were in fact too radical, and thus revivalism essentially fell victim to motionless Hindu nationalism. [4]

Hinduism in political discourse[edit]

Hinduism is an important source of political discourse in India. Hindu minorities have played significant roles in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Hindu symbols are frequently used in political campaigns of Indian politicians. For example, the Ram Janmabhoomi issue in Ayodhya was brought up as a national issue by the Bharatiya Janata Party before the Babri Mosque demolition in 1992.

Ideologies[edit]

Parties[edit]

Parties claiming to be inspired by Hinduism and Hindutva ideology include the erstwhile Jana Sangha, Hindu Mahasabha, Ram Rajya Parishad and the current Bharatiya Janata Party and Shiv Sena. Parties have even formed in countries such as Bangladesh (e.g. Banga Sena) and in Mauritius (Independent Forward Bloc) supporting the oppressed Hindus in these countries and giving importance to Hindu traditions.

Minority politics[edit]

Hindus form minorities in countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Fiji. Minority Hindus in these countries have been denied human rights in many cases.[9][10] Dhirendranath Datta was a Bengali Hindu member of the renamed Pakistan National Congress who supported the creation of Bangladesh and was later assassinated by the Pakistan Army. Krishan Bheel, a Hindu member of the National Assembly of Pakistan, came into news recently for manhandling Qari Gul Rehman.[11]

Independent authors[edit]

In recent years, a few authors have taken up the cause of Hinduism as a political force. Some of these commentators on the Hindu political scene include Sita Ram Goel, Ram Swarup, Arun Shourie, Koenraad Elst among others.

Panchjanya and Hindu Sabha Varta are the main Hindi weekly based on Hindu Interest and culture. Shri Tarun Vijay, Shri Ashok Tyagi and Shri Devendra Swarup are the reputed journlists for Hindu and national issues.


  • Politics is the work of the Kshatriya and it is the virtues of the Kshatriya we must develop if we are to be morally fit for freedom.
    • Sri Aurobindo, Bande Mataram, 1907, quoted from Sri Aurobindo, ., Nahar, S., Aurobindo, ., & Institut de recherches évolutives (Paris). India's rebirth: A selection from Sri Aurobindo's writing, talks and speeches. Paris: Institut de Recherches Evolutives. 3rd Edition (2000). [1]
  • There was not the idea of 'interest' in India as in Europe, i.e., each community was not fighting for its own interest; but there was the idea of Dharma, the function which the individual and the community has to fulfil in the larger national life. There were caste organizations not based upon a religio-social basis as we find nowadays; they were more or less guilds, groups organized for a communal life. There were also religious communities like the Buddhists, the Jains, etc. Each followed its own law'Swadharma'unhampered by the State. The State recognized the necessity of allowing such various forms of life to develop freely in order to give to the national spirit a richer expression.... Then over the two there was the central authority, whose function was not so much to legislate as to harmonize and see that everything was going on all right. It was generally administered by a Raja; in cases it was also an elected head of the clan, as in the instance of Gautama Buddha's father. Each ruled over either a small State or a group of small States or republics. The king was not a law-maker and he was not at the head to put his hand over all organizations and keep them down. If he interfered with them he was deposed because each of these organizations had its own laws which had been established for long ages.... The machinery of the State also was not so mechanical as in the West... it was plastic and elastic.... This organization we find in history perfected in the reign of Chandragupta and the Maurya dynasty. The period preceding this must have been a period of great political development in India. Every department of national life, we can see, was in the charge of a board or a committee with a minister at the head, and each board looked after what we now would call its own department and was left free from undue interference of the central authority. The change of kings left these boards untouched and unaffected in their work. An organization similar to that was found in every town and village and it was this organization that was taken up by the Mahomedans when they came to India. It is that which the English also have taken up. The idea of the King as the absolute monarch was never an Indian idea. It was brought from Central Asia by the Mahomedans.... The English in accepting this system have disfigured it considerably. They have found ways to put their hand on and grasp all the old organizations, using them merely as channels to establish more thoroughly the authority of the central power. They discouraged every free organization and every attempt at the manifestation of the free life of the community. Now attempts are being made to have the cooperative societies in villages, there is an effort at reviving the Panchayats. But these organizations cannot be revived once they have been crushed; and even if they revived they would not be the same.... If the old organization had lasted it would have been a successful rival of the modern form of government.... You need not come back to the old forms, but you can retain the spirit which might create its own new forms.... It has been a special feature of India that she has to contain in her life all the most diverse elements and assimilate them. This renders her problem most intricate.... The 'nation idea' India never had. By that I mean the political idea of the nation. It is a modern growth. But we had in India the cultural and spiritual idea of the nation...
    • Sri Aurobindo, June 29, 1926, quoted from Sri Aurobindo, ., Nahar, S., Aurobindo, ., & Institut de recherches évolutives (Paris). India's rebirth: A selection from Sri Aurobindo's writing, talks and speeches. Paris: Institut de Recherches Evolutives. 3rd Edition (2000). [2]
  • I do not regard business as something evil or tainted, any more than it is so regarded in ancient spiritual India.... All depends on the spirit in which a thing is done, the principles on which it is built and the use to which it is turned. I have done politics and the most violent kind of revolutionary politics, ghoram karma, and I have supported war and sent men to it, even though politics is not always or often a very clean occupation nor can war be called a spiritual line of action. But Krishna calls upon Arjuna to carry on war of the most terrible kind and by his example encourage men to do every kind of human work, sarvakarmani. Do you contend that Krishna was an unspiritual man and that his advice to Arjuna was mistaken or wrong in principle?... I do not regard the ascetic way of living as indispensable to spiritual perfection or as identical with it. There is the way of spiritual self-mastery and the way of spiritual self-giving and surrender to the Divine, abandoning ego and desire even in the midst of action or of any kind of work or all kinds of work demanded from us by the Divine.... The Indian scriptures and Indian tradition, in the Mahabharata and elsewhere, make room both for the spirituality of the renunciation of life and for the spiritual life of action. One cannot say that one only is the Indian tradition and that the acceptance of life and works of all kinds, sarvakarmani, is un-Indian, European or western and unspiritual.132
    • Sri Aurobindo, Mid-1940s(From a letter.), quoted from Sri Aurobindo, ., Nahar, S., Aurobindo, ., & Institut de recherches évolutives (Paris). India's rebirth: A selection from Sri Aurobindo's writing, talks and speeches. Paris: Institut de Recherches Evolutives. 3rd Edition (2000). [3]
  • The idea of the ‘Hindu right’ is largely a ploy to discredit the Hindu movement as backward and prevent people from really examining it.
    • David Frawley, The Myth of the Hindu right [4]
  • The causes taken up by the Hindu movement are more at home in the New Left than in right wing parties of the West. Some of these resemble the concerns of the Green Party. The Hindu movement offers a long-standing tradition of environmental protection, economic simplicity, and protection of religious and cultural diversity. There is little in the so-called Hindu right that is shared by the religious or political right-wing in western countries, which reflect military, corporate and missionary concerns. The Hindu movement has much in common with the New Age movement in the West and its seeking of occult and spiritual knowledge, not with the right wing in the West, which rejects these things. Clearly, the western right would never embrace the Hindu movement as its ally.
    • David Frawley, The Myth of the Hindu right [5]
  • "It is sheer dishonesty or naivete to suggest, as is being widely suggested these days, that Hinduism can admit of theocracy. That is a Muslim privilege which no one else can appropriate."
  • "Such is the grip of the misrepresentation of Hindutva in anti-Muslim terms that (even) its proponents, including some leaders of the Bhartiya Janata Party, themselves, speak of it defensively".
  • "The BJP is not a communal party; it cannot be, for the simple reason that Hindus have never been, and are not, a community in the accepted sense of the term. They represent an ancient civilization not known either to draw a boundary between the faithful and the faithless, the blessed and the damned, or to engage in heresy hunting and its counterpart, persecution of other faiths. Hindus are, in western terms, pagans."
  • "Unlike Islamic fundamentalists, the BJP does not claim to possess a blueprint. It shall have to struggle to evolve an Indian approach to modern problems."
  • A Hindu-friendly India-watcher of the Foreign Broadcast Information Service, a parastatal world-watch bureau in Washington DC, has remarked that this alleged semitization, which is but a pejorative synonym for self-organization, may simply be necessary for Hinduism's survival. He points out that in Africa, the traditional religions are fast being replaced by Christianity and Islam precisely because they have no organization which can prepare a strategy of self-defence. African traditionalists are not denounced as 'semitized fundamentalists' because in effect, they submit to the liquidation of their tradition by mass conversions....It is hard to find fault with this observation.... Consider: why was the Roman Empire christianized, but not the Persian Empire? ...the difference was precisely that the Roman state religion was not 'semitized', while the Persian state religion was. The Roman state religion was pluralistic and didn't have much of a policy, while the Mazdean state religion in Persia did organize the opposition against Christian proselytization, mobilizing both the state and the population, and developing a combative 'Semitic' character in the process (the Mazdean oppression of Christianity led to the migration of some Syrian Christians to Kerala in the 4th century, where they survive till today).....Ram Swarup analyzes the political intention behind laudatory labels like 'tolerant' and hate labels like 'Semitic'. He too points to Africa as an instance of what to avoid: 'The African continent has been under the attack of the two monolatrous religions, Christianity and Islam, for centuries. Under this attack, it has already lost much of its old culture. .... Some time ago, there was an article in the London Economist praising it for taking this attack with such pagan tolerance. ...' This praise of religions which submit to being annihilated ('tolerant') and the concomitant opprobrium for religions which don't, indeed the condemnation of the very will to survive as 'fanatical', is reminiscent of a French saying: 'This animal is very mean: it defends itself when attacked.'
    • Elst, Koenraad (2002). Who is a Hindu?: Hindu revivalist views of Animism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and other offshoots of Hinduism. ISBN 978-8185990743

References[edit]

  1. Elst, Koenraad (2005). Decolonizing the Hindu Mind. India: Rupa. p. 102. ISBN 81-7167-519-0. 
  2. Elst, Koenraad (2005). Decolonizing the Hindu mind. India: Rupa. pp. 2–3. ISBN 81-7167-519-0. 
  3. Elst, Koenraad (2005). Decolonizing the Hindu mind. India: Rupa. pp. 2–3. ISBN 81-7167-519-0. 
  4. Huffer, Amanda J. (1 September 2011). "Hinduism Without Religion: Amma's Movement in America". Cross Currents. 61 (3): 374–398. doi:10.1111/j.1939-3881.2011.00188.x. 
  5. Harijan, 2 January 1937
  6. Young India, 19 September 1929
  7. http://www.bjp.org/about-the-party/philosophy
  8. Savarkar, Vinayak Damodar (1923). Hindutva. India: Bharati Sahitya Sadan. 
  9. Nasrin, Taslima (1994). Lajja. India: Penguin Books India. ISBN 0-14-024051-9. 
  10. "Hindu Human Rights". Retrieved 2006-08-23. 
  11. "Opp MNAs fight in PM’s presence". Retrieved 2006-08-23. 

Further reading[edit]

Arya Samaj
  • Dayananda, S., & Bharadwaja, C. (1932). Light of truth, or, An English translation of the Satyartha prakasha: The well-known work of Swami Dayananda Saraswati. Madras: Arya Samaj.
  • Swami Shraddhananda, . (1926). Hindu sangathan: Saviour of the dying race. Delhi: Shraddhananda.
  • Swami Śraddhānanda, . (1984). Inside the Congress: A collection of 26 articles. New Delhi: Dayanand Sansthan.
Books by Hindu political leaders
  • Ghose, Aurobindo, Nahar, S., & Institut de recherches évolutives. (2000). India's rebirth: A selection from Sri Aurobindo's writing, talks and speeches. Paris: Institut de recherches évolutives.
  • Golwalkar, M. S. (2000). Bunch of thoughts. Bangalore: Sahitya Sindhu Prakashana.
  • Lal Krishna Advani. My Country My Life. (2008). ISBN 978-81-291-1363-4.
  • Savarkar, V. D. (2007). Six glorious epochs of India history, dedication to martyrs of 1857, letters from Andaman & Nichobar, miscellaneous statements & writings. Delhi: Abhishek Publ.
  • Savarkar, Vinayak Damodar (1923). Hindutva. Delhi, India: Bharati Sahitya Sadan. 
Primary Sources
  • Bharatiya Janata Party. (1993). BJP's white paper on Ayodhya & the Rama Temple movement. New Delhi: Bhaatiya Janata Party.
  • Bharatiya Janata Party. (1984). Action unavoidable situation avoidable: Hindu-Sikh unity at all cost : B.J.P. on Punjab. New Delhi: Bharatiya Janata Party Publication.
  • History versus Casuistry: Evidence of the Ramajanmabhoomi Mandir presented by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad to the Government of India in December-January 1990-91. New Delhi: Voice of India.
  • Arun Shourie, Arun Jaitley, Swapan Dasgupta, Rama J Jois: The Ayodhya Reference: Supreme Court Judgement and Commentaries. 1995. New Delhi:Voice of India. ISBN 978-8185990309