What is Hindutva?

Posted on August 13, 2010

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The term “Hindutva” is derived from the two terms ‘Hindu Tattva”, which literally mean “Hindu Principles”. Now the question is, what are Hindu Principles and what comprises the “Hindutva” Outlook?

  1. To answer this question we would have to begin with the history of the Hindus. The history of the Hindus is the history of a civilization which has developed in its natural state, without interruption, since antiquity. Its age is dated to be between five and nine thousand years. Hence Hindu History is a prototype of how human civilization would have looked, if civilization all across the globe had been allowed to develop in its natural state. This is the relevance for us to study Hindu Civilization, Hindu History and Hindu Culture.
  2. The evolution of Hindu Civilization can be considered to be natural and continuing as there is no last messiah in the Hindu world view. In fact this is what distinguishes Hindu Civilization from the rest. And this is why Hinduism is called a Living Idea, guided by the sum total of human wisdom that is not considered to be embodied in one person, or one book, or one period of human history. Hence the term “Living”. Hindutva is the articulation of this idea of continuity of freedom of thought from which emerge the multifarious Hindu Principles.
  3. Two instances of Hindu Principles that symbolize the outcome of freedom of thought are the pronouncements made not today, but four thousand years back by unnamed rishis (Hindu ascetics) that, “This world is one family” (Vasudaiva Kutumbakam) and that “The Universal Reality is the same, but different people can call it by different names” (Ekam Sat Viprah Bahuda Vadanti). In these two proclamations made in ancient Hindu India, we see the seeds of globalism and freedom of thought, four thousand years before the world was to become the global village of today.
  4. Thus in its true essence, Hindutva is a stridently assertive rational-humanist line of reasoning. And it is this essence of Hindutva that we have kept in mind, while developing this website. At the level of practice, the Hindutva outlook boils down to upholding righteousness (Sat-guna) and fighting ignoble attitudes (Dur-guna). Taking poetic license, we can describe the practitioners of this outlook as “Heenam Naashaayati iti Hinduhu” (Those who uphold righteousness and fight ignobleness are Hindus).
  5. Thus, far from being a narrow nationalistic doctrine, Hindutva is in its true essence, ‘a timeless and universal compilation of human wisdom’. Hence it is also called “Sanatana” which means, something that is “forever continuing.”
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