Hindutva – Daily Times

The events in Srebrenica in 1995 included the killing of more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim. The genocides of 2.7 to 3 million Polish Jews and 1.8 to 2.77 million non-Jewish ethnic Poles. The systematic killing of the Christian Ottoman Greek population carried out in Anatolia during World War I and its aftermath (1914-1922) on the basis of their religion and ethnicity. Five thousand Yazidi civilians were killed during what has been called a forced conversion campaign being carried out by ISIL in Northern Iraq. At least 6,700 Rohingya, were killed in the month after the violence broke out. At least 288 villages were partially or totally destroyed by fire in northern Rakhine state after August 2017. According to UN reports, over 700,000 Rohingya people had fled and took shelter in neighbouring Bangladesh as refugees as of September 2018.

All the above mentioned crimes were committed using religion, Christians, Muslims, and even Buddhist. For the last few years BJP government is quite actively engaged in such activities against minorities in India and Kashmir.

A couple of weeks ago I used the term “Hindutva” on a lighter mode referring to a political incident. Unfortunately my comment offended my Hindu followers and friends on social media inside and outside Pakistan. I always try my level best not to write anything which hurt the feelings of anyone. Hence I decided to write about the importance of the issue to understand the problem; hence it is important for the audience to understand what Hinduism is:

Hinduism is both a civilisation and a congregation of religions; it has neither a beginning, nor a founder, nor a central authority, or organisation. One can be a believer in one God, or multiplicity of Gods or even none at all. Hinduism does not expel much less crucify alleged non-believers. Hinduism is not a revealed religion and, therefore, has neither a founder nor definite teachings or common system of doctrines. It has no organisation, no dogma or accepted creeds. There is no authority with recognised jurisdiction. A man, therefore, could neglect any one of the prescribed duties of his group and still be regarded as a good Hindu. It embraces a range of doctrines and practices, from pantheism to agnosticism and religious belief in reincarnation to belief in cast system. Hinduism recognizes that the truth is plural, that there is no one correct answers to the big question of creation. A Catholic is a Catholic because he believes Jesus was the Son of the God, and in the conceptions of virgin birth. A Muslim must believe that there is no God but God and Muhammad is his Prophet. A Jew cherishes his Torah; simply there is no Hindu equivalent to any of these beliefs. Hinduism maintains that all ways of belief are equally valid. Hinduism incorporates almost all varieties of belief and worship within it, there is no need to choose or reject others. . There is, however, one key difference. Hinduism is a plural tradition, as compared to Christianity and Islam which possess well defined universal creedal formulations.

Throughout India’s ancient history, the word Hindu was never meant to denote religion. It was a geographic and cultural term used by the Greeks, Persians and Arabs, derived from the Sanskrit Sindhu, to describe the people living by and beyond the river Sindhu or Indus

Therefore, Hindu “fundamentalism” is remarkably thin in terms of religious content as compared to Christianity and Islam. The Hindu thought of God to Hindu is; God is everywhere, a bearing and an absence, within us and outside us. God transcends both time and distance. God has no beginning and no end, but equally has no form and no form. God can thus be imagined, since there in nowhere that God is not, and nowhere that God cannot be. Hindus therefore understand that all worship of God reflects an attempt to reach out to that which cannot be touched or seen; since God is, in that sense, literally unknowable, one may imagine Him/Her/It in any form, since each form may be just as valid as another and none can be guaranteed to be more accurate than the next one. Hinduism is both a civilisation and a congregation of religions. Throughout India’s ancient history, the word Hindu was never meant to denote religion. It was a geographic and cultural term used by the Greeks, Persians and Arabs, derived from the Sanskrit Sindhu, to describe the people living by and beyond the river Sindhu or Indus.

The Chief Justice Gajendragadkar wrote for the Supreme Court of India (AIR 1966 SC 1127), that Hinduism is impossible to define. The court adopted Radhakrishnan’s submission that Hinduism is complex and the theist and atheist, the sceptic and agnostic, may all be Hindus if they accept the Hindu system of culture and life. The Court judged that Hinduism historically has had an inclusive nature and it may “broadly be described as a way of life and nothing more”. All it means is, the way of life of the Indian people and the Indian culture or ethos, and by no means anti-minority or anti Muslim potion.

The Supreme Court of India in 1995 ruled that Ordinarily, HINDUTVA is understood as a way of life or a state of mind and is not to be equated with or understood as religious Hindu fundamentalism… it is a fallacy and an error of law to proceed on the assumption… that the use of words Hindutva or Hinduism per se depicts an attitude hostile to all persons practising any religion other than the Hindu religion. Hindutva is not hostility to any organised religion nor does it proclaim its superiority of any religion to another. It is the shield of security and freedom for all religious minorities in India.

“However the BJP officially adopted HINDUTVA as its ideology in its 1989 resolution. The BJP claims that Hindutva represents cultural nationalism and its conception of Indian nationhood, but not a religious or theocratic concept. Hinduism is the name given to the most ancient and persistent religion on the Indian subcontinent, and Hindutva is the name by which the ideology of the Hindu right, represented by the political party Bharatiya Janata Party, is known. It is also the ideology of the cultural body known as Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which was founded in 1925 and with which the BJP has strong links. Ever since the rise of the BJP on the Indian political scene from 1990 onward, and its recent successes in national elections in India in 2014 and 2019, the question of the relationship between Hinduism as a religion and Hindutva as a political ideology has come to the fore, because the word “Hindu” is common to both”. Association for Asian Studies

I hope I have managed to explain the difference between Hindutva and the term Hindutva used for political gains by BJP in India, I would like to apologise to anyone who was and still offended because of the use of the term. And I would like to thank you Veengas for making me realise to re-visit my thoughts on the issue.

May the indigenous land of Sindh will always remain peaceful for Sindhus and the rest.

The writer is a traveller and freelance writer based in UK

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