What is HINDUTVA? The Literal Meaning of The Oft-Spoken Word Today is the ‘Hindu Way of Living, with belief in Hindu gods and goddesses, and the precepts of Hindu religion, that is HINDUISM, which is in brief, the combined set of Religious Beliefs and Rules of Conduct based on them, of the people of the Upper and Lower Indus Valley (English corruption of the valley of the river Sindhu, pronounced as Hindu in Irani/Persian, that is, the river meeting the Sea) . The beliefs of the people of the Upper Indus valley, namely, the Vedic Aryans are contained in the four Vedas,viz. Rigveda plus Saam Veda(a poetic, simple form of Rigveda, of chanting the sacred and mystic syllable ‘Om’ or ‘Om Tat Sat’, that is, the Spiritual Universe or Brahma, as also Shlokas and Mantras/Samhitas for invocation to the first Rigvedic deities or manifestations of the Supreme formless Spirit, namely the 5 main elements or ‘Panchamahabhutas’ of Nature-Agni, Jal, Vayu, Prithvi,Akash); Yajur(which includes the ways of performing the rites like Homa/Havana, Agnihotra and Yagnyas or sacrificial rites, as also rituals), and the later arrival, Atharva Veda containing the ways of performing Black Magic, Tantra-Mantra for exorcism etc., which was the last to be added to the Vedic Canon. In addition, there were Texts like the Upanishads which were philosophical,and the Brahmanas with the Aranyakas, about the Karma-Kandas or rituals. These are all explanatory texts and commentaries on different aspects of the Vedas, which themselves were propagated orally. Then there were also Shrutis and Smritis, that were media vide which Vedic knowledge was passed on by hearing and remembering. These texts along with the ideas of the Brahmanical Trinity: Brahma(Creator), Vishnu(Protector) and Shiva or Mahesh(the Ultimate Destroyer), incarnations and reincarnations of Vishnu and Shiva, as well as of Karma, Rebirth and Fate came with the Upanishads which were written around the 6th century BCE after the Aryans moved Inwards from the Indus Valley into the Ganges- Yamuna Doab.
Jainism and BUDDHISM with similar ideas about Karma, Fate, Rebirth and Moksh/Mukti meaning Freedom from the Cycle of Life and Death as well as Idol Worship,’Ahimsa’ or Nonviolence were also founded in nearby regions, around the same period in North Bihar and Nepal. Jains also adhere to a strict diet of pure vegetarianism, and moreover, abjure root vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, as well as vegetables with seeds such as Brinjals, Bhindis aka Okra, etc. It is possible that the Aryans adopted and incorporated the beliefs of Buddhists and Jains into Hindu theology, probably from Buddhism, as Buddha has been considered as a Hindu deity, viz. the 9th and so far last Avtaar of Vishnu, according to the ‘Bhagwat’ Purana, but Not Mahāvīra. The belief in rebirth or reincarnation is also seen to exist in Buddhism by the fact that the next Dalai Lama, who is said to be born already though still young, is supposed to be the rebirth of an earlier Dalai Lama).
HINDU MYTHOLOGY has been added to Hinduism by the PURANAS, which are books that have personified the Hindu deities and attached symbols to them (like the elephant head to the image of Ganesha), though they are actually divine spiritual entities, and woven fantastic (and in respect of some gods like Indra, derogatory) stories around them- for example, depicting Indra for whatever reason as a womaniser, who is said to have assumed the looks of the Rishi Gautam to seduce his faithful wife by fraud – rationalising it as done for the sake of making Hinduism and the Hindu gods more comprehensible to illiterate folk than they would be in their true abstract form. But the perverse fantasies of some writers have reduced many of the deities to objects of ridicule and disdain by people of other religions and even by elite Hindus. These vulgar myths should be scrapped therefore from the Puranas, to raise their respectability.
However, the Interpretations and Observation of the statutes of Hinduism vary vastly from one Social Group, Caste or Sect of Hindus to another, especially between the Upper and Lower Castes of Hindu society, as the principles and values and even the gods/goddesses that are worshipped differ a lot between them. A lot of confusion and criticism of Hindutva has arisen as a result of this ambiguity about the exact nature of Hinduism, Hindu deities and Hindutva.
[Of late, some of the practices of staunch Hindus like Cow Vigilantism have drawn a lot of public ire because of the increasing incidence of cases of Mob Lynching of persons found or suspected of abducting Cows for Sale to Slaughter Houses, or for Beef eating, mostly of on Muslims, which has strained the relations between Hindus and Muslims more than ever before. Another allegation against Hindu Society is the discrimination and ill treatment of Dalits (who are the untouchables and the lowest caste of the Hindu Society), like exploiting their labour and women, as well as denying them the use of basic facilities like getting Water from Public Wells and other sources. They are also refused entry to temples frequented by the Upper caste Hindus, which is an obstacle to Unity among the Upper and Lower castes of Hindus, and has been instrumental in inducing many Lower Caste people to get converted, to Christianity, Islam and Buddhism]. (2)Coming to the earliest, different RACES OF HINDUS, from whom the various castes of India have descended:
(1)The VEDIC ARYANS who were the occupants of the Upper Indus Valley were Indo Europeans and followers of the THE EARLY VEDIC RELIGION that subscribed to the worship of the Five Main Elements of the Universe, and the 33main Gods (12 Adityas or Solar gods including the Sun, Vishnu etc. of the Realm of Light, 11 Maruts such as Indra,Vayu, that are gods of the Realm of Air, 8 Vasus or Terrestrial gods, and the 2 Ashwini Kumars, the physicians of the gods) with belief in the Brahmanical Trinity – Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver, and Mahesh/Shiva the Ultimate Destroyer – as also the Cow as a goddess;but the early Aryans did Not do Idol Worship. Among the Aryan clans also, there are subdivisions, viz. Vaishnavas and Shaivas. Of the Vaishnavas, most are preferentially Bhaktas of Rama, while some are Krishna Bhaktas, mostly in areas around Mathura of Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan, as also in Odisha. All the same, all Hindus worship all the incarnations, except the followers of the ARYA SAMAJ founded by Swami Dayanand Saraswati.
(2)The DRAVIDIAN Castes who in prehistoric ages occupied the Lower Indus Valley and the whole of India, but now mostly settled in the Southern states of India, (and now practically all Hindus, including those of Aryan origins like Brahmins and the other Upper castes, except Arya Samajis and the members of the Prajapita Brahma Kumari Organisation), are Worshippers of Idols, and are devotees of Shiva Parivar(Shiva family) including Shiva, Devi(Parvati), Ganesh, Surya the Sun, and of Vishnu. (as also Brahma, according to some authors).
Most of the Hindus worship the Cow, but it is only some radical Hindus who resort to violence in the name of CowVigilantism, and for Sites for construction of Temples like RamMandir at Ayodhya.
(3) Still different are the religious customs of the pre-Dravidian Adivasi or Aboriginal tribes of India like the NATH PANTH/Sect of GORAKHNATH and the AGHORIS. The Nath Panth are said to do Tantra-Mantra, that is, Witchcraft and Magical Orgies accompanied by chanting of related hymns to cure people of ‘possession’ by ghosts or evil spirits. They do not however perform the offensive carnal and sexual rituals that are indulged in by the Aghoris. They are the devotees of Lord Dattatreya, whom they consider as an incarnation of Lord Shiva (unlike the upper Hindu castes who regard Dattatreya as the joint incarnation of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh/Shiva, but particularly of Vishnu ).
(4) The AGHORIS (meaning Fearless) are a related sect residing in the forests (from whom the Nath Panth is said to have been separated by Gorakhnath with shedding of their evil customs). They are supposed to be Shaivite, Ash-smeared Naga(Nude)Sadhus, who leave their hair loose in tangled knots. They also worship the Mother Goddess Kaali, and Shiva as ‘Kaal Bhairav’, the Mother’s Consort. However, they have certain customs or rituals which are horrendous and obnoxious to the other Hindus, like Human Sacrifice, Cannibalism, Sexual Orgies with Corpses, and Sorcery or Exorcism. They, being aborigines, also belong to the ignorant Scheduled (hitherto Untouchable) Castes and Tribes who are the lowest castes of the Hindu society.
(3)WHY AGHORIS ARE A BLACK SPOT ON HINDU SOCIETY :
These AGHORIS ARE the Tribes and their rituals NOTICED BY tourists from OTHER NATIONS of the World FIRST, AND ARE SCANDALISING TO THEM, and THEREFORE REPORTED MORE PROMINENTLY than anything else, as if those rituals are an important part of Hindutva. The Upper Caste Traditional Hindus, namely, the SANATANI Hindus, become indignant and PROTEST vehemently AT THIS EMPHATIC PUBLICISATION OF THE AGHORI RITUALS AS IF they are a significant or MAIN part of HINDUTVA, and deny that their backward and repulsive practices are a common feature of Hindutva. YET, the Hindu Society, which incorporated these tribal sects as a section of it in ancient times, continues to tag them to itself, notwithstanding the fact that their above mentioned beliefs and rituals of Human Sacrifice and Cannibalism etc. are in direct or diagonal contrast and violation to those of the other Hindu Castes and communities, which abhor and condemn even Cow slaughter, leave alone Human Sacrifice for appeasement of any god/goddess!
All this confusion and resultant humiliation on account of the ghastly and repulsive customs of these backward and ignorant sects of Hindu Society before people of the Western Nations and Culture, is because of the educated Hindus not trying to enlighten and reform the Aghoris and other backward castes to shed their bloody and perverse rituals due to Superstition. As long as educated and ENLIGHTENED HINDUS do not lead the way to INSTIL HOMOGENEOUS IMPROVED CONCEPTS/PRECEPTS in keeping with modern times, IN ENTIRE HINDU SOCIETY, by weeding out the practice of undesirable, harmful and outdated customs and rituals ( including Jallikattu in Soutth India,which harasses Bulls and Cow Vigillantism besides the obviously perverse and hideous customs and rituals of the Aghoris, and superstitious practices from all the castes /sects that are acknowledged as Hindus, the exact NATURE and understanding OF ”HINDUTVA’ WILL always REMAIN VAGUE and open to Misapprehension and Harsh Criticism in all corners in the World. AT LEAST, the learned and evolved sections of Hindu Society should make it clear to the World that they are not in agreement or unison with those abiding with the dubious, superstitious and outdated practices of the Aghoris and other related sects, and vote them out of the Hindu fold ! For they are not Shaivas but ‘Shaktas’, that is, devotees of a non-Aryan goddess of some primitive tribes.
Should The AGHORIS be Outcast from the Hindu Society for their cadaverous customs or Shouldn’t they? They should first be made to understand why their practices are wrong and urged to give them up. However, if they are adamant in sticking to their beliefs and habits, they should be cast out of the Hindu Society with liability of prosecution for their evil practices! For If Hindu Society cannot be firm enough to do that, it will always stand out as one of the ‘Heathen’ or ‘Pagan’ societies the World over!
(4)In my opinion,the BEST type of HiNDUTVA:
The Best way of Practice of HiNDUTVA is that propounded by Swami Vivekananda and the Ramakrishna Paramhansa Mission, whose members practice Love for All Humanity- ‘Vasudaivam Kutumbakam’, and acceptance of Life as well as Tolerance of other people ‘s nature as it is, and Meditation as a way of communicating and achieving communion with the Supreme Spirit. No religious text of any religion has appealed to me or inspired me as much as the writings and personal biographies of Vivekananda and his Guru, Ramakrishna Paramhansa. I felt an immense sense of Peace during my visit to the Vivekananda Rock Memorial at the Southernmost tip of India, in the midst of the Indian Ocean, and swept by the waves of the ocean, which I have not experienced anywhere else. There is No rush or jostling one another (भगदड़) of the devotees or pilgrims just for a momentary glimpse of the idol, or accidents as at other temples, and hardly any tedious ceremonial rituals. Just Meditation on The Supreme Spirit and Heavenly Peace in the Natural Oceanic Background! The former BJP Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayeeji said (following the incident of burning alive of an Australian missionary, Mr. Graham Staines and his two small sons in his jeep in Odisha, by a man belonging to the Bajrang Dal and his goons, under the accusation of conversion of the local people) that he had been bowing to the idea of HiNDUTVA as propagated by Swami Vivekananda and Ramkrishna Paramhansa – that the ‘Earth(Vasudha) with all the Beings on it is One family’.Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam). BUT, if the idea of Hinduism has been ‘subverted’ by some persons calling themselves staunch Hindus, by resorting to violence against members of other communities for different religious beliefs, and acting according to their respective convictions, then, “I would like to distance myself from this sort of Hindutva!”(ऐसे हिंदुत्वसे मैं ज़रा दूर ही रहना चाहूँगा!”)
(5) REALLY speaking, HINDUISM, besides praying to the Supreme formless and abstract, Omnipresent, Omniscient and Omnipotent Spirit or Power, and the many deities which are parts of it, ALSO involves the WORSHIP OF all forms and elements of NATURE and the Universe, like the (a)’Gods of the ‘Realm of Light’ or Adityas, including the various aspects of the Sun; (b) Gods of the Realm of Air or Maruts namely Indra (the God of Thunder and Rain, as well as War), Vayu(Air), Parjanya(Heavy Rain),etc; and (c) Gods of the Realm of the Earth, viz. Terrestrial Gods or Vasus, that is, Agni, Jal, Prithvi, Trees. Therefore, ONE of the MAIN DHARMAS or Duties of Hindus is the CONSERVATION and Nurturing OF the FORESTS and ENVIRONMENT, which would return the care with surplus of its bounties to all living beings.
Unfortunately, very few Hindus realise the importance of the Natural treasures in today’s Industrialised and Mechanised World, and have replaced forests with concrete jungles and factories in the name of the ‘Industrial Revolution’. As a Penalty, the whole World is Paying the Price of the indiscriminate destruction of Nature the Curse of Global Warming!
Likewise, the reason for worshipping the Cow and the Bull is for protecting and SAVING THE LIVESTOCK, as the nutrition of the early humans depended largely upon it, and it is also an important source of food today, However, due to religious emphasis on the Cow exclusively, only Cow slaughter and beef eating is banned in Hindu Society, unlike Jains who abhor all non- vegetarian food. Actually, the Buffalo and Goat are the Poor Man’s Cow, but most Hindus other than Brahmins and Vaishyas have no qualms about killing Goats and eating Mutton. The Aboriginal Tribes worship mostly Terrestrial Creatures such as Snakes, Elephants, Rats, Tigers, Lions etc., both out of fear of being killed by them and to appease them for preservation of their farms and crops. They also worship Trees which they believe are inhabited by spirits that protect them.This serves the purpose of guarding the life of wild animals like Lions, Tigers, Leopards, Snakes and Elephants too that wild life poachers kill for self- aggrandisement to prove their bravery, and for their skins, elephant ivory tusks and Snake venom, that have great demand and price in the domestic and international market.
The MORAL is, all forms of life, human or animal, big or small, have their importance in maintenance of the ecological balance of the different species of life on this earth. For Mother Earth needs all Her Creatures for Her Well Being.
In CONCLUSION, The UNDERSTANDING the VALUE or VENERATION of ALL LIFE, that is, Nature with its Flora and Fauna(Plants, Animals and Birds), and advising others against killing animal or birds like fowl for eating or hunting(unless humans have to starve without it in the absence of vegetables as in some regions like Tibet in some seasons, or where an animal has become dangerous to other life, e.g. a rabid dog or a man-eater lion or tiger), is THE REAL DHARMA of HINDUS, Not lynching of all and sundry Humans for mere suspicion or even evidence of cow smuggling for slaughter and beef eating,which should be left to the Law. Nor erecting giant size Idols or statues. Is one’s depth of devotion to any deity to be measured by the size of the idol he/she builds or worships?
This is what is intended to be expressed through the Vedic rituals of Homa/Havana, Agnihotra, or Yagnyas I.e. sacrificial rites, that are done for purification of the Air, Water, Rain and Vegetation in our environment, which is polluted by the day to day activities of human beings, and animals. In short, for environmental hygiene and conservation, for prevention of disease, as Science advocates. However, it would be better if the religious rituals performed for the purpose are accompanied by dictates to refrain using the natural resources like ponds, rivers and seaside for our daily routine as for bathing((Doobki/Gangasnan), washing clothes, ablutions and on some Ghats, disposal of waste and corpses, which should be banned as a ‘Sin’ against Nature that poojas and rituals cannot efface, in the interest of Environmental Purity and Protection!