Hinduism and Hindutva are two different things. Hinduism is a religion while Hindutva is a political ideology. Hindus can follow any religion they want, while Hindutva demands that everyone who calls themselves Hindu must subscribe to the right-wing nationalist ideology. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a leader of the Hindutva movement. His policies have been criticized for targeting religious minorities and for stoking sectarian divides. But not all Hindus support Modi and Hindutva. There are many progressive Hindus who believe in pluralism and diversity, and who reject the divisive politics of Hindutva.
What is Hinduism?
Hinduism is a religion that originated in India. Hinduism is considered to be the oldest religion in the world, and it is one of the largest religions in the world with over 1 billion followers. Hinduism has no single founder, and it has no central religious authority. Hinduism’s beliefs and practices (such as yoga and meditation) have been influenced by a variety of other religions, including Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism.
- Hinduism teaches that there is an eternal soul (atman) that transmigrates (reincarnates) from one body to another after death. Hinduism also teaches that there is an ultimate reality (Brahman) that is the source and goal of all beings. Hinduism has many sacred texts, including the Vedas and the Upanishads.
- Hinduism’s main sacred text is the Bhagavad Gita, which is a part of the Mahabharata. Hinduism also has a large body of religious law (dharma) contained in the Hindu scriptures (known as the Dharma Sutras and Dharma Shastras).
- Hinduism’s main deity is Vishnu, but Hindus also worship a variety of other gods and goddesses (such as Shiva, Lakshmi, and Saraswati). Hindus believe in a cycle of birth, death, and rebirth (called samsara).
Hindus also believe in karma, which is the belief that good deeds lead to good results and bad deeds lead to bad results. Hinduism has many festivals and holy days (such as Holi and Diwali), and Hindus also practice austerities (such as fasting and meditation) to achieve spiritual purity.
What is Hindutva?
Hindutva is an inclusive and proud perspective that sees India’s Hinduness as the core of its national identity Hindutva is not just about Hindus but also about Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists who are integral to Hinduness.
- Hindutva is sometimes misunderstood as Hindu chauvinism or bigotry but it is neither of these. Hindutva is both an affirmation of Hindu pride and a cultural renaissance that celebrates India’s composite culture.
- The Hindutva movement began in the late 19th century as a response to the perceived threat to Hinduism from Christian missionaries and Islamic expansionism. Hindutva leaders such as Veer Savarkar and Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya sought to reassert Hindu pride and defend India’s Hinduness.
- In the post-Independence era, Hindutva came to be associated with the Hindu nationalist organization, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), and its political party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The Hindutva movement has been at the forefront of India’s cultural renaissance, championing Hinduness in all its diversity.
Hindutva leaders have also been at the forefront of social reform movements, working for the upliftment of Scheduled Castes and Tribes, women, and other marginalized sections of society. The Hindutva movement has thus been a powerful force for good in India, defending Hinduness and working for a strong and prosperous India.
Difference between Hinduism and Hindutva
Hinduism is an ancient religion with a complex system of beliefs, practices, and scriptures.
- It is the predominant religion of India and Hinduism has been practiced by the majority of the people living on the Indian subcontinent for centuries.
- Hinduism has no one founder but is instead a conglomeration of many different religious traditions.
- Hindutva, on the other hand, is a relatively new Hindu nationalist movement that emerged in the early 20th century.
- The goal of Hindutva is to create a Hindu state in India and its proponents believe that Hindu culture and values should be dominant in all aspects of social, political, and economic life.
While Hinduism is a religion, Hindutva is more of a political ideology.
Hinduism is a religion, while Hindutva is an ideology that uses the name Hinduism to advance its own political and social agenda. There are many Hindus who don’t agree with the tenets of Hindutva, just as there are people of other religions who don’t agree with the doctrines of their faiths. It’s important to understand the distinction between these two concepts so that we can have productive conversations about religious pluralism in India and around the world.