“From the ashes of dead past, India is again rising phoenix-like to take her place among the free nations of the world, so that she may deliver the message of her spirit and thereby fulfil her mission on earth. Civilisations have risen and fallen, empires have grown and melted away into thin air. Babylon and Nineveh, Carthage and Greece have crumbled into thin dust-But Indian culture is a potent factor today as it was thousands of years ago when the foremost nations of modern world were no better than savages.”

— Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose

Sabarimala, a beautiful example of faith, sacrifice, eternal love, devotion and communal harmony. Sabarimala makes no distinction based on caste, creed sex or faith.

Dharma shaasta (a teacher of shastra) Ayyapa’s pledge to remain celibate and promise to marry Malikapurathamma and see no other woman is respected and honoured by all devotees of the lord. Women devotees empathise with the sacrifice and eternal wait of Malikapurathamma. Pilgrims pay their respect at a mosque dedicated to the devotion of Vavaraswami towards his vow to protect the devotees visiting Lord Ayyapa.

One of the oldest Jewish settlements and the second oldest mosque in the world are in Kerala. It is heartening to know that our culture encouraged free thinkers that gave rise to new religions such as Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism and foreign religions like Islam, Christianity and Judaism co-existed and flourished in our society. This came to us naturally as it was embedded in our culture of sanatana dharma that promotes peace, harmony and tolerance.

It is equally amazing that a civilisation that rose to become an economic superpower for centuries under the powerful dynasties of  Mauryas, Guptas, Pallavas, Cholas, Chalukyas,  Pandavas, Pratiharas, Palas, Marathas and Rajputs suddenly crippled in front of Turkish and western invaders.

Religion has been and is a great unifying and uplifting force of the world to bring together diverse groups in pursuit of a common goal. It strengthens the bond of a community. Religion, the word, derives its origin from the Old French form of Latin religiō that, in turn, descended from religāre, which is to tie up, from re-+ ligāre, or to ‘bind together’.

At the same time, religion has been used a powerful destructive force to wipe out civilisations and was effectively used to conquer our subcontinent. Hinduism is based on the underlying principle that every individual is free to choose his or her own path to enlightenment or moksha (salvation). Our culture based on this enriching concept failed to foresee the threat of young religions such Christianity and Islam.

A flourishing civilisation of ancient India slowly succumbed to the marauding Turkish invaders united under the banner of Islam in the medieval era and finally was enslaved by western invaders under the banner of Christianity towards the modern era.

History is a tool that helps us understand why a rich civilisation such as ours lost her place among the other modern great nations. History helps to us understand why foreign invaders were successful in damaging our social fabric. It helps us understand why divisive policies succeeded in severely crippling what used to be an economic superpower. History tells us how religion was used as a destructive force.

Turkish invaders and subsequently the Mughals systematically destroyed symbols of our rich heritage and replaced them with new buildings and architecture in an attempt to wipe out our identity.

As individuals, our identity is associated with our culture and society. We are all bound together; destruction of one has a domino effect on the others. All great men and women in history might have walked a difficult path alone but their achievements are reflected only after it was recognised by the masses.

Sadhus and sannyasis might have achieved moksha in solitude, but they had to come back to be among the people to spread their teachings and achieve immortality in our culture. Our culture is reflected in our lifestyle, our customs and rituals and our festivals. Any infringement in our culture slowly leads to a change in its identity. This change can be gradual as an ongoing process with changing habits, lifestyle, outlook etc, which is a healthy and progressive process, but the fundamental identity remains intact.

Another way of destruction of a civilisation is by forceful infringement, as mentioned earlier, by foreign invaders destroying the symbols of our culture and forcefully converting people to a foreign religion. Or, it can be a slow or deliberate process in much peaceful times — such as by the colonisers using the divide-and-rule policy to take control of the land and its people. The effect is the same — one happens overnight while the other takes a little longer — we lose our identity.

After the 1857 Mutiny, the British were astonished to find mutineers of different faiths rebelling together. They came to the conclusion that Muslims were a greater threat to tackle. Lord George Nathaniel Curzon came specifically to India to destroy this harmony by the policy of divide and rule.

Muhammad Iqbal, popularly known as Allama Iqbal, writes a beautiful poem, Taraana-e-Hind, which goes, “Sare jahaan se achchha, Hindustan hamaara… (My India is better than the whole world)” He writes elsewhere, subsequently, “kar de faqat ishaarah agar shah-e-Khurasan/ sajdah na karoon Hind kii naapaak zameen par (If I get as much as a hint from the king of central Asia, I will stop offering prayers on the soil of India).” 

The British had done their job well! The seeds of the divisive politics was planted much earlier. In the battle of Bhima-Koregaon, the East India Company defeated the Peshwas. Subsequently, the Anglo-Maratha wars culminated in the fall of the Maratha empire and the British were successful in extending their control over nearly all of western, central and southern India.

The British built a pillar to commemorate the cooperation of Dalits who had fought alongside them to defeat the Peshawas. Today, lakhs of Dalits visit the obelisk to celebrate the victory of foreign invaders who made us slaves!

Why are our history books filled with the glorious pasts of Mughal empires with passing mention of other great periods in our illustrious history? The British had bright students who successfully took over the mantle. The divide-and-rule policy was subsequently used as a political tool in independent India. It has been become so deep rooted that, ironically, the only way to tackle it is to use a tool in similar lines to destroy it.

Hindutva is not just about religion or about promoting a particular faith. It is about an ideology to bring people together under the umbrella of our ancient philosophy of sanatana dharma, to unite and fight for the survival of our cultural heritage. It is a fight against the divisive forces in society, which is slowly erasing our identity.

Children have impressionable minds. Teaching based on communal principles can only develop a sense of hatred and intolerance, which is against the principles of sanatana dharma. It cannot evoke a sense of nationalistic pride. Hatred ends with revenge and the mind is then left with a void. It has no focus and it cannot work towards the development of the nation.

The concept of Hindutva is to train the youth of our nation in the principles of sanatana dharma for the service of the nation to

  • inculcate in our youth a sense of national pride
  • to teach the rich and glorious history of our great civilisation so that they can draw strength and develop pride and work towards a common goal of restoring the lost glory of our motherland, Bharatavarsha.

Jai Hind!