Hindutva in the Hindi language means Hinduism. Hinduism represents a body of religious sects having common beliefs such as the Law of Karma and the transmigration of souls. The Supreme Court has ruled Hinduism to be a way of life. Therefore Hindutva also is a way of life. That is why many non-Hindu religious sects in India influenced by this way of life may be termed to be part of Hinduism. That does not however make the followers of different religions influenced by Hinduism to be designated Hindus. They may correctly be called Hindustanis – the residents of Hindustan.
RSS Chief Mr. Mohan Bhagwat’s stubborn insistence to call all residents of India Hindus instead of Hindustanis betrays either his ignorance of the Hindi language or his flawed understanding of the Hindu community. All Hindu sects have a religious identity and to assume that they are bereft of religious beliefs to allow the follower of any other religion to be designated a Hindu is not only erroneous but insulting.
What are the characteristics of the Hindu way of life that is called Hinduism or Hindutva?
The most outstanding characteristic is the inclusive nature of Hinduism and its tolerance of different sects allowing them to live in harmony. In other words to proselytize or actively convert followers of other religious sects to the Hindu faith is alien to the Hindu way of life. That explains why India has evolved over the centuries into the world’s most pluralistic society. From this it follows that those who most belligerently seek religious conversion, those who despise and seek to ostracize followers of other religious faiths, and those who seek to sharpen the division between different religious sects are the biggest enemies of the Hindu way of life or Hindutva.
On any dispassionate assessment the biggest enemies of Hindutva therefore are those who swear by Hindutva.
When Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti describes those who do not follow Lord Rama to be of illegitimate birth, or when BJP leader Swami Chinmayanand describes the Shahi Imam to be of illegitimate birth, or when Yogi Adityanath asserts that for every Hindu converted to Islam he would convert 100 Muslims to become Hindus, or when various Hindutva leaders spew hate speeches against members of other communities, they all inflict the most damaging blows to Hindutva.
Contrast the goal of increasing the number of Hindus with the teachings of the Bhagwad Gita wherein the ideal of Hinduism is to liberate the soul, or achieve moksha, by purifying the self and merge it with the universal and the eternal.
The biggest enemies of Hindutva are patronized by Mr. Mohan Bhagwat and Mr. Narendra Modi who by their silence offer them tacit support. Mrs. Sushma Swaraj wants the Bhagwad Gita named as the national scripture. One appreciates her motives but would gently remind her that the Gita does not need such recognition. One hopes that next Mrs. Swaraj does not demand that the Bharat Ratna should be posthumously awarded to Lord Krishna.