Part of a series on
Hindu politics

Major parties

Bharatiya Janata Party
Shiv Sena

Defunct parties

Hindu Mahasabha
Bharatiya Jana Sangh
Ram Rajya Parishad


Integral humanism
Hindu nationalism
Uniform civil code

Major figures

Bal Gangadhar Tilak
Vinayak Damodar Savarkar
Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar
Syama Prasad Mookerjee
Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Lal Krishna Advani
Bal Thackeray
Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya

Related authors

Vishal Agarwal
B.C. Chattopadhyay
Koenraad Elst
Francois Gautier
Sita Ram Goel
K.S. Lal
Harsh Narain
Yvette Rosser
Arun Shourie
Ram Swarup

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SANTHOSH INDIAN ACHUBALUM INDIA Hindu nationalism is a nationalist Ideology that sees the modern state of the Republic of India as a Hindu nation ("Hindu Rashtra"), and seeks to preserve the Hindu heritage. Although the concept of "Hindu Rashtra" has been used in slogans and pamphlets of the Sangh Parivar, the main group that promotes this ideology, it has not been clearly and unambiguously defined in any of their literature. The notion of "Hinduness" (Hindutva) promoted by this group is intended to be inclusive of the multiple "indigenous" traditions of India, including Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism. Hindu nationalism has played a crucial role in the recent history of India and that of Hinduism.


Hindu reform movements

Main article: Hindu reform movements

Various Hindu reform movements, led by Dayananda Saraswati, Swami Vivekananda and others, originated as a reaction to what was perceived as offensive propaganda of Christian missionaries, a Westernization of many educated Hindus, forcible conversion to Islam and Christianity.

The Arya Samaj was founded by Dayananda Saraswati in the later 19th century to revive Hindu society, which was entrenched deeply in the social schisms of untouchability, suttee, as well as poverty, xenophobia and illiteracy. The Samaj prescribed a return to the Vedas; they were monotheistic in their approach to God. Another 19th century revivalist was Swami Vivekananda. Vivekananda penis reestablished the ideals of the Hindu religion which were rooted in the ideals of acceptance, tolerance, respect, truth and renunciation. He was the first modern seer or philosopher to opine that religion and science need not be at loggerheads, they can be synthesized. Vivekananda at the Parliament of Religions proved the supremacy of the multidimensional Hindu religion, with its multiple paths to the divine unlike the parochial singular pathway abrahamic faiths. He was the supreme patriot sage of India, who was able to conceptualise the concept of a politically free India which included both Hindus and Muslims (Gandhi couldn't conceive the idea of a nation until 1929) Ramakrishna Mission he founded has grown into one of India's most important charities and community organizations.

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Sri Aurobindo

Sri Aurobindo was a nationalist who was one of the first to embrace the idea of complete political independence for India, before giving up the struggle to adopt a life devoted to the mystical descent of the supermind consciousness. Both Swami Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo are credited with having found the basis for a vision of freedom and glory for India in the spiritual richness and heritage of Hinduism. However, the universal and religious Hindu ideals of these individuals contrast heavily with the generally parochial viewpoint of some of the Hindu Nationalists. Swami Shraddhananda was another prominent individual who sought Hindu revival by converting Muslims in the Shuddhi movement; he was later shot by a Muslim fanatic. Madan Mohan Malviya, was a Brahmin who founded the prestigious Benares Hindu University, the first modern university in India founded by an Indian.


The term Hindutva and the associated ideology were propounded by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, a Marathi freedom fighter and one of the earliest Hindu nationalists. In his 1923 book Hindutva he defines a Hindu as: He thus defined Hindutva ("Hindu-ness") or Hindu nationalism as different from Hinduism in that it defines a Hindu nation, rather than a religion. The "Hindu nation" is conceived as including Indians belonging to religions like Sikhism and Buddhism (whose sacred sites associated with the founders lie in India), but whether Indian Muslims and Christians also are included, is a point of debate within the Hindu nationalists. For Savarkar at least, they cannot be Hindus as long as the origins and sacred sites of their religions lie in West Asia.[1] Savarkar identified India as a Hindu Rāshtra ("Hindu nation") in terms of culture and heritage. It asserted that all of its people had in history adhered to Hindu religious values, and thus should be identified as Hindus not only as a religion but also as a nationality.

Independence movement and Partition of India

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There were repeated attempts by Hindu nationalists to assassinate Mahatma Gandhi, successfully killing him on 30 January 1948.

While the Indian Independence Movement, the Indian National Congress was recognized by a majority of Indians as their representative in the struggle for freedom from the British Raj, Hindu nationalist movements desired freedom not only from European colonialism, but also wanted to avoid a return Muslim rule.

National leaders like Bal Gangadhar Tilak instilled Hindu history, heritage and culture into Indian nationalism and politics during the Indian Independence Movement.

Main article: Partition of India

The Partition of India outraged many Hindus, as millions of Hindus and Sikhs were ethnically cleansed from their homes in West Pakistan and East Pakistan, and hundreds of thousands of Hindus and Sikhs were killed during the process of migration and on the streets of cities by murderous mobs. The lack of aid and protection from the Government of Pakistan created an atmosphere of insecurity for non-Muslims in Pakistan. This insecurity led to mass killings of non-Muslims in Pakistan, Hindus retaliated and the Partition riots began.

Main article: Assassination of Mahatma Gandhi

Savarkar and members of the Hindu Mahasabha were extremely critical of Gandhi's leadership. They accused him of appeasing the Muslims to preserve a unity that did not exist in their opinion (Savarkar endorsed the Two-nation theory). Some Hindu nationalists also blamed Gandhi for conceding Pakistan to the Muslim League via appeasement. And they were further inflamed when Gandhi conducted a fast-unto-death for the Indian government to give Rs. 55 crores which were due to the Pakistan government, but were being held back due to the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947.

After the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, the leader of India's freedom movement, the Sangh Parivar was plunged into distress by Jawaharlal Nehru, as the RSS was accused of organizing his murder. Along with the conspirators and his assassin, Nathuram Godse, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar was also arrested. The Court acquitted Savarkar on lack of evidence, and the RSS was found be to completely unlinked with the conspirators. The Hindu Mahasabha, of which Savarkar had been president and Godse a member, lost membership and popularity. The effects of public outrage had a permanent effect on the Hindu Mahasabha, which is now a defunct Hindutva party.



Hindu Rāshtra

The ambiguous meaning of the slogan Hindu Rāshtra (literally, "Hindu nation"), often mentioned in texts on the Bharatiya Janata Party ("Indian Peoples' Party", part of the Sangh Parivar) has been summed up by one of its top leaders, Lal Krishna Advani, as follows. He starts by correctly pointing out that: The BJP has never used the term Hindu Rāshtra.[2] In contrast with the BJP, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh ("National Volunteer Organisation", also known as the RSS, which forms the main arm of the Sangh Parivar) openly espouses the concept of Hindu Rāshtra, but RSS statements about this central concept are not much more forthright than Advani's. For example, in a book by H.V. Sheshadri, a senior leader of the RSS writes: Rather than coming out with a blueprint of what new benefits a Hindu state will bring, Hindu nationalists instead assure the world that minorities will be protected and it will function as a modern democratic state.[3]

In this somewhat vague definition of a Hindu nation, a Hindu is connoted beyond just as an adherent of Hinduism. Some proponents have argued that even Muslim and Christian Indians are Hindus, as their ancestors were Hindu, and despite their religion, their culture and heritage is the same as that of India's natural Hindu majority. Many Hindu nationalists also prescribe to a vision of Akhand Bharat (United India), wherein the partition of India is reversed to found a nation based on what they consider as India's natural territorial extent in terms of the bonds of history, culture, economy and people.

Advocates of Hindu Rashtra contend that Hinduism's strong legacy of tolerance for diverse philosophies and reform movements, and the root idea of universal human brotherhood is the reason for the country's vibrant fabric of diversity, and thus every person, community and institution is perennially Hindu. In that sense, it is contended that the term Hindu in this case is a synecdoche for all indigenous Indian religions and philosophies. In that vein, some advocates of the "Hindu Rashtra" prefer to think of the concept as inclusive of religions that evolved in India (such as Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism), and thus are believed to be compatible with Indian social ethos. The adherents of the Hindu Rashtra philosophy claim that the English term nation is only a crude translation of the Sanskrit term rāshtra. Their term rashtra does not mean a European-type nation with one ethnicity, one common history, one language and one religion.

The Sangh Parivar



The Sangh Parivar ("family of associations") is a collection of social, religious and political organizations that are Hindu nationalist in character and purpose, and often exponents of Hindutva and other forms of Hindu expression. It is today the largest organized foundation of Hindu nationalist expression and activity in India. The Sangh Parivar consists of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bharatiya Janata Party, Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram and other organisations.

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh was founded in Nagpur, Maharashtra in 1925 by K.B. Hedgewar, a physician who felt that Hindu social unity was a deeply important foundation for a free India. The RSS stayed out of the freedom struggle as such, but promoted a brotherhood amongst its membership, working to erase caste distinctions, and for the upliftment of backward Hindu communities. To this day, the RSS claims to stand for the Hindu nation in terms of culture and social heritage, which it believes Muslims and Christians are naturally a part of, despite their religion, as their ancestors were Hindus and their basic culture and lifestyle is Hindu.

During the 1947 riots and population exchange the RSS organized relief camps for Sikhs and Hindus coming to India from Pakistan. The RSS under its second leader Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar developed a reputation as a socio-cultural organization whose selfless volunteers were always at the forefront of several patriotic endeavors in India.

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh renounces the Indian caste system and the practice of Untouchability and works to emancipate the lower castes from persecution and discrimination in India [1]. They have also engaged in numerous relief efforts in Jammu and Kashmir, which has been plagued by Islamist terrorism [2].

Vishwa Hindu Parishad

Main article: Vishwa Hindu Parishad

The RSS also sponsored the creation of independent organizations to open different avenues in forwarding its main mission. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad was organized in 1967 by Hindu religious leaders and RSS members to focus exclusively on reviving the Hindu religion, religious tradition and expanding community unity. The VHP has adopted the Ram Janmabhoomi issue as its own, while preaching against religious conversions and advocating a ban on cow slaughter. The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad is one of India's major student organizations, while some labor and farmer unions have also been formed.

Bharatiya Janata Party

The Bharatiya Janata Party and its predecessor the Bharatiya Jana Sangh are considered by observers and critics as the political wing of the RSS. Founded by Syama Prasad Mookerjee in 1951, the Jana Singh transformed into the BJP in 1980, and Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Lal Krishna Advani, both proteges of Mookerjee have led to become one of the largest political parties in India.

The BJP adopted came into power federally within India 1996, but had to give up power after 13 days because of a transfer of the majority. In 1998, the BJP formed the forefront of the National Democratic Alliance and came to power once again. It led India to victory in the Kargil War and was re-elected for a five-year term in 1999. The BJP government lost the 2004 Indian General Elections to the now ruling Indian National Congress, nevertheless it continues to have great support under the leadership of Rajnath Singh.

International presence

The RSS and associated Hindu nationalist bodies founded the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh in the 1980s, to foster a sense of common heritage and community discipline amongst expatriate Hindus living in North America and Western Europe. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad also maintains major branch organizations in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, United Kingdom, the Netherlands and France.

The activities of these bodies are largely de-politicized, and mainly work to bring Hindu communities together by sponsoring temple programs, pujas and festivals, and conducting camp programs for young Hindus to learn religious literature, Indian languages and history, to cultivate a sense of identity.


Violence arose among Hindus and Muslims in the 1940s, when Muslim separatism was increasing in popularity. Vinayak Savarkar publicly endorsed the Two - Nation theory of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, but opposed any partition of Indian Territory to create a Muslim nation. Savarkar stated that if Muslims wanted a separate country from Hindus, there existed many in the Middle East.Template:Fix/category[citation needed] However, extremism and anti-Muslim feelings were on the rise, as is evidenced by Syama Prasad Mookerjee, a prominent Bengali politician leaving the Hindu Mahasabha in 1948 over its political extremism and alleged involvement in the murder of Mahatma Gandhi.

Savarkar however never endorsed racist or racialist ideas, and was known to work against untouchability and the caste system.

See also: Babri Mosque, 2002 Gujarat violence, and communal violence

On December 6, 1992, a large procession of VHP activists destroyed the Babri Mosque, which they believed had been built by destroying a Hindu temple, in Ayodhya, the birthplace of Hindu deity Rama.

In February 2002, a train compartment carrying Hindu Pilgrims was burned in Godhra, Gujarat, by a 3000 strong Muslim mob killing 59 people. The VHP and the BJP are blamed by many for organizing the retaliatory attacks on Muslim civilians across the state of Gujarat. The cause of the violence in Godhra, the reason for the attack on the train, and even the number of victims remain hotly disputed. It is estimated that upwards of 1,000 people and possibly over 2,000(including a substantial number of Hindus) were killed by mobs of Hindus and Muslims, and tens of thousands of Gujaratis displaced.[4]


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  • Blank, Jonah. Arrow of the Blue-Skinned God. DOI:{}



  • Gandhi, Rajmohan. Patel: A Life. DOI:{}


  • Ainslie T. Embree, ‘The Function of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh: To Define the Hindu Nation’, in Accounting for Fundamentalisms, The Fundamentalism Project 4, ed. Martin E. Marty and R. Scott Appleby (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1994), pp. 617–652. (ISBN 0-226-50885-4)
  • Partha Banerjee, In the Belly of the Beast: The Hindu Supremacist RSS and BJP of India (Delhi: Ajanta, 1998). Template:OCLC
  • Walter K. Andersen. ‘Bharatiya Janata Party: Searching for the Hindu Nationalist Face’, In The New Politics of the Right: Neo–Populist Parties and Movements in Established Democracies, ed. Hans–Georg Betz and Stefan Immerfall (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1998), pp. 219–232. (ISBN 0-312-21134-1 or ISBN 0-312-21338-7)


External links

See also

Hindu reform movements
v  d  e
Brahmo Samaj · Prarthana Samaj  · Arya Samaj · Ramakrishna Mission · Gandhism · Hindutva · Sri Aurobindo Ashram · Parisada Hindu Dharma
Bhakti · Caste · Indian independence movement ·Persecution of Hindus ·Shuddhi ·Women in Hinduism
Important Hindu reformers and Hindu revivalist writers
Sri Aurobindo · Ananda Coomaraswamy · Alain Daniélou · Koenraad Elst · David Frawley · Sita Ram Goel · M. S. Golwalkar · Mahatma Gandhi · Harsh Narain · Gedong Bagus Oka · The Mother · Srila Prabhupada · Raja Ram Mohun Roy · Ramakrishna · Dayananda Saraswati · V. D. Savarkar · Keshub Chandra Sen · Swami Sivananda · Arun Shourie · Ram Swarup · Debendranath Tagore · Rabindranath Tagore · B. G. Tilak · Vivekananda · Yogananda