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Principles of modern Hindutva find mention in, surprise, the Constitution of India

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Samved Iyer
Samved Iyer
Eternal as evolution is, I cannot purport to have grown in thorough measure, and I am hopeful of augmenting my perspicacity in the company of beings far more erudite than me.

There is a question on Quora, “When will the BJP declare India a Hindu Rashtra?” Most answers thereunder are hilarious. The woke authors somehow feel that a Hindu Rashtra implies that the theological aspect of Hinduism will be declared a state religion. They wax eloquent about how it is unconstitutional. Both they, and the Hindus who look suspiciously at the Constitution as a British product, are ignoramuses.

The Constitution itself contains major principles that are very dear to the cause of the Hindu Renaissance. It is true that many of the provisions are taken from the Government of India Act, 1935. Dr. Ambedkar himself acknowledged so. But it is not an outright copy. The Constitution is your ally! Three examples:

Article 44: Uniform Civil Code for the Citizens — The State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.

Article 48: Organisation of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry — The State shall endeavour to organise agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines and shall, in particular, take steps for preserving and improving the breeds, and prohibiting the slaughter, of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle.

Article 351: Directive for development of the Hindi Language — It shall be the duty of the Union to promote the spread of the Hindi language, to develop it so that it may serve as a medium of expression for all the elements of the composite culture of India and to secure its enrichment by assimilating without interfering with its genius, the forms, style and expressions used in Hindustani and in the other languages of India specified in the Eighth Schedule, and by drawing, wherever necessary or desirable, for its vocabulary, primarily on Sanskrit and secondarily on other languages.

It is true that these articles are part of the Directive Principles of State Policy, and therefore, non-adherence of them is not a matter that can be taken to court. However, should the Hindu community consolidate and demand the government to act in adherence to them and the government enacts legislation accordingly, even the largest bench of the Supreme Court would not be able to invalidate it. For it would be in accordance with the concerned articles in the Constitution.

Does this mean we are to ban cow slaughter altogether? Do not even think of it! The intellectual fountainhead of Hindutva, the freedom fighter Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, stated in unequivocal terms that the cow is not divine. To use a poetic line: the bovine is not divine. The cow must be protected because it is of use to man. Cow-dung and cow-milk is utilitarian. However, should a man be suffering from hunger and there is nothing to consume for miles but a cow, he must not hesitate to consume the cow. This is not me, but Savarkar writing.

Savarkar was bitterly critical of the Marathas for ostensibly having lost many a battle with the Islamist rulers due to cow worship. He alleged that Muslim armies had often used cows as a shield during key battles against the Hindus. Savarkar’s biographer Vaibhav Purandare writes:

When Hindu forces marched on Multan, he said, the Muslims had threatened to destroy the famous Sun temple there as a warning, and when Malharrao Holkar, a Maratha chieftain, had sought to “liberate” Kashi, the Muslims had again threatened to defile all things holy to the Hindus (Savarkar said) and he castigated India’s majority community for backtracking at such moments for fear of being responsible for the razing of temples, the humiliation of Brahmins and cow slaughter.

He particularly abhorred the then widely prevalent habit of consuming cow urine and, in some cases, even cow dung, and believed the practice may have actually started out in ancient India as a form of punishment so that a person could “expiate his sins”.

So, uphold cow protection. Not cow worship. Do not believe in the myth of gods residing in a cow. How can this be ensured? Ban all slaughterhouses other than government-approved ones.

In his book, “The Ideology of India’s Modern Right” the economist and legal scholar Dr. Subramanian Swamy notes:

Ancient Bharat or Hindustan was of janapadas and monarchs. But it was unitary in the sense that the concept of chakravartin [propounded by Chanakya], i.e., of a sarvocch pramukh or Chakravarti prevailed in emergencies and war, while in normal times the regional kings always deferred to a national class of sages and sanyasis for making laws and policies, and acted according to their advice. This is equivalent to Art.356 of the Constitution.

An examination of Article 356 would illustrate that he is correct, for it provides for the imposition of President’s rule in states in case of failure of constitutional machinery of the states. Dr. Swamy thereafter proceeds to note:

In that fundamental sense, while Hindu India may have been a union of kingdoms, it was fundamentally not a monarchy but a Republic. In a monarchy, the King made the laws and rendered justice, as also made policy but in Hindu tradition the king acted much as the President does in today’s Indian Republic. The monarch acted always according the wishes and decisions of the court-based advisers, mostly prominent sages or Brahmins. Thus, Hindu India was always a Republic, and except for the reign of Ashoka, never a monarchy. Nations thus make Constitutions but Constitutions do not constitute nations. Because India’s Constitution today is unitary with subsidiary federal principles for regional aspirations, and the judiciary and courts are national, therefore the Rajendra Prasad — monitored and Ambedkar — steered Constitution — making, was a continuation of the Hindu tradition. This is the second pillar of constitutionality for us — the Hindutva essence! These aspects were known to us as our Smritis. Therefore, it is appropriate here to explore ways by which Hindutva can be blend into the present Constitution more explicitly.

Thus, the principles expounded by modern Hindutva are already enshrined in our most cherished Constitution. The following have been the interpretations by the Supreme Court as regards the term “Hindu”:

  1. 1966, Chief Justice P.B. Gajendragadkar, writing for a five-judge Constitution Bench in Sastri Yagnapurushadji and … vs Muldas Brudardas Vaishya and … on 14 January, 1966: When we think of the Hindu religion, we find it difficult, if not impossible, to define Hindu religion or even adequately describe it. Unlike other religions in the world, the Hindu religion does not claim any one prophet, it does not worship anyone god, it does not subscribe to any one dogma, it does not believe in any one philosophic concept, it does not follow anyone set of religious rites or performances. In fact, it does appear to satisfy the narrow traditional features of any religion or creed. it may broadly be described as a way of life and nothing more.
  2. 1976, Commissioner Wealth Tax, Madras vs Late R Sridharan’ [1976 (Sup) SCR 478]: It is a matter of common knowledge that Hinduism embraces within the self so many diverse forms of beliefs, faiths, practices and worships that it is difficult to define the term ‘Hindu’ with precision.
  3. 1995, Dr. Ramesh Yeshwant Prabhoo vs Shri Prabhakar Kashinath Kunte & … on 11 December, 1995: It is difficult to appreciate how in the face of these decisions, the term ‘Hindutva’ or ‘Hinduism’ per se, in the abstract, can be assumed to mean and be equated with narrow fundamentalist Hindu religious bigotry, or be construed to fall in the prohibition in subsection(3) and/or (3A) of Section 123 (of the Representation of the People Act).

Then, it may also be noted that clause (f) of Article 51A of the Constitution, that deals with Fundamental Duties, states as follows:

Article 51A(f): It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture.

Dr. Swamy further notes the following aspect of the culture which finds mention in the Constitution:

Throughout ancient Indian history, Hindu kingdoms, never required any ‘subject’ to be of Hindu religion in order to be regarded a first-class citizen. Only in Asoka’s reign and Islamic rule, India was a theocracy. Hindu is naturally ‘Secular’. But secularism is a much-bandied-about subject nowadays. Unfortunately, those political parties who have been swearing by it all these years have failed to persuade the masses that secularism is good for country.

The Constitution, therefore, has already incorporated principles that Hindutva stands for. Lamentably, many of them do not see implementation on account of vote-bank politics and power politics. Their fulfillment would merely secure implementation of the directives enshrined in our Constitution.

Finally, do recall that the Hindus insist that the Indic religions are all sister faiths, as did Savarkar. Guess who accepts this definition? The Constitution of India!

Article 25: Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion

(1) Subject to public order, morality and health and to the other provisions of this Part, all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion

(2) Nothing in this article shall affect the operation of any existing law or prevent the State from making any law

(a) regulating or restricting any economic, financial, political or other secular activity which may be associated with religious practice;

(b) providing for social welfare and reform or the throwing open of Hindu religious institutions of a public character to all classes and sections of Hindus
Explanation I The wearing and carrying of kirpans shall be deemed to be included in the profession of the Sikh religion
Explanation II In sub clause (b) of clause reference to Hindus shall be construed as including a reference to persons professing the Sikh, Jaina or Buddhist religion, and the reference to Hindu religious institutions shall be construed accordingly.

The Constitution supports the principles of Hindutva, for the Hindus do not intend to make the Hindu theology that is Hinduism, a state religion. Hindutva seeks consolidation and justice. India shall always be open to people of all faiths, and no one shall be treated as a second-class citizen. Secularism is acceptable to the Hindus, provided it is not used as a contrivance to engage in propitiation.

The founding fathers, Dr. Ambedkar in particular, have included the Directive Principles of State Policy for a reason. The more we consolidate ourselves and demand that our leaders adhere to them, the better our country shall be. So, use the Constitution and usher in a Hindu Renaissance.

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Samved Iyer
Samved Iyer
Eternal as evolution is, I cannot purport to have grown in thorough measure, and I am hopeful of augmenting my perspicacity in the company of beings far more erudite than me.
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