Nationalism - Devotion and Hindutva

                                                           Birth of Nationalism:

Hegel, the German philosopher (1770-1831), was the key exponent of the modern idea of the nation-state. The French Revolution initiated a movement toward the modern nation-state and played a vital role in the birth of nationalism across Europe. Its twin ideological goals, nationalism and democracy, were given substance and form during the tumultuous events beginning at the end of the 18th century. 

European Renaissance Reformation and Enlightenment: European Renaissance (14th-17th century) was a rediscovery of philosophy, literature and art of the classical Aristotelean period (500 BC to 400 AD). Protestant Reformation (1550-1650) was a challenge to the entrenched dogmatic Papal Authority (5th-15th century). The subsequent Enlightenment (1685-1815), also known as the Age of Reason, was an intellectual and cultural movement emphasising reason over superstition and science over blind faith.


Enlightenment emphasised national identity and developed an authentic view of cultural self-expression through nationhood. Thus, nationalism was the ideological impetus that, in a few decades, transformed Europe. Rule by monarchies and foreign control of territory was replaced by self-determination and newly formed national governments.

Napoleon Bonaparte promoted French nationalism based upon the ideals of the French Revolution, such as the idea of "liberty, equality, fraternity". Thus, it advanced the template of nationalism, firmly establishing it in the 19th-century European countries. Further, the Industrial Revolution transformed the feudal society, giving rise to the dominance of middle-classes. Consequently, they constructed nationalism and vested it with popular sovereignty. Henceforth, the nation as a human population sharing a common territory and Culture has inspired people to build nation-states.

Two World Wars To European Union (EU): The European Union Project took shape to end the frequent and bloody two World Wars between 1914 to 1945 among neighbours professing radical nationalism. Europeans of all nations were shocked by the scale of violence and destruction that left them impoverished by the jingoistic power struggle between nations for domination. However, the aftermath of the madness of wars and the horror of the holocaust or genocide of the Jewish minority convinced the leaders to abandon national fundamentalism and embrace EU's Transnationalism and cooperation for mutual welfare.  

Birth of Trans-Nationalism: Beginning with the Treaty of Rome in 1957, as the European Economic Community (EEC) with six founding member nations, it has grown by 2013 into the European Union with 28 countries. European nations rejected the bloody legacy of chauvinistic nationalism to share their sovereignties in an experiment of cooperative living, unprecedented in the history of humankind. The dual citizenship of their native country and the European Union bestows individuals and communities a happy synthesis of cultural sovereignty and economic cooperation. The model has lessons for the world governance structure advocated by Prout. 

Indian Nationalism:

Early 19th century, Indian leaders drew inspiration from the nationalist movements among the European nations and dreamt of India as a free Nation. The Freedom movement nurtured Indian national sentiment, countering the nefarious divide-and-rule policy of the British administration. Despite the diverse ethnic, linguistic and religious backgrounds, the anti-British sentiment united all the Indians inspired by territorial nationalism, like never before in history. 

Bhakti-Sufi Movements: An essential landmark in the cultural history of medieval India was the silent revolution in society brought about by a galaxy of socio-religious reformers, a revolution known as the Bhakti Movement. The movement probably began in the Tamil region around the 6th and 7th centuries AD. It achieved significant popularity through the Alvars and Nayanars and many other Vaishnavite and Shaivite saints and poets.

Bhakti and Sufi movements are ideological twins. Bhakti originated in south India, spreading to the north, and at the same time, the Sufism of 13th century Persian poet Rumi spread to India. The confluence of these two streams of God-centred devotion in India launched a Renaissance in Literature, Music and Performing Arts. Its rich influence shaped the idea of modern India and the history of the sub-continent and continues to nourish us in facing the social, economic, and cultural challenges of the 21st century. 

the India devoid of all politics, the India of no nations, whose one ambition has been to know this world as of soul,   ― Rabindranath Tagore,” 

Islam, Sufism and Sikhism: Influential contributors to the Bhakti tradition in medieval India include Ramanuja, Madhava and others. The period of the 13th to16th centuries is considered the Golden Age of Sufi poetry. It was through the Sufis that Islam entered the heart of Indians. Bevan Jones estimates that two-thirds of the Mohammedans of India are under the influence of the dervish orders of Sufism, like the Chistiya order introduced into Ajmer in 1236 AD. Sikhism arose in 1469 as an eclectic religion compounded mainly of elements from Hinduism and Mohammedanism, with a strong bias toward the mystical. 

Indian Renaissance: Several movements were responsible for a renaissance in the genre of the spiritually elevating poetry and music associated with the worship of God by Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs of the Indian subcontinent. For example, Bhajan at Hindu Temple, Qawwali at Dargah, and the singing of Gurbani at Gurdwara are all derived from the Bhakti movement of medieval India (800-1700), a significant period that democratised Spirituality. It was carried forward by Meerabai, Kabir, Chaitanya Maha Prabhu, Namdeva, Tukaram, Jayadeva and innumerable others like Thyagaraja and Annamayya, in several regions and  several languages, which continue to spread the blissful devotion and spirituality in the masses. Modern Age movements from Ramakrishna Paramhamsa, Ramana Maharshi, Aurobindo to the contemporary Hare Rama Hare Krishna to Anada Marga continue to nurture the tradition. 

On account of the millennia-long Bhakti-Sufi movements teaching the oneness of human society as Vasudhaeva Kutumbakam, Indian nationalism is characterised by an opposition to the sectarianism of Hindu and Muslim nationalism and  also other separatist movements.  Moreover, the rich bhakti-sufi tradition of universalism broadened the horizons of Indian society and naturally formed the bedrock of the idea of India and its inclusive Indian nationalism.

Former President Pranab Mukherjee speaking at the RSS conclave on June 07, 2018, said, "It is our composite culture that makes us into one nation. India's Nationhood is not one language, one religion, one enemy. It is the 'Perennial Universalism' of 1.3 billion people who use more than 122 languages and 1600 dialects in their everyday lives, practise 7 major religions, belong to 3 major ethnic groups- Aryans, Mongoloids, and Dravidians..."  


batādejahāñparḳhudānaho" -Anonymous      

India's Freedom Movement: There were three - political, social and economic approaches to India's freedom struggle. The political approach of Gandhi and Associates succeeded because it did not effectively challenge the social and economic exploitation in the country, securing only the substitution of the white saheb by the brown saheb. The Ambedkarite approach that addressing social equity will secure true freedom remains a dream. Lohia's socialist approach had no opportunity in the economic sphere due to his untimely death. Marxian intellectuals were influential in academia and served the white-collar workers primarily at home and externally the interests of  Russia and China. However, despite the influence of Left movements, the twin structures of countryside feudal exploitation and in the cities licence-permit-raj of the babu-dom remained intact. The economic crisis was further deepened by the liberal financial capitalism adopted by the PV-Manmohan duo in the1990s, and the successive regimes only fast-tracked the fallacy. Only Prout's decentralized, balanced economy of Cooperatives  can change direction, arrest the economy's free-fall, and provide relief to the common people. 

Dogmatism: The dogmatic nationalism of Hindus and Muslims remained on the fringes of the Freedom struggle. The Hindu Maha Sabha and Associates and the Muslim League played no significant role in the Freedom movement. At the same time, the Muslim League collaborated with the Britishers in the division of India. Further, it betrayed the promises it made to the people of a better life in an independent Pakistan. 

Today, we witness how Hindu nationalism employs the calculus of Kamandal (religion) or Mandal (casteism) or a combination of both to capture and retain power. At the same time, it trashes the aspirations of minorities - Harijans, Tribals, Muslims and other vulnerable sections of socity. To distract attention from whatever the failures, the minorities are blamed, and a false sense of insecurity from them is injected into the minds of the majority community. The high-sounding cultural-economic nationalism and vausudhaiva kutumbakam are peddled in their attempts to appropriate them and the symbols and legends (holy sites, Vivekananda, Bhagat Singh), and spurious spirituality too, to bolster its image. 

Marxist Historian's Blind Spot: The Matter-centred Marxist historians detached the God-centred prana dharma of bhakti-sufi movements from the Indian freedom struggle. Instead, they tried to fit alien class-theory arguments. Insights of historical materialism fail to factor in the mystic-spiritual roots of Indian society. As a result, Indian Left intellectuals got trapped in the binary of the bi-polar world of capitalist and Communist blocs. 

"The Matter-centred Marxist historians detached the God-centred pranadharma 

of bhakti-sufi movement from the Indian freedom struggle."    

Left-oriented Intellectuals in Indian academia no longer resonate with the people and are under pressure from the radical right-wing elements. Their monumental research and analysis enrich the understanding of the factual history ('Rta) from a scholastic perspective. However, the lopsided view fails to resolve it, for the welfare ('Hita) of society. Post-Soviet era changes have made the Left irrelevant in the intellectual and political space of the world today. Left-wing, now decimated worldwide, has also laid a fertile ground for the emergence of a Right-wing, serving as a facade for capitalist exploitation.

Swami Vivekananda's Thoughts: ....was a kind of bridge between the past of India and her present…. "Vivekananda was deeply moved by his Master Sri Ramakrishna's spiritual teachings about the fundamental unity of all religions, which were but different paths leading to the same goal of divine enlightenment." According to the distinguished historian, Tapan Raychaudhuri, Vivekananda did not consider the Muslim rulers to be foreigners. He also regarded the differences between the Hindu and Muslim worlds as the by-product of culture and not real. .. In his article "On the future of Bharat," Vivekananda wrote: "The Mohammedan rule was experienced as a liberation for the poor and downtrodden. That is how one fifth of our people became Mohammedans. To think that all these were brought by sword and fire is sheer madness." 


Vibrant Bhakti-Sufi Tradition of India: A closer look at historical facts shows the undeniable connection between the bhakti-sufi movements and the idea of India and  its freedom struggle. It continues to be the elemental force behind the soft power and the stature of contemporary India in the modern world. The Freedom struggle drew its strength from the vibrant bhakti-sufi traditions, but it also forged unity in the most diverse society in the world's history. The unity in diversity achieved in the Indian society is unprecedented in its scale and depth, drawing admiration the world over.

Transhuman Mysticism and Tantra: Mysticism is the science of the love of God and the life which aims at union with God (Yoga). It may refer to any ecstasy or altered state of consciousness. Broadly defined, one will find Mystics in every religious tradition, from indigenous religions and folk religions like shamanism to organised religions like the Abrahamic Faiths, Asiatic religions, modern spirituality and New Age religious movements. Mystics may be women or men, educated or uneducated, from wealthy or deprived backgrounds. Mystical experiences may be primarily visual or auditory or so abstract as to elude any verbal formulation. The spiritual path may be based either upon developing love or devotion (Bhakti Marga) or on the growth of the intellect or wisdom (Gnana Marga). Mystical experiences can occur spontaneously, unexpectedly, at any time and place. Yet, many religions endorse bio-psychic practices (Tantra & Yoga) and modes of prayer that encourage blissful spiritual experience in the initiates. The natural property of seeking infinite pleasure, innate in all human's ultimate stance, finds it sheltered in one's devotion or spirituality.

                                           "Dance until you shatter yourself."   - Jalal ad-Din Rumi.

The European Union and India: The EU is an alliance of the 28 diverse countries that went to war twice before in three decades (1914-1945). They experienced the pain of the destruction of their economies and paid the ultimate human price of 75 million dead in two World Wars - while the unity of India is a gift of its centuries-old tradition of bhakti-sufi spirituality. Today, only the EU and India stand out as the most extraordinary experiments of unity of humanity in diversity in the history of humankind.                        

Indian Literature and Media: From time immemorial, Indian creative Authors and performing Artists of its scores of Languages celebrated the oneness of humankind. From sanatan Upanishads of the yore to the Poetry of Rabindranath Tagore to this day, the message of Spirituality and universalism eternally nurtures the consciousness of our society. So, likewise, the world over the soft-power of contemporary popular Indian media - Movies, Magazines, Theatre, Music inspires and celebrates universal human sentiments and values.     

"The Sea will be the Sea whatever the drop's philosophy. --  Attar of Nishapur."

Amid the world's multiple crises, the practice of bio-psychic Tantra and Spirituality will alone awaken the sentiment of the cosmic kinship of all living beings. Furthermore, it would inspire a worldwide struggle for liberation from exploitation in human society's physical, psychic and spiritual realms. Also, establish neo-humanist transnationalism to secure abundance in the economy and planetary governance structure to resolve the many emerging planetary crises today.

Muslim Nationalism:

British failed to hold on to power over India but succeeded in dividing the country by supporting the adherents of the two-nations theory of Muslim nationalism against the overwhelming sentiment of Indian nationalism. What is significant is Indian nationalism rejected the two-nation theory to achieve India's Independence.

"Patriotism is when love of your own people comes first; nationalism, when hate for people other than your own comes first.  -- Charles de Gaulle

British Administration succeeded in appeasing Muslim nationalism carving Pakistan out of eastern (now, Bangladesh) and western (truncated Pakistan) parts, based on a negative sentiment of hate for other communities. Pakistani rulers sought to hold the community in thrall by dismantling in gradual steps the facade of a modern nation-state and establishing the Dogma of a theocratic state. It only increased the appetite to divide the society, further raking up differences of Shia, Ahmediya sub-sects and other ethnic minorities. 

It took less than two and a half decades for the fallacy of Faith as a unifying factor to unravel. The birth of Bangladesh in 1972 knocked out the bottom of the two-nation theory. Today's truncated Pakistan is a failed State, and its society is unable to control non-state actors turning their nation into a global epicentre of Terrorism. A Talibani-Afghanistan on its western frontier will exacerbate the ethnic fault-lines of Pakistan and pose an existential threat to its sub-continental Culture.

Hindu Nationalism:

It is a construction fuelled by three popular perceptions. 1. Reaction to Muslim nationalism. 2. Correct the sense of hurt felt about the Muslim rule before the British, spanning eight centuries. 3. Necrophilia of the early 20th-century European thesis of nationhood.


Vinayak Damodar Savarkar (1883-1966) popularised the word Hindutva. His essay called 'Essentials of Hindutva' was published as a booklet in May 1923. Hindutva included all those people who collectively had three things in common: land, shared ancestry and culture. All this was valid, again, only when this is also one's holy land. Accordingly, Sikhs, Lingayats and Jains, and atheists were Hindus, but not Muslims or Christians, as their holy land is outside India. Thus, Inter-Faith marriages involving Muslims and Christians raises hackles, but not the other communities.


Savarkar states that various Jatis (sub-castes) came into existence through incessant, unauthorised intermingling, producing new Jatis. All that the caste system had done was regulate bloodlines. Upper caste blood could contribute to enriching what was barren and poor while not polluting itself. It was a good thing because it introduced 'good' blood to the lower castes. To maintain the purity and protect the caste system Puranas fixed the national border at the Indus. Therefore, the word 'Arya' included all those on this side of the Indus, whatever their caste. The term 'mleccha was for foreigners." Manuvadi tag arises on account of these views.

The Darwinian theory of evolution and the principle of 'survival of the fittest' were found to provide the ideological justification of inequality - in other words, a legitimacy of social Darwinism. Thus, the provision of 'reservations' in public life to the vulnerable Harijans, Tribals, Minorities are questioned as misplaced.

“In the name of the nation, do not act tribal. ..Nation without narrowness 

is a land universal.” - Abhijit Naskar." 

Further, one will draw a blank in Hindutva if looking for social Reforms, a vision of the Economy, or a mission for Change in society. Over time, the concept of Hindutva transmuted itself into the promotion of dogma and a political project of exclusion. The Hindutva proponents did not attempt to define, in any way, Hinduism, and its followers only assume the role as protectors of the syncretic Hindu culture. With an ideology of past bias and weak scholastic capital, a state-sponsored project of re-writing history is now pushed through academia, social media, and the popular format of Films. 

Deen Dayal Upadhyaya (1916-1968) said in Pune, "There need not be any doubt as to whether this political problem should be solved or not. It will have to be solved and there is only one way in which it can be solved. It can't be solved unless and until Muslims are politically defeated. It is only after such a defeat that it will be possible to assimilate the Muslims." Statement pretty much defines and remains the undercurrent of the politics of these groups for the present and future.

Neohumanism - Shrii Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar Speak:

Materialism: "Materialists are ..... preoccupied with casteism, nationalism, communism, etc. They confine their love to a particular social group or state and do not feel any qualms of conscience about spitting venom at another social group or state. Such a limited expression of love cannot be called devotion. Genuine devotees will shower their love equally on each and every entity of this universe. When materialists put on a show of universal love, it is merely a ploy which they use to misappropriate othersʼ property." (Source: Cosmic Attraction and Spiritual Cult).

Metamorphosed Sentimental Strategy: "... A person discovers that the sentimental strategy which he or she previously used to misguide innumerable people is about to be detected. (“The people are forming a bad opinion about my real nature.”) So he or she decides to exploit another sentiment just to save his or her own prestige, and that too very quickly, because any more delay means the further loss of prestige. This act of shifting to a new sentiment – maybe from communalism to nationalism or from nationalism to communism – this metamorphosis of sentiment is called “metamorphosed sentimental strategy. (Source: An Ideology for a New Generation). (Morally and ideologically bankrupt Leaders today have only one agenda - hold on to power at any cost with no concern for humanity's suffering and serve their own and the interests of  the failed corporate capitalism of our vaeshyan era.)

“What this world needs is a new kind of patriotism - patriotism not for a nation or religion or ideology - but for the whole of humankind. ― Abhijit Naskar"

Neohumanism: "All molecules, atoms, electrons, protons, positrons and neutrons are the veritable expressions of the same Supreme Consciousness. Those who remember this reality, who keep this realization ever alive in their hearts, are said to have attained perfection in life. They are the real bhaktas [devotees]. When this devotional cult does not remain confined to mere practice but instead is elevated to a devotional sentiment, a devotional mission, to the realm of devotional ideation – when the underlying spirit of humanism is extended to everything, animate and inanimate, in this universe – I have designated this as “Neohumanism”. This Neohumanism will elevate humanism to universalism, the cult of love for all created beings of this universe." (Source: Aspects of Devotional Sentiment and Neo-humanism).          *********************           


G Surender Reddy

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