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Imperatives of Nationalism

B.Surendra Rao

By Jyotirmaya Sharma
Penguin/Viking, New Delhi,, 2007, pp. 139, Rs. 295.00

VOLUME XXXI NUMBER 12 December 2007

Terrifying Vision is a slim little book on the ideas of the most visible ideologue of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Its author had earlier explored and written on the world and moods of four well-known makers of the Hindutva ideology (Hindutva: Exploring the Idea of Hindu Nationalism (2003). The present volume, is a sequel to that work, and its main title suggestive of the stridency to which the ideology graduated, and the organization and praxis to which it was integrated.   At a time when Hindutva has high investment stakes in politics it has produced various exponents who sing it at various tempo and timbre and spawned outfits who are authorized and have disowned by their sagely leaders according to convenience. That is understandable in the games that politicians play. But ideally, Hindutva is a sacred idea, as old as the hills—and the Veda—imperishable and non-negotiable. It has had many prophets: Dayananda Saraswati, Sri Aurobindo, Swami Vivekananda and V.D. Savarkar. But it is M.S. Golwalkar, the ‘Guruji’, who is its authoritative exponent for the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and to those inspired by it. Jyotirmaya Sharma has used twelve volumes of Golwalkar’s complete works, (Sri Guruji Samagra) to weave together the Terrifying Vision of Hindu nationalism. Golwalkar’s Bunch of Thoughts is a handbook for the Swayamsevaks; but his We or Our Nationhood Defined, which nearly answers to the call of an Indian Mein Kamph, has now been formally withdrawn. It is said that the book was originally written by V.D. Savarkar’s older brother, Ganesh Damodar Savarkar, to which Golwalkar lent his name. However, Golwalkar’s foreword to the book still figures in Sri Guruji Samagra. Jyotirmaya Sharma promises (p.xix) a fuller discussion on the issue in Chapter I, which this reviewer searched for in vain. However, the author has chosen not to use the book which the Sangh has now disowned, though it has served its cause for so long.   Sharma points out that notwithstanding Golwalkar’s fierce adherence to the un-indebted notion of the ‘Bharatiya’, his idea of Hinduism, his notions of self, society, politics and nationalism owe themselves to European Orientalism, Romanticism and Enlightenment (xxii). This, in fact, pulls the rug from under the feet of pompous Hindutva. But this should not come as a surprise. Any serious student of historiography knows that nationalist discourse is an inversion of imperialist parameters. Hinduism ...

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