Hindutva is a non-sectarian, non-militant, cultural cement, bridging regional and sectarian borders and differences.
The recent three-part presentation on the RSS’ vision for India by Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat has refocused public attention on the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s ideology, message and assessment of India’s current situation and future options.
Following Bhagwat’s widely disseminated video-interviews with Rajiv Malhotra, in which he conceded that the RSS needed to gain greater understanding and acceptance on the national and international scene by publicising and defending its legacy and its activity, while promoting intellectual debate through all modern media, the three speeches followed by Q&A sessions were meant to clarify misgivings and correct prejudices and negative opinions about the concept of Hindutva and those who uphold it.
Such an initiative is very timely given the circumstances in which India is evolving, in a world increasingly dominated by a uniform technocratic control system operating on a western secular utilitarian paradigm through global finance and social media.
While national contenders for global power and wealth proliferate on the geopolitical scene, multinational monopolies are inserting their tentacles in all societies and spreading a commercial pop culture which tends to wipe out traditional ways of life while selling dreams of mass produced, big-brand consumerism, physical pleasure and value-free instant gratification (which are often nightmares to all), including the vulnerable youth, almost from the cradle.
In this context the foundational creed of the RSS, recalled by the Sarsanghchalak may seem strangely outdated to many younger Indians. Austerity, devotion to the motherland, abstemious living and piety are not attractive to generations aspiring to enjoy a good life through a quest for high incomes and glamorous lifestyles. The “western” ideals of individual freedom, moral relativism and emphasis on rights and desires to the detriment of duties and responsibilities are in principle incompatible with the Sanatani, Buddhist and Gandhian encomium of “simple living and high thinking”.
Ongoing changes in the country’s judicial rules, whether indigenous or inspired by Victorian Christian morals, such as the decriminalisation of homosexuality and adultery by the Supreme Court reflect this quiet revolution in the minds.
The traditional view of a divinely or naturally sanctioned social and spiritual order is being replaced by the modern notion that since there is nothing above the individual man or woman “anything is lawful as long as it does not hurt others” (an ambiguous assumption in itself) and that personal choices are nobody else’s business. The age-old concepts of morality as self-respect, modesty, decency, dignity and humility are largely discarded and replaced by greed, vanity, attention grabbing and often unjustified claims of victimhood. The zeitgeist is personified by many famous and powerful figures such as the current American President, even though paradoxically he claims to stand against the globalist culture and has many religious believers among his followers; another proof that the modern “value system” permeates the thinking of its supposed opponents too.
As is usual for the human species, changing norms and criteria primarily affect sexual behaviour. Contrary to the perspectives provided by almost all faiths which regard it as the highest expression of love, trust and commitment between persons of opposite genders, primarily intended for procreation, sex is now seen mainly as a source of pleasure between consenting adults and the concept of equality has been subjectively invoked to justify the equivalence of heterosexual and homosexual acts. One can fully respect the freedom of any two or more persons to live together, share their resources and inherit from one another without recognising them as physical spouses when they belong anatomically to the same sex. Feelings should not be invoked to overrule biology. Children are encouraged by state educational policies in some countries to explore sex and find out to what gender they wish to belong. The transgender ideology is often linked to the transhumanist theory, which advocates that human beings mutate into another species with the assistance of modern technologies.
The promoters of this drive for what they describe as full freedom and equality seem to believe that human nature can change so as to eliminate all problems and concerns generated by their “liberal” vision of society. They ignore the age-old forces, impulses and norms that led legislators and moralists in all ages to impose rules and criteria for regulating social conduct.
No one in his/her right mind can object to people keeping the company they wish and associating with others according to their interests and dispositions, but the attempt to eradicate differences between the sexes has never been successful in history even though certain societies achieved higher degrees of fairness and balance between men and women, often with provisions for those who, for biological or psychological reasons did not fit into the normal patterns of behaviour.
Every species and social system has fringes and outliers; however, attempts to make the fringes become the mainstream are doomed to fail. Nevertheless, any criticism of this present trend is regarded as inadmissible or at least highly objectionable by the trans-national establishment, which imposes its views in most parts of the world.
Paradoxically but predictably, the all-out drive to erase distinctions between the sexes is leading to a new form of—inevitably hypocritical—Puritanism, which manifests in much (not in all) of the Me-Too campaign. The realisation that animal (or vital) instincts cannot be eliminated and less so in a wanton, predominantly agnostic society results in new calls for segregation between genders or for repression of any expression of desire or amorous overture.
The pioneer is once again the United States, which claims to be the paragon of modernity. After decades of pervasive and promiscuous mingling, drug-taking and drinking in co-educational schools and colleges, any “inappropriate” gesture or language is labelled as a crime that can condemn a person for life as in the case of Judge Brett Kavanaugh and in many others in which allegations are now taken at face value. The new rule is “innocent until accused”.
This is probably the opposite of what advocates of sexual liberation anticipated; it creates a state of fear, suspicion and alienation not unrelated to the rapid proliferation of behavioural disorders even among young children, to the point that the British government, despite its ultra-liberal policies, has raised an alarm about a bizarre transgender epidemic in schools which is most often an effect of psychological confusion and delusion, usually carrying tragic consequences.
Modern societies evince the problems linked with the measures adopted in the last decades by secular neo-liberal or social-democrat regimes eager to demonstrate their “progressiveness”. One does not need to believe that the older social orders were fair and healthy to notice the often disastrous effects of the dominant contemporary ideology.
The rapid rise in teenage pregnancy, alcoholism, addictions, anorexia, depression, self-mutilation and suicide among girls in Northern America and Western Europe (some of the symptoms are shared in the male child population as well) cannot be attributed solely to technological mutations and economic problems. Much trauma is caused by parental divorce, family instability compounded by a seemingly high frequency of sexual molestation within families as well as disruptive influences (television, the Internet, dark and violent video games, a nihilistic pop culture, the promotion of narcissism and a lack of spiritual direction and restraints).
The creation of a “teenager consumer market” by major corporations and advertising firms eager to exploit the cravings and temptations of an inexperienced public is a major factor behind this widespread reality every now and then illustrated by senseless mass shootings in the United States and in other countries.
The public self-image of modern western or westernised nations, promoted by sophisticated public relations campaigns, hides many of the destructive forces at work, such as the exploitation of the masses by the banking sector, the national security/defence industries, the pharmaceutical-medical-insurance oligopoly and the giant media/IT companies. Falling birth rates and large scale immigration are inflating debt bubbles and modifying the demography, thereby undermining socio-cultural cohesion and solidarity.
Obviously, the situation of “rich countries” is not uniformly and similarly ominous, but history has not been kind to empires and republics which fell into analogous traps and India should hope to avoid following in the footsteps of those materially affluent powers which are paying a mounting price for their visible successes and accumulating ever greater material and spiritual debts as the appalling state of the public discourse and ethics demonstrates in the US and other countries under similar systems.
Mohan Bhagwat touched lightly upon the traditional philosophy of the RSS. His goal was to reconcile suspicious or hostile listeners with the notion of Hindutva as a moderate, consensual unifying force based on a common culture and vision of the world. His emphasis was therefore on acceptance and inclusion and not on criticism of antagonistic doctrines. The main purpose of the Sangh is educational and character-building, he insisted, and well educated, good, high minded men and women can and should decide for themselves what to do with their lives and how to build the nation and world they want to live in.
It stands to reason that it is easier to instil positive values and sound thinking in human beings on the basis of their ancestral civilisation. In India, the common background is the Bharatiya, Hindu or Indic culture and none of those three nouns is a religious designation. They are all rooted in geography (Bharat, Sindhu, Indus) and history. Sound education and reforms should be anchored on that bedrock and Bhagwat pointed out that a weakened civic ethos, a loss of national solidarity and patriotic consciousness among Hindus were greatly to account for the victories and lasting dominance of colonial invaders in the past.
To rebuild the nation’s spirit and not fall into the neutral and nebulous “no man’s land” of “South Asianism”, Hindutva is a non-sectarian, non-militant, cultural cement bridging regional and sectarian borders and differences, like “Italicity” was for newly reunified Italy in the late 19th century, or “Indo-Latinity” for politically divided South and Central Americans.
The role of the RSS can indeed be salutary and protective for a rising India. More power entails more responsibility for a state as for an individual and greater wealth attracts greater dangers and pitfalls. The Sanatan Dharma, with all its attributes in the fields of law, politics, social and natural sciences, economic development, environmental management, culture, business, military science, art, yoga and education protects those who abide by it.