Nandakumar, with his sharp intellect, is able to demolish the idea that Hindutva is divisive and obscurantist and goes on to show that it is probably the only philosophy that is future ready as the social environment changes rapidly.
There could not be a more opportune time for this book—Hindutva for the Changing Times—when there is a huge churn in the international and national socio-economic and political scenarios. I would call it a “just in time” delivery. Most of the world is moving away from the dominant leftist worldview and is turning “Right”. While most people in the West want to move back to classic conservative ideas, some are trying to find a new path that can avoid the mistakes of earlier capitalist and communist societies. Is the foundational philosophy of Hindutva the answer to their search? Can Hindutva provide an alternative economic philosophy that is not defined in Left or Right, but for whom a spiritual human being is at the centre and not a biped who finds happiness only in material pursuit?
In India too there is a decisive change in public discourse. The Left secular groups who had held academic and social narrative in its iron-like grip for 70 years are losing their adherents. The western definition of liberal secularism is failing with rise of fundamental Islam in the West, while in India this western worldview imposed on Indians is an insult to an inherently secular society, where irreligious secularism does not fit into its rooted wisdom but a much better respect for all faiths and ideas, and genuine pluralism has survived all the onslaughts of time.
The 200-year-old classic Left and Right wing definitions can’t be mapped onto a 10,000-year-old living civilisation. This book provides an insight into the Bharatiya worldview that is ever evolving with an unchanging core. Instead of appreciating the original contribution of Hindu philosophy represented by Hindutva (essence of Hindu dharma), detractors trained in the western worldview are busy demonising it. As the wheels of time (Kaal chakra) move, more and more Indians discover the beauty of their ancient Hindu heritage and come out of the magic spell of Left-fed academics; the attacks on Hindutva have begun with renewed vigour in a last ditch battle to recover lost ground. It is at this time that Nandakumar has put his thoughts together in print to clear the confusion being sewn by the Left brigade against an enlightening philosophy that can contribute to harmony not only in India but also the world.
Nandakumar, with his sharp intellect is able to demolish the idea that Hindutva is divisive and obscurantist and goes on to show that it is probably the only philosophy that is future ready as the social environment changes rapidly. Bharat has decisively moved away from the Left-secular worldview fed to it from the western point of view, and it is clear that it will and cannot go back to slothful and lazy intellectual haze. This book shows that the philosophy of Hindutva not only has an answer to current problems but also to the possible problems arising out of challenges of evolving science and technology. Hindu dharma (not religion) is the only philosophy that is not afraid of science and its new frontiers. In fact, more science discovers, more it comes closer to the Hindu worldview. Therefore, from defining the core concepts of Hindutva to the latest issues arising out of Artificial Intelligence, the writer traverses across the changing landscape with clear razor sharp intellect.
The book is worth a read for some of the best essays compiled in this book. His essay on “Hindu Rashtra: The Unchanging Core” is a clear delineation of the foundational idea of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). He explains how the ever evolving idea of Hindutva has an unchanging core. He quotes first generation prachaarak Dadarao Paramarth: “RSS is an evolution of life mission of the Hindu Rashtra.” The essay, “Decolonising Bharatiya Minds”, in fact, is his current mission as the convenor of Pragya Pravaah. It is a no holds barred critique of how the faithful followers of the Whites who left India, and Marx have worked in tandem to colonise the Indian minds.
I found the essay, “Dataism and the New Forms of Colonization” most enlightening. He quotes eminent social historian Yuval Noah Harari: “The Dataism looms large over the human race as an existential threat, seeking to replace human intelligence with Artificial Intelligence. Writer ponders on the problems of data colonisation. According to him the fundamental problem lies in the compartmentalisation of knowledge and perceiving human being as a mere bio-chemical being, forgetting that he/ she is also a spiritual being. He then goes on to quote Sri Aurobindo who has shown us a path with Bharatiya wisdom. Aurobindo says, “Mind is only one level of the multi-level reality called consciousness.” The way out of the risks of Dataism is to spiritualise technology.
His essay, “Savarkar, Gandhiji and Leftist propaganda”, had made huge waves when it was published in The Sunday Guardian. This is a longer version with unknown views of Gandhiji about Savarkar and he demolishes the Left critique of Savarkar comprehensively. The essay, “Ambedkar on Islam and Christianity”, will open the eyes of the reader to the deep understanding of this great scholar son of Bharat. In another essay he quotes second RSS Sarsanghchalak Guruji to destroy the Left attempt to paint him as a Hitler sympathiser.
I have heard Nandakumarji on “Indian Knowledge System”. It is a fascinating overview of ancient Indian knowledge system, which is still by and far the most comprehensive and well defined knowledge system. I think the essay on this topic in this book is too short to do justice to such a wonderful subject. I hope the publishers can request Nandakumar to expand it further for the next edition.
The book is divided into various sections: Core Hindutva, Invisible Colonisation, Combating the Left, Argumentative Hindu, Dr. Ambedkar, his views on some court verdicts pertaining to Hindu faith and his interviews. One can imagine the wide spectrum that this book covers. All the essays need to be read slowly and ruminated over, to really understand the arguments and ideas he enunciates.
Nandakumar comes from a rare tradition of a combination of an activist and an intellectual in RSS. People who have worked in the social field on the ground know how difficult it is to read and write while you are on the field and travelling most of the time. RSS has a long list of such luminaries beginning with Babasaheb Apte, P. Parameswaran, Dattopant Thengdi and H.V. Seshadri (a Sahitya Akademi award winner) to Deendayal Upadhyay and Ranga Hari etc., just to mention a few. Nandakumar is a deserving addition to these activist scholars’ list. Like many RSS top leaders I have seen, he too makes prolific notes with references. This why this book was possible. People in Kerala are aware of his writings as an editor of Kesari for 10 years. This book, now, brings his writings to the English speaking world. Not only is he very well read and sharply analytical, he is also assertive and unapologetic in his writings. On the field, he has shown how to combat the Left by crafting a national campaign against the violent fascism of the Communists in Kerala. This reasoned aggression is also seen in his writings and the interviews published in this book.
Hindutva for the Changing Times is a must read for the faithful as well as the doubtful.
Ratan Sharda is the author of RSS 360°, among several other books.