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Hindutva (from 'hindu' + 'tattva') is a philosophy advocating the promotion of Hinduism. It is virtually impossible to discuss Hindutva without discussing the controversy surrounding it; many of its critics view Hindutva as a fascist philosophy.

The main beliefs of Hindutva are:

  • The Indian subcontinent (which includes the area south of the Himalayas and the Hindu Kush, usually Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, and sometimes Afghanistan) is the homeland of the Hindus. This land is known as "Akhand Bharat" or "Bharat".
  • "Hindus" are those whose religion is indigenous to India. This includes Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs, as well as those who are usually accounted as Hindus.
  • Hindus have been historically oppressed in their own land by invading forces like the Muslims and the Christians.
  • Hindus have become weak over time due to the influence of British colonial and Communist thinking.
  • A Hindu state must be established to protect the rights of the Hindus in their homeland.


Hindutva has always had a strong anti-Communist bent (although not in the same sense as that term is used in the West), and usually portrays Communists as conniving and manipulative of the truth. Most people also consider Hindutva as being anti-Muslim and anti-Christian, and anti-foreigner in general.

Hindutva also advances a strong critique of secularism in India, which it dubs pseudo-secularism[?], because it advances different standards for Hindus, Muslims and Christians. The subject of a Uniform Civil Code, which would remove special divorce provisions for Muslims and Christians from the Indian Constitution, is one of the main political planks of Hindutva. Followers contend that in a secular democracy, it makes little sense to allow Muslims, for example, marry more than once, but to prosecute Hindus for doing the same.


Several Hindutva organisations (notably the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal[?] have been associated with anti-minority (for lack of a better word) violence by groups espousing Hindutva philosophies. The most notable recent examples are the burning of Christian missionary Graham Staines[?] for his conversion activities, and the riots in Gujarat that led to the deaths of almost two thousand Muslims.

While followers of the philosophy are rarely apologetic about violence, they do seek to rationalize it; in the case of Graham Staines, violence was excusable because of the greater violence done by conversion; in the case of the Gujarat riots, it was a justified response by outraged Hindus to the burning of 56 Hindu pilgrims in a train by a Muslim mob. In fact, several studies have been done by Hindutva scholars (notably Arun Shourie and Koenraad Elst[?]) documenting the primary causes of violent events in India, and concluding that in almost all cases, Hindus did not instigate the initial violence.

Social Work

Followers of Hindutva feel that any violence associated with their organisations is marginal, and the real work of Hindutva organisations is social service. Hindutva organisations are active in many disaster relief efforts, notably the Gujarat earthquake of 2001. They also coordinate extensive education and public health efforts amongst the tribal communities across India.

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