Hindu Vivek Kendra
«« Back
HVK Archives: Re: Deen, Dharma and Indianism

Re: Deen, Dharma and Indianism - Hindustan Times

S. Bashiruddin ()
26 May 1996.


Title : Deen, Dharma and Indianism
Author : S. Bashiruddin
Publication : Hindustan Times
Date: May 26, 1996.

INDIANISM, Bharatiyata, and now Hindutwa connote the
meaning, It depends on the perception of the
audience.This is possible for anyone with an open mind
and a deep understanding of Indian culture and heritage.
Them, all these terms mean the same. But when these
expressions are used with ulterior motives for political
purposes in a narrow context, it makes a world of

The trouble lies in India, in a technical sense,the
constitution requires that the state is secular in
thought and action. Though it is a noble objective,it
sterilises the vital role of culture and its people.
Today, after nearly 1,000years of Muslim presence in
India, Hindutwa should not carry any negative perception
in the Muslim mind.The same may be true to a lesser
extent for the Christians and the sikhs. The best way to
cope with such a situation is to understand Hindutwa-
Indianness or if you like, the sanskrit synonym
"Bharatiyata", which by all accounts means the culture,
ethos and way of life as the historical legacy of India.
In practical terms, this could include
the greeting Namaskar, the prefixes Shri or Shrimati or
if you will thiru for tamilians and by implication saheb
and ji for anyone who knows Urdu or Hindi.

Islam properly viewed is not a religion but the religion
into which surrender to the Almighty takes place. A
childisborn into Islam as all creations obey God's law of
nature. It has neither beginning nor an end because Islam
implies the indwelling presence of Allah who is nearer to
man than his life vein Likewise, the sanatana Dharma is a
perennial ancient process in India which governs broadly
Hinduism in its noblest aspects. The dharma Paada of
Buddha is no different except that it was consciously
codified and evolved by autama, the Buddha.

Under the umbrella of Hindutwa, the Islamic Deen (Moral
law)and the Hindu Dharma - The Righteousness - can co-
exist as they are not viewpoints but universal bases of
governance of personal and social conduct.But it so
happens that one political party in its wisdom, has
adopted Hindutwa, as its main plank but that by no
means reduces Hindutwa to a narrow concept. The
of Islamic Deen is righteousness by surrendering to the
Almightily, or decision or decision for God and for right
conduct.Likewise, the essence of Hinduism is Dharma -
the law of righteousness. If one makes an effort to
understand Hindutwa, Indiansm on Bharatiyata they reveal
a way of life of the Indian people, and not confine them
to describing the processes of practising the Hindu
religion as a faith.

Likewise, if Deen is understood as the essential aspect
of Islam, where a human being submits to the Creator, and
abides by the laws of creation and self control, there
cannot be any contradiction between" Deen" and " Dharma".

Whether the BJP comes to power or not, Hindutwa is an
all embracing concept and will continue to have wider
ramification and take deeper roots in India. Therefore,

it is in the fitness of things that the enlightened
Muslims do not entrain any negative fears of insecurity
by accepting Hindutwa as the heritage of sever Indian and
Islamic practices of the last 1,200 years or socan safely
be accommodated.

The address "Khan Saheb", the greeting "Adab Arz" need
not be incongruent to Hindutwa or Indianisation on
Bharatiyata because the Taj Mahal. the Gol Gumbus at
Bijapur, the Fatehpur sikri near Agra are all part of
Indian heritage. More importantly, the 130 million muslim
majority out of the 950 million Indians are also an
integral part of Hindutwa, whether one bears the name of
sanskrit or Arabic origin be it ashoka or Akbar, a Fatima
or Padma. these are mere surface distinctions, the
essence under Hindutwa of the human being remains

If Indonesia, which is the largest Muslim majority
country in the world with 170 million population can have
Ramayana and Mahabharata as its cultural heritage, there
is no reason why the 130 million Muslims in India should
have any misgiving son accepting Hindutwa as their
rightful heritage.

Hindutwa is being taken seriously after the Supreme Court
gave an interpretation in Manohar Joshi's case
interpreting that Hindutwa is not a reference to Hindu
religion or way of life but it broadly connoted India's
cultural heritage. Unless someone dogmatically narrows
its definition,it cannot be a reference only
to either Hindu religion or Hindu way of life.

The Quran explicity mentions that while those who believe
in other forms of worship (religion): "To you, your
religion and to me my religion, and both of us will
return to God, who will inform what is right or wrong".
It thus, allows flexibility and scope for the co-
existence of different forms of worship and the
possibility that no one can judge the rightousness of
others as judgment belongs to God and there is no
compulsion in religion according to the Quran.

Likewise, the Indian concept, derived from Hindutwa
'Sarva Dharma sama Bhava' means equal respect towards
religions. The fear that Hindutwa will swamp the cultural
legacy of Muslimsis misfounded as one has to learn to
live with the new awareness and the unfolding reality of
the supreme court's ruling in this regard. Now that the
highest court of the land has given a broad
interpretation of Hindutwa, one must liarn to not only
respect the verdict but to make an effort as to how the
concept can be broadened to accommodate all strands of
Indian culture and legacy.

There is another view that "Bharatiyata" is a way out of
the linguistic incongruence that Hindutwa might imply but
even here those who have reservations on Hindutwa are
also likely to come up with the same mental blockages on

Without any sanction in the Sharia, a controversy was
kicked up on the move to shift the Babri masjid which
would have been a way out for Muslims to restore the
historic balance of the vandalism indulged in by the
Muslim rulers in the pastin building mosques to uphold

and spread their faith. The shifting would not only have
earned the goodwill of the aggrieved majority of the
Hindu community as perceived by them on the mosque
but would have also prevented loss of bloodshed and the
psychic hurt between two communities.

However, with fear and lack of trust on the part of some
Muslims, the mosque has gone without bringing any
goodwill to Muslims leaving only the trail of bitterness
and resistance on
both sides. It is a very short -sighted view of Islam to
project an alien culture from across the borders of India
as part of a religion which it is not.

In Indonesia, the world's largest Islamic country with
170 million people,where over 90 per cent of the
population are Muslims, the Mahabharata and Ramayana
paintings are in offices, Vishnu and Ganesh sculptures
adorn the road junctions and Muslims are engaged in
sculpturing ancient Gods, Shiva and Parvathi as part of
their " Hindutwa" awareness for a country which 1,000
years ago lived under a Hindu religion and heritage.

There have been various reasons put forward as to the
recurring nature of communal tensions in India. But there
is no denying the fact that the unconscious majority
population in India carries the feeling of alien cultural
imposition and desecration of the sacred temples in the
country. Here, the Muslim minority too, has to sensitise
to these facts of history, and not either gloss over or
suppress the psuche through ignorance or distortion.
Though the present generation is not responsible for what
has been done centuries ago, an awareness of such a
legacy can sensitise the opinion leaders on the need for
accepting the broad culture of Hindutwa.

The root cause of many of the misunderstandings is of
linguistic origin, as sanskrit is totally alien to the
Muslims and Arabic too is alien to the Hindus. But all
religious incantations are in these tongues which can
create misunderstanding when in reality the translation
if available in the current regional languages of India
would make people realise that these are different ways
of propitiating the almighty through a particular tongue
and hence no animosity is meant towards any religion.

Here, the role of powerful electronic media is crucial:
In India the TV and Radio have not realised their
potential due to bureaucratic controls and misfounded
fearson secularism have failed to bridge the gulf and
propagate the positive sides of religion. At the most,
the audio-visual media has remained neutral which is not
the same as being positive and helpful in propagating the
values, ideals and significance of various religions,
festivals of such communities as Muslims, sikhs, Parsis,
Jains, Christians, etc., in addition to the large
majority of festivals of Hinduism. This is the way to
inform and foster awareness among the audience who will
participate in goodwill generation to build up rapport.
So let us not raise the bogey of Hindutwa as something to
be viewed with caution. On the other hand, try to
understand its positive implications and its cultural
legacy of conveying India's heritage to all those who
reside in India.

The author served as Ambassador to Qatar and as former

Vice Chancellor of Dr B. R. Ambedkar Open University.

Back                          Top

«« Back
  Search Articles
  Special Annoucements