Is there an Other of Hindutva?

Is there the other of Hindutva? Some of us will say this question is silly. The border of Hindutva is clearly marked. Hindutva is a border thinking. It marks its boundaries and treats those that are outside itself as its enemies. This question becomes important when we can notice how Shiv Sena seems to be self-imploding in search of its Hindutva. The internal rebellion against the Uddhav Thackray’s government in Maharashtra is otherizing the Hindutva of Shiv Sena. Therefore, the question becomes: has Shiv Sena become the other of Hindutva? What does that mean to be the other of Hindutva? Perhaps this and other questions do become relevant, even as the Thackray Government is in danger as I raise this issue.

Hindutva under the BJP- VHP- RSS-combine has certainly evolved as a ritualized institution. The rituals of Hindutva are enacted in front of our eyes day in and day out. Are the fissures in the Maha Vikas Agadi Government another enactment of the rituals of Hindutva? The discourse of the rebel leader Eknath Shinde indicates that Shiv Sena has indeed found itself outside itself. It is accused of becoming its own other. This is how the rebellion is justified and rendered necessary so that Shiv Sena is thereby brought back to itself. Will this rebellion achieve its ends? Will it be able to stage a return of the Hindutva of Shiv Sena? Well if we fall prey to this discourse of the rebels, we will think there is only one pure Hindutva and rest every other shade is the other of that Hindutva. Such monolithic thinking of Hindutva certainly places the monopoly of Hindutva in the hands of BJP-VHP- RSS combine. But the question is: is there only one single Hindutva?

Hindutva is certainly plural. Therefore, the Hindutva of the Shiv Sena is not the other of Hindutva but simply another Hindutva. Today there are several Hindutvas. We can see the Hindutva of the Media as well as the masses of the country. We cannot simply put all eggs of Hindutva in one basket. All forms of Hindutva are anti-minority and by that token anti-India. The minorities are haunted by the spectres of Hindutva everywhere. The minority, women, Dalits, tribals, and children are the others of Hindutva but there are other Hindutvas and their spectres that are haunting our society. Everyone is living his or her version of Hindutva. We are all subjected to the aesthetics of Hindutva. Some of us enjoy it others fear it. Everyone is living out Hindutva. Hindutva is not at the distance that one then has to consciously image in one’s life. It has become an aesthetic that one enjoys or detests. It has become an identity beyond religious Hinduism. Some identify with it while others mark their boundary from it. Everyone is thus Hindutvavizing. While we Hindutvavize, Hinduizing seems to have taken a back seat. Hindutva, therefore, has successfully subverted Hinduism even while it attacks everything else in the name of this great tradition.

The compulsion to look for pure Hindutva in a singularized form is actually a hidden form of looking for the other of Hindutva. It being a border thinking, privileges the other of Hindutva as its model and attempts to become its opposite by embellishing its form with content from Hinduism. In other words, the other of Hindutva becomes the privileged model and Hindutva seeks to become it’s counter-signified. This means the form of Hindutva, therefore, becomes other of what it considers its other or enemy. This suggests that Hindutva in this way becomes the inverted image of its other. The Other is infinite and cannot be reversed into its inverted image. This is why Hindutva like everything else that defines itself by the measure of its other only reproduces its copies because it is not the original. It is only a counter-signified. It derives its form of its other and matter from Hinduism. This insight might tell us how the so-called one, pure Hindutva sought by the rebel Shiv Sainiks is simply a cover for their vested interest that wishes to profit or save itself from the strangulation of institutions like the ED that we are told as unleashed on it by the ruling BJP. Hence, we do have to admit the complexity of the situation, without falling prey to over-simlificatory discourse that is at play in our society.
Hence, we have to become critically aware of the performative aesthetics that is controlling our life today. The performative aesthetics is converting us all into copies of Hindutva. Some of us enjoy being it others detest it. But marking their boundary from it, some among us have unknowingly become inverted images of Hindutva. Each of us becomes other of the same. There is sameness in the otherness that followers of Hindutva as well as its opponents exhibit. The sameness is the need of letting the other become the model to construct oneself as its other. This inverted mimesis or reverse imitation remains unknown to us and we lose our originality and end up becoming copies whether straight or inverted. To come back to our fidelity to our true original selves, we have to become different. This may require us to critically see how mimesis or imitation is conditioning and constructing us into what we are and will become. Maybe we have to consciously denaturalize this acute need for mimesis. We cannot certainly overcome mimesis. But we can certainly critically choose what to imitate and become.

It is only by this critical mimesis that we may save ourselves from the perpetual displacement of our true selves. Maybe this is why we may say that the real other of Hindutva is Hinduism. It appears that Hindutva is running away from Hinduism by becoming an inverted image of what its proponents are trying to consider as its other. This reverse imitation of that which is deemed as the other is damaging the originality of Hinduism. Hence it is high time that we all understand how Hindutva is, unfortunately, degenerating Hinduism by the day. Maybe we need to embrace the real performative aesthetics of our civilization. This performative aesthetics is all embracive and welcoming. Hindutva is destroying this divine welcome inscribed into our civilization. It is time that we try to become Indians first, Hinduising in the spirit of openness of our civilization.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao