India’s identity

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat has reportedly said that Hindutva is India’s identity. I wonder what he means by the term “Hindutva” and how it is different from the religion of the Upanishads, as interpreted by Swami Vivekananda and Swami Aurobindo, both of whom the RSS projects as its icons.

Swami Vivekananda said: “I shall go to the mosque of the Mohammedan; I shall enter the Christian church and kneel before the crucifix; I shall enter the Buddhist temple where I shall take refuge in Buddha and in his law; I shall go into the forest and sit down in meditation with the Hindu who is trying to see the light which enlightens the heart of everyone.” It is to be noted that neither he nor Swami Aurobindo spoke the “them and us” language.

S.S. Kaimal,


Mr. Bhagwat’s statement is unfortunate. Besides alienating the minorities, such remarks divide society and promote radicalisation. They give a chance to militant minority outfits to appeal to their followers to protect their faith from the majority.

Sumit Sharma,


India’s identity has never been exclusive or homogeneous. The idea of India or Bharat lies in its diversity, pluralism, inclusivity and many-ness. It is time people reaffirmed their belief in these ideals and spoke out in order to stop reactionary elements from seeking to cast the great Indian civilisation in one mould.

Anup Kashyap,

Vaishali, Bihar

A fitting reply to Mr. Bhagwat’s assertion that Hindutva is the identity of India was given by two distinct photographs carried by The Hindu (Aug. 18). The first was a painting in a Yazidi temple in Iraq, and the second of a Muslim woman walking with her son dressed as Krishna on Janmashtami. The Hindutva that Mr. Bhagwat seeks to portray as Indianness is based on the immigrant Aryan Vedic religion that left the Armenian highlands and travelled eastward creating settlements in different regions before finally reaching India. That is how we have a string of nations between Armenia and Afghanistan that still consider Vedic heroes as their ancestral patriarchs.

To proclaim that Hindutva is the core of Indian society is like saying Christianity is the core of the Americas or of Australia.

Sham Sankar,


The picture captioned “The festival spirit” speaks a million words. It is a message to not only India but the entire world that tolerance is a virtue. Thanks for publishing the beautiful picture.

Jayashree Lakshmanan,


India is a secular, democratic country. Its Constitution nowhere says the country’s identity is drawn from Hindutva. An Indian Muslim is both a Muslim and an Indian; an Indian Christian is a Christian and an Indian. Likewise, an Indian Hindu is an Indian and a Hindu. All of us are Indians or Hindustanis despite having several religious, cultural and ethnic differences. There is no need to confuse Hindustan with being Hindu, for the former is rooted in our sweat and blood whereas the latter is an identity of a community which others don’t necessarily have to belong to in order to prove their Indianness.

Manzar Imam,

New Delhi

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Printable version | Feb 23, 2021 12:59:37 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/letters/indias-identity/article6329449.ece

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