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Hindu Nationalism in India

Sarkar, Tanika

In the twenty-first century, there has been a seismic shift in Indian political, religious and social life. The country’s guiding spirit was formerly a fusion of the anti-caste worldview of B.R. Ambedkar; the inclusive Hinduism of Mahatma Gandhi; and the agnostic secularism of Jawaharlal Nehru. Today, that fusion has given way to Hindutva. This now-dominant version of Hinduism blends the militant nationalism of V.D. Savarkar; the Brahmanical anti-minorityism of M.S. Golwalkar; and the global Islamophobia of India’s ruling regime. It requires deep cultural analysis and historical understanding, as only the sharpest and most profoundly informed historian can provide. For two decades, Tanika Sarkar has forged a path through the alleys and byways of Hindutva. She has trawled through the writing and iconography of its organisations and institutions, including RSS schools and VHP temples. She has visited the offices and homes of Hindutva’s votaries, interviewing men and women who believe fervently in their mission of Hinduising India. And she has contextualised this new ferment on the ground with her formidable archival knowledge of Hindutva’s origins and development over 150 years, from Bankimchandra to the Babri mosque and beyond. This riveting book connects Hindu religious nationalism with the cultural politics of everyday India.