The term Hindutva took birth with the appearance of VD Savarkar’s book titled Hindutva in 1923. Savarkar’s Hindutva was declared to be the Holy Book of Hindu Sangathan or organization. M. S. Golwalkar, who headed the RSS after K. B. Hedgewar, too regarded Savarkar’s Hindutva as a great scientific book which fulfilled the need of a text-book on Hindu nationalism. According to a biography of founder of RSS, Hedgewar published by the RSS, “Savarkar’s inspiring and brilliant exposition of the concept of Hindutva marked by incontestable logic and clarity, struck the cord of Doctorji’s [Hedgewar’s] heart”.
Despite such statements glorifying Hindutva as priceless contribution in defence of Hindu nationalism, the contents of the book did not attract many Hindu leaders and remained beyond the comprehension of common Hindus. In fact, even the title of the book seemed to have been an afterthought. A perusal of the original edition (1923) will show that the booklet was printed with the title Hinduism but subsequently a separate piece of paper on which Hindutva was printed was pasted on the title page of the book. Since the term remained alien even to the Savarkarites, by the 4th edition Hindutva as title was dropped and it was published under a new title Who Is A Hindu? In 1963 Maharashtra Provincial Hindusabha published it as part of Savarkar’s collected works with the title Essentials of Hindutva. Another notable fact about this book was that it was published under the pen name ‘A Maratha’ signifying a regional identity of the author whereas book stressed only the Hindu identity of the country and its inhabitants.
Savarkar admitted at the outset that the ‘term Hindutva defies all attempts at analysis’. He began by trying to make a clear-cut distinction between his theory of Hindutva and religion Hinduism. But few pages later it became clear that Hindutva was nothing else but political Hinduism. At the very outset, Savarkar made it clear that Hindutva was not the same as Hinduism. It had nothing to do with religion or rituals. The term in English which came closest to the one he was using, he wrote, was perhaps Hinduness. As a principle, Hindutva formed the basis of India’s national character, he maintained, and, to provide greater clarity, offered his own definition of who was a Hindu. The word Hindu was as ancient as the Vedas, he contended, and explained that the letter ‘Sa’ in Sanskrit was often turned into ‘Ha’ in the Prakrit languages. Thus the land of the people known as the Sapta Sindhus, which had acquired for itself the name Sapta Sindhu, was referred to as ‘Hapta Hindu’ in the Avesta of the ancient Persians, he said.
Savarkar wasn’t really setting out to create a Hindu nation. India was, he asserted, citing some ancient and medieval texts, a Hindu nation in an organic sense. The bitter reality is that Hindutva is nothing but an ideology which stands for totalitarianism, Casteism and injustice. We must remember the following prophetic words of Dr Ambedkar about the critical danger which Hindutva politics poses to our country.