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Hindutva ( Hindi हिन्दुत्व hindutva ) describes a political concept that aims to align India with Hindu rules. In English, the term is often Hindu nationalism or shortly Hindu nationalism used. The ideological roots of this "politicized Hinduism" lie in the neo-Hindu movement of the Indian struggle for independence.

History and goals

One of its leading ideologues is Vinayak Damodar Savarkar , who wrote Hindutva: Who is a Hindu ? , published in Nagpur in 1923 . first formulated the idea of ​​a Hindu nation, the "Hindu Rashtra". His remarks are based on three ideological principles - rashtra , jati and sanskriti (common holy ground, common ancestry and culture) - which all Hindus can refer to and which should form the basis of a common nation. So he wrote in this work:

“After all, there is only one race in the world as far as humans are concerned, the human race. [...] Even the natives of the Andaman Islands are not without so-called Aryan blood in their veins and vice versa. All that can be said is that the individual has the blood of all humanity in his veins. The fundamental unity of humans from the north to the south pole is true, everything else is only relative. "

The aim of the Hindutva movement is the (re) creation of a single Hindu nation. Savarkar made use of a “constructed” common past of all Hindus, although it is debatable whether such a past ever existed in this form. At the same time, Savarkar suggested turning away from elements of contemporary Hinduism that were assessed as undesirable developments, especially from the caste system .

Hindutva is thus a counter-movement to the secular state model , which Mahatma Gandhi saw as a solution to the religious conflicts, mainly between Muslims and Hindus, and which is now anchored in the constitution. Many Hindus, like non-Hindus (e.g. Muslims, Christians , indigenous peoples ) are therefore critical of the Hindutva movement.

On this basis various organizations arose that tried to enforce the Hindutva on different levels and with different means. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), founded in 1925, initially saw itself as a cultural organization, but today fulfills the function of training managers who do their work in the other branches of Hindutva. After the RSS initially rejected party political involvement in democracy, the training of politicians is now one of its main tasks.

In 1964, the RSS gave the impetus to found the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP, "World Council of Hindus"). It is a cultural and religious political organization that serves as a common platform for religious representatives of various Hindu movements. It is intended to compensate for the lack of a self-contained “church” or comparable organization in Hinduism and thus facilitate the representation of interests vis-à-vis the state or other religious communities.

Today's so-called Hindutva parties, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP, formerly Bharatiya Jana Sangh ) and Shiv Sena , founded in 1980, only played a marginal role in Indian politics until the late 1980s. From 1998 to 2004, however, the BJP provided the government with Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee . During this time there were clashes within the movement, with the VHP trying to impose radical Hindu nationalist demands, while the governmental BJP took moderate positions.

The best-known conflict in which positions of the Hindutva became apparent was the temple-mosque controversy of Ayodhya , which culminated in the destruction of the Babri Mosque in 1992 .



  • Vinayak Damodar Savarkar : Hindutva. Bharati Sahitya Sadan, Delhi 1989 (1923).
  • Tobias Delfs: Hindu nationalism and European fascism: comparison, transfer and relationship history. EB, Hamburg-Schenefeld 2008, ISBN 978-3-936912-63-0 (= Bonn Asian Studies , Volume 6).
  • Koenraad Elst: Who is a Hindu? New Delhi, 2002.
  • Koenraad Elst: Decolonizing the Hindu Mind. Ideological Development of Hindu Revivalism. Rupa, Delhi 2001.
  • Koenraad Elst : The Saffron Swastika. The Notion of "Hindu Fascism". New Delhi: Voice of India, 2001, 2 Vols., ISBN 81-85990-69-7
  • Sita Ram Goel : Perversion of India's Political Parlance. Voice of India, Delhi 1984.
  • Sita Ram Goel (Ed.): Time for Stock Taking. Whither Sangh Parivar? 1996.
  • Arun Shourie: A Secular Agenda. HarperCollins, New Delhi 1998, ISBN 81-7223-258-6 .
  • Christophe Jaffrelot: The Hindu Nationalist Movement in India , Columbia University Press 1998
  • Antony Copley (Ed.): Hinduism in Public and Privat. Oxford, New York, 2003.
  • Ram Gopal: Islam, Hindutva and Congress Quest. New Delhi, 1998.
  • Clemens Six: Hindu Nationalism and Globalization. Vienna, 2001.
  • Clemens Six: Hindi-Hindu-Hindustan. Politics and Religion in Modern India. Vienna, 2006.
  • Klaus Voll, Uwe Skoda (ed.): The Hindu nationalism in India. Rise - Consolidation - Fall? Weißensee 2005, ISBN 3-89998-067-0 .
  • Siegfried O. Wolf, René Schultens: Hindu nationalism in India - (not) an end in sight? In: State Center for Political Education Baden-Württemberg (ed.): The Citizen in the State - India. Stuttgart, 3/4 2009 (online: PDF; 115 pages, 3.6 MB )
  • Tobias Wolf: Extremism in the name of religion. How Hindu nationalism endangers democracy in India , Shaker, Aachen 2012, ISBN 978-3-8440-1397-9 (= reports from politics )

Web links


  1. Tom Mannewitz : Review of: Tobias Wolf: Extremism in the name of religion . Aachen: 2012, in: Portal for Political Science , published on February 21, 2013.