Hindu Nationalism in India
The story of how India came to embrace an exclusionary form of Hindu nationalism, from one of the country’s most distinguished historians.
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.
‘Instructive, sobering, and full to bursting with little-known aspects of India’s politics. Describing the living tradition of Hindutva using a rich set of archives, the book’s greatest strength is Sarkar’s depiction of the Hindu Right as a deeply intimate phenomenon.’ — Pallavi Raghavan, Assistant Professor of International Relations, Ashoka University, and author of Animosity at Bay: An Alternative History of the India-Pakistan Relationship
‘A brisk tour of the Hindu nationalist organisations at the forefront of the effort to turn India into a Hindu country. These essays are informative and persuasively argued, reflecting the years of painstaking fieldwork that went into them. Sarkar’s prose is measured and eminently reasonable, pointing to Hindu nationalism’s endless capacity to renew itself and adapt to its surroundings.’ — Pratinav Anil, co-author of India’s First Dictatorship
Tanika Sarkar's books include Hindu Wife, Hindu Nation, also published by Hurst, and Rebels, Wives, Saints. Prior to her retirement, she was Professor of History at Jawaharlal Nehru University.