Book Review: The Hindutva Paradigm

‘The Hindutva Paradigm-Integral Humanism and the Quest for a Non-Western Worldview’ by Ram Madhav is an attempt to elucidate the philosophy propounded by Deen Dayal Upadhyay in his series of four lectures to Jan Sangh cadres in Mumbai in April, 1965. The book is an effort to engage with the dominant ideological streams that influenced India and the world at that time, explore their genesis and place Deen Dayal’s ideas as an alternative for a harmonious world order. Ram Madhav goes beyond the personality cult of Deen Dayal and his often quoted ‘four lectures series’ and navigates through the philosophies and concepts that influenced Deen Dayal to propound the ‘Integral humanist thought’. The author further extrapolates this thought to contemporary challenges facing India and suggests the way forward.

Ekatm Manav Darshan’ or ‘Integral humanist thought’ forms the cornerstone of this book but is not limited to it. The book gives in-depth insight into personalities, ideologies and historical events that have influenced and shaped the current world. It is also a primer about the understanding and standpoint of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its ideological parivar on varying issues beyond the stereotypical books, articles and media coverage. Ram Janm Bhumi movement, Akhand Bharat and Kashmir are bound to find place in a book written by a pracharak of RSS but perceptive chapters on Human rights and dignity, Womanhood in western and Indic traditions are breath of fresh air. These will not only enlighten the critic but will also make the admirer pause and reflect.

The chapter on ‘Rashtram: The Indian concept of Nationhood’ investigates the deep philosophical foundations of Bharat and is a must read in the context of ‘Civilizational vs Constitutional’ debate. It explains the Indian experience of Rashtram as a ‘unifying and development-oriented concept developed by seers and sages through persistent experimentation and analyses of social life’. ‘The Hindutva Paradigm’ discusses institutional frameworks for social and economic order and deals with complex issues like caste, employment, industry and agriculture. The chapters on these bring some very interesting ideas like ‘work to every hand and water to every land’ but also leave enough space for debate and disagreement. Throughout the book the reader witnesses marvellous references to slokas from Veda, Upanishads and debates from Constituent Assembly, Parliament sessions and is intrigued to go through the thirty odd page long bibliography.

The author writes in the preface, ‘Deen Dayal’s followers did not make the effort needed to take forward his core thoughts and give them the shape of a complete political philosophy. Instead, they were preoccupied by vague theories like Gandhian Socialism for several years, and subsequently settled for the relatively easier formulation of Cultural Nationalism.’ ‘The Hindutva Paradigm’ is an honest effort by Ram Madhav to put forth the ideas of Deen Dayal Upadhyay for an audience that is willing to engage. The book is neither a response to previously written accounts nor a propaganda tool. The author doesn’t carry the baggage of appeasing anyone or resorting to sensationalism. He is candid in his thoughts and clear in his writing about his quest for a non-western worldview.

‘An idea is something you have. An ideology is something that has you.’ Ram Madhav’s book ‘The Hindutva Paradigm’ must be read for making an effort to step out of ideological confinements into the world of ideas.

(The review was published by The Indian Express Newspaper)

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Aaditya Tiwari

Aaditya Tiwari

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