BY JYOTHSNA HEGDE
Atlanta, GA, May 24, 2023: ‘Hindutva is not an ideology, it’s an open thought process which has evolved through continuous dialogue over millennia. Hindutva is wisdom and ideals of Hinduism in action!’ Ram Madhav, author and member of the national executive of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), who headlined the inaugural ‘Indic Dialogue’ in Atlanta said. The event, featuring community leaders of several Hindu faith-based organizations, and recipients of prestigious awards from the Government of India, was held at the Global Mall in Atlanta on April 23, 2023.
The highlight of the event included discussion about Madhav’s
published book, The Hindutva Paradigm: Integral Humanism and the Quest
for a Non-Western Worldview. The book, Madhav explained, expounds on the
notion of Hindu-tva, the Hindu-ness, and expands on Deen Dayal Upadhyay’s idea of ‘Integral Humanism.’ It
is, as he put it, a “humble attempt to give a twenty-first-century
interpretation to Integral Humanism.” Deen Dayal Upadhyay
was a lifelong RSS Pracharak who later went on to become president of
the Indian political party named ‘Bharatiya Jan Sangh’, the forerunner of
current ruling political party of India, the ‘Bharatiya Janata Party’ (BJP).
Deen Dayal Upadhyay articulated the philosophy of integral humanism as a modern
twenty-first century Indian alternative to European and western models of
polity, economics and governance. Explaining Integral Humanist philosophy
Madhav said, ’Integral means inclusive, all-encompassing and humanist means
approach of love and care for humanity. Integral humanism is sum and substance
of Hindu philosophy.’
Madhav noted that there is confusion in the meaning of Hindutva in last couple of decades including dis-information campaigns. He said, ‘Greatness and profundity of universal message of our great Hindu Dharma is being widely owned up by average Indians today. Hindu thought has come to center stage.’
Quoting Mahatma Gandhi when asked about how Indian system would be after independence, ‘Gandhiji said India will be Ram rajya. Ram rajya does not mean it is a theocratic state but it is that state where the weakest shall have as much power as the strongest.’ “In the wake of so many attacks on Hinduism in the west and rise in Hinduphobia, this event is refreshing, and such programs can help in diffusing dis-information and promote harmony’, Madhav said.
Addressing the current debate of caste in USA, Madhav said he recognized that in the context of India, the hierarchical belief of caste needs to be removed. ‘India has done effective work on eliminating caste issues. However, in the USA, the raging debate of caste is more of conspiracy to defame Hindus,’ he said, adding that Hindutva has great insights for entire humanity and not only for Hindus.
Speaking about environmental issues, Madhav cited India’s prime minister Indira Gandhi’s speech at first earth summit in 1972 at Stockholm, where she had quoted from Rig-Veda meaning ‘this earth is our mother, we should behave like children ‘. Hindutva view of environment is about nurturing and not exploitation and human centric model of development is more of exploitation of nature which needs to be changed to humanity-based model, Madhav said.
‘Hindu Dharma is not about dry morals but about values. We are a society of values. We uphold values because values have far reaching impact on society. So we never made issue of LGBT. We always said that LGBT can live peacefully and should have independent choices in their life. In 2009 RSS, Hindutva organization, stood for decriminalization of gays and lesbians.’ Madhav said about the moral and value systems of Hindutva.