What is Hindutva for you? Does the word Hindu signify a religion or is it symbolic of a way of life?
For me, Hindutva or Hinduism or being Hindu is a way of life. And the origin of the word Hindu confirms it. In ancient times, Persian and Greek people would use the word Hindu for the people of the Indian Subcontinent living on this side of the river Indus. So it basically connoted a geographical and cultural identity. Though there are differences on when the word Hindu became synonymous with a religious identity – in medieval or British colonial India – but it did happen so. And if we talk of the last or this Century – it is now an established fact that Hinduism or the Hindu religion is the largest religion of India in terms of number of followers.
It is said that Savarkar explained the term Hindutva in his essay to explain Indian national identity. But if the word could not gain universal or wide acceptance in India, there were inherent reasons behind it and the main was that Hindutva was still seen in the context of Hinduism or Hindu religion. After the independence, some rightwing political outfits made politics based on Hindutva their ideology and agenda. With time their sphere of influence increased and with it increased the allegations that these parties were using religion to gain political mileage – be it the day-to-day politics or electoral politics.