by Promod Puri
The expression “Hindu culture” is as vague as saying Hindu cuisine (except by international airlines referring to “Hindu meal”). And it is as much eluding as trying to contrive a language, music, arts, customs, etc. with a suffix of Hindu like saying Hindu music or Hindu language.
Culture in most cases is secular in nature.
When we talk about a cultural community, we mean an all-inclusive explicit way of life. It represents all of the group of people sharing common identities despite belonging to different religious denominations. But all speaking the same language and sharing the same social and cultural traits.
Often people of one cultural community have several religions.
The unity of India lies in its cultural plurality. The denial of that plurality and imposing a monolithic Hindutva hegemony fragments the multicultural fabric of the nation. Social unity and coherence are the natural needs and dependencies of an advancing society.
In its present avatar Hindutva ideology of non-inclusiveness conflicts with the secular, liberal and democratic spirit of Hinduism. Hindutva needs an ideological reconstruction which can be an effective and dedicated institution in the service of Hinduism.
But if it does not, and sticks to its stand that “Hinduism is only a derivative, a fraction, a part of Hindutva,” then it can find some archive space in Hinduism. In its vast open structure, Hinduism has always accommodated diverse ideologies. And kept them as part of its history and ever-evolving constitution. That is the tradition in Hinduism. Hindutva can rest in that tradition.
(Excerpts from the essay titled: What’s Hindutva And Why It Conflicts With Hinduism)
(Promod Puri lives in Vancouver, Canada. He is a writer and former editor and publisher of the South Asian Canadian newspaper, The Link, and ex-editor of Native Indian newspaper, The New Nation. He is the author of a recently published book titled “Hinduism beyond rituals, customs and traditions”). His website: promodpuri.com