Hinduism is not a religion per se. It is often talked of as a ‘way of life’. In fact we, Hindus, are not even practising Hinduism in the normal sense of the word. We are very much ‘living’ a religion instead of practising it throughout our life as Hindus
Growing up with English in a middle-class aspirational environment, I was never fully ‘comfortable’ with Hinduism. However, my association with the RSS in the formative years ensured that there was no counterculture idiocy feeding off into my natural hedonism. Yet as for the doctrinaire part of Hinduism, I was still reluctant to commit myself. The self-justification for this intellectual isolation was the conviction that if you had read a book or two, hated structure, and had a penchant for the surreal, then that part was not for you. It was like a church, and I was born with a non-believer's heart. I was satisfied with what little I thought I knew about Hindutva. It gave me the identity I wanted and held me within its fold along with the brotherhood of the Saffron. I thought I had found my home.
With age and experience, the gap between what I really felt and what the Hindutva 'clan identity' gave me gradually widened. The muscular posturing and comfort of being ensconced in a cocoon as 'one of the guys' was no longer sufficient. Still, it took me years to figure out the fundamental difference between what I understood as Hindutva or Hinduness and what others called their own Semitic ideology. It was not Hindu-Muslim-Christian-Marxist, anymore. Through the medium of the Hindutva ideology, I finally discovered my attitude of Hinduness. This Hinduness, which stood well apart from other belief systems, could, like a mother, hold all the diverse entities together. It was not divisive. While I had earlier seen Hindutva as an Idea, an ideology, Hindutva or Hinduness, which I understood, later on, was something quite different. Like the ‘Unified Field Theory’ in Quantum Mechanics, it could also explain the diverse phenomena as being part of a single whole.
Hindutva includes the sum total of ideas and ideals, systems, thoughts, and sentiments nurtured through the centuries by our wise people adn codified into a compendium of knowledge by our Rishis in the form of the Vedas and Upanishads
Veer Savarkar had written in 1923 that Hindutva included the sum total of ideas and ideals, systems and societies, thoughts and sentiments nurtured through the centuries by our wise people and codified into a compendium of knowledge by our Rishis in the form of The Vedas and Upanishads. It is this Hinduness which defines our response to within and without. It is the instinctive sense of justice and kindness that we feel. Many of the things which had felt right - democracy, environmental protection, peaceful coexistence and respect for diversity - had come 'naturally' as it had been imbibed in my consciousness. At the same time, my inclusiveness put me at odds with any exclusivist idea which sought submission of others. This is a fundamental logic of existence and pluralism – one cannot be so ‘plural’ or ‘liberal’ as to accept that which excludes or annihilates existence and pluralism itself.
Hindu is someone who sees unity in all of human diversity —Mohan Bhagwat, RSS Sarsanghachalak
This Hinduness is dynamic. It had evolved through the contemplative geniuses of our Rishis and then refined further by the lessons learnt through its practice. Many new improvements have been adopted. There is no need to believe that this process of its evolution is over. In modern times, we hear about the principles of Hinduness through the narrative of the modern Rishis - "Ego is purified by Seva and wealth gets purified by Daan," says Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Engineers will tell you that if such words find a resonance within you, it means that there is something inside you which has the same 'natural frequency'.
Doing your own thing -In worship and politics
Rig Veda says, ‘Ekam sad vipra bahuda vadanti’— ‘All religions are one but sages call it by various names.' There is no divide between Believers and Non-Believers. There are no heretics in Hinduism. No reason for Inquisitions, Crusaders, religious conversions or Islamic jihadists. You can do your own thing in the realm of Hindu worship ( Or lack of it). It is but natural that atheism was accepted in our culture (atheist philosophers were called Charvahana Munis ). Hindus have internalized a million form of worship within themselves. India's religious harmony is born out of this respect for diversity of worship. This internal democracy in the domain of worship has been reflected in the sphere of politics when after Independence in 1947, we instinctively adopted a multiparty democracy. It could not be otherwise. The people who were one with Diversity even in the area of worship could not insist on a Theocracy, a one-party state or dictatorship. So our secular democracy too is a natural expression of our Hinduness. Thus, Hinduness has defined our nature, mindset, thought pattern, actions and socio-political systems.
On the other hand, Pakistan, which broke away from our inclusive faith, adopted theocracy as its ‘reigning model’ even as it finds itself unable to find resolution with Diversity.