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Clarifying Vijender Chauhan's Critique of Brahminism

Vijender Chauhan recently faced backlash on social media for his comments about Brahminism and Hindutva. Many people accused him of attacking Hinduism and denigrating Brahmins. However, a closer look at his statements reveals that Chauhan was critiquing the concept of Brahminism, not Hinduism or Brahmins as individuals.

OPINION

Aaditya Sharma

7/8/20242 min read

Defending Vijender Chauhan's Critique of Brahminism

Vijender Chauhan recently faced backlash on social media for his comments about Brahminism and Hindutva. Many people accused him of attacking Hinduism and denigrating Brahmins. However, a closer look at his statements reveals that Chauhan was critiquing the concept of Brahminism, not Hinduism or Brahmins as individuals.

Understanding the Difference: Hinduism vs. Hindutva

To understand Chauhan's critique, it is important to distinguish between Hinduism and Hindutva. Hinduism is the faith followed by about 80 percent of India's population. It is a diverse and inclusive religion with a rich philosophical and spiritual heritage. Hindutva, on the other hand, is a political ideology promoted by the RSS and the BJP. It seeks to define Indian identity in terms of Hindu culture and often promotes majoritarian dominance.

The Essence of Hinduism

Hinduism, as taught by religious preceptors, emphasizes non-violence, acceptance, and inclusion. This understanding has been propagated by gurus and rishis for centuries. Mahatma Gandhi, one of Hinduism's most prominent proponents, advocated for ahimsa (non-violence) and satyagraha (truth-force), embodying Hindu values while accommodating all other faiths.

Hindutva as a Political Ideology

In contrast, Hindutva is a political doctrine that the BJP formally adopted in its 1989 Palampur resolution. It differs significantly from the broader philosophical and spiritual underpinnings of Hinduism. The RSS and BJP often claim to echo the teachings of Hindu icons like Swami Vivekananda and Swami Dayananda Saraswati. However, there are major differences between the beliefs of these sages and the practices promoted by Hindutva advocates.

Misinterpretations of Hindu Icons

Swami Vivekananda, for instance, spoke about not just tolerance but acceptance, which involves mutual respect for different truths. The RSS, however, focuses on tolerance, which can be patronizing. Similarly, Swami Dayanand Saraswati condemned practices such as idol worship and discrimination against women, which are still prevalent among some Hindutva supporters.

The Issue with Hindutva

Hindutva promotes a majoritarian view that often excludes minorities. It conflates nationalism with one community and democracy with the exclusion of others. This goes against the idea of India enshrined in the Constitution, which guarantees equality and protection for all faiths, beliefs, and creeds.

Chauhan's Critique

Vijender Chauhan's critique was directed at Brahminism, a concept that supports a caste-based social structure. He was highlighting the inherent casteism within this ideology and its potential to harm the inclusive nature of Hinduism. His comments were not an attack on Hinduism or Brahmins but a call to free Hinduism from restrictive and divisive ideologies.

The Social Media Backlash

The backlash Chauhan faced on social media was based on a misunderstanding of his critique. Many people interpreted his comments as an attack on the Hindu faith and the Brahmin community. However, his intention was to critique an ideology that perpetuates caste discrimination and undermines the inclusive principles of Hinduism.

Vijender Chauhan's critique of Brahminism and Hindutva is an important contribution to the ongoing discourse about the true essence of Hinduism. By highlighting the differences between Hinduism and Hindutva, and calling for a rejection of caste-based ideologies, he advocates for a more inclusive and egalitarian interpretation of the Hindu faith. It is crucial to understand this distinction to appreciate the depth of his argument and defend his position against misinterpretations.