The term “Hindu” was originally a geographic category used in the 7th century by the Arabs. “Hinduism” as referring to Hindus was first used by the British census in 1871 and popularised thereafter. V.D. Savarkar in defining Who is a Hindu focussed on “Hindutva” in terms of “pitru bhumi” (fatherland) and “punya bhumi” (holyland). Hindu religious revivalism and fundamentalism became associated with these concepts leaving little space for religious pluralism and political secularism. It is therefore important to distinguish Hindutva as a political ideology from Hinduism as a religious faith. In addition, we should not underestimate the potential of today’s anti-Hindutva majoritarianism from bahujan initiatives, nor ignore the ambiguity in non-Brahman movements, especially towards the Dalits.
Fr. Rudolf C. Heredia is an independent researcher residing at Campion School, Mumbai. His doctorate in Sociology is from the University of Chicago (1979); he was the founder-Director of the Social Science Center, St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai. Later he was the Director of the research Department of the Indian Social Institute, New Delhi and editor of its Journal Social Action. He has published widely in various Journals. His most recent book, is entitled “Rethinking Conversion in India” published in 2014.