WHAT IS IN A NAME?
We hope that the fair Maid of Verona who made the impassioned appeal to her lover to change “A name” that was “nor hand, nor foot, nor arm, nor face, nor any other part belonging to a man” would forgive us for this our idolatrous attachment to it when we make bold to assert that, “Hindus we are and love to remain so!” We too would, had we been in the position of that good Friar, have advised her youthful lover to yield to the pleasing pressure of the logic which so fondly urged “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose would smell as sweet by any other name!” For, things do matter more than their names, especially when you have to choose one only of the two, or when the association between them is either new or simple; the very fact that a thing is indicated by a dozen names in a dozen human tongues disarms the suspicion that there is an invariable connection or natural connection or natural concomitance between sound and the meaning it conveys. Yet, as the association of the word with the thing is signifies grows stronger and lasts long, so does the channel which connects the two states of consciousness tend to allow an easy flow of thoughts from one to the other, till at last it seems almost impossible to separate them. And when in addition to this, a number of secondary thoughts or feelings that are generally roused by the thing get mystically entwined with the word that signifies it, the name seems to matter as much as the thing itself. Would the fair Apostle of the creed that so movingly questioned “What’s in a name?” have liked it herself to nickname the God of her idolatry as “Paris” instead of “Romeo”? Or would he have been ready to swear by the moon that tipped with silver all the fruit tree-tops, that it would serve as sweet and musical to his heart to call his “Juliet” by ‘any other name’ such as for example – “Rosaline”? Nay more; there are words which imply an idea in itself extremely complex or an ideal or a vast and abstract generalization and which seem to take, as it were, a being unto themselves or live and grow as an organism would do. Such names though they be ‘nor hand, nor foot, nor any other part belonging to a man,’ are not all that, precisely because they are the very soul of man. They become the idea itself and live longer than generations of men do. Jesus died but Christ has survived the ‘Roman’ Emperors and that Empire. Inscribe at the foot of one of those beautiful paintings of ‘Madonna’ the name of ‘Fatima’ and a Spaniard would keep gazing at it as curiously as at any other piece of art; but just restore the name of ‘Madonna’ instead, and behold his knees would lose their stiffness and bend his eyes their inquisitiveness and turn inwards in adoring recognition, and his whole being get suffused with a consciousness of the presence of Divine Motherhood and Love! What is in a name? Ah! call Ayodhya, Honolulu, or nickname her immortal Prince, a Pooh Bal, or ask the Americans to change Washington into a Chengizkhan, or persuade a Mohammedan to call himself a Jew, and you would soon find that the “open sesame” was not the only word of its type.
HINDUTVA IS DIFFERENT FROM HINDUISM:
To this category of names which have been to mankind a subtle source of life and inspiration belongs the word Hindutva, the essential nature and significance of which we have to investigate into. The ideas and ideals, the systems and societies, the thoughts and sentiments which have centered round this name are so varied and rich, so powerful and so subtle, so elusive and yet so vivid that the term Hindutva defies all attempts at analysis. Forty centuries, if not more, had been at work to mould it as it is. Prophets and poets, lawyers and law-givers, heroes and historians, have thought, lived, fought and died just to have it spelled thus. For indeed, is it not the resultant of countless actions- now conflicting, now commingling, now co-operating- of our whole race? Hindutva is not a word but a history. Not only the spiritual or religious history of our people as at times it is mistaken to be by being confounded with the other cognate term Hinduism, but a history in full. Hinduism is only a derivative, a fraction, a part of Hindutva. Unless it is made clear what is meant by the latter the first remains unintelligible and vague. Failure to distinguish between these two terms has given rise to much misunderstanding and mutual suspicion between some of those sister communities that have inherited this inestimable and common treasure of our Hindu civilization. What is the fundamental difference in the meaning of these two words would be clear as our argument proceeds. Here it is enough to point out that Hindutva is not identical with what is vaguely indicated by the term Hinduism. By an ‘ism’ it is generally meant a theory or a code more or less based on spiritual or religious dogma or creed. Had not linguistic usage stood in our way then ‘Hinduness’ would have certainly been a better word than Hinduism as a near parallel to Hindutva. Hindutva embraces all the departments of thought and activity of the whole Being of our Hindu race. Therefore, to understand the significance of this term Hindutva, we must first understand the essential meaning of the word Hindu itself and realize how it came to exercise such imperial sway over the hearts of millions of mankind and won a loving allegiance from the bravest and best of them. But before we can do that, it is imperative to point out that we are by no means attempting a definition or even a description of the more limited, less satisfactory and essentially sectarian term Hinduism. How far we can succeed or are justified in doing that would appear as we proceed.
DISCLAIMER: This work belongs to Swatantryaveer Vinayak Damodar Savarkar. It has been reproduced as a blog to convey his message to the readers of this blog in order to fight out the day in and day out abuse of Hindutva, the powerful philosophy, propounded by Savarkar himself.