In a significant development, the World Hindu Congress (WHC) has decided to distance itself from the term “Hinduism,” citing its perceived oppressive and discriminatory undertones. The WHC, now in its third iteration, has chosen to embrace “Hindutva” and “Hindu Dharma” as more accurate descriptors of the eternal religion.
Unpacking the Declaration: “Hindutva” as Inclusive Identity
The recently adopted declaration from the WHC elucidates the rationale behind choosing “Hindutva” over “Hinduism.” It posits that “Hindutva” is a more inclusive term, encompassing the broad spectrum implied by the term ‘Hindu.’ The declaration emphasizes the suffix “ism” in Hinduism as potentially carrying oppressive and discriminatory nuances.
The WHC’s stance aligns with the belief that “Hindu Dharma” signifies the eternal nature of the faith, with “Sanatan” working as an adjective indicating its timeless essence. This shift is seen as a conscious effort to move away from a term that may carry negative connotations and embrace one that is more reflective of the diverse and inclusive nature of Hindu identity.
Addressing Criticisms and Urging Unity
The declaration addresses criticisms, noting that while some view Hindutva as the antithesis of Hindu Dharma due to ignorance, others harbor biases against Hindu Dharma. The WHC condemns such attacks and calls for global unity among Hindus to overcome bigotry.
In an inclusive message during the inaugural session, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat urged Hindus worldwide to connect with each other and with the world. He emphasized India’s role in showing the path of happiness and satisfaction to a world grappling with experiments in materialism, communism, and capitalism.
The WHC, hosting delegates from over 60 countries, stands as a platform for thinkers, activists, leaders, and entrepreneurs to connect and share perspectives on the evolving identity of Hinduism. As the term “Hindutva” takes center stage, the congress navigates the delicate balance between tradition and contemporary discourse, seeking a unifying vision for the global Hindu community.