An expansive Hindutva agenda?

The Hindutva project has succeeded in projecting itself as speaking to the deep diversities that crowd U.P.

If symbols speak, and in the layered culture deposits of the Gangetic plain they do speak loud, one of the most memorable spectacles was Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Kashi Vishwanath Temple on March 4, 2017. It was preceded by a roadshow in the narrow, winding streets of Varanasi all decked up for the grand effect, following the garlanding of the statue of Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya at the Benares Hindu University. Within the temple precincts itself Mr. Modi appeared the great performer, oozing a burst of energy, while the archakas were transfixed in the archaic layout of the ancient temple complex. Place this spectacle alongside Mr. Modi’s salutation to ‘Ganga Ma’ at the Dashashwamedh Ghat of the river on May 17, 2014, a day after his victory from Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency, three years ago: and you have before you one of the most powerful symbols to reach out to the length and breadth of India, Shiva and Parvathi, alongside Ganga, and their complex personifications in myriad forms, the principles of dynamism and recreation, galore across India, in much more vivid forms than Ram lalan of Ayodhya.

Yogi Adityanath, the new Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, himself heads a temple, the Gorakhnath temple, named after a representation of Lord Shiva, a representation that gathers in its fold elements of Buddhism, the tantra practices, the Nathpanthi traditions, and renouncer cults.

Shiva in political pantheon

While the Hindutva project is unlikely to shed Ram from its political pantheon, it would be worth watching the deployment of Shiva and Shakti sites spread across the length and breadth of the country, particularly in its peripheral regions. Lord Shiva is the lord of the dissenter, the renouncer, the wayward, the very captive of his devotee, the great patron of arts and crafts, the yogi par excellence, while he is at the same time the great destroyer, angry and disdainful of the social order. He inhabits the peripheries of the Brahmanical dispensation that stipulates a tightly ordered social universe. He is primarily the lord of the lower social orders, of the margins. He is the presiding deity across the vast expanses of the Himalayas, most of the southern part of India, and the hills and ghats where the Brahmanical order is precariously present.

For the Hindutva ideologues, at least those who walk hand in hand with Mr. Modi, the conquest of Lord Ram’s place of birth at Ayodhya is over; what is important is to bind India together, its myriad differences and diversities through new bonds. Was the Prime Minister, who said little on the Ram Janmabhoomi issue during his numerous public meetings across the length and breadth of Uttar Pradesh, opening a new front for Hindutva? Are we, therefore, stepping into a religio-political project that was little seen as integral to Hindutva so far?

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Source By http://www.thehindu.com

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