By Al Jazeera StaffThe story of India’s history is one of Hinduism, which is still alive today, and the challenges it has faced, says Amit Chaudhary, an independent scholar and historian who has studied and written extensively about India’s religious heritage.
India’s past, he says, is also a story of resistance and survival against religious oppression.
The story is one that is not well known in India.
It is an untold story of what is often referred to as the “Indian problem”, in which the country was at the centre of a Hindu nationalist movement that challenged and ultimately destroyed the country’s caste system.
Today, Chaudhy says, India has become a beacon of freedom and democracy, with the constitution enshrining freedom of religion, the right to free expression and assembly, and free assembly for minorities.
Yet, he also warns that the country is facing an existential threat.
The country is not a Hindu state, and it is not an Islamic state.
The country is Hindu in the sense of having its own Hindu religious scriptures, and its own religion.
But it is Muslim in the way it interprets the Quran and the holy book of Islam.
Chaudharies new book, Hinduism Today, examines the impact of the rise of the Hindutva movement in India in the 1960s and 1970s.
The book argues that the Hinducas Hindu nationalist revolution of the 1960’s was driven by the desire to “purify” India of all its religious and cultural minorities, as well as to eradicate any traces of Hindu-Muslim diversity, which he believes had existed since before the advent of Christianity in the Indian subcontinent.
This ideology of the “clean and pure” Hindu identity, Choudhary says, “was part of a wider project to undermine the legitimacy of the nation, to create a Hindu ethno-state in India, which would be an expression of Hindu supremacy in the region.”
Chaudhy’s book, published in English and Hindi, argues that in the 1970s and 1980s, India was gripped by a new wave of Hindu nationalism, led by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), an Indian nationalist organisation that had emerged in the wake of the Hindu-Maoist violence of the 1970’s and early 1980’s.
In India, it sought to create an independent Hindu state based on the scriptures of the Sikh faith, as it saw it, Chuddary argues.
This, he contends, was the Hindu “holy book” that was inextricably linked to the state and to Hindu culture.
Choudharies book is a rare contribution to the field of Indian history, because he has studied for more than 20 years and has published several books on the history of Hindu India.
He was appointed the first historian of India by the Indian government, and has written more than 10 books on India.
He is also the first Indian historian to receive a prestigious Indian scholarship award, the prestigious National Endowment for Historical Research (NEHR) for his work on Hinduism.
This award is based on his research into the life of the founder of the VHP, Mahatma Gandhi.
In 2014, Chadda had received the NEHR’s Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to history and politics.
He argues that Hinduism has been a source of resistance for the past two centuries, with resistance growing both as the country entered its modern age and as the Indian population grew and spread across the world.
The author writes in his book that the Hindu nationalist party that emerged in India during the early 1960s was not just an Indian political party.
It was also a political movement that was driven to a religious cause, and that it sought, in its own words, to purify India of its Muslim and non-Hindu communities.
“The politics of Hindu separatism was an attempt to eradicate Hinduism and its cultural and religious traditions in India,” Chaudhs book quotes Gandhi saying in a speech in 1947.
His aim was to remove the last vestiges of Hindu identity from the country, which in turn would pave the way for an independent India, he argues.
According to Chaudhas book, this effort led to the Indian constitution of 1947.
In the document, the word “Hindu” was removed from the title and the word for “Hindus” was changed to “Jains” or “Muslim” to ensure that Hindus and Muslims would not be identified with one another, and not as one ethnicity.
The Hindu nationalist project in India has been called “the largest and most ambitious political movement of the 20th century”, and the book claims that it has brought together several religious and ethnic groups across the country.
Chadda argues that this movement has been able to achieve its aims, especially through the establishment of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a political party that was formed in 1947 by leaders of various ethnic groups and which is today