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A term that first surfaces in literary form in the mid 1870s in Bankim Chandra Chatterjee's serialization of his novel Ānandamaṭh in the journal, Bangadarshan. It was subsequently employed by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar in his book Hindutva: Who is a Hindu (1923) to convey the idea of a universal and essential Hindu identity. As used by its author, and other right-wing nationalist ideologues, it is predicated on an assumed consensus about what constitutes Hindu identity and distinguishes it from the ways of life and values of other (implicitly ‘foreign’) people and traditions, especially Indian Muslims. Savarkar attempted to distinguish between Hindu dharma—the religious traditions conventionally grouped together as ‘Hinduism’—and ‘Hinduness’, a cultural and political force underpinned by a racially and geographically defined, Āryan history.

Subjects: Religion

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