Here I share some of my observations and thoughts on the nature of Hindu culture today and its relation to the Sang Parivar. This is an attempt towards creating a bigger piece on the issue of “Hindu cultural spread.” Some of the ideas are shared here.
Conservative right and Hindu orthodoxy have often been considered to be synonyms. It is true that right wing Hinduism has fueled right wing politics in India, but the scope of “Hindu” involvement at the ideological level is debatable. In all my travels to various parts of India, notably to Bangalore and Tanjore (TN) I found that many people who profess the Hindu faith are rather indifferent towards the Sang Parivar and its ideology (much to my amazement). On the contrary their religious allegiance was limited to a certain saint, swami, temple or matha.
This is one factor that helps explain why politicians of various political parties visit all the significant swamis mathas and temples during their campaign trail to seek the “blessings” of the divine (party ideology not withstanding). The truth is that the temples, mathas and swamis have a significant following and prove to be blocks of vote banks that have the potential to help politicians win elections. The problem is that many political analysts do not account for the influence of religious institutions such as temples, mathas and various swamis in spreading the faith and practices. Just an analysis of the Sang Parivar which is a much more political outfit does not give a clear picture of the extent to which Hinduism plays a role in the day to day lives of many people all over India.
Many of the towns all over India are temple economies or are home to various religious centers. Hence it is but natural for religion to play a major role in the conditioning of the people who live or visit these places. Furthermore, for the Aam Admi, Hindutva has more to do with his/her day to day socio – religious chores than anything else. These chores mostly constitute celebrating festivals, visiting religious places and observing vraths etc. Given the influence of the temples and other religious institutions in the society, one can argue that cultural Hindutva needs no assistance as it has been in the hands of the religious centers, various religious heads and various Sadhu Akhadas.
The analytical over kill of the Sang Parivar and the silent and steady growth of various monastic denominations and religious institutions provides an interesting subject of study, i.e. the importance of the Sang Parivar within the context of religious institutions. One thing that I have been forced to consider is the of the existence and emergence of a class of people who are modern and yet traditional (perhaps conservative) without the influence of the Sang Parivar. This perhaps also marks the emergence or evolution of “silent Hindutva.”
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