Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar (1906-73) was the second sarsanghachalak or supreme guide of the Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a position he held for thirty-three years. Though he was not its founder, he cast the organization in his own image, and remains to this day the most influential ideologue not only of the RSS but also of all the organizations ‘inspired’ by it — including the BJP, which led the country’s ruling coalition from 1999 to 2004, and has been ruling the country since 2014.
Focusing on the arguments delineated in the writings and speeches of Golwalkar, Jyotirmaya Sharma questions the assumptions upon which the ideologues and champions of Hindutva seek to establish a Hindu nation in India. As it highlights how much these arguments derive from eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Indologists, and how closely they parallel Fascist ideology, the book unravels the confusion, intolerance and intellectual deficit that has gone into Hindu nationalist thinking. It comes to the conclusion that the politics of Hindu nationalism feeds on a dangerous concept of the nation state and a misunderstanding of the very idea of what Hinduism is and who a Hindu is. In doing so, the book also provides an opportunity to engage with the politics of Hindutva and its various manifestations in the contemporary political scenario.