Though the themes covered by the articles in the current number of Social Scientist are diverse, they are yet unified by a common characteristic: each of them is thinking, implicitly or explicitly, of the ideology of Hindutva.
Atis Dasgupta's article on the Bauls of Bengal draws attention to a strand of popular philosophy whose syncretistic beliefs have been in sharp opposition to the fundamentalist tenets of both orthodox Hinduism as well as orthodox Islam. The Bauls, like the Vaishnavas, inherited the Buddhist and the Natha Sahajiya traditions of an earlier epoch and believed that the ultimate reality resided within ourselves. But while the process of sadhana in the earlier tradition was based upon a conception of duality, which was taken over by the Vaishnavas who added the element of love to it, the Bauls by contrast had a strictly non-dualistic approach. The Bauls also spoke of love and union, but the love was between the human personality and the Divine Beloved which resided within the temple of the body as 'The Man of My Heart*, so that the union was achieved through a process of self-realisation. All Sahajiyas believed in undertaking a 'reverse journey', a journey in a direction opposite to that of the unaware people who went in for institutionalised religion; the object of this 'reverse journey' for the Bauls was to return to one's own inner self. Their opposition to religious orthodoxy invited repression but their tradition survived, and does so to this day, as a common heritage of the Hindus and the Muslims in the villages of Bengal.
Sukumar Muralidharan's article traces the evolution of Hindu nationalism, its dialectic vis-a-vis both the Muslims as well as the Depressed Castes, its powerful influence over the Congress Party, and its inevitable culmination in the tragedy of the Partition. The broad outlines of this story may not be unfamiliar to readers, but the specific details which the author brings into his narrative would be of great interest, in particular the contrast he draws between the views of Bankim and Tagore, the picture he paints of Tilak as a social conservative but a political radical, and the account he gives of the discrimination in the Mahatma's approach towards the Harijans as compared to his approach towards the Muslims. The precise
Social Scientist, Vol. 22, Nos. 5-6, May-June 1994