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Hindutva in the age of Social Media

With the rise of Narendra Modi, Hindutva has received a fresh ray of hope. Since his stunning victory in the 2014 General Elections, Hindutva has firmly seated itself in mainstream politics. The mainstreaming of Hindutva was further sealed when Mahant Yogi Adityanath was appointed as the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh after the Bharatiya Janata Party registered a thumping victory after a campaign which was very polarizing at times.

It is known that Narendra Modi used social media very effectively to emerge resoundingly on the national scene. And social media has been very critical to his victory. Thus, after more than four years in power, when Narendra Modi’s popularity remains unchallenged, we look at where Hindutva now stands in social media.

There was a particular slogan that originated sometime in the 1980s or possibly even before that, it’s difficult to be sure about these things, which went to capture the popular imagination in a definitive way. It was, however, in Lal Krishna Advani’s speeches during the Ram Janambhoomi movement that the slogan became a feature of mainstream politics and has remained ever since. The phrase that I am referring to is, of course, ‘Mandir Wahi Banayengey’.

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Advani said in his speeches, ‘Saugandh Ram ki khaatey hain, Mandir Wahi Banayengey!” Since then, the slogan has become synonymous with Hindutva. There are various songs on YouTube with hundreds and thousands of views each which revolves around the theme. One such song is “Ram lalla hum aayengey, Mandir Wahi Banayengey”.

The song was shared by Subramanian Swamy himself on Youtube who recommended that the song is played every day in Jawaharlal Nehru University. It has over a million views on Youtube.

If you are under the impression a million views is a lot, here is a song called “Har Ghar Bhagva Chhayega, Ram Rajya Phir Aayega” by one Laxmi Dubey which has over 16 million views on YouTube.

If one scroll through YouTube, they will find numerous such songs revolving around the theme of Hindu assertion. Usually, the songs are dedicated to Shri Ram but occasionally, politicians like Prime Minister Modi and Yogi Adityanath also find a mention in these songs. There is this particular song by Sandeep Acharya, ‘Gunj rahey hain bas teen hi naam: Yogi, Modi, Jai Shri Ram”. It has over 2.5 million views on YouTube.

Yogi Adityanath has come to be perceived as a mascot of Hindutva in recent times. And videos on YouTube reflect that. There’s a rousing song by Piyush Mishra from the movie ‘Gulaal’ which has been used to portray Yogi Adityanath as a warrior on YouTube. The song is called ‘Aarambh hai Prachand’.

It’s not only music where Hindutva has a strong presence. Hindutva has also managed to deeply penetrate the meme culture. Although it certainly can be argued that the makers of the memes themselves do not endorse most ideological positions of Hindutva or may even be critical of it, but ‘memes’ have become a subculture on their own and provide a unique insight into how the young generation thinks. As a consequence of memes, Hindutva has become ‘cool’, more accurately, has emerged as the counterculture for the youth.

There’s this page, Hindu Nationalist Anime Girls (HNAG), which adapts pictures taken from popular anime to the context of Hinduism.

Source: HNAG

Then there’s ‘Dharmic Memes for Hindu Teens’ on Twitter who we have interviewed at OpIndia.com.

And of course, there is @OGSaffron on Twitter who has acquired over 24,000 followers on Twitter with aesthetic pictures that he shares with stirring captions.

In addition to the people I have mentioned here, there are numerous others who create funny content based on Hindutva to tickle your funny bones.

Apart from songs and memes, there are also ‘Mandir Wahi Banayengey’ t-shirts available on Amazon and elsewhere.

Source: Amazon

Thus far, we have elaborated on the entertainment aspects of things. However, social media has also led to a spurt in the intellectual development of Hindutva. The manner in which social media allows everyone to have a voice and felicitates the rapid distribution of information has enabled many to share their valuable knowledge with people at large and enabled them to coordinate with others with a similar thirst for knowledge to spread their ideas better.

We are well aware of the manner in which social media destroyed the monopoly of mainstream media on truth and worked overtime to discredit the fake narratives that they would often peddle. However, social media has served a vital other purpose. It has inspired many young people to pour over historical texts to extricate tidbits of knowledge that others before them might have missed.

As a consequence of social media, we have 22-year-olds, 23-years-olds who have been provided with an opportunity to utilize resources available on the internet and made easily accessible by interaction on social media to contribute in their own way towards Hindutva. Hindus have used the ‘blogosphere’ effectively to build a solid foundation for an intellectual basis of Hindutva. In the long run, it might prove critical in reversing the effects of the tides of time.

Thus, social media has been a boon for Hindutva. And it’s no wonder that there are persistent efforts to regulate them. The vast influence of Hindutva on social media and the manner in which it used the medium to propagate itself offers us an interesting insight into a feature of religious doctrine. Unlike what rationalists would have us believe, religious doctrine is immensely resilient. Confronted with modernity and modern technology, it initially finds it difficult to cope with it but after a while, religious doctrine always manages to integrate the technology into its operations and use it to propagate itself.

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