Supremacism is a belief that a certain group of people is inherently superior to others. Supremacists support this belief by creating all kinds of myths about why they are superior. These include claims that they belong to a superior race (white supremacy), a superior gender (male supremacy), or a superior caste (caste supremacy, also known as Brahminism). When supremacism intersects with politics, it works against principles of equality and justice to create a nation where one group is favored and others face repression. This is the case with Christian nationalism, forms of Islamic fundamentalism, Zionism, and Hindu supremacy (also known as Hindutva).

Savera has come together to raise an Indian American voice against supremacist ideologies and politics that are spreading hatred and division in the U.S. and in the world. While certain hypervisible and hypervocal parts of the Indian American community espouse supremacist politics, we know that a large majority of us stand against this poison. It is time to unite, not just across the Indian American community, but across people of all ethnicities, faiths, and identity positions, to stand up to this tide. Therefore, Savera is standing shoulder-to-shoulder with a wide group of allied organizations fighting racism, sexism, and bigotry to build a more just and equitable world. Together, we will prevail.

We are living in times when supremacist movements are drawing legitimacy from each other, learning from each other, and even closely collaborating with each other. Supremacist movements anywhere end up justifying supremacist movements everywhere, because they make it okay to hold bigoted views of other groups. It also becomes easy to argue that the best way of defending against bigotry is by being bigoted yourself.

Supremacist movements are also largely using the same playbook across the United States and the world. They use disinformation, troll farms, and click farms to gain attention on social media. They demonize minorities and progressives with outlandish lies, use a combination of vigilante violence and state violence to advance their cause, co-opt politicians, and try to seize control of the executive and the judiciary.

In the US, our research also shows close collaborations between white supremacists of the American far-right, Hindu supremacists, and Zionist groups. Even though South Asian Americans face racism and bigotry from white supremacists, white and Hindu supremacist groups share a common understanding of the world – marked by a belief in racial superiority, concentrated power among elites, and weak social and fraternal ties. In particular, they share a virulent and aggressive hatred of Muslims.

We at Savera believe the battle against supremacy begins at home. As an Indian American coalition, we stand against the three kinds of supremacy that are tearing our own community apart: white supremacy, which threatens us all; Hindu supremacy, also known as Hindutva; and caste supremacy, also known as Brahminism. While the latter two forms of supremacy are unfamiliar to most Americans, they are growing threats, and the time has come for us all to educate ourselves about them. We know as well that this work is deeply tied to other important issues within our communities, such as anti-Blackness, gender-based violence, homophobia and transphobia, and the struggle for labor rights, environmental justice, and a more just economy, among others.

Supremacist ideologies have a dark past, they do whatever they can to whitewash history. In the U.S., with its proud tradition of religious freedom, Hindu supremacists are trying very hard to conflate Hindutva or Hindu supremacy with Hinduism. This lets them claim any attack against Hindutva is akin to attacking Hindus.

Unfortunately for adherents of Hindutva, their own founders have very explicitly defined what Hindutva is and seeks to do. V. D. Savarkar, who came up with the concept of Hindutva and is revered by Hindu supremacists to this day, wrote within the first pages of his 1921 book on Hindutva that “Hindutva is different from Hinduism.” Similarly, the VHP-A recently wrote in an editorial of their magazine that “emphasizing ‘Hindutva’ over ‘Hinduism’ becomes imperative.”

By Hindutva, Savarkar meant two things. First, he tried to come up with a special Hindu race, with “pure Hindu blood,” which included all those who traced their origins to the subcontinent. You can see, already, the influence of the ideas of racial and blood purity that gave rise to European fascism in the same period. Second, Savarkar considered as Hindu anyone who saw the subcontinent as both a “fatherland” and a “holy land.” It was on this principle that Savarkar excluded Indian Christians and Muslims—even though these communities have roots in India going back millenia. His claim was that, because Christians and Muslims considered their holy land to be elsewhere, they could never belong to the Indian nation, and would therefore be treated as second class citizens—“in the position of your Negroes,” as he told an American journalist. 

As an extension of this kind of perverse and bigoted thinking, Savarkar also tried to subsume other faiths in the subcontinent, including heterodox forms of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism, into the definition of the racial category of Hindutva. All of these religions have independent expressions, as well as critiques, especially of orthodox Hinduism’s caste system, but in Savarkar’s vision, these important differences were erased.

Hindu supremacists—like white supremacists—possess significant power today, and are trying to build a Hindu ethno-state. Hindutva’s next greatest ideologue, M. S. Golwalkar, also still revered by Hindu supremacists around the world and who ordered the founding of the VHP-A in the U.S., spoke in his seminal text We or Our Nationhood Defined of what he thought Hindutva should take inspiration from:

“To keep up the purity of the Race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic Races—the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for Races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindusthan to learn and profit by.”

Is opposing the Ku Klux Klan anti-Christian? Is opposing Nazism anti-German?

As noted above, Hindu supremacy drew great inspiration from white supremacist narratives and ideas in its early years. Today, the connections between the two are centered around an opposition to an inclusive democracy, shared moral panics, and their shared hatred of Muslims. Please see our report for details on how Hindu supremacists have, from the very beginning, championed anti-Muslim hate actors in the U.S., amplifying their voices, and spreading their poison within Indian American communities. Those collaborations continue as Hindu supremacists make concerted efforts to move Indian Americans—who are a largely progressive minority in the United States—into the far-right camp. As a result, Hindu supremacists routinely collaborate with far-right actors in taking positions against affirmative action, spreading hysteria against other immigrants, and supporting militarism worldwide.

We have spent a significant amount of time producing cutting-edge, bulletproof research, which we are presenting to a wide range of U.S. organizations and institutions. Hindu supremacists have thus far been able to fly under the radar because their true politics is poorly understood. Combine this with their repeated claims to represent all Indian-Americans, and they have been able to encroach into all kinds of spaces where they don’t belong. We are taking our educational efforts out into those spaces, so that more and more Americans can be aware and vigilant against their efforts to gain legitimacy.

In addition, we also have a responsibility to unite our own community members. Many are feeling the pain of this hatred spreading through their families and communities, but don’t yet have an avenue to meet like-minded people and work together to defeat this ideology. It is our goal to unite these Indian American voices against supremacy.

You can start by joining us and by reading and sharing our report. Watch this space and this website for more resources explaining Hindu supremacy—from basic explainers to detailed analyses of why it is harmful.

Thanks for asking! Please join our mailing list to receive action alerts and updates as our campaign progresses. Please also follow our socials on X (formerly Twitter) and Instagram. Feel free to contact us if you wish to volunteer or participate.

This work typically involves a lot of backlash from supremacist groups who are well organized on social media, and look more menacing and numerous than they actually are. So do speak up for Savera, our values, and our mission!

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