The Demonic and the Seductive in Religious Nationalism: Vinayak Damodar Savarkar and the Rites of Exorcism in Secularizing South Asia

  • Ashis Nandy (Author)

Identifiers (Article)


The relationship between religion and nationalism is explored in this paper which takes Vinayak Damodar Savarkar as its core focus of analysis. Given the incomplete process of nation-building in the case of India and the intrinsic challenge of how to cultivate a nationalism when the sense of a nation and nationality is lacking, Nandy discusses Savarkar’s idea of Hindutva and the use of religion as a vehicle of nation-building. This, despite Savarkar’s being a non-believer. Nandy explores parallels with Muhammad Ali Jinnah, whose project of nation and state-building is also seen in terms of political categories that were drawn from the Western experience and ideal of the Westphalian state. Exploring the love-hate relationship with Savarkar that is prevalent in contemporary India, Nandy probes the concerted attempt to demonise Savarkar and asks whether this is yet another means by which a young nation seeks to exorcise its past?


Nation Building; Savarkar; Hindutva; Political Hinduism