Is Hindutva-pop cringe?


The New York Times, India’s Soundtrack of Hate, With a Pop Sheen – Mixing dance tracks with calls for religious warfare, Hindutva pop amplifies a wave of Hindu nationalism in Narendra Modi’s India. The title says it all. I am not personally invested in Hindutva (I’m American, it would make as much sense as an Indian being very interested in Republican politics), but The New York Times is.

Contrary to the subhead of the piece, Hindutva-pop comes off as more amateur and LARPy than insidious. It seems this music is a reflection of a broad counter-culture in the nation.

My question is simple: is this stuff as cringe as American “Christian music”?

21 Replies to “Is Hindutva-pop cringe?”

  1. Does American “evangelical” Christian music advocate religious warfare? I haven’t heard it in 30 years, but I remember it being more mawkish than militant.

      1. Anan, one might say they are cringe because they preach about Christian identity rather than creatively express Christian faith. What’s the need for the genre anyway? A great portion of rnb, soul, and rock music is implicitly Christian anyway, and less awkwardly self conscious about it. In fairness, a genre called “communist rock” would probably be just as lame for analgous reasons.

        1. “about Christian identity rather than creatively express Christian faith.”
          Christian rock is part of bhajan kirtan.

          A Hindi saying:
          “Khaane ko gaan se jitna”
          conquer hunger for this world through song

          Christian bhajan when sung with bhaava can transcend gross thought.

          “What’s the need for the genre anyway?”
          What is the need for bhajan kirtan? What is the need for art, music, dance, sculpture, painting, culture?

          “A great portion of rnb, soul, and rock music is implicitly Christian anyway, and less awkwardly self conscious about it.”

          100% agreed. It is Muslim Jewish Zoroastrian Hindu Buddhist Jain Taoist Shinto too!

          “In fairness, a genre called “communist rock” would probably be just as lame for analgous reasons.”

          Only if it has heart or bhaava.

          How do you define communism?

  2. It looks like she is a product of disillusionment with the secular media-politics ( is it Nehruvian ??) of the last century in India.

    ““We have to make terrorists run from our blessed land!” The crowd cheered when she added a throat-slitting hand gesture.” is that all the NYT article can see wrong in it. This is militant nationalism not Hindutva per se.

    1. This is Hindus saying that they will protect their muslims (Shia, Sufi, liberal, atheist) from Islamists. Thank Allah someone is saying it. Shia, Sufi, liberal muslims and atheist muslims need protection from assassination, terrorism and intimidation.

      This said, this can be expressed in a Sathvic way.

  3. I read this piece. The author seems completely clueless about India and what happens in India.

    India has a tradition of Sarva Dharma kirtan bhajan song. All the Gods from all the religions are sung about, including Isha (Jesus). Many Sufi songs are also sung. Gandhi did this. So do many from the RSS. The VHP emphasizes this.

    I guess that this can be seen as pushing perrenialism–including the view that all religions are true and authentic and should be learned from and adopted. Or that it is great to be an insider of many sampradayas at once.

    In India many Christians, Sufis and Shiites are fine with this and participate. But some conservative Indian Christians and conservative Sunni Indians object. But the largest objections come from post modernists who oppose all religions.

    “Hinduttva music” . . . never heard that term before.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Is there an interest in a podcast on Ayodhya? Maybe from Sham Sharma or Kushal?

    Ayodhya is complicated. Turns out I didn’t understand it and a friend had to explain it to me.

  4. Here is a sample video from her.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_zNYDAKUk44

    My take
    1. No originality. Dabar oil meme is at least 30 years old.
    2. Her headgear looks ludicrous.
    3. Music sucks.
    4. I am philosophical about the lyrics tho. Babar hated India and Indians intensely. Indians now hate him back. Closure of historical transactions.

    1. Scorpian Eater, is that a real music video rather than a spoof?

      That is awful!

      This isn’t in the same league as Christian rock.

      For our non Urdu Hindustani Hindi speakers . . . she seemed to keep saying:

      “Remove (or scrub) the name of Babur”

      This is misleading in a way. Why are Mongol Mughals necessarily much worse than the Afghan Pashtun Sunni Islamist Ibrahim Lodi?

      Babur did engage in many terrible atrocities and crimes against humanity. However he changed later in life. He met Nanak and many Sufi masters.

    2. It’s not about Babur but about Indian Muslims–“Babur ke aulaad” (Babur’s children). One can have whatever opinions one wants about long-dead historical figures but when those opinions lead to crimes against your fellow citizens, it becomes much more problematic.

      1. Kabir, think about it this way. Babar hated India so much that even tho he died in india, he instructed his family to take his body all the way to Kabul and bury it there. But he left his mosque behind. Is this fair 😉

        1. As I said, it’s not about Babur but about the current Indian Muslim population. Babri Masjid belonged to the Indian Muslim community and its destruction and now the rewarding of the perpetrators signifies the destruction of Indian secularism.

          History is being weaponized to “otherize” and commit crimes against a minority community. That is completely unacceptable to any decent human being.

  5. India has always had a subaltern pop music scene. It just wasn’t visible to upper classes. social media is bringing it out in the open.

    i am sure some must be aware, but others may not be so, that punjab has had a long tradition of chamar-pop. the unmistakable display of the aggression in these songs can turn the image of “downtrodden dalit” on its head. some samples..

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=smArLdUI-UA
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5PTOIMuCEc

    1. Scorpion Eater

      unmistakable display of the aggression in these songs can turn the image

      I get (forced is more like it) to watch movies (and music videos) in the long distance buses I take going to and back from the Tamil speaking North.

      Approx half the movies are Tamil (and I think Kerala, guessing because of landscape). The mindless violence is just impressive.

      Maybe this is an example (dont know names of movies)
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vOCM9wztBYQ

  6. Christian rock isn’t so much cringe, as generic, inoffensive and bland. Militant Christian music from the late 19th and early 20th century was much more interesting.

    Whether sacred or secular, music sucks when being nice and uncontroversial figures in its creation.

  7. The Hindutvaized subaltern of the North. Now the next gen subaltern leaders will look more like Modi and less like Lalu, Mulayam.

    Modi has affected this change, where even when the opposition “seems” to be in power, the real power will lie with Hindutva. Sui generis Hindtuva.

  8. This, for some reason, reminds me of an old song “Dum Maro Dum” about Hare Krsnas getting stoned.

    It’s hilarious that the Hare Krsna crowd preached a very puritanical code of conduct, but Indians thought they were a bunch of Western Hippies looking for some spiritual reason to get high.

    I suppose this is a more modern , but similar take on music about warrior Hindus.

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