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Dr. Vikram Sampat is an author and historian based in Bengaluru. Among his various works on Indian history, he has also authored a two-volume book on V D Savarkar, the propounder of the idea of Hindu nationalism – Hindutva- Savarkar: Echoes from a Forgotten Past 1883-1924 and Savarkar: A Contested Legacy 1924-1966.
Sampat is considered by the Hindu far-right as someone who is putting forth an accurate ‘indic version’ of India’s past. Sampat is invited to platforms that eulogize Hindu supremacy and propagate the idea of exclusive Hindu polity (Hindu Rashtra), like The Sangam Talks, The Jaipur Dialogues, and others. He often shares the stage and views with notable Hindu supremacists like R Ranganathan, J Sai Deepak, and Sanjay Dixit. Samptat’s pictures with prominent Hindu right-wing faces, including Narendra Modi and Mohan Bhagwat, demonstrate the political patronage he enjoys from India’s highest echelons of power.
He advocates the idea of an Indic Renaissance ( Hindu Renaissance) to reclaim the lost glory of the land. Through his writings, he equates Indian culture with that of Hindus and creates a binary of indigenous and non-indigenous in terms of religion, culture, and language. Islam and Muslims, he holds as alien to this land and considers them as the descendants of the “brutal invaders,” indicating that they (Muslims) deserve the treatment they are receiving from the majority of Hindus in contemporary India. His implicit accord to the atrocities being inflicted upon Muslims is accentuated by his complete silence on the Hindutva (Hindu nationalist) terror in India.
In a piece written for News18 on October 2021, titled “Leftist History Negates India’s Civilisational Greatness, Underplays Bloody Islamic Conquests,” he reiterated the same Hinduised version of India.
“While a nation-state is defined by codified laws and well-marked territories, a nation is a shared sense of emotional belonging to a common territorial and cultural entity. Right from the millennia-old invocation in traditional Hindu rituals invoking the spatial sacred geography as “Bharata Khanda” in “Bharata Varsha” and “Jambudwipa,” there are countless references to this shared emotional belonging in the epics, the Ramayana, Mahabharata and the Puranas — collectively termed as Itihasa,” he wrote.
He disregards India’s diversity while framing his idea of ‘Indic Civilization’ and Renaissance and even terms the period of Muslim rule as a “dark period” of Indian History. He equates the advent of Islam with supposed ‘Hindu trauma’ that, according to him, continues to persist. He hails Hindutva, the ideological root of Hindu extremism in India, by calling it a necessary defensive mechanism against external aggressions.
In an interview with Citti Media in 2022, he said that Hindutva and Hinduism are quite similar to the extent that they can be used interchangeably. Seeking to normalize the vicious agenda of Hindu dominance and violence that the idea of Hindutva carries, he said, “When you are dealing with theology that is unilateral and always thinks my way or the high way, theology with one book, one God, and one messenger. Anybody who does not subscribe to them is an infidel and needed to be treated in the worst manner, condemned to hell file, converting them, brutalizing them, and vandalizing them is the birthright of the faithful. In such a scenario, what does religion or faith which is so egalitarian, so embracive, so peaceful do, when it comes head-on with a theology which is so virulent and unilateral? You cant keep quoting the scriptures to such people.”
In an interview with Times Now in December 2022, Sampat applauded Narendra Modi for promoting Indic faiths and culture by participating in Hindu rituals and ceremonies.
“If the Indic faiths that have originated from this land, where else will they be celebrated and exalted if not here? They will be celebrated in the OIC nations! I see nothing wrong in the fact that you can be the head of the government but at the same time, you also participate in events that highlight the civilizational glory of this country,” he said.
In February 2022, his two-volume biography of V D Savarkar was embroiled in plagiarism allegations by notable historians. A letter written to the President of the Royal Historical Society in the United Kingdom by three historians: Georgetown University professor Ananya Chakravarti; Rohit Chopra from Santa Clara University; and Rutgers University academic Audrey Truschke, raised concerns about a “long-standing pattern of plagiarism” in the work of Vikram Sampath, who is a member of the Society. Sampat, however, obtained a favorable order in the matter from the court. The case is still pending with the Delhi High Court for final disposal.