From the very start, the Hindu nationalist movement has been borne by the upper castes due to the social conservatism it promotes. Indeed, while in theory it aims to abolish the “nation-dividing” caste system, such an ambition does not rule out a strong adherence to Brahminical values and the Hindu traditional social order. Deendayal Upadhyaya, the most prominent post-Independence Hindu nationalist ideologue, claimed that the original caste system, known as the varna vyavastha, needed to be restored in its pristine form. In his book Integral Humanism, published in 1965, he argues that “society is ‘self-born’” and forms an “organic unity” inherited from a caste-based antiquarian arrangement that should not be disturbed:
In our concept of four castes, they are thought of as an analogous to the different limbs of Virat-Purusha. These limbs are not only complementary to one another, but even further, there is individuality, unity. There is a complete identity of interest, identity of belonging.
This social harmony is necessarily hierarchical, as evident from the metaphor of the body inherent in the Virat-Purusha (where the Brahmin comes from the mouth whereas the Shudra is born from the feet), but it should not be disturbed by outside forces—at least, not by the state, a traditionally weak institution for Upadhyaya. Attached as they are to the social status quo, Hindu nationalists could only be hostile to positive discrimination. They found these measures particularly irritating when such efforts set castes against one another, as during the mobilisation brought about by the implementation of the Mandal Commission recommendations, which hampered the Sangh Parivar’s efforts to unite the Hindu majority behind a common cause.