According to the Oxford English Dictionary, originally Hindutva is the state or quality of being Hindu; 'Hinduness'. In later use, it defines Hindutva as an ideology seeking to establish the hegemony of Hindus and the Hindu way of life. According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, "Hindutva ('Hindu-ness'), [is] an ideology that sought to define Indian culture in terms of Hindu values".
In a 1995 judgment, the Supreme Court of India ruled that "Ordinarily, Hindutva is understood as a way of life or a state of mind and is not to be equated with or understood as religious Hindu fundamentalism ... it is a fallacy and an error of law to proceed on the assumption ... that the use of words Hindutva or Hinduism per se depicts an attitude hostile to all persons practising any religion other than the Hindu religion ... It may well be that these words are used in a speech to promote secularism or to emphasise the way of life of the Indian people and the Indian culture or ethos, or to criticise the policy of any political party as discriminatory or intolerant."
According to Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, Hindutva is an inclusive term of everything Indic. He said:
Hindutva is not a word but a history. Not only the spiritual or religious history of our people as at times it is mistaken to be by being confounded with the other cognate term Hinduism, but a history in full. Hinduism is only a derivative, a fraction, a part of Hindutva. ... Hindutva embraces all the departments of thought and activity of the whole Being of our Hindu race.