I believe that there needs to be some clarification on the use of the terms “Hindu” and “Hinduism,” even if many people believe that they mean or represent the same thing. This will help you comprehend why some individuals dislike using these names so much. The truth is that the foundation of authentic “Hinduism” is Vedic knowledge, which has to do with our spiritual selves. The Vedic route is more accurately described by the Sanskrit phrase Sanatana-dharma, which is widely accepted to imply the same thing. A permanent identity like that transcends labels like Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, or even Hindu. God, after all, never refers to Himself as being within any such classification, claiming to be only a Christian God, a Muslim God, or a Hindu God. This is the reason why some of India’s finest spiritual leaders have shied away from claiming to be nothing more than Hindus. The Vedic Way is beyond all such ephemeral classifications since it is eternal.
Thus, am I referring to the name “Hindu” as a passing pseudonym?
It’s important to keep in mind that the word “Hindu” is not even Sanskrit. It is not mentioned in any of the Vedic literature, according to several academics. So how can a word like that really describe the Vedic way or culture? Without the Vedic texts, “Hinduism” would not have a foundation.
The majority of academics believe that conquerors who couldn’t properly pronounce the name of the Sindhu River are to blame for the development of the term “Hindu.”
The Sanskrit lexicographer Sir Monier Williams asserts that neither the word Hindu nor the name India have any native roots. These words are not found in any Buddhist or Jain literature or in any of India’s 23 recognised languages.
According to some traditions, Alexander the Great was the one who first changed the name of the River Sindhu to the Indu, eliminating the initial “S” to make it simpler for the Greeks to pronounce. The Indus was given to this. About 325 BCE, Alexander invaded India around this time. After that, the territory east of the Indus was referred to as India by his Macedonian warriors, a moniker that was particularly popular under the British Empire. Bharatha Varsha was the area’s previous Vedic name, and many people still prefer to use it now.
Later, when Muslim conquerors from countries like Afghanistan and Persia arrived, they began referring to the Sindhu River as the Hindu River. After that, the region known as “Hindustan” was used to refer to the people who lived on that area of land in the northwest Indian provinces where the Sindhu River is situated. The Muslims called the Sindhu “hindu,” despite the fact that the locals at the time did not call themselves so; the Sanskrit sound “S” transforms to “H” in the Parsee language. The Muslim foreigners in that region used this name to describe the locals’ ethnicity and faith. After then, even the Indians followed these rules established by the powerful and referred to themselves as Hindu and Hindustan. Aside from those who appreciate it or not utilize it for convenience, the word has no other meaning.
The Avesta of the Iranians, which describes India and its people, is the source where, according to some, the word “Hindu” appears for the first time. The phrase seems to acquire a negative connotation once Zoroastrianism became their official state religion. And of course, when Islam advanced over India, the terms “Hindu” and “Hindustan” were denigrated and even loathed in Persian society, and after the 11th century, they were more frequently used in Persian and Arabic literature.
A different interpretation of the name Hindu’s origins is based on a negative connotation. According to a claim, “Furthermore, it is true that Muslim invaders gave the original Aryan race of the area this name [Hindu] in an effort to degrade them. According to our author, the word is Persian for slave, and throughout Islam, everyone who did not follow Islam was considered to be a slave. (From the Introduction of Maharshi Shri Dayanand Saraswati Aur Unka Kaam, edited by Lala Lajpat Rai and printed in Lahore in 1898).
Likewise, the definition of the word “Hindu” in a Persian dictionary titled Lughet-e-Kishwari, published in Lucknow in 1964, is “chore [thief], dakoo [dacoit], raahzan [waylayer], and ghulam [slave].” The Persian meaning of the word Hindu is further defined as barda (obedient servant), sia faam (black colour), and kaalaa in another dictionary, Urdu-Feroze-ul-Laghat (Part One, p. 615) (black). Therefore, all of them are disparaging terms for the Indian population that are translated as “Hindu” in Persian.
In other words, Hindu is only the continuation of a Muslim phrase that only recently (within the last 1300 years) gained popularity. This helps us realise that the phrase is invalid Sanskrit and has nothing to do with either the authentic Vedic culture or the Vedic spiritual path. Before the Indian population as a whole placed value on the word, as given to them by those who ruled over them, and accepted its use, there was no religion known as “Hinduism.”
The phrase has also been used to imply derogatory meanings. Why then do some Indian acharyas and Vedic organizations object to the term’s use?
The genuine misunderstanding arose when Indian people’s faith was referred to as “Hinduism.” The British regularly used the terms “Hindu” and “Hinduism,” emphasizing the religious distinctions between Muslims and those who came to be known as “Hindus.” This was done with the somewhat successful purpose of causing conflict among Indians. This was in line with the British strategy of “divide and rule,” which facilitated their continuous control over the nation.
Source: Crimes against India by Stephen Knapp
DISCLAIMER: The author is solely responsible for the views expressed in this article. The author carries the responsibility for citing and/or licensing of images utilized within the text.