Words matter: Indian, not South Asian. Greater Indian subcontinent, not South Asia. Atman, not Soul. Bhagwan, not God.
Be proud of your Indian identity, use correct words and definitions.
There are continuous efforts to first, hyphenate Indo-Pak in order to give the failed nation geopolitical legitimacy and similarly, there are efforts to dilute the Indian identity by using the term South Asian. South Asian is a concept which U.S. alphabetical agencies came up with and there is no need to use this term unless absolutely necessary. Indians need to be proud of their identity and not use a broader, diluted, and foreign term – South Asian. Also, those small nations which used to be part of Bharat might be struggling with finding an external ancestor and rejecting Bharat as their parent. They can claim to be South Asian. Indians however do not need to fall into this trap.
India is the parent to South Asian nations. Indians have a strong history and identity and are capable of self-identifying correctly vs. using outsiders to give them defined labels. Same is true for referring to what used to be Bharat as the greater Indian subcontinent. These days efforts are being made by the U.S. to yet again redefine the region as Indo-Pacific. Regardless, in daily parlance and in Indian media it is okay to use the term – greater Indian subcontinent to denote proper location of India.
Those carved out of India often mislead others by things such as Indo-Pak grocery store, or even Indian restaurants named so but run by Bangladeshis. Why? Identifying as Indian brings legitimacy.
Atman is the not the same thing as soul. Souls supposedly go to hell, heaven and get harvested. Atman is a concept which is all-pervading, everlasting, the only imperishable truth. Atman is not the same thing as soul as believed by Abrahamic religions. Even gurus like Vivekananda have erred in translating atman as soul; perhaps to make things easier for readers but we should stop putting a false equivalence. This is a time when looney missionaries are co-opting many Hindu practices and them falsely arguing that Jebus will save your soul is impossible from any Vedic lens. Atmans are not souls, nor can they be saved, converted or harvested.
We should use the term Bhagwan, not God. God is an Abrahamic term and not the same thing as Bhagwan. Bhagwan is the all-pervasive existence, the Brahmand, is often abstract, ever-expanding and impossible to put a boundary on. Bhagwan should not be confused with one’s Ishta devata though many do use the terms interchangeably. It is still okay to do so though there should never be references as God Krishna or God Shiva. Its better to use Shri Krishna or Bhagwan Krishna or Bhagwan Shiva or Ishvara.
Let us be mindful when we see or use these terms. They are loaded with nuance and there’s always a trap set to further dilute Hindu and Identities. Choose your words wisely.
Image: Indian Youth
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