Critical Podium Dewanand
ABOUT THE NAME "HINDU" By Stephen Knapp
Sacrificer Stephen Knapp
Sacrifice code wfor0416
Sacrifice date 25 march 2009
Since my name came up on one of the posts, Here is the full article.
ABOUT THE NAME "HINDU"
By Stephen Knapp
I feel there needs to be some clarification about the use of the
words "Hindu" and "Hinduism." The fact is that true
"Hinduism" is based
on Vedic knowledge, which is related to our spiritual identity. Many
people do accept it to mean the same thing as Sanatana-dharma, which is
a more accurate Sanskrit term for the Vedic path. Such an identity is
beyond any temporary names as Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, or even
Hindu. After all, God never describes Himself as belonging to any such
category, saying that He is only a Christian God, or a Muslim God, or
Hindu God. That is why some of the greatest spiritual masters from India
have avoided identifying themselves only as Hindus. The Vedic path is
e ternal, and therefore beyond all such temporary designations. So am
calling the name "Hindu" a temporary designation?
We must remember that the term "hindu" is not even Sanskrit.
Numerous scholars say it is not found in any of the Vedic literature.
how can such a name truly represent the Vedic path or culture? And
without the Vedic literature, there is no basis for "Hinduism."
Most scholars feel that the name "Hindu" was developed by
outsiders, invaders who could not pronounce the name of the Sindhu River
properly. Some sources report that it was Alexander the Great who first
renamed the River Sindhu as the Indu, dropping the beginning "S",
making it easier for the Greeks to pronounce. This became known as the
Indus. This was when Alexander invaded India around 325 B.C. His
Macedonian forces thereafter called the land east of the Indus as India,
name used especially during the British regime.
Later, when the Muslim invaders arrived from such places as
Afghanistan and Persia, they called the Sindhu River the Hindu River.
Thereafter, the name "Hindu" was used to describe the inhabitants
that tract of land in the northwestern provinces of India where the Sindhu
River is located, and the region itself was called "Hindustan."
Sanskrit sound of "S" converts to "H" in the Parsee
language, the Muslims
pronounced the Sindhu as "hindu," even though at the time the
the area did not use the name "hindu" themselves. This word
was used by
the Muslim foreigners to identify the people and the religion of those
lived in that area. Thereafter, even the Indians conformed to these
standards as set by those in power and used the names Hindu and
Hindustan. Otherwise, the word has no meaning except for those who
place value on it or now use it out of convenience.
; Another view of the name "Hindu" shows the confusing nature
causes for understanding the true essence of the spiritual paths of India.
written be R. N. Suryanarayan in his book Universal Religion (p.1-2,
published in Mysore in 1952), "The political situation of our country
centuries past, say 20-25 centuries, has made it very difficult to understand
the nature of this nation and its religion. The western scholars, and
historians, too, have failed to trace the true name of this Brahmanland,
vast continent-like country, and therefore, they have contented themselves
by calling it by that meaningless term 'Hindu'. This word, which is a
foreign innovation, is not made use by any of our Sanskrit writers and
revered Acharyas in their works. It seems that political power was
responsible for insisting upon continuous use of the word Hindu. The
word Hindu is found, of course, in Persian literature. Hindu-e-falak mean
'the black of the sky' and 'Saturn'. In the Arabic language Hind not Hindu
means nation. It is shameful and ridiculous to have read all along in
history that the name Hindu was given by the Persians to the people of
country when they landed on the sacred soil of Sindhu."
Another view of the source of the name Hindu is based on a
derogatory meaning. It is said that, "Moreover, it is correct that
[Hindu] has been given to the original Aryan race of the region by Muslim
invaders to humiliate them. In Persian, says our author, the word means
slave, and according to Islam, all those who did not embrace Islam were
termed as slaves." (Maharishi Shri Dayanand Saraswati Aur Unka Kaam,
edited by Lala Lajpat Rai, published in Lahore, 1898, in the Introduction)
Furthermore, a Persian dictionary titled Lughet-e-Kishwari,
published in Lucknow in 1964, gives the meaning of the word Hi ndu as
"chore [thief], dakoo [dacoit], raahzan [waylayer], and ghulam [slave]."
another dictionary, Urdu-Feroze-ul-Laghat (Part One, p. 615) the Persian
meaning of the word Hindu is further described as barda (obedient
servant), sia faam (balck color) and kaalaa (black). So these are all
derogatory expressions for the translation of the term hindu in the Persian
label of the people of India.
So, basically, Hindu is merely a continuation of a Muslim term that
became popular only within the last 1300 years. In this way, we can
understand that it is not a valid Sanskrit term, nor does it have anything
do with the true Vedic culture or the Vedic spiritual path. No religion
existed that was called "Hinduism" until the Indian people in
placed value on that name and accepted its use. So is it any wonder that
some Indian acharyas and Vedic organizations do not care to use the
The real confusion started when the name "Hinduism" was used
indicate the religion of the Indian people. The words "Hindu"
"Hinduism" were used frequently by the British with the effect
on the religious differences between the Muslims and the people who
became known as "Hindus". This was done with the rather successful
intention of creating friction among the people of India. This was in
with the British policy of divide and rule to make it easier for their
continued dominion over the country.
However, we should mention that others who try to justify the
word "Hindu" present the idea that rishis of old, several thousand
ago, also called central India Hindustan, and the people who lived there
Hindus. The following verse, said to be from the Vishnu Purana, Padma
Purana and the Bruhaspati Samhita, is provided as proof, yet I am still
waiting to learn the exact location where we can find this verse:
Aaasindo Sindhu Paryantham Yasyabharatha Bhoomikah
MathruBhuh Pithrubhoochaiva sah Vai Hindurithismrithaah
Another verse reads as: Sapta sindhu muthal Sindhu maha
samudhram vareyulla Bharatha bhoomi aarkkellamaano Mathru
bhoomiyum Pithru bhoomiyumayittullathu, avaraanu hindukkalaayi
ariyappedunnathu. Both of these verses more or less indicate that whoever
considers the land of Bharatha Bhoomi between Sapta Sindu and the
Indian Ocean as his or her motherland and fatherland is known as Hindu.
However, here we also have the real and ancient name of India mentioned,
which is Bharata Bhoomi. "Bhoomi" (or Bhumi) means Mother Earth,
Bharata is the land of Bharata or Bharata-varsha, which is the land of
India. In numerous Vedic references in the Puranas, Mahabharata and
other Vedic texts, the area of India is referred to as Bharata-varsha
land of Bharata and not as Hin dustan.
Another couple of references that are used, though the exact
location of which I am not sure, includes the following:
Himalayam Samaarafya Yaavat Hindu Sarovaram
Tham Devanirmmitham desham Hindustanam Prachakshathe
Himalyam muthal Indian maha samudhram vareyulla
devanirmmithamaya deshaththe Hindustanam ennu parayunnu
These again indicate that the region between the Himalayas and the
Indian Ocean is called Hindustan. Thus, the conclusion of this is that
Indians are Hindus regardless of their caste and religion. Of course,
everyone is going to agree with that.
Others say that in the Rig Veda, Bharat is referred to as the country
of "Sapta Sindhu", i.e. the country of seven great rivers. This
is, of course,
acceptable. However, exactly which book and chapter this verse comes
from needs to be clarified. Nonetheless, s ome say that the word "Sindhu"
refers to rivers and sea, and not merely to the specific river called
"Sindhu". Furthermore, it is said that in Vedic Sanskrit, according
ancient dictionaries, "sa" was pronounced as "ha".
Thus "Sapta Sindhu"
was pronounced as "Hapta Hindu". So this is how the word "Hindu"
supposed to have come into being. It is also said that the ancient Persians
referred to Bharat as "Hapta Hind", as recorded in their ancient
"Bem Riyadh". So this is another reason why some scholars came
believe that the word "Hindu" had its origin in Persia.
Another theory is that the name "Hindu" does not even come
the name Sindhu. Mr. A. Krishna Kumar of Hyderabad, India explains.
"This [Sindhu/Hindu] view is untenable since Indians at that time
ranked highest in the world in terms of civilization and wealth would
have been without a name. They were not the unknown aborigines waiting
to be discovered, identified and Christened by foreigners." He cites
argument from the book Self-Government in India by N. B. Pavgee,
published in 1912. The author tells of an old Swami and Sanskrit scholar
Mangal Nathji, who found an ancient Purana known as Brihannaradi in
the Sham village, Hoshiarpur, Punjab. It contained this verse:
himalayam samarabhya yavat bindusarovaram
hindusthanamiti qyatam hi antaraksharayogatah
Again the exact location of this verse in the Purana is missing, but
Kumar translates it as: "The country lying between the Himalayan
mountains and Bindu Sarovara (Cape Comorin sea) is known as
Hindusthan by combination of the first letter 'hi' of 'Himalaya' and the
last compound letter 'ndu' of the word 'Bindu.'"
This, of course, is supposed to have given rise to the name
"Hindu", indicating an indigenous origin. The conclusion of
which is that
people living in this area are thus known as "Hindus".
So again, in any way these theories may present their information,
and in any way you look at it, the name "Hindu" started simply
as a bodily
and regional designation. The name "Hindu" refers to a location
people and originally had nothing to do with the philosophies, religion
culture of the people, which could certainly change from one thing to
another. It is like saying that all people from India are Indians. Sure,
acceptable as a name referring to a location, but what about their religion,
faith and philosophy? These are known by numerous names according to
the various outlooks and beliefs. Thus, they are not all Hindus, as many
people who do not follow the Vedic system already object to calling
themselves by that name. So "Hindu" is not the most appropriate
a spiritual path, but the Sanskrit term of sanatana-dharma is much more
accurate. The culture of the ancient Indians and their early history is
culture or Vedic dharma. So it is more appropriate to use a name that
based on that culture for those who follow it, rather than a name that
merely addresses the location of a people.
Unfortunately, the word "Hindu" has gradually been adopted
most everyone, even the Indians, and is presently applied in a very general
way, so much so, in fact, that now "Hinduism" is often used
anything from religious activities to even Indian social or nationalistic
events. Some of these so-called "Hindu" events are not endorsed
Vedic literature, and, therefore, must be considered non-Vedic. Thus,
just anyone can call themselves a "Hindu" and still be considered
follower of the Vedic path. Nor can any activity casually be dubbed as
part of Hinduism and thoughtlessly be considered a part of the true Vedic
Therefore, the Vedic spiritual path is more accurately called
sanatana-dharma, which means the eternal, unchanging occupation of the
soul in its relation to the Supreme Being. Just as the dharma of sugar
be sweet, this does not change. And if it is not sweet, then it is not
Or the dharma of fire is to give warmth and light. If it does not do that,
then it is not fire. In the same way, there is a particular dharma or
the soul, which is sanatana, or eternal. It does not change. So there
state of dharma and the path of dharma. Following the principles of
sanatana-dharma can bring us to the pure state of regaining our forgotten
spiritual identity and relationship with God. This is the goal of Vedic
knowledge. Thus, the knowledge of the Vedas and all Vedic literature,
such as Lord Krishna's message in Bhagavad-gita, as well as the teachings
of the Upanishads and Puranas, are not limited to only "Hindus"
restricted to a certain region of the planet or family of birth. Such
knowledge is actually meant for the whole world. As everyone is a
spiritual being and has the same spiritual essence as described according
the principles of sanatana-dharma, then everyone should be given the
right and privilege to understand this knowledge. It cannot be held for
exclusive group of people.
Sanatana-dharma is also the fully developed spiritual philosophy
that fills whatever gaps may be left by the teachings of other less
philosophically developed religions. Direct knowledge of the soul is a
"universal spiritual truth" which can be applied by all people,
in any part
of the world, in any time in history, and in any religion. It is eternal.
Therefore, being an eternal spiritual truth, it is beyond all time and
designations. Knowledge of the s oul is the essence of Vedic wisdom and
more than what the name "Hindu" implies, especially after understanding
from where the name comes.
Even if the time arrives in this deteriorating age of Kali-yuga after
many millennia when Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and even Hinduism
(as we call it today) may disappear from the face of the earth, there
still be the Vedic teachings that remain as a spiritual and universal
even if such truths may be forgotten and must be re-established again
this world by Lord Krishna Himself. I doubt then that He will use the
name "Hindu." He certainly said nothing of the sort when He
Thus, although I do not feel that "Hindu" is a proper term
represent the Vedic Aryan culture or spiritual path, I do use the word
time to time book to mean the same thing since it is already so much a
of everyone's vocabul ary. Otherwise, since I follow the Vedic path of
sanatana-dharma, I call myself a sanatana-dharmist. That reduces the
need to use the label of "Hindu" and also helps focus on the
nature of the Vedic path. Therefore, I propose that all Hindus begin to
this term sanatana-dharmist, which not only refers to the correct Sanskrit
terminology, but also more accurately depicts the true character and
spiritual intention of the Vedic path. Others have also used the terms
sanatanis or even dharmists, both of which are closer to the real meaning
within Vedic culture.
However, for political and legal purposes it may be convenient to
continue using the name Hindu for the time being. Until the terms
Sanatana-dharma or Vedic dharma become more recognized by
international law and society in general, "Hindu" may remain
behind which to rally for Vedic culture. But over the long term, it is
name that is bound to change in meaning to the varying views of it due
its lack of a real linguistic foundation. Being based merely on the values
people place in it, its meaning and purpose will vary from person to
person, culture to culture, and certainly from generation to generation.
can see how this took place with the British in India. So there will be
perpetuation of the problems with the name and why some people and
groups will not want to accept it.
Yet by the continued and increased use of the terms Vedic dharma
or Sanatana-dharma, at least by those who are more aware of the
definitive Sanskrit basis of these terms, they will gain recognition as
the more accurate terminology. This is similar to the way the tribes that
were known as the American Indians in the United States are no longer
called that but are now more accurately referred to as Native Americans
First Nations people. It merely takes some time to make the proper
This is the way to help cure the misinterpretation or
misunderstandings that may come from using the name Hindu, and also
end the reasons why some groups do not care to identify themselves under
that name. After all, most Vedic groups, regardless of their orientation
and the specific path they follow, can certainly unite behind the term
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