Friday, February 6, 2015

What is ‘Hindu’ and What is ‘Hindu Dharma’ ?


We often mistake the word Hindu as Religion. To Know about it we have to focus the etymology and origin of the two words i.e 'Hindu' and 'Dharma'. Who is a Hindu and What is Dharma has been narrated briefly under. 

Origin of the word:
In origin, Hinduš was Old Persian name of the Indus River, cognate with Sanskrit word Sindhu. By about 2nd - 1st century BCE, the term "Hein-tu" was used by Chinese, for referring to North Indian people. The Persian term was loaned into Arabic as al-Hind referring to the land of the people who live across river Indus, and into Greek as Indos, whence ultimately English India.

The word Hindu is derived (through Persian) from the Sanskrit word Sindhu, the historic local name for the Indus River in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent (modern day Pakistan and Northern India).

According to Gavin Flood, "The actual term Hindu first occurs as a Persian geographical term for the people who lived beyond the river Indus (Sanskrit: Sindhu)". The term Hindu then was a geographical term and did not refer to a religion.

So there is no such reference about the word Hindu as a religion in any of the Ancient Scriptures.Though there is no reference about the word Hindu in the Vedic literatures we have to assume that the people of Indian Subcontinent has no Religion and No specific geographical boundaries.

A brief explanation about its use in the modern day

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, "Hindutva ('Hindu-ness'), 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 practicing any religion  ... It may well be that these words are used in a speech to promote secularism or to emphasize the way of life of the Indian people and the Indian culture or ethos, or to criticize the policy of any political party as discriminatory or intolerant

In the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" has been used in places to denote persons professing any religion originated in India (i.e. Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism or Sikhism).

From the above Definitions and Historical evidences its quite clear that Hindu refers to the Nationalism of India later-on. i.e.Hindustani (residence of the land near Indus) or in Short term ‘Hindu’.

In the present day we forget the etymology of the word and assumed it as a Religion.

Now look at the word Religion and Dharma which we often confused with the word Dharma as Religion .


Dharma provided the principle for the Harmonious fulfilment of the aspects of life,namely, the acquisition of wealth of power(artha), fulfillment of desires(kama), and liberation(moksha).

Water’s Dharma is to replenish a dried land to greenery to make it wet, wind’s dharma is to make anything dry , Fire’s Dharma is to burn or to radiate heat, so do The Planets Dharma is revolving around the Sun and etc there are some thousand lakhs living and non living entity are there in the entire cosmos to sustain the universe by lining up to their Dharma ....


While Religion applies to only human beings and not to the entire cosmos; there is no religion of electrons, monkeys, plants and cosmic mass like stars, nebulas and galaxies .whereas all of them have their dharma even if they carry it out without intention....

So, what is the Dharma for Human ?

Dharma can be attained by practicing the four paths or duties in a Human life,
  1.   Karma Yoga: THE YOGA OF ACTION
We can find the the above philosophy in different faiths across the world...

To know more about the above paths please follow the link: (four fold path)

According to Panchatantra Hitopnished a collection of fables, 'Dharma' has been defined in a different way.
The sixth verse of the preface   says as follows,

विद्या ददाति विनयं विनयाद्याति पात्रताम्
पात्रत्वाद्धनमाप्नोति धनाद्धर्मं ततः सुखम्

Vidya Dadati Vinayam, Vinayad Ati Patratam |
Patratwat DhanamApnoti, Dhand Dharma Tatah Sukham |

(True/complete) knowledge gives discipline, from discipline comes worthiness, from worthiness one gets wealth, from wealth (one does) good deeds, from that (comes) joy.

In reverse, To be happy in life we have to do good deeds, to do good deeds we have to acquire wealth in a righteous way , to acquire wealth we have to be worthy , to be worthy we have to be disciplined , and to be disciplined we have to acquire the complete Knowledge (i e wisdom) and  i.e Dharma

So the Sloka indirectly leads us towards the Four fold path of Srimad Bhagvat Geeta. i.e about The Jnana Yoga( The yoga of Knowledge and Wisdom).

Hindu Dharma:

From the above narration now we are clear that the Hindu Dharma is not equal to Hindu religion. People of India has different Sects who worship different gods and goddesses. Even the tribals of India has their own God and Godess and the rituals are different from the people who practice Vedic Rituals.

The three main ancient sects(religions) are Saiva, Sakta and Vaishnava. Lord Shiva was the prehistoric deity of the ancient world (found in Indus valley civilization).He is the three main deity of the Universe who born as Shankara as a Human and people started following his philosophies. Later Shakti or the Godess of Power being worshiped and some people dragged practicing the philosophy of Shaktism and they are known as Shakta and later those who started following Krishnna(incarnation of the Supreme soul the Formless)  they are being known as Vaisnavite or the followers of Vaisnavism.So as Budha , Jaina, Juda, Christ , Muhammad ....born in this world as humans and they left their philosophies .... 

Lord Krishna told that the GOD is formless and he has many names and He incarnate in the course of time as Avtars/Prophets.Whenever or wherever there found a depletion of humanitarian values.To save the Sadhus from the tyranny of he Asadhus the supreme soul manifest himself as many avatars.

Narating the form of Supremesoul or the Father (ParamPita) he revered as Lord Vishnu(who has no form but in his body the entire cosmos and the entire Avatars resides).

As described by one of the 14th century saint Adi Shankaracharya in his phylosophy Advaita Vedanta;

"Brahma Satyam. Jagat Mithya. Jivo Brahmaiva Na Parah." These can be translated in English as follows:
God only is real. The world is unreal. The individual is none other than God.

What Islam says about the supreme soul

lā ʾilāha ʾillā-llāh, muammadun rasūlu-llāh
There is no god but God, Muhammad is the messenger of God

What the Christianity preaches about the Supreme Soul:

The Holy Bible in Genesis 1-26, 27 it is mentioned that the God created man in His Own image.God being the Supreme Reality, formless, omniscient, His image in the gross body is the only “real self” which is formless. This image is the divine soul in the human body.

The three main religions of the world speaks about the same thing.

Sankracharya describes this stage as “Aham Brahmasmi ” i.e. I am Brahma. Even what the holy Bible preaches in Genesis 1-26, 27 had found that God created man in His Own image.  In a stage of perfection and self- realization Christ also became God Himself. It is due to this metaphysical concept that a large number of Christians con¬sider Christ as God, while others consider Him as Son of God. Only in the stage of perfection, both concepts mean the same. So long as the individuals do not reach the stage of perfection and self- realization, soul and spirit remain separate and perform different roles. This divine concept leads to Personal and Impersonal God, or “Sakar and Nirankar” Brahma. Those worshiping him as personal God, tend to give form and attributes to the God and even give different attributes to a large number of gods/goddesses and want blessings from all of them.     

In the course of time the supreme soul has incarnated in various forms as Budha, Jaina, Juda, Christ , Muhammad and other  sacred souls.They appeared before us whenever there was a depletion of the humanitarian values. There was a clash between the followers of different sects (Saiva,Shakta, Vaishnaba, Budhha, Jaina, Sikh..) in India too...but later on when the beliefs has been clarified by the saints that all God has one origin, the pertaining religious intolerance had been  eradicated and the Vaisnavite going to the Shiva temple and vise-versa.

And People started following all the Gods and Goddess as one. But again the problem started when the people from a different land moved to India in the course of time These were the people from middle east.They shared a different culture .The culture practiced by the people in different geographies was not same as the culture of Indians(Hindustanis-Hindus). Though India has a fertile land it cultivated the medicinal  herbs and it adopted the culture accordingly  to the availability of its natural resources. Its found in the spicy cuisine and exquisite attire. They used the herbs,plants, cow milk products to keep themselves healthy.Later on, they sold the spices and herbs to the distance countries through the ancient spice route stretched to Greece ,Italy in the west and Indonesia and Japan in the East. They  earned huge money out of it which leaded them to economic and social prosperity.They built gigantic temples, which helped to protect the granary and protected  people from natural calamities.They demonstrated the militaryeconomic and architectural might in the magnificent temple sculptures.The secret chambers were also used for scientific research and development in Astronomy, Engineering, Medicine, Art. Literature, Song, Dance and Handicrafts. From where all the present classical dances, songs, literature, cuisine or delicacies, Hand-looms and Handcrafts originated. Its impossible without the royal patronage. The Kings were practicing the Raja Dharma to protect its Kingdom from the external invasion by the enemy.The Largest temple complex(Angkor Wat) of Vishnu in Cambodia and the artifact of the Godess lakshmi found in the city of Pompeii in Italy are the evidence of ancient India's influence in the whole world.From where all the people from west started migrating  to India for Knowledge and wealth and some settled in with the customs and culture and some followed their own lifestyle.
Ancient Spice and silk route (Blue and REd lines)
They also enacted a set of rules(Dharma Sastra) for a healthier living so they build massive Step Wells and Ponds to cleanse the body in the early in the morning before the sun rise .The practice of going temple has been made a daily phenomena,to purifying the soul. Which also helped to build a robust sustainable economy (Refer earlier sec).Now its quite evident that Indians were most careful about health and sanitation in the ancient days.

Later on, the people from the Middle East migrated to India who used to live in a different landscape, their living style was quite different from the life style of India. They ate non-vegetarian food though their geographic location is mostly covered by the deserts and where hardy any shrub and vegetation found. So they lived mostly on meat of the animals found in the deserts. They cremated the body after death in the desert for non availability of wood. But when they migrated to India they have never realized that they are living in much more fertile land which was rich with vegetation. They practiced the same lifestyle where they used to live .They started killing the cows for their living ,whereas  the economy of India was totally based on cow. Subsequently which fueled a bitter strife among the two large communities who were living on cow.Which pushed forward to the division of society and they started combating each other .Subsequently. which given rise to the present day word religion and religious intolerance , communal disharmony etc.   

People have to change according to Sthana(Place), Kala(Time) and Patra(Situation).Example: The law enacted before thousand years(TIME) is not practicable today, a new law code to be needed  according to the present situations.If people of India will start eating western(PLACE) foods, wear western attire it ll have a deep impact on the Indian economy because the Indian cuisine and attire depends on the raw materials available in India. Billions of people live on cultivation, preparing and rearing these materials or staple foods. So eating food Burger, Pizza,Cola,Wine will benefit those countries where the raw materials are available to prepare these foods/beverages.And it ll not have a deep health hazards  but also it ll ruin an economy , crores of people will lose their livelihood and  they ll force to commit suicide, which is quite evident in the present day situations in India.Likely when we try to operate business in a nation which is going through severe economic or civil unrest/ downturn(SITUATION) will impact on our  trade.

The same thing is with Christianity (refer previous article).Its due to the geographic location, the Christian culture got westernized, while the rituals are predominant to the ancient Indian Culture.The Roman catholic church is not revealing the early and later period of Christ (from age 11-28) to the people, while from many Historic evidences its been said Jesus Christ has found wondering in the Himalayan Terrain.The famous book 'Jesus in India' is an English version of an Urdu treatise written by the Holy Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835-1908).

Abundant evidence has been furnished from Christian as well as Muslim Scriptures, old medical books and books of history, including ancient Buddhistic records, to illustrate the theme.

The term Hindu was later appeared in some Sanskrit texts such as the later Rajataranginis of Kashmir (Hinduka, c. 1450). The Hindu religion (dharma) was set in apposition with Islam (turaka dharma) by poets such as Vidyapati, Kabir and Eknath. 16th- to 18th-century Bengali Gaudiya Vaishnava texts including Chaitanya Charitamrita and Chaitanya Bhagavata also made similar comparisons.Towards the end of the 18th century, the European merchants and colonists began to refer to the followers of Indian religions collectively as Hindus. The term Hinduism was introduced into the English language in the 19th century to denote the religious, philosophical, and cultural traditions native to India.

So Hindusim or Hindu Dharma means the life style OR The way of living, who lives in the Indian sub continent. Their religious affiliation differs as Shaiva, Shakta, Vaishnava, Ganapatya, Budhha, Jain,Sikh and Now its time to consider Islam and Christianity to add with Hinduism. Because Hinduism not refers to a religion but a way of life and our Nationality.

We may have different Gods/Prophets ;  Shiva, Krishna, Budha, Nanak , Jaina, Jesus Christ, Muhammad but we have one religion . Our Nationality is our religion ....Hindustani (in short Hindu) ....

Jai Hind...

Bibliography : Wikipedia, Advaita Vedanta Philosophy, Articles of Swami Sivananda, The Holy Bible, other sources.

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