While reading the ancient religious texts, I have never found the word "Hindu" so I thought why did we adopt this word. And if there was nothing like Hindu then why Hinduism and why Hindutva.
Before you start reading have a look at the blue line on the map first and take note of how it covers our nation. Most if it is in Pakistan these days however. This blue line is River Indus. I have taken this map from a website to indicate the spread of Indus river (Sindhu Nadi).
Luckily I am in Chennai these days and there is no place better than Anna Centenary Library to get some good reading material on this.
If we go by the word or definition and the correct pronunciation we should go by the word Sindhi or Sindhu not Hindi or Hindu.
In his book 'The Hindu Diaspora' by Steven Vertovec (2006 edition) says, “The term Hindu was used by Persians in the first millennium A.D. to designate generally the people of India (that is, of the region of the river Indus after which the term derives)”.
The same thing I heard in one of the speeches of Acharya Rajneesh (Osho). He said that most of the attacks on our country were made from the other side of River Sindhu (also called Indus). The language that those people spoke did not have the alphabet "S" in it. The nearest match they could find was "H", so it became Hindu. People living on this side of the river, hence came to be known as Hindus.
By this definition it appears that 'Hindu' is nothing but a geographical term. It had nothing to do with cultures and traditions because there were still followers of different practices in India. By this definition all the people living in India should be called Hindus. Why then lots of Hullabaloo over Hindu Muslim or Hindu Sikh or any other religion? Why so much stress on Hinduism.
To this issue David N Lorenzen in his book Who Invented Hinduism (page 9, 2009 edition) asks,
“If, however, the word Hindu had a purely geographical sense up until the nineteenth century as von Stietencron claims, then why were foreign Muslims who permanently settled in India, or at least their descendants born in India, not called Hindus?
He attempts to answer this question by insisting that the Muslim rulers persistently maintained a foreign self identity for generations while the Hindus i.e. native Indians, just as persistently maintained a separate indigenous identity.
What then of the vast majority of Muslims in India who were indigenous converts of low caste Hindu origin?”
There is yet another claim which I don't know how true it is. Some people say, India was derived from the Sanskrit word Indu, which means the moon and hence the word Hindu originated. I am not sure how true this story is.
According to The Oxford India Hinduism Reader Edited by Vasudha Dalmia and Heinrich von Stietencron
“The term Hindu does indeed find its first mention in the Zend Avesta; it crops up in the expression Hapt Hindu (identical with Rig Vedic Saptasindhava), one of the sixteen regions created by Ahura Mazda”.
“Before the fourteenth century, however, no Indian describes himself as Hindu to denote religious affiliation, though the term does indeed appear in a Vijaynagar inscription as early as 1352”.
Although Buddhism and Jain religion had evolved long before the evolution of the word Hindu and Hinduism, I could not find a good reason for why they were not called Hindus. Somewhere it was written that Nepal and Burma was excluded from this geographical term despite the fact that Nepal was the only Hindu country in the world for many years.
Hinduism as we call it today was actually Sanatan Dharma as some people claim and the name of the country was Bharat (a) not India. Somewhere I read that Hindus were not actually aware of anything like Hinduism at that time and this word was coined by British. To make the things easy they identified a certain set of people as Hindus although there were different practices followed with in the same religions viz., Shaiv, Vaishnav, Lingayat etc.
Hindus were also comfortable with their identification as they needed something to reunite and struggle against the British. Similar thing is also mentioned in The Hindu Diaspora by Steven Vertovec (2006 edition), “The need for postulating a Hindu community became a requirement for political mobilization in the nineteenth century when representation by religious community became a key to power and where such representation gave access to economic resources”.
Hinduism soon became a popular term and Hindu a symbol of a particular religion. So when someone translated the word Hinduism to Hindutva, we readily adopted it, without knowing what it actually meant.
Several groups evolved in the name of Hinduism and people started calling themselves Hindus.
Who Invented Hinduism by David N Lorenzen
The Hindu Diaspora – Comparative Patterns by Steven Vertovec
The Oxford India Hinduism Reader Edited by Vasudha Dalmia and Heinrich von Stietencron
Author - Archit
लाभस्तेषां जयस्तेषां कुतस्तेषां पराजयः I येषामिन्दीवरश्यामो हृदयस्थो जनार्दनः II