Why am I called Hindu and my Following Hinduism?
(Compilation for a discourse by N.R. Srinivasan, Nashville, TN, USA August 2015)
Our religion is not Hinduism according to many, but then why do we pride on it? Are we Helpless to change it? Our Gurus and philosophers tell us we follow Sanatana Dharma; it is a way of life; it is a philosophy. If you ask an Indian villager in Tamil Nadu what his religion is, he just says “Murugan Vazhipaadu”, “Christu vazhipadu” or “Nabi vazhipadu” or ”Sai vazhipaadu” that is I am the follower of a particular deity or Christ or Mohamad or Sai for he does not know what religion is. It is hard to find a word equivalent to religion in the ancient languages of Sanskrit or Tamil. The concept of religion was given by the descendants of Abraham. Except Christianity and Islam they added “—ism” as suffix in English to all followings in the world meaning cult, doctrine or theory. These two religions however have treated Hinduism in derogatory sense of cult for a longtime and have also often referred their spiritual/Religious pursuits as pagan following or beliefs. Probably the suffix “–ism” was added to other followings to tell the world that only Christianity and Islam are true religions as defined in the English dictionaries and all other followings are cult based. Should we then console to the situation what we cannot change should be endured and enjoyed! Today we have Viswa Hindu Parishad active globally and Hinduttva parading all over India saying that they are following Eternal Tradition which made others come out with the concept of religion and they all converge to Hinduism in ethics.
Hindus in India have changed the names of many cities in India christened by the British earlier gradually like Calcutta to Kolkota, Benares to Varanasi, Baroda to Vadodara, and Madras to Chennai but seem to be in no mood to change the word Hindu. Are we to submit to the situation the word Hindu has a foreign origin and not a religious word but have to live with it or we can find a reasoning to make ourselves more comfortable and dignified and tell the world the word Hindu has its origin in Vedas and is a Sanskrit word? Logical and convincing arguments given below based on the wisdom of a learned Swamiji (Guru) do not make us feel good about calling ourselves Hindus and our following based on it Hinduism more so because we are not cult based. Are we to believe Indian Historians who have twisted Indian History based on their convenience or ignorance which promotes Aryan Invasion theory and Aryan-Dravidian conflicts? While pondering over these things I was attracted to the title of a book “Am I a Hindu?” by Ed. Viswanathan who talks about all Hinduism which I often quote. Why did the author feel so and chose his title?
The word Hindu is of geographic origin as per Historians and was derived from the name originally given to the people settled on the river Indus called Sindhu as a proper name. But people forget the word Sindhu means river in Sanskrit, is masculine and generic. It was corrupted by foreign visitors to the word Hindu; the Dharmic Ways of Life of a native of Bharat was given the name Hinduism later in English.
Hindus are identified by Western Historians as Indus Valley citizens and therefore called Sindhus which in turn became Hindus. Some scholars have pointed that Rigvedic people were different from Harappan people. Some even identify Harappan people with Dravidian culture and Indus script with Dravidian language family. The archaeological evidence, and particularly expert archaeologists of the area, Possehl and Bridget Allchin, tell us that Sarasvatī stopped flowing down to the ocean at about 3800 BC. Consequently, the hymns that praise Sarasvatī as “best-river, best mother, best goddess” etc. must have been composed before that date. Otherwise, the Indus would have been the best river!
The Rigvedic hymn 6.61.9 and 6.61,12 saying that Sarasvatī (goddess and river) spread the 5 tribes beyond Saptasindhu must also have been composed at that date or before. Then there are certain (more than 10) common items among the Harappan archaeological evidence that are not found mentioned in the RV but are found abundantly in post-Rigvedic texts, especially Brāhmaṇas and Sūtras.
Also Indus is not one of the names among ten sacred rivers mentioned in MNU. Hence no river by Indus or Sindhu seems to have existed during earlier period Saraswati Valley civilization or known to the civilization there. If they had known ten rivers of present days how they could have missed the giant river Sindhu? In all probability the name Sindhu for the Indus river is of much later origin than Hindu civilization. Therefore the word Sindhu just refers to the generic name river and not to the present day river Indus or Sindhu which is associated with Hindus. Their origin goes back to Saraswati Valley Civiliztion. This also proves Aryan Invasion Theory as well as Dravidian Aryan conflict is a myth created by Western Historinas to fix the creation as 4000 B.C.E. linking it to Biblical period and fix their own history as ancient.
Sanatana Dharma now called Hinduism is without beginning or end and is a continuous process even preceding the existence of Earth and the many other worlds beyond. Science today accepts there may be other worlds in the vast universe each with its own laws. Hindus have held this view from time immemorial. Puranas speak of Devaganas, Rakshasaas, Gandharvas, Yakshas, Kinnaras, Kimpurushas, Elephant-headed Humans and Horse-headed humans in different Lokas or worlds. Recently science spotted Earth cousin by Kepler telescope. Scientists have spotted a planet much the same size as our Earth orbiting a star that closely resembles our sun, making it the most likely known place outside our solar system to harbor life. Who knows how many such planets are there?
According to Swami Shraddhaananda "The word Hindu is very much misunderstood and paraded upon or hated. Many people have no idea how the word originated. In India, some politicians use the words Hindu and Hindutva with communal overtones either to promote or oppose some ideology or party. To the rest of the world, Hindu and Hinduism refer to a set of people belonging to definite religious system. The fact is that both the words "Hindu" and "India" have foreign origin. The word "Hindu" is neither a Sanskrit word nor is this word found in any of the native dialects and languages of India. It should be noted that "Hindu" is NOT a religious word at all. There is no reference of the word "Hindu" in the Ancient Vedic Scriptures. Indian as per Webster dictionary is native of India or East Indies. It is said that the Persians used to refer to the Indus River as Sindhu. Indus is a major river which flows partly in India and mostly in Pakistan. However, the Persians could not pronounce the letter "S" correctly in their native tongue and mispronounced it as "H." Thus, for the ancient Persians, the word "Sindhu" became "Hindu." The ancient Persian Cuneiform inscriptions and the Zend Avesta refer to the word "Hindu" as a geographic name rather than a religious name. When the Persian King Darious 1 extended his empire up to the borders of the Indian subcontinent in 517 BC, some people of the Indian subcontinent became part of his empire and army. Thus for a very long time the ancient Persians referred to these people as "Hindus". The ancient Greeks and Armenians followed the same pronunciation, and thus, gradually the name got firmly established.
The word "India" also has a similar foreign origin. Originally, the Native Indians used to address the Indian subcontinent as "Bharat". As a matter of fact in Mahabharata, which is one of the two "Itihaasas", we find reference of the word "Bharat". As per legend, the land ruled by the great King "Bharata" was called Bhaarat.
The ancient Greeks used to mispronounce the river Sindhu as Indos. When Alexander invaded India, the Macedonian army referred to the river as Indus and the land east of the river as India. The Greek writers who wrote about Alexander preferred to use the same name. For the Arabs the land became Al-Hind. The Muslim rulers and travelers who came to India during the medieval period referred the Indian subcontinent as "Hindustan" and the people who lived there as Hindus. The proper word to use for those people who follow the Scriptures of The Vedas is "Sanatana Dharma", not "Hinduism" as is commonly used."
The word India to-day remains a political term like America representing the Secular Indian Nation. India does not grant dual citizenship as some European countries and it is therefore proper for Hindu Americans to forget about Indian politics and also about what goes on with Hindus in India. But since they have many relatives in India they often get concerned about religious conflicts with other religions in India and vice versa. Some Hindu Muslim migrants also similarly are concerned with Pakistan politics as they have relatives both in Pakistan and India. Indian Christians easily blend with their Western cultured religious counterparts in America easier than Hindus and do not build their own churches and do not worry about India. Indian Muslims join with other American Muslims to have a common mosque with other immigrant Muslims. Hindu Americans are a class by themselves. Jains join Hindus in America. Sikhs want to have their own Gurudwaras too. Buddhists also join with Buddha Vihars of different cultures of the world. Buddhists and Jains of Indian origin would like to identify themselves with Hindu Americans than Christians and Muslims of Indian origin. They also often visit Hindu American Temples. However here I am focusing only on Hindu Americans with multiple traditions to come together for my search is on the origin of word Hindu. It is strange Fiji Hindus have their own Hindu Temples in Sacramento, California.
“Sanatana dharma is built on the foundation of Vedas. We have to believe in Vedas to be called Sanathanists. We have to spread the knowledge of Vedas though not on adhyayana formats as no one today would be willing to undergo 7 or 12 years Gurukulam method of study of Vedas. It is also anybody's knowledge that no one has completely studied Vedas and no tutors are easily available to teach Vedas. Vedic study has become a specialized study like any other subject for one interested to study Vedas. Sanathana Dharma is saaswatha or eternal dharma. Dharmic way of living is best under today's circumstances for one interested in upholding Sanathana religion if I may say so. Nativity has nothing to do with adopting a particular dharmic life style. We always care for what others would think of us and our lifestyle. If this attitude changes and if we can muster enough courage to adopt and practice dharmic way of life, we will be handing over a good legacy for the youngsters to detract them from pursuing only material things all the time and deliberately ignoring our own inherited Sanathana dharma. Practice is a good example to set” is the opinion expressed by one of the learned commentators Tenparai Padmanabhan on my draft circulated.
He further comments: “Let us not be obsessed with the word Hinduism or the word India. Hinduism is not a religion. Vedas don't talk about religions. If we are followers of Vedas, that is Believers (asthikas), we should not identify ourselves with religion. There are customs, practices and traditions. These are followed by individual families and groups of families or people who live together as communities in villages, towns and cities. Worship of God and Goddess is a matter of faith inculcated from birth based on usages, practices, beliefs and customs infused by family traditions. India is a proper noun being a name given to a particular geographical location or a country as is commonly called. Hinduism is of course a misnomer. Let us call ourselves as belonging to a family with a particular tradition. No need to impose one's own tradition on others. If one acquires citizenship of America, he is an American citizen. That is all about it. If questions of ancestral origin arises, which seldom does now-a-days generally, explanations can be given. So is about ancestral geographical details. Laws are made by men and for that purpose whatever needs to be done will have of course to be done as we are a civilized people” says Mr. Padmanbhan. He otherwise says “go back to the village philosophy of India and forget about the word Hindu”.
But we are constantly reminded of our ancient past in Sankalpas (religious resolution) including the details as to how old Sanatana Dharma is and in Abhivaadanams (lineage declaration while prostrating) unlike other religions. Who will erase the rubber stamp of Hindu and Hinduism from world Forum and Individual Nations including schools and colleges in India where one is forced to declare his religion, caste, sub-caste etc., and even for Government jobs, though India says it is secular.
In 1995, Chief Justice P. B. Gajendra Gadkar was quoted in an Indian Supreme Court ruling: “When we think of the Hindu religion, unlike other religions in the world, the Hindu religion does not claim any one prophet; it does not worship any one god; it does not subscribe to any one dogma; it does not believe in any one philosophic concept; it does not follow any one set of religious rites or performances; in fact, it does not appear to satisfy the narrow traditional features of any religion or creed. It may broadly be described as a way of life and nothing more”.
In order to enjoy the minority status guaranteed by the Constitution of India and for their own egotist or economic reasons Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Brahma Samaj etc., do not like to identify themselves as belonging to Hinduism to-day.
The Supreme Court of India was once forced to consider the question whether Jainism is part of Hinduism in 2005 and 2006. In the 2006 verdict, the Supreme Court found that the "Jain Religion is indisputably not a part of the Hindu Religion"
In 1995, while considering the question "who are Hindus and what are the broad features of Hindu religion", the Supreme Court of India highlighted Bal Gangadhar Tilak's formulation of seven defining features of Hinduism:
- Acceptance of the Vedas with reverence as the highest authority in religious and philosophic matter and acceptance with reverence of Vedas by Hindu thinkers and philosophers as the sole foundation of Hindu philosophy.
- Spirit of tolerance and willingness to understand and appreciate the opponent's point of view based on the realization that truth was many-sided.
- Acceptance of great world rhythm, vast period of creation, maintenance and dissolution, follow each other in endless succession, by all six systems of Hindu philosophy.
- Acceptance by all systems of Hindu philosophy the belief in rebirth and pre-existence.
- Recognition of the fact that the means or ways to salvation are many.
- Realization of the truth that Gods to be worshipped may be large, yet there being Hindus who do not believe in the worshipping of idols.
- Unlike other religions or religious creeds Hindu religion not being tied-down to any definite set of philosophic concepts, as such.
Geographic explanation of the word Hindu would amount to whatever method or worship people followed are whomsoever they followed as the founder of the religion to live in India they should be called Hindu an equivalent to the word American. That means all ancient religions Buddhism, Jainism etc., come under present Hindu Religion. This may be acceptable within Hinduism as they have umpteen numbers of traditions and religious practices, yet live together in harmony but not to others who define the religion named after their follower under the Indian fold. Christianity was already there in 54 A.D. in Kerala along with Jews and they should also be then called Hindus. By extension of this logic all Muslims should also belong to a Geographical group called Hindus. Why then they needed partition? Did these people separate on political grounds owing to their allegiance to Arab Sunni or Shia rulers and not Islam religion? On the basis of my Vedic understanding Pakistanis do not come under the definition of Hindu. It would also mean words Hindu and Indu are synonymous and “Indian” is a Tamil version of Indu. In order not to confuse Indu in Sanskrit meaning moon, they often times use “Indy” or “Indi” as origin for India.
In some Hindu American temples you may find sanctums for Buddha, Vardhamana, Saibaba, Swami Narayan and others. They are all considered popular sacred deities along with the 330 million Hindu deities though they do not fall into the tradition of Siva, Vishnu or Sakta traditions or Shanmatas established by Sankara in the orthodox worship.
Rigveda describes several mythical rivers including one named "Sindhu". The Rigvedic "Sindhu" is in the opinion of many to be the present-day Indus River and is attested 176 times in its text – 95 times in the plural, more often used in the generic meaning river. In our purification sloka used by priests the name of Sindhu is mentioned after Narmada and before Cauvery. Here the word Sindhu may mean more the generic name, river than proper name Indus River.
Rigveda mentions three groups of seven wandering rivers (trih sapta sasra nadiyah) and also 99 rivers in RV 10.64.8 and Nadisthuti sookta 10.75. Historians say the Sapta Sindhu region was bound by Sarasvati in the East and by the modern Indus in the West which region covered the five rivers Satudri, Vipasa, Asikni, Parushni and Vitasta four of which are tributaries of Sindhu mentioned among the ten rivers as identified by them. May be they are all mythical as several other rivers mentioned in Rigveda. It may be noted here that the ancient-most Rishis in Sarasvati Valley prayed on mystical Ganga and Yamuna which they had not discovered then. Unfortunately the Word Sindhu as proper name is missing in the ancient mantra which leaves us for speculation as to Sindhu being amid seven holy rivers, real or mystical. To Vedic people number seven was more important than actual identification of the seven members. How could they have missed such a mighty river Sindhu if it was then called by the proper name Sindhu? It may not be out of place to recall here Saptarishis of the Avesta and also seven seas and seven climes as to the importance of seven. The lands of Sapta Saindhavah are often equated with Avesata’s Hapta hendu and fifteenth and sixteenth land created by Mazda. It is however logical to conclude the proper name Sindhu was neither known to Rigvedic people nor was named by them to relate to the present Indus River.
In his book Land of the Seven Rivers, writer Sanjiv Sanyal has argued that the Sapta Sindhu refers only to the Sarasvati and its own tributaries. The Sapta Sindhu region then only refers to a small area including Haryana and a part of north Rajasthan but leaving out most of Pakistan. Could this be the basis on which Indians agreed for partition? According to his interpretation, Saptasindhu is only a small subset of the Rig Vedic terrain and its disproportionate importance derives from it being the original homeland of the victorious Bharata Trutsu tribe. The Sapta Sindhu region we referred in the above paragraph cover the land located in East Pakistan and North India of present days (land of Nadisookta ten rivers).
It is strange Brahmaputra, Krishna and Tapti are not included in the list of seven holy rivers in the religious hymn later composed (Gange cha Yamune chaiva) for rituals after Vedic mantras. In the Rigveda, notably in the later hymns, the meaning of the word is narrowed down to be the proper name as Indus River in particular, as in the list of rivers mentioned in the hymn of Nadisthuti sookta, probably a later insertion. The Rigvedic hymns apply a feminine gender to all the rivers mentioned therein but for "Sindhu". “Brahmaputra” is another male river. Sindhu is seen as a strong warrior amongst other rivers which are seen as goddesses and compared to cows and mares yielding milk and butter. Brahmaputra is self-evident as the name means it is the son of Brahma. This proper name to a portion of the mighty river flowing through many lands should have been given later. In all probability Sarasvati is so named because Vedas are often referred to as Lakes (Saras) implying flow of thoughts. Hence they named their first river of acquaintance as Sarasvati to worship it almost like Vedas. I have explained in detail how Gayatree, Savitree and Sarasvati are deified in Sandhyavandana Mantras. When the Vedic culture forced by the drying of the Sarasvati River crossed the presently called Indus River they should have just called it a river. Later when they moved further driven by foreign invaders they should have named each river by a feminine name and deified them which were then glorified by Puranas. This Sindhu meaning river was pronounced as Hindu by Persians who probably thought it to be a proper name.
Nadisthuti Sookta is hymn 10.75 in Rigveda. According to linguistic research Book 6 of the Rigveda is the oldest and the Book 10 is the newest. The mantra contained in Rigveda Book Ten describes ten sacred rivers in verse 5 of Nadi Sthuti hymn about which we will talk soon. The Rishi also describes these ten rivers as moving westwards beginning with Ganges which is not a fact. It is more logical to go with the general meaning of the word Sindhu meaning a river than a specific name based on Sapta-Sindhu which does not include Sindhu. Only Yaska feels Sushomaa deified in the Rigveda Mantra is modern Indus which seems to be highly speculative about which Max Mueller and other Indian commentators like Sayana are silent. Indian historians identify Sushomaa with Sohan River. Sayana takes the word Sindhu to mean Nadi or river. The rivers Sarasvati, Ganges and Yamuna were there in the minds of Vedic people as female water spirits even before they moved to Gangetic Valley but not Sindhu to figure in the mantra among ten.
In the Indian Constitution the word "Hindu" has been used in instances to denote persons professing any religion originated in India (i.e. Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism or Arya Samaj). Further, the terms Hindu or Hindi are also used as a cultural identity to denote people living on the other side of the River Indus. In literature we often find many poets (like Iqbal) and Politicians (like M.C. Chagla) using the term Hindu to represent any person living on the other side of the Indus River irrespective of religion. The term Hindu then was a geographical term and did not refer to a religion. Towards the end of the 18th century, the European merchants and Colonists began to refer to the followers of religions of Indian origin 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. To them anything other than Abrahamic religions practiced in India was Hinduism practiced by Natives. The suffix -ism added to Hindu denotes doctrine, philosophy or cult. More often than not Christianity and Islam refer to Hinduism as cult or pagan religious practices. With more than a billion adherents, Hinduism is the world's third largest religion after Christianity and Islam. The vast majority of Hindus, approximately 940 million, live in India. Other countries with large Hindu populations include Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Suriname, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, United States, Fiji, United Kingdom, Singapore, Canada and the island of Bali in Indonesia. Fiji Hindus have their own Hindu Temple (Sacramento Fiji Hindu Temple) for worship and do not join the main stream of Hindus in USA while others are seen visiting Hindu American Temples. I have not seen their worship or mantras they employ. It is also strange in Indonesia many ballets performed have Ramayana themes played by Muslim actors.
“Research scholars of Indian thought have discovered the influence of Upanishads on religious-cultural life of other nations far beyond the boundaries of India. Gleaning through the Upanishads it is possible to have a fairly good idea of the type of society that existed during the period of Upanishads. The country extended up to Gandhara (Afghanistan) in the north-west, and included several kingdoms like Madra (Sailkot), Kuru (Delhi), Kekaya (Punjab), Paanchaala (Bareilly, Kanauj in Uttar Pradesh), Kosala (Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh), Videha (Tirhut in Bihar). Kausaambi (Kosam in Uttar Pradesh) and Kaasi (Varanasi)” says Swami Harshananda.
I always think of finding a remedy instead of finding fault. I know it is not possible to change the world concept of Hindu and Hinduism. For a while I thought why the word Sindhu should not be Sanskrit word though Swami Shraddhnanda said it is not. Why did he say so? These and other thoughts made me focus on specific mantras I routinely chant as part of my Veda Parayana (scriptural recitation). Here is a Veda Mantra from Rigveda:
Yaddaaru plavate sindhoh paare apoorusham |
tadaarabhasva durhano tena gachcha parastaram || (Rigveda 10-155-3)
Saayana, the famous commentator of Vedas gives the following meaning to this verse. Here he translates Sindhu as Sea. Here Sindhu is not a proper name or river by that name but a vast water of endless source.
“Oh Unconquerable! You follow the log of wood that comes afloat on the sea which has not been created by any human being and worship it all the way. Following it reach the yonder shore of Paramapada (Abode of Vishnu)” This Veda Mantra supports the Puranic story of Indradyumna and the origin of Puri Jagannatha Temple.
Here is a Veda Mantra from Mahanarayana Upanishad (MNU):
Atah samudraa girayascha sarve asmaat syandante sindhava swaroopaah |
Atahscha viswaa oshadhayo rasaascha yenaisha bhootastishthati antaraatma ||
From him (Brahman) are born all oceans and mountains. From him flow rivers (syandante Sindhavah) of all forms. From him are produced all herbs and juices because of the fact that this Parmaatman abides as inner-self of all (MNU).
The above Mantra is also found in Mundaka Upanishad. Bhattabhaskara, well-known commentator of Upanishads Sayana takes the word Sindhu as denoting all sources of water found in wells, tanks and rivers. The purpose of this whole mantra is to the necessity of knowing Supreme as the only source of the Universe in whatever form it exists. Contrary to our thinking Sindhu means Indus River, presumed to be a proper name from which we got our religion named ignorantly by Arabs and Greeks as Hindu, Sindhavah (Sindhuh Sindhoo Sindhavah) means rivers in general. Upanishads say rivers such as Ganga, Yamuna and others flow from Brahman alone. It may be asked how this is possible, as we perceive that they are produced from their respective sources that are non-sentient. The answer to this question is in the last quarter of the mantra, this Parmaatman is the inner-self of even those non-sentient entities and so it is said that they are produced out of those respective forms of Parmaatman. As a result we may call ourselves as Children of Immortal Bliss (mamaivaamso Jeevabhootah).
Madhu mantras in MNU mentions “Madhu ksharanti Sindhavah” meaning let the rivers run sweetly. This is a prayer for acquiring power of Intelligence and for the environment conducive to the attainment of supreme knowledge and the realization of Divine truth for which rishis always sought rivers and their cool atmosphere. Here sindhavah is in plural meaning rivers.
We have another mantra in MNU as follows describing the various rivers on whose banks these Rigveda scholars and their followers settled and continued their Austerity (Tapas) and Sacrifices (Yajnas):
Imam may Gange Yamune Saraswati Sutudri Stoma(ga)m sachataa Parushniyaa |
Asakniyaa Marudvridhe Vitastaya-Arjakeeye srinuhyaa Sushomayaa ||
Oh Ganga, Oh Yamuna, oh Sarasvati, Oh Sutudri, Oh Marudvridhaa, Oh Aarjakeeyaa come together and listen to this hymn of mine along with Parusni, Asakni, Vitasta and Sushoma. [With simplicity of a guileless child they prayed to these liquid divinities to be present in their own bodies through their daily needs of worship.]
This Mantra is a Jagatee stanza from Rigveda for the invocation of the Regents of various holy rivers in connection with purification rites. It mentions ten deified names of rivers among which no proper name Sindhu River is mentioned. How could they have missed the name of such a great river Sindhu? Therefore the word should be a generic name meaning river in general in the previous mantra and not the proper name of present day river Indus. Vedas do not mention about all the sindhus (rivers) in the world and they have only mentioned about the rivers on the banks of which Vedic rishis settled in Bharata Khanda, deified them and so Indus river should have been missed whose generic name in Sanskrit foreigners should have thought as proper name and christened it Sindhu river which Greeks called Indus. Of course Jagadguru Chandrasekaharendra Sarasvati briefly mentions Sage Kapila lived in California and its name came from Kapilaaranaya. In our Sankalpa priests refer to USA as Aindra Khanda. If that is so, why we do not find the sacred names of rivers in USA and elsewhere in Vedas? These are all speculations.
Vedic Rishis often expressed their devotion and gratitude to their life-sustaining and purifying rivers they used by proper invocations. Their descendants even when they had emigrated from the banks of those rivers prayed to the river goddesses to be present in any water which they used for their daily needs and worship.
Indians are well aware of Sindhi community amidst them and Sindhi is a recognized language named after them. Sindhu was a kingdom of Bharata Khanda mentioned in the Epic Mahabharata and in Harivamsa. It stretched along the banks of river Sindhu (Indus) in the ancient era which is now part of modern Pakistan. It is believed that Sindhu kingdom was founded by Vrisadarbh, one of the sons of Sivi. According to the "Glimpses of Ancient Sindh" its capital known as Vrisadarbhapura with Tulsianis, known as Sindhu, was located at or near the location of the present town of Mishicot in Southern Punjab. The inhabitants of the kingdoms were called Sindhus or Saindhavas. According to the Epic Mahabharata, Jayadhratha (the husband of Duryodhana’s sister) was the king of Sindhus, Sauviras and Sivis.
Probably Sauvira and Sivi were two kingdoms close to the Sindhu kingdom and Jayadratha conquered them, holding them for some period of time. Sindhu and Sauvira seem to be two warring states fighting each other. The inhabitants of these kingdoms were called Sindhus or Saindhavas. Sindhis of present days belong more to Sufi culture than Sanatana Dharma predominantly to which they should have been converted over a period while a few held on to Sanatana Dharma as Hindus. Some of the popular cultural icons are Raja Dahir, Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai, Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, Jhulelal, Sachal Sarmast and Shambumal Tulsiani. After independence of Pakistan in 1947, most Hindu and Sikh Sindhis migrated to India and other parts of the world, though, in 1998, Hindus still constituted about 16% of the total Sindhi population in Pakistan. Sindhi Hindus also believe in tenets of Sikhism but are predominantly Sahajdhari. As a result, this group of Sindhis can be regarded as concurrently following both Hinduism and Sikhism.
It is therefore clear the proper name for Indus River came into being only during Puranic period influenced by Sindhu kingdom and not during Vedic period. The kingdom should have given the name to the river as Sindhu which was later called as Indus by Greeks. The Sindhu mentioned in Vedas may be a mythological river like the many mentioned in Vedas. This is obvious because its name does not figure in the sacred rivers mentioned in MNU while Gang-Yamuna-Sarasvati is mentioned repeatedly even though the Sarasvati valley people have not seen these rivers. It is logical to conclude that the insignificant number of Sindhis amongst Hindu population, though some of them or Hindus or Sikhs, do not represent the majority of the followers of Sanatana Dharma. They may at best be called Sindhus coming from the ancient Kingdom of Sindhu of Jayadratha. This inglorious kingdom cannot be the cause of Hinduism. So it is also reasonable to conclude Sindhu or Hindu simply means man of the river referring to people of Vedic culture. The inhabitants of Sindhu kingdom were called Saindhavas and not Sindhus. Since rivers on which Vedic culture people lived always deified the rivers they are Children of River or Children of Immortal Bliss or Brahman. It is also questionable that Saindhavas did not know to pronounce the name of their kingdom as Sindhu and their lot as Sindhi properly. It is obvious the name Sindhu has originated from the historic Kingdom of Sindhu mentioned in Puranas. This is what the learned Swami Shraddananda says as geographic and not being Sanskrit. Brahamputra to-day is not a holy river for Hindus (not being in seven rivers of prokshana mantra). This river is known by its name Brahmaputra below Lohit River which joins the main river with its different name in different countries unlike Indus in Asia or Danube in Europe which have the same name in all the countries they pass through. Brahmaputra is called Burlang Bhuthur by Bodo people and Yarlang Tsangpo in Tibet. It is surprising that both Indus and Brahmaputra are male rivers and their name does not prominently figure out as rivers deified and worshiped as water spirits! All water spirits in Vedas seem to be female deities.
Students of Indian history find in Vedas (MNU) ten names of these sacred rivers on the banks of which Rigvedic period people settled at a very remote period. Evidently they seemed to have just crossed present day Indus which they called just a male river but moved away from it to the banks of its tributaries to settle down. Scholars identify Sushomaa with Sohan, Vitastaa with Jhelum, Asakni with Chinab, Marudvridhaa with Maruwaardwaan, Parusni with Rabi and Sutudri with Sutlej. Only Arjikiye among them seem to be mystical. This Sarasvati may be the namesake river near Badrinath in Himachal Pradesh which is called even today so. It is strange there is no mention of Sindhu or Indus River as such in the Mantra.
Some believe ‘Sapta Sindhu’ mentioned in Rigveda refers to the rivers Sarasvati, Sutudri (Sutlej), Vipasa (Beas), Asikni (Chenab), Parosni (Ravi), Vitasta (Jhelum) and Sindhu (Indus). Among these, the Sarasvati and the Sindhu (located in Rajasthan) were the most popular and sacred rivers that flowed from the mountains right up to the sea. The hymns in praise of the Sarasvati are probably some of the oldest, composed more than 8000 years ago. The 5 rivers Sutudri, Parusni, Asikni, Vitasta, Vipasa all were tributaries of Sindhu River. Could it be with Sarasvati and Sindhu, these 5 rivers constituted the Sapta Sindhu? The other possibility is Sarasvati, Yamuna and Ganga with four tributaries of present day Indus River. How can we ignore Ganga and Yamuna mentioned in ten rivers not being among seven rivers (sapta sindhu)? Sushoma is identified with Sohan River by many. The mystery is why the name Sindhu is not appearing along with Sarasavati in the Mantra in MNU? Saptasindhu means seven rivers which follows sindhu is not a proper name.
In 6.61.10, Sarasvati is called "she with seven sisters" (saptasvaasa) indicating a group of eight rivers, the number seven being more important than the individual members. That excludes Sarasvati. In RV 10.64.8 and RV 10.75.1, three groups of seven rivers are referred to--tríḥ saptá sasrâ nadíyah, thrice seven wandering rivers as well as 99 rivers. It is safe to conclude the Saptasindhu region was bounded by Sarasvati in the east, by the Sindhu in the west and the five in between were Satudru, Vipasa, Asikni, Parusni and Vitasta where the main river Sindhu is just mentioned as river. Probably Vedic scholars ignored Sindhu as sindhu is a generic name in masculine gender. Probably the seven rivers in saptasindhu were all proper feminine names and considered holy.
In his book Land of the Seven Rivers, writer Sanjeev Sanyal has argued that the Saptasindhu refers only to the Sarasvati and its own tributaries. Then the Sapta Sindhu region only refers to a small area including Haryana and a part of north Rajasthan but leaves out most of Pakistan. According to his interpretation, Saptasindhu is only a small subset of the Rig Vedic terrain and its disproportionate importance derives from it being the original homeland of the victorious Bharata Trutsu tribe. This justifies India’s partition agreement in 1947.
Probably because of these disturbing facts and speculations the sloka used in present day use considers the seven modern accepted names as Sapta Sindhus (Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Sarasvati, Narmada, Sindhu and Cauvery) mentioned below. Godavari is glorified in Puranas to be Ganges brought from the matted locks of Lord Siva. Narmada and Cauvery are also mentioned only in Puranas. Evidently river by name Sindhu never existed then and so the present river Indus got its name only during Puranic period. You please recall here the popular verse our priests use for invoking various River divinities to water they use in worships (Punyahavarchana, Kalasa-sthaapana etc.) given below.
Those Rig Vedic people who were adventurous should have migrated down further and discovered many more river banks for settlement deifying them which made later religious writers to come up with the hymn:
Gange cha yamune chaiva Godaavari Saraswatee | Narmade Sindhu Kaveree jale-asmin sannidhim kuru ||
[Oh waters of Ganges, Yamuna, Godavari, Sarasvati, Narmada and River Cauvery please make your holy presence in these waters!] Evidently this is not a Vedic Mantra but a prayer introduced by Aagamas or religious authorities.]
Here from Vedic point of view Sindhu should mean river only and not Indus. Probably Aagamas wanted to give Cauvery also same status (calling it Sindhu Cauvery), as other sacred rivers, the place of settlement of Vedic culture population. Those people were quite familiar with the river valleys from which they came down further South and so they constantly paid respect to Ganga, Yamuna and Sarasvati as observed in the purification hymn. Notably there is no mention of Brahmaputra anywhere though it carries the name of Brahma as a male river, Tapti and also Krishna named after most popular Avatar which is considered holy by present day Hindus besides many smaller sacred rivers like Tungabhadra.
“Our ancestors always lived on the banks of the rivers. They started their lives on the banks of Sarasvati River which is mentioned in Vedas. When it dried out they crossed the river Sindhu and settled on the land to the east of it covered by its tributaries near various river beds. “They often expressed their devotion and gratitude to these life-sustaining and purifying rivers by proper invocations. Their descendants even when they had emigrated from the banks of those rivers prayed to the river goddesses to be present in any water which they used for their daily needs and worship. With the simplicity of a guileless child they prayed these liquid divinities to be present in their own bodies through the connection of water which they used (prokshana). They also entreated them to purify their bodies and minds to vouchsafe them safety and welfare” says Swami Vimalannda reviewing the commentary of Saayana on MNU. Driven by foreign invaders, they moved further and settled on Ganges-Yamuna-Sarasvati Rivers (Triveni) and later to other river banks as they expanded. Probably Sarasvati was always there in their mind though it dried out or may be the small river Sarasvati near Badrinath which they thought made its way to Prayaag. No such religious thought existed on Sindhu and most of them called it just a river though they had sacred names for its five tributaries. Perhaps later Aagamas in their mantra wanted to christen it as Sindhu and Deify (Narmade Sindhu Kaveri) based on occasional reference to Sindhu as proper name in Vedas. I believe conceiving Sindhu in Vedas as proper name was a later thought or insertion along with Nadee sookta.
Our sages were Braahmanas, meaning seekers of Brahman and are not the present day Brahmin caste that claim their title by birth-right. “Braahmanaah santu nirbhaayah”—May the Braahmanas live without fear is the popular benediction prayer. Here Braahmanas referred to are those who study Vedas and seek Brahman. They performed their daily rituals of Sandhyavandana standing in knee deep waters and practiced Aasanas, Pranayama and Samadhi on the banks of the cool rivers as a part of their Rajayoga practices contemplating on Brahman. To them “Aapah sarvaa devataa aapo bhoor bhuvah suvah aapah om” --all deities are water. The three worlds denoted by Bhuh, Bhuvah and Suvah are Water. The source of all these is the Supreme, denoted by the syllable Om (MNU). Thus the sages eulogized Supreme Being as Water alone (please recall my discourse Water is verily Brahman). “Yo maam pasyati sarvatra sarvam cha mayi pasyati” says Bhagawaan in Geeta—He who sees me everywhere and sees me in everything existing in Me, I am never out of sight for him. Sages thus visualized Brahman looking at the river and living by the river practicing Yoga, tapas (austerity) and Yajnas (sacrifices) seeking Brahman. They attained Brahman through body cleansing, Yoga and meditation practicing Self-control (dama), Compassion (daya) and Charity (daana). River was verily Brahman to them and so they called themselves Sindhus, progeny of river and their ethics was therefore Sindhu tattva or Sidhutttva meaning riverine theology which later got corrupted to Hindu and the following to Hinduism or Hindu doctrine. I use the word theology because “Theology” means the study of religious/spiritual faith, practice and experience as well as the Study of God and his relation to the world. I still recall my little ancestral abode on one of the banks of the River Cauvery in the small township called Nadipuram from which I derive my family name implying I am son of the soil Nadipuram which in turn derives its name from River Cauvery which means I am Son of the River. You know why Bhishma was called Gangeya because he was born to Spirit Ganga or Gangadevi. I am thus doubly blessed to be Hindu. My ancestors were Vedic scholars and priests who practiced Tapas and performed Yajnas on the banks of Cauvery though I am a prodigal son of the soil having moved away from it attracted by worldly pains and pleasures.
It is surprising that in Hindu Culture when we prostrate before elders we only announce our lineage as belonging to ancient sages, Gotra and our Vedic branch of study and not our family name or parents to identify ourselves. That constantly connects us to our ancestral sages of Sindhu origin and Sindhuttva. My Gotra is from Atreya Rishi; I am a descendant of Atreya, Aarchanaanasa and Syaavasva Rishis-lineage and a student of Yajurveda and follower of Aapastambha sootra. That takes my heritage back to Sindhuttva or Hinduism. It is in the Hindu tradition to link only with the ancient past the present and not family. That is why we held on to the word Sindhu though our traditions multiplied and varied as days advanced. Hinduism is thus a way of life and not any religious following though others force that title on us as belonging to Hindu Religion and also blame us often for our multifarious ethical, religious and spiritual pursuits. May be Sindhuism is the source and an amalgam of all religions.
My own thoughts on the subject are as follows: “Sarasvati is the power (Sakti) aspect of Brahma the creator and therefore she is the one who materializes the conceptualization of Brahma. In Vedas she is projected as water spirit and her name Saras suggests she is the “Flowing One”. The earliest human creation took place on the banks of River Sarasvati and so the four sages were the sons of Sarasvati. She was affectionately called Sindhu. When Sarasvati dried up, humanity moved to the banks of the river Indus, which they also called affectionately as Sindhu. Then the humanity moved to Gangetic plain and there they found number of rivers which they called by several names. In Sarasvati Sahasranama, found in Rudra Yamala Tantram, Sarasvsati is addressed as Ganga, Chandravati, Gomati, Yamuna Nadi, Vipasa, Sarayu Thapti, Vitasta, Gandaki, Narmada, Kaveri etc., referring to Sarasvati of Vedas as water deity with several names as is for Vishnu in Vishnu Sahasranama. Sarasvati thus manifested in all rivers. They were all addressed as Sindhu and the word Sindhu became generic for all rivers. Then on, Sindhu meant all waters that flow specifically referred to river. Humanity wholly depended on rivers for their lives and they were all called Children of River or Children of Sarasvati or Parasakti or Goddess or Sindhus which later was mispronounced as Hindu.”
The above explanation would give us mental satisfaction as to why we are called Sindhus. We can also pride on our religion as Sindhuism. Sindhuism would then mean people who practice tapas and sacrifices directed to Brahman settled on river banks. Tapas come from the root tap means heat and light meaning to give heat and light. It is an activity of mind or body which demands keen concentration of thought or effort requiring unusual and continuous physical strain and heat. Therefore they always went in search of an ideal place for such an endeavor. Cool and calm river banks were ideally suited. Our religion can also console to the name better knowing that we are a group of people disposed towards ancient Vedic Tradition later called Santana Dharma who always worshiped waters, as Vedas proclaim Aapo vaa idam Brahma water is Verily Brahman. It is called Sanatana (ancient and eternal) because Sanatana Dharma was the fore-runner of all traditions and religions later. We have thus satisfaction for our spiritual following being called followers of Hinduism for our theology and ethics and not religion when being addressed as Hindus in complementary or derogatory sense of Pagans and as recognized by all in the world including India to come under the concept of world religions to identify as a major group. Probably that is why we always run with a water bottle as Hindu Americans! It is called Hinduism because it still allows free flow of thoughts as a perennial river.
Others may ask how we can identify ourselves with river and our ethics as riverine theology. Who is a Christian? Christian means anointed. “I am the Resurrection and Christ sayeth the Lord for whosoever believeth in me though he is dead yet shall he live” says Jesus in the Holy Bible. I am Christ echoes like Vedic maxim “Aham brahmaasmi”. Christianity is INRI Religion. (Iesus=Jesus of; Nazarenus=Nasareth: Rex=King of the; Iudaeorum=Jews). Islam means submission which is extrapolated to mean submission to the will of Allah. This is otherwise Saranagati submission to the Supreme Being. If Christianity can be defined as “Christ the King Religion” and Islam as “Submission to Allah Theology” then the theology of Sindhus can be Sindhuttva (Sindhu Tattva), meaning Sindhuism, Riverine Theology used in its corrupted (by others) form as Hinduism. Sindhu could also mean blessed by the river or Brahman and so we are all Children of Immortal Bliss for Vedas say Aapo vaa idam Brahma--water is verily Brahman. It could mean our dedicated submission to water element from all sources which we consider as Brahman alone. You are well aware how Siva is worshiped as water element. The ethics we practice is then Sindhuism or Riverine doctrine. The terms Sidhu and Sindhuism later got corrupted to Hindu and Hinduism. This leaves the terms India and Indian as geographical terms, identification as a Nation and its citizen.
In the light of the above I may not be wrong if I say Hinduism can be summed up as “Riverine Philosophy (Sindhu tattva or Sindhu Philosophy)”. It has symbolic significance to mean to attain salvation. This refers to the acts of purification or cleansing (body and mind), meditation, surrender and merging with the Supreme. In practical terms a seeker symbolically purifies himself in running water, meditates with free flow of thought on the river banks in cool and calm atmosphere (Tapas and Yajna), takes a dip in the water (Saranaagati or surrender), completes his Soorya Namaskar and loses his individual identity when liberated. I here recall a pun-loaded hymn from the famous poet Kalidasa glorifying sacred Ganga which in the mind of a pleasure seeker can be wrongly translated to suit his animal taste which I avoid:
Vesyaastree darsanam punyam sparsanam paapanaasanam |
chumbanam kaamitaarthaaya maithunam Mokshasaadhanam ||
The very sight of Ganges brings religious merits; coming in contact with its water will wash off sins; Aachamanam or sipping will yield desired results: and dip in it is highway to heaven.
In support of Sindhuism (Hinduism), Riverine Theology I draw my support further from the very popular and oft quoted Veda Mantra:
Yathaa nadyah (sindhavah) syandamaanaah samudre astam gachchanti naamaroope vihaaya | tathaa vidwaan naama roopaat vimuktah paraatparam purusham upaiti divyam. ||
As flowing rivers get themselves disappeared in the ocean losing their special names and distinct forms, so the wise man free from all his identifications with names and forms goes unto the highest of the high—the Supreme Divinity. (The other name for Nadi is Sindhu).
A wise man (Pundit) through Saadhana Chatushtaya (fourfold practice) of Purification, Praayaschitta (atonement), Upaasana (Meditation), Nyaasa or Saranagati (submission) attains Mukti (liberation). This is the Universal path ( of Dharma) open to all mankind and does not fall under the definition of Religion but a Theology and that is what Hinduism is, which is symbolically called Sindhu Tattva or Sindhuttva (Hinduttva in its anglicized form) or Riverine Theology. You know British anglicized many names Chattopadhyaaya as Chatterjee.
Based on this Sindhuttva Philosophy Bhagavad Gita says all religions lead to the same Universal One Source that is Paramaatman, Cosmic Soul, just as all rivers lead to same Ocean. The aim of the Gita doctrine is to lead one to tranquility, happiness and equanimity (as experienced while doing penance on river banks). It therefore prescribes no rituals. Gita says, world needs different religions, cults and deities to meet the vastly different needs of individuals. We need many rivers to live on. These religions merge ultimately with Sanatana Dharma. Sindhuttva known as Sanatana Dharma by the ancients is beyond Religious and National boundaries. Sanatana Dharma now called Hinduism but not aptly followed is without beginning or end and is a continuous process even preceding the existence of Earth and the many other worlds beyond. That is why it is called Sanatna or Eternal. It is in the culture of Hindus to stay ever connected to the past as could be learnt from their present religious practice of taking a religious resolution (Sankalpa) before any worship or ritual. The Sankalpa connects the date of performance to the beginning of creation, the position of stars in the sky at the time of performance, one’s origin (gotra) and also say how long present cycle of cataclysm will last. Have you ever thought of it when you take Sankalpa before any worship? It is because we mechanically do things without understanding!
Hinduism as we practice today is a more recent nomenclature given to conglomeration of heterogeneous traditions of plurality of beliefs and worship with a long list of development from the Vedic sacrificial religion through the worship of epic and Puranic heroes and personal deities, cults and sects, as well as philosophical systems rather than to a monolithic tradition or theology based on single system of belief and worship or a single text as scripture. You see how complicate we have made the Eternal Concept of Sanatana Dharma! We are adding more and more to these complications. Are we confusing ourselves without convincing ourselves which needs study of Vedas which most of us have long back given up?
“By definition, Hinduism is Vedic Agamic. The Vedic Rishis spoke of the river Sindhu, and it is best to retain the word ‘Hindu’ (the Persians having changed the word slightly) so that the historically grounded origins of Hinduism are preserved and do not get lost in a refined Vedantism” says an article “Punya Bhumi—The Homeland of Vedic Agamic Hinduism by Vijaya Rajiva in IndiaDivine.Org May 2013”.
In my desire to know truth, I went deep into Vedas to find the Truth about Hindu and Hinduism not believing in Geographical and Historical Explanations. I came with the Revelation that Hinduism is Riverine Theology which tells me that all religions (rivers) lead to One Source (ocean) Tadekam and contributes to the Universal Oneness and Sanatan Dharma which is again universal and beyond all boundaries of Nations and Religions and even beyond the world we live in called Mother Earth. Even Devas were bound by Sanatana Dharma. It also calls for no rituals or deity worship to achieve the goals though they serve as inspirations. It also brings home two facts how important Vedic studies are and how in Vedas we can find an answer even to our present day puzzling problems.
We often address good Lord as Dayaasindhu and Jnaanasindhu meaning Ocean of compassion and Ocean of Knowledge. This is based on Saayana’s commentary on the word Sindhu found in Veda Mantra. Sindhu could mean well, lake, river or ocean (Koopa, Saras, Nadi or Saagara). So Sindhuja or Sindhu in its anglicized form HINDU means Children of River or God. Sindhu Tattva (Sindhttva) in its anglicized form Hinduttva or HINDUISM means Riverine Theology. Hindu (Sindhu) is one who seeks Brahman (Saagara) which is the tenet of Sanatan Dharma.
India has developed its civilization not out of mere human invention or according to any special historical revelation, but from the concept of dharma, recognition of cosmic law as the prime factor in life. India has remained a land of both nature and the spirit, a land of the Gods and the yogis, not simply a place of human habitation or a ground for worldly progress. Sindhu meaning river (water spirit), however, is not simply the outer river but represents the inner stream of wisdom and inspiration, what was later called the Sushumna or central channel of the subtle body. That is why we are called Sindhus or Hindus.
Probably there is no Hindu house without a picture of Sarasvati hanging in the house. Sarasvati as the power of Brahma is the creator and was responsible for the earliest human life that sprung on the Sindhu, the river. They were thus children of Sarasvati. Goddess Sarasvati is a river or Sindhu in Sanskrit worshiped as Water Deity. It is no wonder Hindus are children of Sindhu and hence called Sindhus which Arabs mispronounced as Hindu. This is not abnormal while Puranas talk about Bhishma as Gangeya or the Son of River Ganga. We are called Sindhus because that was the only River (Sindhu) known to humanity at that time that was Sarasvati also called Sindhu which means River. Philosophically Sarasvati means “the flowing One” which means she is responsible for the human flow (moving of Praana in the Nadis) that lead to Saagara (Brahman), ocean for ultimate merger. In Vedas Sagara is glorified as Brahman (Vyaahriti) which I have described in detail. All rivers flow towards Sagara the ONE Source to merge with it and lose their identity. All religions lead to One Source called Saagara or Tadekam. So we are all children of God or Children of the River or Sarsvati, Parasakti.
Hinduism (Sindhu Tattva) is a perennial (Sanatana) river (Sindhu) that floods all religious and spiritual thoughts and carries with it all of them to join the Ocean of Universal Oneness (Supreme Being).
People must learn to let their inner rivers, the channels, currents and naadis (rivers) of the soul flow again with all their vibrancy to call themselves as Hindus. Unless our inner rivers are flowing, our outer lives will remain dry and empty, dependent upon an external world of want to sustain a mirage of happiness. Let us join together in creating a harmonious, conscious and spiritually evolved existence through awakening the higher Self, empowering the divine grace within, and embracing the Inner World of Shakti!
[The Sanskrit word naadi derives from the root nad, which means “flow,” “motion,” or “vibration.” The word itself suggests the fundamental nature of a naadi: to flow like water, finding the path of least resistance and nourishing everything in its path. The naadis are our energetic irrigation system; in essence, they keep us alive. They are the body rivers of energy.]
Mahidasa was denied the privilege of sitting on the lap of his father Itaraa, the mother, who was perhaps from the potter community. She noticed the sad plight of her son and prayed to her Ishta Devata, Goddess Earth, who appeared in a divine form, placed Mahidasa in a celestial seat and imparted unrivaled Wisdom. Thus was born, out of the potter Mahidasa, the Proletarian Rishi, the sage of the Laborers, and Son of the Soil, Seer Aitreya, who attained God-hood and authored the scripture of the common-man, and sang the song of Sindhu Culture from a hut of the “slum”. Let us develop that Sindhu Culture!
Even the Creator is not free to create a world He likes. We with our actions--known and unknown—are making the blue-prints of our future. The Lord is but a contractor, who executes our plans, as we give it to Him, asserts Swami Chinmayanada. We alone are responsible for the miseries in society. Let us build a culture of Peace, Harmony and Universal Oneness to fulfill His wish of "Sarve Janaah Sukhino Bhavantu!"
India has been changing the old names correcting Apabrahmsas (wrongly pronounced names) of late--Calcutta to Kolkata, Baroda to Vadodara, Madura to Madurai etc., and getting it accepted by all Nations in the world. Based on the detailed studies above it would be proper to call ourselves as SINDHUS and our following SINDHUTTVA (Sindhu Taattva) and India to SINDHU RAASHTRA. (We call international as Antar-raashtra already) The word Sindhu should be acceptable to all religions in India as Sindhu means river which may mean Land of Many Rivers.
Please go through the article on Ujjain, the Strolling City in Mdhya Pradesh reproduced in the Appendix. The article says originally Harappans migrated to this city and were responsible for its ancient culture. It also says Harappans were Riverine People or River Valley Cultured people as analysed above and not histoic Aryan Migrants settled on Indus River Valley from whom we inherit our name Hindu.
It may be Sindhu could be interpreted as Sagra or Ocean. I have come across following interpretation from an article on Yoga “The word Hindu comes from a geographical location. The people who lived within the Himalayas and the Indian Ocean or the Hindu Sagara were called Hindu. Anything born in this region is Hindu. An earthworm born here is Hindu, as an elephant born in Africa is African. If yoga is Hindu, then gravity is Christian.” Evidently he implies Patanjali was not called a Hindu then which word was coined later for those who lived on the land enclosed by Sindhu Sagara and Himalayas qnd thereforewe Yoga is not exclusive to Hindus but Indians including those that opted out of India,
1. Swami Vimalananmda, Mahanarayana Upanishd, Ramakrishna Math, Chennai, India.
2. Anantarangacharya, Principal Upanishads, Bengluru, India.
3. Ed Viswanathan, Am I A Hindu? Rupa & Co., Delhi, India.
4. Swami Harshananda, Ten Cardinal Upanishads, Ramakrishna Math, Chennai, India.
5. Wikipedia and other Internet sources as well as comments received from scholars.
6. Shakuntala Jagannathan, Hinduism, Vakils, Feffer and Simons Pvt. Ltd., Mumbai India.
7. Harry Bhalla, Bhagavad-Gita, International Gita Society, Freemont, CA, USA.
8. Vradaraja Thirumale, Veda Maarga, Sri Lakshmi Hayagreeva Trust, Bengaluru, India.
9. Swami Chinmayananda, Aitreya Upanishad, Central Chinmaya Mission Trust, Mumbai, India
9. Swami Chinmayananda, Aitreya Upanishad, Central Chinmaya Mission Trust, Mumbai, India
Hinduism is an open Faith and Source; The God Project
( Courtesy: The Editor, IndiaDivine.org)
Trying to explain what is Hinduism and the core beliefs of “Hinduism” to an interested observer can be challenging to say the least. It is often stated that the word “Hinduism” itself is a total misnomer, as it basically refers to the sum total of spiritual and religious thought and practice that has taken place on the Indian subcontinent over the past 5,000 years. And let us just say it’s been a busy 5,000 years.
The sheer volume of spiritual literature and doctrine, the number of distinct gods worshiped (over 330 million, according to some sources), the breadth of distinct philosophies and practices that have emerged, and the total transformation over time of many of the core Hindu teachings and beliefs can be disconcerting to those raised in monotheistic cultures, as we are used to each faith bringing with it a defined set of beliefs that — with the exception of some denominational rifts over the centuries — stay pretty much consistent over time.
However, the key point of differentiation between Hinduism and these other faiths is not polytheism vs. monotheism. The key differentiation is that “Hinduism” is Open Source and most other faiths are Closed Source.
“Open source is an approach to the design, development, and distribution of software, offering practical accessibility to a software’s source code.”
If we consider god, the concept of god, the practices that lead one to god, and the ideas, thoughts and philosophies around the nature of the human mind the source code, then India has been the place where the doors have been thrown wide open and the coders have been given free rein to craft, invent, reinvent, refine, imagine, and re-imagine to the point that literally every variety of the spiritual and cognitive experience has been explored, celebrated, and documented.
Atheists and goddess worshipers, heretics who’ve sought god through booze, sex, and meat, ash covered hermits, dualists and non-dualists, nihilists and hedonists, poets and singers, students and saints, children and outcasts … all have contributed their lines of code to the Hindu string.
The results of India’s God Project — as I like to refer to Hinduism — have been absolutely staggering. The body of knowledge — scientific, faith-based, and experience-based — that has been accrued on the nature of mind, consciousness, and human behavior, and the number of practical methods that have been specifically identified to work with one’s own mind are without compare. The Sanskrit language itself contains a massive lexicon of words — far more than any other historic or modern language — that deal specifically with states of mental cognition, perception, awareness, and behavioral psychology.
At the heart of the Indic source code are the Vedas, which immediately establish the primacy of inquiry in Indic thought. In the Rig Veda, the oldest of all Indic texts (and possibly the oldest of all spiritual texts on the planet), God, or Prajapati, is summarized as one big mysterious question and we the people are basically invited to answer it.
“Who really knows?
Who will here proclaim it?
Whence was it produced?
Whence is this creation?
The gods came afterwards, with the creation of this universe.
Who then knows whence it has arisen?”
Who will here proclaim it?
Whence was it produced?
Whence is this creation?
The gods came afterwards, with the creation of this universe.
Who then knows whence it has arisen?”
While the god of the Old Testament was shouting Commands (Commandments), Prajaapati was asking: “Who am I?”
Since opening the floodgates on the divine question, Indic thought has followed a glorious evolutionary arc from shamanism, nature worship and sacrifice through sublime and complex theories on mental cognition, the nature of consciousness, and quantum physics.
Through tracing the subcontinent’s relationship with the deities of the Vedas, we can trace the course of Indic thought over the centuries. One of the first things we notice is that not only does the people’s relationship to god change over the centuries, the gods themselves change. Shiva, for example, appears in the Vedas as Rudra, the howler, god of storms, still something of a lesser deity, reappearing over the centuries as Bhairava — he who inspires fear — Pashupati, lord of beasts, the god of yogis, and the destroyer, Shiva finally, by the 9th century, achieves status in Kashmir as the fundamental energetic building block of the entire universe--Neat trick.
But as much as the gods change and the evolution of Indic thought leads us to increasingly modern and post-modern views of the nature of reality, the old Vedic codes still remain front and center. One of Hinduism’s defining factors is that the historic view of god, the nature worship and shamanism, never went away, so that god as currently worshiped exists simultaneously as symbol and archetype as well as literal embodiment. That Shiva, for instance, could simultaneously be the light of ultimate consciousness and an ash-smeared madman who frequents cremation grounds is a delight to us spiritual anarchists, while mind numbing to most Western Theologizes.
Western and Middle Eastern monotheistic faiths have simply not allowed such liberal interpretation of their God. They continue to exist as closed source systems.
“Generally, [closed source] means only the binaries of a computer program are distributed and the license provides no access to the program’s source code. The source code of such programs might be regarded as a trade secret of the company.”
One of the defining facts of Christian history is that access to God has been viewed — as in most closed source systems — as a trade secret. The ability to reinterpret the bible, or the teachings of Christ, or the Old Testament or to challenge the basic fundamental authority of the church has been nonexistent for most of the church’s history. Those who dared to do so were quite often killed.
In Indic thought, there is no trade secret. The foundation of yoga is that the key to god, or the macrocosm, or the absolute … lies within the individual and can be accessed through a certain set of practices. It’s a beautifully simple but ultimately profound concept that has been allowed to flourish unchecked for millennia. The process of discovering and re-imagining the divine is in your hands--The God Project.
What is the Antiquity of Indians
What is the Antiquity of Indians? Dravidians had a big Kingdom long before we hear of so called Aryans. Harappa and Mohenjo-doro were twin Capital Cities of Dravidian Kingdom. It is these people and on their cities and on their forts history found the Aryans whom they conjectured as invaders. Now that Sarasvati is no longer a myth these Dravidians are the migrants from Sarasvati valley who developed Vedic culture and were called by the respectable term Aryans. They migrated because the River Sarasvati dried up and they went in search of greener pastures on River banks.
Please refer to my earlier talks on the subject. The Vedas however speak of the Sarasvati as a very large and flowing river. If the dating of the Vedic literature is correct, then there is a discrepancy because the Sarasvati River dried up before the Vedas were supposed to have been written. This is an interesting situation. It might seem possible then, that with other evidence showing that there was no influx of an invading people, that the Vedas were then written by the people of the Indus Valley.
Another point that speaks against Aryan Invasion Theory is finding of Altars at several Indus Valley Civilization sites. Fire rituals and sacrifice were an important part of Vedic religious practices. But what was significant about these alters, is that they were aligned and constructed in the same manner as later discovered altars were. The fire altars were then Vedic in construction indicating that the Harappan's were a Vedic culture.
The idea that there wasn't in fact an Aryan invasion is supported on many levels, including the present day legacy of these Indus cities in the traditional arts and crafts, and in the layout of houses and settlements in India. Please go through a very detailed report by IndiaDivine.org on the subject. I have circulated previously an E-mail on Indus Valley civilization:
"In his Discourse on Sanskrit and Its Literature, given at the College of France, Professor Bournouf states, “We will study India with its philosophy and its myths, its literature, its laws and its language. Nay it is more than India, it is a page of the origin of the world that we will attempt to decipher.”
In History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature, Max Mueller observed, “In the Rig-veda we shall have before us more real antiquity than in all the inscriptions of Egypt or Nineveh. The Veda is the oldest book in existence”
On a more personal note, another famous German thinker, Schopenhauer, remarked in his book, The Upanishads, “In the whole world there is no study so beneficial and so elevating as that of the Upanishads. It has been the solace of my life (and) it will be the solace of my death.”
What are the Vedas?
Before beginning our discussion on the antiquity of the Vedic civilization, we should first of all understand what the Vedas are. The Sanskrit root vid means ‘to know’. Hence Veda means knowledge. The term Vedic refers to the literature and teachings of the Vedas. The Vedic scriptures are the spiritual literature of the ancient Indian culture, written in the Sanskrit language. They comprise of a huge collection of books which include material (mundane), religious (ritualistic) as well as spiritual (monotheistic) knowledge.
The Vedas are immense in both their size and scope. Quantitatively, the Bible and the Koran do not compare , and the Vedas easily surpass the lengthy ancient works such as Homer’s epics and the sacred cannon of China. For example, Mahabharata, one of the Vedic Historical texts, has 110,000 four line stanzas, making it the world’s largest poem – approximately eight times as old as Iliad and Odyssey combined. Ramayana, another Vedic history, on the other hand, consists of 24,000 couplets. The Vedic literature comprise not only of the Rig, Yajur, Atharva and the Sama Vedas but also of Upanishads, Puranas, Bhagavad Gita and itihasas like Ramayana & Mahabharata. It encompasses all literature that up-hold the Vedic tradition and culture.
Talking about the Vedic scope, it includes the nature, the universe, and a grand hierarchy of living beings – nonhumans, humans & humanoids. There is a large section of the Vedic literature , dealing with the detailed descriptions of the non-material worlds beyond the entire fabric of time and space.
For the earthly humans, however, the Vedas prescribe a balance between their spiritual and material lives. The Vedic social system combines the material impetus with the spiritual dynamics, and places a great emphasis on civilization as a precise tool for both material and spiritual upliftment.
Digging into the Past: A City Dating Back to 7500 BC
As was announced on January 16, 2002 from New Delhi, that the Indian scientists found pieces of wood, remains of pots, fossil bones, etc. near the coast of Surat, Indian Science and Technology Minister Murli Manohar Joshi told a news conference. He said, “Some of these artifacts recovered by the National Institute of Ocean Technology from the site, such as the log of wood date back to 7500 BCE which is indicative of a very ancient culture in the present Gulf of Cambay, that got submerged subsequently.” Current belief is that the first cities appeared around 3500 BCE in the valley of Sumer, where Iraq now stands. “We can safely say from the antiquities and the acoustic images of the geometric structures that there was human activity in the region more than 9,500 years ago (7500 BC),” said S.N. Rajguru, an independent archaeologist.
Michael A. Credo, historian of archeology, claims that all the history textbooks would have to be rewritten if this ancient find proves to be of Vedic origin. According to Credo, “The ancient Sanskrit writings of India speak of cities existing on the Indian subcontinent in very primeval times. Although historians tend to dismiss such accounts as mythological, these new discoveries promise to confirm the old literary accounts.”
Discovering River Sarasvati
The legend of the mighty Sarasvati River has lived on in India since time immemorial. The Vedic scriptures are full of tantalizing hymns about it being the life-stream of the people.
An Indian and French archaeological field team on the ground, coordinating with a French SPOT satellite in space, has ascertained that the Sarasvati River , as described in the Vedas, is fact, not mythology. Vividly exposing the signatures of old rivers and their branches data from SPOT shows that the Sarasvati did exist. The Satellite’s sensors and pointed optics reveal the dried bed of a river extending from the present Gagger River and flowing four miles wide, in the region of India, west of what is now Delhi. In what is now Punjab, the Satellite imagery has shown the Sarasvati’s bed to be twelve miles wide. From space, researchers can detect that Sarasvati had several tributaries, watering an immense area of fertile soil. Traces of artificial canals watering remote agricultural locations are also visible.
Ancient Hindu Temples Found worldwide
A Siva Lingam monument, a relic from the lost Champa Kingdom, stands proudly at the My Son site in Vietnam. Images depicting the Yoni and Lingam can be found in Hindu-influenced cultures across the entire Asian region.
A Chankiang villager hunting for termites under a tree discovered a sharp hand-carved stone. Further investigation revealed that the location was the site of an ancient Vedic/Hindu temple. Only Djubiantono, head of West Java’s Bandung Archeology Agency says, “Based on a preliminary finding of various remains there are indications that this is a Hindu temple built in the seventh or eighth century.”
The ancient Nandeeshwara Temple (dedicated to lord Shiva) at Mallesvaram was discovered only three years ago, but it has stood for 7,000 years on that spot. Being buried over the years hasn’t diminished its aura at all. The temple was discovered recently when the land was being dug up and it was found that the temple had remained untouched over the years.
Nearly 40 kilometers from the Thai-Cambodia border the Chen Saran temple has been discovered in the jungle of the northern Praha Vehar province. It was built in the ninth or tenth century, and is dedicated to the Vedic tradition. The temple stands 15 meters tall, and is 150 meters in length by 100 meters wide. Nearly 50 percent of the structure is damaged and most of its artifacts have been plundered, even though there is no decent road to the temple.
Archaeologists have found a statue of Nandi, the sacred bull that carried the Hindu god Shiva, among the ruins of what is believed to be an ancient temple at an excavation site in Yogyakarta in Indonesia.
In south Germany, a prehistoric idol of “lion-man” has been discovered which has caused amazement to scientists around the world. It is made out of tusk of a mammoth in the form of a human body with a lion head. Amazingly it is dated to be 32000 years old. The artifact was discovered in a cave named Stadel-Höhle am Hohlenstein in the Lonetal of the Schwab Alps, Germany. The figure was found exactly at the place in the cave where day and night meet, about 20 meters away from the entrance and buried 1.20 meter deep under the ground. The Vedic scriptures tell us that Krishna appeared in the divine form of a half-man, half-lion with a lion face, to protect His devotee Prahlad and to stop irreligion, personified by the demon Hiranyakasipu. A description of a standing Deity form of Nrisimha Avatara of the Lord is found in the agama Silpa Shastra, and is referred to as Kevala-Narasimha.
Major Anthropology Find Reported in India
Scientists report they have found evidence of the oldest human habitation in India, dating to 2 million years, on the banks of the Subarnarekha River. The 30-mile stretch between Ghatshila in the province of Jharkhand and Mayurbhanj in Orissa has reportedly yielded tools that suggest the site could be unique in the world, with evidence of human habitation without a break from 2 million years ago to 5,000 B.C. which makes it more important than even the Adonaii Gorge in East Africa, the Somme Valley of France, Stonehenge in England or the Narmada basin in Madhya Pradesh.
Anthropologist S. Chakraborty told the Calcutta Telegraph: “There are no signs of terra incognito (a break in the continuum) in the Subarnarekha valley, unlike any other site in India. Some of the heavier tools resemble those found in the East African stone-age shelters, used by the Australopithecus.”
Ancient Vishnu Deity Found in Russia
An ancient Vishnu idol (Vishnu is an incarnation of the Supreme God, as mentioned in the Vedas) has been found during excavation in an old village in Russia’s Volga region, raising questions about the prevalent view on the origin of ancient Russia.
The idol found in Strays (old) Maine village dates back to VII-X century AD. Strays Maine village in Ulyanovsk region was a highly populated city 1700 years ago, much older than Kiev, so far believed to be the mother of all Russian cities.
“We may consider it incredible, but we have ground to assert that Middle-Volga region was the original land of Ancient Rus. This is a hypothesis, but a hypothesis, which requires thorough research,” Reader of Ulyanovsk State University’s archaeology department Dr. Alexander Koshering told state-run television Vesta.
Dr. Koshering, who has been conducting excavation in Strays Maine for last seven years said that every single square meter of the surroundings of the ancient town situated on the banks of Samara, a tributary of Volga, is studded with antiques.
Prior to unearthing of the Vishnu idol, Dr. Koshering has already found ancient coins, pendants, rings and fragments of weapons. (Times of India, Dec 2006)
Tamil Brahmi Script Found in Egypt
A broken storage jar with inscriptions in an ancient form of Tamil script, dated to the first century BCE has been excavated in Egypt.
Dr. Roberta Timbre, a pottery specialist at the British Museum, London, identified the fragmentary vessel as a storage jar made in India. Airavatham Mahadevan, a specialist in Tamil epigraphy, has confirmed that the inscription on the jar is in Tamil written in the Tamil Brahmi script of about the first century. (The Hindu, November 2007)
Vedic Culture and Today’s World
The above evidences clearly hint at the existence of a worldwide flourishing Vedic civilization, not so long ago, signifying the importance and authenticity of the Vedic scriptures. It shows that our forefathers walked the Vedic path to attain the higher essential spiritual goals of life.
As a matter of fact, the Vedic civilization, being the oldest , has influenced every major culture and religion around the world that we know today, and can be declared as the parent of humanity.
The philosopher and researcher Edward Pococke also wrote about this conclusion in his book India in Greece (page 251). He states: “Sir William Jones concluded that the Hindus had an immemorial antiquity with the old Persians, Ethiopians and Egyptians, the Phoenicians, Greeks and Tuscans, the Scythians or Goths, and the Celts, the Chinese, Japanese and Peruvians.”
Pococke continues in his observation: “Now the whole of the society of Greece, civil and military, must strike one as being eminently Asiatic, much of it especially Indian. I shall demonstrate that these evidences were but the attendant tokens of Indian colonization with its corresponding religion and language. I shall exhibit dynasties disappearing from India, western India, to appear again in Greece, clans who fought upon the plains of Troy.” Therefore, since Greece is supposed to be the origins of European culture, and since Greece displays much of the same culture as India, we can say that the pre-Christian culture of Europe was Vedic.
William Durant, author of the 10-volume Story of Civilization, wrote, “India was the motherland of our race, and Sanskrit the mother of European languages. She was the mother of our philosophy, of our mathematics, of the ideals embodied in Christianity, of self-government and democracy. Mother India is in many ways the mother of us all.”
The above quotes would indicate that the Vedic culture was a global faith, a world influence. This may be given further credence in the remarks of Ectasias, the Greek writer that “The Hindus were as numerous as all the other nations put together.”
This is further corroborated in P. N. Oak’s World Vedic Heritage (p. 506) in which he presents evidence that, “In pre-Christian times the temples of Vedic Deities such as Vishnu, Shiva, the Mother goddess, Rama, Hanuman, and Krishna used to abound in all regions of the world. Evidence of this is found in the works of ancient authors such as Megasthenes, Strabo, and Herodotus. All those names are of Vedic origin, too. The term Megasthenes is Megh-Sthan-eesh, i.e. the Lord of the Region of the clouds. The name Herodotus is Hari-dootas, i.e. Messenger of [Hari] God.”
In Some Missing Chapters of World History P. N. Oak also explains that Shiva was worshiped all over the world, even in the Vatican. The word Vatican comes from the Sanskrit word Vaatika, which means a bower or sylvan hermitage. He explains that even the premises of the Vatican have many Shiva emblems buried in their walls and cellars. Many such emblems have been dug up in other parts of Italy as well. And some of those found in the Vatican are still preserved in the Vatican’s Etruscan museum.
Similarly, there is striking similarity in all major religions in the world and by careful comparison we can trace back the essence in all of them to the teachings of the Vedic literature. We can understand how the Vedic culture influenced Zoroastrianism, which influenced Judaism, which influenced Christianity, which influenced Islam. However, each succeeding religion became more distant from the original spiritual teachings and understanding, until each one thought that, rather than offering truths and processes to be followed, they promoted the idea that they were the only way, superior to all else. This topic however is outside the scope of this article and I shall deal with it some other day.
The Universal Message of the Vedas
The Vedas are compared to a desire tree because they contain all things knowable by man. They deal with mundane necessities as well as spiritual realization. The Vedas contain regulated principles of knowledge covering social, political, religious, economic, military, medicinal, chemical, physical, metaphysical subject matter and above all specific directions for spiritual realization.
The real essence of Vedic literatures can be categorized into three headings:
Sambandha: Understanding the answers to the questions, “Who am I? Who is God? What is my relation with God?”
Abhideya: The process of reviving our relationship with God
Prayojana: The mature result: attainment of love of God.
Thus the three subject matters described in the Vedic literature are: the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the central point of all relationships,
acting in devotional service to Him is one’s real occupation and attainment of love of God is the ultimate goal of life.
Further the Bhagavad Gita (4.34) enjoins the sincere seekers to approach a bonafied spiritual master for this purpose and “Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth.”
--Posted by Dwaipayan De |IndiaDivine.Org
Is it wrong to say India is a Hindu Country?
May I draw your kind attention to my discourses Why I am called a Hindu and Vedanta Religion is everlasting, universal and unifying spirituality. In this context it is worth going through the write up by Maria Wirth who lived for long in India:
"Though I have lived in India for a long time, there are still issues here that I find hard to understand. For example, why do so many educated Indians become agitated when India is referred to as a Hindu country? The majority of Indians are Hindus. India is special because of its ancient Hindu tradition. Westerners are drawn to India because of Hinduism. Why then is there this resistance by many Indians to acknowledge the Hindu roots of their country? Why do some people even give the impression that an India which valued those roots would be dangerous? Don’t they know better?
This attitude is strange for two reasons. First, those educated Indians seem to have a problem only with “Hindu” India, but not with “Muslim” or “Christian” countries. Germany, for example, is a secular country, and only 59 percent of the population are registered with the two big Christian churches (Protestant and Catholic). Nevertheless, the country is bracketed under “Christian countries” and no one objects. Angela Merkel, the Chancellor, stressed recently the Christian roots of Germany and urged the population “to go back to Christian values.” In 2012 she postponed her trip to the G-8 summit to make a public address on Katholikentag, “Catholics Day.” Two major political parties carry Christian in their name, including Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union.
Germans are not agitated that Germany is called a Christian country, though I actually would understand if they were. After all, the history of the Church is appalling. The so-called success story of Christianity depended greatly on tyranny. “Convert or die” were the options given—not only some five hundred years ago to the indigenous population in America, but also in Germany, 1,200 years ago, when the emperor Karl the Great ordered the death sentence for refusal of baptism in his newly conquered realms. This provoked his advisor Alkuin to comment: “One can force them to baptism, but how to force them to believe?”
Those times, when one’s life was in danger for dissenting with the dogmas of Christianity, are thankfully over. Today many in the West do dissent and are leaving the Church in a steady stream. They are disgusted with the less-than-holy behavior of Church officials and they also can’t believe in the dogmas, for example that “Jesus is the only way” and that God sends all those who don’t accept this to hell.
The second reason why I can’t understand the resistance to associate India with Hinduism is that Hinduism is in a different category from the Abrahamic religions. Its history, compared to Christianity and Islam, was undoubtedly the least violent as it spread in ancient times by convincing arguments and not by force. It is not a belief system that demands blind acceptance of dogmas and the suspension of one’s intelligence. On the contrary, Hinduism encourages using one’s intelligence to the hilt. It is an enquiry into truth based on a refined character and intellect. It comprises a huge body of ancient literature, not only regarding dharma and philosophy, but also regarding music, architecture, dance, science, astronomy, economics, politics, etc. If Germany or any other Western country had this kind of literary treasure, it would be so proud and highlight its greatness on every occasion. When I discovered the Upanishads, for example, I was stunned. Here was expressed in clear terms what I intuitively had felt to be true, but could not have expressed clearly. Brahman is not partial; it is the invisible, indivisible essence in everything. Everyone gets again and again a chance to discover the ultimate truth and is free to choose his way back to it. Helpful hints are given but not imposed.
In my early days in India I thought every Indian knew and valued his tradition. Slowly I realized I was wrong. The British colonial masters had been successful in not only weaning away many of the elite from their ancient tradition but even making them despise it. It helped that the British-educated class could no longer read the original Sanskrit texts and believed what the British told them. This lack of knowledge and the brainwashing by the British education may be the reason why many so-called “modern” Indians are against anything Hindu. They don’t realize the difference between Western religions that have to be believed (or at least professed) blindly, and which discourage, if not forbid, their adherents to think on their own, and the multi-layered Hindu Dharma which gives freedom and encourages using one’s intelligence.
Many of the Indian educated class do not realize that those who dream of imposing Christianity or Islam on this vast country will applaud them for denigrating Hindu Dharma, because this creates a vacuum where Western ideas can easier gain a foothold. At the same time, many Westerners, including staunch Christians, know the value of Hindu culture and surreptitiously appropriate insights from the vast Indian knowledge system, drop the original Hindu source and present it either as their own or make it look as if these insights had already been known in the West. As the West appropriates valuable and exclusive Hindu assets, what it leaves behind is deemed inferior. Unwittingly, these Indians are helping what Rajiv Malhotra of Infinity Foundation calls the digestion of Dharma civilization into Western universalism. That which is being digested, a deer for example, in this case Hindu Dharma, disappears whereas the digester (a tiger) becomes stronger.
If only missionaries denigrated Hindu Dharma, it would not be so bad, as they clearly have an agenda which discerning Indians would detect. But sadly, Indians with Hindu names assist them because they wrongly believe Hinduism is inferior to Western religions. They belittle everything Hindu instead of getting thorough knowledge. As a rule, they know little about their tradition except what the British have told them, i.e., that the major features are the caste system and idol worship. They don’t realize that India would gain, not lose, if it solidly backed its profound and all-inclusive Hindu tradition. The Dalai Lama said some time ago that, as a youth in Lhasa, he had been deeply impressed by the richness of Indian thought. “India has great potential to help the world,” he added.
When will the Westernized Indian elite realize it?
~ Maria Wirth (freelance writer who has lived in India"
Can anybody question why statue of Jesus Christ with the Epitaph INRI and Kaba the Blackstone in Mecca are venerated? Which Religion has proclaimed loudly "Eko Vipraah bahudaa vadanti" "aatmavat sarvabhooteshu" "sarvejanah sukhino bhavantu" "Krinvanto Viswamaryam" and all souls can be liberated and each one has to work it out to exhaust one's own Karma and there is nosavior? Sindhu Tattva wrongly Spelt as Hindu Tattva is all-inclusive and Universal.
[This discourse material is a compilation from the reference above as well as other sources for a prepared lecture for delivering at Vedanta Class of Sri Ganesha Temple which is gratefully acknowledged. I do not claim anything as original though I have included my explanations and comments elaborately suitably editing. Anybody is free to download partly or fully this discourse, modify and redistribute this as well as other discourses from the blog Hindu Reflections <nrsrini.blogspot.com> for spreading the wisdom of Vedas and scriptures further. These lectures are posted on the blog for the benefit of those who are not able to attend my lectures personally due to personal reasons or due to not living in Nashville or able to go through the various sources as I have done.]