Who is a Hindu?

In an interesting decision given by the Privy council a century ago (1903) , the interpretation of the word ‘Hindu’ throws light on how liberal ‘Hinduism’ is in encompassing variety of practices and sections of people from the society and yet remain unique and unadulterated.
The Privy council in Bhagwan Koer Vs. J.C. Bose and Ors., Calcutta observed :

“We shall not attempt to lay down definition of what is meant by the term ‘Hindu’,
– to make it accurate and at the same time sufficiently comprehensive as well as distinctive is extremely difficult.

The Hindu religion is marvelously Catholic and elastic. Its theology is marked by eclecticism and tolerance and almost unlimited freedom of private worship.

Its social code is much more stringent, but amongst its different castes and sections exhibits wide diversity of practice.

No trait is more marked of Hindu society in general than its horror of using the meat of the cow. Yet the Chamaras (Scheduled castes)Β  who profess Hinduism , but who eat beef and the flesh of dead animals, are however low in the scale included within its pale.

Its easier to say who are not Hindus, and separation if Hindus from the Non-Hindus is not a matter of so much difficulty.

The people know the differences well and can easily tell who are Hindus and who are not ”

Now…I am wondering what differences have we brought about after one hundred years !

47 replies on “Who is a Hindu?”

we had a discussion about that a few weeks ago…
i still think its a culture.. and not a religion… anybody and everybody which lives on the banks of Indus river is a Hindu

Hinduism is the true culture of Indians in India. Many call it A WAY OF LIFE. It is not an organized religion like Christianity or Islam. It has no founder. It has no Pope. It has no hierarchy. Just a lot of scriptures.

SANATHANA DHARMA or RIGHTEOUSNESS FOREVER was the original name of Hinduism. It was Persians who invaded India during 6th century B.C. who gave the name HINDUISM meaning the RELIGION OF PEOPLE LIVING NEAR RIVER INDUS. In Persian the letter H and S are pronounced almost the same so they mistook the word SIND [ Sanskrit name for Indus] to H and then started calling HINDUS and HINDUISM.

Hello and welcome here πŸ™‚

Thanks for the info . Your comment reiterates Ankur’s views on Hinduism.

Its agreed that Hinduism is not described in any text or by a set of rules.
Its a way of life and those who are born Hindus practice Hinduism.

Law recognises Hinduism as a religion and those who follow Hinduism come under the purview of that family Law.

I firmly agree with ankur about the trait of Hinduism not being just a religion or a religious sect. Hindusm is first a culture – or way of living – before you look at it as anything else. It is much more than a religion.

Hinduism from ancient times has taught & exhibited incredible tolerence for cultures & religions foreign to this land. If you have the capacity to see things for multiple non-biased angles, you will realize that Hinduism, in this age, has incorporated many more religions & world cultures.

I have often read in many well acclaimed foreign publications, writers who have wrote about the blindness of the Hindus for their customs of Idol Worship. To those great writers, I have to say that “if you can look into your past upto your ancient times, you’ll find your forefathers were idol worshippers.” ONLY IF you can possibly track back into your ancient past – that is.

To people & societies who do not have an “open” mind – as in open-source – it is hard to understand the idea behind the worship of idols. Infact it is hard for such people to look at anything from others’ point of view.

So I invite the ones who can keep an open mind, to look behind the idea of idol worship. In IDOL worship, it is not the idol – the sand or whatever – that is worshipped. It is in fact, the CHARACTERISTICS of the power you believe that the idol symbolises that is worshipped. Say for instance, when we worship an idol that we call, say Goddess Kali, what is worshipped is the CHARACTERISTICS of nature that we have made the idol to symbolise. Same way, when we pray to the Goddess Saraswati we worship the nature called KNOWLEDGE. Similar with Durga which we made to symbolize POWER. Same with Indra that symbolyzes WATER.

In a way, you can say that Hindus worship NATURE and its VARIOUS elements. And Nature is what was made by God – if you believe in God, that is. If you have an objection to the statement that “nature itself is God”, then just go back to your school text books and find out if all that is today on this Earth is not because of nature. Switch on the Discovery channel to learn what happens when human beings defy the laws of nature. Find out on Google, if mankind will still exist without cooperation from NATURE. Check out the National Geographic and find out if the existence of all life forms on this planet is not heavily dependent on NATURE and nature alone has the capability to bring every activity of life on this planet to an end.

You should remember, that even how you behave in different situations is also called YOUR NATURE.

Here I would also like to add that it is true that Hinduism miserably fails when in the hands of a capitalistic human society, because CAPITALISM basically is based on greed, lure and sales. In the process, capitalism has brought about only in the destruction of the God-Made-Nature. And even sooner than the scientists claim, Nature is going to pull down the curtains on LIFE.

Hindus deserve emmense credit & recognition from the world society for keeping Hinduism still into existence – through all the storm & tide that have gone through the Hindu land – spanning thousands of years of foreign rule.

Hinduism deserves special credit for surviving through the ages – and carrying on into the 21 century, in an age when all other major cultures of the ancient world has perished into non-existence.

now that was a big comment …. well everyone above has agreed that hinduism is culture and not religion and the religion is basically Sanatana Dharma.

About the family law… what do you think of unified civil code??

ur indus river defn is very weak and shaky
yes culture plays a part
there is rich hindu culture in the south, east
and west to think of it
r u a beliver of the aryan invasion theory?

what differences have we brought about after one hundred years !

well i reiterate from my 7/11 post,
we or they
we dont decide anything it is the politicians that do!

it looks nice from far but is unacceptable in the current situation … only state with it is GOA
that too thanks to the
vote bank politics of congress and regional parties will never allow it , because it is against SECULARISM

even though the Supreme court, bjp and even rss are for it

remember Mohammad Ahmed Khan v. Shah Bano Begum

Thank you once again for your very enlightening comments. you will however have to tell me more about “Sanatana Dharma” because its the first time i am hearing it’s name.

//unified civil code//
In the current political scenario its nearly impossible to impose it from outside… what you to do is to bring more and more religions under Hindu Civil law… Hindu, sikh, budhist and jains are already covered.. time for us to enlighten the christians and muslims about its virtues. and as Prax pointed out Goa’s neighborhood would be the best place to start with.

I believe in the invasion theory and I also believe that the conflict between the Aryans and Dravidians described in Ramayana proves that the aryans were aliens… what do u think about it?

I like your ideas about unified civil law… but I feel it would be suicidal for any person or party to implement it

u need a reverse history lesson
this is what british history has taught us
for justifying their colonial rule! and the
congress has continued teaching for following
their divide and rule !
i have spent nights on end reading on this and
on history and ancient farsi or iranian history
and come to the conclusion-
i for one dont believe in aryan invasion theory
as taught in textbooks !

i believe in a more relative correct theory
the out of india theory proposed by talgeri

and the fight wasnt between the aryas and dravids
but the ARYAS AND THE ASURAS (AHURAS) or the followers of the Ahura Mazda! those who destroyed the aryan yagnyas as they found the practice as
derrogatory to their fire gods

cant explain more do ur own reading
did you know that IRAN originated from ARYAN
and SHATRAPS are similar to CHATRAP OR
chatrapati or shatriyas

yups british history or what u read in textbooks have had a deep impact on what I think. and it becomes hard for me to ignore it… u know what i mean….
neways i am reading the 2 links you have send…
about ramayana… what i was saying is that clearly talks about spreading of a aryan culture..the aryans were expanding out.. and that gives me an impression that a nomadic tribe from outside came a few generations ago and is struggling to establish itself…

but i always wondered why none of the religious places or mythology ever talk about the west… esp if the ancestors have migrated from there…

first it aint ankur it is the Hon privy council in its decision which is very famous and frequently quoted ….
thanks for the explanation so nicely
saptarishi and panch maha bhoot are also very imp in the scheme of things of being one with nature both in life and death as is inculcating thinking and being flexible and evolving thus the survival

read read and read
we are no more behind the iron curtain
and internet is a wonderful tool

we are talking about ages ago
before ad and bc existed

that too we were dealing with tribes
there was nothin to record that ok ur super grand uncle settled in say turkey or germany or anything

hindu mythology was passed more from father to son
and through an oral medium
we had the vedas the farsis their gathas

the magic is in tracing the language structure
and development and not written history !

and the whole culture is about assimilation
u blend in not stand out like in islam or christianity!

did u know that the gypsy kings are french but
their origins are here in rajastan ?
read on lacho drome

jews talk about the march where mosses led his people to the promised land… but if Aryans did travel that far and then fought their way through to establish themselves then why is our mythology and religious text so silent about it. these were the questions I always had when I used to read about Aryan invasion theory…..

but then when I read about how cows were a sacred animal.. but India orignally never had cows (even Indus valley civilization had only buffaloes) then I am a bit skeptical. and that reinforces the theory that aryans carried cows with them

tell me why the swastika was so well known all around the ancient world ?
germans have done tonne of research on indo germanic language and sanskrit
A sanskrit teacher friend of mine laments this that in the country of origin we dont put enough research and attention! due to the socialist agenda of the govt.

actually yes… i totally agree not much attention was paid for history of India.. I do not think there was a major discovery or even finding a new historical site post indian independence… and no wonder Harappa civilization is the only civilization of the ancient world whose language has not been deciphered.

Thanks for the nice explanation. Your comment was very informative and needless to say it must have made Ankur very happy πŸ™‚

About the family law… what do you think of unified civil code?? //
I welcome it ….but it would be loaded with problems. I atleast there would bring some hope for a part of our society.

what differences have we brought about after one hundred years !
we dont decide anything it is the politicians that do! //
true πŸ™

remember Mohammad Ahmed Khan v. Shah Bano Begum //
yes..and I feel saddened by the final outcome of the case.
and I am not sure how effective the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act 1986 really is.

@Prax and Ankur..
Simply enjoying ur discussion that is throwing light on hitherto unknown info ( atleast to me )

first it is not so easy convincing u , as u r too intelligent and capable of forming ur own views
all im asking is to remove those blinkers!
and read read and read and cause it is not easy to challange pre conceived notions that have been put in ur brain by socialist written textbooks of the nehruvian period that too at a young age.
i had countless discussions on this topic and then formed my opinion

secondly who spread the aryan invasion theory
was it not the british ?
and dont tell me that they will negate what british historians have tried to and still are reinforcing
– come one they r the biasedbbc
it is u who has to take the informed decision but first attemt to inform urself
read ancient indian history
read vedic history
read iranian history
research the swastika first and sanskrit as a language also

the list can keep goin on and yes take a months time and read or atleast a weeks time-
sunday nite discussion is not goin to sort it out

ur messing up with time period too
this is way way before when there was not that much
human population per say during times of creation of the vedas and tell me can they carbon date vedas?

jews were no different than the muslims they were not peaceful or tolerant infact they were a hard working slave race under the pharohs, that rebelled and built their own kindgoms

i was going through the links… although I would love to believe that indians exported the Buddhism to the east and the aryan culture to the west… i did not find the Out of India theory to be strong… even that link sounded skeptical and raised some valid question…
plus u have to understand that one of the dravidian or aryans have to come from outside… 2 tribes so differently looking cannot develop at the same time… one which discovers the bronze and then the iron first will annihilate the other. and that is simple human nature.

and if dravidians actually coexisted.. then why r vedas so silent about them?

oh Ankur…
I was just talking about who all would come under the purview of Hinduism.
what you guys are discussing are all new subjects to me.
I should say u r doing very well :)) and I am learning everything with interest !

and if dravidians actually coexisted.. then why r vedas so silent about them?//
that’s becos dravidians are a happy contented and self-sufficient lot and they never had any need for them πŸ˜‰

lets leave it at this cause u arnt ready to get rid of the blinkers ! ur stuck on that link!
and i have no time to xplain
it was not buddhism only that was exported to the east
but it was also sanatan dharma
how can u explain the temples of ankore vat and vishnu worship and the indonasean culture
again u get ur own informed opinion

why should i understand? like in sreespeak
why could they not live and coexhist
plus arya means a noble person a person with higher values ! it does not mean he is white
he can also be dusky and even michael jackson
(black sometimes white sometimes)(thats a joke)

how then do dravidians follow similar rituals ?

Mention of the word “Dravida” is found in the Manu Smriti. It records that all Dravidas are Shudras[1] degraded from their Kshatriya position for not following Vedic rituals. The Dravidas are said to have shared this position along with Sakas, Yavanas, Pahlavas.

Some scholars like J. Bloch and M. Witzel believe that the Dravidians moved into an already Indo-Aryan speaking area after the oldest parts of the Rig Veda were already composed (see Bryant 2001: chapter 5)

This theory might be supported if a higher antiquity of the Indo-Aryan languages could be established. However, since this theory is mainly a linguistic hypothesis
so i say again it is all in the language!

u have to study river saraswati

plus everyone assumes things comeon there is no way of verifying and not all ancient texts have existed intact, moreso of a culture that predate Christianity by ages and eons
also the situation is similar in farsi history
the gathas were destroyed then rewritten

sree hee that was a good one !

U tell me more south indian brahmins have done more detailed studies on the vedas some being saraswats
some being nambudris and iyers

Brahuis are a tribe belong to North-Dravidian linguistic family. They are found in Balochistan province of Pakistan.
tell me how did they reach there?

manu also blogs, but thats beside the point…. also the fact that the Hin Dos & Donts have evolved from a cultural standpoint over centuries than from a religious one… in that sense, hinduism has been a variable..there’s a book called ‘the return of the aryans’.. makes an interesting read …

but i dont really know if he wrote his memoires or his dos and donts ! finally it is manusmriti

also the big flood was also documented in babylonia and other cultures

hey – did I start a row? roe?
Thanks for the comments. I wrote that on the fly – i’m not a professor on hinduism. I’m also not educated in the subject & world social history. Goodpost. Goodcomments. πŸ™‚

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