The English Invention of Hinduism
5.1 Non-Existence of Hinduism Before 1830Hinduism did not exist before 1830. It was created by the English colonialsts in the 1830s. This remarkable circumstance is evidenced by the fact that none of the travellers who visited India before English rule used the word `Hindu' or `Sanatana'. This is amply borne out by the Encyclopedia Britannica, which states :" The term Hinduism ... [ was ] introduced in about 1830 by British writers. "In other words, the founding father of `Hinduism' is an Englishman ! Nowhere in the Vedas, Puranas or any other religious text prior to 1830 AD are the terms `Hindu' or `Sanatana Dharma' used. Not a single inscription contains the terms `Hindu' or `Sanatana' prior to the Muslim era. The myth that Hinduism or Sanatana Dharma existed prior to this has been discarded in many theological circles, and the fantasy that Santana Dharma is `One Religion' has been abandoned -
-- [ EB 20 `Hinduism ' 519 ]" The term "Hindusthan" was first used by a 12th century AD Afghan dynasty of Muhammad Ghori who dubbed his new subjects "Hindus". Prior to this era, no one in any region of South Asia had ever used these terms to define themselves."In recent years has arisen the movement for a revival of Dravidian religion. Two of the main proponents of this movement have exploded the fallacy of the `Sanatana Dharma' concept invented by a European-Smarta-Brahmin conspiracy as follows -
There is no mention of either of these terms in "ancient Brahmanical books (the oldest of which do not predate the 11th century; also the oldest "Brahmanical" temples are all post Buddhist, after 8-9th century A.D.). Ironically, two of the three core concepts of the Poorbia Brahmanist imperialistic program of "Hindu and Hindusthan" are borrowed from post-12th century Muslim (Afghan and Mogul) regimes."
- [ Khals ]" We are cognizant of the fact that the term 'Hindu religion' can not be found before the arrival of the Europeans in India. We are also aware of the fact that it was the Europeans who coined the term 'Hindu religion' to denote the Indian religions that were originated in India and followed by the Indians.Indeed, the Aryan race of Brahmins were never the leaders of any of the religions of Dravidian religion, Kolarian religion, Buddhism or Jainism. They were only the leaders of the 6 orthodox schools of Brahmanism, which includes Vedism and Vaishnavism -
Since the term 'Hindu religion' denotes all the religions of India together, it cannot refer to any particular religion. And since the term 'Hindu religion' consists of many religions which have different doctrines and are contrary to each other, there will be leaders for each religion and there cannot be a common leader for all the religions since they are controversial to each other.
For instance, how can there be a common leader for both Buddhism and Saivism, which are contrary to each other. Hence the belief that there is a common leader for Hindu religion is superstitious and displays ignorance. Hence, the statement that 'The Brahmins are the leaders of Hindu religion' exhibits ignorance and deceptive. "
[ Deva ]
" History reveals that the Europeans coined the term Hindu religion and saw nothing wrong in doing so. "Hinduism is hence an invention of the Europeans, nothing more and nothing less. It should more properly be subdivided into the religions of Brahmanism and Shaivism, Shaktism, Tantrism and Saurism.
-- [ Dev ]
5.2 Greeks and Indian ReligionsThe Aryans referred to the region now known as `Punjab' (Persian `Land of 5 Rivers'), as `Sapta Sindhu'. In Old Achaemenid Persian this became `Hapta Hindwa', and `Hindwa' then meant `Inhabitant of the Indus', completely without religious significance. In Greek `Hindwa' became `Indoi' (Indian), whence the Latin `Indus' river and `India'. The Greeks expanded the meaning of India to include the entire subcontinent. It was never used to denote any religion in Greek or Latin. The Greeks never used the word `Hindu', nor did the Romans.
5.3 Arabs and 42 Indian Religions
In Old Persian `Hindwa' denoted only the `Region around the Indus River' and not the whole of India. In Pahlavi or Middle Persian this developed into `Hindustan' (The Land of the Indus) but still denoted only the region around the Indus river. It was later Sanskritised to `Hindusthan'. This meaning was later distorted to denote `Land of Hindus'. The term `Mughalstan' by contrast refers to the Indus-Ganges basin which contains a Muslim majority. In fact, one-third of all Muslims in the world inhabit this `Mughalstan', and a considerable Islamist separatist movement has garnered around this banner. In recent years the terms `Dravida Nadu' or `Dravidistan' and `Dalitstan' have been coined to denote the regions where Dravidoids and Dalits respectively are a majority. `Sudra Nadu' or `Sudrastan' has developed as an umbrella term for Dravidistan and Dalitstan. A full one-third of all Negroes in the world inhabit this Sudrastan, and Pan-Negroism has played a considerable role in the spread of this movement.
The Arabs adopted the Old Persian `Hindwa' as `Hind' (India) and `Hindwi' (Indian). Neither of these words were used as applying to any religion; they were purely geographical and national terms. None of the medieval Arab travellers was aware of one single monolithic faith being practiced. In fact, all the Arab travellers referred to the Indians as practicing 42 different religions :" Ibn Khurdaba has described that in India there are 42 religions. Al Idrisi also observes that `Among the principal nations of India there are 42 sects. Some recognise the existence of a creator, but not of prophets, while others deny the existence of both. Some acknowledge the intercesory powers of graven stones, and others worship holy stones, on which butter and oil is poured. Some pay adoration to fire, and cast themselves into the flame. Others adore the sun and consider it the creator and director of the world. Some worship trees; others pay adoration to serpents, which they keep in stables, and feed as well as they can. deeming this to be a meritous work. Lastly, there are some who give themselves no trouble about any kind of devotion, and deny everything." '
-- [ Arab.p.57 ].
Al Idrisi's description of Indian religions given above presents a clear description of the many different faiths practiced in India. He has accurately described the existence of Sun-worshippers (Rajput Sauras) and Atheists (Carvakas) as separate religions. None of the Arab travellers was aware of there being only one religion in India. This proves that `Sanatana Dharma' did not exist at that time.Some of the Arab travellers even increased the number of Indian religions to 48:" The Jamiu-l Hikayat increases the number of religions in India to 48 "An exhaustive treatment of the Indian religions is given later on. To summarize, in the words of the Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, " The word [ Hindu ] was never used in Indian literature or scriptures before the advent of Muslims to India " [ ERE.6.699 ], cf. also [ Tirtha.p.vii ]. If at all it was used in a racial sense, " the Muslim rulers used the term 'Hindu' [ correctly `Hindooi' ] to mean Indian non-Muslims only." [ Basic ]
-- [ Arab.57.n1 ]
The traveller Qazwini has also described the various different religions prevalent in ancient India, clearly mentioning Brahmanism as a separate religion :" Qazwini (1203 AD - 1280 AD) says that there are various sects among the people of Hind. Some believe in the creator, but not the propher. They are the Brahmans. There are some who believe in neither. There are some who worship idols, some the moon and some other, fire."
-- [ Nain.230 ]
Asokan inscriptions also contain the term `brahmana va sramana', indicating a fundamental distinction between the Brahminists, followers of the 6 orthodox schools of Brahmanism, and the Sramanas or `nastika' heretics. Qazwini correctly describes Brahmanism as accepting a creator - God, something which the Sramanas do not do. Qazwini's "there are some who believe in neither" almost definitely refers to these nastiks (Jains, Buddhists, Atheists). Yet another traveller Abul Faaj (988 AD) mentioned the sects of India, and was completely unaware of the existance of `One Religion':
- " al-Dinikitiya - These are worshippers of the Sun. They have an idol placed upon a cart supported by 4 horses. They believe that the Sun is the king of the angels deserving worship and adoration. They prosrate themselves before this idol, walk round it with incense, playing the lute and other musical instruments .. " [ Nain.228 ] < This refers to the Rajput (Indo-Scythic) Saura religion, which consists of a mixture of Zoroastrian and Iranic-Scythic fire cults >.
- " al-Jandrihkriya " [ Chandra + kranti ] " They are worshippers of the moon. They say that the moon is one of the angels deserving honour and adoration. Their custom is to set up an idol, to represent it, on a carrt drawn by 4 ducks. In the head of this idol is a gem called jandarkit" [ Nain.229 ] [ jandarkit is moonstone, "said to emit moisture when placed in the moonlight, and believed by some to be a congelation of the moon's rays." Nain.229.n3 ]
- " Anshaniyya " [ Sans. Anasana - fasting ] " those who abstain from food and drink " [ Nain.230 ] < The term is derived from sanniyasi. Abul Faaj refers here to one of the Buddhist, Jain or Vedic ascetic orders. >
- " Bakrantiniya are those who fetter their bodies with iron. Their practice is to shave off hair and beard and not to cover the body except for the private parts. It is not their custom to teach or speak with anyone apart from those of their religion." [ Nain.230 ]
- " Kangayatra [ Gangayatra ] " scattered throughout Hind. Their belief is that, if a man commits a grave sin, he must travel to the Ganges [ and ] ... wash [ in it ] " [ Nain.230 ]
- " Rahmarniyya [ Raja + Tam. manam = honour, self-respect; rajapimani = supporters of the king ] They say, "God, exalted be He, made them kings. If we are slain in the service of kings, we reach paradise." [ Nain.230 ]
- " There is another sect whose practice is to grow long hair." do not drink wine, ... temple on hill called hawran [ Nain.230 ]
Hence, there existed at the time of the Arabs several distinct religions. This is simply because `Hinduism' or `Sanatana Dharma' had not yet been invented by the Europeans. Like many aspects of early Indology, the concept of `Hinduism' was overly simplistic and utterly baseless.
According to Jawaharlal Nehru, the earliest reference to the word 'Hindu' can be traced to a Tantrik book of the eighth century C.E., where the word means a people, and not the followers of a particular religion. The use of the word 'Hindu' in connection with a particular religion is of a very late occurrence [ Nehru, p.74-75 ].
5.4 Portuguese and GentoosThe Portuguese never even used the word 'Hindu' or `Santana' or any of the variants to denote any Indian religion, proving that Hinduism, did not exist as a concept at the time of the Portuguese. Instead, they referred to the `Hindus' as `Gentoos'. Portuguese dictionaries give the following definition of `Gentoo':
The word `Gentoo' still survives in usage, and is applied to the Telugus:
- Gentio (Hindu, gentile, a heathen, pagan)
- + applied by the Portuguese to the Hindus in contradistinction to the Mouros, or Moors ie. Mohammedans. [ Asia, p.167-168 ]
- + Anglo-Ind. `gentoo', Konk. jintu
- Gentilico (`the language of the Hindus')
- + `em gentilico' in the Hindu or vernacular langauge
- + still applied to the Telugu language" The word `gentoo' is used at the present time only in Madras of the Telugu-speaking Hindus and their language."Duarte Barbosa
[ Asia, p.168 ]
As an illustration of the fact that Sanatana Dharma did not exist at the time of the Portuguese, a few quotations from Duarte Barbosa, a Portuguese traveller who visited India, are given. The Indians are always referred to as `Gentoos':
- " And before this kingdom of Guzerate fell into the hands of the Moors, a certain race of Gentios whom the Moors called Resbutos dwelt therein."
[ Duarte Barbosa, ed. Dames, Vol. I, p.109 cited in Asia, p.167.n3 ]
- " And in this kingdom there is another sort of Gentio whom they call Baneanes."
[ Duarte Barbosa, ed. Dames Vol. I, p.109 in Asia, p.167.n4 ]
Documents from the early modern period also do not mention `Sanatanis'; they only mention `Gentoos':" The Originall of this Petition (to Charles II) ... is signed by 225 of the principalest inhabitants of this Island, viz.Another term used by Europeans as applying to the followers of Native Indian Religions was `Banian'. " The early European travellers applied the term [ Banian ] to the followers of the Hindu religion generally " [Asia, p.38 ] The term in fact denotes a Jain trader (from vaniyan Sansk. vanij, trader).
123: Christians and
18: Moores "
-- [ `Anglo-Portuguese Negotiations relating to Bombay 1660-1677' (OUP) by S.A.Khan, p.453 ]