What does it mean to be a Hindu?

The word Hindu with color diffused background

In today’s 21st century, we have always been attracted by class society. Today’s society is of the opinion that every person should be divided on the basis of caste, religion, race and region. 

And because of this mentality, the word Hindu is always in the discussion of thinkers. When we search on Google, “Who is a Hindu?”, The first thing that appears is the definition of Hindus by Wikipedia. 

“Hindus are persons who regard themselves as culturally, ethnically or religiously adhering to aspects of Hinduism.”

And this is obviously the correct definition. But to know that “who is Hindu” we need to understand the true nature of Hinduism. 

Let’s see, What does it mean to be a Hindu?

1) History of the word Hindu

Muslim invaders attack on ancient India

Many a scholar claim that the origin of the word ‘Hindu’ cannot be linked to Sanskrit language as there is no mention of it in any of the Vedic literature. But on the contrary, Vedic literature is the core foundation of ‘Hinduism’, while the term ‘Hindu’ formally represents the Vedic path or culture.

1.In Rigveda                            

As mentioned in Rig Veda, Bharat was also known as Sapta Sindhu, i.e. the nation of the seven great rivers. In some ancient texts, it is also said that in Vedic Sanskrit –

  • Sa was pronounced as Ha
  • Sapta Sindhu was pronounced as Hapta Hindu
  • The term Sindhu began to be called Hindu

2.The Hindu Kings

Many analyst claims that it was during 1352 A.D. When the Vedic kings of the Vijayanagara Empire began to use the word ‘Hindu’ with great pride and honor. Most popular king Bukkal was described himself as Hinduraya Suratrana.

3.Greek Invader

Some historians says that when Alexander-the Great first invaded India around 325 B.C., he renamed the River Sindhu as ‘Indu’. 

He dropped the first letter ‘S’ from the word, because it was a much simpler word for the Greeks to pronounce.

4.Muslim Invader

When the Muslim invaders arrived from places such as Afghanistan and Persia, they renamed the River ‘Sindhu’ as ‘Hindu’.

The word ‘Hindu’ is found in Persian literature. ‘Hindu-e-falak’ means ‘the black of the sky and ‘Saturn’. In the Arabic language ‘Hind’ means ‘state’. 

2) 130 crore Indians are Hindus

According to Mohan Bhagwat – the chief of RSS; Our country is Hindutva vadi by tradition. All the things in our country reflect that. 

Who considers India as their motherland. Who loves and devotes the land of india including people, water and animals of this country. Who tries to bring the all inclusive culture of this India into our life. 

Who accepts this great culture which leads the whole world towards welfare in a friendly way. Whoever he is. Whatever language he speaks. Wherever he lives. Who worships in any worship system or not worship anyone. 

That son of Mother India is a Hindu. And in this circle, our entire society of 130 crore people belongs to the Hindu society for the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS) .

3) According to Mahatma Gandhi

According to Mahatma Gandhi, the word ‘Hindu’ does not appear anywhere in the Vedas or Hindi texts. Foreign invaders like the Greeks started calling the people Hindus who was living across the Indus River.

But Mahatma Gandhi’s thoughts were not limited to this point. In his view, the nature of Hinduism was different. He considered Hinduism not only as a religion but also as an integral part of Indian culture. This is evident from his many books like ‘My Religion’.

Mahatma Gandhi had complete faith in Vedas, Puranas, Upanishads and Gita. But he always protested flawed facts like racism. According to him, Hinduism is not just a religion but a culture that accepts the teachings of many religions like Christianity, Islam and all the beliefs in the world.

M. K. Gandhi

Father of the Nation

I am a Hindu because it is Hinduism which makes the world worth living. I am a Hindu hence I love not only human beings, but all living beings.

Mahatma Gandhi considered himself a fanatical Hindu ( कट्टर हिन्दू ). But his definition of Hinduism was different. According to him, Hinduism is the most tolerant religion in the world. Hinduism is an all inclusive religion that respects every religion.

Hinduism is not a religion based on a particular belief or path to follow.  According to him, every person who practices Hinduism is free to know the true nature of God in different ways according to his own opinion.

In short, according to Mahatma Gandhi, Hinduism is a religion in which all the world’s beliefs have a place to worship. Hinduism tells everyone to worship God according to their own faith or religion and that is why everyone lives in peace in this culture.

Today, the whole world respects this tolerant and inclusive form of Hindu Dharma. And those who believe in this form of Hinduism are Hindus according to father of the Nation – Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. 

4) According to Constitution

Under Section 2 (1) of Hindu Marriage act, 1955 any person would be considered a Hindu for the purpose of law if he is:

a) A person who is Hindu by Religion in any of its forms or developments, which includes a Virashaiva, a Lingayat or a follower of the Brahma, Parthana or Arya Samaj.

b) A person professing the Hindu, Buddhist, Jain or Sikh religion. (Also mentioned in Constitution of India- Article 25, Explanation I) .

c) A person who is not a Christian, Muslim, Parsi or Jew by religion will be governed by Hindu law unless it is proved that such person will not be governed by Hindu Law.

d) Any Child legitimate or illegitimate both of whose parents are Hindus, Buddhists, Jains or Sikhs is Hindu. 

e) Any person who is a convert to the Hindu, Buddhist, Jain or Sikh Religion

5) Conclusion by Atman

Hinduism is a way of life

Hinduism is also known as Sanatan Dharma. Sanatan means eternal and unbroken. Just as the feature of the sugar is sweet, the property of salt is its salinity.  

Similarly, according to Hinduism, the soul is eternal. Which has no beginning or end. Sanatan Dharma is able to present to the world the relationship of this unbroken soul with Paramatma.

Stuck in the constant cycle of birth and death, when this incarnate soul forgets its relationship with the Supreme Spirit, Sanatan Dharma helps to regain our lost spiritual identity.

The invaluable knowledge stored in many literatures of Hinduism like Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Puranas is not limited to Indians only or to certain peoples but it is open to the whole world.  Every being, regardless of caste, religion, race, is a spiritual body. 

This is the the ultimate truth. And every person who believes in this truth he is a Hindu. Other than that, there is no need of any criteria to be a Hindu.

Atman believes that Hinduism is not a religion but a way of life. When we start calling people as Hindus from certain areas or certain characteristics , it will be like breaking the true form of Hinduism.

H. G. Wells says- “Hinduism is synonymous with humanism”. And his comment is obviously true. Because as long as there is human life, this way of life will remain continuous and unbroken. 

And every person regardless of caste, religion, race who walks on this way of life is a Hindu according to Atman.

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