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Terms ‘Hindu’ and ‘India’ have Vedic-Harappan Legacy: Read Here!

Both the words, Indu and Sindhu refer to the central Vedic religious ritual – Soma

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  • Many scholars and historians have concluded that the word ‘Hindu’ cannot be linked to the Sanskrit language as there is no mention of it in any of the Vedic literature
  • Iravatham Mahadevan, an Indologist from Tamil Nadu has discovered the Vedic link while studying the Harappan unicorn and the cult object before it
  • Both the words, Indu and Sindhu refer to the central Vedic religious ritual – Soma

Many scholars and historians from around the world have concluded that the word ‘Hindu’ cannot be linked to the Sanskrit language as there is no mention of it in any of the Vedic literature and that it was coined by the ancient invaders who could not accurately pronounce the name of the River Sindhu. Thus, throughout the modern political discourses in India, there have been criticisms that the words ‘Hindu’ and ‘India’ do not possess any indigenous roots.

It is said that the Muslim invaders from Afghanistan and Persia, renamed the River ‘Sindhu’ as ‘Hindu’ to describe the inhabitants from the north-western province of India where the river is located.  The term ‘Sindhu’ eventually faded out and the people of the land began to be known as ‘Hindus’. The word India, which is the Romanised form of the Greek “Indós” is said to be derived from the River Indus.

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Aravindan Neelakandan, editor Swarajya said, the critics of Hindutva and Indian nationalism, in general, argue that Hinduism and India are artificial constructs created by foreigners either to categorise or manage a vast collection of various ethnic, linguistic and cultural groups which actually merit separate sovereign nations. The claim that the word ‘Hindu’ and ‘Hinduism’ are alien-constructed and not present in the Vedic literature when it is said to be its core, serves as an argument to convince Indians that in the absence of foreign rule, India would have been disintegrated into a thousand kingdoms which would be in constant war with one another.

Iravatham Mahadevan, an Indologist from Tamil Nadu has discovered the Vedic link while studying the Harappan unicorn and the cult object before it, mentioned swarajyamag.com. Being familiar with the Vedic ceremony of the Soma filtering ritual, he says that he was “reminded of the two most powerful images in the Soma chapter of the Rig Veda, Pavamana and Indu”. Pavamana means the flowing Soma, and Indu refers to the Soma drops collected at the bottom of the filter. The word Indu can also be said to represent the Soma Itself and in the Brahmanas, Indu is used for the moon.

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The famous River hymns of Rig Veda (Nadistuti Sukta नदिस्तुति सूक्त, X.75) describes river Indus as “Good Soma” (Su-Soma). So both the words, Indu and Sindhu refer to the central Vedic religious ritual – Soma, says the Swarajya.

The Harappan seal. Image Source: Wikipedia Commons
The Harappan seal. Image Source: Wikipedia Commons

In The lost river by Michel Danino it is pointed out that archaeologist C L Fabri (1935) brought out “odd parallels” between depictions of animal motifs in punch-marked coins and Harappan seals. In most of the coins belonging to the Sangham Age (300 BCE to 300 CE) where the horse is shown, an object similar to the cult-object seen in Harappan unicorn seals was noticed. This leads one to the connection between the Indu or the Soma and the regional principalities ruled by local chieftains.

Hieun Tsang Image Source:r4e.org
Hieun Tsang Image Source:r4e.org

The words Soma and Indu can also be used to relate to the moon and Hieun Tsang, the seventh-century Buddhist pilgrim to India makes an explicit connection to this term and associates it with the name of the nation in a spiritual sense. He says that India was “anciently called Shin-tu, also Hien-tau” but with the right pronunciation, it is called “In-tu”. Pointing out that the Chinese the term also refers to the moon he says that it is appropriate, mentioned swarajyamag.com.

In the Buddhist Records of the Western World, Book II , he says, “the bright connected light of holy men and sages, guiding the world as the shining of the moon, have made this country eminent, and so it is called In-tu.”

If Iravatham Mahadevan  is correct, then both the terms Hindu and India trace their origin to the Vedic and Harappan period. These terms then will represent the oldest civilisation thus strengthening the spiritual and cultural bond shared by us all.

-prepared by Ajay Krishna of Newsgram. Twitter: @ajkrish14

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Across Asia’s Borders, Survivors Of Human Trafficking, Dial in for Justice

The trial has been ongoing since 2013

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Tara Khokon Miya is seen in her village home in Shipur, Bangladesh, Feb. 26, 2018. She is helping to prepare her 27-year-old daughter to testify via videoconferencing technology against the men who trafficked her to India.
Tara Khokon Miya is seen in her village home in Shipur, Bangladesh, Feb. 26, 2018. She is helping to prepare her 27-year-old daughter to testify via videoconferencing technology against the men who trafficked her to India. VOA

When Neha Maldar testified against the traffickers who enslaved her as a sex worker in India, she spoke from the safety of her own country, Bangladesh, via videoconferencing, a technology that could revolutionize the pursuit of justice in such cases.

The men in the western city of Mumbai appeared via video link more than 2,000 km (1,243 miles) west of Maldar as she sat in a government office in Jessore, a major regional hub for sex trafficking, 50 km from Bangladesh’s border with India.

“I saw the people who had trafficked me on the screen and I wasn’t scared to identify them,” Maldar, who now runs a beauty parlor from her home near Jessore, told Reuters. “I was determined to see them behind bars.”

“I told them how I was beaten for refusing to work in the brothel in the beginning and how the money I made was taken away,” she said, adding that she had lied to Indian authorities about her situation after being rescued, out of fear.

Thousands of people from Bangladesh and Nepal — mainly poor, rural women

and children — are lured to India each year by traffickers who promise good jobs but sell them into prostitution or domestic servitude, anti-slavery activists say.

Activists hope the safe, convenient technology could boost convictions. A Bangladeshi sex trafficker was jailed for the first time in 2016 on the strength of a victim’s testimony to a court in Mumbai via video link from Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital.

Convictions for cross-border trafficking in the region are rare as most victims choose not to pursue cases that have traditionally required them to testify in Indian courts, which meant staying in a shelter for the duration of the trial.

“They have always wanted to go back home, to their families,” said Shiny Padiyara, a legal counsel at the Indian charity Rescue Foundation that has facilitated videoconferencing cases and runs shelters for trafficking victims. “And most never return to testify.”

But videoconferencing is making it easier to pursue justice. Survivors have given statements, identified their traffickers, and been cross examined in at least 10 other ongoing international cases in Bangladesh, advocates said.

“Enabling victims to testify via video conference will lead to a possible decrease in acquittal rates for want of prime witnesses,” said Adrian Phillips of Justice and Care, a charity that supports the use of video testimony to help secure justice.

Even then, it is tough. During Maldar’s three-hour deposition, she withstood a tough cross-examination, showed identity documents to prove her age and countered allegations by the defense lawyer that she was lying about her identity.

Students Combat Human Trafficking
Students Combat Human Trafficking, flickr

‘Unpardonable’

Tara Khokon Miya is preparing her 27-year-old daughter to testify against the men who trafficked her to India from Dhaka, where she had been working in a garment factory.

“I almost lost my daughter forever,” she said, sitting in her home in Magura, less than 50 km from Jessore, describing how she disappeared after work and was taken to a brothel in India, and raped and beaten for almost a year before being rescued.

“What the traffickers did to my daughter was unpardonable,” Miya said, wiping her tears. “We seek justice. I nurtured her in my womb and can’t describe what it felt like to not know about her whereabouts.”

The trial has been ongoing since 2013 when the young woman, who declined to be named, was repatriated. The charity Rights Jessore is helping the family through the process, by providing counseling and rehearsing cross-examination.

“The best thing is her father will be by her side when she talks in court,” Miya said, finally breaking into a smile.

India signed a bilateral agreement with Bangladesh in 2015 to ensure faster trafficking investigations and prosecutions, and with Nepal in 2017, and laid down basic procedures to encourage the use of videoconferencing in court proceedings.

“The procedure is very transparent,” said judge K M Mamun Uzzaman at Jessore courthouse, which often converts its conference hall into a courtroom for videoconferencing cases to protect survivors’ privacy.

“I’m usually present and victims are able to testify confidently … it is easy and cost effective for us,” he said. “But the biggest beneficiaries are the survivors.”

Silencing Victims
Silencing Victims, pixabay

The future

Videoconferencing in Bangladesh has been plagued by technical glitches such as power cuts and poor connections.

“Sometimes the internet connection is weak or it gets disconnected during the testimony,” said Binoy Krishna Mallick head of Rights Jessore, a pioneer in using this technology to encourage trafficking survivors to pursue justice. “But these are just teething troubles.”

The bigger challenge, activists say, is to ensure survivors remain committed to the trial despite delays caused by a backlog of cases and witnesses’ failure to appear to testify.

Swati Chauhan, one of the first judges to experiment with video testimony in 2010, is convinced that technology can eliminate many of these hurdles.

Also read: Imagining Panun Kashmir: Dissent And Detente in South Asia

“Victims go through a lot of trauma, so it is natural that they don’t want to confront their trafficker in a court — but that doesn’t mean they don’t want the trafficker to be punished,” she said. “A videoconference requires meticulous planning and it is not easy coordinating between departments and countries. But it is the future for many seeking justice.” (VOA)