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Map of India (Representational Image). Image source: thinglink.com
  • 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

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

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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