Saturday, September 22, 2018

The British invention of "Hinduism"

By Hadwa Dom

Hinduism did not exist before 1830. It was created by the English colonialists in the 1830s. This remarkable circumstance is evidenced by the fact that none of the travelers who visited South Asia 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. "
-- [ EB 20 `Hinduism ' 519 ]
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 -
" The term "Hindusthan" was first used by a 12th century AD 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."
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 ]
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 -
" 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. 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 ]
 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 -
" History reveals that the Europeans coined the term Hindu religion and saw nothing wrong in doing so. "
-- [ Dev ]
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.

5.2 Greeks and South Asian Religions

The 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 South Asian 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.

5.3 Arabs and 42 South Asian Religions

In Old Persian `Hindwa' denoted only the `Region around the Indus River' and not the whole of what is today known as 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 travelers 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 recognize 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 South Asian religions given above presents a clear description of the many different faiths practiced in the Indian subcontinent. 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 the subcontinent. 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 "
-- [ Arab.57.n1 ]
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 ]  

The traveller Qazwini has also described the various different religions prevalent in the subcontinent during ancient times, 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 (or the study of the Indian subcontinent), 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 [of the Indus], 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 Gentoos

The Portuguese never even used the word 'Hindu' or `Santana' or any of the variants to denote any South Asian 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':

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' still survives in usage, and is applied to the Telugus:
" The word `gentoo' is used at the present time only in Madras of the Telugu-speaking 'Hindus' and their language."
[ Asia, p.168 ]

Duarte Barbosa
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 the subcontinent, 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 ]

Contemporary Documents
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.
123: Christians and
84: Gentuis
18: Moores "
-- [ `Anglo-Portuguese Negotiations relating to Bombay 1660-1677' (OUP) by S.A.Khan, p.453 ]
 Another term used by Europeans as applying to the followers of Indigenous South Asian 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).

5.5 Creation of Hinduism after 1830 by the English Colonialists

The Brahmins of present-day India actively collaborated with the English colonialists in their conquest of the subcontinent. As a result, the English rewarded them by inventing the designation `Leaders of Hinduism' for their loyal servants, their Aryan Brahmin cousins. 

 Gentoos & Anglo-Indians
The English came to the [Indian] subcontinent after the Portuguese, and due to the immense cultural influence of the latter, the English also adopted the word Gentoo as applying to any follower of an South Asian religion:
" The first digest of Indian legislation, which was complied under orders of Warren Hastings and published in 1773, has the title `A Code of Gentoo Law'."
-- [ Asia,p.168 ]
 Yule is led to believe that the English form Gentoo did not come into general use till late in the 17th century. [ Asia.168 ]

Nor did the early English travellers use the words `Hindu' or `Sanatani', instead they used the Portuguese word `Gentoo':

  • " The late scarcity of provisions necessitating us to take some cows from the Jentue inhabitants to supply the fleet... "
    -- [ Forrest, Selections, Home Series, Vol. II, p.31 cited in Asia,p.167.n1 ]
  • " The Gentues , the Portugal Idiom for Gentiles, are the Aborigines, who enjoyed their freedom till the Moors or Scythian Tartars .. undermining them, took advantage of their Civil Commotions."
    -- [ Fryer, East India, Hak. Soc. Vol. I, p.81 in Asia, p.167.n1 ]

Thus the concept of `Hindu' or `Sanatani' as applying to a religion did not exist, nor were any of these terms used by the early English colonialists. Hence, even by the time of the early English colonialists `Hinduism' did not exist.

Invention of Hinduism by English Census-Compilers
The English census-compilers were assigned the daunting task of conducting the Indian head-count by the British government. These people were not theologians, and coined the term `Hindu' as a blanket term to encompass several religions. Thus a `Hindu' was defined in the Census as anybody who was not Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, or Jain. It was thus an exclusivist term: Hinduism was defined by what it was not, and not by what it was. It is hence entirely unsuitable as a definition. Later the term Sanatana Dharma was invented to deliberately submerge the English creation of Hinduism. In the words of the Babri Masjid archive [ Basic ] :
" Finding it difficult to get the names of the religions of these communities, the British writers gave them the word "Hinduism" to be used as a common name for all of their religions in about 1830."
-- [ Basic citing EB 20:581]

Indeed, the concept of "Hinduism" was invented by the English with the ulterior motive of making their loyal servants, the Aryan Brahmins, the rulers of what is present-day India.

Ulterior Motives in Creation of Hinduism
The creation of Hinduism, the subsequent formation of Sanatana Dharma and the propagation of these concepts is mainly due to vested interests with the following ulterior motives.

  • Reward of Brahmin Collaborators - As shown above, the main motive in the English invention of 'Hinduism' was to reward their Aryan Brahmin collaborators with an imagined leadership of all of 'Hinduism' and by extension, all of the subcontinent. Such were the services rendered to the British crown that not only were the Brahmins made leaders of present-day India at that time, but the whole of history was completely falsified to portray them as the `eternal rulers of all Hindus'.                                                                                                                                                                  
  • Dravidianism Suppressed - India obtained Independance from Anglo-Brahmin and Brahmin-Portuguese rule in 1947. However, the new state that arose was merely a neo-Brahminist casteocracy. One of the main `threats' to the integrity of the new Aryan Brahmin-ruled republic was the spectre of Dravidian Nationalism. The Sudroids (Dravidoids and Kolarians) represent the original inhabitants of the Indian peninsula, who were later subjugated by the Aryan invaders. They form the overwhelming majority in Southern India, and strong demands existed for a separate Dravidian nation. Ambedkar and many others fought for recognition of the Dravidian Religion as separate from the Hindu religion, but M.K.Gandhi foiled these attempts, and succeeded in temporarily subverting the Dravidians in Hinduism. The British were reluctant to recognise the Dravidian religion, since it would have antagonised their Brahmin collaborators. This is one of the prime motives behind the invention of 'Hinduism'. 

  • Vaishnavite Ambitions - Since the majority of `Hindus' were Brahminist Vaishnavites in any case, it was hoped that Vaishnavism would thus become a synonym for 'Hinduism', thereby subverting Shavism (Dravidian Religion), Smartism, etc. in one go. 

  • Christian Missionaries - The creation of ' Hinduism' suited the missionaries who did not have to deal with any South Asian theological system. Christianity historically made the greatest inroads in `pagan' (ie. religions lacking a developed sustem of theology) regions, while failing in areas where `devoloped' religions like Islam, Confucianism, etc. By creating 'Hinduism' and submerging thereby Vaishnavism, Jainism, Buddhism, Saurism, etc. into `One Great Pagan Religion' they had to deal with `merely another pagan cult'. Hence, `Hinduism' served the interests of the Christian missionaries. 

  • English Imperialism - The creation of  ' Hinduism' entailed inclusion of the Negroid-Australoid Aboriginal Races of India as `Hindu'. Thus, English dominion in India was justified by claiming that it represented a pious mission to `civilize the pagan natives'. 

  • Aryanism Suppressed - English colonial rule was justified by the rule of `Whites' over `non-Whites'. Accepting the existence of `Aryans' in the subcontinent would have meant a nullification of this justification, since a sizeable fraction of India's population would be `white' and would not require `white' Anglo-Saxon rule. The submergence of Indo-Aryans as `Hindus' served to suppress this menace to British rule. The early Arya Samajists realised this attempt to subvert the identitiy of Aryans. and staunchly opposed the use of the word `Hindu'; a move equally opposed by the British. By denying `white' status to Indo-Aryans (a fact since proven by genetics). the English justified rule over `non-whites'. 

  • Rajputism Suppressed - The Rajputs are descendants of the Scythians, Greeks, and other immigrants who entered India just prior to the rise of the Indo-Islamic Caliphate of Delhi. Throughout their history they followed their Solar religions (`saura' cults), independant of any Aryan Vaishnavite Brahmans. Yet the invention of Hinduism served to subvert Saura religion as well. 

  • Smarta Subversion - The creation of 'Hinduism' suited the Smartas (Advaitins) most of all, since their religion was defined in terms of giving equal worship to 5 major gods of the Indian peninsula, as well as a whole host of others. It remained a very minor religion in India, having been propagated only by Sankaracharya and being localised mainly in Kerala. The overwhelming majority of 'Hindus' were (and still are) Vaishnavites (more than 75 %). However, the definition of `Hinduism' was essentially Smarta, and by propagating `Hinduism' the Smartas hoped to submerge their old rivals the Vaishnavites.

Noted Sikh author G.S.Khalsa has amply pointed out the manner in which Hinduism was invented :

 " The Brahmanists came to power on the Congress elephant by deviously converting the pre-independence political debate and struggle into a communal ' Hindu'-Muslim religious struggle. This was made possible by the master stroke of Mahatama Gandhi - the 'Hindu' nationalist cum holy sadhu who made "Hindus" a 55% majority on paper in the 1920s upon getting the Dalits or "untouchables" (20%) dubbed as "Hindus" by the British. This coup moved the "Hindus" from 35% to a 55% majority in British India. In pre-independence India, Muslims were 25%, Sikhs/Christians/Buddhists/tribals/etc. formed the remaining 20%. This action, along with recognition of Congress as the sole political representative of all Indians in national matters, was a payoff by the British colonial authorities to the Brahmanist lead Congress and Gandhi for loyal services rendered to Queen and empire in supporting their WWI war effort; recruiting the "martial" communities (e.g. Sikhs, Jats, Rajputs, Gujars of Saka-origin) of the northwest and Muslims to go fight for the British Empire in Europe/middle east; subduing, opposing, infiltrating and sabotaging other non-Congress/non-Brahmanist lead political parties and independence movements organized at home (who saw British weakness during the war as an ideal opportunity). The 55% fraudulent "Hindu pile" was little more than a political game of Brahmanist politicians and political parties in Delhi while caste 'Hindus' would not eat/touch/marry/socialize or even worship with their "polluted" Dalits (20% untouchables) in the 1920s. After this "victory on paper", Brahmanist politicians, political parties, and organizations totally communalized pre-independence politics along "Hindu/Muslim" religious lines of "nationhood" to get on the road to empire and Delhi. "

-- [ Khals ]

5.6 Invention of Sanatana Dharma by Smartas

Subsequent to the invention of 'Hinduism' the followers of the different  religions realized that the word `Hindu' and `The Religion of Hinduism' were English inventions. This caused much embarrassment, and many Vaishnavites, Shavites etc, declared that they were followers of different religions, which they actually are. Had this process reached its full development, there would have been no problem. However, some Smartas and other vested interests attempted to preserve the superficial unity which the English creation of 'Hinduism' had given. Hence, the English concept of `Hinduism' was renamed as `Sanatana Dharma' in order to fabricate a Sanskritic name for the concept. The word `Sanatana' was created in sometime in the 19th century as an attempt to replace the foreign word `Hindu'. The non-Muslim people of the South Asian subcontinent called Hindu had no precise word for their religions [ Land ]. They were, as they are, divided into thousands of communities and tribes, each having its own religious beliefs, rituals, modes of worship, etc.

The Smarta religion arose "by the 7th century, when the Smartas inistituted their worship of 5 deities, omitting Brahma, he had lost all claims as a superior diety. " [ EB 2.460 ]
" The people called Hindu have nothing common in their religious affairs. 'Hinduism', therefore, cannot give any precise idea as to what it means. Attempts were made to define the term but could not succeed. "
-- [ Basic ]

To summarize, revealing that "Hinduism" was in fact an English invention; this circumstance becoming widely known and the cause of much satire on `Hinduism' and its English invention, the Brahmin Vaishnavas invented the term `Sanatana Dharma' in order to counter these difficulties :
" Faced with this dilemma, 'Hindu' scholars sometime use the word Sanatan Dharma (eternal religion) and sometime Vedic Dharma (religion of the Veda), etc. for their "religion". But as names of their religion, these words are also untenable as they do not imply anything precise for all the people called 'Hindu'."

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