Is The 'ism' In Hinduism A Problem?

984 words - 4 pages

It could be argued that the ‘ism’ in ‘Hinduism’ is a problem; however, numerous scholars have suggested that Hinduism was invented and constructed by British Scholars and other senior figures during the nineteenth century. On the other hand we see evidence of the term Hindu in thirteenth century texts such as the Rig Veda.
During the 1800’s Hinduism was actually known as ‘Hindooism’. In a letter published in 1818 by John Crawford we see seven examples of Hinduism spelt with a ‘u’. (Who invented Hinduism? David N. Lorenzen Comparative Studies in Society and History, Vol 41, No.4 (Oct 1999) pp. 631).
The term Hindu is believed to have been coined in the 1800’s by the British yet as seen above there are many contributing factors to the construction of the word ‘Hindu’. However, the word Hindustān was a popular name for India during the thirteenth century, meaning ‘land of the Hindu’s’, thus showing that the word ‘Hindu’ was not simply invented by the British. The term ‘Hindu’ first occurs (Flood. G 2011) as a Persian term for people who lived beyond the river Indus. The ‘-ism’ was added to the word Hindu in roughly 1830 to indicate the cultures of the high caste Brahmans in contrast to other religions. Hindu is also used in sixteenth century Sanskrit texts and Bengali hagiographic texts instead of Yavana or Muslim.
The term ‘Hinduism’ can also encompass the morals, key features and general day to day life experiences that many Indians share. The term ‘Hindu’ has its roots in many different traditions and myths, for example, it has been argued (Flood. G 2011) that ‘Hindu’ may have derived from the Persian term for a group of people who lived on the other side of the river Indus which flows through China, India and Pakistan. Moreover the word ‘Sindu’, which also comes from the River Indus, is found in the Rig Veda This has no religious meaning at all; it is simply a geographical statement about people who lived in a different area to those describing them.
I believe that Hinduism is an umbrella encompassing many different aspects of various religions; it cannot simply be defined by one word, believed to have been constructed by the British in the nineteenth century. Upon arrival in India the British were faced with many new wonders of the orient. They described the fruits of Hinduism as: poverty, national ignorance, idolatry, banditry, barbarism, murder, pantheism, human sacrifice, polytheism and animal worship. Many of these ideas were alien to the British and they were very much the opposite of British norms and Christian values. The British thought that civilisation was very important and that the native people were in no way civilised. The West or ‘The Occident’ tried to westernise many typically Indian traditions. For example the education system in India changed and became very much a British education system; this then caused a class divide in India, similar to that in Britain. During this time (King R. 2005) western authority was...

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