Playing the "PC" Card
Gary M Tartakov
tart at iastate.edu
Fri Dec 8 13:59:07 UTC 1995
I am particularly concerned with the problem of a usage like *Indian/Hindus*
Though I can agree with much of Dan Lufthaus post, that encourages us to
take the interests and legitimate fears of Brahmanical Hindus seriously, I feel
we need to be much more careful about how we define Hindus and Muslims
in our consideration.
Muslims didn't invent the term Hindu, those north of the Indus River
did long before the emergence of Islam. And one of the things most often
mistaken in common discussion is to call the Turkish and Afghan
invasions Muslim, as if they were religious invasions. Clearly these and later
invasions were by Islamic peoples and Islam had great effects on
subsequent history, but they were not simply or even primarily religious invasions.
My reasons for this are the same as I have for not considering the
Spanish, Portuguese, English, Dutch, and French invasions of the Americas,
Africa, Asia, and Australia simply or primarily Christian invasions,
even though these conquistadors were Christians and Christianity played
an important role in subsequent history.
Buddhism's decline is a very complex issue, and I know little about
Central Asia, but it is a crude mistake to consider the end of Buddhism
in India in the thirteenth century a Muslim act.
To return to the term Hindu, it was not a term for Brahmanical peoples
in the thirteen century and after, it was a term for people who lived south
of the Indus and in often included Muslims of that region. It certainly
has another meaning now, but we should be careful not to include in it
all the non-Brahmanical peoples who inhabit India, for there are more of
these than just Muslims. Sikhs are considered Hindus by the Indian
constitution today, but they certainly are not in terms of their
Most important here, I think, is the need to remember that the Muslim
peoples of India today are indigenous Indians who's communities have
converted to Islam. We should not make the mistake of considering them
somehow foreigners. If we make the mistake of using some sort
of phrase as *Indian/Hindus* we confuse ourselves and the issues
dangerously. When we talk of Indians we include Muslims, Sikhs,
Adivasis, Buddhists and I don't know how many other peoples, who are not
Brahmanical Hindus. When we say *Indian* today we may mean what people
in the 13th century meant by *Hindu*, but they stand for different things today.
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