Hinduism and Colonialism. Was: Rajaram's bull/Hindutva (response to BhG)

Bharat Gupt abhinav at DEL3.VSNL.NET.IN
Sat Aug 19 22:57:13 UTC 2000

Luis Gonzalez-Reimann wrote:

> The notion that "Hindu" as a religious category is a colonial fabrication
> does not stand up to scrutiny.

Let me reiterate, I said that the colonialists redefined Hindu to mean ONLY those
who follow treat Shruti as revealed or prasthana.

The Greeks, Turks, Lodis, Afghans, Mongols, Mughals (except Akbar, Dara Shikoh and
some Sufis) never delved deep enough into the distinctions of Indian religious
sects to use the word Hindu in any well defined sense. Hence it is always, as V
Sunderseran pointed out the Other of Islam. By the 12th century even the natives called
themselves Hindus to mean not Muslim. I think, one of the epigraphs of a Vijayanagar
kings calls himself "Hindu raaya".
This was first time in Indian history that an invading faith did not adopt at all, as
did Greeks, Kushans, Huns etc., the Indian faiths but on the contrary persecuted and
converted them. So Kabir and Nanak were using the
common appellations. As late as Guru Gobind Singh who founded the Khalsa to
defend the "Hindu faith" (jage dharma Hindu sakal bhaan.da bhajai) the definition
was very inclusive.

> Again, Lorenzen (p.20):
> "It is easy to demonstrate that nirguNI religion, particularly in its early
> stages, has embodied a fairly direct rejection of the ideology of
> varNAzramadharma."

This is a major misconception. Says Kabir,

Kaasii ko main bamman jayo, nam moraa Parviinaa
Ek baar Hari naam cchaa.dayo so julaahaa kiinhaa.
(I am quoting from memory)

"I was a brahmin of Kaashii called Pravii.na, but because I forsook the
name of Hari/Vishnu I made a (a low caste weaver).

A total acceptance of the Var.na justification as social order depending upon
the actions of merit and demerit of individual souls going through rebirth-cycle.

The rejection of the brahmin's claim of superiorty (such as "tuu kyaa aan baa.t se
jaayo", "were you born through a different path"? that is, other than the same polluted
yoni-maarga as for the low castes) is in the context of debunking
the  claim of the pretentious Brahmins that they alone had access to Knowledge.
That the lowest caste also have access to the Realisation is a reminder stated by

There was no special nirguni religion that he propounded. It was a continuation
of Advaita practised through Sahaj yoga and Vaisha.nava sect.

More later, on use of "Hindu" in medieval histories like Tabqaate Nasirii,
Tariikhe-Ferozshahii, Miraate-Sikandarii, etc.. Right now the teaching session is in
full swing.

best wishes,

Bharat Gupt,  Associate Professor, Delhi University
PO Box 8518, Ashok Vihar, Delhi 110052  INDIA
tel 91-11-724 1490, fax 741-5658, email: bharatgupt at vsnl.com

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