Hinduism: once was: RAJARAM EPISODE

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vsundaresan at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed Oct 4 18:38:43 UTC 2000

>obvious reasons.  However, one could question whether he was a "Hindu"
>ethnically whatever that might mean -- as I said above, I think the
>term as you suggest using it is too vague and imprecise.  Of course,

The term Hindu has always been vague and imprecise, and always will be. It
is more than a little irksome to hear a scholar say that contemporary Hindus
should define themselves precisely, when he should really know better. It is
tattvAnyatvAbhyAm anirvacanIya, and we like it that way. The very
impreciseness of this term can be either a liability or an asset, depending
on one's biases. Apparently, some biases are more respectable than others. I
hate to get into post-modern fluff like "rigid masculine" vs. "fluid
feminine", but that seems to be precisely the problem. I suppose nobody here
needs to be reminded that casting Asia as a feminine entity was a
significant feature of a very recent past. I'm not convinced that these
attitudes have entirely disappeared still.

>one might use the word "Hindu" as an ethnic blanket term for anybody
>living in the Indian sub-continent but I believe it is not at all
>clear whether the inhabitants of the Shakyan polity including Gautama
>himself (and of the nearby V.rjian confederacy) were of Indo-Aryan
>origin -- given the proximity of those states to regions still

So here comes race again, when we were all just getting used to the idea
that Aryan referred primarily to a linguistic category, irrespective of the
racial origins of the speakers. Or is there any indication that the Sakyas
spoke a dialect of non-Indo-Aryan identity? Irrespective of what later texts
say about Gautama's genealogy, the frequency of early references to him as
an Arya and to his teaching as Arya-dharma should also not go unnoticed.

In either case, under this objection, most contemporary south Indians would
not be "Hindu", including yours truly. They would not have been Hindu in
Cankam times either, or for that matter, in later Cola and Pandya times.
Conversely, if there has always been a substantial non-Indo-Aryan component
to what is called "Hindu", as opposed to "Vedic", why not consider the
Sakyas and Vrjis Hindu too, whatever the term may mean? Is there any valid
theory that says that one non-Aryan thing is Hindu, and another non-Aryan
thing from the same subcontinent is not Hindu? As I asked some five years
ago on this list, at what point in space-time and owing to what reasons did
the Indo-Aryan become a Hindu?

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