Hinduism: once was: RAJARAM EPISODE

Wed Oct 4 23:57:43 UTC 2000

Vidyasankar Sundaresan wrote:

> It is more than a little irksome to hear a scholar say that
contemporary Hindus
> should define themselves precisely, when he should really know

Am I supposed to have said this ??  Where ?  It is not for me to say
how contemporary Hindus should define themselves.   The problem for me
is when the term is applied retroactively to an era centuries before
it was first coined -- hence my reply to the posting by Ven Tantra.  I
have no problems with Hindus (however they may define themselves) nor
with Hinduism but I don't think it is helpful to lump Buddhists
together with Hindus -- however you define the term.  I have not
encountered any Buddhists who would do so apart from Ven Tantra.

> So here comes race again, when we were all just getting used to the
> that Aryan referred primarily to a linguistic category, irrespective
of the
> racial origins of the speakers.

Sorry, I realized I should have rephrased what I wrote just after I
sent the msg.  What I intended to imply was "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 truly
members of the normative religio-socio-cultural scene that obtained in
the Ganges basin area that comprised Magadha, Kosala etc at the time
(call it what you will)".   This should be clear from a careful
reading of what the Buddha himself taught.  Thus the racial bit that
you jumped on with such alacrity was NOT uppermost in my mind --
rather I was referring, perhaps a little clumsily for your liking,
primarily to the socio-religious-cultural set-up.

> an Arya and to his teaching as Arya-dharma should also not go

Understood by Buddhists in the sense of "noble" -- hence neither a
racial nor linguistic title but spiritual.

> 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
So how are you defining "Hindu" here ?   An adherent of a particular
set of religious views or an inhabitant of India ?   Some precision
would help.  Since you say "*most* contemporary south Indians", who
are the exceptions ?  If I understand you correctly, you imply the
religious sense.  If so, I rest my case:  Buddhists are not Hindus,
although there is naturally some common ground.  BTW do Keralan
Christians consider themselves Hindus in any sense of the word ?

> Conversely, if there has always been a substantial non-Indo-Aryan
> to what is called "Hindu", as opposed to "Vedic", why not consider
> Sakyas and Vrjis Hindu too, whatever the term may mean ?

Why bother to use words at all if they have nor fixed meaning ?  Or
are you advocating the
"humpty-dumpty" approach to semantics ?   Do you mean "Hindu" as a
"ethnic" category -- whoever might be included or as a religious
category ?   There seems a good parallel here with the word "Jew" --
is one a Jew by race, by religion or by both ?   The same confusion I
was objecting to would seem to arise if one were to substitute "Jew"
for "Hindu" and "Christian" for "Buddhist" etc in this thread.

Best wishes,
Stephen Hodge

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