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The Word Hindu and India

The word 'Hindu' is NOT a Sanskrit word. Numerous scholars say it is not found in any of the Vedic literature. So it is important to know how such a name can truly represent the Vedic culture. And without the Vedic literature, there is no basis for “Hinduism.” Similarly, the name ‘India’ did not come from any Indian language or culture. So let’s find out their origin.

Origin of the word Hindu

Most scholars feel that the word “Hindu” was developed by outsiders, invaders who could not pronounce the name of the Sindhu River properly. Sindhu was the original name for a great river in north-west India. When invaders from Persia came across this river, they pronounced it ‘Hindu’. Because in Persian, the ‘S’ is pronounced as ‘H’. Eventually from ‘Hindu’, the second ‘h’ disappeared. So from ‘Sindhu’ the word ‘Hindu’ evolved. It described a geographical area. Today the word ‘Hindu’ represents people who follow Sanatan Dharma (Eternal religion based on Vedic knowledge). However later, it became to represent the people of ‘Hindu’ – Sthan. ‘Sthan’ means land. From this evolved the word ‘Hindustan’. It is very important to mention that word Hindustan does not mean only the land of Hindus but all the people of India who live east of the Sindhu River, which is called Hindustan or Bharat.

Origin of the word India

Some sources report that it was Alexander the Great who first renamed the River Sindhu as the Indu, dropping the beginning “S”, thus making it easier for the Greeks to pronounce. This became known as the Indus. This was when Alexander invaded India around 325 B.C. His Macedonian forces thereafter called the land east of the Indus as India, a name more frequently used especially during the British regime.

Thereafter, even the Indians conformed to these standards as set by those in power and used the names Hindu, Hindustan and India. Otherwise, the word has no meaning except for those who place value on it or now use it out of convenience.

Some other names of India

Aryavrata - Land of Aryans
Ajnabh khand - Named on the king Aj - Grandfather of Lord Ram
Hindustan – As discussed above from the word Sindhu
Hind - Short form of Hindustan - First used by Netajee
Bharat – Named on the king Bharat – Official Hindi name
India – Name mostly used by British - Official English name

Comments (4) -

  • shubha

    1/3/2007 12:17:09 AM | Reply

    Indus Valley civilization. Read in the History books long ago in high school. Good info for the ones who hasn't studied Indian history.
    Let me add one more info. South Indians who were called as Dravidians are the actual Hindus. But Aryans are the ones who migrated from outside India to north India. By nature Aryans are tall, well built and fair. But Dravidians are short, thin and dark.
    Jokingly we say, North Indians are not Indians Smile
    Just sharing what I know.

    Hey Vishwa, rate my comments also man. I am reading all your articles with interest and giving my opinions. Smile

  • Vishwa

    1/3/2007 2:08:08 PM | Reply

    The story of Aryans that they came from outside etc is now controversial. India has a long history of accepting people from different part of the world, even it is happening today. I am not a historian or archeologist so don’t know the real truth, but logically it seems impossible to believe that all of north India was taken over by outsiders. It is more logical to believe the fact that rulers of that period influenced or dictated some historians and they presented the fact which is told to us to divide and rule the country. About dark and fair and body structure I believe it is more climate related, if person whose parents were dark  and lived over generation to cold area slowly he/she will be fairer than their parents thus according to weather the body structure will also change. However I do not also contradict the fact that no one came from outside, some came as invaders and some came as visitors, all entered India mostly through North and those who lived and got intermingled with existing population their gene also came into play.

  • shubha

    1/5/2007 8:44:18 AM | Reply

    I agree with you. That's a good analysis.

  • Luigi Burgett

    5/14/2010 2:23:58 PM | Reply

    Took me time to read all the comments, but I really enjoyed the article. It proved to be Very helpful to me and I am sure to all the commenters here It's always nice when you can not only be informed, but also entertained I'm sure you had fun writing this article.