Hinduism/Etymology of the words Hindu and Hinduism

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The word Hindu is derived from the Sanskrit word Sindhu which is the ancient name for the Indus River that flows through the north-western part of the Indian subcontinent. Sindhu also means sea. The word Hindu or Indu is used by Greeks to denote the country and people living beyong the Indus river. Megasthenes' 'Indica', epitomizes the name for India and Indians around the 4th Century B.C.E. This word was misunderstood to be coined by Arabs by medieval and some modern Indian Historians, which was only an extention of the name used by the Greeks. The Arabic term al-Hind, referring to the land of the people who live across the river Indus. By the 13th century, the word Hindustan began to be used as a popular alternative name for India, meaning the "land of Hindus". Towards the end of the 18th century, the European merchants and colonists referred collectively to the followers of the Dharmic religions in Hindustan — which geographically referred to most parts of the northern Indian subcontinent — as Hindus. Eventually, any person of Indian origin who did not practice Abrahamic religions came to be known as a Hindu, thereby encompassing a wide range of religious beliefs and practices.

One of the accepted views is that the ism was added to Hindu in the early part of the nineteenth century by English writers to denote the culture and religion of the high-caste Brahmans. The word Hinduism was soon adopted by the Hindus themselves, as a term that encompassed their national, social and cultural identity.

The original word for the now-so-called Hindus is Sanatan and Arya. The word Hindu is believed to not appear in the Hindu scriptures, viz, Veda, Upanishads, and Puranhas. The contemporary Hindus are believers of and accept the authority of the said scriptures, hence, they are more accurately identified as Sanatanis or Aryans. Another word which is more accurate than Hindu, is Bhaaratiya. People of India are believed to be the descendants of King Bharat. From his name comes the original name of India, Bhaarat, and, those residing in Bhaarat are Bhaaratiya.

In the 19th. and 20th centuries under the British Raj (or Rule) of India the word Hinduism was applied to the national, social and cultural practice of the majority of Brahmanic people and their belief in a number of mythical gods and goddesses, but never suggested as being anything beyond a philosophy -- a great philosophy, too; never a religion established by a single prophet, or a holy book or scriptures. As a result of a political undercurrent, however, a few of these people have been radicalised into believing erroneously that Hinduism is a religion, when in fact it is not one.