THIS is apropos of Mubarak Ali’s article ‘Evolution of Hinduism’ (March 25, Dawn Magazine).
In the first paragraph, Mr Ali writes that the term Hinduism was coined in modern times, but has not elaborated how modern was the time? In the next paragraph he mentions Brahmanism as if Hinduism and Brahmanism are synonymous to each other, and goes on to write that Brahmanism has assimilated teachings from Buddhism and Jainism. However, it is not the case.
The term Hinduism is derived from the word Hindu. This name was given to the original inhabitants of India by the Aryans who came from Persia to conquer India. They pushed the original inhabitants of the land, the Dravidians, to the south, captured their land and named them Hindu.
The word Hindu is from the Persian language meaning black, thief, slave, etc. This can be checked in any dictionary of the Persian language (ref: Farhang Farsi, Moeen Muhammad, Kitab khana Milli, Iran).
Considering the time when Aryans came to India, could it be referred to in any way as modern times?
The origin of Brahmans is traced by historians to Aryans who during their early times in India (2000 BC to 1200 BC), having their god and goddess Indar and Agni, compiled Rigveda, created caste system and made a strong influence on the religion which still continues.
In their caste system the Aryans placed Hindus, the black Dravidians, in the bottom.
Jainism and Buddhism appeared as late as 6th century BC; their teachings were quite contrary to the Brahmanism. Buddha was the strongest and the most influential person to revolt against the system of his times.
It is wrong to say that Buddhism vanished from India. One can say Buddhism like every true religion of its time migrated to the land which was most appropriate for the propagation of their belief.
Followers of Buddha now, no matter how true to the teachings of Buddha, exist in many parts of the world; in the past they had a strong presence in the northwest of India which are now part of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Buddhists are living in the north, south and east of India; they’ve flourished very well throughout the far east of India.
Hinduism, if we say was a religion of the original inhabitants of ancient India, is lost and forgotten. One has to make a sincere effort to discover it.
MUHAMMAD SHIBLI RAZA Karachi