The wordÂ HinduÂ is derived from the Sanskrit wordÂ SindhuÂ which is the local 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 was used by Greeks to denote the country and people living beyond 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. But this was only an extention of the name used by the Greeks. The Arabic termÂ al-Hind, referred to the land of the people who live across the river Indus. By the 13th century, the wordÂ HindustanÂ began to be used as a popular alternative name for India, meaning the “land ofÂ Hindus“.
Towards the end of the 18th century, the European merchants and colonists referred collectively to the followers of the Dharmic religions inÂ HindustanÂ â€” which geographically referred to most parts of the northern Indian subcontinent â€” asÂ 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 theÂ ismÂ was added toÂ HinduÂ in the early part of the nineteenth century by English writers to denote the culture and religion of the high-caste Brahmans. The wordÂ HinduismÂ 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 isÂ SanatanÂ andÂ Arya. The word Hindu is believed to not appear in the Hindu scriptures, viz, Vedas, Upanishads, and Puranhas. The contemporary Hindus are believers of and accept the authority of the said scriptures, hence, they are more accurately identified asÂ SanatanisÂ orÂ Aryans. Another word which is more accurate than Hindu, isÂ Bhaaratiya. People of India are believed to be the descendants of King Bharat. From his name comes the original name of India,Â Bhaarat, and, those residing inÂ BhaaratÂ areÂ Bhaaratiya.
Reproduced from: Wikibooks