Question and Answer

Q. What does Hinduism mean?

A.  Hinduism, the word having its roots in Indus (the river), refers to the religion and philosophies that were prospering in the land around and beyond the river Indus. Hinduism originally was spread throughout the world , but at some later periods of time it has been practiced only in the Indian subcontinent. The discipline having no founder for itself and is in existence from the time undefined does not refer to itself as Hinduism. It was the people from outside who discovered this practice called it by this name Hinduism and now that has been generally referred to by this name only. ( A good analogy would be that of Native Americans. They were mistakenly called Indians although they had nothing to do with india but the name is used as if it is true. Similarly word Hinduism is not the original term or name for the religion we call Hinduism.

Originally the names that were used to refer to this discipline are sanAtana dharma (meaning eternal discipline) and vaidIka dharma (meaning discipline of Vedas). If the religions practiced in the subcontinent are referred to as Hinduism it would mean a broad umbrella, which includes the Jainism, Buddhism and various other religions that took birth in this land and then spread to the other parts. These religions share many of the common roots with the sanAtana dharma. Hinduism being an open framework and these philosophies and customs are very closely associated with the main streams, it may not be wrong all together to call them so. B