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Etymology Of ‘Hindu’ Unsettled Debate

In all cases of streams of the Indus, Sindhu has been used while compounding; this Sapta-Sindhu mutates into Hapta-Hindu and Sindhu into Hindu

Almost everyone in the independent Bhārata grew up learning the fact that the word Hindu was an exonym. Depending on the ideological tilt of historians of our country, Hindu was a Greek, Persian, Arabic or Chinese import. The Persio-Arabic claim to the word is the strongest. This near-categorical assertion never sat well with me. As a resident of the Awadh region, I grew up with the sa-ha variation (for example, what is asti in Sanskrit was ahi for us) and nothing about it felt Arabic or Persian. What follows is an outcome of that non-acceptance.

Hindu from Saptasindhu?

Ṛgveda called this land the Saptasindhu (and not Āryāvarta or Bhāratavarṣa). Traditionally two saptasindhus are known to us.

  1. Gaṅgā, Yamunā, Godavarī, Saraswatī, Narmadā, Sindhu, Kāverī. (Nāradapurāṇa Pūrva. 27.33)गंगे च यमुने चैव गोदावरी सरस्वति। नर्मदे सिन्धुकावेरी जलेऽस्मिन् सन्निधिम् कुरु॥ (gange ca yamune caiva godavari sarasvati narmade sindho kaveri jale asmin sannidhiṃ kuru)
  2. Visvokasārā, Nalinī, Pāvanī, Saraswatī, Jambunadī, Sītā, Gaṅgā and Sindhu. (Mahābhārata Bhīṣmaparva 7.39-50)हेमकूटस्तु सुमहान्कैलासो नाम पर्वतः। यत्र वैश्रवणो राजा गुह्यकैः सह मोदते।।39।। अस्त्युत्तरेण कैलासं मैनाकं पर्वतं प्रति। हिरण्यशृङ्गः सुमहान्दिव्यो मणिमयो गिरिः।।40।। तस्य पार्श्वे महद्दिव्यं शुभं काञ्चनवालुकम्। रम्यं बिन्दुसरो नाम यत्र राजा भगीरथः।।41।। दृष्ट्वा भागीरथीं गङ्गामुवास बहुलाः समाः।।42।। यूपा मणिमयास्तत्र चित्याश्चापि हिरण्मयाः। तत्रेष्ट्वा तु गतः सिद्धिं सहस्राक्षो महायशाः।।43।। सृष्ट्वा भूतपतिर्यत्र सर्वलोकान्सनातनः। उपास्यते तिग्मतेजा वृतो भूतैः समागतैः।।44।। नरनारायणौ ब्रह्मा मनुः स्थाणुश्च पञ्चमः।।45।। तत्र त्रिपथगा देवी प्रथमं तु प्रतिष्ठिता। ब्रह्मलोकादपक्रान्ता सप्तधा प्रतिपद्यते।।46।। वस्वोकसारा नलिनी पावना च सरस्वती। जम्बूनदी च सीता च गङ्गा सिन्धुश्च सप्तमी।।47।। अचिन्त्या दिव्यसङ्कल्पा प्रभोरेषैव संविधिः। उपासते यत्र सत्रं सहस्रयुगपर्यये।।49।। दृश्यादृश्या च भवति तत्र सरस्वती। एता दिव्याः सप्त गङ्गास्त्रिषु लोकेषु विश्रुताः।।50।। 39 hemakūṭas tu sumahān kailāso nāma parvataḥ yatra vaiśravaṇo rājā guhyakaiḥ saha modate 40 asty uttareṇa kailāsaṃ mainākaṃ parvataṃ prati hiraṇyaśṛṅgaḥ sumahān divyo maṇimayo giriḥ 41 tasya pārśve mahad divyaṃ śubhaṃ kāñcanavālukam ramyaṃ bindusaro nāma yatra rājā bhagīrathaḥ dṛṣṭvā bhāgīrathīṃ gaṅgām uvāsa bahulāḥ samāḥ 42 yūpā maṇimayās tatra cityāś cāpi hiraṇmayāḥ tatreṣṭvā tu gataḥ siddhiṃ sahasrākṣo mahāyaśāḥ 43 sṛṣṭvā bhūtapatir yatra sarvalokān sanātanaḥ upāsyate tigmatejā vṛto bhūtaiḥ samāgataiḥ naranārāyaṇau brahmā manuḥ sthāṇuś ca pañcamaḥ 44 tatra tripathagā devī prathamaṃ tu pratiṣṭhitā brahmalokād apakrāntā saptadhā pratipadyate 45 vasv oka sārā nalinī pāvanā ca sarasvatī jambūnadī ca sītā ca gaṅgā sindhuś ca saptamī 46 acintyā divyasaṃkalpā prabhor eṣaiva saṃvidhiḥ upāsate yatra satraṃ sahasrayugaparyaye 47 dṛśyādṛśyā ca bhavati tatra tatra sarasvatī etā divyāḥ sapta gaṅgās triṣu lokeṣu viśrutāḥ 48 rakṣāṃsi vai himavati hemakūṭe tu guhyakāḥ sarpā nāgāś ca niṣadhe gokarṇe ca tapodhanāḥ 49 devāsurāṇāṃ ca gṛhaṃ śvetaḥ parvata ucyate gandharvā niṣadhe śaile nīle brahmarṣayo nṛpa śṛṅgavāṃs tu mahārāja pitṝṇāṃ pratisaṃcaraḥ

Many scholars have also considered the streams of the Indus valley, namely, Swāta, Gomala, Kumā, Vitastā, Candrabhāgā, Irāvatī and Sindhu to be the Saptasindhu.

In all the cases, Sindhu has been used while compounding. This Sapta-Sindhu mutates into Hapta-HinduHapta-Hendu or Hapta-Hindu is also mentioned in the book of Vendidad which describes the sixteen nations of the Airyana Vaeja (Indic Ārayāvarta). But the interesting point to note is that the Vendidad, and indeed the entire Avesta, does not mention Persia or Media. This was because Persia and Media became nations after the Avestan canon was closed. However, The Achaemenian Persian Kings (c. 700 – 330 BCE) repeatedly proclaimed their Aryan heritage. and Sindhu into HinduM. The next question to be answered, therefore, is whether we have non-exotic rules for this mutation.

If we look at the Māheśvara Sūtras of Pāṇini, we will observe that there is phonetic proximity between श्, ष्,स् and ह् (all are ūṣma-saṅgharṣī vyañjanā ). Certain Pāṇinian rules explain the of सि to हि सेर्ह्यपिच्च (3.4.87): The सिप्-प्रत्यय of the लोट्-लकार is converted to ‘हि’ and स to ह​ ह एति (7.4.52): For the स् of तस् and अस् there is substituted ह् before the personal-ending ए. अस्म becomes अह​ and later अहम् following the rule त्वाहौ सौ[7.2.94] (अहम् mutates to हम in the Hindi language). So, the sa-ha duality can at least, be pushed back to the period of Pāṇini.

The Chāndas

The Vedas are replete with instances where sa and ha are used interchangeably. For instance, what is श्रीश्च​ in Shukla Yajurveda becomes हीश्च​ in Kṛṣṇayajurveda (31.1)श्रीश्च॑ ते ल॒क्ष्मीश्च॒ पत्न्या॑वहोरा॒त्रे पा॒र्श्वे नक्ष॑त्राणि रू॒पम॒श्विनौ॒ व्यात्त॑म् । इ॒ष्णन्नि॑षाणा॒मुं म॑ इषाण सर्वलो॒कं म॑ इषाण ॥ 31.22 ॥ of Vājasaneyī Saṃhitā 31.22 and ह्रीश्च॑ ते ल॒क्ष्मीश्च॒ पत्न्या॑वहोरा॒त्रे पा॒र्श्वे नक्ष॑त्राणि रू॒पम॒श्विनौ॒ व्यात्त॑म् । इ॒ष्णन्नि॑षाणा॒मुं म॑ इषाण सर्वलो॒कं म॑ इषाण ॥3.13.41 ॥ Taittiriya Āraṇyaka and Mahānārayaṇopaniṣata Uttaranārāyana Anuvaka 6 . शिरालोहित becomes हिरालोहित in Atharvaveda अमूर्या यन्ति योषितो हिरा लोहितवाससः ।अभ्रातर इव जामयस्तिष्ठन्तु हतवर्चसः ॥1.17.1॥ (रुधिरस्रावनिवर्तनधमनीबन्धन मन्त्र). Saraswatī has been called both सरस्वति and हरस्वतीत्वं नो॑ गो॒पाः प॑थि॒कृद् वि॑चक्ष॒णस्तव॑ व्र॒ताय॑ म॒तिभि॑र्जरामहे। बृह॑स्पते॒ यो नो॑ अ॒भि ह्वरो॑ द॒धे स्वा तं म॑र्मर्तु दु॒च्छुना॒ हर॑स्वती ॥2.23.6॥ and इ॒मं मे॑ गङ्गे यमुने सरस्वति॒ शुतु॑द्रि॒ स्तोमं॑ सचता॒ परु॒ष्ण्या । अ॒सि॒क्न्या म॑रुद्वृधे वि॒तस्त॒याऽऽर्जी॑कीये शृणु॒ह्या सु॒षोम॑या ॥10.75.5॥ in the Ṛgveda. Atharvaveda frequently uses the word हरितः in the place of सरितःविपश्चितं तरणिं भ्राजमानं वहन्ति यं हरितः सप्त बह्वीः । स्रुताद्यमत्त्रिर्दिवमुन्निनाय तं त्वा पश्यन्ति परियान्तमाजिम् ॥13.2.4॥ स्वस्ति ते सूर्य चरसे रथाय येनोभावन्तौ परियासि सद्यः । यं ते वहन्ति हरितो वहिष्ठाः शतमश्वा यदि वा सप्त बह्वीः ॥13.2.6॥ सुखं सूर्य रथमंशुमन्तं स्योनं सुवह्निमधि तिष्ठ वाजिनम् । यं ते वहन्ति हरितो वहिष्ठाः शतमश्वा यदि वा सप्त बह्वीः ॥13.2.7॥ सप्त सूर्यो हरितो यातवे रथे हिरण्यत्वचसो बृहतीरयुक्त । अमोचि शुक्रो रजसः परस्ताद्विधूय देवस्तमो दिवमारुहत्॥13.2.8॥ पूर्वापरं चरतो माययैतौ शिशू क्रीडन्तौ परि यातोऽर्णवम् । विश्वान्यो भुवना विचष्टे हैरण्यैरन्यं हरितो वहन्ति ॥११॥ सप्त त्वा हरितो रथे वहन्ति देव सूर्य । शोचिष्केशं विचक्षणम् ॥13.2.23॥ अतन्द्रो यास्यन् हरितो यदास्थाद्द्वे रूपे कृणुते रोचमानः । केतुमान् उद्यन्त्सहमानो रजांसि विश्वा आदित्य प्रवतो वि भासि ॥13.2.28॥ सो अस्य वज्रो हरितो य आयसो हरिर्निकामो हरिरा गभस्त्योः । द्युम्नी सुशिप्रो हरिमन्युसायक इन्द्रे नि रूपा हरिता मिमिक्षिरे ॥20.30.3॥ दिवि न केतुरधि धायि हर्यतो विव्यचद्वज्रो हरितो न रंह्या । तुददहिं हरिशिप्रो य आयसः सहस्रशोका अभवद्धरिम्भरः ॥20.30.4॥ .

By now, one should not find it surprising that Yāsk’s Nighaṇṭu also confirms this interchangeability. The very first chapter discusses the words used for rivers. Two word-pairs should grab our attention: सरस्वत्यः-हरस्वत्यः and सरितः-हरित​:सरितो हरितो भवन्ति, सरस्वत्यो हरस्वत्यः। (निघण्टु 1.13).

Hindu trail

Having established the linguistic duality sa and ha, one needs to investigate the usage and acceptance of the term Hindu in Smṛti, Itihāsa and other Indic literary texts (Koṣas, dramas etc.) to establish the native or endemic roots of the word.  In that context, the following are listed:

  • Bṛhaspati Āgama– हिमालयं समारभ्य यवदिन्सरोवरम्। तं देवनिर्मितं देशं हिन्दुस्थानं प्रचक्षते॥
  • Vṛddhasmṛti— हिंसया दूयते यश्च सदाचारतत्परः। वेदगोप्रतिमासेवी स हिन्दुमुखशब्दभाक्॥
  • Bhavishyapurāṇa describes Sindhusthāna as the great lands of the Āryas–  सिन्धुस्थानमिति ज्ञेयं राष्ट्रमार्यस्य चोत्तमम्।
  • Bhavishyapurāṇa Pratisargaparva Prathama Khaṇḍa uses both Sindhu and Hindu- सप्तसिन्धुस्थैव च​। सप्तहिन्दुर्यावनी च​।
  • Kālikāpurāṇa describes the migration of Hindus to the Vindhyas after the of the Yavanas-बलिना कलिनाऽऽच्छन्ने धर्मे कवलितौ कलौ। यवनैरवनिः क्रान्ता हिन्दवो विन्ध्यमाविशन्।।शारङ्गधरपद्धति also mentions the same tale. The text is as late as the mid-14th century CE. (यवनैरवनिः क्रान्ता हिन्दवो विन्ध्यमाविशन्। बलिना वेदमार्गोऽयं कलिना कवलीकृतः॥)
  • Merutantra Prakāśa 23 — हीनं च दूषत्येव हिन्दुरित्युच्यते प्रिये।
  • Śabdakalpadruma– हीनं दूषयति इति हिन्दू। पृषोरादित्वात् साधुजातिविशेषः।
  • Adbhutakoṣa describes Hindu and Hindū as masculine words — हिन्दु–हिंदूश्च पुंसि दुष्टानां च विघर्षणे। रूपशालिनि दैत्यारौ. . .
  • Hemantakavikoṣa– हिन्दुर्हि नारायणादिदेवताभक्तः
  • Rāmakoṣa– हिंदुर्दुष्टो न भवति नानार्यो न विदूषकः। सद्धर्मपालको विद्वन् श्रोतधर्मपरायणः॥
  • Pārijātaharaṇa, the rūpaka of Umāpatidhara Upādhyaya, mentions the term too– हिनस्ति तपसा पापान् दैहिकान् दुष्टमानसान्। हेतिभिः शत्रुवर्गं च स हिन्दुरभिधीयते॥

And, of course, the Cow

सिन्धु means the bearer of the moon (सिन् (चन्द्र​)+ धुः (धारक​))Rāmāyaṇa mentions the river Indumati. From  सिन् we get सिनी which means the phases of the moonSixteen Kalā of the Moon are– अंगिरा, अंशुमालिनी, अमृता, तुष्टि, धृति, मरीचि, पूषा, प्राप्ति, यशा, रति, शशिनी, छाया, संपूर्णमंडला, सुमनसा, सौम्या और ऋद्धि and सिनीवाली means new moonṚgveda– सिनी॑वालि॒ पृथु॑ष्टुके॒ या दे॒वाना॒मसि॒ स्वसा॑ । जु॒षस्व॑ ह॒व्यमाहु॑तं प्र॒जां दे॑वि दिदिड्ढि नः ॥2.32.6॥ या सु॑बा॒हुः स्व॑ङ्गु॒रिः सु॒षूमा॑ बहु॒सूव॑री । तस्यै॑ वि॒श्पत्न्यै॑ ह॒विः सि॑नीवा॒ल्यै जु॑होतन ॥2.32.7॥ या गु॒ङ्गूर्या सि॑नीवा॒ली या रा॒का या सर॑स्वती । इ॒न्द्रा॒णीम॑ह्व ऊ॒तये॑ वरुणा॒नीं स्व॒स्तये॑ ॥2.32.8॥ . The Sāmavedic सिन् and हिन् are equivalents. Sin is Soma. The Śatapatha Brāhamaṇa states- न असामा यज्ञोऽस्ति (there is no yajña without Sāma) and that there is no Sāma without hin—“हिङ्कृत्वा अन्वाह​, न असामा यज्ञोस्ति इति आहुः।न वा अ-हिङ्कृत्वा साम गीयते। प्राणो वै हिङ्कारः।” So the people who adorn the हिङ्कारः as prāṇa and do the yajña can be termed as Sindhu or Hindu.

Interestingly enough,  हिन् also symbolises the cowṚgveda– हि॒ङ्कृ॒ण्व॒ती व॑सु॒पत्नी॒ वसू॑नां व॒त्समि॒च्छन्ती॒ मन॑सा॒भ्यागा॑त् । दु॒हाम॒श्विभ्यां॒ पयो॑ अ॒घ्न्येयं सा व॑र्धतां मह॒ते सौभ॑गाय ॥1.164.27॥. The cows in the bearer on the yajña. Using the starting letters of the Ṛcā -हि॒ङ्कृ॒ण्व॒ती व॑सु॒पत्नी॒ वसू॑नां व॒त्समि॒च्छन्ती॒ मन॑सा॒भ्यागा॑त् । दु॒हाम॒श्विभ्यां॒ पयो॑ अ॒घ्न्येयं सा व॑र्धतां मह॒ते सौभ॑गाय- that is, हिन् and दु, we again arrive at the term Hindu. And before the idea seems concocted, consider the following āptavacana from Nyāyadarśana Bhāṣya: यस्य येनार्थसम्बन्धो दूरस्थापि तस्य सः। अर्थतो ह्यसमर्थानामानन्तर्यमकारणम्॥ i.e., words situated far apart can also be taken as a compoundLest the idea seem a little wild, here is one more example which follows the same rule. अ उ म् of ॐ in Mandukya is summed thus (अप्तेरादिमत्त्वात्, उत्कर्षात्, मिते:)— “जागरितस्थानो वैश्वानरोऽकारः प्रथमा मात्राऽऽप्तेरादिमत्त्वाद्वाऽऽप्नोति ह वै सर्वान् कामानादिश्च भवति य एवं वेद ॥ 9॥स्वप्नस्थानस्तैजस उकारो द्वितीया मात्रोत्कर्षात्उभयत्वाद्वोत्कर्षति ह वै ज्ञानसन्ततिं समानश्च भवतिनास्याब्रह्मवित्कुले भवति य एवं वेद ॥ 10॥ सुषुप्तस्थानः प्राज्ञो मकारस्तृतीया मात्रा मितेरपीतेर्वामिनोति ह वा इदं सर्वमपीतिश्च भवति य एवं वेद ॥ 11॥”. It should not surprise anyone of us if we were to be told that this landmass identified with the cows and decided to give itself a name associated with it.

Based on the aforementioned observations, the Sindhu-Hindu interchangeability can be seen as an endemic phenomenon and not necessarily exotic.

Finally, an interesting point to note here is that the names of historical Abrahamic figures like Mūsā (Moses) did not mutate into Mūhā in the lands they come from which further weakens the argument that such a mutation was specially reserved for the residents of the Saptasindhu. If nothing, then, at least, this article should plant a seed of doubt in your mind and make you question the claim the next time it is made.

Alakshendra Tripathi
Alakshendra Tripathihttps://www.sirfnews.com/
Political, economic and social affairs commentator

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Denmark empties neighbourhoods of Muslim tenants

While it seems unreal to the world used to getting news of politically correct governance, laws of Denmark allow it; now other European nations are catching up

What Supreme Court forbade in charity by religions

Did the Supreme Court ban conversion, responding to the PIL by Ashwini Upadhyay, or was urging religious organisations not to convert a mere observation?

Why Trump wants US constitution scrapped

Know the five ‘informal’ amendments to the US constitution that Donald Trump had brought in as president, which can save him from all trials and tribulations

How Germany came on the same page as India in sharing concerns of the new world order

India and Germany interact in the framework of the G4 to reform the UNSC, as India's G20 presidency coincides with the German G7 presidency for a year

OPEC+ policy amid weakening economy explained

OPEC+ had cut output due to a weaker economic outlook, as oil prices declined as Chinese and global growth slowed, interest rates rose and Russia was sanctioned

Did Iran really abolish moral police? Hijab in history of Persia explained

The media is perhaps going by what Attorney General of Iran Mohammad Jafar Montazeri said at a private function and not the statement of President Ebrahim Raisi

Netflix games: How to download, play in India for free

What is better than the games you get to download on Google Play or Apple Store otherwise, Netflix games come with no ads, no extra fees, and no in-app purchase

Quran, Ahadith vouch for Ahmedabad imam: Election tickets to Muslim women anti-Islam indeed

What Shahi Imam, Ahmedabad Jama’ Masjid, said on hijab, considered with barring women from elections, matches the teachings in the Quran and a few hadiths

Update mobile number, email in EPF account: Here’s how

A member can register his/her mobile numbers in the EPFO database online through the EPF member portal and also change his/her mobile number in the EPF account

How US submarine went undetected while visiting Indian Ocean

An official of the US Navy said that a standard stealthy submarine patrol lasted for 10 to 12 weeks, extendable by many weeks by switching out the crew

Truck with anti-terrorism message roams in New Jersey; Islamists find it ‘anti-Muslim’

What’s no longer surprising in the woke country, politicians issued statements of condemnation and called for an investigation into the movement of the truck

Why YouTube removed 5.6 million videos in July-September

YouTube says that from July to September, for every 10,000 views, between 10 and 11 had content that violated the community guidelines
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