October 10, 2019
The Wisdom Fund

Why I Am A Hindu -- Book Excerpt

by Sashi Tharoor

My generation grew up in an India where our sense of nationhood lay in the slogan, 'unity in diversity.' We were brought up to take pluralism for granted, and to reject the communalism that had partitioned the nation when the British left. In rejecting the case for Pakistan, Indian nationalism also rejected the very idea that religion should be a determinant of nationhood. . . .

Though the Indian population was 80 percent Hindu and the country had been partitioned as a result of a demand for a separate Muslim homeland, three of India's eleven presidents were Muslims; so were innumerable governors, cabinet ministers, chief ministers of states, ambassadors, generals, and Supreme Court justices. During the war with Pakistan in 1971, when the Pakistani leadership was foolish enough to proclaim a jihad against the Hindu 'unbelievers', the Indian Air Force in the northern sector was commanded by a Muslim (Air Marshal, later Air Chief Marshal, I. H. Latif); the army commander was a Parsi (General, later Field Marshal, S. H. F. J. Manekshaw), the general officer commanding the forces that marched into Bangladesh was a Sikh (General J. S. Aurora), and the general flown in to negotiate the surrender of the Pakistani forces in East Bengal was Jewish (Major-General J. F. R. Jacob). -- pages 185-192

Sashi Tharoor is a Member of Parliament in India. He has served as executive assistant to UN Secretary-General Kofi Anan. Upon Kofi Anan's departure, he became India's candidate for Secretary-General. He finished second behind Ban Ki-moon.


Wikipedia: The actual term 'hindu' first occurs, . . . as "a Persian geographical term for the people who lived beyond the river Indus"

Jawaharlal Nehru, "The Discovery of India," Centenary Edition, Oxford University Press, 1985 (page 74, 75, 76, 77)

Bharat Mata, Mother India, was essentially these millions of people, and victory to her meant victory to these people.--Jawaharlal Nehru, "The Discovery of India," Centenary Edition, Oxford University Press, 1985 (page 60)

[I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true. I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth.--Swami Vivekananda, "Addresses at The Parliament of Religions,", 1893]

[I am a believer in the truth of all the great religions of the world--Mahatma Gandhi, "Foreword, The Sayings of Muhammad," 1938]

L.D. Russell, "Hinduism," Truitt Center for Religious & Spiritual Life, February 24, 2014

["Hindu" doesn't appear in the four Vedas, the Upanishads and the Buddhist scriptures. . . .

The various traditions used their philosophical and spiritual practices such as Vaishnavs, Shakta, Mahayana, Vajrayana, Advaita etc - to identify themselves. But no one called themselves Hindus. . . .

The three words - Hindu, Hindustan and Hinduism - were coined and popularised by Muslims and Christians . . .

All the diverse philosophical traditions and the sub-traditions which originated in India are part of Sanatan Dharma that translates to "Eternal Law" or "Eternal Way of Things" or "Eternal Order".--Devdan Chaudhuri, "How did Hindus become Hindu and why Hindutva is not Hinduism,", October 17, 2017]

[The Bhagavad Gita enumerated the traits of the righteous . . .

The traits of the righteous were, "Fearless and pure in heart; steadfast in the exercise of wisdom; restrained and open-handed; none-hurting, truthful, from anger free; compassionate to all existent beings; free from nagging greed; gentle, modest, never fickle; ardent, patient, enduring, pure, not treacherous nor arrogant."--Devdan Chaudhuri, "About Values,", April 18, 2020]

[The word "Hindu" is a Persianate derivative of "Sindhu", Sanskrit for the Indus River. Only during India's colonial encounter in the 19th century did "Hindu" become an ascriptive label . . .

Scholars have attributed the invention of "Hinduism" as much to men from dominant castes who sought to reform and remake a colonised society as to colonial missionaries. These 19th-century reformers sought to go back to ancient texts such as the Vedas or the Upanishads to propose a de-ritualised, quasi-monotheistic creed for a modern India. Such a move mimicked the textualist methods of the Protestant Reformation, and the then fashionable European efforts to appropriate ancient Sanskrit spiritual texts to construct an "Aryan" race identity.

The reformers were answering British criticisms of Indic polytheisms as "beastly" and "superstitious". They enthusiastically embraced the colonial view of Muslims being wholly separate from Hindus, ignoring the accommodations and intermixing over centuries that had produced shared ritual, intellectual, sartorial, culinary, and musical traditions between the two groups.--Uday Chandra, "The making of a Hindu India,", August 25, 2020]

Raqib Hameed Naik, "US academic conference on 'Hindutva' targeted by Hindu groups,", September 7, 2021


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