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If You Don’t Want to Use the Term ‘India’, You Can’t Use ‘Hindu’ Either, Says Shashi Tharoor – News18


Congress MP Shashi Tharoor on Friday took a swipe at those who have a problem with the term ’India’ but are comfortable calling themselves ’Hindu’, although both the words, India and Hindu, are derived from the same etymology, which is river Sindhu.

Dwelling on the origin of the term ’Hindu’ during the launch of ‘Nanu Yaake Hindu’, the Kannada version of his book ‘Why I am a Hindu’, the Thiruvananthapuram MP said both the words were given by foreigners to describe people beyond the river Sindhu or Indus.

Tharoor’s book has been translated from English to Kannada by Congress leader Prof K E Radhakrishna.

In the midst of the ’India versus Bharat’ debate, Tharoor said, “It’s very ironic when I hear some people in the ruling party objecting to the use of the word ’India’ saying that it is not authentic and the same people shout slogans saying ‘Garv Se Kaho Hum Hindu Hain’.” “Well, ‘India’ and ‘Hindu’ are derived from the same etymology. If you don’t want to use ‘India’, you can’t use ‘Hindu’ either. They both come from the same source, from the river Sindhu,” he explained.

Tharoor said it is still interesting that Hindus call themselves by a label that they did not invent themselves in any of their own languages, but “adopted it cheerfully when others began to refer to them by that word”.

Noting that some Hindus prefer an altogether different term, ’Sanatana Dharma’, he said Hinduism is just a name that foreigners gave for what they saw as the indigenous religion of India.

Hinduism, according to the Congress MP, embraces an eclectic range of doctrines and practices, which believes in reincarnation and in the caste system.

“But none of these constitutes an obligatory credo for a Hindu. We have no compulsory dominance. And this is why I’m so comfortable with the tenets of Hinduism, much more than I would be with those of the other faiths that I know,” Tharoor underlined.

The Congress MP said the great sages first came up with the original idea of the divine Brahma, which was very much similar to the Islamic idea of God — that is a God without shape, without form, without gender.

The rishis or seers then realised that this was not good enough for ordinary people as they found them worshipping mountains, trees and rivers because they needed something to focus on. Thus was born the idea of worshipping the divine with a form, Tharoor explained.

Everybody was free to imagine the divine in whatever form or shape he or she chose, he said.

“You want to imagine God as a 10-handed woman riding a tiger, you’re welcome to do that. You want to imagine God as a potbelly figure with an elephant’s head, you’re welcome to do that.

“If you want to imagine God as a man suffering on the cross, Hinduism has no problem with that. That’s why the people of other faiths sometimes find it difficult to understand,” the Congress MP said.

Tharoor said that rigid and censorious beliefs never appealed to his temperament. Hinduism is in many ways predicated on the idea that the eternal wisdom of the sages about divinity cannot be confined to a single set of belief system, he said.

“As a Hindu, therefore, I can claim adherence to a religion without an established church or a priestly papacy, a religion whose rituals and customs I’m free to reject as I do reject personally the caste system,” he explained.

“There is no Hindu Pope. There is no Hindu Vatican, there is no Hindu catechism. There is not even a Hindu Sunday. You can worship your Ishta Devata (beloved deity) on different days of the week depending on what days are ascribed to him or her,” Tharoor added.

He said as a Hindu he can subscribe to a creed that is free of the restrictive dogmas of holy writ, one that refuses to be shackled to the limitations of a single volume of holy revelations.

(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – PTI)

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