Who is a Hindu?

Hin·du (plural Hin·dus) is a follower of Hinduism: somebody who practices Hinduism.

Hinduism is the name applied to the system of living of the vast majority in India. It has the longest unbroken history of ritual practices in the world that are at least 4000 years old. More than that it may logically be considered nearly as old as the earliest civilization. This is because prior to establishment of organized religions like Christianity, what existed as manifestations of man’s spirituality was the primordial religion. In the absence of other way of life during the period of time, no name was attached to it. Essentially it is this sprituality which permeates the Hindu way of righteous living known as sanaatanadharama (literally ‘eternal duty-line’).

Hinduism is a religion only in the sense that it is a code of conduct and social system in the name of God, for the benefit of human society. Changes introducing reforms have been effected during the spread of this system through wide spans of time and territory.

Hinduism is unique in not having a founder like Christ, Buddha, Mahavira and Mohammad and also in not holding any single scripture as the most sacred.

Persian invaders mistook river Indus for sea. They pronounced its name Sindhu in their own way as Hindu, since, their native language did not have any word begining as si– but a word beginning as hi– was all right in their view. Thus the words sindhu meaning both sea and river, Hindu, Hindusthaan (the abode of the Hindus), Hindi/ Hindusthaani (the language of the region) all originate from the same source. India is its conveniently anglicized form.

For further reading, please see “Hinduism,” Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2004