Who are Hindus?

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Who are Hindus?

Wednesday, 30 November 2022 | Pioneer

Who are Hindus?

Mohan Bhagwat’s definition of a Hindu may not go down well with many

RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat has reiterated that all people living in India were by definition Hindus. He further added that anybody who agrees to sing Sanskrit verses in praise of Bharat Mata and is committed to the preservation of the culture of the land is a Hindu. Bhagwat said this while addressing RSS workers before concluding his four-day tour of Bihar. While his stand is welcome in that he sees Hindus in a larger context and does not limit his definition of a Hindu to a religious identity but on the other hand it is an unnecessary classification that is neither required nor warranted. True, Arabs gave this name to all people residing across Hindukush Mountain and it meant a geopolitical identity rather than a religious one but that time has long gone and now a Hindu is a religious identity, legally. Moreover, calling everyone Hindu without their consent is not a bright idea. Labeling anyone as per your convenience is fraught with dangers. Many religious groups would have reservations about being called Hindu. “Hindu” does not denote Indian and that is a fact. There is a difference between ‘Hindu’ and ‘Hindustani’, ( of course the word Hindustani is now obsolete). And we are not even talking about ‘Hindutva’ which has political connotations.

Besides, even many Hindus would have objections to somebody branding them and giving them a certificate of being a Hindu. There must be millions of people who call themselves Hindus but cannot recite a single verse in Sanskrit so it is utterly insolent to test people for their identity on the basis of your own preconceived notions. Though his statement deserves merit when he says that identities have been made possible because of the Hindu ethos of acceptance. India has been an assimilating culture and its mighty diversity is living proof of it. Categorizing it and labeling it kills every nuance of Indian culture which made India that is Bharat what it is today - a bouquet of different identities, religions, languages, and creeds living as neighbours and working shoulder to shoulder to build a country that has seen some worst periods in history but with its resilience came over it. The contention that those whose ancestors happened to be Hindus is debatable. There may be people who had the same ancestors but now they have branched out as different groups and we should respect their divergences, no matter what.

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