What is Hinduism?
This is a part of a series of blog posts written based on concepts I read in a few books — Sapiens, Glimpses of World History, Discovery of India
In the beginning, people on the East of Indus were called the Sindhus (सिंधु), and people on the right of the Indus were called Turuks (तुरुक). The difference was in civilisation and culture, and not specifically religion.
Turuks were monotheists , ie. they believed in one God.
Sindhus had a variety of beliefs, and they all assimilated, blending into each other. They were generally polytheists, ie. : they believed in multiple gods, each symbolising a different aspect of life. However, there was a belief in an overarching God above all this.
There were some Sindhus who believed in monotheism, and some in monoism. Monoism says the being is one with God. God is in all creations, and all creations are a form of God.
All these beliefs coexisted with each other. When one tribe won a war against another, the two tribes would eventually assimilate each other’s beliefs.
The word Hindu came into being because the Mid-Eastern people in their languages changed Sindhu and Sindhi to Hindu and Hindi. Various mid-eastern languages still use the words Hindustan and Hindistan to refer to India.
There are many different theories and attempts to explain the culture and history of Hinduism. After a point it gets difficult. Hinduism as a religion is fairly different from say Christianity and Islam. It is assimilative in nature. It adapts and absorbs the goods and bads of migrants.
Hinduism started with the fire worshipping Aryans, who were monotheists. Therefore, many people prefer calling all Indian born religious philosophies Aryan Dharma or Vedic Dharma.
The adaptability and acceptance of grey areas in people’s ideologies gave rise to a host of new beliefs — Jainism, Buddhism, Sufism, Sikhism. Hinduism assimilated some beliefs from these religions, and these religions were also not constant — evolving with time to what they became.