Hindus

Hindus (pronunciation ) are persons who regard themselves as culturally, ethnically, or religiously adhering to aspects of Hinduism.[1][2] Historically, the term has also been used as a geographical, cultural, and later religious identifier for people indigenous to the Indian subcontinent.[3][4]

The historical meaning of the term Hindu has evolved with time. Starting with the Persian and Greek references to the land of the Indus in the 1st millennium BCE through the texts of the medieval era,[5] the term Hindu implied a geographic, ethnic or cultural identifier for people living in the Indian subcontinent around or beyond the Sindhu (Indus) river.[6] By the 16th century, the term began to refer to residents of the subcontinent who were not Turkic or Muslims.[6][a][b]

The historical development of Hindu self-identity within the local South Asian population, in a religious or cultural sense, is unclear.[3][7] Competing theories state that Hindu identity developed in the British colonial era, or that it developed post-8th century CE after the Islamic invasion and medieval Hindu-Muslim wars.[7][8][9] A sense of Hindu identity and the term Hindu appears in some texts dated between the 13th and 18th century in Sanskrit and regional languages.[8][10] The 14th- and 18th-century Indian poets such as Vidyapati, Kabir and Eknath used the phrase Hindu dharma (Hinduism) and contrasted it with Turaka dharma (Islam).[7][11] The Christian friar Sebastiao Manrique used the term 'Hindu' in religious context in 1649.[12] In the 18th century, the European merchants and colonists began to refer to the followers of Indian religions collectively as Hindus, in contrast to Mohamedans for Mughals and Arabs following Islam.[3][6] By the mid-19th century, colonial orientalist texts further distinguished Hindus from Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains,[3] but the colonial laws continued to consider all of them to be within the scope of the term Hindu until about mid-20th century.[13] Scholars state that the custom of distinguishing between Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs is a modern phenomenon.[14][15] Hindoo is an archaic spelling variant, whose use today may be considered derogatory.[16][17]

At more than 1.03 billion,[18] Hindus are the world's third largest group after Christians and Muslims. The vast majority of Hindus, approximately 966 million, live in India, according to India's 2011 census.[19] After India, the next 9 countries with the largest Hindu populations are, in decreasing order: Nepal, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, United States, Malaysia, United Kingdom and Myanmar.[20] These together accounted for 99% of the world's Hindu population, and the remaining nations of the world together had about 6 million Hindus in 2010.[20]

Etymology

A Hindu wedding ritual in progress b
A Hindu wedding ritual in India

The word Hindu is derived from the Indo-Aryan[21] and Sanskrit[21][5] word Sindhu, which means "a large body of water", covering "river, ocean".[22][c] It was used as the name of the Indus river and also referred to its tributaries. The actual term 'hindu' first occurs, states Gavin Flood, as "a Persian geographical term for the people who lived beyond the river Indus (Sanskrit: Sindhu)",[5] more specifically in the 6th-century BCE inscription of Darius I.[23] The Punjab region, called Sapta Sindhu in the Vedas, is called Hapta Hindu in Zend Avesta. The 6th-century BCE inscription of Darius I mentions the province of Hi[n]dush, referring to northwestern India.[23][24][25] The people of India were referred to as Hinduvān (Hindus) and hindavī was used as the adjective for Indian in the 8th century text Chachnama.[25] The term 'Hindu' in these ancient records is an ethno-geographical term and did not refer to a religion.[5][26] The Arabic equivalent Al-Hind likewise referred to the country of India.[27][23]

Hindu culture in Bali, Indonesia. The Krishna-Arjuna sculpture inspired by the Bhagavad Gita in Denpasar (top), and Hindu dancers in traditional dress.

Krishna and Arjuna - panoramio
Balinese Hindus dressed for traditional dance Indonesia

Among the earliest known records of 'Hindu' with connotations of religion may be in the 7th-century CE Chinese text Record of the Western Regions by the Buddhist scholar Xuanzang. Xuanzang uses the transliterated term In-tu whose "connotation overflows in the religious" according to Arvind Sharma.[23] While Xuanzang suggested that the term refers to the country named after the moon, another Buddhist scholar I-tsing contradicted the conclusion saying that In-tu was not a common name for the country.[25]

Al-Biruni's 11th-century text Tarikh Al-Hind, and the texts of the Delhi Sultanate period use the term 'Hindu', where it includes all non-Islamic people such as Buddhists, and retains the ambiguity of being "a region or a religion".[23] The 'Hindu' community occurs as the amorphous 'Other' of the Muslim community in the court chronicles, according to Romila Thapar.[28] Wilfred Cantwell Smith notes that 'Hindu' retained its geographical reference initially: 'Indian', 'indigenous, local', virtually 'native'. Slowly, the Indian groups themselves started using the term, differentiating themselves and their "traditional ways" from those of the invaders.[29]

The text Prithviraj Raso, by Chanda Baradai, about the 1192 CE defeat of Prithviraj Chauhan at the hands of Muhammad Ghori, is full of references to "Hindus" and "Turks", and at one stage, says "both the religions have drawn their curved swords;" however, the date of this text is unclear and considered by most scholars to be more recent.[30] In Islamic literature, 'Abd al-Malik Isami's Persian work, Futuhu's-salatin, composed in the Deccan in 1350, uses the word 'hindi' to mean Indian in the ethno-geographical sense and the word 'hindu' to mean 'Hindu' in the sense of a follower of the Hindu religion".[30] The poet Vidyapati's poem Kirtilata contrasts the cultures of Hindus and Turks (Muslims) in a city and concludes "The Hindus and the Turks live close together; Each makes fun of the other's religion (dhamme)."[31] One of the earliest uses of word 'Hindu' in religious context in a European language (Spanish), was the publication in 1649 by Sebastiao Manrique.[12]

Other prominent mentions of 'Hindu' include the epigraphical inscriptions from Andhra Pradesh kingdoms who battled military expansion of Muslim dynasties in the 14th century, where the word 'Hindu' partly implies a religious identity in contrast to 'Turks' or Islamic religious identity.[32] The term Hindu was later used occasionally in some Sanskrit texts such as the later Rajataranginis of Kashmir (Hinduka, c. 1450) and some 16th- to 18th-century Bengali Gaudiya Vaishnava texts, including Chaitanya Charitamrita and Chaitanya Bhagavata. These texts used it to contrast Hindus from Muslims who are called Yavanas (foreigners) or Mlecchas (barbarians), with the 16th-century Chaitanya Charitamrita text and the 17th-century Bhakta Mala text using the phrase "Hindu dharma".[10]

Terminology

Malviya dwipa island across Har ki Pauri during Kavad mela, Haridwar
Hindus at Har Ki Pauri, Haridwar near river Ganges in Uttarakhand state of India.

Medieval-era usage (8th to 18th century)

One of the earliest but ambiguous uses of the word Hindu is, states Arvind Sharma, in the 'Brahmanabad settlement' which Muhammad ibn Qasim made with non-Muslims after the Arab invasion of northwestern Sindh region of India, in 712 CE. The term 'Hindu' meant people who were non-Muslims, and it included Buddhists of the region.[33] In the 11th-century text of Al Biruni, Hindus are referred to as "religious antagonists" to Islam, as those who believe in rebirth, presents them to hold a diversity of beliefs, and seems to oscillate between Hindus holding a centralist and pluralist religious views.[33] In the texts of Delhi Sultanate era, states Sharma, the term Hindu remains ambiguous on whether it means people of a region or religion, giving the example of Ibn Battuta's explanation of the name "Hindu Kush" for a mountain range in Afghanistan. It was so called, wrote Ibn Battuta, because many Indian slaves died there of snow cold, as they were marched across that mountain range. The term Hindu there is ambivalent and could mean geographical region or religion.[34]

The term Hindu appears in the texts from the Mughal Empire era. It broadly refers to non-Muslims. Pashaura Singh states, "in Persian writings, Sikhs were regarded as Hindu in the sense of non-Muslim Indians".[35] Jahangir, for example, called the Sikh Guru Arjan a Hindu:[36]

There was a Hindu named Arjan in Gobindwal on the banks of the Beas River. Pretending to be a spiritual guide, he had won over as devotees many simple-minded Indians and even some ignorant, stupid Muslims by broadcasting his claims to be a saint. [...] When Khusraw stopped at his residence, [Arjan] came out and had an interview with [Khusraw]. Giving him some elementary spiritual precepts picked up here and there, he made a mark with saffron on his forehead, which is called qashqa in the idiom of the Hindus and which they consider lucky. [...]

— Emperor Jahangir, Jahangirnama, 27b-28a (Translated by Wheeler Thackston)[37][d]

Colonial-era usage (18th to 20th century)

The distribution of Indian religions in British India (1909). The upper map shows distribution of Hindus, the lower of Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs.

Hindu percent 1909
Sikhs buddhists jains percent1909

During the colonial era, the term Hindu had connotations of native religions of India, that is religions other than Christianity and Islam.[38] In early colonial era Anglo-Hindu laws and British India court system, the term Hindu referred to people of all Indian religions and two non-Indian religions:

The colonial project was itself undermined by its own constitutive contradictions since many of these laws were no more intrinsic to Indian society than the proposed meld of English and Indian systems. (...) The application of laws derived from Sanskrit classical texts leveled the community of Hindus to include all those who were not Muslims or Christians, and it absorbed under the category of "Hindu" both outcastes and members of religions as diverse as Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism.

— Gauri Viswanathan, Outside the Fold: Conversion, Modernity, and Belief, [38]

The 20th-century colonial laws of British India segregated people's rights by their religion, evolving to provide Muslims with Sharia law, Christians, Jews and Parsis of British India with their own religious laws. The British government created a compendium of religious laws for Hindus, and the term 'Hindu' in these colonial 'Hindu laws', decades before India's independence, applied to Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs.[13]

Beyond the stipulations of British law, colonial orientalists and particularly the influential Asiatick Researches founded in the 18th century, later called The Asiatic Society, initially identified just two religions in India – Islam, and Hinduism. These orientalists included all Indian religions such as Buddhism as a subgroup of Hinduism in the 18th century.[3] These texts called followers of Islam as Mohamedans, and all others as Hindus. The text, by the early 19th century, began dividing Hindus into separate groups, for chronology studies of the various beliefs. Among the earliest terms to emerge were Seeks and their College (later spelled Sikhs by Charles Wilkins), Boudhism (later spelled Buddhism), and in the 9th volume of Asiatick Researches report on religions in India, the term Jainism received notice.[3]

According to Pennington, the terms Hindu and Hinduism were thus constructed for colonial studies of India. The various sub-divisions and separation of subgroup terms were assumed to be result of "communal conflict", and Hindu was constructed by these orientalists to imply people who adhered to "ancient default oppressive religious substratum of India", states Pennington.[3] Followers of other Indian religions so identified were later referred Buddhists, Sikhs or Jains and distinguished from Hindus, in an antagonistic two-dimensional manner, with Hindus and Hinduism stereotyped as irrational traditional and others as rational reform religions. However, these mid-19th-century reports offered no indication of doctrinal or ritual differences between Hindu and Buddhist, or other newly constructed religious identities.[3] These colonial studies, states Pennigton, "puzzled endlessly about the Hindus and intensely scrutinized them, but did not interrogate and avoided reporting the practices and religion of Mughal and Arabs in South Asia", and often relied on Muslim scholars to characterise Hindus.[3]

Contemporary usage

HinduDevoteeNepal
A young Nepali Hindu devotee during a traditional prayer ceremony at Kathmandu's Durbar Square

In contemporary era, the term Hindus are individuals who identify with one or more aspects of Hinduism, whether they are practising or non-practicing or Laissez-faire.[39] The term does not include those who identify with other Indian religions such as Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism or various animist tribal religions found in India such as Sarnaism.[40][41] The term Hindu, in contemporary parlance, includes people who accept themselves as culturally or ethnically Hindu rather than with a fixed set of religious beliefs within Hinduism.[1] One need not be religious in the minimal sense, states Julius Lipner, to be accepted as Hindu by Hindus, or to describe oneself as Hindu.[42]

Hindus subscribe to a diversity of ideas on spirituality and traditions, but have no ecclesiastical order, no unquestionable religious authorities, no governing body, nor a single founding prophet; Hindus can choose to be polytheistic, pantheistic, monotheistic, monistic, agnostic, atheistic or humanist.[43][44][45] Because of the wide range of traditions and ideas covered by the term Hinduism, arriving at a comprehensive definition is difficult.[5] The religion "defies our desire to define and categorize it".[46] A Hindu may, by his or her choice, draw upon ideas of other Indian or non-Indian religious thought as a resource, follow or evolve his or her personal beliefs, and still identify as a Hindu.[1]

In 1995, Chief Justice P. B. Gajendragadkar was quoted in an Indian Supreme Court ruling:[47][48]

When we think of the Hindu religion, unlike other religions in the world, the Hindu religion does not claim any one prophet; it does not worship any one god; it does not subscribe to any one dogma; it does not believe in any one philosophic concept; it does not follow any one set of religious rites or performances; in fact, it does not appear to satisfy the narrow traditional features of any religion or creed. It may broadly be described as a way of life and nothing more.

Although Hinduism contains a broad range of philosophies, Hindus share philosophical concepts, such as but not limiting to dharma, karma, kama, artha, moksha and samsara, even if each subscribes to a diversity of views.[49] Hindus also have shared texts such as the Vedas with embedded Upanishads, and common ritual grammar (Sanskara (rite of passage)) such as rituals during a wedding or when a baby is born or cremation rituals.[50][51] Some Hindus go on pilgrimage to shared sites they consider spiritually significant, practice one or more forms of bhakti or puja, celebrate mythology and epics, major festivals, love and respect for guru and family, and other cultural traditions.[49][52] A Hindu could:

  • follow any of the Hindu schools of philosophy, such as Advaita (non-dualism), Vishishtadvaita (non-dualism of the qualified whole), Dvaita (dualism), Dvaitadvaita (dualism with non-dualism), etc.[53][54]
  • follow a tradition centred on any particular form of the Divine, such as Shaivism, Vaishnavism, Shaktism, etc.[55]
  • practice any one of the various forms of yoga systems in order to achieve moksha – that is freedom in current life (jivanmukti) or salvation in after-life (videhamukti);[56]
  • practice bhakti or puja for spiritual reasons, which may be directed to one's guru or to a divine image.[57] A visible public form of this practice is worship before an idol or statue. Jeaneane Fowler states that non-Hindu observers often confuse this practice as "stone or idol-worship and nothing beyond it", while for many Hindus, it is an image which represents or is symbolic manifestation of a spiritual Absolute (Brahman).[57] This practice may focus on a metal or stone statue, or a photographic image, or a linga, or any object or tree (pipal) or animal (cow) or tools of one's profession, or sunrise or expression of nature or to nothing at all, and the practice may involve meditation, japa, offerings or songs.[57][58] Inden states that this practice means different things to different Hindus, and has been misunderstood, misrepresented as idolatry, and various rationalisations have been constructed by both Western and native Indologists.[59]

Disputes

In the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" has been used in some places to denote persons professing any of these religions: Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism or Sikhism.[60] This however has been challenged by the Sikhs[40][61] and by neo-Buddhists who were formerly Hindus.[62] According to Sheen and Boyle, Jains have not objected to being covered by personal laws termed under 'Hindu',[62] but Indian courts have acknowledged that Jainism is a distinct religion.[63]

The Republic of India is in the peculiar situation that the Supreme Court of India has repeatedly been called upon to define "Hinduism" because the Constitution of India, while it prohibits "discrimination of any citizen" on grounds of religion in article 15, article 30 foresees special rights for "All minorities, whether based on religion or language". As a consequence, religious groups have an interest in being recognised as distinct from the Hindu majority in order to qualify as a "religious minority". Thus, the Supreme Court was forced to consider the question whether Jainism is part of Hinduism in 2005 and 2006.

History of Hindu identity

Starting after the 10th century and particularly after the 12th century Islamic invasion, states Sheldon Pollock, the political response fused with the Indic religious culture and doctrines.[8] Temples dedicated to deity Rama were built from north to south India, and textual records as well as hagiographic inscriptions began comparing the Hindu epic of Ramayana to regional kings and their response to Islamic attacks. The Yadava king of Devagiri named Ramacandra, for example states Pollock, is described in a 13th-century record as, "How is this Rama to be described.. who freed Varanasi from the mleccha (barbarian, Turk Muslim) horde, and built there a golden temple of Sarngadhara".[8] Pollock notes that the Yadava king Ramacandra is described as a devotee of deity Shiva (Shaivism), yet his political achievements and temple construction sponsorship in Varanasi, far from his kingdom's location in the Deccan region, is described in the historical records in Vaishnavism terms of Rama, a deity Vishnu avatar.[8] Pollock presents many such examples and suggests an emerging Hindu political identity that was grounded in the Hindu religious text of Ramayana, one that has continued into the modern times, and suggests that this historic process began with the arrival of Islam in India.[64]

Brajadulal Chattopadhyaya has questioned the Pollock theory and presented textual and inscriptional evidence.[65] According to Chattopadhyaya, the Hindu identity and religious response to Islamic invasion and wars developed in different kingdoms, such as wars between Islamic Sultanates and the Vijayanagara kingdom (Karnataka), and Islamic raids on the kingdoms in Tamil Nadu. These wars were described not just using the mythical story of Rama from Ramayana, states Chattopadhyaya, the medieval records used a wide range of religious symbolism and myths that are now considered as part of Hindu literature.[9][65] This emergence of religious with political terminology began with the first Muslim invasion of Sindh in the 8th century CE, and intensified 13th century onwards. The 14th-century Sanskrit text, Madhuravijayam, a memoir written by Gangadevi, the wife of Vijayanagara prince, for example describes the consequences of war using religious terms,[66]

I very much lament for what happened to the groves in Madhura,
The coconut trees have all been cut and in their place are to be seen,
  rows of iron spikes with human skulls dangling at the points,
In the highways which were once charming with anklets sound of beautiful women,
  are now heard ear-piercing noises of Brahmins being dragged, bound in iron-fetters,
The waters of Tambraparni, which were once white with sandal paste,
  are now flowing red with the blood of cows slaughtered by miscreants,
Earth is no longer the producer of wealth, nor does Indra give timely rains,
The God of death takes his undue toll of what are left lives if undestroyed by the Yavanas [Muslims],[67]
The Kali age now deserves deepest congratulations for being at the zenith of its power,
gone is the sacred learning, hidden is refinement, hushed is the voice of Dharma.

— Madhuravijayam, Translated by Brajadulal Chattopadhyaya[66]

The historiographic writings in Telugu language from the 13th- and 14th-century Kakatiya dynasty period presents a similar "alien other (Turk)" and "self-identity (Hindu)" contrast.[68] Chattopadhyaya, and other scholars,[69] state that the military and political campaign during the medieval era wars in Deccan peninsula of India, and in the north India, were no longer a quest for sovereignty, they embodied a political and religious animosity against the "otherness of Islam", and this began the historical process of Hindu identity formation.[9][e]

Andrew Nicholson, in his review of scholarship on Hindu identity history, states that the vernacular literature of Bhakti movement sants from 15th to 17th century, such as Kabir, Anantadas, Eknath, Vidyapati, suggests that distinct religious identities, between Hindus and Turks (Muslims), had formed during these centuries.[70] The poetry of this period contrasts Hindu and Islamic identities, states Nicholson, and the literature vilifies the Muslims coupled with a "distinct sense of a Hindu religious identity".[70]

Hindu identity amidst other Indian religions

Hindus celebrating their major festivals, Holi (top) and Diwali.

Holi Celebrations in Bangalore India Culture and Sights
Deepawali-festival

Scholars state that Hindu, Buddhist and Jain identities are retrospectively-introduced modern constructions.[15] Inscriptional evidence from the 8th century onwards, in regions such as South India, suggests that medieval era India, at both elite and folk religious practices level, likely had a "shared religious culture",[15] and their collective identities were "multiple, layered and fuzzy".[71] Even among Hinduism denominations such as Shaivism and Vaishnavism, the Hindu identities, states Leslie Orr, lacked "firm definitions and clear boundaries".[71]

Overlaps in Jain-Hindu identities have included Jains worshipping Hindu deities, intermarriages between Jains and Hindus, and medieval era Jain temples featuring Hindu religious icons and sculpture.[72][73][74] Beyond India, on Java island of Indonesia, historical records attest to marriages between Hindus and Buddhists, medieval era temple architecture and sculptures that simultaneously incorporate Hindu and Buddhist themes,[75] where Hinduism and Buddhism merged and functioned as "two separate paths within one overall system", according to Ann Kenney and other scholars.[76] Similarly, there is an organic relation of Sikhs to Hindus, states Zaehner, both in religious thought and their communities, and virtually all Sikhs' ancestors were Hindus.[77] Marriages between Sikhs and Hindus, particularly among Khatris, were frequent.[77] Some Hindu families brought up a son as a Sikh, and some Hindus view Sikhism as a tradition within Hinduism, even though the Sikh faith is a distinct religion.[77]

Julius Lipner states that the custom of distinguishing between Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs is a modern phenomena, but one that is a convenient abstraction.[14] Distinguishing Indian traditions is a fairly recent practice, states Lipner, and is the result of "not only Western preconceptions about the nature of religion in general and of religion in India in particular, but also with the political awareness that has arisen in India" in its people and a result of Western influence during its colonial history.[14]

Sacred geography

Scholars such as Fleming and Eck state that the post-Epic era literature from the 1st millennium CE amply demonstrate that there was a historic concept of the Indian subcontinent as a sacred geography, where the sacredness was a shared set of religious ideas. For example, the twelve Jyotirlingas of Shaivism and fifty-one Shaktipithas of Shaktism are described in the early medieval era Puranas as pilgrimage sites around a theme.[78][79][80] This sacred geography and Shaiva temples with same iconography, shared themes, motifs and embedded legends are found across India, from the Himalayas to hills of South India, from Ellora Caves to Varanasi by about the middle of 1st millennium.[78][81] Shakti temples, dated to a few centuries later, are verifiable across the subcontinent. Varanasi as a sacred pilgrimage site is documented in the Varanasimahatmya text embedded inside the Skanda Purana, and the oldest versions of this text are dated to 6th to 8th-century CE.[82][83]

The idea of twelve sacred sites in Shiva Hindu tradition spread across the Indian subcontinent appears not only in the medieval era temples but also in copper plate inscriptions and temple seals discovered in different sites.[84] According to Bhardwaj, non-Hindu texts such as the memoirs of Chinese Buddhist and Persian Muslim travellers attest to the existence and significance of the pilgrimage to sacred geography among Hindus by later 1st millennium CE.[85]

According to Fleming, those who question whether the term Hindu and Hinduism are a modern construction in a religious context present their arguments based on some texts that have survived into the modern era, either of Islamic courts or of literature published by Western missionaries or colonial-era Indologists aiming for a reasonable construction of history. However, the existence of non-textual evidence such as cave temples separated by thousands of kilometers, as well as lists of medieval era pilgrimage sites, is evidence of a shared sacred geography and existence of a community that was self-aware of shared religious premises and landscape.[86][83] Further, it is a norm in evolving cultures that there is a gap between the "lived and historical realities" of a religious tradition and the emergence of related "textual authorities".[84] The tradition and temples likely existed well before the medieval era Hindu manuscripts appeared that describe them and the sacred geography. This, states Fleming, is apparent given the sophistication of the architecture and the sacred sites along with the variance in the versions of the Puranic literature.[86][87] According to Diana L. Eck and other Indologists such as André Wink, Muslim invaders were aware of Hindu sacred geography such as Mathura, Ujjain, and Varanasi by the 11th-century. These sites became a target of their serial attacks in the centuries that followed.[83]

Hindu persecution

The Hindus have been persecuted during the medieval and modern era. The medieval persecution included waves of plunder, killing, destruction of temples and enslavement by Turk-Mongol Muslim armies from central Asia. This is documented in Islamic literature such as those relating to 8th century Muhammad bin-Qasim,[88] 11th century Mahmud of Ghazni,[89][90] the Persian traveler Al Biruni,[91] the 14th century Islamic army invasion led by Timur,[92] and various Sunni Islamic rulers of the Delhi Sultanate and Mughal Empire.[93][94][95] There were occasional exceptions such as Akbar who stopped the persecution of Hindus,[95] and occasional severe persecution such as under Aurangzeb,[96][98][f] who destroyed temples, forcibly converted non-Muslims to Islam and banned the celebration of Hindu festivals such as Holi and Diwali.[99]

Other recorded persecution of Hindus include those under the reign of 18th century Tipu Sultan in south India,[100] and during the colonial era.[101][102][103] In the modern era, religious persecution of Hindus have been reported outside India.[104][105][106]

Hindu nationalism

Christophe Jaffrelot states that modern Hindu nationalism was born in Maharashtra, in the 1920s, as a reaction to the Islamic Khilafat Movement wherein Indian Muslims championed and took the cause of the Turkish Ottoman sultan as the Caliph of all Muslims, at the end of the World War I.[107][108] Hindus viewed this development as one of divided loyalties of Indian Muslim population, of pan-Islamic hegemony, and questioned whether Indian Muslims were a part of an inclusive anti-colonial Indian nationalism.[108] The Hindu nationalism ideology that emerged, states Jeffrelot, was codified by Savarkar while he was a political prisoner of the British colonial empire.[107][109]

Chris Bayly traces the roots of Hindu nationalism to the Hindu identity and political independence achieved by the Maratha confederacy, that overthrew the Islamic Mughal empire in large parts of India, allowing Hindus the freedom to pursue any of their diverse religious beliefs and restored Hindu holy places such as Varanasi.[110] A few scholars view Hindu mobilisation and consequent nationalism to have emerged in the 19th century as a response to British colonialism by Indian nationalists and neo-Hinduism gurus.[111][112][113] Jaffrelot states that the efforts of Christian missionaries and Islamic proselytizers, during the British colonial era, each of whom tried to gain new converts to their own religion, by stereotyping and stigmatising Hindus to an identity of being inferior and superstitious, contributed to Hindus re-asserting their spiritual heritage and counter cross examining Islam and Christianity, forming organisations such as the Hindu Sabhas (Hindu associations), and ultimately a Hindu-identity driven nationalism in the 1920s.[114]

The colonial era Hindu revivalism and mobilisation, along with Hindu nationalism, states Peter van der Veer, was primarily a reaction to and competition with Muslim separatism and Muslim nationalism.[115] The successes of each side fed the fears of the other, leading to the growth of Hindu nationalism and Muslim nationalism in the Indian subcontinent.[115] In the 20th century, the sense of religious nationalism grew in India, states van der Veer, but only Muslim nationalism succeeded with the formation of the West and East Pakistan (later split into Pakistan and Bangladesh), as "an Islamic state" upon independence.[116][117][118] Religious riots and social trauma followed as millions of Hindus, Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs moved out of the newly created Islamic states and resettled into the Hindu-majority post-British India.[119] After the separation of India and Pakistan in 1947, the Hindu nationalism movement developed the concept of Hindutva in second half of the 20th century.[120]

The Hindu nationalism movement has sought to reform Indian laws, that critics say attempts to impose Hindu values on India's Islamic minority. Gerald Larson states, for example, that Hindu nationalists have sought a uniform civil code, where all citizens are subject to the same laws, everyone has equal civil rights, and individual rights do not depend on the individual's religion.[121] In contrast, opponents of Hindu nationalists remark that eliminating religious law from India poses a threat to the cultural identity and religious rights of Muslims, and people of Islamic faith have a constitutional right to Islamic shariah-based personal laws.[121][122] A specific law, contentious between Hindu nationalists and their opponents in India, relates to the legal age of marriage for girls.[123] Hindu nationalists seek that the legal age for marriage be eighteen that is universally applied to all girls regardless of their religion and that marriages be registered with local government to verify the age of marriage. Muslim clerics consider this proposal as unacceptable because under the shariah-derived personal law, a Muslim girl can be married at any age after she reaches puberty.[123]

Hindu nationalism in India, states Katharine Adeney, is a controversial political subject, with no consensus about what it means or implies in terms of the form of government and religious rights of the minorities.[124]

Demographics

Hinduism percent population in each nation World Map Hindu data by Pew Research
Hinduism by country, worldmap (estimate 2010).[125]
Hindus
Total population
1,150,000,000[126][127]
Regions with significant populations
 India1,040,000,000[128]
   Nepal23,500,000[129][130]
 Bangladesh12,680,000 – 14,487,500[131][132]
 Indonesia10,000,000[133]
 Pakistan4,880,000[134]
 United States3,230,000[135]
 Sri Lanka2,554,606[136]
 Malaysia1,949,850[137][138]
 United Kingdom835,394[139]
 Myanmar820,000[140]
 Mauritius600,327[141]
 South Africa551,669[142]
 Canada497,965[143]
 Australia440,300[144]
 Fiji261,097[145]
 Trinidad and Tobago240,100[146]
 Netherlands200,000[147]
 Guyana190,966[148]
 Bhutan185,700[149][150]
 Italy177,200[151]
 Singapore162,600[152]
 Russia140,000[153]
 Suriname128,995[154]
 Germany120,000[155][156]
 New Zealand90,018[157]
 France63,718[158][159]
 Kenya60,000[160]
 Réunion55,409[161]
 Thailand52,631[162]
 Cambodia41,988[163][164]

According to Pew Research, there are over 1 billion Hindus worldwide (15% of world's population).[165] Along with Christians (31.5%), Muslims (23.2%) and Buddhists (7.1%), Hindus are one of the four major religious groups of the world.[166]

Most Hindus are found in Asian countries. The countries with most Hindu residents and citizens include (in decreasing order) are India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, United States, Malaysia, United Kingdom, Myanmar, Canada, Mauritius, Guyana, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, Fiji, Suriname.[20][165]

The fertility rate, that is children per woman, for Hindus is 2.4, which is less than the world average of 2.5.[167] Pew Research projects that there will be 1.161 billion Hindus by 2020.[168]

Hindus in the World (2010)
Region Total Population Hindus % total
Africa 885,103,542 2,013,705 0.23%
Asia 3,903,418,706 1,014,348,412 26.01%
Europe 728,571,703 2,030,904 0.28%
Americas 883,197,750 6,481,937 0.28%
Oceania 36,659,000 616,000 1.78%

In more ancient times, Hindu kingdoms arose and spread the religion and traditions across Southeast Asia, particularly Thailand, Nepal, Burma, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia,[169] Laos,[169] Philippines,[170] and what is now central Vietnam.[171]

Over 3 million Hindus are found in Bali Indonesia, a culture whose origins trace back to ideas brought by Tamil Hindu traders to Indonesian islands in the 1st millennium CE. Their sacred texts are also the Vedas and the Upanishads.[172] The Puranas and the Itihasa (mainly Ramayana and the Mahabharata) are enduring traditions among Indonesian Hindus, expressed in community dances and shadow puppet (wayang) performances. As in India, Indonesian Hindus recognises four paths of spirituality, calling it Catur Marga.[173] Similarly, like Hindus in India, Balinese Hindu believe that there are four proper goals of human life, calling it Catur Purusarthadharma (pursuit of moral and ethical living), artha (pursuit of wealth and creative activity), kama (pursuit of joy and love) and moksha (pursuit of self-knowledge and liberation).[174][175]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Flood (1996, p. 6) adds: "(...) 'Hindu', or 'Hindoo', was used towards the end of the eighteenth century by the British to refer to the people of 'Hindustan', the people of northwest India. Eventually 'Hindu' became virtually equivalent to an 'Indian' who was not a Muslim, Sikh, Jain or Christian, thereby encompassing a range of religious beliefs and practices. The '-ism' was added to Hindu in around 1830 to denote the culture and religion of the high-caste Brahmans in contrast to other religions, and the term was soon appropriated by Indians themselves in the context of building a national identity opposed to colonialism, though the term 'Hindu' was used in Sanskrit and Bengali hagiographic texts in contrast to 'Yavana' or Muslim as early as the sixteenth century".
  2. ^ von Stietencron (2005, p. 229): For more than 100 years the word Hindu (plural) continued to denote the Indians in general. But when, from AD 712 onwards, Muslims began to settle permanently in the Indus valley and to make converts among low-caste Hindus, Persian authors distinguished between Hindus and Muslims in India: Hindus were Indians other than Muslim. We know that Persian scholars were able to distinguish a number of religions among the Hindus. But when Europeans started to use the term Hindoo, they applied it to the non-Muslim masses of India without those scholarly differentiations.
  3. ^ Flood (2008, p. 3): The Indo-Aryan word Sindhu means "river", "ocean".
  4. ^ Prince Khusrau, Jahangir son, mounted a challenge to the emperor within the first year of his reign. The rebellion was put down and all the collaborators executed. (Pashaura Singh, 2005, pp. 31–34)
  5. ^ Lorenzen (2010), p. 29: "When it comes to early sources written in Indian languages (and also Persian and Arabic), the word 'Hindu' is used in a clearly religious sense in a great number of texts at least as early as the sixteenth century. (...) Although al-Biruni's original Arabic text only uses a term equivalent to the religion of the people of India, his description of Hindu religion is in fact remarkably similar to those of nineteenth-century European orientalists. For his part Vidyapati, in his Apabhransha text Kirtilata, makes use of the phrase 'Hindu and Turk dharmas' in a clearly religious sense and highlights the local conflicts between the two communities. In the early sixteenth century texts attributed to Kabir, the references to 'Hindus' and to 'Turks' or 'Muslims' (musalamans) in a clearly religious context are numerous and unambiguous."
  6. ^ See also "Aurangzeb, as he was according to Mughal Records"; more links at the bottom of that page. For Muslim historian's record on major Hindu temple destruction campaigns, from 1193 to 1729 AD, see Richard Eaton (2000), Temple Desecration and Indo-Muslim States, Journal of Islamic Studies, Vol. 11, Issue 3, pages 283–319

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    Dasgupta, Shamita Das (1998), A patchwork shawl: chronicles of South Asian women in America, Rutgers University Press, p. 121, ISBN 0-8135-2518-7, I faced repeated and constant racial slurs at school, from "nigger" to "injun" to "Hindoo." I, as one of the few children of color, was the equal opportunity target.;
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    In contrast to Avari, the historian Abraham Eraly estimates Aurangzeb era destruction to be significantly higher; "in 1670, all temples around Ujjain were destroyed"; and later, "300 temples were destroyed in and around Chitor, Udaipur and Jaipur" among other Hindu temples destroyed elsewhere in campaigns through 1705.[97]

    The persecution during the Islamic period targeted non-Hindus as well. Avari writes, "Aurangzeb's religious policy caused friction between him and the ninth Sikh guru, Tegh Bahadur. In both Punjab and Kashmir the Sikh leader was roused to action by Aurangzeb's excessively zealous Islamic policies. Seized and taken to Delhi, he was called upon by Aurangzeb to embrace Islam and, on refusal, was tortured for five days and then beheaded in November 1675. Two of the ten Sikh gurus thus died as martyrs at the hands of the Mughals. (Avari (2013), page 155)
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Bibliography

Further reading

Anti-Hindu sentiment

Anti-Hindu sentiment, also known as Hinduphobia, is negative perception, sentiment or actions against the practice and practitioners of Hinduism.

Bengali Hindus

Bengali Hindus (Bengali: বাঙালি হিন্দু) are an ethnic, linguistic, and religious population who make up the majority in the Indian state of West Bengal and Tripura. In Bangladesh they form the largest minority. They are Bengalis adherents of Hinduism, and are native to the Bengal region in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent. Bengali Hindus speak Bengali, which belongs to the Indo-Aryan language family and adhere to the Shakta and Vaishnava traditions of their native religion, Hinduism. There are significant numbers of Bengali-speaking Hindus in different Indian states.Around the 8th century, the Bengali language branched off from Magadhi Prakrit, a derivative of Sanskrit that was prevalent in the eastern region of the Indian Subcontinent at that time. During the Sena period (11th – 12th century) the Bengali culture developed into a distinct culture within the Hindu civilisation. Bengali Hindus were at the forefront of the Bengal Renaissance in the 19th century. The Bengal region was noted for its participation in struggle for the independence from the British rule. At the time of independence of India in 1947, the province of Bengal was partitioned between India and East Pakistan, part of the Muslim-majority state of Pakistan. Millions of Bengali Hindus migrated from East Bengal (later Bangladesh) and settled in West Bengal and other states of India. The migration continued in waves through the fifties and sixties, especially during the 1950 East Pakistan genocide and the 1964 East-Pakistan riots. In 1971, during the Bangladesh Liberation War, an estimated 2.4 million Bengali Hindus were massacred by the Pakistani army. Estimates for the total number of people killed by Pakistan Army range from 300,000 to 3,000,000.

Bombay riots

The Bombay riots usually refers to the riots in Mumbai, in December 1992 and January 1993, in which around 700 people died. The riots were mainly due to escalations of hostilities after large scale violent protests by Muslims in reaction to the 1992 Babri Masjid Demolition by Hindu Karsevaks in Ayodhya.An investigative commission was formed under Justice B.N. Srikrishna, but the recommendations of the Inquiry were not enacted.Many scholars stated that the riots were allegedly pre-planned, and that the Hindu rioters were allegedly granted access to information about the locations of Muslim homes and businesses through sources that were not public. The violence was widely reported as having been orchestrated by the Shiv Sena, a Hindu-nationalist political party in Maharashtra. A high-ranking member of the special branch later stated that the police were fully aware of the Shiv Sena's capabilities to commit acts of violence, and that they had incited hate against the minority communities. Historian Barbara Metcalf has stated that the riots were anti-Muslim pogrom.The riots were followed by the retaliatory 12 March 1993 Bombay Bombings.

Diet in Hinduism

Diet in Hinduism varies with its diverse traditions. The ancient and medieval Hindu texts do not explicitly prohibit eating meat, but they do strongly recommend ahimsa—non-violence against all life forms including animals. Many Hindus prefer a vegetarian or lacto-vegetarian lifestyle, and methods of food production that are in sync with nature, compassionate, and respectful of other life forms as well as nature.The diet of Hindus usually does not include eggs, fish or meat. However, if included, Hindus often favor jhatka (quick death) style preparation of meat since Hindus believe that this method minimizes trauma and suffering to the animal.Ancient Hindu texts describe the whole of creation as a vast food chain, and the cosmos as a giant food cycle.Hindu mendicants (sannyasin) avoid preparing their own food, relying either on begging for leftovers or harvesting seeds and fruits from forests, as this minimizes the likely harm to other life forms and nature.

Diwali

Diwali, Deepavali or Dipavali is the Hindu festival of lights, which is celebrated every autumn in the northern hemisphere (spring in southern hemisphere). One of the most popular festivals of Hinduism, Diwali symbolises the spiritual "victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance." Light is a metaphor for knowledge and consciousness. During the celebration, temples, homes, shops and office buildings are brightly illuminated. The preparations, and rituals, for the festival typically last five days, with the climax occurring on the third day coinciding with the darkest night of the Hindu lunisolar month Kartika. In the Gregorian calendar, the festival generally falls between mid-October and mid-November.In the lead-up to Diwali, celebrants will prepare by cleaning, renovating, and decorating their homes and workplaces. During the climax, revellers adorn themselves in their finest clothes, illuminate the interior and exterior of their homes with diyas (oil lamps or candles), offer puja (worship) to Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity and wealth, light fireworks, and partake in family feasts, where mithai (sweets) and gifts are shared. Diwali is also a major cultural event for the Hindu and Jain diaspora from the Indian subcontinent.The five-day festival originated in the Indian subcontinent and is mentioned in early Sanskrit texts. The names of the festive days of Diwali, as well as the rituals, vary by region. Diwali is usually celebrated eighteen days after the Dussehra (Dasara, Dasain) festival with Dhanteras, or the regional equivalent, marking the first day of the festival when celebrants prepare by cleaning their homes and making decorations on the floor, such as rangoli. The second day is Choti Diwali, or equivalent in north India, while for Hindus in the south of India it is Diwali proper. Western, central, eastern and northern Indian communities observe Diwali on the third day and the darkest night of the traditional month. In some parts of India, the day after Diwali is marked with the Govardhan Puja and Diwali Padva, which is dedicated to the relationship between wife and husband. Some Hindu communities mark the last day as Bhai Dooj, which is dedicated to the bond between sister and brother, while other Hindu and Sikh craftsmen communities mark this day as Vishwakarma Puja and observe it by performing maintenance in their work spaces and offering prayers.Some other faiths in India also celebrate their respective festivals alongside Diwali. The Jains observe their own Diwali, which marks the final liberation of Mahavira, the Sikhs celebrate Bandi Chhor Divas to mark the release of Guru Hargobind from a Mughal Empire prison, while Newar Buddhists, unlike other Buddhists, celebrate Diwali by worshiping Lakshmi. The festival of Diwali is an official holiday in Fiji, Guyana, India, Malaysia (except Sarawak), Mauritius, Myanmar, Nepal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Exodus of Kashmiri Hindus

The Hindus of the Kashmir Valley, a large majority of whom were Kashmiri Pandits, were forced to flee the Kashmir valley as a result of being targeted by JKLF and Islamist insurgents during late 1989 and early 1990. Of the approximately 300,000 to 600,000 Hindus living in the Kashmir Valley in 1990 only 2,000–3,000 remain there in 2016.According to the Indian government, more than 62,000 families are registered as Kashmiri refugees including some Sikh families. Most families were resettled in Jammu, National Capital Region surrounding Delhi and other neighbouring states.

Gudi Padwa

Gudhi Padva (Marathi, Konkani: गुढी पाडवा, IAST: Guḍhī Pāḍavā) is a spring-time festival that marks the traditional new year for Marathi Hindus. It is celebrated in and near Maharashtra on the first day of the Chaitra month to mark the beginning of the New year according to the lunisolar Hindu calendar.

The word पाडवा (pāḍavā) or पाडवो (pāḍavo) or पड्ड्वा/पाड्ड्वो (pāḍḍvā/pāḍḍvo) comes from the Sanskrit word प्रतिपद (pratipada) or प्रतिपदा (pratipadā) in Sanskrit, which refers to the first day of a lunar fortnight. The festival is observed with colorful floor decorations called rangoli, a special Gudhi flag (garlanded with flowers, mango and neem leaves, topped with upturned silver or copper vessel), street processions, dancing and festive foods.In south India, first day of the bright phase of the moon is called pāḍya (Konkani: पाडयो;Kannada: ಪಾಡ್ಯ; Telugu: పాడ్యమి, paadyami; ). Konkani Hindus variously refer to the day as सौसार पाडवो or सौसार पाडयो (saṁsāra pāḍavo / saṁsāra pāḍye), संसार (saṁsāra) being a corruption of the word संवत्सर (saṁvatsara). Telugu Hindus celebrate the same occasion as Ugadi, while Konkani and Kannada Hindus in Karnataka refer to it as युगादि, ಯುಗಾದಿ (yugādi). The same new year festival is known by other names in different regions of the Indian subcontinent. However, this is not the universal new year for all Hindus. For some, such as those in and near Gujarat, the new year festivities coincide with the five day Diwali festival. For many others, the new year falls on Vaisakhi between April 13 to 15, according to the solar cycle part of the Hindu lunisolar calendar, and this is by far the most popular not only among Hindus of the Indian subcontinent but also among Buddhists and Hindus in many parts of southeast Asia.The Sindhi community celebrates this day as Cheti Chand as the new year and observed as the emergence day of Lord Jhulelaal. Prayers are offered to Lord Jhulelaal and the festival is celebrated by making delicacies like Tehri (sweet rice) and Saai Bhaaji (Palak made in dal).

Hinduism

Hinduism is an Indian religion and dharma, or way of life, widely practised in the Indian subcontinent and parts of Southeast Asia. Hinduism has been called the oldest religion in the world, and some practitioners and scholars refer to it as Sanātana Dharma, "the eternal tradition", or the "eternal way", beyond human history. Scholars regard Hinduism as a fusion or synthesis of various Indian cultures and traditions, with diverse roots and no founder. This "Hindu synthesis" started to develop between 500 BCE and 300 CE, after the end of the Vedic period (1500 BCE to 500 BCE), and flourished in the medieval period, with the decline of Buddhism in India.Although Hinduism contains a broad range of philosophies, it is linked by shared concepts, recognisable rituals, cosmology, shared textual resources, and pilgrimage to sacred sites. Hindu texts are classified into Śruti ("heard") and Smṛti ("remembered"). These texts discuss theology, philosophy, mythology, Vedic yajna, Yoga, agamic rituals, and temple building, among other topics. Major scriptures include the Vedas and Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Āgamas. Sources of authority and eternal truths in its texts play an important role, but there is also a strong Hindu tradition of questioning authority in order to deepen the understanding of these truths and to further develop the tradition.Prominent themes in Hindu beliefs include the four Puruṣārthas, the proper goals or aims of human life, namely Dharma (ethics/duties), Artha (prosperity/work), Kama (desires/passions) and Moksha (liberation/freedom from the cycle of death and rebirth/salvation); karma (action, intent and consequences), Saṃsāra (cycle of death and rebirth), and the various Yogas (paths or practices to attain moksha). Hindu practices include rituals such as puja (worship) and recitations, japa, meditation, family-oriented rites of passage, annual festivals, and occasional pilgrimages. Some Hindus leave their social world and material possessions, then engage in lifelong Sannyasa (monastic practices) to achieve Moksha. Hinduism prescribes the eternal duties, such as honesty, refraining from injuring living beings (ahimsa), patience, forbearance, self-restraint, and compassion, among others. The four largest denominations of Hinduism are the Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Shaktism and Smartism.Hinduism is the world's third largest religion; its followers, known as Hindus, constitute about 1.15 billion, or 15–16% of the global population. Hinduism is the most widely professed faith in India, Nepal and Mauritius. It is also the predominant religion in Bali, Indonesia. Significant numbers of Hindu communities are also found in the Caribbean, Africa, North America, and other countries.

Hinduism by country

Hinduism has over 1.1 billion adherents worldwide (15–16% of world's population) with the majority living in the Indian subcontinent. Along with Christianity (31.5%), Islam (23.2%) and Buddhism (7.1%), Hinduism is one of the four major religions of the world by percentage of population.Presently, India, Nepal and Mauritius are three Hindu majority countries. Most Hindus are found in Asian countries. The countries with more than 500,000 Hindu residents and citizens include (in decreasing order) – India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Indonesia (especially in Bali, which is 84% Hindu), Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, United States, Myanmar, United Kingdom, Canada, South Africa, Mauritius, and the Caribbean (West Indies). 94.3% of worldwide Hindu adherents reside in India alone.

There are significant numbers of Hindu enclaves around the world, with many in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Hinduism is also practised by the non-Indic people like Balinese of Bali island (Indonesia), Tengger of Java (Indonesia) and Balamon Cham of Vietnam.

Hinduism in India

Hinduism is the largest religion in India, with 80% of the population identifying themselves as Hindus, that accounts for 1.2 billion Hindus in India as of National Census of India, while 14% of the population follow Islam and the remaining 6% adhere to other religions (such as Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism, various indigenous ethnically-bound faiths, Atheism and Irreligion). The vast majority of Hindus in India belong to Shaivite and Vaishnavite denominations. India is one of the three countries in the world (Nepal and Mauritius being the other two) where Hinduism is the majority.

Hinduism in Pakistan

Hindus comprise approximately 1.85% of Pakistan's population. Hinduism is the second largest religion in Pakistan after Islam. As of 2010, Pakistan had the fifth largest Hindu population in the world and PEW predicts that by 2050 Pakistan will have the fourth largest Hindu population in the world. However, around 5,000 Hindus migrate from Pakistan to India every year.According to Pew Research, the Hindu population will reach 5.6 million and Hindus will constitute 2% of the Pakistan population by 2050. After Pakistan gained independence from British India on 14 August 1947, 4.7 million of West Pakistan's Hindus and Sikhs moved to India as refugees.In the 1998 Census the Hindu population was found to be 2,443,614. Hindus are found in all provinces of Pakistan but are mostly concentrated in Sindh, where the majority of Hindu enclaves are found in Pakistan. They speak a variety of languages such as Sindhi, Seraiki, Aer, Dhatki, Gera, Goaria, Gurgula, Jandavra, Kabutra, Koli, Loarki, Marwari, Sansi, Vaghri and Gujarati.Although small in numbers, Hinduism in Pakistan is not less complex than in other parts of the world. Many Hindus—especially in the rural areas—follow the teachings of local Sufi pīrs (Urdu: spiritual guide) or adhere to the 14th-century saint Ramdevji, whose main temple is located in the Sindhi city of Thando Allah Yar. A growing number of urban Hindu youths in Pakistan associate themselves with ISKCON society. Other communities worship manifold Mother Goddesses as their clan or family patrons. A different branch, the Nanakpanth, follows the teachings of the Guru Granth Sahib, also known as the holy book of the Sikhs. This diversity, especially in rural Sindh, often thwarts classical definitions between Hinduism, Sikhism, and Islam.

One of the most important places of worship for Hindus in Pakistan today is the shrine of Hinglaj Mata in the province of Baluchistan.

Hinduism in Vietnam

Hinduism in Vietnam is practised mainly by the ethnic Cham people. Balamon Cham is one of only two surviving non-Indic indigenous Hindu peoples in the world. Hinduism is not one of the 15 religions recognized by the Vietnamese Government.

Partition of India

The partition of India in 1947 eventually accompanied the creation of two independent dominions, India and Pakistan. The Dominion of India became, as of 1950, the Republic of India (India), and the Dominion of Pakistan became, as of 1956, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan (Pakistan). In 1971, the People's Republic of Bangladesh (Bangladesh) came into being after Bangladesh Liberation War. The partition involved the division of three provinces, Assam, Bengal and Punjab, based on district-wide Hindu or Muslim majorities. The boundary demarcating India and Pakistan came to be known as the Radcliffe Line. It also involved the division of the British Indian Army, the Royal Indian Navy, the Indian Civil Service, the railways, and the central treasury, between the two new dominions. The partition was set forth in the Indian Independence Act 1947 and resulted in the dissolution of the British Raj, as the British government there was called. The two self-governing countries of Pakistan and India legally came into existence at midnight on 14–15 August 1947.The partition displaced over 14 million people along religious lines, creating overwhelming refugee crises in the newly constituted dominions; there was large-scale violence, with estimates of loss of life accompanying or preceding the partition disputed and varying between several hundred thousand and two million. The violent nature of the partition created an atmosphere of hostility and suspicion between India and Pakistan that plagues their relationship to the present.

The term partition of India does not cover the secession of Bangladesh from Pakistan in 1971, nor the earlier separations of Burma (now Myanmar) from the administration of British India. The term also does not cover the political integration of princely states into the two new dominions, nor the disputes of annexation or division arising in the princely states of Hyderabad, Junagadh, and Jammu and Kashmir, though violence along religious lines did break out in some princely states at the time of the partition. It does not cover the incorporation of the enclaves of French India into India during the period 1947–1954, nor the annexation of Goa and other districts of Portuguese India by India in 1961. Other contemporaneous political entities in the region in 1947, Sikkim, Bhutan, Nepal, and the Maldives were unaffected by the partition.

Persecution of Hindus

Hindus have experienced historical and current religious persecution and systematic violence. These occurred in the form of forced conversions, documented massacres, demolition and desecrations of temples, as well as the destruction of universities and schools.

Punjabis

The Punjabis (Punjabi: پنجابی‬, ਪੰਜਾਬੀ) or Punjabi people are an ethnic group associated with the Punjab region in South Asia, specifically in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent, presently divided between Punjab, India and Punjab, Pakistan. They speak Punjabi, a language from the Indo-Aryan language family. The name Punjab literally means the land of five waters in Persian: panj ("five") āb ("waters"). The name of the region was introduced by the Turko-Persian conquerors of the Indian subcontinent. The historical Punjab region (see the partition of Punjab for important historical context) is often referred to as the breadbasket in both India and Pakistan.The coalescence of the various tribes, castes and the inhabitants of the Punjab into a broader common "Punjabi" identity initiated from the onset of the 18th century CE. Prior to that the sense and perception of a common "Punjabi" ethno-cultural identity and community did not exist, even though the majority of the various communities of the Punjab had long shared linguistic, cultural and racial commonalities.Traditionally, Punjabi identity is primarily linguistic, geographical and cultural. Its identity is independent of historical origin or religion, and refers to those who reside in the Punjab region, or associate with its population, and those who consider the Punjabi language their mother tongue. Integration and assimilation are important parts of Punjabi culture, since Punjabi identity is not based solely on tribal connections. More or less all Punjabis share the same cultural background.Historically, the Punjabi people were a heterogeneous group and were subdivided into a number of clans called biradari (literally meaning "brotherhood") or tribes, with each person bound to a clan. However, Punjabi identity also included those who did not belong to any of the historical tribes. With the passage of time, tribal structures are coming to an end and are being replaced with a more cohesive and holistic society, as community building and group cohesiveness form the new pillars of Punjabi society. In relative contemporary terms, Punjabis can be referred to in three most common subgroups; Punjabi Muslims, Punjabi Sikhs and Punjabi Hindus.

Religious violence in India

Religious violence in India includes acts of violence by followers of one religious group against followers and institutions of another religious group, often in the form of rioting. Religious violence in India has generally involved Hindus and Muslims, although incidents of violence have also involved atheists, Christians and Sikhs. There is also a history of Muslim-Parsi riots (List of riots in Mumbai).Despite the secular and religiously tolerant constitution of India, broad religious representation in various aspects of society including the government, the active role played by autonomous bodies such as National Human Rights Commission of India and National Commission for Minorities, and the ground-level work being done by non-governmental organisations, sporadic and sometimes serious acts of religious violence tend to occur as the root causes of religious violence often run deep in history, religious activities, and politics of India.Along with domestic organizations, international human rights organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch publish reports on acts of religious violence in India. Over 2005 to 2009 period, an average of 130 people died every year from communal violence, or about 0.01 deaths per 100,000 population. The state of Maharashtra reported the highest total number of religious violence related fatalities over that five-year period, while Madhya Pradesh experienced the highest fatality rate per year per 100,000 population between 2005 and 2009. Over 2012, a total of 97 people died across India from various riots related to religious violence. The world's average annual death rate from intentional violence, in recent years, has been 7.9 per 100,000 people.

Sindhis

Not to be confused with the Sindi people.

Sindhis (Sindhi: سنڌي‎ (Perso-Arabic), सिन्धी (Devanagari), (Khudabadi)) are an Indo-Aryan ethno-linguistic group who speak the Sindhi language and are native to the Sindh province of Pakistan, which was previously a part of pre-partition British India. After the partition of India in 1947, most Sindhi Hindus and Sindhi Sikhs migrated to India and other parts of the world. Today, Sindhis are both in India and Pakistan. Indian Sindhis are predominantly Hindu, while Pakistani Sindhis are predominantly Muslim.

Sindhi Muslim culture is highly influenced by Sufi doctrines and principles. Some of the popular cultural icons are Raja Dahir, Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai, Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, Jhulelal, Sachal Sarmast and Shambumal Tulsiani.

Two-nation theory

The two-nation theory is the basis of the creation of Pakistan. It states that Muslims and Hindus are two separate nations by every definition; therefore, Muslims should be able to have their own separate homeland in the Muslim majority areas of India, in which Islam can be practiced as the dominant religion. The two-nation theory was a founding principle of the Pakistan Movement (i.e. the ideology of Pakistan as a Muslim nation-state in South Asia), and the partition of India in 1947.The ideology that religion is the determining factor in defining the nationality of Indian Muslims and Hindus was first propagated by people like Bhai Parmanand (1876–1947), Rajnarayan Basu (1826–1899) , Nabagopal Mitra (1840-94) and Savarkar and later adopted by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who termed it as the awakening of Muslims for the creation of Pakistan. It is also a source of inspiration to several Hindu nationalist organisations, with causes as varied as the redefinition of Indian Muslims as non-Indian foreigners and second-class citizens in India, the expulsion of all Muslims from India, establishment of a legally Hindu state in India, prohibition of conversions to Islam, and the promotion of conversions or reconversions of Indian Muslims to Hinduism.There are varying interpretations of the two-nation theory, based on whether the two postulated nationalities can coexist in one territory or not, with radically different implications. One interpretation argued for sovereign autonomy, including the right to secede, for Muslim-majority areas of the Indian subcontinent, but without any transfer of populations (i.e. Hindus and Muslims would continue to live together). A different interpretation contends that Hindus and Muslims constitute "two distinct, and frequently antagonistic ways of life, and that therefore they cannot coexist in one nation." In this version, a transfer of populations (i.e. the total removal of Hindus from Muslim-majority areas and the total removal of Muslims from Hindu-majority areas) is a desirable step towards a complete separation of two incompatible nations that "cannot coexist in a harmonious relationship".Opposition to the theory has come from two sources. The first is the concept of a single Indian nation, of which Hindus and Muslims are two intertwined communities. This is a founding principle of the modern, officially secular, Republic of India. Even after the formation of Pakistan, debates on whether Muslims and Hindus are distinct nationalities or not continued in that country. The second source of opposition is the concept that while Indians are not one nation, neither are the Muslims or Hindus of the subcontinent, and it is instead the relatively homogeneous provincial units of the subcontinent which are true nations and deserving of sovereignty; this view has been presented by the Baloch, Sindhi, and Pashtun sub-nationalities of Pakistan.

Vasant Panchami

Vasant Panchami, also spelled Basant Panchami, is a festival that marks the preliminary preparations for the arrival of spring, celebrated by people in various ways depending upon the region. The Vasant Panchami also marks the start of preparation for Holika and Holi, which take place forty days later. The Vasant Utsava (festival) on Panchami is celebrated forty days before Spring, because any season's transition period is 40 days, and after that the season comes in to full bloom.

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