Monday, April 27, 2015

Manthratalk: The First Word : M.F. Husain and His Nudes of Hindu Dieties is Bull...

Manthratalk: The First Word : M.F. Husain and His Nudes of Hindu Dieties is Bull...: M.F. Husain’s Paintings represent bullying; they don’t represent secularism Some misguided people of India painstakingl...

M.F. Husain and His Nudes of Hindu Dieties is Bullying


M.F. Husain’s Paintings represent bullying; they don’t represent secularism

Some misguided people of India painstakingly portrayed paintings of Husain as representing secularism and secularist interests. However, Husain’s paintings only demonstrate selective derision of Hinduism than anything else. The recent issue of Charlie Hebdo killing makes one wonder about Husain. Unfortunately, Charlie Hebdo was not as conniving as Husain. He drew cartoons on many religious figures and his secularism was evident in all of his work. Husain only drew mocking paintings of Hindu deities, but not others. Husain’s followers (many were Hindus) and coreligionists have praised him for his mocking paintings of Hindu deities. However, Husain’s coreligionists were not as tolerant when it comes to their own religion. They are only tolerant when it comes to other religions than their own. They never bothered to condemn Husain’s caricatures of Hindu deities, but did so with Charlie Hebdo cartoons, and some even went so far as to kill Charlie Hebdo. May be one should be crafty like Husain to receive international fame and acclaim at the expense of other religions, but not their own. 
One should not banish cartoons or drawings on any subjects including religious subjects. However one should be mindful of the choice, and question if one were to single out and draw discriminatory paintings or cartoons on a single religion. Targeting a single religion would constitute bullying rather than secularism. On that note it can be said that Husain's paintings are a bullying tactic.

Husain’s nudes of Hindu deities

I suppose, we could assume that Husain is doing a great favor to Hindus by drawing these images trying to open them up for secularism, and be open to taking any critique (even if it is silly) in stride. But why not render the same favor to other religions- may be his own religion? Why not draw Fatima or Aisha or Mohammad, if not nude at least in loving embrace of each other? He shows quite a restraint when it comes Islamic subjects, but goes berserk when it comes to Hindu subjects. What is wrong? For Husain Hinduism seems to be an easy target, a religion that could be mocked and made fun of with a couple of free and easy brush strokes. The paintings don’t even have to look good. He even won the highest civilian award for being so reckless with his drawings of Hindu deities. It even won him international acclaim and sympathy from anti Hindu elements worldwide. He is even seen as protector of Muslim sentiments and welcomed with open arms to immigrate to Khatar. Would the followers of other religions be as tolerant if he were to draw similar paintings of their revered deities? He did not even draw nudes of Hindu deities, he went even further; he drew caricatures of them. Would he similarly dare to draw caricatures of deities of other religions? Well, we know the answer, he never dared to do it; in fact he never even contemplated doing such a thing: One of the reasons he is regarded as the champion of the interests of Islam. His nudes of Hindu deities clearly show that he harbored animosity to towards Hinduism, which came out in the form of his paintings.

Caricatures of Hindu deities

What has Sita ever done to anyone? Her life was so lonely and so sad. She loved Rama, and suffered her whole life for being loyal to Rama, who cared more about his prestige and kingly duties than his wife. How can any one be so mean to Sita as to draw her nude riding on the shoulders of Hanuman? Hindus have always revered Sita as the most loyal wife of Rama. Stories of her faithfulness to Rama are part of her story. In fact, one of the common stories anyone hears about Sita is that she refused to go home when Hanuman visited her in Lanka and requested her to do so. Sita had told Hanuman to just convey her message to Rama. Why is it that Husain cannot be sympathetic to Sita and had to draw her nude riding on the shoulders of Hanuman? Was he such a misogynist that he is not interested in understanding feminine sorrows, or was he trying to mock Sita for being loyal to her love in times of intense struggle? Where does his sympathy lay? Does he hate monogamy? Is Husain’s issue with monogamy or Rama or Sita? May be living most of his life single might not have helped him understand the pleasures of monogamous love. At least he should respect the sentiments of others who understand it and still practice monogamy. 

There can be only one reason to do these paintings, either fame or to prove his superior intellect by bullying others by proving other's beliefs as silly. It seems likely that towards the end of his life he became a megalomaniac and probably not sure what he had to do to fulfill his desire. If not, then it is only probable that he  had harbored such animosity towards his fellow countrymen who are Hindus that he had to express it in such way as to bully them and prove his superiority. Otherwise it is difficult to understand how or why he would resort to drawing such images, which he had never done before during his long career. The government of India should politely withdraw the civilian award Padmasri bestowed on him for his reckless drawings that hurt the sentiments of millions of Hindus worldwide. 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Himalayan Earthquakes: Why the Building Boom and Tunnels Must Stop

Himalayan Earthquake: A Disaster on the Roof of the World

The world woke up to the disastrous earthquake in the Himalayas today, April 24, 2015. This is what the scholarly and scientific community had been warning South Asia, East Asia and Southeast Asia in the past few decades. Constructions, especially urbanization and building of roads especially tunnels underneath the Himalayan mountain ranges have proven disastrous in this area. This is exactly what I have discussed in my recent article, "Himalayan Ranges, Glaciers, Lakes and Rivers: An International Ecological, Economic and Military Outloook," (Webb, J., and Wijeweera, A. Eds. 2015. Political Economy of Conflict in South Asia: Causes, Implications & Solutions. London: Palgrave - http://www.amazon.com/Political-Economy-Conflict-South-International-ebook/dp/B00TR5JF7I/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1429988347&sr=1-2&keywords=Wijeweera). Military and economic activity of nations in this region is exposing Himalayas to undue stress and danger pushing it into facing disastrous consequences. I cannot emphasize enough of the impending dangers of such militaristic and building activities in the Himalayan regions. China's planned five tunnel roadway connecting southern Tibet to Nepal, and the large Hydro-electric project planned in Tibet would further push this region into danger. Instead of bringing development to this region such large dams, and roadway tunnels only spell impending disaster to this region.
Pushing Himalayas into danger is not only a problem for Tibet or Nepal, but the whole of Asian region.  Any large earthquakes may spell absolute danger since it may cause avalanches, and make the rivers to change course. Any collapsing hill ranges, and flooding rivers will not only cause dangers to the immediate foothills in the Himalayas, but would bring environmental consequences for the deltas of Ganga-Yamuna, Indus and Sutlej rives in India and Pakistan; Brahmaputra and Padma rivers in India and Bangladesh; and other large rives in China and Southeast Asia. 
Large nations like India and China must proceed with caution and build an alliance to protect the Himalayas and avert danger through reducing construction and military activity in the Himalayas. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Historical Significance of Amaravathi: Name of Andhra's New Capital

Amaravathi is the Best Name For Andhra Capital

The state government of Andhra Pradesh has recently announced the name of its new capital to be Amaravathi, a name that evokes historical significance, religious legends, linguistic and artistic achievements. Andhra Pradesh state has kept the old name, while ten districts separated from it are called Telangana formed the new state. However, there are some new opportunities in front of Andhra Pradesh to name its new upcoming capital, ports, and airports. This is an opportunity for Andhra Pradesh to reflect on its rich heritage and draw appropriate names from its great historical past to inspire and infuse future generations of Andhra Pradesh with pride, and self respect.

Naming of new state capitals with historical significance or changing the names of existing state capitals to reflect their respective historical significance is not an uncommon occurrence in India. For example Gujarat separated from Maharashtra, and their new capital is appropriately named Gandhinagar. The names of capital cities of Maharashtra, Bengal, and Tamilnadu are changed accordingly in the recent past to reflect their past cultural heritage.

Name is an important aspect of a culture, and Andhra Pradesh has an important and long historical heritage behind its existence, which must be reflected by the name of its new capital appropriately. Historically, the Krishna-Guntur region of Andhra Pradesh has been a focal center of Philosophy, literature, and religion. This place is memorialized by a number of eminent personalities of Andhra Pradesh who have made this region their residence. Several Andhra dynasties are well known not only in Andhra Pradesh, but across India. Satavahana, Ikshvaku, Kakatiya, and Vijayanagara dynasties come to mind right away. Numerous literary stalwarts also graced the land of Andhra Pradesh. Nagarjuna's Madhyamikavada is known not only in India, but across the world. It is a noted fact that Srikrishna Deva Raya composed his Amuktamalyada after a vision from Andhravishnu (also known as Srikakulandhravishnu), when he visited the temple in Srikakulam of Krishna district. Acarya Nagarjuna spent part of his life in Nagajunakonda monastery in Guntur district. 

Satavahanas empire is the first significant historical state of Krishna-Godavari river basin. Satavahanas are also known for supporting Buddhist and Hindu religions equally. Krishna-Guntur region also has several firsts to its credit. The first temple of India was discovered in the Nagarjunakonda excavations in the Krishna river basin. The excavations also revealed inscription dedicated to Ashtabhujaswami, the first inscription dedicated to Vishnu, in his eight-armed form. One of the major Satavahana trading cities is Amaravathi. Several trade routes of India are connected mainly through waterways connecting cities across India. Amaravathi  is a central city with two roads  each passing from north to south on its right and left sides respectively. Selecting the name Amaravathi as the name of the new capital of Andhra Pradesh is a fitting reminder of this historical heritage.  Linguistically, Amara is a Sanskrit word, which means 'eternal', or 'endless'. It is also the name of the capital city hosting the residence of King of Gods, Indra, eternally reverberating with fine arts entertaining gods, and goddesses endlessly.

Any capital built between Guntur and Krishna district in Andhra Pradesh will be well served by drawing on the names associated with Satavahana cultural heritage which flourished in the Krishna river basin indicating its connection with historical as well as divine legends.  Amaravathi is hence a fitting name reminding of Andhra Pradesh of great historical, religious and artistic background. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Silk Road is A Bad Idea for China and India!


The Silk Road project is praised as a path to revive of trade between China and Europe as it once existed in almost 2000 years ago. However, the geographical landscape of the region has changed completely from what it was about 100 C.E to 300 C.E. During that time in history most of Middle East and Europe is united under the Roman Empire in what was termed Pax Romana by historians. Similarly China is united under the Han empire, one of the the largest empires of premodern China. Today China is united under one political state, but the case of Europe and middle east is different.
The case of Europe is changing since the foundation of EU (European Union).

From the sixth century onwards the historical silk road between China and Europe benefited Northern Eurasia more than it benefited India, China, or Europe. After the sixth century silk road trade declined between China and Europe due the decline of Roman empire in the Middle East, and Northern Eurasia began emerging as a powerful zone of power. Middle East and Northern Eurasia developed and Islam spread across this region between 7-10th centuries. The Mongol Empire of 12 century emerged out of this power vacuum, and China knows the results of such development more than any other nation in this world. As a result of the Mongol empire China went from being the largest and most prosperous state to a poor state in the 1300s. Similarly, large parts of India became part of the Islamic empire ruled by the Delhi Sultanate. 

Unless China wants to repeat this history it is advisable to leave Silk-road to the forgotten past. 

Friday, January 30, 2015

Hindutva and History: Colonial Constructions





Colonial Vestiges of Race, Religion, and Land: Aryans, Horse, and Script: A Look at Romila Thapar’s Article (“Hindutva and History” Frontline Oct 13, 2000, reprint Jan 2015)


1. First of All Stop Calling Them Aryans!

I think abstaining from using the word Aryans as a designation for people of the Vedas would solve most of the issues associated with early history of India. Besides the people of the Vedas called themselves the Aryas, a designation reserved for civilized and cultured folk, and it does not denote a race. Using it as a racial term is taking it out of context from the normal Vedic usage.

It is an undeniable historical fact that colonialism always benefited from invented historical categories, especially invasion theories, most importantly those that present invaders as bringers of knowledge and civilization. This angle of presentation of history is beneficial for colonial government formed by invaders, who are considered alien rulers by the natives. Thus the Aryas of the Vedas are equated with Aryans of somewhere (or anywhere and nowhere). The Aryan invasion theory current until the turn of the second millennium construed that an alien group of people referred to as Aryans in Indian history during the Neolithic phase, who are said to have arrived with the Neolithic package (agriculture, metals, chariot), influencing the indigenous culture of India in a major way. This is not only presented as a theory, but as a fact legitimizing alien rule in India as a beneficiary historical event. This did not only happen in India, but in numerous countries across the world, wherever colonial empires were established.

Colonial states brought with them the theoretical identity shift, which helped colonial governance, by making them amenable to a group of the general population of the governed, generally a minority, already threatened by the majority. They cling on to this new found superior identity offered by the colonial rulers, and become part of the exploiters separated from the governed public, by the new theories of identity being popularized by the colonial government. Some of the postcolonial states wrestle with this pseudo identity for many years, which becomes an irreversible obstacle in their state formation and nationhood. African states such as Yemen, Rwanda, and Sudan, still wrestle with this issue, although India has found some peace, this issue still continues to plague the identity politics in India, conveniently grabbed by two opposing political sections of society- the lower classes presented as the oppressed (Dalits) and the higher classes presented as oppressors and invaders. Two race theory always involves an indigenous group, and a invader group; although the origins invaders are mired in mystery, this theory has worked in a number of colonial states, sometimes leading to ravaging results in some post colonial states such as Rwanda (Forges 1995). The invaders are always pale skinned, and come from north, while the indigenous are always the dark skinned and came from the south in general. Buying into this theory of two-race divide of Indian population, Indian epics such as the Mahabharata, and especially the Ramayana are reinterpreted as representing the struggle between the invaders and the indigenous tribes. The story of Ramayana is interpreted to show that Ravana is the leader of the indigenous tribes, while Rama is shown as the repressing invader. Contradictory evidence of appearances or story is ignored (while Rama is dark skinned, his wife Sita is of dark tan color (the color of the indigenous people), while Ravana is fair skinned; is also noted as Brahmana).

There are no races in India as they were portrayed in the early 20th century. The Aryans is an invented race, and the Aryas of the Vedas is not a racial designation.


This theory of Aryan invasion has recently been revised to Aryan migration due to mounting historical evidence showing no evidence of large movements of people into India. Following this revision old time historians like Romila Thapar have also accepted that Aryan invasions/migrations is untenable in view of the current researches. My research (Vemsani 2014) utilizing genetic evidence clearly shows that no large migrations of alien human groups had ever occurred in India.

It is appalling that Romila Thapar quotes Jyotiba Phule, and Savarkar to construct her contention on Hindutva. Both Phule and Savarkar had written their work during the colonial regime in early twentieth century when the Aryan invasion theories were current, and did not have an opportunity to revise their views in the light of the new research. Further it has to be noted that Thapar herself had held similar views. She convenietly forgets her own work written during the late twentieth century asserting the same theories on Aryan invasion and Aryanization of Indian culture (Thapar 1966: 29). It is a false parallelism to equate early twentieth century notions of Aryans with current research on Aryans and Indus valley to label it as Hindutva. If Thapar wanted to argue against the current debates on Aryans she should have consulted current research on Ancient India, and its archaeology. Based on this false equivalency she argues that “A Hindu therefore could not be descended from alien invaders,” and goes on to propose that “since Hindus sought a lineal descent from Aryans, and a cultural heritage, the Aryans had to be indigenous.” In fact, the Aryas of the Vedas are indigenous to India. Romila Thapar is forgetting here that India did not exist in this modern geographical form at the time of the Vedas during its early historical phase. The Hindu land (country of Hindus) referred to the land of the Indian subcontinent all the way from Afghanisthan to the Indian Ocean. This is what the Jambudvipa referred to in the classical Hindu texts. The earliest references made by Persians, and Greeks have also referred to the Indian subcontinent as a whole as Hindu country. Then is’nt it true that the Vedic people who lived in the Saptasindhu region are indigenous to India. Mobility and cultural contacts, and multiplicity of life styles existed in the region called Saptasindhu, and Aryas were no aliens to that region.

2. Neolithic package (horse, iron, and chariots) Import Lacks Evidence
Cities, unicorns, and Script

Existence or nonexistence of horses, elephants or any other animals is not central to the question of whether the Indus valley people and the Rigvedic people lived in the same region, since introduction of Neolithic package (horses, iron, agriculture) by way of Aryan invasion or migration has already been disproved, and Romila Thapar agrees with this. Then it does not matter if horses existed in Indus valley or India. When there were no invasions and migrations into India, it is out of question if any animals were brought into India or not. Indus valley seals depicted a number of animals, and it is safe to assume that the people of Indus region including the Aryas are familiar with these animals. Kenoyer asserts that many different animals were depicted on the Indus seals including the unicorn, humped bull, elephant, rhinoceros, water buffalo, short-horned humpless bull, goat, antelope, crocodile, and hare (Kenoyer, 2012). It is hard to know what animal the unicorn might have represented. If the representation is just that of a bull, other seals of humped bull, humpless bull exist, and it differs significantly form these other bull seals. It bears features of a stylized image of a horse (or something similar to a horse) with sylized bovine horn (single horn unlike the two horns noted in the seals representing bulls). Unicorn depiction only shows that a stylized representation of an animal is in vogue, and that they were differentiating it from other known animals such as the bull. If the unicorn seals just represent a bovine bull, I don’t understand why they were stylizing it to look different from the other images of bovine bulls found on Indus seals. It must bear some significance to be depicted so differently and frequently across the Indus valley. It can be said that simply considering the unicorn seals as another representation of bull is missing its significance. Numerous seals of unicorn are found, which indicates its popularity in the region. Kenoyer further notes that the mythical unicorn was the most common symbol on seals, and moulded tablets as well as on a unique carved medallion or pendant. Kenoyer also found terracotta figurines of unicorns from Harappa, Mohenjodaro, Chanhudaro, and Ganeriwala. Does Romila Thapar then accuse Kenoyer of lying when she says ‘the unicorn image is computer enhanced and fabricated’ in her Frontline article? May be one image could have been fabricated, but what about all these other unicorn seals? What could they be representing? How could so many Indus valley seals depict a unicorn (a mix of bull, horse or deer), if the horse did not fascinate the Indus valley people? And how can the horses fascinate them, if they did not have horses? They did not also depict cow on the seals. Does that mean cow is somehow cow is not important to the Indus people or that only bulls existed in the Indus valley culture?

Importation of Neolithic package (horses, script, iron) by way of Aryans is only a colonial construction. Research on early India should progress beyond these colonial constructions.

Decipherment of Indus Valley script is not important to understanding where the Rigvedic people lived. It is common in this world to write several languages in the same script. A number of languages may have been spoken in the extensive Indus valley region spreading between Baluchitan to Kutch. Efforts to decipher any single language from these scant symbols on the seals are not helpful to understand the early history of India. Besides, the Aryas have described where they lived in the Rigveda.


3. Aryas Claimed their Home was Saptasindhu

Thapar rightly argues that the Aryan invasion theory is untenable, but continues with her assumptions that they must have lived somewhere other than the Indus Valley. She argues that “the village-based, pastoral society of the Rigveda could not be identical to the complex urban society of the Indus.” Can she tell us where the Aryas may have lived?

Assuming that Indus valley civilization is uniform throughout, and completely urban is a fantasy.  Based on this false assumption Thapar argued that “If the two societies were identical, the two systems would at least have to be similar.” She urgently needs to consult Dr. Kenoyer’s research on Indus valley civilization (Kenoyer 1998; Rao 2014; Harappa.com). Archaeologists have proposed that Indus valley is not just a civilization of cities, but each city is also flanked by a number of villages, and pastoral settlements. Kenoyer has proposed, after a number of years of tedious research in the Indus valley, that Indus valley civilization is complex and not uniform throughout. Indus valley civilization was thought of as urban when only the first two cities were excavated, and not much is known about other settlements in the area. However, recent researches have expanded the geographical extent of Indus valley civilization from Baluchistan to Kutch in Gujarat. Some later Indus valley evidence is found in Inamgaon in Maharashtra, and some Megalithic pottery fragments excavated in South India contains Indus valley script. 


Whether Indus valley civilization is Aryan or not is a different question. But one thing is for certain; Indus valley is an indigenous civilization, and people of Indus valley had migrated into India beginning with 2nd millennium B.C.E. Those people may have certainly belonged to a number of cultural settlements such as pastoral, rural and urban. This is proven by archeology. At the same time the Aryas of the Rigveda also mention that they lived in the Saptasindhu region (exactly the same geographical location as the Indus valley civilization) and they also mention in the later Vedic texts that they migrated from there to the Ganga-Yamuna region. Why not trust the Aryas when they say their homeland is Saptasindhu region?

Romila Thapar selectively chooses her evidence from the Rigveda when it suits her. Romila Thapar insists that people of the Rigveda may not have lived in the Indus valley region because the Rigveda does not contain any description of cities, drainage etc, but describes only pastoral life style. The Rigveda also describes the area where the people of the Rigveda lived- the Rigveda includes a hymn on Indus river, and other geographical landmarks where they lived. Why not trust the Rigveda when it describes where the people of the Vedas roamed? Why trust them only on pastoral life style and not on their geographical information?

In conclusion it could be said that Romila Thapar rules out the Vedic evidence on geographical location of the Aryas, archaeological evidence on unicorn by scholars without offering any alternative evidence or explanation of her own.


Thapar should note that efforts to understand the true history of India, while rescuing it from the colonial projections is not Hindutva. Looking through the Marxist lens may make it seem so. Every Indian has the right to know the extent and features of Indus valley civilization as well as the true background and geographical extent of the early Vedic civilization. Multiplicity of views and debates are always a feature of Indian culture. Suppressing a viewpoint through name calling or branding it as ‘Hindutva,’ is not conducive to productive thought. Thapar’s comment that “history as projected by Hindutva ideologues, which is being introduced to children through text books,” is a short sighted observation. The points raised by Thapar in her Frontline article about Aryan invasion, horses, geographical extent, and cultural nature of Indus valley are complex, and undergone several updates since its first discovery during the 1920s. These issues deserve the attention of each and every scholar interested in understanding early India. Name calling and accusing opposing analyses as fabrications is not conducive to production of knowledge and do not contribute to understanding the truth about early origins of Indian culture.

References:

Forges, Alison Des. 1995. “Ideology of Genocide,” Issue: A Journal of Opinion. 116-125.
Kenoyer, Jonathan. 1998. Ancient Cities of the Indus Valley Civilization. Karachi: Oxford University Press.
Kenoyer, Jonathan. 2012. “Iconography of the Indus Unicorn: Origin and Legacy,” in Connections and Complexity: New Approaches to the Archaeology of South Asia. Ed. S. Abraham, P. Gullipoli, T. Raczek, and U, Rizvi. PP. 107-25. Walnut Creek: Left Creek Press.
Thapar, Romila. 1966. Early India. New Delhi: Penguin.
Vemsani, Lavanya. 2014. “Genetic Evidence of Early Human Migrations in the Indian Ocean Region Disproves Aryan Migration/Invasion Theories: An Examination of Small-statured Human Groups of the Indian Ocean Region,” Ed. Rao, N. Sindhu-Sarasvati Civilization: New Perspectives. New Delhi: DK Printworld, and Nalanda International, Los Angeles. 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Confusion of Names Spawns a New Field of Hindu Studies in the West

 Hinduism: Religion or Not?

“What‟s in a name?” asks an old saying, but the notion that a name is not necessarily synonymous with an identity has not stopped the western scholars of India initially from engaging in lengthy debates regarding the names given to particular peoples or religious practices. While naming “races”  of peoples of India, and  connecting the races to languages of India, occupied much of the early discourse on Indian ethnic identity, the current academic discourse centers on the use of the term Hindu,” an umbrella term meant to identify and group the peoples associated with the indigenous religious and cultural systems of India. The conversation about the use of this term and what the term represents takes up more space in post- colonial studies than any other issue related to India or Indian history, culture, and identity.

The debate about how to classify the religion(s) of India is currently discussed without much agreement among scholars, leading to a rift; there are those who argue that Hinduism” appropriately identifies an indigenous Indian socio-religious and cultural sphere, and there are those who argue that the purported Hindu” identity is nothing more than a construct, existing only in the imagination of the West, conveniently but erroneously grouping a wide diversity of beliefs, practices, and traditions into a single, supposed entity. The subject of whether or not the term Hinduism legitimately refers to a religion has raged in Western academia for the last decade and continues to inspire publications. 

Several scholars had demonstrated the use of the term Hinduism historically in India to denote religion of India, as well as contradicted superfluous arguments by several scholars of Hinduism, who argue Hinduism is a colonial construct. Scholars argue that Hinduism was known by that name as early as fifth century, which was used consistently to refer to the religious practice consistently until twelfth century. Then it is not hard to imagine what may have happened since twelfth century, and how regional traditions of Hindu religious practice become the norm, although distinct, but not different from Hinduism of earlier centuries. The next five hundred years is a period of religious discrimination and persecution in India. Temples were destroyed, festivals were banned, large gatherings such as Kumbhmela, and pilgrimages were also banned. So the practice of pan Indian Hinduism gives way to local and regional practices, due to lack of facility to connect widely. It was no surprise that by the time British arrived in India in the seventeenth century, Hinduism, might have looked like Hinduisms, with distinct practices in each region of India. It was no wonder the colonial views of Hinduism attempted understanding the many practices distinct in some aspects and similar in other aspects, and also the textual background of Hinduism.

Ancient sources of India, especially classical texts refer to religion as Dharma, and Hinduism as Sanatana Dharma, which means eternal faith. However, Hinduism is consistently referred by the name 'Hinduism,' since the early fourth century. However that did not stop scholars from suggesting that Sanatana Dharma was different from Hinduism without any substantial evidence, and recently a new field of study evolved in the western academia based on the argument that Hinduism is not a religion, but a colonial construct. All this because Hinduism is not referred in the classical texts by that name, but only as Sanatana Dharma. Hinduism or Sanatana Dharma, name is only secondary matter in India. The religion is eternal and its practice is established. 


Indeed, the issue of name does not seem to be a central issue in India. Some children are not given a name until they are admitted into school, and even after that, they are referred to by numerous names. The child is then called by his or her given name in school and in other official settings but continues to be called by his/her various nicknames in familiar and informal environments. This does in fact cause some confusion but does not do great damage to either the child or those that refer to the child by these many names. In fact, the more popular one is the more names one acquires, which is also true of gods, goddesses, and religions in India. To be referred by only one name commonly in perpetuity is a western notion. Names multiply in India with increasing popularity. The exercise of questioning the existence of Hinduism as a religion seems to me to be one such confusion of names rather than any major issue with regard to Hinduism and its practice in India. 

India's own indifference to its historical tradition is partly to blame for this state of things.  Academic study of Hinduism in India is limited to a handful of universities which is also cited as one of the reasons by the Hinduism deniers as evidence of its non-existence as a religion in India. Under the garb of secularism successive governments in India since 1947 ignored Hinduism, while supporting traditions labeled as minority faiths such as Islam, and others with funds as well as permitting academic study in the universities. It might seem strange that universities in India would offer academic study of several faiths, but not Hinduism. It could only be hoped that academic study of Hinduism would be offered in the Universities in India soon.