Hindu: A History (History of the word ‘Hindu’)

Dr. Audrey Truschke (left)

Abstract

This article provides a textured history of the multivalent term “hindu” over 2,500 years, with the goal of productively unsettling what we think we know. “Hindu” is a ubiquitous word in modern times, used by scholars and practitioners in dozens of languages to denote members of a religious tradition. But the religious meaning of “hindu” and its common use are quite new. Here I trace the layered history of “hindu,” part of an array of shifting identities in early and medieval India. In so doing, I draw upon an archive of primary sources—in Old Persian, New Persian, Sanskrit, Prakrit, Hindi, Marathi, Bengali, and more—that offers the kind of multilingual story needed to understand a term that has long cut across languages in South Asia. Also, I do not treat premodernity as a prelude but rather recognize it as the heart of this tale. So much of South Asian history—including over two thousand years of using the term “hindu”—has been misconstrued by those who focus only on British colonialism and later. We need a deeper consideration of South Asian pasts if we are to think more fruitfully about the terms and concepts that order our knowledge. Here, I offer one such contribution that marshals historical material on the multiform and fluid word “hindu” that can help us think more critically and precisely about this discursive category.

READ FULL ARTICLE – Published online by Cambridge University Press, 20 January 2023:

LINK – Hindu: A History

*Audrey Truschke

Copyright © The Author(s), 2023. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Society for the Comparative Study of Society and History

Source- Cambridge University Press, 20 January 2023. (Published under the Creative Commons licence)

Information Comparative Studies in Society and History Volume 65 Issue 2 , April 2023 , pp. 246 – 271. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0010417522000524

Disclaimer- The views/opinions expressed in the article are that of the author Dr. Audrey Truschke’s own and  do not reflect the views of the South Asia Times or SAT or its editor or anyone working or associated with it.

By Audrey Truschke*

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