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Hindu refers to any person who regards themselves as culturally, ethnically, or religiously adhering to aspects of Hinduism. It has historically been used as a geographical, cultural, and later religious identifier for people indigenous to South Asia.

See also:
Indian religions
List of Hindus


  • Most of the inhabitants of Hindustan are pagans ; they call a pagan a Hindu. Most Hindus believe in the transmigration of souls. All artisans, wage-earners, and officials are Hindus.
    • Babur (1483-1530), Baburnama. [1]
  • A Hindu is a born mystic, and the luxuriant nature of his country has made him a zealous pantheist
    • H.P. Blavatsky, The Caves and Jungles of Hindostan
  • It is not necessary to live in India to be a Hindu. In fact one must live in harmony with the land where one is located to be a true Hindu.
    • David Frawley, How I Became A Hindu - My Discovery Of Vedic Dharma
  • In this way I can speak of an American Hinduism and call myself an American and a Hindu – an American connected with the land and a Hindu connected with the spirit and soul of that land. Hinduism has helped me discover the forces of nature in which I live, their past and their future, their unique formations and their connections with the greater universe and the cosmic mind.
    • David Frawley, How I Became A Hindu - My Discovery Of Vedic Dharma
  • At least by the time of Albiruni (early 11th century), the word Hindu had a distinct religio-geographical meaning: a Hindu is an Indian who is not a Muslim, Jew, Christian or Zoroastrian. (...) A Buddhist, a Jain, a tribal, they were all included in the semantic domain of the term Hindu. Though the early Muslim writers in India had noticed a superficial difference between Brahmins and Buddhists, calling the latter 'clean-shaven Brahmins', they did not see an opposition between 'Hindus and Buddhists' or between 'Hindus and tribals', nor did later Muslim rulers see an opposition between 'Hindus and Sikhs'. On the contrary, Albiruni lists Buddhists among the idolatrous Hindu sects. (...)
    India's Constitution does not give a definition of the term Hindu, but it does define to whom the 'Hindu Law' applies. It has to do this because in spite of its pretence to secularism, the Indian Constitution allows Muslims, Christians and Parsis a separate Personal Law. .... Article 25 (2)(b) of the Constitution stipulates that 'the reference to Hindus shall be construed as including a reference to persons professing the Sikh, Jain or Buddhist religion'. The Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 goes in greater detail to define [the term 'Hindu' in legal terms], by stipulating in Section 2 that the Act applies:
    '(a) to any person who is a Hindu by religion in any of its forms and developments, including a Virashaiva, a Lingayat or a follower of the Brahmo, Prarthana or Arya Samaj,
    '(b) to any person who is a Buddhist, Jain or Sikh by religion, and
    '(c) to any other person domiciled in the territories to which this Act extends who is not a Muslim, Christian, Parsi or Jew by religion.
    This definition of the 'legal Hindu', though explicitly not equating him with the 'Hindu by religion', is exactly coterminous with the original Islamic use of the term Hindu: all Indian Pagans are legally Hindus.
    • Constitution of India, Hindu Marriage Act, cited in Paras Diwan: Modern Hindu Law, Ch.1., and quoted from Elst, Koenraad (2002). Who is a Hindu?: Hindu revivalist views of Animism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and other offshoots of Hinduism. ISBN 978-8185990743
  • The Arya Samaj's misgivings about the term Hindu already arose in tempore non suspecto, long before it became a dirty Word under Jawaharlal Nehru and a cause of legal disadvantage under the 1950 Constitution. Swami Dayananda Saraswati rightly objected that the term had been given by foreigners (who, moreover, gave all kinds of derogatory meanings to it) and considered that dependence on an exonym is a bit sub-standard for a highly literate and self-expressive civilization. This argument retains a certain validity: the self-identification of Hindus as 'Hindu' can never be more than a second-best option. On the other hand, it is the most practical choice in the short run, and most Hindus don't seem to pine for an alternative.
    • Elst, Koenraad (2002). Who is a Hindu?: Hindu revivalist views of Animism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and other offshoots of Hinduism. ISBN 978-8185990743
  • All I can say at present is that by the time the Islamic sword swept over the South, and the Vijayanagara Empire took shape, the word “Hindu” was no more a hated word for the natives as it was for the foreign invaders... Thus by the middle of the fourteenth century, the word “Hindu” had dropped the derogatory associations imposed on it by the ancient Iranians and the Islamic invaders, and acquired a lot of lustre in the eyes of our own countrymen. Native heroes such as MahãrãNã Kumbhã, and Krishnadevarãya, who defeated the Islamic onslaught, were hailed as Hindu heroes in subsequent centuries. Padmanãbha uses the word “Hindu” for glorification of the Chauhãn harm of Jalor in his epic poem, KãnhaDade Prabandha, which he composed in AD 1455. It will not be long before MahãrãNã Pratãpa SiMha of Mewar becomes renowned as hindu-kula-kamala-divãkara, the Sun which brings bloom to the lotus that is the Hindu nation. Chhatrapati Shivãji, who turned back the tide of Islamic invasion and inaugurated the war of liberation from Islamic imperialism, will be hailed all over Bhãratavaršã as the saviour of Hindu Dharma and protector of its significant symbols - gaubrãhmaNa, šikhã-sûtra, devamûrti-devãlaya, and so on. So also Guru Gobind Singh, and Mahãrãjã Chhatrasãl.
    • Goel, S. R. (1993). Hindu temples: What happened to them. (Second Enlarged Edition) [2] (Appendix 3)
  • The Hindus… in the rapidity of their movements exceeded the wild ass and the deer, you might say they were demons in human form.
  • The mind of the secularists was exhumed by Dr. R.C. Majumdar in his Kamala Lectures delivered at the University of Calcutta in 1965. He said with great anguish: “In India today there is an Islamic culture as also an Indian culture. Only there is no Hindu culture. This word is now an untouchable (apãñkteya) in civilised society. They very word Hindu is now on the way to oblivion. Because many people believe that this word symbolises a narrowness of mind and a diehard communalism.”
    • R. C. Majumdar, quoted from Goel, Sita Ram (2001). The story of Islamic imperialism in India. ISBN 9788185990231
  • A Hindu is most intensely so, when he ceases to be Hindu; and with a Shankara claims the whole world for a Benares ... or with Tukaram exclaims: 'The limits of the universe - there the frontiers of my country lie'.
    • V.D. Savarkar: Hindutva, quoted from Elst, Koenraad (2001). Decolonizing the Hindu mind: Ideological development of Hindu revivalism. New Delhi: Rupa. p. 478
  • Every person is a Hindu who regards and owns this Bharat Bhumi, this land from the Indus to the seas, as his Fatherland as well as Holyland, i.e. the land of the origin of his religion (...) Consequently the so-called aboriginal or hill tribes also are Hindus: because India is their Fatherland as well as their Holyland of whatever form of religion or worship they follow.
    • V.D. Savarkar: Hindu Rashtra Darshan. p.77. Quoted from Elst, Koenraad (2002). Who is a Hindu?: Hindu revivalist views of Animism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and other offshoots of Hinduism. ISBN 978-8185990743
  • In expounding the ideology of the Hindu movement, it is absolutely necessary to have a correct grasp of the meaning attached to these three terms. From the word " Hindu" has been coined the word "Hinduism " in English. It means the schools or system of Religion the Hindus follow. The second word " Hindutva " is far more comprehensive and refers not only to the religious aspects of the Hindu people as the word " Hinduism " does but comprehend even their cultural, linguistic, social and political aspects as well. It is more or less akin to " Hindu Polity " and its nearly exact translation would be " Hinduness ". The third word " Hindudom " means the Hindu people spoken of collectively. It is a collective name for the Hindu World, just as Islam denotes the Moslem World.
    • V.D. Savarkar quoted from B.R. Ambedkar, Pakistan or The Partition of India (1946)
  • [A Hindu] may be a theist, pantheist, atheist, communist and believe whatever he likes, but what makes him into a Hindu are the ritual practices he performs and the rules to which he adheres, in short, what he does.
    • F. Staal: Rules without meaning, also quoted in G. Flood: Introduction to Hinduism, quoted from Elst, Koenraad (2001). Decolonizing the Hindu mind: Ideological development of Hindu revivalism. New Delhi: Rupa. 466.
  • Mark me, then and then alone you are a Hindu when the very name sends through you a galvanic shock of strength. Then and then alone you are a Hindu when every man who bears the name, from any country, speaking our language or any other language, becomes at once the nearest and the dearest to you. Then and then alone you are a Hindu when the distress of anyone bearing that name comes to your heart and makes you feel as if your own son were in distress.

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