On the second day of the World Hindu Congress, which kicked off in the Thai capital, Bangkok, on Friday drawing over 2000 delegates from 61 countries, a significant declaration was adopted advocating the term 'Hindu-ness' over 'Hinduism' when referring to the faith in English.
The Congress adopted the declaration asserting that 'Hinduism' misrepresents the global Hindu community and their inherent goodness.
The declaration specifies that in the words 'Hindu Dharma', the first word, 'Hindu', is 'unbounded', signifying all that his 'Sanatan', meaning eternal.
"The word 'Hindu' is followed by 'Dharma', which means that which sustains," the declaration adds.
"Hindu Dharma, thus, signifies all that which eternally upholds everything; an individual, a family, a community, a society, and even nature--both animate and inanimate," it states further.
"In contrast, Hinduism is totally different because it is suffixed with an 'ism'. The term 'ism' is defined as an oppressive and discriminatory attitude or belief. In the mid-nineteenth century, in the United States of America, the phrase 'the isms' was used to collectively refer to radical social reform movements and various non-mainstream spiritual or religious movements in a derogatory manner. The term 'Hinduism' should be understood in such a context," the declaration specifies.
"One should also note that the term 'Hinduism' was introduced in the popular lexicon by Sir Monier-Monier Willimas via his handbook 'Hinduism'. The handbook was published in 1877 by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. This intellectually dishonest terminology is the seed behind the vicious anti-Hindu narratives over the last 150 years," it notes, adding, "It is for these reasons that many of our elders preferred the term 'Hindutva' over Hinduism, as the former is a more accurate term since it includes the gamut (spectrum) of all that the word 'Hindu' implies. We agree with them and should do the same."
Hindutva is not a complicated word, it states, adding that it simply means 'Hindu-ness'.
"Others have used the alternative 'Sanatan Dharma', often abbreviated as 'Sanatan'," it notes, adding, "However, in the present public discourse, many academicians and intellectuals regularly portray Hindutva as the antithesis of Hindu Dharma, i.e., extremely negatively. Some of them argue like that because of their ignorance. But most are anti-Hindutva because of their visceral hatred and biases against Hindu Dharma. Many politicians driven by political agendas and personal prejudices have also joined that group and are criticising Sanatan Dharma, or Sanatan, with increasing regularity and vitriol."
The statement assumes significance as DMK leader and Tamil Nadu minister Udhayanidhi Stalin, addressing a seminar in Chennai, had ranted against 'Sanatana' or Sanatan Dharma, equating it with "fever, malaria, dengue, and corona" and asking for it to be abolished.
The remark evoked outrage from the BJP and seers, who demanded that the DMK leader take back his words and issue an unconditional apology.
"On behalf of the global Hindu community, the World Hindu Congress declares that such malicious criticism of Hindutva, or Sanatan Dharma, or Sanatan, or Hindu Dharma actually targets Hindu society and all that is beautiful, just, good, and noble in it," the declaration adds.
"In reality, these are attacks against goodness itself. The World Hindu Congress strongly condemns such attacks and urges Hindus worldwide for manifestation of Hindutva through organised global efforts and overcoming those who are engaging in such anti-Hindu attacks and bigotry so that we are victorious," it states further.