Dear Editor, RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat reiterated that Bharat was a Hindu rashtra. According to him, the concept of Hindu rashtra is geographical rather than denominational, as is indicated by India’s other name – Hindustan, meaning the land of the Hindus. There is some historical truth in what he says. The term Hindu is a transformation of ‘Sindhu’, which was introduced before the Christian era and was used to refer to people living around or beyond the river Sindh. Therefore, at one stage the terms ‘Hindu’ and ‘India’ got equated. However, the semantics of the word Hindu changed due to the quirks of history and it began to denote a specific religious community with a broad range of beliefs and practices derived from the Vedas or other derivative texts. At the juncture of history we stand today, ‘Hindu’ has a denominational rather than territorial meaning. If we seek a common word for all people living in India, the best word would be not Hindu, but Hindustani. Bhupinder Singh, Patiala.
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