Meaning of Hinduism:
Hinduism, a word that has its roots in the Indus (river), refers to the religion and philosophies that flourished in the country around and beyond the Indus river. Hinduism has spread throughout the world (1), but it has only been practiced in the Indian subcontinent. Discipline that has no founder for itself and exists from an indefinite moment does not refer to itself as Hinduism. It was the foreigners who discovered this practice, named after Hinduism and henceforth designated only by that name.
What was Hinduism originally called?
Originally the names that were used to refer to this discipline are vaidIka dharma (meaning discipline of vedas) and sanAtana dharma (meaning eternal discipline). If the religions practiced in the subcontinent are referred to as Hinduism it would mean a broad umbrella, which includes the Jainism, Buddhism and various other religions that took birth in this land and then spread to the other parts. These religions share many of the common roots with the sanAtana dharma. Hinduism being an open framework and these philosophies and customs are very closely associated with the main streams, it may not be wrong all together to call them so. However, as Hinduism is vaidika dharma – based on vedas, and since Jainism and Buddhism do not base their doctrines on vedas, in these sections generally Hinduism would mean the core Hindu discipline – based on vedas.
It is quite important to note the fact that it is a discipline and not a religion by the terms as defined for most other religions. As already said, it is actually, a framework where different religions and philosophies build on the core knowledge and grow.
To the Lord Who is already Eternal, let us hail, “Long Live”. thiruppallANDu