By Periyava
Translation from Tamil: By V. Krishnaraj
பெயரில்லாத மதம் : தெய்வத்தின் குரல் (முதல் பகுதி)
Innominate Religion: Deivathin Kural Part One
Now ‘Hindu Religion’ as it is called, is not really its real name. ‘Hindhu’ means ‘Love.’ Hindhū is a reviler of violence, some say. This meaning is clever or poetic. Our ancient Sastras mention nowhere, ‘Hindu Religion’ as a word or phrase.
Hindus is the name, the foreigners gave us. The westerners came to our Bharata country by crossing the Sindhu River. They called Sindhu, Indhu or Hindu. The adjoining country, they called, India and their religion Hindu. The adjoining regions of a country are lumped together and named as part of the mainland. An amusing story, let me tell you.
In northern India, people give food to any one calling himself Bhairāki and asking for alms. South Indians do not do it, the Bharākis complain and sing a song: ‘Illā Pō Pō Kahē Theluṅgi.’ (‘No, Leave, Leave, you are a Telugu.’)
Telugus; no alms to you; Leave at once. This poem depicted a short shrift to the alms seeker. The word ‘Pō Pō’ (Go, go) is not a Telugu word. If the revilers were Telugus, they would have told ‘Veḷḷu Veḷḷu’ and not Pō Pō. Pō is a Tamil word. Only Tamils will use that word (Pō). Then, why did the Bhairāki’s poem say it wrong? When the Bharākis leaving their land came down south, they must pass through Telugu country. When they arrived in the Tamil country, the Bharākis mistake Tamil country as Telugu country.
The Telugus in Tamil Nadu calling the local country ‘Aravanādu’ is in the same vein. The small part of Tamil country south of Telugu country is Arvā Dēsam. The rest of the Tamil Country, they called the same name.
In the same vein, the foreigners discovering the Sindhu country called the entire adjacent country Bhārata Dēsam (India) as Hindu country.
Hindu is not our ancestral name. Vaidīka Religion, Sanatana Dharmam… are not either the names. In the Perusal of our key sacred texts, there was never a mention of a name for this religion.
Thinking about this made me feel inadequate.
Let it be so for now.
Someone told me one day, ‘Ramu has arrived.’ Distracted by other thoughts, I said, ‘Which Ramu?’ The others retorted, ‘Which Ramu, you say?’ I realized I posed that question with the instant recall of four Ramus in my village. To know each one separately, we were used to calling them: ‘Black Ramu, White Ramu, Tall Ramu and Short Ramu.’ With that preexisting notion, I said, ‘Which Ramu’ in a town with only one Ramu. There is no need to apply any moniker to the only one Ramu in town.
Immediately, I understood why our religion had no name. When several religions exist, naming is necessary to know one from the other. If one religion only existed, where is the need to give it a name?
Excepting our religion, the other religions acquired names after the founders. There was no such religion before the founder. Buddhist religion means Gautama Buddha founded it. It means it did not exist before him. So are the cases with Jain religion founded by Mahāvīrar and Christianity founded by Jesus Christ. Before the advent of these religions, our religion existed all over the world. Since no other religion did exist before our religion, there was no need to give it a name. Having realized this, the previous inadequacy and want of recognition of our religion in me vanished. Besides, I developed a sense of self-respect and appreciation.
We know now ours is the ancient religion. There is a question who established our religion. A founder of our religion was never found upon extensive search. Vyasa of Brahma Sutra and Krishna of Bhagavadgita, who I thought were prospective founders, referred to the pre-existing Vedas and said they were neither the authors of Vedas nor the putative founders of our religion. The Mantras glorify your names, we say. They declare Mantras came to this world through Ṛṣis and us during our mediation, though we were not the authors of these Mantras. (We did not compose these Mantras.) When our mind was in Dhyāna, the Mantras, we saw, appeared in the sky. We are Mantra Raṣtā (Visualizer of Mantras) and not Mantra Kartā (Composer of Mantra).
Multitudes of sounds originate in the sky, besides the vision (Mantras appear as skywriting). Science tells us that the universe originated from the vibrations in space. The Ṛṣis through the greatness of their Tapas (austerity) saw in the sky the Mantras that are the sounds that liberate Jīvās from rebirth on earth. They are not the composers of the Mantras. These Mantras were not man-made but Apaurusheya (not coming from man) Vedas that are the respiratory breaths of the Sky-Form of Paramātma. The great Ṛṣis found and gave them to the world.
Concluding this by deduction and not knowing who the founder of our religion was, which not being a deficiency, are a matter of pride for all of us. The Vedas are the respirations of Paramātma. We are the observing heirs of this ancient religion. Let us feel the exuberance of receiving this blessing.