Published in “The Times Of India”, dt. 2nd Feb,1969
It is strange to assert as Mr. Balraj Madhok does (January 26) that the word Hindu “has never been used in the sense of a religion in the vast range of Indian literature.” To argue thus is to speak of Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark. In doing so Mr. Madhok, indeed, exaggerates by denuding the word Hindu of any religious connotations.One may presume that by the word religion Mr. Madhok means dharma meaning that which sustains by affording spiritual nourishment. To deny the word Hindu as representing a body of people who have drawn spiritual nourishment through the centuries from specific religious beliefs conglomerate in the term Hinduism is to fly in the face of most insistent historical facts.
Mr. Madhok refers to the Grecian version of the word Hindu as India. Actually the word India was derived through the Greeks from the Persicized form of the Sanskrit sindhu meaning “river” re-eminently the Indus, the cradle of the earliest know civilization of our sub-continent. The word India gained currency only after the British connection.
It is not without reason that the people of India came to adopt constitutionally the name “India that is Bharat”. The name Bharat derives from Bharat-Varsha , or land of Bharata, the legendary monarch, designating the whole country in the epics and the puranas. The name Bharat was opted for in preference to the name Hindustan proposed by certain sections of people.
In fact, Hindustan was suggested as a sort of counterpoise to the theocratic state of Pakistan which made it suspect in the context of our nation. The word Hindu, whatever may be its puristic genesis does denote a definite religion. The idea of Hindustan was scotched in time thanks mainly to the efforts of Gandhiji. It is, therefore, wishful to say that the word Hindu does not warrant hostility.
But we must not forget the Mahatma had to lay down his life so that a secular India may be vindicated and flourish. How can India express her gratitude for such an unparallaled sacrifice? What can be more appropriate than renaming our motherland after him as Gandhistan? Surely there cannot be a more fitting tribute to all that Gandhiji stood, achieved and died for. The nation should be rightly known after the Father of the Nation. And the Gandhi Centenary Year is the most opportune time for this momentous changeover.
Gandhiji had great love for India. “I cling to India”, he declared, “like a child to its mother’s breast, because I feel that she gives me the spiritual nourishment I need. She has the environment that responds to my highest possible aspirations.” And again he had no hesitation in saying: “Let India live though a hundred Gandhis have to perish.”
India should indeed feel proud and grateful to be know after such a great and loving soul.
Sent dt.26th Jan,1969, Bombay