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Old material has been archived. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Ogress (talkcontribs) 16:41, 22 July 2008

Hindu term first used in Avestan language[edit]

"Hindus" is derived from a Sanskrit word "sindhus" that means "dwellers by the Indus River." The term Hindus is first used in Nations of Vendidad in "Avesta"-the holly book of Zorastrians. The term Hindus is used to refer to people living alongside river Indus. As one of the 16 Aryan Nations of that time,Hindus are numbered at 15 among 16 nations,this is the first use of the term "Hindus" ever.

The word Hindu in Aramaic language texts from Nippur / Mesopotamia[edit]

@Kautilya3:, @Joshua Jonathan: There is an interesting paper, thanks to contributions of @Zezen in the Atharvaveda article, that brought to my attention the word Hindu being mentioned multiple number of times, in Indo-European context, in Aramaic language texts from Nippur. Robert Brown links Hindu and a few other terms (Hinduitha, Angiras-Agni) in the Nippur text to the Vedas and Indian context. Hindu occurs many times in the Nippur text, as can be verified here, at pages 25, 203 and 253 in Montgomery's translation. Brown mentions it too, with the statement, "In view of the fact that certain Indian names certainly occur in these [Nippur] incantations, Hindu in Nos. 24 and 40, and Hinduitha in number 38". Have you come across this before? BTW, the text is from 100 inscribed bowls discovered in Mesopotamia/Nippur, dated to be from the early centuries CE. This is an old source, so needs some more diligence to decide if this is WP:DUE for this article. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 14:19, 31 January 2016 (UTC)

@Ms Sarah Welch: never heard this before; interesting. Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 19:28, 31 January 2016 (UTC)
I have read the referenced literature on this and I'm extremely sceptical about Brown's assertions that there are Indian words in the Nippur bowls. Note that Montgomery himself doesn't say this, and the contexts of the original Nippur texts translated by Montgomery do not suggest anything to do with India, or that the transcription "hindu" has anything to do with India. It seems, rather, to be a proper name. (And -itha isn't a Sanskrit nominal suffix.) In the centuries BCE, the word "Hindu" did not refer to a religion or a people of a particular faith and is not found anywhere in Sanskrit or Vedic literature. It is likely that it was Alexander's troops who first popularized the word "Hindu", a Persian pronunciation of the Sanskrit word "Sindhu", the name of the river in Panjab/Sind that is today called the Indus (Sindhu/Hindu/Sind/Indus). These early uses of words derived from Sanskrit "Sindhu" referred to the people who lived in the region of the Sindhu river. In the surviving Sanskrit literature "Hindu" does not occur a millennium later, as a re-introduced loan word. "Sindhu" meaning "stream, river" does occur as the name of a remote place (see Mcdonnell's Vedic Index, v.2, p.450). Wujastyk 00:10, 4 February 2016 (UTC)

You are welcome, I am happy that I engendered a healthy debate and was not plainly reverted out of hand. FYI, many of the Artharvaveda and Avesta terms have proven (see wiktionary) cognates in Slavic languages: the fire: Atra - watra, and Agnis - ogień (Latin: ignis), Sapunta - święta (holy), Mazda - mądry (wise) etc. so these terms have additional mystic meaning for me, a Polish speaker. Zezen (talk) 19:53, 31 January 2016 (UTC)

Atra (meaning fire) is neither Sanskrit nor in the Atharvaveda. It means "here". Nor is Mazda Sanskrit or in the Atharvaveda (there's no "z" in Sanskrit). Agnis is Sanskrit. Sapunta is not. Things like this can be checked very easily in the online version of the standard dictionary of Sanskrit by Monier-Williams. However, there are indeed many words in Polish and other Slavonic languages that are obviously cognate with Sanskrit words. See Pokorny's Dictionary of Indo-European Etymology (there may well be more up-to-date sources). The sense of enjoyment and wonder about the many cognate words is valid; I've heard it said anecdotally that Lithuanian is the nearest currently-spoken language to Sanskrit. Wujastyk 00:10, 4 February 2016 (UTC)
@Wujastyk: Thanks. Skepticism is good, but Brown's theory needs to be dismissed with evidence or competing more compelling alternative explanation. On -itha error, note it was written by whoever created the Nippur texts, not Sanskrit experts, centuries after Alexander's troops returned from Sind/Panjab/Indus with sugarcane reeds which made honey without bees. Agreed with the rest. @Zezen: Any follow up? Additional sources? Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 00:59, 4 February 2016 (UTC)
@Ms Sarah Welch: Actually, I think my arguments against Brown's assertion are quite strong. And it isn't necessary to propose an alternative explanation when a theory is wrong. Sometimes we just don't know what these ancient authors meant. Often, in fact. Wujastyk 17:45, 4 February 2016 (UTC)
I am not so sure why there is so much excitement about the early centuries CE mention of "Hindu" in Iraq, when the next door Persia had been using it for almost a millennium. - Kautilya3 (talk) 08:54, 4 February 2016 (UTC)

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The term Hindu in the Medieval era[edit]

@Ms Sarah Welch: Your vigilance on this article is appreciated, but after reexamining my edit, I still believe it is an improvement. Here is my attempt to convince you of that, and persuade you to undo your partial revert:

The broad point of the section is that Hindu meant different things to different people at different times. Pashaura Singh says that Persian-language texts from the Mughal Empire era lump together as Hindu all natives of India who did not convert to Islam. The quote from Jahangir's memoirs illustrates this by showing Jahangir calling the famous Sikh, Guru Arjan, a Hindu:

There was a Hindu named Arjan in Gobindwal on the banks of the Beas River. Pretending to be a spiritual guide, he had won over as devotees many simple minded Indians and even some ignorant, stupid Muslims by broadcasting his claims to be a saint. They called him guru.

— Jahangir, Emperor of Hindustan, Jahangirnama[1]

Does including more of the primary source text make the point more clearly or more strongly?

Many fools from all around had recourse to him and believed in him implicitly. For three or four generations they had been pedaling this same stuff. For a long time I had been thinking that either this false trade should be eliminated or that he should be brought into the embrace of Islam. At length, when Khusraw passed by there, this inconsequential little fellow wished to pay homage to Khusraw. When Khusraw stopped at his residence, [Arjan] came out and had an interview with [Khusraw]. Giving him some elementary spiritual precepts picked up here and there, he made a mark with saffron on his forehead, which is called qashqa in the idiom of the Hindus and which they consider lucky. When this was reported to me, I realized how perfectly false he was and ordered him brought to me. I awarded his [Guru Arjan's] houses and dwellings and those of his children to Murtaza Khan, and I ordered his possessions and goods confiscated and him executed.

— Jahangir, Emperor of Hindustan, Jahangirnama[1]

In contrast to the edit summary of your revert, the longer quote does not improve the neutrality of the section. It does not represent more fairly than the shorter "all significant viewpoints that have been published by reliable sources, in proportion to the prominence of each viewpoint" (WP:DUE). If anything, it does the reverse, overemphasizing the not-a-Muslim meaning compared to the ethno-geographic meaning by devoting much more space to it and drawing attention with the block quote.

In the edit summary of your revert, you quoted "saffron on his forehead, which is called qashqa in the idiom of the Hindus". This phrase is especially problematic because:

  • To draw support from if for Singh's statement would be original research.
  • It is confusing to readers, who cannot be expected to know what a qashqa is, although they may infer that it's a bindi, tilak, or something similar.
  • Jahangir saying that qashqa was a Hindu idiom is not the same as saying he considered the person making the mark a Hindu. If Jahangir had named a word for it in Turkish or in Arabic, it would not have meant that he considered Guru Arjun a Turk or Arab.
  • Indeed, according to Thackston's annotation, qashqa is a Turkish word. It "may be what the Turks in India called such a mark, but it is not, as [Jahangir] puts it, in the 'idiom of the Hindus'".[1]

Wikipedia's policy on original research cautions that primary sources must be used with care. Specifically, "A primary source may only be used on Wikipedia to make straightforward, descriptive statements of facts that can be verified by any educated person with access to the primary source but without further, specialized knowledge." The longer quote will not make sense to the reader without secondary analysis (Singh needed hundreds of words to explain what it meant). It is also off-topic, not relevant to the point.

If you are adamant about using a longer quote, I would urge stopping after "brought into the embrace of Islam", which at least ties in with Singh's "who did not convert to Islam".


  1. ^ a b c Jahangir, Emperor of Hindustan (1999). The Jahangirnama: Memoirs of Jahangir, Emperor of India. Translated by Thackston, Wheeler M. Oxford University Press. p. 59. ISBN 978-0-19-512718-8. 

--Worldbruce (talk) 06:54, 3 July 2016 (UTC)

@Worldbruce: Thanks for presenting your concerns on this talk page. Your claims are inconsistent with wikipedia policies. You allege original research, but there is no OR when we quote a source exactly. The scholarly translations and discussions are not primary sources, the original Jehangir text is the primary source. You allege NPOV issue; but NPOV is neutrality within the context of the source(s): a statement is not neutral if it does not summarize all important sides/sources, it is neutral if it does. If you allege "X is not NPOV", you must identify which side is not summarized. On Qashqa, Jehangir already defines it, it is clear what it meant in his time in Hindu context, and that suffices because this is an article on "Hindu", not an article on Jehangir, Turk, Arab, Qashqa, etc.
Your WP:Due point is a good one. Perhaps, we improve it by adding, rather deleting some parts. How about: [1] Keep it. The article is on "Hindu", the scholarly translated quote from Jehangir is indeed useful both that term was in use by then, and the 'quote exact' provides context and an explanation what the term meant in Jehangir's time. The quote is also useful as it provides a historical perspective on how a Hindu was perceived/defined/viewed in that era; [2] Add something more. You mention WP:Due with "all significant viewpoints that have been published by reliable sources, in proportion to the prominence of each viewpoint". Indeed, if you know of any additional reliable sources, with a different viewpoint about what Hindu meant during the Mughal empire, or earlier, that would be most welcome addition to improve that section per WP:Due. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 13:50, 3 July 2016 (UTC)
@Ms Sarah Welch: I disagree with much of your response, so input from third parties would be welcome. I see that Kautilya3 has been active in a number of discussions on the topic, perhaps they can be persuaded to weigh the arguments. I have used italics when quoting something from your comments.
  • You say The scholarly translations ... are not primary sources. That is, to me, a novel interpretation of what a primary source is. I agree that the original Persian text is a primary source, and that discussions of it (such as Thackston's preface and annotations) are secondary sources. The longer quote does not include anything from Thackston's preface or annotations.
I find no official guidance in Wikipedia on the question of whether translations of primary sources are themselves primary sources, only the opinion of Yaris678, in a section titled "Complex source categorisation", where they wrote cogently: "[A] translation of a primary source, such as Newton's Principia, is itself a primary source. However, the notes or commentary to that edition or translation, which present the editor's or translator's interpretation of the text, are secondary sources." This accords with my long understanding. A web search suggests that universities consider translations of primary sources to be primary sources (see Carleton, Princeton, Yale, Oxford).
  • I am not unduly concerned about WP:DUE, whichever quote is used. I mentioned neutrality only because you invoked it in the form of WP:DUE as the only policy-based reason for reverting my shortening of the quote. In your edit summary you wrote the "saffron on his forehead, which is called qashqa in the idiom of the Hindus" is WP:Due. Now you seem to acknowledge the reverse, saying Your WP:Due point is a good one.
Either way, you are welcome to expand on the geographic meaning of Hindu, already represented in the article by the way Ibn Battuta used the term. For that purpose you might find more of Pashaura Singh's article useful. He writes on page 37, "the term 'Hindu' was first used by Achaemenid Persians to describe all those people who lived on or beyond the banks of the river Sindhu, or Indus. Thus the term 'Hindu' implied an ethno-geographical category. It was only under the Muslim rulers that the term began to acquire a religious connotation." For this he cites Harjot Oberoi's 1994 book, The Construction of Religious Boundaries.
  • You twice say The article is on "Hindu". That is precisely my point. Three-quarters of the longer quote is not about what Jahangir meant by "Hindu", but about (according to secondary sources) how concerned he was with the growing political power of the Sikhs, how upset he was that Guru Arjan involved himself in the power struggle between him and his son, Prince Khusrau, and how he punished Guru Arjan for that. All of which is appropriate in articles about Jahangir, Prince Khusrau, Guru Arjan, or Sikhs, but has nothing to do with Hindu.
The use of the word Hindu in the shorter quote already shows that [the] term was in use by then and that Jahangir called the famous Sikh, Guru Arjan, a Hindu - the point that we are providing the quote to prove. The word Hindu appears once more in the longer quote, where Jahangir confuses the idiom of the Hindus with the idiom of the Turks (or the Persians, if Pashaura Singh is correct). But the reader isn't going to know from the longer quote that Jahangir is mistaken, so how exactly does the longer quote better explain what the term meant in Jehangir's time? What additional perspective does the longer quote provide regarding how a Hindu was perceived/defined/viewed in that era? I'm not trying to be obtuse, I just don't see how that's true.
According to Google Books, the word Hindu appears 41 times in Thackston's translation. Perhaps one of those uses would shed new light on how the word was used, but the longer quote does not. This is a question of staying on topic.
  • You say there is no OR when we quote a source exactly. When one makes the statement "Jahangir, for example, called the Sikh Guru Arjan a Hindu pretending to be a saint:" and follows it with an exact quote from a primary source, the quote must, by policy, "make straightforward, descriptive statements of facts that can be verified by any educated person with access to the primary source but without further, specialized knowledge." That is true of the shorter quote, but it would be original research to say that the longer quote in some way makes the point more clearly, completely, or strongly. It would require interpretation of what Jahangir meant in the longer quote. Granted, this objection depends on whether a translation of a primary source is itself a primary source, a point on which I'm happy to defer to consensus.
  • The short and long quotes are both exact. I would prefer to characterize the choices as the to-the-point quote and the long-winded quote (the latter being something with which I'm quite familiar). The translation is copyrighted, so a further policy-based reason to favor the shorter quote is the policy on copyrighted material. The guideline for how to comply with the policy counsels against "excessively long" excerpts. One could argue that an excerpt longer than it needs to be to prove the statement where it is used is excessive.
--Worldbruce (talk) 18:36, 3 July 2016 (UTC)
Dear both, thanks for pinging me. I agree that the quote delivers rather more than it promises. It appears as if it is meant to explain what "Hindu" meant to Jahangir, but in reality it is describing Jahangir's persecution of Guru Arjun. If the full quote is to stay, the text should describe why Jahangir, himself a son of a Hindu mother, was persecuting Guru Arjun. What is it that made him a "false guru" in Jahangir's eyes? I don't have access to Pashaura Singh's article, but this is an answer I would dearly like to know. (By the way, I don't regard persecution of "Hindus" as out of scope for this article. But, if that is what we are talking about, we should make it clear.) Cheers, Kautilya3 (talk) 19:46, 3 July 2016 (UTC)
@Worldbruce: Wikipedia policy is, "Any interpretation of primary source material requires a reliable secondary source for that interpretation. A primary source may only be used on Wikipedia to make straightforward, descriptive statements of facts that can be verified by any educated person with access to the primary source but without further, specialized knowledge." In this article, the interpretation comes from a secondary source by Pashaura Singh. The quote is exact. Indeed, both the quote is WP:Due, and your point on this talk page are WP:Due, each in a different context (for reasons see above). The "Persians, Sindhu" part is already in the article. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 23:30, 3 July 2016 (UTC)
@Kautilya3: The Mughal Empire and Jehangir related content just shows how the meaning of the term Hindu has varied and evolved over time. The Jehangir's source presents various aspects of it, "For three or four generations they ...", "...either this false trade should be eliminated or that he should be brought into the embrace of Islam" etc. – is all in the context of someone considered "Hindu" by Jehangir in his time. That goes with Hindu being a geographic/cultural identity, and a non-Muslim, in that era. The sentences that follow, with "a mark with saffron on his forehead", adds practices considered Hindu in those centuries. Your suggestions are helpful. Please feel free to add/revise. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 23:30, 3 July 2016 (UTC)
If the nomenclature of "Hindu" is all that we are after, then Worldbruce's edit seems quite appropriate. We can perhaps keep the last bit about saffron, which is being marked as a "Hindu" practice, but the rest of it can go.
On the other hand, I see that "Hindu" is being used to brand Guru Arjan here. Jahangir sees him as corrupting Muslims, including his own son, and he is trying to keep Muslims away from him. Calling him "Hindu" therefore has the effect of demanding him to stay away from Muslims. But this cannot be verified without a scholarly explanation from Pashaura Singh or other scholars. -- Kautilya3 (talk) 13:03, 4 July 2016 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── @Kautilya3: I trimmed it a bit. Keeping the first part and then the "saffron" part, without the few sentences in between, makes it strange piece to read/understand. Please go ahead and trim it further if you feel there is a way to do so and retain readability. More summary from Pashaura Singh on Arjan and Jehangir may be better in the Jehangir article, but not here. I am reflecting on your other idea, as to how and where best to add the persecution of Hindus sub-section in this article. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 15:03, 4 July 2016 (UTC)

ps: For the record, I disagree with much of the confusing analysis by @Worldbruce on OR on DUE or UNDUE/ primary sources /etc, after reading Carleton/Princeton/etc links because their definitions and clarifications say something different. Every translation is an interpretation (1, 2, 3) , translations of the same ancient/medieval texts are almost always different (sometimes a lot), etc. I have skipped all this, per WP:FORUM, and we just need to focus on this article within the wikipedia policies. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 15:03, 4 July 2016 (UTC)

I think it needs to be trimmed further, and I will take a shot at it. I found an online version of the paper [1]. Notwithstanding Jahangir's polemics in his memoires, the execution carried out was one that was fit for a saint. (cf. p.34) So, no importance can be placed on Jahangir's words.
Unfortunately, Pashaura Singh doesn't explore the meaning of "Hindu" that drew from the quote. -- Kautilya3 (talk) 18:00, 4 July 2016 (UTC)
@Kautilya3: I take your point that the longer quote would not be off-topic in a different section of Hindu that explicitly covered persecution. I would not rush to broaden the article though, because persecution is already covered elsewhere, such as Persecution of Hindus, and duplication of too much detail would be undesireable. Glad you found a copy of Pashaura Singh's paper, it's an interesting read. --Worldbruce (talk) 05:10, 7 July 2016 (UTC)
@Ms Sarah Welch: I still think the "saffron" part is problematic for all the reasons outlined above, and cringe when you write things like practices considered Hindu in those centuries for which the Jahangir quote gives zero evidence, but at least the current quote is not as far over the line as the longest quote was. I can live with it and move on.
I'm going to add back the one internal link to Jahangir, the one to Thackston, and the named parameters for the quote's author and title. I hope your removal of them was incidental and we don't need to have a whole palaver about whether they're appropriate. Many readers won't know who Janhangir and Thackston are and are likely to want to know why they should care what they wrote. The author and title were displayed before I made my change, they just weren't using the recommended named parameters, so I assume your hiding of them was unintentional. --Worldbruce (talk) 05:10, 7 July 2016 (UTC)
@Worldbruce: I am fine with the wiki links you added. I am also fine with @Kautilya3's revision. A WP:Summary of the Persecution of Hindus article here would improve this article, and there is no need to duplicate that entire article here indeed. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 12:34, 7 July 2016 (UTC)