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World Hindu Congress in Bangkok adopts a declaration embracing ‘Hindutva’ as Sanatan Dharma’s English name, renounces ‘Hinduism’

On 24th November (Friday), the World Hindu Congress adopted a resolution embracing Hindutva over ‘Hinduism’. The resolution asserts that the word Hindutva is more accurate as it includes the spectrum of all that the word ‘Hindu’ encompasses. In contrast, ‘Hinduism’ misrepresents the global Hindu community and their inherent goodness. The resolution emphasised that “ism” is a suffix used with terms to define an oppressive and discriminatory attitude or belief.  

The resolution was adopted on the second day of the World Hindu Congress in Thailand’s capital Bangkok.

Advocating the use of the term ‘Hindutva’ or “Hindu Dharma’ instead of ‘Hinduism’, the Hindu Congress stressed that these terms should be used while referring to the faith in English. Consequently, it renounced the word ‘Hinduism’. 

The adopted declaration read, “In the term “Hindu Dharma”, the first word, i.e., ‘Hindu’ is an unbounded word. It signifies all that is Sanatan or Eternal. And then there is Dharma, which means ‘That, which sustains’.” 

In its resolution, the World Hindu Congress added, “Hindu Dharma, thus, signifies all that which eternally upholds everything; an individual, a family, a community, a society, and even nature–both animate and inanimate.” 

Explaining its reasoning, the declaration said, “In contrast, Hinduism is totally different because it is suffixed with an ‘ism’. The term ‘ism’ is defined as an oppressive and discriminatory attitude or belief. In the mid-nineteenth century, in the United States of America, the phrase ‘the isms’ was used to collectively refer to radical social reform movements and various non-mainstream spiritual or religious movements in a derogatory manner. The term ‘Hinduism’ should be understood in such a context.” 

Regarding the word ‘Hindutva’, the declaration said that Hindutva was not a complicated word and it simply meant Hindu-ness. According to the declaration, many academicians and intellectuals have been portraying Hindutva as the antithesis of Hindu Dharma because of their hatred and biases against the Hindu community or for political agendas. 

It noted, “But most are anti-Hindutva because of their visceral hatred and biases against Hindu Dharma. Many politicians driven by political agendas and personal prejudices have also joined that group, and are criticising Sanatan Dharma, or Sanatan with increasing regularity and vitriol.”

The World Hindu Congress also condemned ongoing attacks on the Hindu faith and urged Hindus worldwide to unite against those who are engaging in such bigotry and emerge victorious.

The resolution points out the history of the word ‘Hinduism’

The resolution observed that the usage of the word ‘Hinduism’ became prevalent only after the 1870s after Sir Monier Williams first introduced it in his handbook ‘Hinduism’. 

The resolution observed, “The term ‘Hinduism’ was first introduced into common usage by Sir Monier-Monier Williams through his handbook ‘Hinduism,’ published in 1877 by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. This intellectually misleading terminology is identified as the origin of the negative anti-Hindu narratives spanning the past 150 years.” 

According to the World Hindu Congress, this was the reason why, many of our elders favoured the term ‘Hindutva’ over Hinduism, as the former is a more accurate expression, encompassing the entirety of what the term ‘Hindu’ signifies. The declaration stated that we align with their perspective and should adopt the same. 

Further, the declaration added, “Others have used the alternative “Sanatan Dharma”, often abbreviated as “Sanatan”. Here the term “Sanatan” works as an adjective indicating Hindu Dharma’s eternal nature.” 

Notably, the Third World Hindu Congress commenced on Friday (24th November). The three-day event has attracted participation from over 2000 delegates across 61 countries. It is a quadrennial event, that is, it is held after a gap of four years.  

Earlier in the day, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat addressed the inaugural session of the WHC. He emphasised that India will show the path of happiness and satisfaction to the world which is stumbling from experiments with materialism, communism, and capitalism. He issued an appeal to the Hindu community across the world to reach out to each other and connect with the world together. 

Addressing the gathering of thinkers, activists, leaders, and entrepreneurs, the RSS Chief said, “We have to reach out, connect with every Hindu. And Hindus together will connect everybody in the world. As Hindus are connected in more numbers, the process of connecting with the world has also started.” 

The quadrennial event was initiated by Swami Vigyanananda, the founder and global chairman of the World Hindu Foundation. 

Additionally, addressing the Third World Hindu Congress, Thai PM Srettha Thavisin pressed that peace can be established in the world only through Hindu values of truth, tolerance, and harmony. 

The prominent participants include spiritual leader Mata Amritanandmayi Devi, Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) General Secretary Milind Parande, Supreme Court advocate Vishu Shankar Jain, Bharat Sevashram Sangh Working President Swami Purnatmanand, Hinduism Today-USA Publisher Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami among others.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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