The word Hinduism
came about when the Persians, in their attempt to differentiate the people living beyond the Sindhu river, from
others like the Muslims & Buddhist, mispronounced the word Sindhu to Hindu.
The classical theory:
The origins of Hinduism
traces the religion's roots to the Indus valley civilization circa 4000 to 2200 BCE. The development of
Hinduism was influenced by many invasions over thousands of years. The major influences occurred when light-skinned, nomadic
"Aryan" Indo-European tribes invaded Northern India (circa 1500 BCE) from the steppes of Russia and Central Asia.They brought with them their religion of Vedism. These beliefs mingled with the more advanced, indigenous Indian native
beliefs, often called the "Indus valley culture.". This theory was initially proposed by Christian
academics some 200 years ago. Their conclusions were biased by their pre-existing belief in the Hebrew Scriptures
(Old Testament). The Book of Genesis, which they interpreted literally, appears to place the creation
of the earth at circa 4,000 BCE, and the Noahic flood at circa 2,500 BCE. These dates put severe constraints
on the date of the "Aryan invasion," and the development of the four Veda and Upanishad Hindu religious texts. A second factor
supporting this theory was their lack of appreciation of the sophisticated nature of Vedic culture; they had discounted it
The classical theory is now being rejected by
increasing numbers of archeologists and religious historians.
The Aryan Invasion view of ancient Indian history
has been challenged in recent years by new conclusions based on more recent findings in archaeology, cultural analysis, astronomical
references, and literary analysis. One scholar, David Frawley, has established a convincing argument for
this new interpretation. Archeological digs have revealed that the Indus Valley culture was not "destroyed
by outside invasion, but...[by] internal causes and, most likely, floods." The "dark age"
that was believed to have followed the Aryan invasion may never have happened. A series
of cities in India have been studied by archeologists and shown to have a level of civilization between that of the Indus
culture and later more highly developed Indian culture, as visited by the Greeks. Finally, Indus Valley
excavations have uncovered many remains of fire altars, animal bones, potsherds, shell jewelry and other evidences of Vedic
rituals. "In other words there is no racial evidence of any such Indo-Aryan invasion of India but only of
a continuity of the same group of people who traditionally considered themselves to be Aryans... The Indo-Aryan
invasion as an academic concept in 18th and 19th century Europe reflected the cultural milieu of the period. Linguistic data
were used to validate the concept that in turn was used to interpret archeological and anthropological data."
TIMELINE FOR HINDUISM