What should we call us – Hindus or Sanatanis?

For the past few years, this question has gained prominence within the Hindu community. On social media platforms, this is debated frequently. At times, the debate becomes heated and people fail to reach any conclusion. 

So, is there a way we could choose one over the other? The word ‘sanatan’ means eternal, something that has been there since the beginning of the time and would be there until the end (if there is any). https://youtu.be/cNE7Szf26fs

The word Hindu is relatively new. There are a couple of theories of how this word came into existence. 

Theory# 1 – The foreigners who first came to Bharat could not pronounce the sound of ‘S’ in Sindhu (Indus River). So, they started mis-pronouncing it as Hindu.

Theory# 2 – This is the land which existed between Himalaya (hi) and Indu Sagar (Indian Ocean) and hence, the word Hindu.

Which theory holds true does not matter. As, to this date, a certain population in the Middle East addresses anyone coming from India as Hindu, irrespective of their religion or faith.   

Now, let us look at other major religious faiths in the world and hope to find an answer from that. There are 72 sects within Islam. Christianity is majorly divided into 3 categories and more than 20 sub-categories. No matter what sect of Islam a Muslim belongs to, a religious outsider would know that person as a follower of Islam. Same is the case for Christianity. Hence, any religious outsider is extremely unlikely to address anyone as Sanatani. In all forms of media, academia, inter-faith discussions, it is less probable that people use the term ‘Sanatani’. 

It is up to an individual to call oneself Sanatani or Hindu. But, for others, you would always be Hindu.

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