All Indians are Hindoos

 

It was Grandpa Joseph who first told me I was a Handy.
May sound incongruous, but then one would need to know
more about gran'pa to appreciate his reasoning. As
grandfathers go, mine fitted into the typical mould-a
simple man with lean but towering personality, wearing a
`dhoti' and a buttoned up coat, not much educated, but
highly respected in society. His face weather beaten, and
remnants of a muscular body on a hardy frame betraying
signs of the vigour and strength of by-gone days. He
preferred the circular velvet encased flat `topi' to the
turban, both of which went well with the then
Mangalorean elite attire that added dignity to one's
bearing and personality. And he wore his large round
watch at the end of a silver chain that emerged from a
buttonhole, to be ensconced in a smaller pocket-like
special pouch on one side of his coat. I missedin him
though, the burly untrimmed moustache that other
grandfathers of the time sported, including the
occasional cigar between the lips and the walking stick-
used more for style than support-all of which, my gran'pa
just shunned.

A godfather to everyone in the neighborhood, he was the
one to be consulted by all and sundry for guidance and
advice on matters varying from how best to take the
maximum yield from one's land to matrimonial alliances
or family disputes. And he was the one always chosen to
say a few words of comfort at a bereavement. But most of
all, gran'pa was that kind and lovable soul, most
endearing to his grand children, always entertaining us
with jokes, his toothy smile and his witty anecdotes.
Lack of formal education was never an impediment and one
often wondered where and how he acquired all his fund of
knowledge--be it on history or any subject under the
sun.

So it was that gran'pa educated me much before my
schooling days on the advent of the Saraswats and of the
Aryans coming into Indian around two thousand years
before the recorded birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. Of
their establishing a culture and crystallising a religion
of their own on the fertile plains of the land of the
five rivers. Of the Indus and the Ganges and their
tributaries, on the banks of which flourished the
civilisation of this handsome race. From granpa's stories
I learnt that Saraswats hailed from the banks of the now
extinct river Saraswati which along with river
Drishadvati were the two tributaries of the river Hakra
that then ran parallel to the Indus.

Joseph quoted to me from the Book of Esther the mention
of Indian in the Bible. when King Assuerus the Great had
reigned over a hundred and twenty seven provinces-from
India to Ethiopia. That the word Hindoo in those Biblical
times and thereafter, was only a corrupted form of the
word Sindhu, which was the correct name for the river
Indus. That Hindoo stood for one who hailed from the land
of the Sindhu. And the land of Sindhu as was recorded at
that point of time in history in most ancient books of
the Hindus, was known as Sapta-Sindhu, referring to all

the seven rivers together-the tributaries of the Indus
and the Hakra. On the banks of these seven rivers, the
original Aryan tribes of the `Puru's and the `Kuru's, the
'Bharata's and many others, had established their
kingdoms.

Gran'pa Joseph Kamath himself believed that he was a
Hindoo first, as was believed in the times of yore, of
everyone that lived within the Indian sub-continent.
According to him, there were Hindoos who followed the
Hindoo religion, Hindoos who followed the Muslim
religion, and Hindoos who followed the Christian
religion.

But all were Hindoos first-as aptly put by poet lqbal in
`Hindi hain hum, votan hai Hindustan hamara'. And the
people of foreign nations and foreign tongues do well to
refer to all Indians as Hindoo-even as Haj pilgrims from
India are called `Hindoos' by the Arabs. And it hadn't
surprised me when on my visit to Japan, I noted the
Japanese with their own intonation had called me an
`Indo' while indeed referring to me as a Hindoo.

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