I am Hindoo
It was gran'pa Joseph
who first told me I was a Hindoo. May sound incongruous, but then
one would need to know more about gran'pa to understand his reasoning.
As grandfathers go, mine fitted into the typical mould, - a simple
man with a lean but towering personality, wearing a 'dhotie' 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
in the side of his coat. I missed in 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 neighbourhood, he was the one to be consulted by all and
sundry for guidance and advise on matters varying from - how best
to take the maximum yield from one's land, to matrimonial alliances
or Š 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 his humorous 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 India around two thousand years before
the recorded birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. Of their establishing
a culture and crystallizing 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 River
Hakra that then ran parallel to the Indus.
Joseph quoted to
me from the Book of Esther the mention of India in the Bible, when
King Assuerus the Great had reigned over a hundred and twenty seven
provinces - from India to Ethiopia. That the word Hindu in those
Biblical times and thereafter, was only a corrupted form of the
word Sindhu - which was the correct name for River Indus. That Hindu
stood for the one who hailed from the land of the Sindhu. And the
land of Sindhu as was recorded in that point of time in history
in most ancient books of the Hindus, was known as Sapta - Sindhu,
referring to all 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 Hindu first, as was believed in the
times of yore, of everyone that lived within the Indian sub-continent.
According to him, there were Hindus who followed the Hindu religion,
Hindus who followed the Muslim religion, and Hindus who followed
the Christian religion. But all were Hindus first - as aptly put
by poet Iqbal in 'Hindi hain hum, vatan hain, Hindustan hamara'.
And the people of foreign nations and foreign tongues do well to
refer to all Indians as Hindu - even as Haj pilgrims from India
are called 'Hindus' by the Arabs. And it hadn't surprised me when
on my visit to Japan, the Japanese with their own intonation had
called me an 'Indo' while indeed referring to me as a Hindoo.
Right © Maxwell Pereira: 3725 Sec-23, Gurgaon-122002. You can
interact with the author at http://
www.maxwellperira.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
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