I agree with ‘Hindu does not signify a religion but a way of life; and represents the culture of India, and of all people of India, whether Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, etc.’ Hindu is India, nothing more and nothing less. Those who live in India are Hindus.
Giving any other meaning to ‘Hindu’ is dangerous to the unity of India. However Hindu is the most misused misunderstood word. The word Hindu is politicized in the recent decades. Hindu has become synonymous to ‘anti Muslim’ now.
(1) Indus Religion: https://www.academia.edu/21417597/Indus_Religion
(2) Indus Religion 2: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/297100929_Indus_Religion_2
(3) Indus Languages: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/295858796_Indus_Languages
Population genetic studies tell us that people from Middle East, Central Asia and Europe (MECAE) came to India and genetically mixed up with Native Indians around 2000 BCE the period that coincides with the collapse of Indus Valley Civilization and the arrival of Indo-European languages. MECAE people brought with them horses and Indo-European languages.
Prior to the arrival of MECAE people Indus people (roughly 7000 BCE to 2000 BCE) were worshiping Mother Goddess with six sisters and one younger brother. Mother Goddess in Andhra is Poleramma who resides at the boundary of villages to protector of villages and the villagers. Her brother’s name is Potu Raju which translates roughly to Pashu Pati (in Indo European language), the king of male animals. It is instructive to think that Potu Raju evolved into Siva (Siva Temples are built by Chenchu Tribe of Andhra) and Pashu Pati in North India. Poleramma often assumes the name of the village for example Zawar Mata in Rajasthan and Vallur Amma in Andhra. Poleramma evolved into Kali Mata in the North indicating that the goddess is dark skinned. Even today the Goddess with six sisters and a younger brother is popular throughout India for example Karni Mata in Bikaner Rajasthan.
Indians are possessed with the idea of Mother Goddess so much so that they see Mother in all things. Some Indians call their country ‘Bharat Mata’, they hail the country ‘Vande Mataram’, Telugu people personify their language as ‘Telugu Talli’, River Ganga is ‘Ganga Mayya’ and so on.
It is known that Vedas (Shruti Scriptures) are composed between 1500 BCE to 1200 BCE in Sanskrit a refined Indo European language that is 500 years after the genetic mix up of MECAE people (identified by R1a haplo group) with Native Indians. No wonder Rig Veda mentions River Saraswati which dried up much before the arrival of MECAE people. It must be remembered that Vedic people who called themselves as Arya (Aryan in English) have ancestry to both Native Indians and MECAE people. Thus for clarity we may call MECAE people as pre Vedic Aryans or Aryans proper. Vedas might be popular among Vedic Society and not among Indian masses for Sanskrit is an unknown language to the Indian masses even today. Vedic Aryans, Aryanised many Native beliefs. Many Tribal Temples were taken over (Siva Temples, Puri Jagannath temple which originally belonged to Savara Tribe).
Buddha opposed Vedic rituals involving animal sacrifice. Vegetarianism of Bouddha and Jaina Dharma became popular among intellectuals of Buddha’s time. The pressure on Brahmins, the cream and elite of Vedic society was so high that most of the Brahmins became Vegetarians.
Around 500 CE Smriti (for example Manu Smriti) scriptures, Puranas were authored to revive Aryanism. Native legendry dark skinned heroes such as Rama and Krishna were deified and the great epics Ramayana and Maha Bharata were woven.
It was easy for Muslim Invaders to conquer India as Indian society was highly divided due to endogamous caste structure professed by Manu Smriti. Many Indians from artisan and farmers communities graded as Shudra the servant class by Manu opted for Islam to escape cruel harassment. Thus Islam became an Indian religion.
Many Native Indians who were degraded as untouchables opted for Christianity during British rule.
The British did not invade India but captured her by betrayal, cheating and few times by a battles here and a battle there. The English education was available to all communities unlike Sanskrit education.
Marx predicted a great social revolution in India due to European Science Education, improved communications (Telegraphs & Telephones) and mobility (steamers & railways) introduced by the British. British education produced national leaders like Gandhi and Nehru who struggled for Independence of India and Dr. Ambedkar who struggled for Independence and liberation of Native Indians. British education also produced leaders like Guru Golwalker and Periyar E. V. Ramasamy.
Periyar’s Dravidian movement which initially was rationalist, is aimed at demolishing oppression of Shudra communities as professed by Manu Smriti. Dravidian movement was successful in Tamil Nadu and unfortunately turned rabidly ‘anti Brahmin’.
Golwalker wanted Manu Smriti to be the constitution of Independent India. Golwalker’s organization RSS is overtly ‘anti Muslim’ and covertly pro Manu Smriti that preaches servitude of Shudra communities. Interestingly many people of shudra communities joined RSS who work for it as zombies without recognizing the covert intention of RSS. It happened because RSS catches hold of the young and ‘blinds’ their mind with ‘anti – Muslim’ ideology. RSS wrongly interprets ‘anti – Muslim’ as pro – Hindu covertly meaning pro – Manu Smriti.
What is Hindu? In my opinion Hindu has only one meaning, India. Hindu is the culture of India and not any religion. All religions that are existing in India come under one fold ‘Hindu’. Hindu is India and assigning any other meaning is anti -Hindu.