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Someone asked me: How old is Hinduism?

This is a common question. You might think it would be straightforward, the age of a religion, but you'd be wrong. The answer really depends on definitions and what you want to know. #Hinduism #THREAD
If you want to know: How long have people been using the word "Hinduism"? The answer is: With spelling variants, a few hundred years, max. It's a Western idea.
If you want to loosen up on precise vocabulary and ask: How long have people been using the world "Hindu"? The answer is: A thousand years, maybe a tad more. It's a Perso-Arabic invention. Also, the Perso-Arabic "Hindu" sometimes meant Indian, more geographic than religious.
If you want to ask: How long have people relied upon a Hindu holy book? The answer is: What book are we talking about? Vedas? Gita? Ramayana?

We oldest layer of the Vedas gives you 3,500 years at the utmost. But how many modern Hindus read the Vedas, or do Vedic sacrifices?
Honestly, when scholars start telling people, including modern Hindus, what's actually in the Vedas, responses sort of go back and forth between people falling asleep (lots of hymns in there) and being utterly shocked at animal sacrifice, sexual practices, spells, etc.
We could go with the Gita as a core Hindu holy book, but then date-wise we're only going back 2,000 years roughly. For the Ramayana... If you go for stuff like shadow Sita, Lakshmana rekha, etc... you're in the 2nd millennium CE before a lot of that stuff comes up.
So, some scholars say just forget the whole holy book thing. So Abrahamic. So let's go with practices as a definition of religion... How far back to Hindu practices go?

Well, it kinda depends what practices we are talking about.
Most Hindus worship different gods now than Vedic people did 3,500 years ago, and in quite different ways.

Bhakti didn't even come about until the CE era.

The four aims of Hindu life? Originally, there were only 3 (moksha was added later).
I could mention the caste system and changes there, but I'm getting screamed enough today on Twitter anyways...
At this point, perhaps we should pause and ask: Why do you want to know how old Hinduism is?

Knowledge never exists in a vacuum. So, seriously, why do you want to know? Why does it matter? There are good academic reasons to query Hinduism's age. But most people aren't academics.
For some people, having an old religion is a matter of pride. Age matters for many who are using an Abrahamic religion metric, and a lot of people are doing that, even if they don't realize it. I recommend interrogating that metric. Why does it matter if your religion is newer?
There are also political uses of projecting an unchanging timeless Hinduism. The British perfected that cruel abuse of denying historical change, but Hindutva extremists have also done a pretty decent job with it more recently...
So, for those who feel that they supposed to be angry at me for this thread, as yourself: Why? What political purposes are served by being mad a scholar for doing her job, which is both complicating and explaining things? Do you really want to be part of that political agenda?
Enough for now. Forgive typos.
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