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    Notions of Hinduism as a unified religion, Hindu culture as a distinct cultural zone, and “Hindu” as a well-bounded cultural category are largely products of scholarly and administrative interventions by orientalist scholars, missionaries, and colonial administrations in the Indian subcontinent since the seventeenth century. Originally used as a territorial term for those living beyond the river Indus, or as a residual term (Gentoo) used by early European merchants and colonizers to denote those in the Indian subcontinent who were not Muslims or Christians, the term “Hindoo” slowly emerged as a common denominator for the native culture(s) of the Indian subcontinent.

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