The word- hindu
An ancient civilization thrived along river Sindhu in western Bharata (India) from 3300 BC to 1700 BC. Archeologists named this great civilization, Indus Valley Civilization ( Sindhu-Sanskrit to Indos-Greek to Indus-Latin). Study of clay tablets from another great civilization- Sumerian Civilization (3500 BC) provides plenty of evidence for trade between Indus Valley and Sumer. Though opinions differ, many archeologists believe that Meluhha was an ancient Akkadan name for Indus Valley region. There are literary references to meluhhan trade dating from Akkadan-Larsa period (2350 BC-1800 BC).
Eleven centuries after the Indus Valley Civilization had ceased to exist, Cyrus the Great (500 BC- 529 BC) founded Achaemenian empire and his successor Darius 1 (521 BC-486 BC) extended the persian kingdom to the Indus Valley. Ancient persians were the first people to use the word hindu for inhabitants of Indus Valley. The word hindu, therefore, is an exonym. When so used it never referred to the religion of the people of Indus Valley. Subsequent conquerors, Iranians, Afghans and Mongols, who subjugated Bharata, put stamp on the name of the country-Hindustan- the land of hindus and the religion of the people- hindu. The British and the western nations made minor change by naming the country India and its inhabitants hindu.
One may say what is in a name? Over the centuries we have identified ourselves as hindu. We gladly accept hinduism as an alternate name for Sanatana Dharma. The world knows us as hindu. Why would we want a change? Why would we try to disturb our peace in an effort to accept our true identity, our true religion when our Shankaracharyas and other religious gurus in no way feel bad that their followers call themselves hindu.
But there is the evidence why a name is so important. If we believe in our scriptures we shall understand what Bhagwan Krishna wishes to convey in Bhagwat Gita when He says 'yada yada hi dharmasya glanirbhawati Bharata.........' and 'bahuni me vyatitani janmani tava charjuna......'. Our religion is shashwata and sanatana. Yuga have come and gone, kalachakra moves on. We continue to follow the tenets of religion propounded by our rishis and munis; we continue to pray to our deities. We will continue to chant 'Asato ma sadgamaya' but will not practice 'satya', we will continue to chant ' tamaso ma jyotirgamaya' but will remain in darkness, as we will continue to call ourselves hindu.