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The text, by the early 19th century, began dividing Hindus into separate groups, for chronology studies of the various beliefs.
Among the earliest terms to emerge were Seeks and their College (later spelled Sikhs by Charles Wilkins), Boudhism (later spelled Buddhism), and in the 9th volume of Asiatick Researches report on religions in India, the term Jainism received notice.
Wilfred Cantwell Smith notes that 'Hindu' retained its geographical reference initially: 'Indian', 'indigenous, local', virtually 'native'.
Slowly, the Indian groups themselves started using the term, differentiating themselves and their "traditional ways" from those of the invaders.
In the texts of Delhi Sultanate era, states Sharma, the term Hindu remains ambiguous on whether it means people of a region or religion, giving the example of Ibn Battuta's explanation of the name "Hindu Kush" for a mountain range in Afghanistan.
The 20th-century colonial laws of British India segregated people's rights by their religion, evolving to provide Muslims with Sharia law, Christians, Jews and Parsis of British India with their own religious laws.
Among the earliest known records of 'Hindu' with connotations of religion may be in the 7th-century CE Chinese text Record of the Western Regions by the Buddhist scholar Xuanzang.
Xuanzang uses the transliterated term In-tu whose "connotation overflows in the religious" according to Arvind Sharma.
The historical meaning of the term Hindu has evolved with time.
Starting with the Persian and Greek references to the land of the Indus in the 1st millennium BCE through the texts of the medieval era, It was used as the name of the Indus river and also referred to its tributaries.
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