"Hinduism" and the History of "Religion": Protestant Presuppositions in the Critique of the Concept of Hinduism

in Method & Theory in the Study of Religion
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Abstract

The claim that Hinduism is not a religion, or not a single religion, is so often repeated that it might be considered an axiom of research into the religious beliefs and practices of the Hindus, were it not typically ignored immediately after having been stated. The arguments for this claim in the work of several representative scholars are examined in order to show that they depend, implicitly or explicitly, upon a notion of religion which is too much influenced by Christian conceptions of what a religion is, a conception which, if it has not already been discarded by scholars of religion, certainly ought to be. Even where such Christian models are explicitly disavowed, the claim that Hinduism is not a religion can be shown to depend upon a particular religious conception of the nature of the world and our possible knowledge of it, which scholars of religion cannot share.

"Hinduism" and the History of "Religion": Protestant Presuppositions in the Critique of the Concept of Hinduism

in Method & Theory in the Study of Religion

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