The Oxford History of Hinduism: Modern Hinduism focuses on developments resulting from movements within the tradition as well as contact between India and the outside world through both colonialism and globalization. Divided into three parts, part one considers the historical background to modern conceptualizations of Hinduism. Moving away from the reforms of the 19th and early 20th century, part two includes five chapters each presenting key developments and changes in religious practice in modern Hinduism. Part three moves to issues of politics, ethics, and law. This section maps and explains the powerful legal and political contexts created by the modern state—first the colonial government and then the Indian Republic—which have shaped Hinduism in new ways. The last two chapters look at Hinduism outside India focusing on Hinduism in Nepal and the modern Hindu diaspora.
Traditions of asceticism, yoga, and devotion (bhakti), including dance and music, developed in Hinduism over long periods of time. Some of these practices, notably those denoted by the term yoga, are orientated towards salvation from the cycle of reincarnation and go back several thousand years. These practices, borne witness to in ancient texts called Upaniṣads, as well as in other traditions, notably early Buddhism and Jainism, are the subject of this volume in the Oxford History of Hinduism. Practices of meditation are also linked to asceticism (tapas) and its institutional articulation in renunciation (saṃnyăsa). There is a range of practices or disciplines from ascetic fasting to taking a vow (vrata) for a deity in return for a favour. There are also devotional practices that might involve ritual, making an offering to a deity and receiving a blessing, dancing, or visualization of the master (guru). The overall theme--the history of religious practices--might even be seen as being within a broader intellectual trajectory of cultural history. In the substantial introduction by the editor this broad history is sketched, paying particular attention to what we might call the medieval period (post-Gupta) through to modernity when traditions had significantly developed in relation to each other. The chapters in the book chart the history of Hindu practice, paying particular attention to indigenous terms and recognizing indigenous distinctions such as between the ritual life of the householder and the renouncer seeking liberation, between 'inner' practices of and 'external' practices of ritual, and between those desirous of liberation (mumukṣu) and those desirous of pleasure and worldly success (bubhukṣu). This whole range of meditative and devotional practices that have developed in the history of Hinduism are represented in this book.
"Hinduism is widely regarded not just as a religious belief, but as a philosophy of life based upon certain key tenets. Viewed in a casual manner, these concepts seem to be eternal and unchanging. A Hindu today would describe his or her tradition in terms of the concepts of Brahman, Isvara, Maya, Jiva, Samsara, Karma, Dharma, among others, much like his counterpart a thousand years ago would have done. Yet, has nothing changed in Hinduism?" "Modern Hindu Thought questions such simplistic assumptions. This volume explains the manner in which these terms have been reconfigured in modern Hinduism, and how they compare with the way they were understood in classical Hinduism. Most of us are familiar with the idea that the more things change the more they remain the same. This book suggests that the opposite may well be true - the more things seem to remain the same, the more they may have changed."--Jacket
The Oxford History of Hinduism: The Goddess provides a critical exposition of the Hindu idea of the divine feminine, or Devī, conceived as a singularity expressed in many forms. With the theological principles examined in the opening chapters, the book proceeds to describe and expound historically how individual manifestations of Devī have been imagined in Hindu religious culture and their impact upon Hindu social life. In this quest the contributors draw upon the history and philosophy of major Hindu ideologies, such as the Purāṇic, Tāntric, and Vaiṣṇava belief systems. A particular distinction of the book is its attention not only to the major goddesses from the earliest period of Hindu religious history but also to goddesses of later origin, in many cases of regional provenance and influence. Viewed through the lens of worship practices, legend, and literature, belief in goddesses is discovered as the formative impulse of much of public and private life. The influence of the goddess culture is especially powerful on women's life, often paradoxically situating women between veneration and subjection. This apparent contradiction arises from the humanization of goddesses while acknowledging their divinity, which is central to Hindu beliefs. In addition to studying the social and theological aspect of the goddess ideology, the contributors take anthropological, sociological, and literary approaches to delineate the emotional force of the goddess figure that claims intense human attachments and shapes personal and communal lives.
Hinduism is practised by nearly eighty per cent of India's population, and by some seventy million people outside India. In this Very Short Introduction, Kim Knott offers a succinct and authoritative overview of this major religion, and analyses the challenges facing it in the twenty-first century. She discusses key preoccupations of Hinduism such as the centrality of the Veda as religious texts, the role of Brahmins, gurus, and storytellers in the transmission of divine truths, and the cultural and moral importance of epics such as the Ramayana. In this second edition Knott considers the impact of changes in technology and the flourishing of social media on Hinduism, and looks at the presence of Hinduism in popular culture, considering pieces such as Sita Sings the Blues. She also analyses recent developments in India, and the impact issues such as Hindu nationalism and the politicization of Hinduism have on Hindus worldwide. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
Introduces the texts and ideas of Hinduism, crystallized during the 4th to the 10th century BCE. This book explains their contemporary relevance and deals with the key concepts, the main gods and goddesses, and texts such as the Purusarthas. It also examines the different systems of yoga.
Through pointed studies of important aspects and topics of dharma in Dharmaśāstra, this comprehensive collection shows that the history of Hinduism cannot be written without the history of Hindu law. Part One provides a concise overview of the literary genres in which Dharmasastra was written with attention to chronology and historical developments. This study divides the tradition into its two major historical periods—the origins and formation of the classical texts and the later genres of commentary and digest—in order to provide a thorough, but manageable overview of the textual bases of the tradition. Part Two presents descriptive and historical studies of all the major substantive topics of Dharmasastra. Each chapter offers readers with salest knowledge of the debates, transformations, and fluctcating importance of each topic. Indirectly, readers will also gain insight into the ethos or worldview of religious law in Hinduism, enabling them to get a feel for how dharma authors thought and why. Part Three contains brief studies of the impact and reception of Dharmasastra in other South Asian cultural and textual traditions. Finally, Part Four draws inspiration from "critical terms" in contemporary legal and religious studies to analyze Dharmasastra texts. Contributors offer interpretive views of Dharmasastra that start from hermeneutic and social concerns today.
How did Hindu reformers make the religion modern? Brian Hatcher argues that this is the wrong question to ask. Exploring two nineteenth-century Hindu movements, the Brahmo Samaj and the Swaminarayan Sampraday, he challenges the notion of religious reform.
Hinduism in the Modern World presents a new and unprecedented attempt to survey the nature, range, and significance of modern and contemporary Hinduism in South Asia and the global diaspora. Organized to reflect the direction of recent scholarly research, this volume breaks with earlier texts on this subject by seeking to overcome a misleading dichotomy between an elite, intellectualist "modern" Hinduism and the rest of what has so often been misleadingly termed "traditional" or "popular" Hinduism. Without neglecting the significance of modern reformist visions of Hinduism, this book reconceptualizes the meaning of "modern Hinduism" both by expanding its content and by situating its expression within a larger framework of history, ethnography, and contemporary critical theory. This volume equips undergraduate readers with the tools necessary to appreciate the richness and diversity of Hinduism as it has developed during the past two centuries.