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Was Hinduism Invented?Britons, Indians, and the Colonial Construction of Religion$
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Brian K. Pennington

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780195166552

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2005

DOI: 10.1093/0195166558.001.0001

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Colonial Legacies

Colonial Legacies

Some Concluding Thoughts

(p.167) 6 Colonial Legacies
Was Hinduism Invented?

Brian K. Pennington (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This final chapter makes the case for the retention of certain received categories and approaches in the study of Hindu traditions in response to the recent critiques of several western scholars who argue that terms such as “Hinduism” and “religion” cannot find meaningful analogues in Indian traditions, and that scholars in the history of religions ought to dispense with them. In some instances, utterly dismissive of religious faith, practice, or identity, this deconstruction of widely accepted categories is not without significant political ramifications, as seen in recent literatures of Christian missionaries and Hindu nationalism. In an atmosphere of global religious upheaval and transformation, this attack on these categories promises only to exacerbate the clash of identities and communities with one another and with the secular academy. Europe, North America, and India are all in need of new models for structuring the relationship of religion and citizenship, a task in which Hindu-Christian dialogue can play an important role. The simultaneous estrangement of religious communities from public life and nationalization of religious identity speak to the tensions inherent in the loyalties demanded by religious faith and citizenship. Some trends in religious studies today seem to offer not solutions to this impasse, but rather encouragement to further talking at cross purposes.

Keywords:   Hinduism, religious studies, Hindu-Christian dialogue, history of religions, western scholars, missionaries, Hindu nationalism

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