The Religion of Imagination
Hegel treats Hinduism under the title “The Religion of Imagination” or, with another translation, “The Religion of Fantasy.” Hegel’s study of Hinduism came during the period when there was a rapidly growing interest in India, indeed, an Indomania, in the German-speaking world, which included figures such as Friedrich von Schlegel, August Wilhelm von Schlegel, Novalis, Jean Paul, Goethe, Bettina von Arnim, Heinrich Heine, Christian Gottlob Heyne, and E.T.A. Hoffmann. An account is given of the rise of Indology in Great Britain, France, and the German States with a special eye towards the sources of Hegel’s information. The main analysis explores Hegel’s critical treatment of the Hindu gods, Brahmā, Vishnu, and Shiva, and the religious practices associated with them. Despite the fact that the Hindus have with these three gods a kind of trinity, Hegel argues that this is fundamentally different from the true speculative Trinity of Christian dogma.
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