Hinduism – real religion or construct of colonial scholarship?
Source document: Religio. 2006, vol. 14, iss. 2, pp. -242
ISSN1210-3640 (print)2336-4475 (online)
License: Not specified license
The aim of this article is to deal with several important viewpoints in the discussion revolving around the term "Hinduism", and to suggest some possible direction for solving this problem. The different positions in this discussion can be divided into three broad categories. Some scholars argue that Hinduism is a religion and can be defined on the grounds of either essential elements, or also as a polythetic prototype based on a broad group of elements. Others consider "Hinduism" as a useful term for the culture of the subcontinent, and they recognize Vaisnavism, Saivism, Saktism, etc. as more concrete religions. Finally, several authors argue that the term "Hinduism" should not be used in humanities at all, because it bears too much of a western bias. -- When we consider several elements that are often suggested as essential to "Hinduism", problems start to appear. The authority of the Vedas was not accepted by all of those that we call Hindu, neither was it a factual source of teaching and practices of some traditions. Dharma is no less of a convincing common element: used by Buddhist, Jain and other traditions, it can be better understood as a pan-Indian concept with a broader meaning than our term "religion" has. The so-called tribal religions in many cases knew neither the Vedas nor Dharma, or were not interested in learning about them. The caste system has been discussed in Indology for several decades: post-Dumontian perspectives show its different meanings and transformations in history. ...