Hindu and Christian debates over the meanings, motivations, and modalities of ‘conversion’ provide the central connecting theme running through this book. It focuses on the reasons offered by both sides to defend or oppose the possibility of these cross-border movements, and shows how these reasons form part of a wider constellation of ideas, concepts, and practices of the Christian and the Hindu worlds.
The book draws upon several historical case-studies of Christian missionaries and of Hindus who encountered these missionaries. By analysing some of the complex negotiations, intersections, and conflicts between Hindus and Christians over the question of ‘conversion’, it demonstrates that these encounters revolve around three main contested themes. Firstly, who can properly ‘speak for the convert’? Secondly, how is ‘tolerating’ the religious other connected to an appraisal of the other’s viewpoints which may be held to be incorrect, inadequate, or incomplete? Finally, what is, in fact, the ‘true Religion’? The book demonstrates that it is necessary to wrestle with these questions for an adequate understanding of the Hindu and Christian debates over ‘conversion.’
Questioning what ‘conversion’ precisely is, and why it has been such a volatile issue on India’s political-legal landscape, the book will be a useful contribution to studies of Hinduism, Christianity and Asian Religion and Philosophy.
Table of Contents
2. Locating the Debates
3. The Ideologies of Empire: Christian Missionaries in a Victorian Age
4. The ‘Heathens’ and their ‘Idols’: Christian Missionaries and the Edifice of ‘Hinduism’
5. Preaching the Kingdom: ‘Caste’ and ‘Conversion’
6. Christian Orthodoxy and Hindu Spirituality: ‘Particularity’ versus ‘Universalism’?
7. Donning the Saffron Robe: The Many Meanings of ‘Mission’
8. The Bounds of ‘Toleration’: Hindus and Christians in ‘Secular’ India
Ankur Barua is Lecturer in Hindu Studies at the Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge, UK. His articles have been published in journals such as the Journal of Hindu-Christian Studies, the Oxford Journal of Hindu Studies, Sophia, the International Journal of Hindu Studies, and the Journal of Ecumenical Studies.
"Debating ‘Conversion’ is a unique and important contribution to the study of Hindu-Christian relations. Its more general, historical sections and chapters would be accessible even to undergraduates, and could provide a useful summary of extant material in that context. Its more theological and philosophical material will be of interest
particularly to scholars and graduate students who work on related topics, though the presentation of even this material is such that it may not be beyond the grasp of advanced undergraduates." - Chad Bauman, Butler University