'Defining Hinduism' focuses on what Hinduism is, what it has been, and what some have argued it should be. The oldest of the world religions, Hinduism presents a complex pantheon and system of beliefs. Far from being unchanging, Hinduism has, like any faith of duration, evolved in response to changing cultural, political and ideological demands. The book brings together some of the leading scholars working on South Asian religions today.
Introduction: The Problem of Defining Hinduism; PART 1. DEFINITIONS OF HINDUISM; Orientation; 1 Wilhelm Halbfass, The Idea of the Veda and the Identity of Hinduism; 2 Julius J. Lipner, Ancient Banyan: An Inquiry into the Meaning of "Hinduness"; PART II. HINDUISM IN PRECOLONIAL PERIOD; Orientation; 3 David N. Lorenzen, Who Invented Hinduism?; 4 Will Sweetman, Unity and Plurality: Hinduism and the Religions of India in Early European Scholarship; PART III. HINDUISM IN THE COLONIAL PERIOD; AND IN INDEPENDENT INDIA; Orientation; 5 Brian K. Smith, Questioning Authority: Constructions and Deconstructions of Hinduism; 6 Robert Eric Frykenberg, Constructions of Hinduism at the Nexus of History and Religion; PART IV. HINDUISM AND CASTE; Orientation; 7 Mary Searle-Chatterjee, "World Religions" and "Ethnic Groups": Do These Paradigms Lend Themselves to the Cause of Hindu Nationalism?"; 8 Gail Omvedt, Introduction to Dalit Visions; 9 Timothy Fitzgerald, Problems with "Religion" as a Category for Understanding Hinduism