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Rethinking Hindu Identity

Jha, Dwijendra Narayan:
Rethinking Hindu identity / Dwijendra Narayan Jha. - London ; Oakville, Ct. : Equinox Publishing, 2009. - 100 S. - (Religion in culture: studies in social contest and construction)
ISBN 978-1-8455-3459-2 (Hardcover)
£ 45,00 / US$ 85,00
ISBN 978-1-8455-3460-8 (Paperback)
£ 14,99 / US$ 28,95
-- Angekündigt für Februar 2009, laut Amazon (UK) für April 2009 --

Recent years have seen the emergence of a virulent version of Hindu communalism and cultural chauvinism on the Indian political scene and of the groups of xenophobes who have obfuscated and mystified the notion of Hindu identity and have reinforced its stereotypic images. This book identifies some of the stereotypes about Hinduism and shows them to be deeply flawed and having no basis in historical evidence. It debunks the view that India (called ßBhàrataû) is timeless, that the first man was born here and that its people were the authors of the first human civilisation, and argues that the word ßBhàrataû in the sense of a country is absent from the entire Vedic literature and that India as a country evolved over a long period.
   The formation of its identity had much to do with the perceptions of the people who migrated into the subcontinent at different times, and Indian nationalism developed mostly as a response to Western imperialism. Contrary to the belief popularized by the Hindu jingoists, it has been shown that Hinduism is neither timeless nor monolithic; it is a colonial construct covering large clusters of religious beliefs and practices and thus represents almost a baffling plurality of traditions. The stereotyping of Hinduism as a tolerant religion has also been contested and massive evidence has been adduced to show that, like other religions, it was intolerant, gave no space to dissent and converted members of other faiths. Hindu sects developed ascetic military orders from the early medieval period onwards and fought among themselves much before the appearance of Islam on the Indian scene.
   The book challenges the 'sacredness' of cow as a community identity of the Hindus and shows that the animal has not been all that sacrosanct and inviolable in the past. A melange of evidence has been marshalled to show that the killing of the cow for the Vedic gods was de rigueur much before the arrival in India of Muslims who are stereotyped as kine killers, that its flesh was very much a part of the ancient Indian food regimen and dietary traditions, and continues to remain so even today in some sections of Hindu society. Even so the Indian religious texts project a polymorphic image of the cow and show that its story through the millennia is full of inconsistencies, thus rendering its supposed "holiness" elusive, indeed as elusive as Hindu identity itself.
   Based on the author's unquestionable grasp of the primary evidence and written in a riveting style the essays in the book are an antidote to the Hindu religious fundamentalist mythomania and will certainly be of value to those interested in the construction of Hinduism and the politics of Hindu identity in cotemporary India. [Verlagsinformation]

Abbreviations. vii
Preface. ix
Introduction. 1
1. Constructing Hindu Identity. 10
2. Tolerant Hinduism: Evidence and Stereotype. 27
3. Holy Cow: Elusive Identity. 48
Notes. 62
Bibliography. 72 (18)
Index. 90

DWIJENDRA NARAYAN JHA was Professor of History at the University of Delhi till his retirement in 2005. He was National Lecturer in History in 1984-85 and the General President of the Indian History Congress in 2005-6. His research focuses on social, economic and cultural history of early India.

Quellen: Equinox; Amazon (UK); WorldCat; Kinokuniya Bookweb.