This innovative book offers a dynamic analysis of Hinduism in the perspective of Western notions of modernity. After reviewing definitions of modernity and Hinduism and looking at modernity in India, the author considers Hinduism in relation to Islam and the West. The second half of the book presents key aspects of Hinduism, ancient and modern, in the light of their contrast with modernity. The scope of the book is extremely broad, covering topics such as Orientalism, women, goddesses, gods, and the central problem of contemporary Hinduism - the rise of Hindu nationalism. The book will be of interest not only to students of Hinduism but also to all those interested in the sociology of religion more broadly, and indeed everyone interested in the conjunction of modernity and tradition.
"An excellent survey of the history of the Western encounters with India and Hinduism, highlighting in the process the inevitable misunderstandings that resulted, some of which still persist in popular portrayals of the religion. As such it is particularly appropriate for its designated readership."
"Hinduism and Modernity will undoubtedly prove essential for all those interested in the history and methodology of Indological Studies, and deservedly so. It provides an excellent introduction to the relevant key trends, issues and concerns; indeed, Smith's bibliography alone is an invaluable resource. The breadth of Smith's work is staggering and his clarity and elegance in presenting it are remarkable."
Andrew McGarrity, University of Sydney, Asian Studies Review
"In his book David Smith presents a comprehensive survey of Hinduism in relation to modernity. The book provides a fascinating account of the interaction of Hinduism with modernity from the rise of rationalist discourse in the West, through colonialism and orientalism, to contemporary Hindu culture and the politics of identity. Controversial at times, particularly in its treatment of feminist and post-colonial critiques of Indology, the book will provide an extremely useful focus for discussion in courses on South Asia and the transformations of religion in late modernity." Professor Gavin Flood, University of Stirling
"Smith demonstrates his pedagogical abilities through an insightful array of metaphors borrowed from popular Hinduism that he uses to illustrate themes within Hinduism and modernity. This approach serves him particularly well..."
Timonthy C. Tennent, Associate Professor of World Missions, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
"This 250 page book is innovative and informative. It offers a dynamic analysis of Hinduism in the perspective of western notions of modernity."
"Smith's book is courageous and bold, and it could redefine how students begin to learn what Hinduism is."
Laurie L. Patton, Emory University, The Journal of Religion