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Hinduism : Past and Present - Axel Michaels


Past and Present

By: Axel Michaels, Barbara Harshav (Translator)

Paperback Published: 28th December 2003
ISBN: 9780691089539
Number Of Pages: 448

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Hinduism is currently followed by one-fifth of humankind. Far from a monolithic theistic tradition, the religion comprises thousands of gods, a complex caste system, and hundreds of languages and dialects. Such internal plurality inspires vastly ranging rites and practices amongst Hinduism's hundreds of millions of adherents. It is therefore not surprising that scholars have been hesitant to define universal Hindu beliefs and practices. In this book, Axel Michaels breaks this trend. He examines the traditions, beliefs, and rituals Hindus hold in common through the lens of what he deems its "identificatory habitus," a cohesive force that binds Hindu religions together and fortifies them against foreign influences. Thus, in his analysis, Michaels not only locates Hinduism's profoundly differentiating qualities, but also provides the framework for an analysis of its social and religious coherence.

Michaels blends his insightful arguments and probing questions with introductions to major historical epochs, ample textual sources as well as detailed analyses of major life-cycle rituals, the caste system, forms of spiritualism, devotionalism, ritualism, and heroism. Along the way he points out that Hinduism has endured and repeatedly resisted the missionary zeal and universalist claims of Christians, Muslims, and Buddhists. He also contrasts traditional Hinduism with the religions of the West, "where the self is preferred to the not-self, and where freedom in the world is more important than liberation from the world."

Engaging and accessible, this book will appeal to laypersons and scholars alike as the most comprehensive introduction to Hinduism yet published. Not only is Hinduism refreshingly new in its methodological approach, but it also presents a broad range of meticulous scholarship in a clear, readable style, integrating Indology, religious studies, philosophy, anthropological theory and fieldwork, and sweeping analyses of Hindu texts.

One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2004 "[An] encyclopedic survey of Hinduism that is amazing in its comprehensive charts, theoretical sophistication, and illustrative detail... Michaels wants to present living Hinduism in contrast to text-dominated descriptions."--Choice "A wide-ranging, rigorously argued analysis of important ideas."--Library Journal "Despite several recent, and very good, introductions [to Hinduism] in the last fifteen years, this is the one that will likely find its way into the classroom most often--and for good reasons. Highly recommended not only for students, but for mature scholars as well, who will learn a great deal from this excellent volume."--Frederick M. Smith, Religious Studies Review

List of Illustrationsp. ix
List of Tablesp. xi
Prefacep. xiii
Pronunciation of Indian Wordsp. xvii
Theoretical and Historical Foundations
Theoretical Foundations3 Is India Different?p. 3
The Identificatory Habitus 5 What Is Hinduism?p. 12
Hinduism and Hindu-nessp. 13
Religion and Dharmap. 15
Hindu Religions and Hindu Religiosityp. 21
Great and Little Hinduismp. 25
Continuity and Changep. 27
Historical Foundationsp. 31
Epochs in the History of Religionsp. 31
First Epoch: Prevedic Religionsp. 31
Second Epoch: Vedic Religionp. 33
Third Epoch: Ascetic Reformismp. 36
Fourth Epoch: Classical Hinduismp. 38
Fifth Epoch: Sects of Hinduismp. 43
Sixth Epoch: Modern Hinduismp. 45
Religious Literaturep. 47
Vedic Literaturep. 50
The Literature of the Ascetic Reformismp. 57
The Literature of Classical Hinduismp. 58
The Literatures of the Hindu Sectsp. 62
Literatures of Modern Hinduismp. 66
Religion and Society
Stages of Life and Rites of Passagep. 71
Initiationp. 71
The Salvational Goal of Initiationp. 72
The Second Birthp. 77
Pre-Ritesp. 77
Tonsurep. 85
Natural Birth, Ritual Birth, New Birthp. 88
The Sacred Threadp. 92
Consecration of the Ascetic, Consecration of the Student, Consecration of the Manp. 94
Childhood and Socializationp. 99
The Early Yearsp. 102
Parentage and the "Oceanic Feeling"p. 104
Sacred Fatherhoodp. 108
Wedding and Matrimonyp. 111
The Weddingp. 113
The Daughter as Giftp. 115
Kinship, Alliance, and Descentp. 120
The Situation of the Womanp. 124
Death and Life after Deathp. 131
The Brahmanic Ritual of Dying and Deathp. 132
Ancestor Worshipp. 144
Widow-Burning and Religiously Motivated Suicidep. 149
The Ban on Killing and Ahim?p. 153
Karma and Rebirthp. 154
Mortality and Immortalityp. 157
The Social Systemp. 159
Social Stratificationp. 159
The Caste Societyp. 160
Segmentationp. 165
Social Contactsp. 175
Greetingp. 176
Touchingp. 178
Eatingp. 180
Purity and Impurityp. 184
Religious and Social Hierarchyp. 187
Priests and the Supremacy of the Brahmansp. 188
Religious and Economic Centralityp. 194
Hierarchies of the Giftp. 197
Religiosityp. 201
The Idea of God and the Pantheonp. 201
Equitheism and Homotheismp. 202
Visnu, Krsna, and the Centrality of the Godsp. 211
Siva in the Great and Little Traditionsp. 215
Ganesa and the Miraclep. 221
Wild and Mild Goddessesp. 223
Elements of Religiosityp. 226
Prayerp. 227
Looksp. 230
Ritual Actsp. 233
Ritualismp. 235
The Brahmanic-Sanskritic Morning Ritualp. 236
Divine Worship (puja)p. 241
Sacrificep. 246
Devotionalism and Theistic Traditionsp. 252
Bhakti Movementsp. 252
The Grace of the Godsp. 255
Spiritualism and Mysticismp. 259
The Identification Doctrine of the Upanishadsp. 259
The Psycho-Physical Identifications of Samkhya and Yogap. 264
Samkara's Doctrine of Nondualityp. 269
Special Features of Indian Mysticismp. 270
Heroism and Kingshipp. 272
Akharas: Religious Centers of Strengthp. 273
Power and Authority of the Kingp. 276
King and Asceticp. 279
From Descent to Transcendence
Religious Ideas of Space and Timep. 283
Religious Awareness of Spacep. 284
Spaces and Directions as Sacred Powersp. 284
Pilgrimage Sites and Their Hierarchyp. 288
Astrology and the Cosmic Place of Manp. 291
Religious and Scientific Concepts of Spacep. 292
Religious Awareness of Timep. 295
Ancient Indian Cosmogoniesp. 296
Creation in Classical Mythologyp. 298
The Doctrine of the Ages of the Worldp. 300
Cyclical and Linear Time: The Calendarp. 304
Unity of Space and Time: Festivalsp. 310
Religious and Scientific Ideas of Timep. 313
Immortality in Lifep. 315
Asceticism: Life in Transcendencep. 315
Ascetic Practice and Sectsp. 316
Asceticism and Sacrificep. 322
The Salvation of Identificationsp. 325
The Socioreligious Function of Norms of Purityp. 326
Descent and Autono
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780691089539
ISBN-10: 0691089531
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 448
Published: 28th December 2003
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.5 x 15.2  x 2.54
Weight (kg): 0.63

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