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Hinduism as a Missionary Religion

Arvind Sharma

Publication Year: 2011

Reconsiders whether Hinduism can be considered a missionary religion. Is Hinduism a missionary religion? Merely posing this question is a novel and provocative act. Popular and scholarly perception, both ancient and modern, puts Hinduism in the non-missionary category. In this intriguing book, Arvind Sharma re-opens the question. Examining the historical evidence from the major Hindu eras, the Vedic, classical, medieval, and modern periods, Sharma’s investigation challenges the categories used in current scholarly discourse and finds them inadequate, emphasizing the need to distinguish between a missionary religion and a proselytizing one. A distinction rarely made, it is nevertheless an illuminating and fruitful one that resonates with insights from the comparative study of religion. Ultimately concluding that Hinduism is a missionary religion, but not a proselytizing one, Sharma’s work provides us with new insights both on Hinduism and the consideration of religion itself.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-

The title of this book provides the reason for writing it. None of the three words in its title—Hinduism, missionary, and religion—are Hindu words, although all three have been invoked in a Hindu context. It is a basic feature of all discourse that a thing must be described in ...

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Chapter I: The Antiquity and Continuity of the Belief that Hinduism Is Not a Missionary Religion

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pp. 1- 29

From the earliest times, the Hindus have appeared to outside observers as a non-missionary people, that is, a people not interested in converting others to their religion. The earliest record of the contact of the Hindus with people outside India pertains to the Persians, as...

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Chapter II: The Neo-Hindu Conviction that Hinduism Is a Non-Missionary Religion

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pp. 31- 62

During the modern period,1 that is, since 1800 AD, the general tendency within Hinduism has been to oppose conversion. In the main, this opposition has been directed at conversion from Hinduism, but it has often carried with it the implication that there may be no...

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Chapter III: Hinduism as a Missionary Religion: The Evidence from Vedic India

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pp. 63- 74

Hinduism in India is said to have evolved through the movements in chronological order of the following peoples: the Negrito; the Proto-Australoid; the Dravidian; and the Aryan.1 The Negritos were absorbed by the Proto-Australoids,2 the latter being known as Nisadas...

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Chapter IV: Hinduism as a Missionary Religion: The Evidence from Classical India

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pp. 75- 91

It could be maintained that while Hinduism may have been a missionary religion in Vedic times, it ceased to be so in post-Vedic times—the times to which alone the term Hinduism, according to one view, may be properly applied.1 Such a position leaves us with...

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Chapter V: Hinduism as a Missionary Religion: The Evidence from Medieval India

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pp. 93- 109

Medieval India is distinguished by the singular fact of Muslim domination of the sub-continent.1 The establishment of Muslim rule was a gradual process, but by 1200 AD, Islam had established itself as a major if not the paramount power on the subcontinent—a...

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Chapter VI: Hinduism as a Missionary Religion: The Evidence from Modern India

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pp. 111- 129

One of the early representative figures of modern Hinduism is Raja Rammohun Roy (1772/74–1833). He is actually called a missionary by Richard Church, when Church writes that “Rabindranath Tagore carried on the great work begun 150 years ago by Rammohun Roy, ...

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pp. 131-

One conclusion which emerges from the foregoing survey is the need to refine the religious vocabulary that is traditionally employed in discussing this issue. Three terms often come into play in such a context: a religion is sometimes described as a missionary...


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pp. 139-


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pp. 179-

Index of Terms

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pp. 187-

Index of Names

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pp. 189-

Index of Subjects

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pp. 193-

E-ISBN-13: 9781438432137
E-ISBN-10: 1438432135
Print-ISBN-13: 9781438432113
Print-ISBN-10: 1438432119

Page Count: 208
Publication Year: 2011

Edition: 1