Hinduism: once was: RAJARAM EPISODE

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vsundaresan at HOTMAIL.COM
Mon Oct 2 22:09:40 UTC 2000

>But who uses this "general description"? Hindus, Buddhists, Jains,
>Didn't we go through this recently?

Yes, indeed. The term "Hinduism" may not be purely a colonial invention. But
this does not imply that there is a valid contemporary description that is
acceptable both to those who call themselves Hindus and those who study them

I agree with you and with Lorenzen that Hindu contrasted with Turk (or
Musalman) meant something tangible for Kabir's audience. But I didn't find
any answer to my question whether there was literary evidence for
contrasting Hindu with Jain or Hindu with Buddhist in the same time period.
If anything, Yashwant Malaiya responded to the effect that if there were
such distinctions, they were minimal in the context of 15th century north
India. Even today, you would be surprised at how fluid the boundary between
Hindu and Jain is, among both Hindus and Jains in India. That scholars
refuse to adequately recognize these things only complicates all these
discussions. That is the methodological problem I am talking about.
Discussing only whether it is of colonial origin or otherwise does not make
the problem go away. It especially becomes important when a scholar insists
that a lay person with no record of appreciating scholarly niceties should
be "consistent" about whether Hindus form "a religious community" or not.
There are too many problems with such a statement, not the least of which is
that this forum is no longer just a group of scholars talking to one

Zydenbos pointed out that in the south, Digambara Jains form a distinct
community. Even here, one could not have a situation like the Dharmasthala
temple, without substantial fuzziness of boundaries, or a willingness to
overlook them. For those who don't know, Dharmasthala is now considered to
be a Siva temple, with priests who are Vaishnava Madhvas, affiliated with
the Udipi Matha(s), but the temple remains under the administration and
control of a prominent Jain family.

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