Hinduism as a Missionary Religion

SUNY Press
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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 nonmissionary
category. In this intriguing book, Arvind Sharma reopens 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 insights both about Hinduism and about religion
in general.

“Sharma is a prolific author who has made significant
contributions to Hindu studies … Readers will gain insight from Sharma’s careful
inquiry.” — CHOICE
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About the author

Arvind Sharma is Birks Professor of Comparative Religion at McGill University. He is the author or editor of many books, including One Religion Too Many: The Religiously Comparative Reflections of a Comparatively Religious Hindu and Religious Studies and Comparative Methodology: The Case for Reciprocal Illumination, both also published by SUNY Press.
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Additional Information

SUNY Press
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Published on
Apr 1, 2011
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Best For
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RELIGION / Hinduism / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Arvind Sharma
This is a book by women about women in the religions of the world. It presents all the basic facts and ideological issues concerning the position of women in the major religious traditions of humanity: Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Taoism, and tribal religions.

A special feature of the book is its phenomenological approach, wherein scholars examine sacred textual materials. Each contributor not only studies her religion from within, but also studies it from her own feminine perspective. Each is an adept historian of religions, who grounds her analysis in publicly verifiable facts. The book strikes a delicate balance between hard fact and delicate perception, the best tradition of phenomenology and the history of religions. It also demonstrates how much religions may vary over time.

Contributors are Katherine K. Young, Associate Professor of Religious Studies at McGill University; Nancy Schuster Barnes, whose Ph.D. is in Sanskrit and Indian Studies; M. Theresa Kelleher, Assistant Professor of Religion and Asian Studies at Manhattanville College; Barbara Reed, Assistant Professor of Religion at St. Olaf College; Denise L. Carmody, Professor and Chair, Department of Religion, The University of Tulsa. Also Jane I. Smith, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Lecturer in Islamic Studies at Harvard Divinity School; Rosemary Radford Ruether, Georgia Harkness Professor of Applied Theology at the Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary; Rita M. Gross, Associate Professor of Comparative Religions at the University of Wisconsin, Eau Clair.
Arvind Sharma
Just as a mirror captures a large area within its small limit, this journal reflects the otherwise far-ranging and far-reaching phenomena that are categorized as “women and religion.” The Annual Review of Women in World Religions has been conceived as a forum for the latest historical and anthropological research on women in all religions. It is also a form for discussion of contemporary trends, such as the influence of secularism, fundamentalism, or feminism on women and religion. Accordingly, it contributes to the on-going project to add to our basic knowledge about women, and helps evaluate the past as well as the present through insights generated by gender studies today.

Within the boundaries of academic scholarship, the editors seek to include the research of those who are both inside and outside the traditions. Moreover, the book encourages women and men of all beliefs to participate in the on-going dialogue which it represents and promotes. This journal is polymethodic, interdisciplinary, and multitraditional in its approach to the study of women and religion. It not only allows the comparative dimension to appear in bolder relief, but also helps to establish a dialogue between the two solitudes of humanistic and social scientific studies in the field.

Volume III contains the following essays: Rabi'ah as Mystic, Muslim and Woman by Barbara Lois Helms; Slighted Grandmothers: The Need for Increased Study of Female Spirits and Spirituality in Native American Religions by Jordan Paper; Women of Medieval South India in Hindu Temple Ritual: Text and Practice by Leslie C. Orr; and Confucianism and Women in Modern Korea: Continuity, Change and Conflict by Edward Y. J. Chung.
Arvind Sharma
The Annual Review of Women in World Religions is polymethodic, interdisciplinary, and multitraditional in its approach to the study of women and religion. It not only allows the comparative dimension to appear in bolder relief, but also helps establish a dialogue between the two solitudes of humanistic and social scientific studies in the field.

This annual encourages the exploration of horizons and perspectives in women’s studies not possible otherwise. It is not confined in scope to the traditional religions—it also includes new religious movements within its scope, while at the same time providing an outlet for specialized studies on women in traditional religions to reach a wider audience. It thus incorporates both the traditional and contemporary dimension.

This work grew out of the publication of a book released in 1987 by SUNY Press entitled Women in World Religions, edited by Arvind Sharma. The reception indicated that it met a felt need. It also vindicated the historical and phenomenological approach to the study of women in world religions. The relevance of both subject and method called for an ongoing forum to continue discussing themes covered in the book. this journal provides such a forum.

The first volume contains essays by Mary Gerhart (Another Troy for Her to Burn: The True Story of Euripides’s Helen), Denyse Rockey (Three Faces of the Great Goddess: Shulamite, Cinderella, Black Virgin), Winnie Tomm (Goddess Consciousness and Social Realities: The ‘Permeable Self’), and Katherine K. Young (Goddesses, Feminists, and Scholars).
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