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Conceptualising Hinduism

17 Pages Posted: 20 Jul 2010  

Heinz Scheifinger

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: March 1, 2009


The term ‘Hinduism’ is used in both popular and academic works. However, because Hinduism defies definition, exactly what authors are referring to is often left unclear. Despite this, I argue that the adoption of an approach which, crucially, does not seek to define Hinduism demonstrates that the term has utility and should be retained. Following this, I briefly consider Jean Baudrillard’s interesting views concerning religious images in the light of Hinduism – a worthwhile undertaking since the image is of paramount importance within Hinduism. I argue that applying Baudrillard’s ideas to Hindu religious images is highly problematic and then provide a further example which demonstrates that important characteristics of Hinduism may not necessarily fit comfortably with Baudrillardian ideas. Finally, I reflect upon the nature of online images of Hindu deities because certain characteristics of the medium of the Internet invite us to consider Baudrillard’s ideas further.

Keywords: Hinduism, Polythetic-prototype Approach, Darshan, Jean Baudrillard, Simulacra

Suggested Citation

Scheifinger, Heinz, Conceptualising Hinduism (March 1, 2009). Asia Research Institute Working Paper No. 110. Available at SSRN: or

Heinz Scheifinger (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

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