chapter  12
14 Pages

Twisting the kaleidoscope: reflections in conclusion

In this book, we have explored a range of issues that are central to an understanding of South Asian religious traditions in the modern era. In Part I, we chose to focus first on what have often been considered essential features of ‘a religion’ or indeed of ‘religion’ as a generic category: notions of deity, sacred texts, myth, ritual and founders or teachers. You will find such headings in many books discussing specific religions or analysing religion as a whole. They appear to generate a fairly clear-cut and generally accepted view of what ‘religion’ is like. In response, our book has tackled these themes,1 but perhaps not always in the expected manner. This is because, as we have argued throughout, our approach has been marked by an attempt to disrupt a single notion of religion and to show that there have been in the past, and can be in the present, multiple ways of looking at religious traditions in South Asia. This led us in Part I to trace these themes across the landscapes of South Asian diversity in a range of contexts both past and present, so that we could examine both continuities and ruptures without privileging particular ways of seeing. Our stress here has been on multiplicity and diversity, on getting you to question how to make sense of what you are looking at in the light shed by many different contexts and perspectives.