Introduction: The Problem of Defining Hinduism
ByJ. E. Llewellyn
Pages 12

This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book argues that Hinduism is at best an umbrella term that covers a variety of religions, and not just one religion. The map of the "Religions of India" in Lewis Hopfe's Religions of the World illustrates the problem with Hinduism. The most significant political development in India in the last two decades of the twentieth century was the rise of the Hindu right. The publication of Orientalism in 1978 was the watershed. Contrary to these kinds of deconstructionist arguments, according to Wilhelm Halbfass and Brian Smith there is a Hindu religion and it is a religion that has been shepherded by the priestly caste, the Brahmans. An earlier generation of the students of the religions of South Asia might have gotten it all wrong because of the prejudices that determined their work.