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On Hinduism$
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Wendy Doniger

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199360079

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199360079.001.0001

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The Concept of Heresy in Hinduism 1

The Concept of Heresy in Hinduism 1

Chapter:
(p.36) The Concept of Heresy in Hinduism1
Source:
On Hinduism
Author(s):

Wendy Doniger

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199360079.003.0004

Among the Hindus, the concept of heresy evolved in response to invasions, the presence of foreign merchants, new intellectual movements, and shifting balances of power among the many sects native to India. This chapter examines the concept of heresy in Hinduism, first by considering the Hindu definition of heresy. It then traces the development of the Hindu attitude to heretics and discusses the connection between the question of heresy and the Vedas. It also describes the “Materialists” and “Atheists” who fail the criterion of faith in the gods according to the Vedas, the relationship between the heretic and the hypocritical ascetic, and the notion that heresy was a creation of Hindu gods such as Vishnu and Brahma. Furthermore, the chapter looks at heresy in Tantric religion under the Kali Age and the myth of the Buddha avatar before concluding with a reflection on heresy before, during, and after the Gupta period.

Keywords:   heresy, Hinduism, Vedas, Materialists, Atheists, hypocritical ascetic, gods, Tantric religion, Kali Age, Gupta period

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