Chapter

Defining Religion

Ronojoy Sen

in Articles of Faith

Published in print January 2010 | ISBN: 9780198063803
Published online October 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199080168 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198063803.003.0001
Defining Religion

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This chapter examines how India's Supreme Court has attempted to define Hinduism and the consequences of these attempts. The Court's keenness to define religion, especially Hinduism, can be seen as flowing partly from Articles 25 and 26 of the Indian constitution. In the mid-1990s—when the Nehruvian consensus on secularism had been severely shaken by the rise of the Hindu nationalists—the Supreme Court, in the controversial ‘Hindutva’ ruling, conflated an inclusivist discourse on Hinduism, with the exclusivist version of Hinduism propounded by Hindu nationalists. Though the Hindutva judgment was viewed by some as an aberration, this chapter claims that, paradoxically, it was a product of the dominant judicial discourse on Hinduism. It further contends that the inclusivist discourse failed to take into account the pluralism within Hinduism and aided in constructing a monolithic version of Hinduism. This overlap between the inclusivist and exclusivist discourses would be used by the Hindu nationalists in their campaign to legitimize Hindutva.

Keywords: India; Supreme Court; Hinduism; religion; secularism; Hindutva; nationalists; pluralism; constitution

Chapter.  14199 words. 

Subjects: Constitutional and Administrative Law

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