Orientalism and Religion: Post-Colonial Theory, India and by Richard King

By Richard King

The facility of definitions: a family tree of the belief of 'the mystical' -- Disciplining faith -- Sacred texts, hermeneutics and global religions -- Orientalism and Indian religions -- the trendy fable of 'Hinduism' -- 'Mystic Hinduism': Vedanta and the politics of illustration -- Orientalism and the invention of 'Buddhism' -- The politics of privatization: Indian faith and the examine of mysticism -- past orientalism? faith and comparativism in a postcolonial period

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By Richard King

The facility of definitions: a family tree of the belief of 'the mystical' -- Disciplining faith -- Sacred texts, hermeneutics and global religions -- Orientalism and Indian religions -- the trendy fable of 'Hinduism' -- 'Mystic Hinduism': Vedanta and the politics of illustration -- Orientalism and the invention of 'Buddhism' -- The politics of privatization: Indian faith and the examine of mysticism -- past orientalism? faith and comparativism in a postcolonial period

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Extra resources for Orientalism and Religion: Post-Colonial Theory, India and "The Mystic East "

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It is for this reason that they have become of such great interest to modern psychologists of religion from James onwards. However, to 24 Orientalism and Religion study pre-modern mystics (whether Buddhist, medieval Christian or Hindu) without reflecting upon the experiential bias of modern accounts of mysticism will result in an inevitable distortion of the material. The narrowly experiential approach occludes or suppresses other aspects of the phenomenon of the mystical that tend to be more important for these figures and the traditions to which they belong – for example, the ethical dimension of the mystical, the link between mysticism and the struggle for authority, or the extent to which the statements and activities of mystics may relate to issues of politics and social justice.

In this context ‘the mystical’, like the term religio, seems primarily to have been concerned with the secrecy of ritual practices performed by initiates of these movements. It is in a Christian context that the term comes to denote a spiritual (pneumatikos) hermeneutic of scripture and eventually (in the works of Pseudo-Dionysius) a way of ‘speaking about God’ – that is, a type of theology. Thus, pagan constructions of ‘the mystical’ become transformed once they are passed through the theological prism of Christianity.

It is interesting to note in this context that the association of religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism with mysticism and the stereotype of the navel-gazing, antisocial and otherworldly mystic has come to function as one of the most prevailing cultural representations of Indian religion and culture in the last few centuries. The privatization of mysticism, when coupled with the post-Enlightenment association of the mystical with the non-rational or the irrational, has also led to a characterization of ‘mystics’ as largely uninterested in or antithetical to social, ecclesiastical and political authority.

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