Rethinking Religion in India attracting scholars

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By Sandeep Datta

New Delhi, Jan.22 : The ongoing conference on Rethinking Religion in India is drawing an increasing number of participants, as was visible on Tuesday when several scholars and intellectuals from different parts of the country and abroad arrived here despite intense cold in the capital.

The second day commenced with Parallel Paper session I on Caste system and Indian religion 1 and followed by a Roundtable session participated by a number of scholars.

Research scholar Esther Bloch, as one of the speakers during the Parallel Paper session I on Caste system and Indian religion 1, said: "One of the problems of Hinduism has been felt (by Europeans) that you cannot explain Hinduism because it lacks one God, one holy book, one religion or one practice, etc. These things constitute or make them feel that their (kind of) framework is absent in India, is something what Europeans see."

Since it is not there the Europeans feel that something important is lacking in Indian society and that is why they feel that religion has 'degenerated'. Scholars question that if there is no structure-similar to that European society-- how can it exist. They perhaps wanted to replace something (structure) to make it exist in India, Esther Bloch added.

Professor Scaria Zacharia, School of Letters Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, one of the speakers, said: "They (Europeans) often connect caste and religion. But relation between the two needs to be re-examined as a social process. It (the European perspective) emphasizes on two occupational fixity and endogamy (marriage from the same race). This conclusion has to be understood and examined under everyday life of pre-colonial India. Society needs to be understood by the views or system existing in pre-colonial system."

"You should not be carried away by the colonial vision of caste system. We should re-examine the past records and practices in the light of contemporary experiences. Today, Jaati (caste) system is back in its real political face," Zacharia added.

ANI

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