Nidan : International Journal for Indian Studies - latest Issue
Volumes & issues
Volume 1, Issue 2, 2016
Source: Nidan : International Journal for Indian Studies 1, pp 1 –13 (2016)More Less
In the Hindu epic, the Mahābhārata, two sets of cousins, the Kauravas and Pandavas, become embroiled in a prolonged and tangled political battle over the rightful rulership of the kingdom of north central India. That conflict eventually culminates in a great war in which political (and familial) loyalties are challenged, old resentments and debts resurface, all types of stratagems are deployed, much blood is shed, and many lives are lost. Long before the war erupts, though, the members of each side of the Kuru clan take every opportunity to turn to the revered teacher and elder Bhishma Pitamaha, for enlightened instruction on the meaning and application of dharma.
Author Daniel HeifetzSource: Nidan : International Journal for Indian Studies 1, pp 14 –31 (2016)More Less
The All World Gayatri Pariwar is a modern Hindu movement working to revive yajña and Gayatri recitation. The movement constructs these practices as universal moral technologies rooted in scientific authority rather than as dharmic in the sense of caste or gender specific moral obligations rooted in textual authority. In this article, I utilize evidence gathered through ethnographic research and a review of the movement's literature to explore the ways in which the Gayatri Pariwar shifts Vedic-style ritual away from conventional notions of dharma.
Author Antoinette E. DeNapoliSource: Nidan : International Journal for Indian Studies 1, pp 32 –68 (2016)More Less
This article describes and analyzes the rhetorical performances (dharm-kathās) of a modern female Hindu renouncer (sādhu), who is affectionately called Guru Ma, in order to spotlight a cultural phenomenon which is characterized as "experimental Hinduism", and which is evident in Guru Ma's performance of narrative to reformulate dharm through the frame of environmental empathy in her public dharm-kathā events. Based on extensive ethnographic research conducted in North India with Guru Ma and her community between 2013 and 2015, this article suggests that Guru Ma performs a new meaning of dharm that foregrounds environmental empathy and the moral agency of nature. Through her performances, Guru Ma constructs nature as an intelligent and compassionate moral agent of dharm, which embodies the expanding moral consciousness and power of the divine Absolute. Her performances also work to evoke ecological change in her community and interrogate late modern capitalism's ideal of unfettered material consumption as illustrative of "the good life".
Daiva Varṇāśrama dharma and the formation of modern Vaiṣṇava subjects in the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, MumbaiAuthor Claire C. RobisonSource: Nidan : International Journal for Indian Studies 1, pp 69 –87 (2016)More Less
As inheritors of a transnational, institutionalized Vaiṣṇava tradition, the Indian members of ISKCON's Chowpatty Mumbai temple community negotiate their strict religious practice within Mumbai's globalized cityscape. Their community has developed oases of religious training centered on the practice of daiva varṇāśrama dharma, described in community literature as a "Vedic system of social organization with a spiritual perspective". This revisioned approach to vaidika Vaiṣṇava ethics takes shape in a community-wide network called the Counselling System, aimed at training ethical selves to embody a model of Vaiṣṇava bhakti. Chowpatty's Counselling System provides a space for the cultivation of an alternative modernity-applying tropes of self-care and legitimizing discourses of education to a renewed construction of Vaiṣṇava community. My article will explore dharma as an interpretative category in Chowpatty's Counselling System, through analysis of training manuals and public courses produced for Mumbai's upper and middle class residents.
Author Kalpesh BhattSource: Nidan : International Journal for Indian Studies 1, pp 88 –109 (2016)More Less
Each morning most members of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, a transnational Hindu tradition, perform a personal devotional ritual called nityapūjā in which they engage in both somatic and cognitive practices for about half an hour. Drawing from the ethnographic data collected at the San Jose chapter of BAPS and mapping it onto a theory of normative ethics, this paper examines how such religious rituals help their practitioners negotiate secular concerns and conditions, come to terms with stress and anxiety, and make sense of their spiritual experiences. It proposes a ritual-moral model that provides a holistic approach to rethinking the time-worn category "dharma" as an ethical analytic in the context of how Hinduism is reimagined and lived in the 21st century. By exploring the relationship between Hindu devotional rituals and everyday ethics of their practitioners, this model demonstrates how ritually informed ethics create possibilities for exercising moral agency, developing constructive intersubjectivities, and managing sociocultural factors.