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Dharma: The Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Sikh Traditions of India

Dharma: The Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Sikh Traditions of India

Edited by: Veena R. Howard, Rita D. Sherma

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Dharma is central to all the major religious traditions which originated on the Indian subcontinent. Such is its importance that these traditions cannot adequately be understood apart from it. Often translated as "ethics," "religion," "law," or "social order," dharma possesses elements of each of these but is not confined to any single category familiar to Western thought. Neither is it the straightforward equivalent of what many in the West might usually consider to be "a philosophy". This much-needed analysis of the history and heritage of dharma shows that it is instead a multi-faceted religious force, or paradigm, that has defined and that continues to shape the different cultures and civilizations of South Asia in a whole multitude of forms, organizing many aspects of life.

Experts in the fields of Hindu, Jain, Buddhist and Sikh studies here bring fresh insights to dharma in terms both of its distinctiveness and its commonality as these are expressed across, and between, the several religions of the subcontinent. Exploring ethics, practice, history and social and gender issues, the contributors engage critically with some prevalent and often problematic interpretations of dharma, and point to new ways of appreciating these traditions in a manner that is appropriate to and thoroughly consistent with their varied internal debates, practices and self-representations.

Author Info

Veena R. Howard is Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy at California State University, Fresno. She is the author of Gandhi's Ascetic Activism: Renunciation and Social Action (2013).


‘Dharma is an ambitious volume that dares to teach Indian traditions of practice, inquiry, and spiritual insight in ways not governed solely by categories already familiar in the English language. Once “dharma,” “dhamma,” and “dharam” seize the space usually occupied by “religion,” then the dharmic traditions – Hindu and Buddhist, Jain and Sikh, and South Asian Sufi – can be appreciated for characteristics not predictably shared with the Abrahamic religions, and for continuities among themselves that might slip by unnoticed when the categories of analysis are imposed from afar. If Dharma’s good example is followed by scholars studying and teaching still other traditions globally, then the achievement of this helpful and original book will be all the greater.’ – Francis X Clooney, SJ, Parkman Professor of Divinity, Harvard University

Bibliographic Info

Imprint: I.B.Tauris
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co. Ltd.
Series: Library of Modern Religion

ISBN: 9781784532635
Publication Date: 13 Aug 2017
Number of Pages: 272
Height: 216
Width: 138

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