Reason, dharma , and the discovery of faith

Insights from the modes of classical Hinduism

Authored by: Sthaneshwar Timalsina

Routledge Handbook of South Asian Religions

Print publication date:  November  2020
Online publication date:  November  2020

Print ISBN: 9780367150778
eBook ISBN: 9780429054853
Adobe ISBN:


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Addressing the premise that there lies an inherent tension between reason and faith, this chapter explores the ways classical Hindu philosophies and theologies have grounded dharma on reasoning, limiting the scope of an unexamined faith. The transformation of dharma traditions into faith organizations, this chapter argues, has a consequence of causing a paradox, unable to negotiate between the polarities of faith and reasoning. By exploring the scope of dharma in the domains of Mīmāṃsā and the Advaita of Śaṅkara, this chapter advances the argument that both the active engagement in everyday life and recusal from society, two fundamental modes of Hindu practice, have historically stressed reasoning, constantly restraining an unchecked faith. Modern globalization and the interaction of dharma with other faith traditions, in this reading, have reshaped dharma, making it a captive of faith and identity politics.

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