Contemporary Hinduism
Ritual, Culture, and Practice
by Robin Rinehart, Editor
July 2004, 448pp, 6 x 9
1 volume, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-57607-905-8
$83, £64, 73€, A114
Please contact your preferred distributor for pricing.
eBook Available: 978-1-57607-906-5
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The world’s third-largest religion, after Christianity and Islam, Hinduism comprises more than 750 million worshippers. While the vast majority live in India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, Hinduism has spread to Europe, Australia, the United States, and even Jamaica and Guyana. How does this resilient religion impact the lives of 13 percent of the world’s population?

An examination of the contemporary practices, beliefs, and issues of one of the world's oldest and most enduring religions, both within its Indian homeland and throughout the world.

Contemporary Hinduism: Ritual, Culture, and Practice illuminates the modern-day ritual, range, and reach of this ancient and diverse religion. A brief historical overview is followed by discussions of the oral and written origins of Hinduism that give context for the main emphasis—contemporary thought, practice, and key issues. Unique to this work is the consistent attention given to the practice of Hinduism for both men and women.

What roles do caste and gender play in modern Hinduism? How are issues like ethics and the environment approached? What are the differences between urban and rural Hinduism, fundamental and secular Hinduism? To what countries has this religion spread, and how do the beliefs and practices of their people compare and contrast? Essays written by Indian and Western scholars answer these and other intriguing questions, introducing readers to the whole world of “living Hinduism” rather than the perspectives and traditions of a small elite.


  • Ten essays explore the history, modern practice, and contemporary issues of Hinduism
  • Maps including ancient and contemporary India and the Hindu diaspora, as well as illustrations within individual essays
  • The book includes a glossary of terms and a guide to pronouncing words from Indian languages
  • A comprehensive introductory essay provides a basic historical overview and addresses the development of the definition and study of Hinduism
Robin Rinehart is associate professor of religion at Lafayette College, Easton, PA. Her published works include One Lifetime, Many Lives: The Experience of Modern Hindu Hagiography.


"[T]his is a well-written, well-designed book that is suited for the student or casual reader interested in the modern aspects of Hinduism."—American Reference Books Annual, March 1, 2005

"Rhinehart's volume is unique in that it is a group effort . . . This material will be quite familiar to scholars, but should prove useful to students and educated readers who are newcomers to Hindu studies . . . Recommended. Lower- and upper- division undergraduate; general readers."—Choice, May 1, 2005

"All the chapters are clear, well written, and free of jargon. This would be a very helpful book to use in a class on modern Hinduism or a great supplementary text in an introduction to Hinduism course."—Journal of Asian Studies, January 1, 2006

"This work can be recommended to all those who would like to have a fairly correct and comprehensive outlook in contemporary Hinduism. It will certainly be of use and help to all studens of Hinduism."—Vatican City Pontifical Missionary Library, January 1, 2006
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