Different approaches to the study of religion
Rev. Dr. Selvam Robertson
Religion and Dialogue
Rev. Dr. Selvam Robertson
Different approaches to the study of religion
This paper is an attempt to evaluate the current perspectives used for the scientific study of religion. The words perspective, Method and approach are used interchangeably. Similarly the expressions science of religion, comparative religion and history of religions are used almost synonymously except when applied to denote specific perspectives. Another aspect to be noted is that no systematic effort is made to define religion, even though the paper is devoted for methodology. The reason for doing so can be vivid as the discussion proceeds. It is to be noted that all the specific terms mentioned here are explained in the appropriate places as the work progresses.
The first part of the work is an exploration into the various factors which were responsible for the emergence of the science of religion. While discussing the pioneering work for the founding of a separate discipline, more attention is given to the valuable contributions of Max Muller who was called as the Father of comparative religion.
Only an evaluation of the prevailing perspectives used for the scientific study of religion can help the student of religion to choose the right direction. This is done in the second part. In this process the major anthropological theories about the origin of religion can be discussed. Sociological perspective can help furthering the knowledge about religion. Historical-phenomenological perspectives are studied to show their distinctive contribution to the study of religions. Psychological perspectives can be studied to understand another specific dimension of religion.
Third part is an evaluation of the existing perspectives. This is done to examine the issues faced by the different perspectives in studying religion. The common issues which would require the attention of every scholar of religion can be of great help and interest for the scientific study of religion.
The science of religion certainly is a promising field of study. It can be very relevant in a country like India where almost all the major living religions are thriving side by side. Thus the fourth part of the study is an attempt to trace all the valuable insights from the scientific study of religion and to examine their significance for an appropriate Indian perspective for the study of religion.
Owing to the nature of the research paper, the first two parts are lengthier than the last two. Because the first two chapters are devoted to present a form of historical details, while the other two are meant for evaluation and analysis of the whole development.
SCIENCE OF RELIGION
1.1 Factors Responsible for the Beginnings of Science of Religion
History testifies to the fact that no human being ever lived without adhering to some form of religiosity. It also confirms that, at least from the first century of Christians era there had been attempts, perhaps amateur or ostensible, to acquire knowledge about religions other than one’s own. The culmination of this process was the germination of a new discipline for the systematic or scientific study of religions in the later part of the 19th Century. Several factors were responsible for the dawn of this new discipline. They were: reformation, geographical discoveries, deists, scientific and intellectual developments, travel accounts, decipherment of ancient texts, the enlightenment philosophers, romantic idealism and studies in myth and Folklore.
In the second part a consideration of the pioneers who were responsible for the founding of this new discipline, science of religion, can be made. Thirdly a concentrated effort is required to appreciate the untiring contributions of Max Muller for the science of religion.
Although the years between 14th Century to 17th Century are called as reformation period, E. O. James and Waardenburg limit this duration to 16th and 17th centuries and perceive the impact of reformation upon the study of religions. Their perception can be justified because till the emergence of reformation the scripture of Christianity was far beyond the reach of ordinary people. religious practices were carried out without any questions regarding their validity. It was only because of the effects of reformation, scripture was rituals or church practices were questioned. Consequently scripture was studied with the aid of all the critical methods of learning available then. This paved way for a new kind of openness.
In the same spirit many biblical scholars in 19th Century studied the Bible using historical critical methods. Julius Welhausean (1844-1918) an Old Testament scholar asserted that ‘Torah cannot actually have been given by Moses’ and also a specific date cannot be assigned to it.
Similarly from the New Testament point of view “A Scholar like David F. Strauss (1808-1874) had concluded that the whole life of Jesus was a myth: that, as a historical person, he never existed.” There was an intense quest for historical truth about the life of Jesus. The application of historical critical method for the study of scripture itself was, in fact, a courageous act, well ahead of time.
1.1.2 Geographical Discoveries
Along with reformation, another factor that contributed to the zeal for the study of religion was the geographical discoveries of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. These discoveries confronted western man with the fact of the other ways of behavior, thought, and belief and required broadening of the western centered view of human nature, culture and religion. Consequently there arose a serious interest to know the life and practices of the new people. this new interest encouraged further explorations and details about the so far unknown people and their practices including religions.
During 17th and 18th centuries deists also contributed to the systematic study of religions. They were of the opinion that, the original religion was good and pure, it was only latter the priests corrupted it. They also popularized the natural religious quality of humanity against the traditional idea of revealed religions.
The new turn rested on the idea of a common human nature from which religious beliefs arise, eliciting universal agreement. In its Deistic form natural religion was acclaimed to be independent of and superior to revealed religion, and unlike medieval or modern notions of a natural knowledge of divine things, to be a prologue to or an alternative of revelation.
The Deist’s idea of natural religion was struggling to sail through because of the dominance of the church. Further, there was less acceptance among the people. “However lukewarm and superficial was the natural religion of the Enlightenment, it was at least sincere in its devotion to the virtue of tolerance”. It is indeed a great landmark of the history that the Deistic thoughts survived all calamities and supplied the fundamental insight, the ideal of natural religion, to the yet to be established new discipline for the scientific study of religion.
1.1.4 Scientific and Intellectual Developments
Scientific developments, particularly the theory of evolution propounded by Darwin had greater impact upon the development of religion as an independent discipline. The Principle of evolution dominated the thoughts of many great scholars, particularly those advocated anthropological perspective.
“Scientific and intellectual developments of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries provided the model for new approaches to the study of religion.” The major insight of this particular influence was the linear development of things. it was assumed that everything was moving towards a perfection. Further there was critical reasoning in the academic circles. The influence of linear progress is very vivid in the works of many later day scholars of religion.
1.1.5 Travel Accounts
After the geographical discoveries, 18th century witnessed the descriptions of religion by several travel accounts. These accounts are not systematic in their presentation of the matter. Only a few such works were published. One among them was the work of Charles de Brosses (1709-1777). For him, Fetishism was the earliest form of religion. Commenting on his theory F. Max Muller writes in his origin and growth of religion that “All nations, he holds, had to begin with fetishism, to be followed after words by polytheism and monotheism”. Brosse’s idea of fetish is clearly described by Muller as “ ‘These fetishes’, he says, are anything which people like to select for adoration a tree, a mountain, the sea, a piece of wood, the tail of a lion, a pebble, a shell, salt, a fish, a plant, a flower, certain animals… or anything like these.” Muller’s argument was that “There is no fetish without its antecedents, and it is in these antecedents alone that its true and scientific interest consists.”
Another such work was that of Meiners (1747-1810). He accepted the theory of fetishism. But went beyond fetishism and ‘Stressed the role of human imagination in the development of religious worship’.
Similar account was given by Benjamin constant y de Rebeque (1769-1830). “For constant, religion is essentially a feeling which is the very foundation of man’s nature.” The traces for a later psychological perspective for the study of religion could be found in the work of Constant.
Whatever may be the limitations or criticisms leveled against these initial ventures, the fact remains that, these preliminary works had sown the seed for the growth of a latter huge tree called, the ‘Science of religion’. In these works there are allusions to the early anthropological, sociological and psychological perspectives for the study of religion.
1.1.6 Decipherment of Ancient Texts
“Side by side with the travel accounts of living people, it was the discovery and decipherment of ancient texts that opened a field of research on as yet largely unknown religions.” William Jones (1746-1797) studied Sanskrit and compared it with certain European Languages. He “… discovered structural similarities between the two groups of languages and concluded that they belong to one linguistic family.” He also found similarities between the Indian Myths and Greek, Roman and Biblical. His studies in the language also made Indian religion available to others. Thus there was scope for further research on Indo-European linguistics and mythology through comparative studies.
Another notable scholar in this period and field was Jean Francois Champollion (1790-1832). He was the ‘decipherer of the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic script’. Similar to the impact of the theory of evolution on the study of religion, the results of the study of languages were made visible in the very life and contributions of Max Muller. Why stop with that it was this philological research that ultimately constituted the Scientific Study of religion.
1.1.7 The Enlightenment Philosophers
“While the Philosophers of the 18th century Enlightenment in France (e.g., Voltaire) viewed religion as the invention of cunning priests to secure there fears and superstitions, German philosophers were venturing toward a broad and deep understanding of the variety of religions and their historical development.” The broadened out look of these philosophers may be the outcome of the geographical discoveries. Having taken into consideration the plurality of religions they viewed religions as out growth of a natural reasonable religion or as the natural outcome of the general manifestation of Divine grace. Their contribution to the study of religion was the important idea that religions have a historical existence and that religion cannot be studied apart from history. The two significant insights these philosophers supplied to the later scientific study of religion were, the common origin of religions and the concept of historical development of religions.
1.1.8 Romantic Idealism
“Another important German contribution to modern approaches to religion was Romantic idealism. As a reaction against Enlightenment thought, it emphasized individuality, feelings, and imagination, and it urged and openness to remote, ancient, mystical, and folk culture and religion.” One of its proponents was Friedrich Scheliermacher (1768-1834), a protestant theologian who assigned religion primarily to feeling that is the feeling of absolute dependence. Another great contribution was made by Hegel.
“For Hegel the concrete history of religions is the realization of the abstract idea of religion.” The third scholar in this brief list was Vico. Vico (1668-1744), the Italian philosopher held that, ‘fear of a superior power’ was the origin of religion. He perceived this development from polytheism to a spiritual monotheism as a gradual process ruled by divine providence.
Probably, the Romantic idealism could be treated as more philosophical in out look. The valuable knowledge that the later scholars of religion could avail from this school of thought, again was that, religion had a common origin, whether it was fear or feeling.
1.1.9 Myth and Folk-lore
The early part of the 19th century witnessed several studies in mythology. Often the history of religion was compared to the study of myth and comparative religion with comparative mythology. Along with myth studies in the folklore also influenced the scientific study of religion. Their significance in the study of religion is said as, “History of religion could now use not only mythology but also folk-lore to its advantage, in this sense Mannhardt had much influence on a scholar like James G-Frazer.” Wilhelm Mannhard (1931-1980) was a scholar of European Folk-lore.
In summary according to Kuncheria Pathil, “The contract of the West with Islam, the revival of classical antiquity in Renaissance with its aftermath of humanism, and the geographical discoveries of the 15th and 16th centuries with their subsequent colonial and missionary conquests, gave impetus to the study of religions of other lands and peoples.” Dr. S. Radhakrishnan limits the sources of influence upon the study of religion to two. “The development of the science of comparative Religion is due mainly to two factors: the publication and study of the – Sacred Books of the East and the growth of anthropology.”
Max Muller, in his Introduction to the Science of Religion stated that “The Emperor Akbar may be considered the first who ventured on a comparative study of the religions of the world.” It is true. Nevertheless the real vision for the establishment of a independent discipline for the scientistic study of religion was the product of later part of the 19th century.
One of the pioneers of “Science of Religion” was Cornelis P. Tiele (1830-1902) of Holland. “He was one of the first to offer a historical survey of a number of religions based on study of source materials.” The method adopted by him for such a survey is said, “Tiles combined historical work in ancient Near Eastern religions with a systematic interest in religious phenomena and a philosophical search for the essence of religion.” The impact of evolutionary thought reflects in his ideas. “In his general view of religion he stressed the evolution of the ‘religious idea’ through the historical forms of religion which represented different stages.” The reason assigned by him for the scientific study of religion was quite simple.
In the Elements of the Science of Religion he asserted that religion is investigated ‘in order to learn something about it, in accordance with a sound and critical method, appropriate to each department.” He advocated a kind of historical method. Still he said “Yet I believe that the science of religion requires a broader foundation than history in the ordinary sense of the word.”
It is very clear Tiele wanted to experiment historical method for the systematic study of religion. In the end, he seems to suggest that historical perspective alone may not be the adequate method for the study of religious phenomena. Two points are clear. One is that he applied historical approach and the other is that, he felt the need of more perspectives for the better understanding of religious phenomena.
Another pioneer who contributed to the development of the scientific study of religion was Pierre D. Chantepie de la Saussaye (1848-1920) of Netherlands. “Chantepie, in his classic Manual of the Science of Religion (1887-1889), made an elaborate classification of religious phenomena (Sacred stones, trees, animals, places, times, persons, writings, communities and the like), a forerunner of later phenomenologies of religion.” “Besides historical work in his field, he was primarily interested in systematic classification.” He is one of the first scholars to speak of phenomenology of religion as a special branch of the study of religion.” It is suggested that his inadequate knowledge of language caused him inaccessible the original sources. Hence he concentrated less on history and more on classification of religion. Thus he was very closely associated with the founding of the Phenomenological school of religion.
1.3 MAX MULLER
The most important of the founders of a separate discipline called ‘Science of religion’, for the systematic study of religion was the Oxford Sanskritist Friedrich Max Muller (1823-1900). He was called the father of comparative religions. R. W. Brockway says “Max Muller’s Essay in Comparative Mythology (1856) was the earliest significant discussion of comparative religion and it could be said that Muller was the father of Religionswissenschaft or Religious studies.” According to professor J. G. Arapura, without Muller, there could not have emerged the separate discipline for the scientific study of religion. It is said “But for him, comparative religion, history of religion, phenomenology of religion, Relgionswissenschaft, or whatever else it is called, as distinguished from theology, would not have found a place in the modern university.” Muller declared his commitment and vigour for the establishment of a discipline for the scientific study of religion as the new science would “change the aspect of the world.”
Basically Muller was a philologist. In his study of languages he used comparative method. The same method was later applied to the systematic study of religion. It is said as “Muller’s wide knowledge of Indo-European languages, his comparative approach to philology and extension of that method to the study of religion, and his eloquent advocacy of that study as a scientific discipline prepared the way, during his life time, for the establishment of Chairs in the new field in leading European Universities.” He was interested on the archaic forms of religion. The reason was that, he wanted to find the origin of religions from the study of archaic forms. “Interested in archaic forms of religion, he suggested that contemporary primitives might preserve some very ancient mythologies, rituals, and beliefs which could be taken as survivals from prehistoric times, and that from them one could discern originals.”
The aim of establishing the new discipline for the scientific study of religion is summed up as “His ultimate aim was to elaborate a complete science of human thought: and this he chose to do in four stages, beginning with the science of language, and passing through the science of mythology and the science of religion to the final goal of the science of thought.” In the Natural Religion Muller said, ‘I want, if possible to show you how the road which leads from the Science of Language to the Science of Mythology and to the Science of Thought is the only safe road on which to approach the science of religion’. This will be discussed in details in the following passages.
Max Muller’s field of interest was philology. His linguistic studies of Indo-European languages using comparative method convinced him that similar method can be applied for the study of religious. R. W. Brockway says that “Muller approached the study of religion from his knowledge of Sanskrit and other ancient languages.” In the words of J. G. Arapura “Max Muller considers comparative philology as both a tool and model for research in religion. Language and religion are two phenomena that have the closest similarity with each other both originating in the instinctual life of man and exhibiting a remarkable continuity of development.” His ever growing interest was to find out the original forms of religions. Regarding his conviction for the commitment, it is said “He held that philological and etymological research can discover the meaning of religion for early men by restoring the original sense to the names of the gods and the stories told about them.”
Muller’s option for the use of comparative phological method for the study of religion is well explained in his Chips from a German Workshop as “The science of Language has taught us that there is order and wisdom in all languages, and that even the most degraded jargons contain the ruins of former greatness and beauty.” The same verdict, Muller gave to all religions, irrespective of their status. For him, perhaps, all religions contained same form of truth. Muller says in his Natural Religion that “Our customs and traditions are often founded on decayed and misunderstood words.”
Having understood the difficulty of explaining the ancient concept using modern languages Muller says “Nay, I believe it can be proved that more than half of the difficulties in the history of religion owe their origin to this constant misinterpretation of ancient language by modern language, of ancient thought by modern thought, particularly whenever the word has become more sacred than the spirit.” He further, tells in very authentic tone that if we want to understand ancient religion, we must first try to understand ancient language.”
Muller’s philological skills necessitated him to consider myths from the same perspective. In the words of Waardenburg “Myths being in his view primarily poetry and phantasy Muller tried to explain there substance by means of natural phenomena, and their terminology by what he called a ‘disease of language.” Similar view about Muller is expressed by J. G. Arapura, that “Mythology, which was the bane of the ancient world is in truth a disease of language.” The concept of ‘disease of language can be explained as “His much-criticized summation of Myth was the result of metaphors derived from impressive experience of natural phenomena and then the taking the figurative for the real.”
Understanding myths play significant role in the understanding of religions is clearly indicated by Eric J. Sharpe thus “Hence it was and is necessary to penetrate the myths in order to reach the heart of the religion which they conceal.” Max Muller was the pioneer to investigate myths in order to find out the hidden meanings of the words applied.
1.3.3 Science of Religion
Max Muller, starting from science of language passed through mythology and now is in the science of religion, before reaching the final destination – origin of religion. Before going any further it is unavoidable that the expression “Science of Religion” made clear. “Science of religion” is the direct translation of the German expression ‘Religionswissenschaft’. Max Muller coined this term. He used this term to denote the new discipline which he established. It only points to the scientific or systematic study of religions the subject matter.
The method Muller adopted in the science of religion was comparative and historical. Comparative because of the varieties of data found from various religions and branches of study. He recommended this method from his earlier experience of philological studies using comparative method. His assumption was that if comparison of languages could facilitate a common origin, the comparison of data from religions should also yield such useful result. In short, Muller advocated comparative and historical method in science of religion. It is historical because, his intention was to trace the history of the origin of religions by going back, from the present data.
It was unfortunate that today the terms ‘Science of Religion’, ‘comparative religion’ and ‘history of religions’ are used without any much distinction, implying just what Muller intended by the term science of religion. They are used interchangeably. It is appropriate to quote J. N. D. Anderson here to confirm the above view. “Strictly speaking, the very term is, of course, a solecism, for it is not ‘religion’ itself which is ‘comparative’, but the method of study and approach.” In fact Anderson is alluding to the current misuse of the term comparative religion. He further says that “As such, comparative religion is simply one aspect of the study of religion.” He was very keen to indicate the nominal tendency of many to quickly be immersed in comparison of religions, without adequate knowledge to what they really mean in their specific context. In the words of Ninian smart “Quite often what is meant by ‘comparative study of religion’ is typological phenomenology.” For him this is against what he calls the historical phenomenology.
Max Muller himself perceived such misuse and said “Generalization will come in time, but generalization without a thorough knowledge of particulars is the ruin of all sciences, and has hither to proved the greatest danger to the Science of Religion.” Further danger of misunderstood and misused notion of comparative religion is clearly brought out by Frank Whaling that
One of the reason why the term ‘comparative religion’ came under suspicion was its implied connection with theology. According to this view the motive for much work in the comparison of religions was not the ‘impartial and scientific’ desire to establish patterns, similarities and differences, but the theological desire to demonstrate that one’s own position was superior, fuller, or more than mundane compared with that of others.
To use the method of comparison meaningfully as Muller intended, it is worth mentioning Michael Pye. In his Comparative Religion he states “The comparative study religion or ‘comparative religion’ for short is really a phrase to indicate the study of religion in so far as the student is not confining his attentions to single case-study.”
Along with comparative method Muller also used historical method. The purpose was to find the origin of religion on the basis of available data. It is different from the strictly historical method called Religionsgeschichte (historical study of Religions). But later the original intention was last. In the words of Ninian Smart “To complicate matters, it has become usual to substitute the phrase history of religions for the comparative study of religion.” Muller himself said “… to my mind, the more interesting, if not the more important part of the science of religion is certainly concerned with what we call the historical development of religious thought and language.”
Again it needs to be stressed that Muller used comparative historical method for the scientific study of religion. Later these two methods were used as synonym for the expression ‘Science of Religion’. Because of the unscrupulous use of comparative method, the expression comparative religion is almost vanishing. Because of the ambiguities and disadvantages of the two expressions ‘Science of religion’ and ‘comparative religion’, today the term ‘history of religion’ is used in the place of ‘science of religion’ for the systematic and scientific study of religion.
1.3.4 The Subject for the Science of Religion
Like other subjects, religion cannot be squared out from the very life of human beings. It is integral part of humanness. It therefore, cannot be studied subjectively i.e. “The ‘faith of the believer’ can no longer be a legitimate subject of the science of religion.” Yet human beings have objectified religious experience to the position of studying it as a subject. The ‘science of religion’ studies this subject matter. “The science of religion investigates religious conception, values and behavior.” Ernst Troeltsch has explained it as “Its great question is the question of the nature of religious phenomena, the question of their epistemological and cognitive import, the question of the value and the meaning of the great historical religious formations.” It does not focus upon the essence of religion nor does it creates a new religion. In brief, the subject of the science of religion is the objectified subjective experience of human beings.
1.3.5 Data for the Science of Religion
Max Muller, from philological perspective, gives more importance to the scriptures of religion, but with caution. “To the student of religion canonical books are no doubt, of the utmost importance, but he ought never to forget that canonical books too give the reflected image only of the real doctrines of the founder of a new religion, an image always blurred and distorted by the medium through which it had to pass.” Going behind this Ernst Troeltsch suggests that “Very important data are those one-sided or exclusively religious personalities, sects and groups among whom the effects of scientific ways of thinking sit but loosely or are absent altogether, and who also have not yet lost their religious innocence by any struggle against science.” For the present student of religion apart from these two, the practical utility of religions in every day life should become a datum.
1.3.6 The Task of the Science of Religion
The task of the science of religion has been termed diversely by scholars. Through, they look different in expression all of them are legitimate from varied perspectives. For Waardenburg the central is ‘the understanding of other religious’. More understanding of other religious may not be of any help unless it is related to religions as a whole. This is pointed out by Y. Masih in his A Comparative Study of Religions as “In the opinion of the author of this book, the most important task of comparative study of religions is to find out a principle of unity which will harmonize and balance the claims and counter claims of warring religions into one unity.” Though he is dreaming of an unattainable task this is what the scholars of religions in general are striving for.
Another dimension of the task of scientific study of religion is highlighted by Ernst Troeltsch as “The purpose of Scientific work on religion is therefore entirely and necessarily to influence religion itself.” Perhaps, he was concerned with the reformatory work required on the part of many religions including Christianity to which he belonged. A more moderate and useful task of the scientific study of religion is found in the work of Ninian Smart that “An important task in the building of a science of religion is to collect the various key materials which recur in differing religious environment.” He wanted to investigate the interaction of such materials in diverse religions. From religious point of view, it is almost clear that a simple formula of unity is out of place. What is envisaged is to see how similar materials are present in diverse religious expressions. Such an approach could promote healthy inter-religious understanding, without insisting upon unity or without causing damage to any particular religion.
1.3.7 Pattern of Study
Most of the religious studies were carried out by missionaries or missionary minded Christians. Their aim was to exhibit the view that their own religion was true and superior. The philosophers who were interested on the study of religions heed their own reservations. “The ‘true believers’ studied religions only to laud the superiority of their own and to depreciate those of others, while the skeptics started with the preconception that all religions were false and entertained a simpleminded theory of the nature and origin of religion.”
Because of the increasing amount of religious knowledge, the traditional narrow or too general perspectives of religious studies have been ignored and more charitable expectations have penetrated into the realm of scientific study of religion. Kuncheria Pathil has rightly indicated that “Today these ‘one-track schemes of development’ have been discarded by most of the scholars and emphasis has been placed on understanding the uniqueness of each religion and discovering the basic structures of the religious phenomena.” This view too limits itself with constraints. It looks for the basic structure of the religious phenomena. This is not a healthy demand. A open expectation is declared by Dr. Radha Krishnan that “For a scientific student of religion is required to treat all religions in a spirit of absolute detachment and impartiality.” Similar view if found enhanced in the writing of E. O. James that “Religious phenomena as distinct from spiritual experience must be investigated on their own merits historically and comparatively independent of any preconceived theories or accepted loyalties.” The author has retold the original vision of the science of religion as expected by Max Muller himself.
1.3.8 Objections of the Study of Religion
Dr. Radha Krishnan gives at least three reasons as to why there are objections for the scientific study of religion. These are, seemingly, the fear inherent among those religious people who claim absolutism or superiority. According to him “One reason for this is that the scientific study of religion is imagined to be a danger to religion itself.”
“Another objection is that comparison means resemblance, and if one religion is like another, what happens to the claims of superiority and uniqueness.” A third objection is given as “Again, it is urged, if comparative Religion tells us that higher religions possess features in common with the low and the primitive, then the inference is legitimate that our religious beliefs are of a degrading and childish character.”
Of course these are genuine fears as long as people were not aware of what was happening around the world. As every form of knowledge is available at the door steps of every individual, scientific knowledge of religions too should be. It can strengthen and widen the relationship between different religious communities, which were hostile so far on account of non availability of scientific knowledge of religions.
Max Muller had perceived this objection in advance and answered it as “I do not say that the science of religion is all gain. No, it entails losses, and losses of many things which we hold dear. But this I will say, that, as far as my humble judgment goes, it does not entail the loss of anything that is essential to true religion, and that if we strike the balance honestly, the gain is immeasurably greater than the loss.”
It is time that the discipline of religion looks beyond the simple objections to fulfill its task of presenting useful facts in order to facilitate a peaceful co-existence among people of different faith.
1.3.9 Origin of Religion
Starting from language and passing through mythology, Muller established the science of religion. Through the science of religion, he, clearly draws every one’s attention to two vivid objectives. One is the origin of religion and the other is the types of religion, as he understood.
Waardenburg summarizes Muller’s view of the origin of religion as “Religion proper would have started with an ‘immediate perception of the infinite’ through nature apart from the senses and reason.” This may be an inadequate way of summing up Muller’s understanding of the origin of religion because for Muller, not only nature, but man and self also are the great manifestations. But the presentation of the idea of the ‘immediate perception of the infinite’ also finds support in Max Muller. Muller in his Natural Religion says that my chief endeavour is to show that ‘religion did not begin with abstract concepts and a belief in purely extra-mundane beings, but that its deepest roots can be traced back to the universal stratum of sensuous perception’.
According to Max Muller there are three crucial reasons for tracing the origin of religion. The first one is found in his Chips from a German workshop, as quoted by Waardenburg “Whenever we can trace back a religion to its first beginnings, we find it free from many of the blemishes that offend us in its later phases.” According it helps grasping the original nature of religions.
The second reason is that it helps to understand man himself. It is summarized by Eric J. Sharpe as “To Max Muller, the attempt to understand religion was an attempt to understand men, and an attempt, to persuade men to understand one another.”
In the words of Muller, it enables us to see the development of religions. “Religion is something which has passed, and is still passing through an historical evolution, and al we can do is to follow it up to its origin, and then try to comprehend it in its later historical developments.”
From the scientific study of religions Max Muller found that “Nature, man and self are the three great manifestations in which the infinite in some shape or other has been perceived, and every one of these perceptions has in its historical development contributed to what may be called religion.” He has assigned names to these three manifestations. “I shall distinguish these three divisions as Physical Religion, Anthropological Religion, and Psychological Religion.”
He wanted to show that these three aspects are found in every religion. The amount of importance attributed to a particular manifestation may be varied. In his Physical Religion it is stated that “It must not be supposed that these three phases of natural religion, the Physical, the Anthropological and the Psychological, exist each by itself, that one race worships the powers of nature only, while another venerates the spirits of human ancestors, and a third meditate on the Divine, as discovered in the deepest depth of the human heart.” As intended, Muller has reached his final destination of finding the origin of religion.
‘Science of Religion’ was the fulfillment of a long awaited and hard-labored efforts of many scholars. This fulfillment, in fact was the beginning for all the later developments in the field of religion. Many branches of learning began to concentrate on the study of religion. As a result many perspectives were developed. In this section efforts will be taken to summarize historical, phenomenological and psychological perspectives. First of all each perspective will be defined and then the prominent proponents or theories will be evaluated.
2.1 ANTHROPOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE
Anthropology is devoted to the study of human beings. Its basis is culture, Anthropologists use comparative method in order to find what is common to all humanity and ‘what is distinctive of particular societies or groups of societies’. From religious points of view the Anthropologists do not confine to only major religions, they study the beliefs and practices of all human societies.
Along with and subsequent to Muller many Anthropologists used their methods for the study of religion. They were mostly influenced by the evolutionist ideology propounded by Charles R. Darwin. Most Anthropologists used their data for tracing the origin of religions. Notable among them was Edward Burnett Tylor.
“E. B. Tylor (1832-1917) an English ethnologist was one of the first scholars to apply evolutionary concepts to the study of religions, and is generally regarded as the founder of the Anthropological study of religion.” Tylor used comparative method to trace the origin of religion from primeval man to the civilized man of his time. “The result was that he could indeed present a survey of the total history of man and his culture, going back from the present to the past.” He wanted to prove that religion was not the result of any revelation or supernatural intervention. Such a conviction was the result of using the evolutionist principle. “the very doctrine of evolution functioned, so to say, as a basis for the rejection of any supernaturalism, thereby rendering possible a scholarly study of religion.”
Tylor was popularly known for his theory of animism. Animism is “The belief that al living beings and natural phenomena that appear to move or have life (Sun, Moon, Rivers, etc.) have individual spirits (animae), some or all of which are appropriate objects of worship.”
For Tylor, ‘the earliest stage of religion’ ‘consisted in the belief in souls, present not only in human beings but in all natural organisms and objects’. “Out of this came the concepts of the separable human soul, whether in sleep or in death, and of the pan-psychic aspect of the natural world; and thereby of the religious beliefs and customs associated with them.” Commenting on the theory of animism, Eric J. Lott says that “Thus Tylor saw earlier animistic experience as the irreducible and original source of later religious life.” This in brief was what Tylor wanted to convey. His theory was criticized by Max Muller and R. R. Marett.
R. R. Marett (1866-1943) an English anthropologist and disciple of Tylor proposed a theory of the origin of religion called ‘animatism’ or dynamism or pre-animism. In his attempt to go beyond Tylor, Marett argued that belief in souls or spirits is the result of reasoning. Before reasoning, there could have been another stage which he called animatism. That is “He contended that at the beginning of man’s religious development there was what he called a ‘super naturalistic’ stage, in which man recognized an impersonal religious force which was rather felt than reasoned out.”
It needs to be remembered that Tylor did not attribute supernatural element to the origin of religion. In contrast to Tylor Marett proposed a ‘super naturalistic’ stage in the origin of religion. The animatism of R. R. Marett is explained by E. O. James as “Before man began to speculate about dreams and visions, and formulate ideas concerning heroes and ancestors, he appears to have been aroused by deeper emotions in the presence of inexplicably and awe-inspiring phenomena.”
Animation is a stage in which men responded with awe and wonder to an impersonal supernatural force they experienced as present in extraordinary natural phenomena, events and persons. This supernatural force was worshipped as Mana by the Melanesian islanders. Mana means ‘undifferentiated impersonal supernatural force’. In short animatisms is belief in Mana. For Marett this was the first stage of religion. In the words of Eric. J. Sharpe Marett chose to apply the Melanesian term mana to the Phenomenon of impersonal power, supposedly experienced by primitive man, and claimed this to be a source of belief in spirits, gods, and ultimately God”. It is called pre-animism because it refers to a stage preceding to the belief in animism. This theory deserves positive consideration for attempting to conceptualize a formless supernatural force. Definitely Marett had gone beyond his Master to find his animatism.
2.1.3 Manism (Ancestor – Worship)
Hebert Spencer (1820-1903) an English man proposed that ancestor worship is the beginning of religion. This he derived from man’s belief in spirits or ghosts. “From the belief in ghosts, he asserted, came ancestor-worship, the original religious cult.” In the words of Muller, for Spencer ‘the root of every religion is ancestor-worship’. Of course, let it be remembered the Muller never accepted Spencer’s view. In order to understand Spencer’s theory further Waardenburg’s comparison is handy. According to him “For Spencer, religion started with the cult of ancestral spirits (manism) with the assumption that, just as fear of the living is at the root of political control, fear of the dead is at the root of religious control.” E. O. James makes the point more clear as “on the same animistic stratum Herbert Spencer rested his ghost theory in the belief that the idea of God and religion as a whole could be derived from the propitiation of the other-self of distinguished ancestors.” E. O. James is right in evaluating the theory of Spencer as not much different from the theory of animism.
2.1.4 Supreme Beings of High Gods
In contrast to the anthropologist whose theories were dominated by evolution, Andrew Langh (1844-1912, Scotland) proposed that the primitives believed in Supreme beings or high gods and that could be the earliest form of religion. He was sure that belief in Supreme Beings or High Gods is prior to animism. His dissatisfaction on the theory of animism is found in his the making of religion as “The Supreme Being, thus regarded, may be (though he cannot historically be shown to be) prior to the first notion of ghost and separable souls.” His grievance was that, the earlier theories could not do any justice to the religious dimension of human beings. So he suggested that ‘parapsychology has more to say about the nature and origin of religion than rationalistic anthropological theories.” Spencer’s theory was later considered as primitive monotheism. Along with Marett Langh has also explored the possibility of ‘Something beyond’ which influences the religious attitude of the primitives. Probably, he was not refined as to the nature of these beings.
“James G. Frazer (1854-1947, Glasgow) argued that religious activities and attitudes were preceded by the practice of magic.” He affirmed that the earliest stage was a pre-religious one of magical thought and practice (when the aim was to Master the external environment through human powers), while the succeeding religious stage involved the propitiation and conciliation of superhuman beings upon whom man was believed to be dependent.” It is often debated whether religion and magic exist side by side or the one precedes the other. Many do not agree that magic was prior to religion. The general view is that both magic and religion function side by side in religion.
Apart from these traditional anthropologists who have done in depth study on the various aspects of human culture (cultural anthropology), now there are at least two more varieties. One is the Social anthropology. Social anthropology emphasizes on the functional aspect of religion. For social anthropology religion is one of the institutions like other social institutions. Social anthropology also stresses the importance of the scholar to be a participant observer in the society studied.
The second new addition is Diffusionist school. It insists upon the necessity of studying various cultural circle or layers which could have been caused by small migrations. This will answer the question of similarities in cultures in different religions. These later developments have emerged in reaction to the earlier armchair anthropologists.
The general criticism against the anthropological perspective is that it is confined to the empirical religious phenomena and does not go to the original religious feeling. The second criticism is that, having studied one or few religions, the anthropologists involve in generalizing the data. There is also the fear of approaching the primitive religions with a hidden agenda like the missionaries. Amidst the criticisms, the anthropologists who had ventured into the risk of proposing theories about the origin of religion should be positively credited. Because they had given a good start, of course courageous. The subsequent scholars can explore new dimensions of investigations in the study of religion.
2.2 SOCIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE
Having examined the contributions of the great anthropologists, now it is appropriate to study the sociological perspective of religion. In order to evaluate the contribution of sociological perspective to the study of religion, a general understanding of sociology of religion is called for. In the first place, therefore, definition, Task, Concern, Method and understanding of religion etc. can be discussed. After referring to the later developments in this branch of learning, three of the leading scholar’s contributions may be evaluated.
By definition “the sociology of religion is the study of the significant, and often subtle, relationships which prevail between religion and social structures, and between religion and social processes.” The original aim of sociology was to find out the ‘scientific account of the laws underlying the social fabric’. “It is an essential postulate of sociology that a human institution cannot be based on error and falsehood, otherwise it could not have lasted.” In brief, the main area of investigation for the sociologist of religion is the inter-relatedness between society and religion.
Coming of the task of sociologist of religion from the individual point of view “A sociologist of religion studies the processes by which religion enters into human interaction and how the interaction of men influences religion.” This task is empirical in nature. Further, it is appropriate because of its intention to clarify the influence of religion on individuals on the one hand and the influence of people on religion on the other. In the words of Joachim Wach “The sociologist of religion will have to study and to classify with care the typologically different organizational structures resulting from divergent concepts or religious communion.” Here, how society influences religion, as religion influences organizations, is barely touched upon. A genuine sociologist of religion should focus upon the two dimensions.
A brief look at the concerns of the sociological approach to the study of religion will shed further light on its importance. One of the chief concerns is to evaluate the impact of religiosity on individuals and society. “The sociology of religion does not concern itself with the truth or worth of the supraempirical beliefs upon which religion rests. It is concerned with the effects of these in the historical experience of men and in the development of human societies.”
Harvey Carrier, confirms this concern further by saying ‘sociology from its very birth showed itself immediately concerned with the role and the function of religion in the dynamism of societies.” An opposite concern is expressed by Daniel L. Hodges that “Although social Scientists rarely say so explicitly, most of them believe it is scientifically illegitimate to include as propositions any statements about the supernatural in the theories which attempt to explain or predict religious behavior.” This negative concern needs further clarification. Even if general sociologist want to study society and its institution, they cannot ignore the impact of religion on the society or society’s influence on religion. If they ignore this aspect, their study on society will be incomplete. Without reference to some form of supernatural element (except Hinayana Buddhism and Jainism) religion cannot be treated in any subject. No exception to sociology as well.
As to the method of studying religion from the sociological point of view it needs to be remembered that “As a social science sociology must take a naturalistic approach to the study of religion, but it must also remain sensitive to those areas where men take diverse points of view based upon their commitments of faith.” Of course, although sociology does not pass judgment upon questions of faith itself, it offers valuable empirical data for a better understanding of religion from sociological point of view.
The common understanding about the origin of religion in the sociological perspective of religion is that , it is the product of society. Accepting this view has its own constrains. “If we adopt an interpretation of religious beliefs and organization as products of underlying social forces, then the most plausible view of religious movements is that they are off-shoots or appendages of more substantial shifts in the infra-structure of society.” This will be clears when the relation between religion and the society is verified further. There is a close relation between religion and society. “We cannot understand the inner from a society unless we understand its religion.” This sound to suggest that the society is being influenced by religion. In any case whether society influences religion or the opposite, is a difficult task for the sociologist of religion to investigate.
Similarly a verification of the relation between religion and culture can supply more details as to whether religion or society precedes to influence each other. According to Christopher Dawson “A fully developed culture involves a spiritual organization, and it is by this spiritual organization that the essential form of the culture is most clearly recognized.” Further “The whole history of culture shows that man has a natural tendency to seek a religious foundation for his social way of life and that when culture loses its spiritual basis it becomes unstable.” Dawson’s first insight clearly alludes to the precedence of religion over culture. The second insight seems to suggest that man makes culture and seeks for religious sources to strengthen it. In any case Dawson perceives that religion influences culture and not vice versa.
2.2.6 Functional Theory
According to functional theory no human society exists without some form or religion. Religion has a or many function in the society. “It is an axiom of functional theory that what has no function ceases to exist. Since religion has continued to exist from time immemorial it obviously must have a function, or even a complex of functions.” According to this theory, religion influences the society. It admits that religion involves ‘belief in and a response to some kind of beyond’. This belief in and response to some kind of beyond may be the origin of religion. Then this religion influences the society. “Religion in terms of functional theory becomes significant in connection with those elements of human experience which derive from the contingency, powerlessness, and scarcity fundamentally characteristic of the human condition.” Thus it is clear that form sociological point of view, religion influences the society.
Another development to be just noted is that “Modern sociological approaches to the study of religion have shown that religion cannot be understood as an extra-social phenomenon which will diminish in the course of social evolution.” This is in keeping with the original commitment of sociology as a social science, in relation to religion. Thus the controversy over the precedence continues. Modern approaches concentrate on structure, symbol or sign and system.
2.2.7 Max Weber (1864-1920, Germany)
He was a pioneer of the sociology of religion. “The credit for having been the first to conceive of a systematic sociology of religion belongs to Max Weber.” For him, religious behavior can be understood only through its meaning for the individuals concerned “The external courses of religious behavior are so diverse that an understanding of this behavior can only be achieved from the view point of the individual concerned – in short, from the view point of the religious behavior’s “meaning” (Sinn).” In the words of Waardenburg, Weber used historical and functional approach. He also had a growing concern for ‘comparative studies’. According to Weber, “The most elementary forms of behavior motivated by religious or magical factors are oriented to this world.” There was no other worldly expectation. Those behaviors were mostly rational. It was the out come of their ordinary experience in their day to day affairs. Weber says that even the ends of the religious and magical actions are predominantly economic.” This notion is expressed by Waardenburg as “Opposing current theories, Weber held that religion was first purposive and only later become symbolic.” Weber seems to convey the idea that religion originated from the necessities of social life or society, which is the position typical to sociologists.
2.2.8 William Robertson Smith (1846-1897, Scotland)
He was on Old Testament scholar. His study of Semitic religion revealed that Semitic religions have to be studied as a whole in their proper context. His conclusions reflect the committed sociological viewpoints. “Taking up the concept of totemism – that is, the relation between a social group and an organic species he asserted that the sacrifice of the sacred clan animal among the ancient Semites established a communion among the members of the clan and with the clan god through the consumption of the flesh and blood of the animal. Thus sacrifice was a social integrative and conservatively traditional act.” He proposed a kind of linear evolution. According to him religion was part of the social life. People unconsciously followed the habitual practice of the society in which they live. He also makes a distinction between the religious temper of ancient and modern people. “To us moderns religion is above al a matter of individual conviction and reasoned belief, but to the ancients it was a part of the citizen’s public life, reduced to fixed forms, which he was not bound to understand and was not at liberty to criticize or to neglect.” In short Smith emphasized the social character of religion and asserted that totemism was the most elementary form of religious life.
2.2.9 Emile Durkheim (1858-1917, France)
Following Smith’s totemism, he ‘associated totemism with the distinction between the realms of the sacred and the profane’. For him religion is inherently a social reality. “Sociologically speaking, religion is society in a projected and symbolized form; the reality which is symbolized by religion is a social reality. Consequently religion should be studied as a response to specific social needs.” Durkheim in his The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, says “The most barbarous and the most fantastic rites and the strangest myths translate some human need, some aspect of life, either individual or social.” He says the idea of mystery was not given to man. It is man who has forged it with his own hands. The only difference between religion and other institution is described as “Religion distinguishes itself from other human institutions through its fundamental opposition between the profane and the sacred, and the absolute separateness of the latter from the former.” This distinction too is man’s decision. E. O. James remarks that “Thus what man really worships is society divinized, and since the totemic principle is the god of the clan, the totemic sign is the rallying-point of collective emotion.” In the same line K. P. Aleaz says “According to Durkheim religion is the essence of the social bond.”
Eric J. Lott argues that “There is, in any case, insufficient evidence to support Durkheim’s belief that religion is essentially and originally totemic.” He thinks that Durkheim’s theory is the result of a biased pre-conceived idea about religion. And such theories would harm the scientific study of religion from sociological or any point of view.
2.3 HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE
Before discussing historical approach, the earlier remarks on the inter changeable use of the terms history of religions and comparative religion in the place of science of religion need to be re-called. These three terms were used to denote the scientific study of religious phenomena as a whole. Today, the expression history of religions is preferred to the other terms, for the all inclusive, all-comprehensive, scientific study of religions which Muller applied as comparative-historical method.
Here, when it is said historical approach, it is different from the earlier history of religion. Historical approach is only one part of the history of religions. It is in this sense the expression historical approach is used here.
“In a genuine sense the Dutch Scholar Cornelius Tiele may be regarded as its founder.” The method applied in the historical approach is a kind of methodological naturalism or gnosticism. It can be said as “This approach consisted of gathering data from all times and places, arranging them systematically, interpreting them within a strictly natural and human framework, exploring their inner emotional aspects, and doing a comparative study to discover the essential laws of the development of religion.” One fact is obvious that, the historical approach generally includes comparative method in its scientific sense. On the other hand
The protagonists of a strictly historical approach emphasize the use of historical – critical methods, a rigorous practice of philology and other subsidiary disciplines necessary for the study of history, and insist on factual – descriptive expositions, not infrequently accompanied by a minimum of interpretation as to the meaning of the data presented.
In order to avoid unnecessary subjective elements in the process of study Max Muller suggest that “The historian of religion must try to be as free as possible from all preconceived opinions.
Why historical method, is a genuine question? The answer to this question is found in the writings of Ursula king as “It was not only the concern of historical truth but also the need to free the study of religion from the dominance of a priori theological and philosophical speculation which required a strong insistence on the use of the historical method.” In fact this answer is a vivid testimony to the strong intentions of the founders of the discipline for the scientific study of religion. It is appropriate to evaluate some of the positive effects of this particular approach to estimate its use in the scientific study of religion.
At the outset the historical method is not confined to studying about superhuman beings alone. It also studies all religious practices and manifestations in their proper contexts. Because every religious elements is, significant only in its own proper context.”
Robert D. Baired views historical method on the basis of his definition of history “My functional definition of history is that history is the descriptive study of the human past.” This definition holds good if only religion is treated as an integral part of humanity. Muller’s preference for historical method is note worthy. For him “There is but one method that leads to really trustworthy and solid results and this is the Historical Method.” He also highlights the intention of historical method as a method going back through various layers to find out the real religious incident. For him, again, historical school always takes note of the developments that have taken place in the course of history. To put it in a nutshell “The principle of the historical school is not to ignore the present, but to try to understand the present by means of the past.” In this venture, a historian might use myths positively as data.
Historical school is not fully free from its limitations too. in general the historical approach is burdened with surplus data without adequate ‘integration’. It is also commented for its handicap of relating the acquired knowledge to wider questions and concerns.” Another basic comment is found in the words of Eric J. Lott that “The historical conditioning to which all religions are subject cannot be denied, but in so far as the historian looks only for empirically verifiable reasons for events, it is questionable how far he is able to investigate, qua historian, the essential inner meaning of any religions tradition.”
It is a serious comment because any study of religion has to take into consideration the two dimensions of religion. They are in the words of Otto, rational and non-national. Lott was concerned with the fact that some religions, like the primitive, are out of the purview of historical data.
2.4 PHENOMENOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE
The anthropologist tried to grasp religion through their study of ancient culture. The sociologists wanted to declare religion as a social phenomenon. The historian of religion attempts to trace the origin of religion using the available data. These perspectives are generally empirical in nature. It required lot of field work and even language skills. On the other hand phenomenologists depends upon the materials provided by these scholars. The main task of phenomenological perspective is to study the essence of religion. To do so the phenomenologists involve in studying various structures of religion. In order to have better understanding of phenomenological perspective a general out line of phenomenology may be attempted. This would include definition, founder, task and method of phenomenology. After that the investigations of at least four leading phenomenologists and their data can lay foundation for a meaningful evaluation of the subject.
Phenomenology has been variously defined by scholars. Probably consultation of a few definitions would be of great use in understanding what is really phenomenology. According to K. P. Aleaz “Phenomenology may be primarily understood as a systematic and comparative classification of all religious phenomena.” Another dimension of phenomenology is found in the definition of J. G. Arapura that “Phenomenology is the systematic discussion of what appears.” A more useful definition is that “The phenomenological method is a way of describing rather than a way of explaining.” This is describing the essence of the phenomenon, within one’s own environment. Thus phenomenology consists of classification of religious phenomena, discussion of the phenomena and description of the phenomena.
The first person to outline the principles of phenomenology was P. D. Chantepie de la Saussay. He dwelt on the ‘need for historical investigation into religions traditions to move on to the higher plane of phenomenological investigation of the essential inner structures of religion’. It was Husserl who laid the basic philosophical background to phenomenology in his Science of Pure Consciousness. Two of his principles dominate phenomenology. One is Epoche i.e., ‘bracketing, or suspension of judgment regarding the phenomenal object’. The second is, eidetic vision, i.e., ‘the intuitive, undistorting grasp of the ‘essence’ of the object’. As a summary Eric J. Lott says that “In any case the basic concerns of phenomenology, i.e., epoche and Einfuhlung (empathy) in particular, have been accepted in religious studies generally, certainly in comparative religion.”
2.4.3 Task of Phenomenology
One of the major task of phenomenologists is to ‘describe the essence of the phenomenon, and not to “locate” it. “In other words he is seeking the meaning or essence rather than cause or truth.” He also has to describe the meaning of common themes among religions, regardless of their historical tradition or geographic location’. J. G. Arapura explains the necessity of taking symboly seriously by the phenomenologists. They have to interpret the symbols in a way that enhances the self knowledge of human beings. “It has been seen that every serious phenomenologist of religions takes a deep interest in the symbol, though differences in interpretation prevail.”
In their task of describing, the phenomenologist employ a method called reduction or bracketing out. This they do in order to find out the real meaning of the phenomena. “The phenomenologists grasps meaning through intuition.” Some phenomenologists, viewed phenomenology as a method of organizing or classifying the data. Their method can be called as empirical phenomenology. In the words of Ursula King “The early phenomenology of religion was thus a discipline of classification used by many different scholars.” The fundamentals for the phenomenological perspective are the two principles of Husserl i.e., epoche and eidetic vision. The richest material for the phenomenology of religion is supplied by religious acts, cults and customs’. “At all events, the phenomenology of religion must begin with the consideration of the different objects of belief and of worship.”
The positive aspect of phenomenology is that it maintain objectivity. It also insists upon ‘value-free, detached investigation’. The greatest impact of phenomenology as highlighted by J. G. Arapura was that “The truly revolutionary aspect of the phenomenological investigation of religion is that through it there has implicitly taken place a shift from all other realms of reality to the realm of consciousness as the primary focul point in the quest for religious essence.”
Apart from the empirical phenomenology there is historical phenomenology. “Religious phenomena are here systematically studied in their historical context as well as in their structural connections.” The earlier phenomenologist were busy with structures and pattern. But the modern phenomenologists, study the structures and their connection in their specific historical context.
There are other phenomenologists who propose a neo new style phenomenology. It …“is moving from the search for timeless essences to a search for meaning inside time”. It is not just what it means, but what it means to others. that is the intention of the phenomena. The emphasis of the new style phenomenology is then internationality. It is explained as “This primordial unity of subject and object, thinker and thought about, is characteristic of phenomenology.” The point is that there must be an intention between subject and object, and thinker and thought about. Thus the aim of the new style phenomenological perspective is to trace the intention of the religious phenomena.
2.4.5 Rudolf Otto (1869-1937, Germany)
The sub title given to his work The Idea of the Holy was ‘An inquiry into the non-rational factor in the idea of the divine and its relation to the rational’. This is the crux of Otto’s thesis. For him “An object that can thus be thought conceptually may be termed rational.” The opposite of what is said above is the subject matter of Otto’s investigation. About the non-rational he says “It will be our endeavour to suggest this unnamed something to the reader as far as we may, so that he may himself feel it.” To explain the non-rational Otto has used a Latin word, numinous. “The numinous is thus felt as objective and outside the self.”
The nature of the numinous is explained as “Mysterium tremendum”, i.e., “Its nature is such that it grips or stirs the human mind with this and that determinate affective state.” It is mysterium. “Conceptually mysterium denotes merely that which is hidden and esoteric, which is beyond conception or understanding, extraordinary and unfamiliar.” Tremendum is the positive aspect of it. It is not fear in the strict sense. This positive can be experienced only in feeling. It is this feeling which emerging in the mind of primeval man, forms the starting-point for the entire religious development in history.”
Apart from ‘mysterium tremendum’, the numinous is fascination. The combination of these two are responsible for the development of religions. “These two qualities, the daunting and the fascinating, now combine in a strange harmony of contrasts, and the resultant dual character of the numinous consciousness, to which the entire religious development bears witness… The relation between the rational and the non-rational constitute the final meaning of the “Holy”.
For Eric J. Lott, the numinous, an awe inspiring yet fascinating otherness, is the essence of religion according to Otto. This aspect is in human beings. “Religion, he argued, has its own autonomous existence as a phenomenon in human experience.” In the words of J. G. Arapura, “Otto’s theory is that reason and its limits likewise being set aside, reality manifests itself in consciousness by means of a peculiar means of apprehension called by the name of the numinous sense.” He goes further and comment on Otto’s theory saying “His theory is the best we have of an empirically grounded and philosophically articulated analysis of the non-rational in religion.”
To explain Otto further, “In modern times it is Otto who squarely rests his philosophy of religion on the distinction between the rational and the non-rational.” To sum it up “Mysterium tremendum et fascinans, these three words give in a nutshell Otto’s insight into the non-rational element in our religious consciousness.”
In spite of the greatness of Otto’s theory, he was not left without any criticism. A criticism that looks into the narrow aspect of Otto’s theory is that “Instead of studying the ideas of God and religion Otto undertook to analyze the modalities of the religious experience.” Another, similar, but different in tone, criticism is that “Otto is possibly obsessed by the idea of keeping the numinous absolutely free from other human activities except religious.”
There are another two criticisms. One is by Radin. It looks little negative. For him the “awesome” feelings described by Otto is the result of ‘economic and psychic insecurity’. Otto did not grasp it because of his theological and mystical background. A harsh, but positive comment is that Otto’s Idea of the Holy is basically a theological work or an inquiry into the psychology of religion rather than a work in the history of religions.”
2.4.6 Nothan Soderblom (1866-1931, Swedish theologian and historian of religions)
His major contribution for the phenomenological perspective of religious study is the idea of “Holiness”. He was of the opinion that there may be religions even without God, but none, without the distinction between the holy and the profane. “Religious experience marked by the presence of Holiness, was for him the heart of religion and hence the central object of its study.” His disciple Friedrich Heiler (1892-1967, Germany) asserted that all religions are directed toward the Holy. For him prayer is an important aspect religion. It is a proof for the universal revelation of God. “Accordingly, there can be no doubt at all that prayer is the heart and center of all religion.” Such universality is found in Soderblom as well “Throughout his work he stressed the common religious search and striving of mankind.” Stressing this common core or focus will have greater validity for the understanding of religion from a pluralistic point of view. In fact, this is what the scientific study of religion should strive for.
2.4.7 Gerardus Van der Leeuw (1890-1950, Holland)
He stressed the importance of historical and exegetical studies for the phenomenological understanding of religions. For him “Phenomenology seeks the phenomenon, as such, the phenomenon, again is what appears.” This is explained in his Religion in essence and manifestation as “This principle has a threefold implication:
1. Something exists, 2. This something appears, 3. Precisely because it ‘appears’ it is a ‘phenomenology’. When someone tries to explain what appears, then phenomenology arises. Thus phenomenology is the systematic discussion of what appears. He focused on a wholly other “power” as the object of religious experience – equivalent to Soderbloms “Holiness” and Otto’s “the Holy” manifested in various types of objective forms and subjective responses”. For Leeuw, the experience of power varies from people to people. The original experience of the power is more important than the reflection upon it. Finding the original experience of the power is the key aspect of religious study. In praise of Leeuw, Eric J. Lott says that “It was the Dutch scholar Gerardus Van der Leeuw who gave what has come to be seen as classical expression to the phenomenological stance in attempting to investigate religion.”
However, Leeuw was criticized for relaxing his original insistence upon philology and history and devoting his effort to the ‘discernment and presentation of timeless types, structures, and essences. Above all “He propounded and intuitive method for arriving at his types and structures, and far removed from the empirical procedures practiced by modern science and scholarship.”
Another phenomenologist by name Joachim Wach (1898-1955) was interested on the understanding of the practice and beliefs of all other cultures and religions. To do so he insisted upon the necessity of some personal religious predisposition in the inquirer, apart from scholarly procedures.
There is a dissatisfaction prevailing about the phenomenologists discussed above. That is, “what is clear is that in the work of Wach and his predecessors there had been a movement from purely historical considerations of the various religions to a concentration on the structures of religious experience.” This shift is a reasonable one. in today’s context, the study of religion should move further to investigate the role of religion in the lives of individuals. Because, unless religion contributes to the enhancement of life, it has no other role to play.
2.4.8 Mircea Eliade
He was a phenomenologist more concerned with historical development of religions. His concentration was on the ‘archaic expressions of religious experience’. “He saw these expressions as archetypal responses to the presence of the sacred in this worldly objects and in events that are regularly repeated within a time frame that is cyclic rather than sequential.” His ideas can be understood form his classic The Sacred and the Profane. Here he discussed that “Man becomes aware of the sacred because it manifests itself, shows itself, as something wholly different from the profane.” With regard to the origin and development or religion he said, “It could be said that the history of religions – from the most primitive to the most highly developed – is constituted by a great number of hierophanies, by manifestations of sacred realities.” For him sacred and profane are two modes of being in the world, rather, ‘two existential situations assumed by man in the course of his history’. The same experience of heirophanies have been variously systematized by religious men, in the course of history. Eliade deserves appreciation for solving the problem of repetition of rites and rituals.
The view of Eliade are found confirmed by Jay J. Kim that “IN THE BROADEST SENSE, the chronicle of man’s religions is composed of hierophanies – the manifestations of the sacred in whatever forms, at all times, and in all places… whether it be a hierophany in a stone or in a person as in the case with Jesus Christ, the same dialectic of the sacred must be operative.” Of course Eliade’s view is more close to what may be called a kind of revelation.
2.5 PSYCHOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE
Psychology, in short, is the science of mind. When it is used for the scientific study of religions it has different connotation. According to Eric J. Lott, “In this case the area of investigation will be primarily the mental states, motivations and attitudes found in religious contexts.” In other words, psychology of religion investigates the psyche rather than religion as such. A little more scope is added to it by Erich Fromm. For him, “Analysis of religion must not stop at uncovering those psychological processes within man which underlay his religious experience; it must proceed to discover the conditions which make for the development of authoritarian and humanistic character structures, respectively, from which different kinds of religious experience stem.” It is broad enough, yet it should not be considered that only two types of religion, as found above, exist.
At least, there are two tasks for the psychology of religion. The first cone is that “The psychology of religion looks within human experience to understand what religion means to persons.” It is more individualistic in nature. The next task for the psychologist of religion is that it must explore man’s inner consciousness and never slacken in his search for scientific means of doing so.”
In order to carry out this task the psychology of religion has applied a few method. “From the beginning, the psychology of religion has been said to have two fundamental method: the observation of religious individuals and the study of traditional content from the history of religion.” The same method is more conveniently described by L. W. Grensted as “The methods employed by psychologists are those of experiment and observation, with result capable of comparison and statistical analysis, coupled with the reports given through introspection.” Generally the psychological approach starts from individual contrary to the other approaches which begin from group, tribe or community. In order to substantiate its findings “Psychology of religion goes to primitive cults and historical faiths to secure data for its study.”
Further, psychological approach to the study of religions considers rituals seriously. Because observation on them reveals new insights for the study of religion. It is said that “compulsive neurotic patients exhibits numerous forms of private ritual.”
To understand a particular religious behavior, it is important to investigate its motive. Because “Religious behavior springs from conscious and unconscious motivation.” The psychology which attempt to study such motive is called dynamic psychology. Descriptive psychology aims at understanding religious experience. It also tries to explain the connections existing between various structures.
One has to be cautious that psychological perspective is only one way of understanding the complex religious phenomenon. In the words of Paul E. Johnson, “Religious emotions, sentiments, and dispositions are complex. No single feeling or meaning characterizes all varieties of religious experience.” This sense of limitation and an openness to accept varieties of religious experience add strength to the glory of science of religion.
2.5.1 William James (1842-1910, America)
“The most famous early attempt at a psychological account of ‘Religious sentiments’ was William James’ Varieties of Religious Experience. It is because of this work, the psychology of religion, gained momentum, during the early of the twentieth century. “He viewed religious experience as involving intense human emotions and feelings directed toward some unseen order, reality, power “Out there” to which the personal stance is adjustment and surrender.” Perhaps his description of religious experience is the result of a pre-conceived idea of God. However, his exaltation of the religious experience is remarkable. It says “The essence of religious experiences the thing by which we finally must judge them, must be that element or quality in them which we meet nowhere else.”
For James, ‘a man’s religion involves both moods of contraction and moods of expansion of his being’. In other words, it is, sorrow and happiness. In order to explain the matter further, he divides the psyche (soul) into two types. One is healthy soul and the other is sick soul. Healthy soul is optimistic and the sick soul is pessimistic. In his own wards “The completest religions would therefore seem to be those in which the pessimistic elements are best developed.”
Evaluating the view of James, on religious experience and religion, Waardenburg contends that, his reference to unconscious has some relation to deeper layers of reality. Further, “He interpreted his cases apart from their socio-cultural context and hardly went into religious history or anthropology.” It is true that James’ theory alludes to a form of fundamental reality. This is what made him to coin the title of his work as “Varieties of religious experience.” Yet, the very title acknowledges the firm commitment that a student of religion is excepted to exhibit.
2.5.2 SIGMUND FREUD (1856-1939)
He was the founder of Depth psychology. He discovered the existence of the personal unconscious. “Freud discovered the existence of an unconscious realm in man, related to his personal history, and he was able to analyse the major force within this realm and their influence on consciousness.” “In Freud’s thinking the unconscious is essentially that in us which is bad, the repressed, that which is incompatible with the demands of our culture and of our higher self’. He held that what is repressed can be brought into consciousness despite the resistance of the unconscious. According to Hans Kung. “His main insight was that all psychical activity is at first unconscious.”
For Freud, religion is the projection of infantile dependencies upon imagined superhuman beings. The expressions of this dependencies, he called, collective neurosis. He also found that, there were many non-religious motivations, behind all religions aspirations. He infantile dependencies, or the obsessional childhood neurosis, Freud called, the “Oedupus complex.” According to him ‘the Oedipus complex is the core of every neurosis.” That is why, he said religion is illusion. The process of detecting this neurosis is called psychoanalysis. For this Freud chose to interpret dream. Dreams for him, are the out come of the suppressed feelings, may be of childhood.
Regarding the Oedipus complex, Mc Cutchen remarks that “By contrast, I am suggesting a different intention: Insofar as the father’s influence actually has been complex and not simply authoritarian in our own times, our contemporary mythology, our stories of encouragement, taken seriously may reflect this more complicated image.” The theory of Freud is too atheistic in content.
2.5.3 Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961, Switzerland)
His psychological method was called ‘Analytical Psychology’ in contrast to the psychoanalysis of Freud. For Jung, the psyche consists of two parts: Consciousness and the unconscious. “The unconscious is older than the consciousness.” Again he made a distinction between personal unconscious and collective unconscious. The earlier is explained by Freud. For Jung, there is a collective unconscious, which is responsible for the religious behavior. The difference between personal and collective unconscious is that “It contrast to the personal unconscious, which is an accumulation of contents that have been repressed during the life of the individual and is continuously being refined with new materials, the collective unconscious consists entirely of elements characteristic of the human species.” The elements of the collective unconscious is called ‘Archetypes’.
The archetypes are common to all human beings. From the collective unconscious, the archetypes come into the regular course of life. This is religion. It looks like, as if Jung is suggesting that there is some thing peculiar in humanity. The bursting out of that something is responsible for the religious behavior of human being.
ISSUES IN THE STUDY OF RELIGION
The scientific study of religion confronts variety of issues as it sails through time. These issues will be outlined in this section. For the sake of convenience first, the issues faced by Max Muller’s perspective, Anthropological perspective, sociological perspective, historical perspective, phenomenological perspective, sociological perspective, historical perspective, phenomenological perspective and psychological perspective can be highlighted. Following which, the general issues that call for the attention of every scholar of religion may be listed. They are, definition of religion, who should study religion, nature of data for the study of religion, whether value free judgment of data is possible, issues related to the use of language, specific problems in studying living religions, response threshold, observable and non-observable aspects of religion, hermeneutic and option for a plurality of perspective.
Max Muller used his philological skills for the scientific study of religion. The method adopted to use these skills in the study of religion was comparative – historical. His main thrust was that, as there are commonness between languages, there must be common elements in religions. He further argued that the manifestation of infinite is found diversely among all people. He assumed that the common elements among religions could be traced through comparative method and this in turn would enable to trace the history of the origin of religions. His view was not accepted by the later scholars. The real issue is that tracing the origin of religions is not a simple task. Further Muller’s aim was to establish an independent discipline for the scientific study of religion. He, therefore, did not foresee the other difficulties which are confronted by the modern scholars. One fact needs to be stressed is that, Muller was open to accept the significant value of data supplied by other branches of learning for the science of religion.
3.2 ANTHROPOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE
The issues faced by Anthropological perspective to the study of religion exhibits further difficulties of studying religions. One of the issues often highlighted is that, the anthropologists mostly depended on empirical knowledge. They did not penetrate into the real religious realm which is beyond the empirical phenomena.
Another issue raised against the anthropological perspective is that, many anthropologists have approached primitive religions with hidden motives, like missionaries. Further most of the anthropological studies were concentrated on the primitive religions. They failed to examine the challenges facing the living religions.
A major issue, this perspective has to face is, over generalization. The anthropologists, having studied one or few primitive religions assert that their theory alone can be the right one to trace the origin of religions. Other issue related to this is that, it has to be accepted that one or few anthropologist cannot study the entire primitive religious practices. Even though most of the primitive religious data are in oral form, the anthropologist is handicapped with language, at least at the stage of interpretation.
3.3 SOCIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE
Sociological have explained religion as a social phenomenon. They see religion as a social necessity. The real issue in the study of religion from sociological perspective is whether religion is responsible for the social institutions or the social structure is responsible for the emergence of religion. In other words, whether religion influences society or society influences religion. The reason is that, many religious experiences of individuals cannot be explained away by sociological criteria alone. Many sociologists perceive some form of supernatural influence upon the religious behavior of people. This paradox demands deeper insight from the sociologists of religion.
3.4 HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE
Historical perspective is committed to trace the historical development of religion starting from its beginning. The issue is whether the historian of religion will be able to use the abundance of available data to trace back the origin of religion. Indeed, it is too hard to perceive the past with the present data. It will be influenced by the values and personal experiences of the particular scholars concerned. Hence the historical perspective should explore the possibilities of presenting objective facts which are not hampered with other personal influences.
3.5 PHENOMENOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE
Anthropologists and sociologists accuse phenomenologist of their over dependence on the religious experience of the people. The phenomenologists on the contrary accuse other s of not being able to go beyond empirical verifications. The phenomenologists are busy in finding out various structures, to find out their similarity or differences from others. It involves removing of certain phenomena from the original setting. The enthusiasm of the phenomenologist is to find out the essence of religion. This is a crucial issue. Because what seems to be the essence of religion may not find similar status in other religions. Further as pointed above, shifting religious categories from their original context can lead the scholar to perceive meanings different from what was really intended.
3.6 PSYCHOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE
The psychologists treat religion as a purely human affair. They have interpreted religion as a mental process or psyche. In contrast to the priority for collective life of sociologists, psychologists draw their attention to individual cases. Studying a few individual cases, they conclude that, this psychic experience is common to humanity. And this common human nature is responsible for the religious behavior of people. The issue is that the simple to complex generalization has its own limitations. Further the psychologists of religion have not taken heed of any force other than human being to be the cause of the religious behavior of people. It requires serious attention because this is what constitute the crux of religious sentiment.
The General Issues
The issues faced by the traditional perspectives on the study of religion are highlighted above. Now there are common issues which cannot but capture the attention of every scholar of religion. They can be pointed out here below.
3.7 DEFINITION OF RELIGION
The major issue confronting the study of religion is the definition of the term ‘religion’. No scholar was disinterested on proposing some form of definition. Definition abound. Interestingly, no two scholar agree on any specific definition. Thus the question is whether religion has to be defined or not before attempting to study it. The drawback in defining religion before investigation is that an inadequate definition of religion can affect the scholar in examining all the available data. Secondly the very word ‘religion’ has become bone of contention.
“Philological investigation of the use of the word has revealed some interesting aspects of Roman religiosity, which was characterized by a scrupulous attention to all signs or manifestations of invisible powers or forces.” Further studies about religion have proved that there are religions even without any supernatural element. thus an open-ended perspective for the definition will be of greater significance for the scientific study of religion.
3.8 WHO SHOULD STUDY RELIGION?
The interest for the scientific study of religion is predominantly a Western phenomenon. Most of the scholars pursued their studies out of their sheer missionary interests. Of course, now it is no longer the monopoly of the West. Scholarship in the field of religion is not lacking in any continent. Yet the issue is whether the insider or the outsider should study religion. Henry H. Presler says
In short, it seems to me that it is not the insider nor the outsider upon whom we must depend for our information about any particular religion. We should depend rather on a man who resolutely espouses one religion or another, and who has made the study of the other religions not only through a course of reading, but a matter of at least vicarious personal experience.
It should also be remembered that there are advantages and disadvantages of studying religion either by the insider or the outsider.
3.9 NATURE OF DATA
When Max Muller began his explorations in the field of religion, he was seeking and calling for more materials for the scientific study of religion. Now after more than a century, the scholar of religion is over burdened with enormous amount of data. It is because of the emergence of various disciplines and their commitment of study religions from their own perspective. Another reason for the mass of material is the rapid growth of science and communication. Every finding is at the door step of scholars. Thus the question is whether any individual scholar will be able to handle and classify all the data or only one aspect of the data should be focused. It is suggested that “depending on the limits set by the individual investigator, the study of religion may concentrate on a single function or aspect of religion to the exclusion.”
3.10 JUDGMENT OF VALUE
The chronic fear about the value free judgment of religious data is another issue confronting the study of religion. In any study of religion, the experience and influence of the scholar play crucial role. It seems to be beyond probability to achieve pure value free objectivity, in the study of religion. “The student may achieve technical competence in respect of religious symbol-systems, but on the hermeneutical level the value-free approach is simply unattainable.” In the context of religious pluralism too, value plays important role. In the pluralistic perspective there is immense stress to respect the value of each and every religion. Thus the study of value judgment needs much attention. A religiously pluralist country like India is devolved to honour the views of scholars who are committed to their own religion, but treat other religions with same dignity and good will. Therefore a student of religion has to exhibit a more balanced attitude.
The earlier scholars have left with us several terminologies. These terminologies are great asset for the student of religion. The scholar should not fail to remember that, all religious language, symbol, practice ect. are found meaningful only in their proper context. When a primitive concept is explained in the modern language, whether the real content and implications are carried through is question that matters religious studies. Because each term has its own meaning for the specific context. To mention one example is that, the word God means different things to different people. In order to avoid this difficulty, textual study of the religious traditions are encouraged. But how far a scholar is equipped in the particular language is a matter of concern.
If it is said “when we study another religion we have to become familiar with its language.” It also needs to be said that “Where primal religions are concerned, there are in general no written texts to be studied, and the emphasis must lie elsewhere, in the function and transmission of sacred tradition as a whole.” Even in the case of unwritten sources, the scholar will have the problem of describing the phenomena of religion. Unless apt language is not applied, the reader may be misled.\
3.12 LIVING RELIGIONS
All traditional scholars were concerned with primitive or archaic religions. But today scholars show greater interest in the living religions. “It is perhaps here that the possibility of a new break through is most likely to occur in future studies.” Primitive religions did not possess documentary evidences to prove their origin, development, faith, practice etc. But living religions abound with such details. Hence the study of living religion requires new ventures. Here the problem is not data or origin, but how different religions interact and exist side by side in harmony by addressing to current issues. “The ‘one world’ in which we live, with its close communications, makes nonsense of religious isolation.” The issue is further highlighted by Ursula King as “During the nineteenth century, scholars were fascinated by the question of the origin and evolution of religion, now largely abandoned, whereas twentieth century studies have been dominated by questions about the nature and essence of religion and, more recently, its meaning and function in society.”
3.13 RESPONSE THRESHOLD
While studying the living religions the scholar is confronted with new issues. One such issue is called response threshold. To define it “The response threshold implies the right of the present day devotee to advance a distinctive interpretation of his or her own tradition. Often at variance with that of Western scholarship – and to be taken entirely seriously in so doing.” It was not an issue in the classical study of religions. They studied the religion of past. Only specialist could challenge their findings. But now, it is entirely different. In the words of Michael Pye “After all, unless one has an understanding of what a religion means to its participants one cannot really be said to understand it fully.”
3.14 OBSERVABLE AND NON-OBSERVABLE
The academic study of religion, now, is generally concerned with observable data “And the observable includes historical knowledge of the rituals, mythologies, religious communities, ideas, teachings, institutions, arts, architecture.” But religion is not limited to these observable factors alone. Beyond the observable there is an non-observable. This is what really gives life to religion. Any religious study should take this non-observable into serious consideration. “It is the failure to recognize the difference between the observable and the non-observable, confusing one with the other or by denying one in behalf of the other, that confounds our understanding of religion.” Of course this is related to the element of Truth. It is a complicated matter yet “Discovering the character of this transcendent focus comprises an important part of the study of a religion.” It should be admitted that this transcendental focus cannot be discovered. Yet the Focus, whatever name assigned, is part and parcel of every religion. Investigating its influence on the realm of religion is truly complicated issue.
Another important issue the science of religion has to face is to derive at an appropriate. Hermeneutical principle. It is, because of the increasing amount of data being gathered by various branches of studies connected with religion. Further, the multi religious context definitely is in need of a relevant Hermeneutical principle. In the words of Ursula King, “Without some kind of hermeneutic, some theory of understanding and interpretation, it is impossible to systematically order and account for the variety of religious data.” Unless a relevant hermeneutic is used to interpret the religious phenomena which is influencing human life at all levels, the study of religion will not be in a position to experience its implications.
3.16 PLURALITY OF PERSPECTIVES
In the incipient stage the vision of the founding fathers of the science of religion was establishing an autonomous discipline for the study of religion. It was because, they wanted to free religious study from the clutches of theology and philosophy. Indeed, they were successful. As the interest for the scientific study of religion increased, many allied disciplines began to study religions from their own perspectives. They have contributed very useful and meaningful materials for the study of religions. They cannot be ignored at any rate. Now, there are scholars who would prefer to call the study of religion as an area rather than a discipline. The pertinent issue is whether religious study could be ventured using single perspective or multi-perspectives. The founders of the discipline would have hesitated to opt for a multi-perspectives. Of course, they never unwelcome the data from other disciplines. But things are different with the present scholars.
The present scholars of religion do not have a second thought to accept a proposal for a multi-perspectival approach to the study of religion. In the words of K. P. Aleaz “Majority of present day scholars are convinced about the multi-methodic nature of the study of religion.”
Eric J. Lott contends that, ‘The science of religion is a poly-methodic discipline, for religion is a polymorphous subject’. He also indicates that all perspectives need not be credited evenly. Because according to the subject and context the priority for the perspective would change. Further, considering the complex nature of religious phenomena, he says “such rich diversity calls necessarily for investigation from a variety of approaches”.
Even if multi-perspectival approach for the study of religion is agreed upon, the choice for the relevant perspective looms large. The reason is that a wrong choice of perspective or method would yield to the squabbling of valuable religious data.
Ninian Smart goes little further and suggests for a combination of three perspectives: “Actually there seems no intrinsic reason why the history of religions and the sociology and anthropology of religion should not be treated as a single investigatory enterprise.” It is evident that compartmentalization of learning is good for the development of knowledge only if the accumulated knowledge is to be capitalized meaningfully, an integral approach is unavoidable. This is the order of the day. In fact all studies are aimed at the supreme at the supreme goal of ‘Life’. Hence anything that contributes to the realm of ‘Life’ cannot be left out from the modern perspectives of Science of Religion.
IMPLICATIONS FOR THE INDIAN CONTEXT
Inspite of the many outstanding issues faced by the scientific study of religion, it offers many valuable insights which are relevant for the Indian context. A review of such insights can widen the horizon of religious understanding among people, particularly in India. Some such insights are discussed in this section.
4.1 COMMON RELIGIOUS NATURE
The scientific study of religion have proved that religion is not the birth right of a few people. it is common to all human being. No human being ever lived without some form of religion for Max Muller, “We learn that no human soul was ever quite forgotten and that there are no clouds of superstition through which the rays of eternal truth cannot pierce.” No ethnologist, nor anthropologist could find any human race or culture without the trace of religion. Similarly the sociologist of religion found the influence of either society on religion or religion on society, in all parts of the world. The phenomenologists have confirmed that some form of sacred focus is found in the religiosity of the primitives. The psychologists termed the religious behaviors as mental attitude and found it common to whole humanity.
India being a pluralistic country-religion, culture, language etc. should take this common religious nature of humanity seriously. Any slackness in this regard, particularly in the religious realm would cause unwanted tension among the religious communities. This is a telling lesson that every Indian religionist learn from the scientific study of religions. This particular lesson could encourage people to live harmoniously. It would enhance unity and equality among the members of different faiths.
4.2 FREE SHARING AMONG RELIGIONS
According to Dr. S. Radhakrishnan the Scientific study of religion help furthering ‘free sharing among religions which no longer stand in uncontaminated isolation’. This is true. Earlier the Europeans considered that Christianity alone was the true religion. All other religions were inferior in nature. The famous theologian Karl Barth said, Christianity alone is revelation and all other faiths are religions. For him religions are human attempt to capture God. Hendric Kranmar followed the same dictum. Thanks to the effort of scholars who have contributed to the free sharing among religions. Today, particularly in India, if any one wanted to practice religion in isolation without relating his/her religion to the other religions, he or she will find humiliated. This humiliation can arise just by observing the day to day life of every individual. For the Indian multi-religious context this free sharing among religious communities is like a boon from the scientific study of religions.
4.3 EQUALITY OF RELIGIONS
Dr. S. Radhakrishnan in his lecture on comparative religion states that “Comparative Religion postulates that all our faiths have some value.” For him the purpose of the scientific study of religion is not to demonstrate that a particular religion is superior to all other. He also remarks that the scientific study of religion has made ‘untenable the distinction between religion of true and false’. His seeming reaction to the finality claims of western missionaries is quite obvious. “Any religion which claims finality and absoluteness desires to impose its own opinions on the rest of the world, and to civilize other people after its own standards”. Equality of religions is clearly stated by Max Muller as
I wish we could explore together in this spirit the ancient religions of mankind, for one feel convinced that the more we know of them, the more we shall see that there is not one which entirely false; nay, that in one sense every religion was a true religion, being the only religion which was possible at the time, which was compatible with the language, the thought, and the sentiments of each generation, which was appropriate to the age of the world.
Muller says further that, men are not able to find the oneness, because each religion is conditioned and controlled by the context in which it exists. “The reason why people will not see the identify of a truth as enunciated in different religion, is generally the strangeness of the grab in which it is clothed.” A country like India which shelters various religions should not fail to gladly accept and follow this principle of equality of religions. This can help harmony among all genuine religious people, irrespective of the religion adhered. The above mentioned contributions of the science of religion have greater relevance to India and to the world at large, from inter-religious understanding point of view.
4.4 RELIGIOUS STUDY IN INDIA
Eric J. Lott raised a question that “There is no good reason why we should expect the study of religion in India to proceed in exactly the same way as it is found in the West.” It is genuine question, from India’s point of view. India has a peculiar pluralistic paradigm, particularly in the realm of religion. She has all the major living religions of the world. It is apt to quote Dr. Radhakrishnan to feel the significance of this aspect. he writes that “Among living religions still further, there is non which has a Western origin.” No doubt, these religions have existed harmoniously. Nevertheless, frequently exploding communal conflicts require greater contribution from the systematic study of religion. The real nature of each religions, and why they look differently needs to be brought home to everyone. Studies to this effect has started already. Frank Whaling writes that “Advance in knowledge and understanding have emerged no merely from western studies of and contact with other religious traditions, but also from the work of scholars of other traditions who have studied there own culture and reflected upon their contact with the west.” Dr. Radhakrishnan makes a clear distinction between the Eastern and Western contexts. He says “In the history of human culture Asia and Europe represent two complementary sides; Asia the spiritual and Europe the intellectual.” The western way of learning is critical and the eastern method of theology ran in an opposite direction.”
It was already stated that, there had been various attempts to define religion. None of the definition was complete and all comprehensive. It may not be exaggerating to say that there is no better definition for religion than that is common in India. In India religion is defined as a way of life. Taking it to Hinduism. “Hinduism is more a way of life than a form of thought.” This can be substantiated from the knowledge made available by the science of religion. Man always had to face life. This he did by confronting it or surrounding to it. These patterns probably took the form of magic and religion. The process of repeating this peculiar aspect of life later came to be called ritual. Man always wanted to be free from any pain on hardship. This is inherent in saying that religion is a way of life. Religion is thus man’s constant attempt to face life in manifold forms.
Further, in the Indian context there was never an attempt to separate religion from life. Every phenomenaon in life was viewed from religious perspective. That is why it is said “Religion should not be confused with fixed intellectual conceptions, which are all mind-made.” This is profound in stressing on self-realization, or religious experience in India. Even the many religions were considered as different roads leading to the same goal or different branches of a same tree. This is the specific Indian background that needs serious consideration while developing a right perspective to study religions in India.
4.5 COMMON CONCERNS
The ever growing advancement in the realm of knowledge reveals that “The growth of world population, the spread of nuclear weapons, increasing pollution, the problem of world poverty, and the diminishing of non-renewable energy resources affect the whole planet.” Although Indian context is specific and demands a dynamic perspective to study religion, the new method should be able to relate itself to the wider global context.
It is obvious, that, problems that affect, any part of the world would have its impact all over the world. The problems stated above is not the problem of one nation, race or religion. They should be the concern of all. As religion holds key to the human decisions, developing of any new perspective should take in to account the wider context in which India is located.
Calling attention to the demands need for a profound change in many ways of life, Dr. Radhakrishnan says “Regard for spiritual values, love of truth and beauty, righteousness, justice and mercy, sympathy with the oppressed and belief in the brotherhood of man, are the qualities which will save modern civilization.” The modern scholars of religion affirm that only by addressing to these common concerns, religions can develop mutual co-operation. The specific multi-religious context demands such a co-operation. Thus any religious study in India should view these concerns benevolently.
4.6 UNITY OF RELIGION
The scientific study of religion exposed another great insight called “Unity of Religion”. Unity of religion does not mean the amalgamation of many religions. It means essentially religion is one and the same for all. “The unity of religion in the variety of its forms is what is presupposed by the science of religion.” This insight is of immense help to the specific pluralistic Indian context, similar idea is expressed by Gustav Mensching as “We must, therefore recognize that a religious unity need not be produced in one way or the other, but that there exists already a unity of which men must only become conscious.” This contribution of the scientific study of religion is appraised by Dr. S. Radhakrishnan that “For any religious internationalism, a study of comparative religion is the indispensable basis.” Taking this point chosen to India, particularly to Hinduism, he further says, “The Hindu never doubted the reality of the one supreme universal spirit, however much the description of it may fall short of its nature.” In this regard, the scientific study of religion will have to do much. It has to being home the idea that religion was one and manifold forms are its existence in diverse cultural contexts. This will be immense help to the Indian context.
4.7 HUMAN CONCERN IN RELIGION
The scholars of religion have enriched the treasure of religious knowledge by declaring that religon is for man and any attempt to study religion is in fact the attempt to study humanity itself. This is what meant when Jesus said man is not for Sabbath. The focus upon life is a significant study of religion. L. W. Grensted says “No conception of religon satisfies the religious man unless it is significant for the whole of life in all its details.” Max Muller goes still far back and traces even human influence in the formation of religion according to their convenience, apart from the one original religions. He says, “To ignore that human element in all religions is like ignoring the eye as the recipient and determinant of the colours of light.” Professor J. G. Arapura sets the goal of scientific study of religion. For him, finding out the integral relation between man and religion is the main goal of science of religion. Without man there is no religion. Apart from essence of man there is no essence of religion.
For all human phenomena the one that should be regarded unquestionable as the out growth of man’s engagement with his own existence, in a problematic manner, is what is known as religion… The problem of religion would become vastly complicated if it were to be discretely separated from the problem of man because it has neither essence nor existence nor any kind of being whatsoever apart from man. Nevertheless, the fact remains that no phenomenon of man is so internal and so integral to him as religion.
Focus upon “Life” should become key to the understanding of religious phenomena in India. This is indirectly said by Dr. S. Radhakrishnan as “When properly studied, Comparative Religion increase our confidence in the University of God and our respect for the human race.” The real struggle for life in India as painfully acknowledge by Swami Vivekananda is mentioned by K. P. Aleaz as “On 20th September, 1893, Swami Vivekananda told the parliament that religion is not the crying need of India because they have religion enough; what is needed is material aid for the impoverished Indians. Of course, this was his reaction against the missionary activity of the Westerners. But the point is clear that, if any attempt to conceptualize a new perspective for the study of religions in India it should focus on life. Unity of religions and concern for life will not be relevant to any other subject matter than to the scientific study of religions from Indian perspective.
4.8 ELEMENTS IN INDIAN PERSPECTIVE
The two fundamental aspects for the scientific study of religions from Indian perspective are “Unity of Religion” and concern for “Life”. Such an approach can address to all chronic issues among the religions of India. The traditional interest of the scholars on the origin of religion will not be of much help in the Indian context. In Indian context, the scholar is faced with living religions. The chief concern of Indian perspective should be bringing together of all religions for a mutual co-existence, without attempting to attack, conquer or to swallow up other religion. The co-operation of religion can really focus on “Life” concerns of humanity. In this venture the field of scientific study of religion will be so helpful.
The other elements are highlighted here. One of the greatest changes that has taken place because of the study of religions is summed up by Wilfred Cantwell Smith as “Perhaps what is happening can be summed up most pithily by saying that the transition has been from the teaching of religion to the study of religion.” In fact, he proposed dialogical perspective for the study of religion. This is a remarkable change. The study of other religions encourage inter religious understanding against the traditional method of finding fault and monopolizing a single religion.
4.9 PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION
In India is no distinction between religion and philosophy. All philosophy are based upon religion. That is why there was a shift in Dr. S. Radhakrishnan’s approach to religion. “He approached religion from the viewpoint of philosophy in contrast to the classical western approaches which had been more inclined to stress anthropology, history, sociology, psychology, or phenomenology.”
Philosophy of religion is a branch of philosophy. Its task is to verify religious data systematically and logically. The purposes of philosophy of religion is described by John Hick as “It seeks to analyze concepts such as God, Holy, Salvation, worship, creation, sacrifice, eternal life, etc., and to determine the nature of religious utterances in comparison with those of everyday life, scientific discovery, morality and the imaginative expressions of the arts.” According to A. R. Mohapatra, “It is an intellectual and logical interpretation of religious experience.”
Eric J. Lott, has pointed out the negative aspect of philosophical approach to religion as “The danger with any philosophical approach to religion is that only the cerebral aspect of religion-doctrine, belief-system, perhaps ethical perspectives-will be given weight.” However the scientific study of religion from Indian perspective will have to face the issue of philosophical verification of its data. Because in India, religions and philosophy go hand in hand.
4.10 RELIGION AND THEOLOGY
Originally the scientific study of religion was a drastic attempt to separate the study of religion from theology. It was, successful, indeed. In all aspects, there are differences between theology and religion. Theology concentrate on matters related to God and faith of a particular tradition. On the other hand the scope of religion is wide and it centers around humanity. Nevertheless, at present there is a growing demand for the interaction between religion and theology. S. Israel says “Of course, there are many perspectives from which religion has been interpreted; but new direction are important for an integral approach, especially creative integration between theology and the study of religion.” Eric J. Lott says that “The prospects for further creative interaction between the theological ‘Science’ and the ‘science of religion’ look promising.”
How, complementarity between religion and theology can be effected, is clearly suggested by S. Israel as “The science of religion can supply wide-ranging data which theology can make use of for its own purification, more profound understanding of human life and effective self-communication.” Although the goals of religious studies and theology are different, the interaction between them are inevitable.
Particularly a country like India requires the close working of religion and theology. Any theologizing in India should account for the plurality of faiths in India. Any theology that fails to account so would be incomplete, inadequate and inappropriate. This is possible only by developing close cooperation between scientific study of religions and theology. Science of religion can supply adequate data for the Indian theologian. Of course, this has to be considered even at the global level.
The scientific study of religions can supply material for the feminist theology in India. The sociologists of religion have investigated adequate data for the development of matriarchy in the process of socio-religious developments. Similarly other forms of feminine aspect of religion can be utilized by theology from the study of religion. This type of materials abound in Indian Religions.
Another current issue the Indian theologians are facing is related to Dalit theology. About the possibilities of utilizing the scientific tools of religion for the development of dalit religion and dignity Abraham Ayrookuzhiel says “If we are serious about the 2000 – million strong dalit community in India regaining their religious status, we should undertake the study of dalit religious heritage both in its folk form and in its historical form. Only am academic community can take up such a task.” It can be said that, in India, there is wide scope for the co-operation or mutual working of between the two disciplines will make theologizing in India more harmonious and more life focused.
Max Muller founded the “Science of Religion”. Its main task is to study religion scientifically. The scientific study of religion concentrated on the origin of religion. For this the comparative and historical perspectives were applied.
The early anthropological theories saw the origin of religion in animism, Animatism, manism, supreme beings magic etc. The anthropologists of religion used rigorous empirical method. The sociologists of religion interpreted religion as social phenomena. The phenomenological perspective found the essence of religion in some ‘sacred focus’. And the psychological perspective has located religion in human psyche.
The science of religion has to tackle some crucial issues. One of them id whether religion should defined at all. Whether the insider or the outsider should study religion is another issue. The ever-growing quantity of data raises serious concern to the scholar of religion. The study of living religions face new issues which were never problem to the scholar of primitive religions. To avoid all seeming hardships in the study of religion a poly-methodic or multi-perspectival approach is the apt perspective.
The scientific study of religion offers valuable insights which are relevant to the specific Indian context. A challenging Indian perspective for the scientific study of religion can be formulated on the basis of these insights. Any relevant perspective for the scientific study of religion should take “Life” as the hermeneutical principle.
The growing communal conflicts in India can be lessened, if religions are studied scientifically and their findings are made known to their adherents. It will be promising to implement the ‘Science of religion’ in the regular college curriculum. The Indian pluralistic context demands that every citizen is aware to the findings of the “Science of Religion”.
Religion and Dialogue
Aleaz, K. P. : Hermonmy of Religions: The Relevance of Swami Vivekanand, Punthi-Pustak, Calcutta, 1993.
Aleaz, K. P.: Dimensions of Indian Religion, Study, Experience and Interaction, Punthi Pustak , Calcutta, 1995.
Anderson, J.N.D.: Christianity and Comparative Religion, Reprinted, Tyndale Press, London, 1972.
Arapura, J.G.: Religions as Anxiety and Tranquility, An Essay in Comparative Phenomenology of the Spirit, Mouton & Co., Netherlands, 1972.
Baird, D. Robert: Category Formation and the History of Religions, Mouton, Netherlands, 1971.
Benson L. Thomas: “Study of Religion”, The Encyclopedia of Religion, Vol.14.
Bettis, Joseph, Dabney, ed.: Phenomenology of Religion, eitht modern Descriptions of the Essence of Religion, SCM Press Ltd., London, 1969.
Bianchi, UGO: The History of Religions, E. J. Brill, Leiden, Netherlands, 1975.
Bouquet, A.C.: Comparative Religion, Seventh Edition Reprinted, Penguin Books, 1973.
Carrier, Herve, S.J.: The Sociology of Religious Belonging, Darton, Longman & Todd, London, 1965.
Clark, Walter, Houston: The Psychology of Religion, An Introduction to Religious Experience and Behavior, Second Printing. The Macmillan Company, New York, 1959.
Daniel, P.S., David C. Scott et al., Religious Traditions of India, Indian Theological library, 1988.
Davies, Brain: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion, New Edition, Oxford University Press, New York, 1993.
Dawson, Christopher: Religion and Culture, Meridian Books, New York, 1958.
Durdheim, Emile: The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, Translated by Joseph Ward Swain, Second edition, George Allen & Unwin Ltd., London, 1976.
Eliade, Mircea: The Sacred and the Profane, The Nature of Religion, Translated from the French by Willard R. Trask, Harcourt, Brace and Company, New York, 1959.
Evans, Stephen, C.: Philosophy of Religion, Thinking About Faith, Inter Varsity Press, USA, 1982.
Fromm, Erich: Psychoanalysis and Religion, Fourth printing, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1952.
Graeve F. De: “Religion”, New Catholic Encyclopedia: Vol.12.
Grensted, L. W.: The Psychology of Religion, Oxford University Press, New York, 1952.
Hall, William, T. ed.: Introduction to the Study of Religion, Harper & Row Publishers, 1978.
Hick, John: Philosophy of Religion, Second education prentice-Hall, Inc., 1973.
Honko, Lauri, ed.: Science of Religion: Studies in Methodology, Proceedings of the Study Conference of the International Association for the History of Religions, held in Turku, Finland, August 27-31, 1973.
Hume, David: The Natural History of Religion, Adam. Charles Black, London, 1956.
Idinopulos, A. Thomas, & Brain C. Wilson, ed.: What is Religion? Origins, Definitions, & Explanations, Brill, 1998.
Jacobi, Jolande: The Psychology of C., G. Jung, 1973 edition, Second Printing Yale University Press, 1974.
James, E. O.: The Beginnings of Religion, Hutchinson’s University Library, London, No date.
James, E. O.: Comparative Religion, First published as University paper back, Methuen & Co. Ltd., London, 1961.
James, William: The Varieties of Religious Experience, Mentor books, New York, 1958.
Jevons, F. B.: Comparative Religion, A Study of Man’s Attitude Towards God in the Religions of the World, Orient Publications, Delhi, 1985.
Johnson, E. Paul: Psychology of Religion, Abingdon-cokesbury Press, New York, No date.
Jung, Carl, Gustav: Psychology and Religion, Third printing, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1961.
Kitagawa, M. Joseph, ed.: The History of Religions Retrospect and Prospect, Macmillian Publishing Company, New York, 1985.
Knudten D. Richard: The Sociology of Religion An Anthology, Meredith Publishing Company, New York, 1967.
Kung, Hans: Freud and the Problem of God, Translated by Edward Quinn, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1979.
Leeuw, Van der, G.: Religion in Essence and Manifestation, Vol. 1, Reprinted, Translated by J. E. Turner, London, 1967.
Lott, Eric J.: Tradition, Interpretation, Theology Religion, and the Study of Religion, Mouton de Gruyter, 1988.
Malony, Newton, H. ed.: Current Perspectives in the Psychology of Religion, William B. Eerdamans Publishing Company, U.S.A. 1977.
Masih, Y.: A Comparative Study of Religions, Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, Reprinted 1993.
Maslow, H. Abraham: Religions, Values and Peak-experiences, Ohio State University Press, Colubus, 1964.
Mensching, Gustav: Structures and Patterns of Religion, Translated by F. Klimkeit and V. Srinivasa Sarma, Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, 1976.
Mohapatra, A. R.: Philosophy of Religion, An Approach to World Religions, Second revised and enlarged edition, Sterling Publishers, Pvt Ltd., New Delhi, 1990.
Morgan , Robert, and Michael Pye: Ernst Troeltsch: Writings on Theology and Religion, Translated and edited, Duckworth, London, 1977.
Muller, F. Max: Anthropological Religion, Second AES Reprint, Asian Educational Services, New Delhi, 1986.
Muller, F. Max: Physical Religion, First Asian Reprint, Asian Educational Services, New Delhi, 1979.
Muller, F. Max: Lectures on the Origin and Growth of Religion, As Illustrated by the Religious of India, Indological Book House, Varanasi (India), 1964.
Muller, F. Max: Theosophy or Psychological Religion, Collected works of F. Max Muller, Asian Educational Services, New Delhi, Reprinted, 1978.
Muller, F. Max: Natural Religion, First Asian Reprint, Asian Educational Services, New Delhi, 1979.
Muller, F. Max: Introduction to the Science of Religion, New Edition, London, 1882.
O’ Dea, F. Thomas: The Sociology of Religion, Prentic-Hall, Inc., 1966.
Otto, Rudolf: The Idea of the Holy, An Inquiry into the Non-Rational Factor in the Idea of the Divine and its Relation to the Rational, Translated by John W. Harvey, Pelican Books, 1959.
Parrinder, Geoffrey: Comparative Religion, George Allen & Unwin Ltd., London, 1962.
Pickering, W.SF.: Durdheim on Religion, A Selection of Readings with Bibliographies, New translations by Jacqueline Redding and W.S.F. Pickering, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1975.
Pye, Michael: Comparative Religion An Introduction Through Source Materials, David and Charles, Newton Abbot, 1972.
Radhakrishnan, S.: The Hindu View of Life, Third Indian Reprint, Blackie & Son Publishers Pvt Ltd., Blackie House, Bombay-400001, 1979.
Radhakrishnan, S.: East and West in Religion, George Allen & Unwin Ltd., London, 1933.
Radhakrishnan, S.: Religion and Society, George Allen & Unwin Ltd., London, 1947.
Robinson, H. Theodore: A Short Comparative History of Religions, Second Edition Gerald Duckworth & Co. Ltd., 1951.
Sarma, Sibnath, ed.: Religious Philosophy of Rudolf Otto, Ajanta Publications, Delhi, 1996.
Schneider, Louis: Sociological Approach to Religion, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1970
Sharpe, J. Eric: Comparative Religion, A History, Duckworth, London, 1975.
Singh, Harbans, ed.: Approaches to the Study of Religion, Guru Gobind Singh Department of Religious Studies, Punjabi University, Patiala, Date not found.
Smart, Ninian: The Science of Religion and the Sociology of Knowledge Some Methodological Questions, Princeton University Press, USA, 1973.
Smart, Ninian: The Phenomenon of Religion, Macmillian, London, 1973.
Swartz, J. Marc and David K. Jordan: Anthropology: Perspective on Humanity, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1976.
Waardenburg, Jacques: Classical Approaches to the Study of Religion Aims, Methods and Theories of Research I, Introduction and Anthology, Mouton, Paris, 1973.
Wach, Joachim: Sociology of Religion, Twelfth Impression, The University of Chicago Press, London, 1971.
Weber Max: The Sociology of Religion, Translated by Ephraim Fishchoff, third printing, Beacon Press, Boston, 1964.
Whaling, Frank, ed.: Contemporary Approaches to the Study of Religion in 2 Volumes, Vol. 1: The Humanities, Mouton Publishers, Berlin, 1984.
Whitehead, Alfred, North: Religion in the Making, The Macmillian Company, New York, 1960.
Wiebe, Donald: Religion and Truth: Towards An Alternative Paradigm for the Study of Religion, Mouton Publishers, The Hague, 1981.
Ayrookuzhiel, Abraham: “A proposal for the study of the Religious heritage of the Dalits: Some methodological considerations”, Religion and Society, Vol.42, No.1, March 1995.
Brockway, R. W.: “A Critique of Max Muller’s Methodology of Mythology”, Journal of Dharma, Vol.11, No.4, October, 1977.
Cutchen, Mc. Leighton: “The Father figure in Psychology and Religion”, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Vol.XL, No.2, June, 1972.
Hodges, L. Daniel: “Breaking a scientific Taboo: Putting Assumptions about the supernatural into scientific theories of Religion”, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Vol.13, No.4, December,1974.
Israel, S.: “An integral approach to the study of religion: Insights from an Indian Christian perspective”, Bangalore Theological Forum, Vol.XIX, No.2, April-June, 1987.
Kim, J. Jay: “Hierophany and History”, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Vol. XL, No.3, September, 1972.
Levine, P. Michael: “Deep structure and the comparative philosophy of religion”, Religious Studies, Vol.28, No.3, September, 1992.
Lott, J. Eric: The Science of Religion in an Indian Theological Context”, Bangalore Theological Forum, Vol.XVII, No.4, Oct-Dec., 1985.
Molendik, L.Arie: “Tiele on Religion”, NVMEN, Vol. XLVI, No.3, 1999.
Pathil, L. Kuncheria: “Scientific Study of Religions: Some Mythological Reflection”, Journal of Dharma, Vol. XXI, No.2, April-June, 1996.
Platvoet, G. Jan: “Close Harmonies: The Science of Religion in Dutch Duplex Ordo Theology, 1860-1960”, NVMEN, Vol. XLV, No.2, 1998.
Presler, H. Henry: “How should we study other religions?”, National Christian Council Review, Vol. LXXXI, No.5, May, 1961.
Smith, Wilfred, Cantwell: “The study of religion and the study of the Bible”, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Vol. XXXIX, No.2, June, 1971.
 Eric J. Sharpe, Comparative Religion, A History Duckworth, 1975, pp.1-26.
 E.A. Livingstone ED., The Concise Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, Oxford University Press, New York, 1977. pp.431-432.
 E. O. James, Comparative Religion, First Published as University Paper back, Methuen & Co. Ltd., London, 1961, p.15.
 Waardenburg, Classical Approaches to the Study of Religion, Aims, Methods and Theories of Research, I: Introduction and Anthology, Mount, Parries, 1973, pp.6,7.
 Ibid., p.21.
 Ibid., p.25.
 E. O. James, Comparative Religion, Op. cit., p.16.
 Ibid., p.16.
 Thomas L. Benson, The Encyclopedia of Religion, vol.14, p.65.
 Christopher Dawson, Religion and Culture, Meridian Books, New York, 1958, p. 9.
 E.O. James Comparative Religion, Op. Cit., p.16.
 Thomas L. Benson, Op. Cit., p.8.
 Waardenburg, Op. Cit., p.8.
 F. Max Muller, Lectures on the Origin and Growth of Religion, as illustrated by the Religions of India, Indological book house, Varanasi (India), 1964, p.56.
 Ibid., p.59
 Ibid., p.66.
 Ibid., p.98.
 Waardenburg, Op. Cit., p.8.
 Ibid., p.8.
 Ibid., p.8.
 Thomas L. Benson, Op. Cit., p.65.
 Waardenburg, Op. Cit., p. 7.
 Ibid., p.9.
 Thomas L. Benson, Op. Cit., p.65.
 Ibid., p.66.
 Waardenburg, Op. Cit., p. 13.
 Kuncheria Pathil, “Scientific Study of Religions : Some Methodological Reflections”, Journal of Dharma, Vol.XXI, No.2, April-June 1996, p. 163.
 Radhakrishnan, East and West in Religion, George Allen & Unwin Ltd., London, 1933, p. 13.
 F. Max Muller, Introduction to the Science of Religion, New Edition, London, 1882, p.209.
 Waardenburg, Op. Cit., p. 98.
 Thomas L. Benson, Op. Cit., p.69.
 Waardenburg, Op. Cit., p. 98.
 Ibid., p.97.
 Ibid., p.100.
 Thomas L. Benson, Op. Cit., p.69.
 Waardenburg, Op. Cit., p.105.
 Ibid., p.105.
 Ibid., p.15.
 R. W. Brockway, “A Critique of Max Muller’s methodology of mythology”. Journal of Dharma, Vol.II, No.4, October 1977, p.368.
 J. G. Arapura, Religion as Anxiety and Tranquility, An Essay in Comparative Phenomenology of the Spirit, Mouton & Co., Netherlands, 1972, p.31.
 Arie L. Molendijk, “Tiele on Religion, Nvmen, Vol. XLVI, No.3, 1999, p.237.
 Thomas L. Benson, Op. Cit., p.69.
 R. W. Brockway, “A Critique of Max Muller’s Methodology”, Op. Cit., p.368.
 Eric J. Sharpe, Comparative Religion, A History, Duckworth, London, 1975, p.40.
 R. W. Brockway, Op. Cit., p.368.
 J. G. Arapura, Op. Cit., p. 29.
 Waardenburg, Op. Cit., p. 85.
 Ibid., p.86.
 F. Max Muller, Natural Religion, First Asian Reprint, Asian Educational Services, New Delhi, 1979, p.385.
 F. Max Muller, Introduction to the Science of Religion, New Edition, London, 1882, p.32.
 Ibid., p.198.
 Waardenburg, Op. Cit., p.85.
 J. G. Arapura, Op. Cit., p.27.
 Thomas L. Benson, Op. Cit., p.69.
 Eric J. Sharpe, Op. Cit., p.43.
 R. W. Brockway, Op. Cit., p.108.
 J. N. D. Anderson, Christianity and Comparative Religion, Reprinted, Tyndale Press, London, 1972, p.7.
 Ibid., p.7.
 Ninian Smart, Phenomenon of Religion, Mac Millan, London, 1973, p.41.
 Max Muller, Natural Religion, Op. Cit., p.350.
 Frank Whaling ed., Contemporary Approaches to the Study of Religion in 2 Volumes, Volume I: The Humanities, Mouton Publishers, Berlin, 1984, p.166.
 Michael Pye, Comparative Religion An Introduction Through Source Materials, David and Charles, Newton Abbot, 1972, p. 8.
 Frank Whaling ed. Vol.I, Op. Cit., p.371.
 F. Max Muller, Natural Religion, Op. Cit., p.13.
 Ursula King, “The debate about the science of religion”, edited by Frank Whaling, Vol.I, Op. Cit., p.131.
 Ibid., p.131.
 Robertmorgan and Michael Pye, Ernst Troeltsch: Writings on Theology and Religion, Translated and edited, Duckworth London, 1977, p.88.
 F. Max Muller, Introduction to the Science of Religion, New Edition, London, 1882, p. 53.
 Robertmorgan and Michael Pye, Ernst Troeltsch: Writings on Theology and Religion, Op. Cit., p.91.
 Waardenburg, Vol. I, Op. Cit., p.513.
 Y. Masih, A Comparative Study of Religions, Motilal Banarsidars, Delhi, reprinted, 1993, p.13.
 Robertmorgan and Michael Pye, Ernst Troeltsch: Writings on Theology and Religion, Op. Cit., p.63.
 Ninian Smart, Religion and Truth: Towards An Alternative Paradigm for the Study of Religion, Mount Publishers, The Hague, 1981, p.148.
 Thomas L. Benson, Op. Cit., p.64.
 Kuncheria Pathil, Op. Cit., p.163.
 Radhakrishnan, East and West in Religion, George Allen & Unwin Ltd., London, 1933, p.16.
 E. O. James, Op. Cit., p.18.
 S. Radhakrishnan, Op. Cit., pp. 15,16.
 Ibid., p.16.
 Ibid., p.16,17.
 F. Max Muller, Introduction to the Science of Religion, Op. Cit., p.8.
 Waardenburg, Op. Cit., p.85.
 F. Max Muller, Natural Religion, Op. Cit., p.141.
 Waardenbugr, Op. Cit., p.88.
 Eric J. Sharpe, Op. Cit., p.44.
 F. Max Muller, Lectures on the Origin and Growth of Religion, Op. Cit., p.21.
 F. Max Muller, Natural Religion, Op. Cit., p.164.
 F. Max Muller, Physical Religion, First Asian Reprint, Asian Educational Services, New Delhi, 1979.
 Marc J. Swartz and David K. Jordan, Anthropology: Perspective on Humanity, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1976, p.2.
 Ibid., p.3.
 Thomas L. Benson, The Encyclopedia of Religion, Vol. 14, p.69.
 E. O. James, Comparative Religion, First Published as University Paper back, Methane & Co. Ltd., London, 1961, p.30.
 Ibid., p.31.
 Marc J. Swartz and David K. Jordan, Op. Cit., p.664.
 Thomas L. Benson, Op. Cit., p.70.
 P. S. Daniel, David C. Scott, et al., Religious Traditions of India, Indian Theological Library, 1988, p.21.
 Waardenburg, Classical Approaches to the Study of Religion, Aims, Methods and Theories of Research, I: Introduction and Anthology, Mouton, Paries, 1973, p. 257.
 E. O. James, Op. Cit., p.39.
 Thomas L. Benson, Op. Cit., p.70.
 Marc J. Swartz and David K. Jordan, Op. Cit., p.663.
 Eric J. Sharpe, Comparative Religion, A History, Duckworth, London, 1975, p.68.
 Thomas. L. Benson, Op. Cit., p.69.
 F. Max Muller, Anthropological Religion, second AES Reprint, Asian Educational Services, New Delhi, 1986, p.127.
 Waardenburg, Op. Cit., p.29.
 E. O. James, Op. Cit., p.37.
 Waardenburg, Op. Cit., p.240.
 Ibid., p.33.
 P. S. Daniel, David C. Scott et al., Op. Cit., p.21.
 Tomas L. Benson, Op. Cit., p.71.
 Thomas F. O’ Dea, The sociology of Religion, Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1966, p.117.
 Michael Hill, “Sociological Approaches” Contemporary Approaches to the Study of Religion in 2 Volumes, edited by Frank Whaling, Volume II, Mouton Publishers, Berlin, 1985, pp. 117, 118.
 W.S.F. Pickering, Durkheim on Religion, A Selection of Reading with Bibliographies, New translations by Jacqueline Reading and W.S.F. Pickering, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1975, p.103.
 Richard. Knudten, The Sociology of Religion an Anthology, Meridith Publishing Company, New York, 1967. p.26.
 Joachim Wach, Sociology of Religion, Twelfth Impression, The University of Chicago Press, London, 1971, p.34.
 Thomas F. O’ Dea, Op. Cit., p.117.
 Herve Carrier S. J., The Sociology of Religious Belonging, Darton, Longman & Todd, London, 1965, p.19.
 Daniel L. Hodges, “Breaking a Scientific Taboo: Putting Assumptions about the supernatural into scientific theories of religion”, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Volume 13, No.4, December, 1974, p.393.
 Thomas F. O’ Dea, Op. Cit., p.33.
 Michael Hill, Op. Cit., p.125.
 Christopher Dawson, Religion and Culture, Meridian Books, New York, 1958, p.50.
 Ibid., p.65.
 Ibid., p.217.
 Thomas, F. O’ Dea, Op. Cit., p.4.
 Ibid., p.13, 14.
 Gunter Kehrer and Bert Hardin, “Sociological Approaches”, Contemporary Approaches to the Study of Religion in 2 Volumes, edited by Fran Whaling, Vol.II. Mouton Publishers, Berlin, 1985, p.173.
 Joachim Wach, Sociology of Religion, Twelfth Impression, The University of Chicago Press, London, 1971, p.3.
 Max Weber, The Sociology of Religion, Translated by Ephraim Fishchoff, third printing, Beacon Press, Boston, 1964, p.1.
 Waardenburg, Op. Cit., p.352.
 Max Weber, Op. Cit., p.1.
 Waardenburg, Op. Cit., p.352.
 Thomas L. Benson, Op. Cit., p.70.
 Ibid., p.301.
 Emile Durkheim, The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, Translated by Joseph Ward Swain, Second Edition, George Allen & Unwin Ltd., London, 1976. p.2.
 Waardenburg, Op. Cit., p.45.
 E. O. James, Op. Cit., p.52.
 K. P. Aleaz, Dimensions of Indian Religion, Study, Experience and Interaction Punthi Pustak, Calcutta, 1995. p.20.
 P. S. Daniel, David C. Scott, et al., Op. Cit., p.17.
 J. G. Arapura, Op. Cit., p.34.
 Thomas L. Benson, Op. Cit., p.64.
 Frank Whaling ed., Vol.1. Op. Cit., p.36.
 F. Max Muller, Natural Religion, Op. Cit., p.88.
 Frank Whaling ed., Vol.1. Op. Cit., p.37.
 UGO Bianchi, The History of Religions, E. J. Brill, Leiden, Netherlands, 1975, p.49.
 Robert D. Baird, Category Formation and the History of Religions, Mouton, Netherlands, 1971, p.49
 F. Max Muller, Physical Religion, Op. Cit., p.7.
 F. Max Muller, Natural Religion, Op. Cit., p.278.
 Frank Whaling ed., Op. Cit., Vol.I, p.37.
 K. P. Aleaz, Op. Cit., p.16.
 Ibid., p.15.
 J. G. Arapura, Op. Cit., p.49.
 Joseph Pabney Bettis, ed., Phenomenology of Religion, Eight Modern Descriptions of the Essence of Religion, SCM Press Ltd., London, 1969, p.6.
 Eric J. Lott, Vision, Tradition, Interpretation, Theology, Religion, and the Study of Religion, Mouton de Gruyter, 1988, p.179.
 Ibid., p.191.
 Joseph Dabney Bettis ed., Op. Cit., p.10.
 Ursula King, “Phenomenology” edited by Frank Whaling, Vol.I, Op. Cit., p.39.
 Joseph Dabney Bettis ed. Op. Cit., p.9.
 Ursula King, “Phenomenology” edited by Frank Whaling, Vol.I, Op. Cit., p.39.
 Waardenburg, Op. Cit., p.112.
 J. G. Arapura, Op. Cit., p.42.
 Ursula King, “Phenomenology” edited by Frank Whaling, Vol.I, Op. Cit., p.88.
 K. P. Aleaz, Dimensions of Indian Religion, Study, Experience and Interaction, Op. Cit., p.17.
 Joseph Dabney Bettis ed., Op. Cit., p.11.
 Rudolf Otto, The idea of the Holy, An inquiry into the non-rational factor in the idea of the divine and its relation to the rational, Translated by John W. Harvey, Pelican Books, 1959, p.15.
 Ibid., p.20.
 Ibid., p.25.
 Ibid., p.26.
 Ibid., p.29.
 Ibid., p.45.
 P.S. Daniel, David C. Scott et al., Op. Cit., p.37.
 J. G. Arapura, Op. Cit., p.45.
 Ibid., p.46.
 Sibnath Sarma ed., Religious Philosophy of Rudolf Otto, Ajanta Publications, Delhi, 1996, p.76.
 Ibid., pp.97,98.
 Mircea Eliape, The Sacred and the Profane, The Nature of Religion, Translated from the French by Willard R. Trask, Harcourt, Brace and Company, New York, 1959, p.9.
 Sibnath Sarma, ed., Op. Cit., p.15.
 Thomas L. Benson, Op. Cit., p.74.
 Ibid., p.74.
 Ibid., p.74.
 Waardenburg, Op. Cit., p.461.
 Ibid., p.381.
 Ibid., p.42.
 Ibid., p.412.
 Thomas L. Benson, Op. Cit., p.75.
 P. S. Daniel, David C. Scott et al., Op. Cit., p.35.
 Thomas L. Benson, Op. Cit., p.75.
 Ibid., p.76.
 Thomas L. Benson, Op. Cit., p.76.
 Mircea Eliade, Op. Cit., p.11.
 Jay J. Kim, “Hierophant and History” Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Vol.XL, No.3, September, 1972, p.334.
 P. S. Daniel, David C. Scott el at., Op. Cit., p.24.
 Erich Fromm, Psychoanalysis and Religion, Fourth Printing, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1952, p.52.
 Paul E. Johnson, Psychology of Religion, A Bingdon – Cokesbury Press, New York, No Date, p.15.
 Walter Houston Clark, The Psychology of Religion, An Introduction to religious experience and behavior, Second Printing, The Macmillan Company, New York, 1959, p.29.
 Frank Whaling, Vol.II, Op. Cit., p.48.
 L. W. Grensted, The Psychology of Religion, Oxford University Press, New York, 1952, p.17.
 Paul E. Johnson, Op. Cit., p.16.
 Erich Fromm, Op. Cit., p.31.
 Paul E. Johnson, Op. Cit., p.221.
 Ibid., p.55.
 P. S. Daniel, David C. Scott et al., Op. Cit., p.26.
 William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience, Mentor Books, New York, 1958, p.77.
 Ibid., p.52.
 William James, Op. Cit., p.139.
 Ibid., p.50.
 Waardenburg, Op. Cit., p.96.
 Erich Fromm, Op. Cit., p.96.
 Hans Kung, Freud and the Problem of God, Translated by Edward Quinn, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1979, p.20.
 Erich Fromm, Op. Cit., p.79.
 Leighton Mc Cutchen, “The Father Figure in Psychology and Religions” Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Vol.XL. No.2, June 1972, p.182.
 Jolande Jacobi, The Psychology of C. G. Jung, 1973 edition, second printing, Yale University Press, 1974, p.9.
 Ibid., p.35.
 De Graeve, New Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol.12, p.240.
 Henry H. Presler, “How should we study other religions?” National Christian Council Review. Vol.LXXXI, No.5, May 1961, pp.193, 194.
 Thomas L. Benson, The Encyclopedia of Religion, Vol.14, p.84.
 Ibid., p.84.
 Jarich Oosten, “Cultural Anthropological Approaches”, Contemporary Approaches to the Study of Religion in 2 Volumes, edited by Frank Whaling, Vol.II: The Social Sciences, Mouton Publishers, Berlin, 1985, p.252.
 Thomas L. Benson, Op. Cit., p.86.
 Ursula King, “The debate about the Science of Religion”, Contemporary Approaches to the Study of Religion in 2 Volumes, edited by Frank Whaling, Vol.I: The Humanities, Mouton Publishers, Berlin, 1984, p.149.
 Geoffrey Parrinder, Comparative Religion, George Allen & Unwin Ltd., London, 1962, p.21.
 Ursula King, “Phenomenology” edited by Frank Whaling, Vol. I, Op. Cit., p.43.
 Thomas L. Benson, Op. Cit., p.85.
 Michael Pye, Comparative Religion An Introduction Through Source Materials, David and Charles, Newton Abbot, 1972, p.13.
 Thomas A. Idinopulos, “The Difficulties of Understanding Religion”, What is Religion? Origins, Definitions & Explanations, edited by Thomas A. Idinopulos & Brain C. Wilson, Brill, 1998, p.27.
 Ibid., p.27.
 Eric J. Lott, “Approaching Religious Traditions”, Religions Traditions of India, Indian Theological Library, 1988, p.3.
 Ursula King, Op. Cit., p.152.
 K. P. Aleaz, Dimensions of Indian Religion, Study, Experience and Interaction, Punthipustak, Calcutta, 1995, p.6.
 Eric J. Lott, Op. Cit., p.13.
 Eric J. Lott, Tradition, Interpretation, Theology Religion, and the Study of Religion, Moutan de Gruyter, 1988, p.156.
 Ninian Smart, “The Scientific Study in its Plurality”, Contemporary Approaches to the Study of Religion in 2 Volumes, Vol., Op. Cit., p.372.
 F. Max Muller, Theosophy or Psychological Religion, Collected Works of F. Max Muller, Asian Educational Service, New Delhi, Reprinted 1978, p.23.
 S. Radhakrishnan, East and West in Religion, George Allen & Unwin Ltd., London, 1933, p.26.
 Ibid., p.18.
 Ibid., p.37.
 S. Radhakrishnan, Religion and Society, George Allen & Unwin Ltd., London, 1947, p.52.
 F. Max Muller, Introduction to the Science of Religions, New Edition, London, 1882, p.190.
 F. Max Muller, Theosophy or Psychological Religion, Op. Cit., p.11.
 Eric J. Lott, “The Science of Religion in an Indian Theological Context”, Bangalore Theological Forum, Vol.XIII, No.4, Oct-Dec., 1985, p.1.
 S. Radhakrishnan, East and West in Religion, Op. Cit., p.46.
 Frank Whaling, “The Study of Religions in a Global Context”, Contemporary Approaches to the Study of Religion in 2 Volumes, edited by Frank Whaling, Volume I: The Humanities, Mouton Publishers, Berlin, 1984, p.392.
 S. Radhakrishnan, East and West in Religion, Op. Cit., p.43.
 Ibid., p.68.
 S. Radhakrishnan, The Hindu of Life, Third Indian Reprint, Blackie & Son Publishers Pvt. Ltd., Blackie House, Bombay, 1979, p.55.
 S. Radhakrishnan, Religion and Society, Op. Cit., p.52.
 Frank Whaling, Vol.I, Op. Cit., p.52.
 S. Radhakrishnan, Religion & Society, Op. Cit., p.18.
 L. W. Grensted, The Psychology of Religion, Oxford University Press, New York, 1952, p.109.
 Gustan Mensching, Structures and Patterns of Religion, Translated by F. Klimkeit and V. Srinivasa Sarma, Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, 1976, pp.319,320.
 S. Radhakrishnan, East and West in Religion, Op. Cit., p.40.
 S. Radhakrishnan, The Hindu View of Life, Op. Cit., p20.
 L. W. Grensted, Op. Cit., p.15.
 F. Max Muller, Natural Religion, First Asian Reprint, Asian Educational Services, New Delhi, 1979, p.9.
 J. G. Arapura, Religions as Anxiety and Tranquility, An Essay in Comparative Phenomenology of the Spirit, Mouton & Co., Netherlands, 1972, p.39.
 S. Radhakrishnan, East and West in Religion, Op. Cit., p.32.
 K. P. Aleaz, Harmony of Religions: The Relevance of Swami Vivekananda, Punthipustak, Calcutta, 1993, p.52.
 Wilfred Cantwell Smith, “The Study of Religion and the Study of the Bible”, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Vol.XXXIX, No.2, June, 1971, p.131.
 Frank Whaling, Vol.I., Op. Cit., p.403.
 John Hick, Philosophy of Religion, Second edition, Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1973, p.2.
 A. R. Mohapatra, Philosophy of Religion, An Approach to World Religions, Second revised and enlarged edition, Sterling Publishers Pvt, Ltd., New Delhi, 1990. p.9.
 Eric J. Lott, “Approaching Religious Tradition”, Religious Traditions of India, Indian Theological Library, 1988, p.29.
 S. Israel, “An integral approach to the study of Religion: Insights from an Indian Christian perspective”, Bangalore Theological Forum, Vol.XIX, No.2, April-June, 1987, p.104.
 Eric J. Lott, “The Science of Religion in an Indian Theological Context”, Bangalore Theological Forum, Vol. XVII, No.4, October-December, 1985, p.3.
 S. Israel, Op. Cit., p.114.
 Abraham Ayrookuzhiel, “A Proposal for the Study of the Religious Heritage of the Dalits: Some Methodological Considerations”, Religion and Society, Vol.42, No.1, March 1995, p.28.
Religion and Dialogue