DIFFERENT APPROACHES TO STUDY RELIGION



DIFFERENT APPROACHES TO STUDY RELIGION
The establishment of the ‘Science of Religion’ was the fulfillment of long awaited and hard-labored efforts of many scholars.  This, 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 approaches/methods were developed to study the various aspects of religions.

2.1 Anthropological Approach
Anthropology is devoted to the study of human beings.[1]  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’.[2]  From a religious point of view the anthropologists do not confine to only major religions, they study the beliefs and practices of all human societies. The anthropologists were mostly influenced by the evolutionist ideology propounded by Charles R. Darwin.  As a result most anthropologists used their data for tracing the origin of religions. 

2.1.1    Animism
Edward Burnett 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.[3]  Tylor used comparative method to trace the origin of religion from primeval man to the civilized man of his time.  About its impact E.O. James writes “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.”[4]  Tylor wanted to prove that religion was not the result of any revelation or supernatural intervention.  The reason behind such a conclusion is underlined as “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.”[5] 
Tylor was popularly known for his theory of animism.  Animism is “the belief that all living beings and natural phenomena that appear to move or have life (Sun, Moon, Rivers, etc.) have individual spirits (animas), some or all of which are appropriate objects of worship.”[6]
For Tylor, ‘the earliest stage of religion’ consisted in the belief in souls, which is present not only in human beings but in all natural organisms and objects. This conviction has had far-reaching implications. For example “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.”[7]  Commenting on the theory of animism, Eric J. Lott says “thus Tylor saw earlier animistic experience as the irreducible and original source of later religious life.”[8]  Tylor’s theory was criticized by Max Muller and R. R. Marett.

2.1.2    Animatism
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.  This is explained as “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.”[9]
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.”[10]
Animatism is a stage in which people responded with awe and wonder to an impersonal supernatural force which they experienced as present in extraordinary natural phenomena, events and persons.[11]  This supernatural force was worshipped as Mana by the Melanesian islanders.  Mana means ‘undifferentiated impersonal supernatural force’.[12]  In short, animatism 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.”[13]  It is called pre-animism because it refers to a stage preceding to the belief in animism. 

2.1.3    Manism (Ancestor – Worship)
Hebert Spencer (1820-1903), an Englishman proposed that ancestor worship is the beginning of religion.  This he derived from people’s belief in spirits or ghosts.  It is said “from the belief in ghosts, he asserted, came ancestor-worship, the original religious cult.”[14]  In the words of Muller, for Spencer ‘the root of every religion is ancestor-worship’.[15]  According to Waardenburg “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.”[16]  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.”[17] 

2.1.4    Supreme Beings or High Gods
In contrast to the anthropologists 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. [18]  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’.[19]  Spencer’s theory was later considered as primitive monotheism. 

2.1.5    Magic
James G. Frazer (1854-1947, Glasgow), argued that religious activities and attitudes were preceded by the practice of magic.[20]  In his view, 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.[21] 
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 which emphasizes 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 circles or layers which could have been caused by small migrations.  This will answer the question of similarities in cultures in different religions. 
A general criticism against the anthropological approach 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 generalize the data.  There is also the fear of approaching the primitive religions with a hidden agenda like the missionaries. 



2.2       Sociological Approach
Having examined the contributions of the great anthropologists, now it is appropriate to analyze the sociological approach to study religion.  In order to evaluate the contribution of sociological approach to the study of religion, a general understanding of sociology of religion is called for. 

2.2.1    Definition
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.”[22]  The original aim of sociology was to find out the ‘scientific account of the laws underlying the social fabric’.[23]  In relation to religions “it is an essential postulate of sociology that a human institution cannot be based on error and falsehood, otherwise it could not have lasted.”[24]  In brief, the main area of investigation for the sociologist of religion is the inter-relatedness between society and religion.

2.2.2    Task
It is said “a sociologist of religion studies the processes by which religion enters into human interaction and how the interaction of men influences religion.”[25]  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.”[26] 


2.2.3    Concern
A brief look at the concerns of the sociological approach to the study of religion will shed further light on its importance.  One of its chief concerns is to evaluate the impact of religiosity on individuals and society.  It is maintained “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.”[27] 
Of course, sociology from its very birth showed itself immediately concerned with the role and the function of religion in the dynamism of societies.[28]  On the contrary, Daniel L. Hodges writes “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.”[29]  This negative concern needs further clarification.  Even if sociologists want to study society and its institution, they cannot ignore the impact of religion on the society or society’s influence on religion. 

2.2.4    Method
It is suggested 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.”[30]  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 a sociological point of view.

2.2.5    Religion
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. For example, “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.”[31]  There is a close relation between religion and society.  For instance we cannot understand the inner form of a society unless we understand its religion.[32]  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.”[33]  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.”[34] 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 of religion.  it is held that “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.”[35]  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.  Its influence is pictured as “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.”[36] 
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.”[37]  This is in keeping with the original commitment of sociology as a social science, in relation to religion. 

2.2.7    Max Weber (1864-1920, Germany)
Weber was a pioneer of the sociology of religion.  In the words of Joachim Wach “the credit for having been the first to conceive of a systematic sociology of religion belongs to Max Weber.”[38]  According to Weber, religious behavior can be understood only through its meaning for the individuals concerned.  He writes “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).”[39]  In the words of Waardenburg, Weber used the historical and functional approach.  He also had a growing concern for ‘comparative studies’.[40]  For Weber, “the most elementary forms of behavior motivated by religious or magical factors are oriented to this world.”[41]  Weber says that even the ends of the religious and magical actions are predominantly economic.[42]  In the words of Waardenburg “opposing current theories, Weber held that religion was first purposive and only later become symbolic.”[43] 

2.2.8    William Robertson Smith (1846-1897, Scotland)
Smith was an Old Testament scholar.  His study of Semitic religion revealed that Semitic religions have to be studied as a whole in their proper context.  It is opined “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.”[44]  He, thus, 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 lived.  He also makes a distinction between the religious temper of ancient and modern people.  The distinction is that for moderns religion is above all 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)
For Durkheim, religion is inherently a social reality.  For example “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.”[45]  Durkheim in his The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life writes, “the most barbarous and the most fantastic rites and the strangest myths translate some human need, some aspect of life, either individual or social.”[46]  According to him the idea of mystery was not given to the human.  It is the human who has forged it with his own hands.  K. P. Aleaz says “according to Durkheim religion is the essence of the social bond.”[47] 
Eric J. Lott argues that “there is, in any case, insufficient evidence to support Durkheim’s belief that religion is essentially and originally totemic.”[48]  He thinks that Durkheim’s theory is the result of a biased pre-conceived idea about religion. 

2.3       Historical Approach
Historical approach 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. According to J. G. Arapura, “in a genuine sense the Dutch Scholar Cornelius Tiele may be regarded as its founder.”[49]  The method applied in the historical approach is a kind of methodological naturalism or gnosticism.  To understand better, “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.”[50]  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.[51]
In order to avoid unnecessary subjective elements in the process of study Max Muller suggested that “the historian of religion must try to be as free as possible from all preconceived opinions.[52] 
Ursula king writes about the significance of historical method 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.”[53] 
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 element is, significant only in its own proper context.[54] Robert D. Baired views historical method on the basis of his definition of history. He writes “my functional definition of history is that history is the descriptive study of the human past.[55]  This definition holds good if only religion is treated as an integral part of humanity.  According to Muller, “there is but one method that leads to really trustworthy and solid results and this is the Historical Method.[56]  He also highlights the intention of the historical method as a method going back through various layers to find out the real religious incident.  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.”[57]  In this venture, a historian might use myths positively as data.
Historical school however is not fully free from limitations. Generally it is burdened with surplus data without adequate ‘integration’.  It is also handicapped in relating the acquired knowledge to wider questions and concerns.[58]  Another basic observation 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 religious tradition.”[59] 

2.4       Phenomenological Approach
The main task of the phenomenological approach is to study the essence of religion.  To do so the phenomenologists study various structures of religion on the basis of materials derived from other approaches to study religion.  In order to have a better understanding of the phenomenological approach, a general outline of phenomenology may be helpful.  This would include definition, founders, task and method of phenomenology.  After that the investigations of at least four leading phenomenologists and their data can lay the foundation for a meaningful evaluation of the method.

2.4.1    Definition
Phenomenology has been variously defined by scholars.  Probably consultation of a few definitions would be of great help in understanding what phenomenology is really about.  According to K. P. Aleaz, “Phenomenology may be primarily understood as a systematic and comparative classification of all religious phenomena.”[60]  Another dimension of phenomenology is found in the definition of J. G. Arapura that “Phenomenology is the systematic discussion of what appears.”[61]  A more useful definition is that “the phenomenological method is a way of describing rather than a way of explaining.”[62]  That is, describing the essence of the phenomenon, within one’s own environment.  Thus phenomenology consists of a classification of religious phenomena, discussion of the phenomena and description of the phenomena.

2.4.2    Founders
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’.[63]  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.”[64] 

2.4.3    Task of Phenomenology
One of the major tasks of phenomenologists is to ‘describe the essence of the phenomenon, and not to “locate” it.  In other words, the phenomenologist is seeking the meaning or essence rather than cause or truth.[65]  He also has to describe the meaning of common themes among religions, regardless of their historical tradition or geographic location’.  The phenomenologists have to interpret the symbols in a way that enhances the self knowledge of human beings. 

2.4.4    Methods
In their task of describing the phenomena, the phenomenologists employ a method called reduction or bracketing out.  This they do in order to find out the real meaning of the phenomena.  It is also suggested that “the phenomenologists grasp meaning through intuition.”[66]  Some phenomenologists, however view phenomenology as a method of organizing or classifying the data.  Their method can be called as empirical phenomenology.  In fact, Husserl’s epoche and eidetic vision are the two fundamental principles of phenomenology. Besides, the richest material for the phenomenology of religion is supplied by religious acts, cults and customs’.  Phenomenology also needs to consider other aspects like, ‘objects of belief and of worship’.[67] 
The positive aspect of phenomenology is that it maintains objectivity.  It also insists upon a ‘value-free, detached investigation’.  According to J. G. Arapura “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 focal point in the quest for religious essence.”[68]
Apart from the empirical phenomenology there is also a historical phenomenology.  Ursula King writes, “religious phenomena are here systematically studied in their historical context as well as in their structural connections.”[69]  While the earlier phenomenologists were busy with structures and pattern, the modern phenomenologists, study the structures and their connection in their specific historical context.
There are other phenomenologists who propose a ‘new style phenomenology’.  Its characteristic “is moving from the search for timeless essences to a search for meaning inside time.”[70]  It is not just what it means, but what it means to others.  That is, the intention of the phenomena.  This has been explained as “this primordial unity of subject and object, thinker and thought about, is characteristic of phenomenology.”[71]  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 of Otto’s 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.”[72]  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.”[73]  To explain the non-rational Otto has used a Latin word, numinous.  To understand it further, “the numinous is thus felt as objective and outside the self.”[74] 
The nature of the numinous is further 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.”[75]  It is mysterium.  “Conceptually mysterium denotes merely that which is hidden and esoteric, which is beyond conception or understanding, extraordinary and unfamiliar.”[76]  Tremendum is the positive aspect of it.  It is not fear in the strict sense.  This positive aspect 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.[77] 
Apart from ‘mysterium tremendum’, the numinous denotes fascination.  The combination of these two is responsible for the development of religions.  The relation between the rational and the non-rational constitute the final meaning of the “Holy”. In summary “Mysterium tremendum et fascinans, these three words give in a nutshell Otto’s insight into the non-rational element in our religious consciousness.”[78]
The first criticism about Otto’s theory is that “instead of studying the ideas of God and religion Otto undertook to analyze the modalities of the religious experience.”[79]  The second criticism is that “Otto is possibly obsessed by the idea of keeping the numinous absolutely free from other human activities except religious.”[80] 
The third criticism is that “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.  The fourth criticism 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.”[81]

2.4.6        Nathan Soderblom (1866-1931, Swedish theologian and historian of
religions)
Nathan Soderblom’s major contribution to the phenomenological approach to study religion 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.  In other words “religious experience marked by the presence of Holiness, was for him the heart of religion and hence the central object of its study.”[82]  His disciple Friedrich Heiler (1892-1967, Germany) asserted that all religions are directed toward the Holy.  For him, prayer is an important aspect of religion.[83]  It is a proof for the universal revelation of God. Such universality is found in Soderblom as well. This is clear from the point that “throughout his work he stressed the common religious search and striving of mankind.”[84]  Stressing this common core or focus will have greater validity for the understanding of religion from a pluralistic point of view. 

2.4.7    Gerardus Van der Leeuw (1890-1950, Holland)
Van der Leeuw 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.”[85]  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’.[86]  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 Soderblom’s “Holiness” and Otto’s “the Holy”.[87]  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. 
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.  He propounded an intuitive method for arriving at his types and structures.[88] 
Another phenomenologist, Joachim Wach (1898-1955) was interested in 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.

2.4.8    Mircea Eliade
Eliade was a phenomenologist more concerned with historical development of religions.  His concentration was on the ‘archaic expressions of religious experience’.  Thomas L. Benson writes, “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.”[89]  Eliade’s ideas can be understood from his classic work 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.”[90]  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.”[91]  For him the sacred and the profane are two modes of being in the world, rather, ‘two existential situations assumed by man in the course of his history’. 
According to Jay J. Kim, “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.”[92] 

2.5       Psychological Approach
Psychology, in short, is the science of mind.  When it is used for the scientific study of religions it has a 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.”[93]  In other words, psychology of religion investigates the psyche rather than religion as such.  Erich Fromm writes,  “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.”[94]  This consideration is quite comprehensive. Yet a broader outlook will be more beneficial.
The first task of psychology of religion is to look within human experience to understand what religion means to persons.[95] The second task of the psychology of religion is to explore the human’s inner consciousness.[96]
To accomplish these tasks “from the beginning, the psychology of religion has been said to have two fundamental methods: the observation of religious individuals and the study of traditional content from the history of religion.”[97]  in the words of L. W. Grensted, “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.”[98]  Generally the psychological approach starts from the individual contrary to other approaches which begin from the group, tribe or community. 
Further, the psychological approach to the study of religions considers rituals seriously.  It is said that “compulsive neurotic patients exhibits numerous forms of private ritual.”[99] 
To understand a particular religious behavior, it is important to investigate its motive because “religious behavior springs from conscious and unconscious motivation.”[100]  The branch of psychology which attempts to study such motive is called dynamic psychology, while descriptive psychology aims at understanding religious experience, to explain the connections existing between various structures.

2.5.1    William James (1842-1910, America)
It is said “the most famous early attempt at a psychological account of ‘Religious sentiments’ was William James’ Varieties of Religious Experience.”[101]  Because of this work, the psychology of religion gained momentum, during the early par of the twentieth century.  William James “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.”[102]  Perhaps his description of religious experience is the result of a pre-conceived idea of God. 
For James, religion involves both moods of contraction and moods of expansion of one’s 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.  Healthy soul is optimistic and the sick soul is pessimistic.  According to him the completest religions would seem to be those in which the pessimistic elements are best developed.[103] 
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.”[104]  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.” 

2.5.2    SIGMUND FREUD (1856-1939)
Freud was the founder of depth psychology.  He discovered the existence of the personal unconscious.[105]  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.[106]  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.”[107] 
For Freud, religion is the projection of infantile dependencies upon imagined superhuman beings.  The expressions of these dependencies, he called collective neurosis.  He also found that, there were many non-religious motivations behind religions aspirations.  The infantile dependencies, or the obsessional childhood neurosis, Freud called, the “Oedipus complex.”  According to him ‘the Oedipus complex is the core of every neurosis.”[108]  That is why, he said religion is illusion.  The process of detecting this neurosis is called psychoanalysis.  For this, Freud chose to interpret dreams, as they are the out come of the suppressed feelings, may be of childhood.
Regarding the Oedipus complex, Mc Cutchen remarks that “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.”[109] 

2.5.3    Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961, Switzerland)
Jung’s psychological method is called ‘Analytical Psychology’. For Jung, the psyche consists of two parts: consciousness and the unconscious. And “the unconscious is older than the consciousness.”[110]  Again he made a distinction between personal and collective unconscious.  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.”[111]  The elements of the collective unconscious are called ‘Archetypes’. For Jung, the collective unconscious is responsible for the religious behavior. 



[1] Marc J. Swartz and David K. Jordan, Anthropology: Perspective on Humanity (Inc.:John
Wiley & Sons, 1976) , p.2.
[2] Ibid., p.3.
[3] Thomas L. Benson, The Encyclopedia of Religion, Vol. 14, p.69.
[4] E. O. James, Comparative Religion, First Published as University Paper back (London:
Methane & Co. Ltd., 1961), p.30.
[5] Ibid., p.31.
[6] Marc J. Swartz and David K. Jordan, op. cit., p.664.
[7] Thomas L. Benson, op. cit., p.70.
[8] P. S. Daniel, David C. Scott, et al., Religious Traditions of India, (Indian Theological Library,
1988) , p.21.
[9] Waardenburg, Classical Approaches to the Study of Religion, Aims, Methods and Theories
of Research, I: Introduction and Anthology (Paris: Mouton, 1973) , p. 257.
[10] E. O. James, op. cit., p.39.
[11] Thomas L. Benson, op. cit., p.70.
[12] Marc J. Swartz and David K. Jordan, op. cit., p.663.
[13] Eric J. Sharpe, Comparative Religion, A History (London: Duckworth, 1975), p.68.
[14] Thomas. L. Benson, op. cit., p.69.
[15] F. Max Muller, Anthropological Religion, second AES Reprint (New Delhi; Asian
Educational Services, 1986) , p.127.
[16] Waardenburg, op. cit., p.29.
[17] E. O. James, op. cit., p.37.
[18] Waardenburg, op. cit., p.240.
[19] Ibid., p.33.
[20] P. S. Daniel, David C. Scott et al., op. cit., p.21.
[21] Tomas L. Benson, op. cit., p.71.
[22] Thomas F. O’ Dea, The Sociology of Religion (Inc.: Prentice-Hall, 1966), p.117.
[23] Michael Hill, “Sociological Approaches” Contemporary Approaches to the Study of Religion in 2 Volumes, edited by Frank Whaling, Volume II (Berlin: Mouton Publishers, 1985), pp. 117,
118.
[24] W.S.F. Pickering, Durkheim on Religion, A Selection of Reading with Bibliographies, New
Translations by Jacqueline Reading and W.S.F. Pickering (London: Rutledge & Kegan Paul, 1975) , p.103.
[25] Richard. Knudten, The Sociology of Religion An Anthology (new York: Meridith Publishing
Company, 1967). p.26.
[26] Joachim Watch, Sociology of Religion, Twelfth Impression (London: The University of
Chicago Press, 1971) , p.34.
[27] Thomas F. O’ Dea, op. cit., p.117.
[28] Herve Carrier S. J., The Sociology of Religious Belonging (London: Darton, Longman &
 Todd, 1965), p.19.
[29] 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.
[30] Thomas F. O’ Dea, op. cit., p.33.
[31] Michael Hill, op. cit., p.125.
[32] Christopher Dawson, Religion and Culture (New York: Meridian Books, 1958), p.50.
[33] Ibid., p.65.
[34] Ibid., p.217.
[35] Thomas, F. O’ Dea, op. cit., p.4.
[36] Ibid., p.13, 14.
[37] Gunter Kehrer and Bert Hardin, “Sociological Approaches”, Contemporary Approaches to
the Study of Religion in 2 Volumes, edited by Fran Whaling, Vol.II. (Berlin: Mouton Publishers, 1985), p.173.
[38] Joachim Wach, Sociology of Religion, Twelfth Impression(London: The University of
Chicago Press, 1971), p.3.
[39] Max Weber, The Sociology of Religion, Translated by Ephraim Fishchoff, third printing
(Boston: Beacon Press, 1964), p.1.
[40] Waardenburg, op. cit., p.352.
[41] Max Weber, op. cit., p.1.
[42] Ibid.
[43] Waardenburg, op. cit., p.352.
[44] Thomas L. Benson, op. cit., p.70.
[45] Ibid., p.301.
[46] Emile Durkheim, The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, Translated by Joseph Ward
Swain, Second Edition (London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1976), p.2.
[47] K. P. Aleaz, Dimensions of Indian Religion, Study, Experience and Interaction (Calcutta:
Punthi Pustak, 1995),  p.20.
[48] P. S. Daniel, David C. Scott, et al., op. cit., p.17.
[49] J. G. Arapura, op. cit., p.34.
[50] Thomas L. Benson, op. cit., p.64.
[51] Frank Whaling ed., Vol.1. op. cit., p.36.
[52] F. Max Muller, Natural Religion, op. cit., p.88.
[53] Frank Whaling ed., Vol.1. op. cit., p.37.
[54] UGO Bianchi, The History of Religions (Netherlands:  E. J. Brill, Leiden, 1975), p.49.
[55] Robert D. Baird, Category Formation and the History of Religions (Netherlands: Mouton,
1971), p.49
[56] F. Max Muller, Physical Religion, op. cit., p.7.
[57] F. Max Muller, Natural Religion, op. cit., p.278.
[58] Frank Whaling ed., op. cit., Vol.I, p.37.
[59] K. P. Aleaz, op. cit., p.16.
[60] Ibid., p.15.
[61] J. G. Arapura, op. cit., p.49.
[62] Joseph Pabney Bettis, ed., Phenomenology of Religion, Eight Modern Descriptions of the
Essence of Religion (London:  SCM Press Ltd., 1969) , p.6.
[63] Eric J. Lott, Vision, Tradition, Interpretation, Theology, Religion, and the Study of Religion
(Mouton de Gruyter, 1988), p.179.
[64] Ibid., p.191.
[65] Joseph Dabney Bettis ed., op. cit., p.10.
[66] Joseph Dabney Bettis ed. op. cit., p.9.
[67] Waardenburg, op. cit., p.112.
[68] J. G. Arapura, op. cit., p.42.
[69] Ursula King, “Phenomenology” edited by Frank Whaling, Vol.I, op. cit., p.88.
[70] K. P. Aleaz, Dimensions of Indian Religion, Study, Experience and Interaction, op. cit.,
p.17.
[71] Joseph Dabney Bettis ed., op. cit., p.11.
[72] 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.
[73] Ibid., p.20.
[74] Ibid., p.25.
[75] Ibid., p.26.
[76] Ibid.
[77] Ibid., p.29.
[78] Sibnath Sarma ed., Religious Philosophy of Rudolf Otto (Delhi: Ajanta Publications, 1996),pp.97,98.
[79] Mircea Eliape, The Sacred and the Profane, The Nature of Religion, Translated from the
French by Willard R. Trask (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1959), p.9.
[80] Sibnath Sarma, ed., op. cit., p.15.
[81] Ibid., p.74.
[82] Ibid., p.74.
[83] Waardenburg, op. cit., p.461.
[84] Ibid., p.381.
[85] Ibid., p.42.
[86] Ibid., p.412.
[87] Thomas L. Benson, op. cit., p.75.
[88]Ibid..
[89] Ibid, p.76.
[90] Mircea Eliade, op. cit., p.11.
[91] Ibid.
[92] Jay J. Kim, “Hierophant and History” Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Vol.XL,
No.3 (September, 1972), p.334.
[93] P. S. Daniel, David C. Scott et al., op. cit., p.24.
[94] Erich Fromm, Psychoanalysis and Religion, Fourth Printing (New Haven: Yale University
Press, 1952), p.52.
[95] Paul E. Johnson, Psychology of Religion (New York:  Abington – Cokesbury Press, n. d.)
 p.15.
[96] Walter Houston Clark, The Psychology of Religion, An Introduction to religious experience and
behavior, Second Printing (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1959), p.29.
[97] Frank Whaling, Vol.II, op. cit., p.48.
[98] L. W. Grensted, The Psychology of Religion (New York: Oxford University Press, 1952),
p.17.
[99] Erich Fromm, op. cit., p.31.
[100] Paul E. Johnson, op. Cit., p.221.
[101] P. S. Daniel, David C. Scott et al., op. cit., p.26.
[102] William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience (New York: Mentor Books, 1958),
p.77.
[103] William James, op. cit., p.139.
[104] Ibid., p.50.
[105] Waardenburg, op. cit., p.96.
[106] Erich Fromm, op. cit., p.96.
[107] Hans Kung, Freud and the Problem of God, Translated by Edward Quinn (New Haven
:Yale University Press, 1979), p.20.
[108] Erich Fromm, op. cit., p.79.
[109] 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.
[110] Jolande Jacobi, The Psychology of C. G. Jung, 1973 edition, second printing (Yale
University Press, 19740 , p.9.
[111] Ibid., p.35.

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