The Multiplicity of Chinese and Indian Religions: A Critical Reappraisal of the Notion of “Eastern Religion”
Researching Global Religious Landscapes - A Methodology between Universalism and Particularism - Peter Nynäs
Måns Broo [+]
Åbo Akademi University
Ruby Sain [+]
Jadavpur University / Adamamas University
The distinction between “Eastern” and “Western” religion has often been used as a generic model for comprehending basic distinctions in the study of religion as well as in relation to debates on religious change in the West. Campbell (2007) discussed the Western understanding of “Eastern religions” marking a watershed in contemporary religious change. But what really are this “Eastern” religions, outside the desk of scholars? This chapter explores Campbell’s basic model and in particular questions the inherent stereotypical assumption of “Eastern” or “Asian” religion (see e.g. Hamilton 2002). Embedded in the rich mixed methods material, the chapter points to the inherent and neglected diversity in the Asian countries the People’s Republic of China (henceforth, China), and India. Our results show that while categories such as “Muslim,” “Buddhist” and “Taoist” are naturally useful in many ways, they tell us little about the types of worldviews that the young university students studied here hold as additional and relevant crossings of the lines of religious affiliation are significant.