Sir Christopher A. Bayly, “Making Hinduism a ‘World Religion’: Before and After Swami Vivekananda”

Inaugural Indian Ministry of Culture Swami Vivekananda Visiting Professor lecture
April 8, 2014
“Making Hinduism a ‘World Religion’: Before and After Swami Vivekananda”

Sir Christopher A. Bayly
Indian Ministry of Culture Swami Vivekananda Visiting Professor, University of Chicago
Emeritus Professor of Imperial and Naval History
University of Cambridge

The term ‘world religion’ derives from Max Weber, and by implication from Hegel, but both these thinkers denied this status to Hinduism itself, seeing it respectively as a ‘dream religion’ and ‘other wordly’. This lecture seeks to show, however, that Hindu public figures, at least from the early colonial period onward, sought to make Hinduism a faith that was recognised in the wider world and also worked within Indian society through education, missionising and social work. Key figures here were Rammohan Roy and Keshub Chandra Sen in the 19th century. Vivekananda developed this theme further with his appearance at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893 and foundation of the Ramakrishna Mission

Sir Christopher A. Bayly of Cambridge University is the inaugural Indian Ministry of Culture Vivekananda Visiting Professor, and will be part of the faculty for Spring Quarter 2014 and 2015. The Vivekananda Visiting Professorship was established to commemorate the legacy of the Hindu spiritual leader Swami Vivekananda and to enrich the University’s renowned program for the study of the Indian subcontinent.

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