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Religious Studies in India. Banaras Hindu University: Religion and Universal Human Values

Journal article
Authors Clemens Cavallin
Åke Sander
Published in Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies
Volume 17
Issue 50
Pages 30-45
ISSN 1583-0039
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Literature, History of Ideas, and Religion
Pages 30-45
Language en
Keywords Banaras Hindu University, Religious Studies, Human Values, India
Subject categories Religious Studies


The lack of academic religious studies in India has several causes: the choice of the secular University of London as model for the first universities in India in 1857, the secular constitution, the secularist approach of the first prime minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, and the explosive relation between major faith traditions. However, with the waning of the Indian secularist framework and the continued power and influence of Hindutva ideology, there is a need to discuss different models for religious studies in India. In this article, the point of departure is Banaras Hindu University (BHU), one of the few universities in India that has religious studies, but also a faculty of Hindu theology. The focus is on the history of BHU and the recommendations of several educational commission from the 1930s to the 60s, with a note on recent attempts at BHU of renewing value education. The aim is to highlight one alternative for developing religious studies in India, whose primary goal is the formation of good citizens enabled by a set of universal human values instantiated in local traditions.

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