Imagining Hinduism introduces a new and significant way of looking at Western constructions of Hinduism. Employing current postcolonial categories, Sharada Sugirtharajah examines how Hinduism has been defined, interpreted and manufactured through Western categorizations, from the foreign interventions of the eighteenth and nineteenth century Orientalist and missionaries to the present day. Her contention is that ever since early Orientalists 'discovered' the ancient Sanskrit texts and the Hindu 'Golden Age', the West has nurtured a complex and ambivalent fascination with Hinduism, responding to it in ways ranging from romantic admiration to ridicule. At the same time, she focuses attention on how Hindu discourse has drawn upon Orientalist representations in order to redefine Hindu identity and construct a monolithic Hinduism, both in the Indian and diasporic contexts.
As the first comprehensive work to bring postcolonial critique to the study of Hinduism, Imagining Hinduism is essential reading for an informed and critical understanding of how both Europeans and Hindus engage with Hinduism.