Associate 1992-93

Rajeshwari V Pandharipande

Religious Studies and Linguistics

Dimensions of Transplanted Hinduism in the U.S.: Issues in the Maintenance and Shift of the Religious Identity

This research aims at discovering the theological, social, and linguistic bases of the 'transplanted' Hinduism and determining the religious identity of the immigrant Hindus in the U.S. This research will be significant to the fields of (minority) Religion, Sociolinguistics, and Ethnicity because it will for the first time (a) provide an in-depth account of the structure, practices, and dynamics (i.e., continuity and change in the system vis-a-vis its native counterpart) of Hinduism--a minority religion (of about 500-700 thousand Hindus) in the U.S., (b) lead to an understanding of the overall nature of the social dynamics across different ethnic groups in the U.S., (c) empirically determine the crucial factors in the maintenance and shift of religious identity of a transplanted religious group in the U.S. (Hindu or otherwise), (d) identify the intermediate points on the continuum between the 'ghetto' identity on the one extent and the near-total assimilation with the host culture on the other. The Hindus in the continuum (Fenton 1988), (e) discuss the relationship between the maintenance/shift of the linguistic and religious identity of an immigrant community in the U.S., and (f) identify the connection between the religious identity and the attitudes of the immigrant Hindus toward the important social issues related to abortion, capital punishment, etc.

The research will be carried out in the following three phases: (a) analysis of the representative original texts of Hinduism and their interpretations to trace the 'core'features of the Hindu identity, (b) observation/analysis of the religious behavior of the first generation Hindus through questionnaires and interviews and by visiting/attending religious shrines, festivals, etc., and (c) coalescing and documenting the results in the form of a manuscript.