Handbook of Research on Development and Religion
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Handbook of Research on Development and Religion

Edited by Matthew Clarke

With eighty percent of the world’s population professing religious faith, religious belief is a common human characteristic. This fascinating and highly unique Handbook brings together state-of-the-art research on incorporating religion into development studies.
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Chapter 6: Hinduism and development

A. Whitney Sanford


Hinduism is one of the world’s oldest religious traditions and is the third largest tradition, following Christianity and Islam. The greatest population of Hindus live in the Indian subcontinent, comprising India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bangladesh, although India is home to the vast majority of Hindus. Hindus comprise approximately 84 percent of India’s population; Muslims approximately 13 percent, with the remainder a mixture of Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Christians, and Parsis. A significant, and growing, Hindu diaspora now resides in regions such as the Caribbean, Africa, Great Britain, and the United States. This chapter illustrates the central texts, practices, and concepts of Hinduism, highlighting categories and concepts meaningful for Hindus. This discussion presents a broad overview of the tradition but focuses on those concepts that have or might shape attitudes towards development, for example, ethics and sacred geographies. Given these constraints, this chapter will not focus on areas such as the chronological development of Hinduism or its rich theological and philosophical traditions. To pursue any of these concepts in more depth or from alternate perspectives, the following works are excellent sources: Flood (1996), Mittal and Thursby (2004), Rinehart (2004), and Hawley and Narayanan (2006).

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