Hindoos, Hindus, Spelling, and Theory

What is the relationship between spelling and theory? I often tell people my research is about "Hinduism in nineteenth century America." But it's really not. It's not about Hinduism at all. It can't be because the idea of "Hinduism," a world religion comparable to other world religions, isn't invented until the late nineteenth century. That's … Continue reading Hindoos, Hindus, Spelling, and Theory

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On Swami Vivekananda’s 150th Birthday: Beginnings and Endings

Tomorrow marks Swami Vivekananda's 150th birthday. Vivekananda haunts me. He was a man who meant and continues to mean many things to many people. But for me, Vivekananda will always represent a limit or a boundary. When I started the research project that became my dissertation, I started with Vivekananda and then turned and looked … Continue reading On Swami Vivekananda’s 150th Birthday: Beginnings and Endings

Asian Religions in America as an Ngram: Hinduism, Buddhism, and the Rammohun Spike

I decided to play around with Google's Ngram viewer and see what it might tell me about how Americans wrote about Asian religions. Click here for a bigger version of the graph. Here's what I noticed: 1. The most popular moment for Asian religions in America was in the 1820s and it most likely revolved … Continue reading Asian Religions in America as an Ngram: Hinduism, Buddhism, and the Rammohun Spike

The First Hindu in America? Maybe…

From the diary of Rev. William Bentley of Salem, Mass. December 29, 1799: Had the pleasure of seeing for the first time a native of the Indies from Madras. He is of very dark complection, long black hair, soft countenance, tall, & well proportioned. He is said to be darker than Indians in general of … Continue reading The First Hindu in America? Maybe…