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Revisiting Max Weber’s Religion of India

DOI https://doi.org/10.15543/MWS/2018/1/8

Romila Thapar


Weber’s study of the religion of India, includes his views on the state in India and caste. The discussion is based as expected, on the information and readings of these themes by colonial administrators of the nineteenth century and by scholars, largely European, who had worked on India during the same period. Using these writings as sources, Weber attempted to apply his thesis from European history on the link between the Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism, which he found absent in the Indian material. The historical and sociological premises from which he drew his conclusions have been questioned in the last century. The relations between a variety of state systems and caste and religious sects in the history of India have taken forms different from those that were suggested a century ago.

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