Frits Staal once provocatively claimed that what makes someone a Hindu is not what he believes, but ‘the ritual practices he performs and the rules to which he adheres, in short, what he does’ (Staal 1989, p. 389). On this account the verbal text of Hinduism found in poetry, discussion, prescription, and narrative co-exists with a particularly rich ‘enacted’ text of rituals, customs, practices and techniques: indeed, it is these activities that constitute the majority of religious life for many Hindus. This can be seen as the means by which Hinduism as a cultural form reproduces itself through the ages, internalised in what Pierre Bourdieu calls an embodied doxa, an ‘active presence in the world through which the world imposes its presence, with its urgencies,...

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