The Dilemma of a Liberal Hindu

(Paper Presented at a Conference at the university of Chicago 'India : Implementing Plularism and Democracy' on November 11 - 13, 2005. Forthcoming in a volume edited by Martha Naussbaum & Wendy Doniger)

A few months ago the confident and handsome friend of our son's gave a telling reply to a visiting Englishwoman in Khan Market in Delhi. “I am a Hindu, but”, he said, and he went into a winding reply about his beliefs. He hastily added that he was an Indian first. It was a perfectly honest answer, and any otherperson might have given a similar one about Islam or Christianity. But I sensed an unhappy defensiveness“ the 'but' betrayed that he might be ashamed of being Hindu.