Each stable culture and major civilization of the world consists of a distinct material base and a distinct ideational structure and has an inherent mechanism of striking its own equilibrium between the two. In the Indian tradition dharma is the balancing force. Religion and ideology are literally treated as synonymous with the Sanskrit word dharma. But dharma differs from religion in not being exclusive, and from ideology in possessing a transcendental dimension.
The papers in this volume acknowledge that neither the word religion nor dharma can be discarded while looking at the Indian reality. They address themselves to the question: To what extent does the continued use of the concept of religion in the Indian context reflect reality, and to what extent does it distort or misrepresent its dharmic reality? Given India's historical and the present existential situation these papers explore the question: "Is an alterative understanding of Indian civilization possible, independent of Western presuppositions?"
The articles in the book present an in-depth study of the concept of dharma and its relation to the other purusharthas -- artha, kama and moksha, as well as with society, science, religion, Ayurveda and secularism. Relying mainly on the Vedas, epics, Manusmriti and the writings of Plato, Vivekananda, Gandhi et al., these papers explore some contemporary issues relating to women (stri-dharma) and the dilemmas faced by the Indian diaspora, especially in the UK and the US.
These discussions have an appeal for a general reader as well as for scholars of Philosophy, Religion, Women's Studies, Modern India and Sociology.