World Wide Gods on the Web
Keywords:Hinduism, Cultural Resource Theory, Online Darshan
AbstractDawson and Hennebry have speculated that disembedded online phenomena could be linked to the use of religion as a ‘cultural resource’ (Beckford 1992, 2000, 2001) and that this is likely to result in (unspecified) ‘consequences for the future form and function of religion’ (Dawson and Hennebry 2004: 166). In this article I demonstrate that images of Hindu gods and goddesses on the World Wide Web are not generally indicative of the use of Hinduism as a cultural resource. Despite this, I argue that the presence of images of Hindu deities online is a significant development within popular Hinduism. I recognise that darshan, a form of worship which involves a devotee gazing into a deity’s eyes in order to receive a blessing, is possible via a computer screen, but also reveal the limitations of this practice. I further argue though that online images are important because they have the potential to contribute to the universalisation of Hinduism.
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