Om-line Hinduism

World Wide Gods on the Web


  • Heinz Scheifinger Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore



Hinduism, Cultural Resource Theory, Online Darshan


Dawson 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.

Author Biography

Heinz Scheifinger, Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore

Heinz Scheifinger holds a PhD in Sociology from the University of Warwick. Formerly an ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council) funded Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Sociology at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, he is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore. His research focuses upon the relationship between religion (especially Hinduism) and the Internet. Publications include ‘Hinduism and Cyberspace’ in Religion (2008); ‘The Jagannath Temple and Online Darshan’ in the Journal of Contemporary Religion (2009); ‘Internet Threats to Hindu Authority: Puja Ordering Websites and the Kalighat Temple’ in the Asian Journal of Social Science (2010); and ‘Hindu Embodiment and the Internet’ in Online – Heidelberg Journal of Religions on the Internet (forthcoming).


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How to Cite

Scheifinger, H. (2011). Om-line Hinduism: World Wide Gods on the Web. Journal for the Academic Study of Religion, 23(3), 325–345.