Hindu Theodicy and Jan Gopal

  • David N. Lorenzen Colegio de México


In the view of Max Weber, a theodicy refers to the way in which different religions represent how what happens to persons after death is determined by their actions in their present lives. The standard Hindu theodicy claims that our behaviour in this and previous lives leads to a better or worse rebirth. This essay discusses how this Hindu theodicy was modified by religious thinkers who wished to accommodate this system to a more egalitarian and fluid social system through the infusion and elevation of the concept of religious devotion or bhakti. The main example used is the work of a seventeenth-century Hindu poet named Jana Gopāla. His views are compared to those of earlier Hindu texts and to those of an eighteenth century Italian Christian missionary in India.


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Author Biography

David N. Lorenzen, Colegio de México
David N. Lorenzen did his graduate studies with A. L. Basham in London and Australia. Since 1970 he has been a professor in El Colegio de México in Mexico City. His research has dealt primarily with the study of Hindu religious movements. These have included groups associated with Tantrik religion, groups derived directly and indirectly with the poet-saint Kabir (ca. 1500), and an eighteenth-century Christian mission of Italian Capuchins in Bihar. A full curriculum and a selection of Lorenzen’s published articles is available through the web-site academia.edu. He can be reached at: lorenzen@colmex.mx.