Onlife Hinduism: Pilgrimage and Everyday Experiences in Gaya, India

Anand Ranjan, University of Edinburgh

I am a PhD first-year student at the University of Edinburgh. I completed my MPhil and MA in Sociology from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India. I also have a bachelor’s degree in Spanish language and Cultural Studies from JNU, New Delhi. I had an opportunity to present a paper on ‘Digital Hinduism’ at the International Conference organised by the European Association of South Anthropologists in 2022. I would like to collaborate with the scholars working on the intersection of digital technology, religion and nationalism. I am also a PhD affiliate in the Centre for Data, Culture & Society, University of Edinburgh.

My current research is to understand the religious experiences emerging at the intersection of the online and offline sphere in a ‘hyper-mediated world’. These new emerging experiences can not be placed in the binary of online and offline experiences. Borrowing from Floridi’s idea, it can be defined as ‘Onlife’ religious experiences. I am using the lens of onlife religious experiences to understand the relationship between Hinduism, digital technology, and ethnonationalism in contemporary India. Exploring how digital technology is employed to express and spread Hindutva in the name of restoring Hinduism. The pervasiveness of information and communication technology in our life has changed our everyday experiences and religion can not be aloof from this. What could be the nature of the emergent form of digital religiosity? Is technology becoming complementary to religion? How modern nationalism is becoming an integration of scientific vision and religious vision? What effects does the intersection of digital technology and religion have on religious fundamentalism? It explores whether the intersection of online and offline spaces (onlife) can promote previously silenced voices (Dalit [untouchable caste], LGBTQIA+, Female) within Hinduism. The pilgrimage practices at Gaya (India) will be a lens for an empirical understanding of an emergent form of Onlife Hinduism. It will bring fresh data to challenge the intersection between religion and politics in India, especially when Hindu religious identity assertion and religious fundamentalism are rising in online and offline spaces.



Research profile