The last two centuries have witnessed profound changes in the nature of public consciousness. Nowhere has this been more true than in India, especially in relation to changing cultures of public life and religious tradition in South India. Essays in this collection attempt to explore the intricacies of what is perhaps the single most complex socio-religious environment in the world. The essays consider the evolution of the notion of Hinduism as a distinct and singular separate religion; the relationship between this kind of formulation and various European or western influences in India; and differences which the formation of this idea and its acceptance have made upon wider public consciousness. Each essay also considers certain general issues - such as the passing along of religious authority from one generation to the next, and the rise of disputes over matters both ideological (or doctrinal) and institutional, disputes that are fundamental to the traditions concerned and yet have unmistakable cross-cultural references.