We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more

E-book purchase
Choose a subscription

Downloaded copy on your device does not expire. Includes 4 years of Bookshelf Online.


Where applicable, tax will be added to the above price prior to payment.

E-book purchasing help


Religions of Asia Today

Fourth Edition

John L. Esposito, Darrell J. Fasching, and Todd T. Lewis

Publication Date - 10 November 2017

ISBN: 9780190642426

408 pages
7-1/2 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock

Offers a unique focus on Asian religious traditions in the modern world, illustrating the tension between tradition and modernity


Ideal for courses in Asian or Eastern religions, Religions of Asia Today, Fourth Edition, covers the same material contained in the authors' longer textbook, World Religions Today, Sixth Edition, while also featuring a unique chapter on Islam in Asia. Revealing the significance of religion in contemporary life, it explores Hinduism, Buddhism, South Asian religions, East Asian religions, indigenous religions, and new religions as dynamic, ongoing forces in the lives of individuals and in the collective experience of modern societies.

This unique volume accomplishes two goals: it connects today's religions to their classical beliefs and practices and focuses on how these religions have both radically changed the modern world and been changed by it. The book is enhanced by numerous pedagogical aids--text boxes, timelines, maps, illustrations, discussion questions, a comprehensive glossary of key terms, and suggestions for further reading--and more than 100 photographs. Thoroughly revised, the fourth edition features streamlined content for greater accessibility; updated material on recent world events; and updated timelines that reflect current events.
Also available to suit your course needs:

World Religions Today, Sixth Edition: 978-0-19-064419-2

Religions of the West Today, Fourth Edition: 978-0-19-064241-9

New to this Edition

  • Streamlined content throughout for greater accessibility
  • Updated material on recent world events
  • Updated timelines that reflect such current events as the return of the Hindu fundamentalists (BJP Party) to power in India


  • Connects today's religions to their classical beliefs and practices and highlights the tensions between historical religious traditions and their modern manifestations
  • Offers an up-to-date view of how religions have responded to and been transformed by the modern world and how they impact and are impacted by globalization and international relations
  • Highlights some of the most colorful, lively, and striking aspects of religion today through a wide variety of thematic and special-topic boxes that explore particular ideas or practices in some depth: * "Rituals and Rites" boxes examine rituals that have changed in practice or meaning over time * "Gender Focus" boxes highlight gender-specific customs within each faith * "Teachings of Religious Wisdom" boxes expose students to primary sources from various traditions * "Contrasting Religious Visions" boxes compare the beliefs of two significant adherents of a faith who each see the demands of their religion calling believers in very different directions in the modern age * "Tales of Spiritual Transformation" offer descriptions of religious experiences in the believers' own words
  • Incorporates helpful pedagogical aids, including timelines, maps, illustrations, discussion questions, a comprehensive glossary, suggestions for further reading, and more than 200 photographs

About the Author(s)

John L. Esposito is University Professor of Religion and International Affairs, and Founding Director of the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University.

The late Darrell J. Fasching was Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at the University of South Florida.

Todd T. Lewis is the Murray Distinguished Professor of Arts and Humanities at the College of the Holy Cross.

Table of Contents

    Why Study World Religions?
    Our Task
    Understanding Religious Experience and Its Formative Elements
    The Sacred
    Myth, Scripture, and Beliefs
    Community and Morality
    Religious Leaders/Experts
    The Great Religious Stories of the World
    Myths of Nature
    China and the Myths of Harmony
    India and the Myths of Liberation
    The Middle East and the Myths of History
    Religious Diversity and Historical Change: The Structure of this Book
    Historical Overview: From Premodern to Postmodern
    The Modern/Postmodern Transition: Colonialism, Socialism, and the End of Modernity
    Postmodern Trends in a Postcolonial World
    Conclusion: We Are All Heretics in Our Postmodern Situation
    Origins of Homo religiosus: Prehistory
    Religion's Origins Among Hunter-Gatherers
    Fertility, Childbirth, and Survival
    Religion in Prehistory: The Secret of Early Cave Rituals
    Indigenous Religious Traditions: Soul Belief and Afterlife
    Totemism: Australian Aboriginal Religion
    Shamans: "Technicians of the Sacred"
    * Case Studies in Indigenous Religious Practices Today
    Bear Sacrifice: A Widespread Arctic and Pacific Rim Tradition
    Shamans Who Repair the World
    Indigenous Religions Today
    The Cataclysms of Colonialism
    Shamanism in Modern Asia: Division of Labor Within the World Religions
    Global Neo-Shamanism: Expropriation by "White Shamans"
    Defining Hinduism: Unity, Diversity, Localities
    Encounter with Modernity: Hindu Challenges to India as a Secular State
    Premodern Hinduism: The Formative Era
    The Aryans and Religion in the Vedic Era
    Vedic Religion
    Karma, Yoga, and the Quest for Liberation
    Premodern Hinduism: The Classical Era (180 BCE-900 CE)
    Early Heterodox Indic Religions: Jainism and Buddhism
    Jainism: The Tradition of Spiritual Conquerors
    The Reality of Karma and Caste
    The Four Stages and Four Aims of Life
    Epics and the Development of Classical Hinduism
    Mainstream Hinduism and the Rise of Devotion to the Great Deities
    Premodern Hinduism: The Postclassical Era (900 CE-1500 CE)
    The Formation of Major Hindu Schools of Thought
    The Early Islamic Era: Delhi Sultanate (1192-1525)
    Religion in the Mughal Era (1526-1707)
    * The Rise of Sikhism
    Hinduism and Modernity
    Hinduism Under British Colonialism
    Challenges and Responses to Colonialism
    The Work of Gandhi: Hindu Elements in Indian Nationalism
    Hinduism and Postmodern Trends in a Postcolonial World
    The Persistence of Traditional Religious Understandings
    Contemporary Hindu Practices
    Hindu and Sikh Festival Practice
    Pilgrimage Festivals
    Sikh Festivals
    The Religious Institutions of Contemporary Hinduism
    Changes and Continuities: Examples of Postcolonial Hinduism
    The Connection of Religion with Philanthropy and Social Reform
    Religious Nationalism: Secular India and its Discontents
    A Growing Global Tradition
    Encounter with Modernity: Socially "Engaged Buddhism"
    Premodern Buddhism: The Formative Era (600 BCE-100 CE)
    The Buddha: Context and Biography
    Buddhism as the Path to Nirvana
    The First Community and Its Development
    How Buddhism Became a World Religion
    Sangha and Monastery: The Institutional Vehicles of Buddhism's Expansion
    Premodern Buddhism: The Classical Era (100-800 CE)
    The Pan-Asian Expansion of Buddhism
    The Core Doctrines
    The Classical Ideal: Buddhist Civilization
    The Mahayana: Philosophies and East Asian Monastic Schools
    Premodern Buddhism: Buddhist Expansion (400-1500 CE)
    South Asia
    Southeast Asia
    The Himalayan Region
    Buddhism and Modernity
    Early Modern Buddhist Polities: Monastics, Householders, Kings
    Buddhist Monasticism
    Buddhism Under Colonialism (1500-1960)
    Challenges from Colonialism, Communism, and Modern Critics (1800-Present)
    The Twentieth-Century Buddhist Revival Gains Strength
    Buddhism and Postmodern Trends in a Postcolonial World
    South Asia
    Theravada Buddhism Today in Southeast Asia
    Tooth Relics and Anti-Muslim Riots in Myanmar
    Three Contemporary Faces of Thai Buddhism
    East Asia
    Buddhism Today in Diaspora and in Asia
    Buddhism's Affinity for Modernization
    The Sangha: Adaptive Reformism?
    State Buddhism and the Poison of Ethnic Passion
    Encounter with Modernity: The Fall and Return of Confucianism
    The Postcolonial Challenge of Confucianism
    East Asian Religions in the Formative Era (1500 BCE-617 CE)
    Earliest History: Shang (1766-1122 BCE)
    Development of the Multiple Traditions in Post-Han China
    Religion Under the Early Japanese Imperial State: Buddhism and Shinto
    East Asian Religions in the Classical Era (645-1800 CE)
    Classical Imperial China (645-1271 CE)
    The Development of Buddhism, Daoism, and Confucianism in Korea and Japan
    East Asian Religions in the Late Classical Era (1400-1800)
    East Asian Religions in the Early Modern Era
    Disruptive European Intrusions
    Traumatic Transitions of the Modern Era
    The Appearance of New Religious Movements and Religions
    East Asian Religions and Postmodern Trends in a Postcolonial World
    Continuities and Transformations in the East Asian Religions
    The Religious Institutions: Monasteries, Temples, Shrines
    The Return of Religion to China: Case Studies
    Japan's Creative Diversity: Old Traditions and New
    Korea's Strong Confucian Tradition Accommodates Diversity
    Conclusion: Have We Entered a Third Confucian Age?
    The Prophet of Islam
    The Quran and Hadith
    The Message of the Quran
    Sunni and Shiah Islam
    Islamic Law
    The Five Pillars of Islam
    Sufi Mysticism
    Islam in Asia
    Muslims in Asia under European Colonialism
    Postcolonial Asian Islam
    Globalization and Hijacking of Jihad
    Encounter with Modernity: The Challenge of Global Diversity to the "Purity" of Tradition
    New Religions
    Old Religions and New Religions in the History of Religions
    The New Age and New Age Religions
    Postmodernism and the New Age
    Theosophy, Christian Science, and the Unity School of Christiantiy
    The Baha'i Global Religious Vision
    Conclusion: The Postmodern Challenge--Can There Be a Global Ethic in a World of Religious Diversity?
    Beyond Atheism: The Challenge of Postmodern Secular Relativism
    "Passing Over": A Postmodern Spiritual Adventure That Responds to the Challenge of Globalization
    Tolstoy, Jesus, and "Saint Buddha": An Ancient Tale with a Thousand Faces
    The Children of Gandhi: An Experiment in Postmodern Global Ethics
    The Future of Religion in an Age of Globalization
    Art Credits

Related Titles