Crossing the Black Waters: Hinduism beyond India
While the boundaries of Hinduism have been challenged by the voices of low caste people and women's groups, their location and stability have also been called into question by the emigration of Hindus and the export of Hindu spirituality.
Those scholars who have sought to classify and typologize religions and their various dimensions have tended to see Hinduism as an ethnic religion, a religion of a particular people, and associated with their land or place. According to this view, a person was a Hindu by virtue of his or her birth within an Indian Hindu caste. Such a person, by tradition, was then subject to the dharma of his or her community, its rules and customs. The realm of dharma, the Hindu universe, was known as bharat, the land ritually purified by the brahmin and surrounded by kala pani, the black waters.
Historically, Buddhists, Christians, and Muslims have spread their religious ideas and practices by conversion and conquest. They are now found as majority populations in many different countries. Nearly all the world's Hindus, however, continue to live in the secular state of India, where they represent about 78 per cent of a population of 900 million, and Nepal, where Hinduism is the state religion and where 90 per cent of Nepalese are Hindus. This seems to lend strong support to the idea that