After examining the discussion of the complex religious world of India in Bentley and Ziegler's Traditions & Encounters, what were the main religions and how did they interact?
Bentley and Ziegler point out that the complexity of religious expression in India was able to coexist quite peacefully. In stark contrast to the vision of religious and communal violence that seems to be present in parts of the subcontinent today, there was a sense of consensus that was understood despite religious differences. The presence of Islam and Hinduism in the subcontinent were the dominant religious expressions at the time. Accordingly, Bentley and Ziegler suggest that there was a convergence or meeting of religious traditions that enabled both to exist independently of one another, yet be adjacent to one another.
Bentley and Ziegler point to several examples in which interactions between Muslim and Hindu faiths were tolerant and inclusive. For example, the spread of Islam through the Sufi movement did not threaten Hinduism. The Sufis preached a universal and transcendent vision of spiritual reality that embraced many tenets of Hinduism. This is especially so in terms of the subjectively spiritual notion of the divine. At the same time, the emergence of the Bhakti movement stressed a form of universal salvation and paralleled the inclusivity of the Sufi movement. These aspects help to show how complex religious practices in both Hinduism and Islam enabled both religions to prosper and grow in India without seeking domination over one another. Individuals such as Guru Kabir were critical in helping this coexistence. Guru Kabir took to preaching and emphasizing the idea that Hindu Deities and Islamic construction of the Divine were one in the same, echoing the same element of spiritual identity. Bentley and Ziegler suggest that the Indian subcontinent's main religions of Hinduism and Islam were able to find many points of convergence and coexistence, helping to develop a consensus- based interaction.