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RELG 547

Special Topics in Hinduism

Primary vs Secondary Sources

Primary sources are contextual, they depend on your research question. They are the original source of information or evidence for your topic. Here are some examples:

  1. If you are researching the Bhakti movement, bhakti poetry could be your primary source.
  2. If you are investigating how scholars have studied Hinduism, then a journal article (which would usually be considered a secondary source) becomes your primary source.
  3. If your topic focuses on recent events, current newspapers, blogs or even Tweets could be your primary source.

A Note on Primary Sources

Primary sources, much like other types of information sources, can be biased. It is important to keep a few things in mind:

  • The intent of the author: why are they sharing this information? Why are they using this format? Who was the intended audience?
  • The availability of documents: sometimes certain types of documents or narratives were not preserved because they were not thought of as important. This frequently happens with indigenous populations or colonial information. It's important to be aware that the information available may not paint a complete picture of a topic or period.
  • Version: Is this a translation? An adaptation? How much has the original been modified? Has it been censored?

Primary Sources Databases


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