Deepak Ojha

I am a Ph.D. candidate at the department of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi, India. I hold an M.Phil. degree in sociology from the Delhi School of Economics, a master’s degree in Sociology from JNU and a BA in Mass Communication from Makhanlal Chaturvedi University, Bhopal, India, a diploma in Vedic Culture from JNU. My research investigates how digital technology and consumerist capitalism affect both traditional authority and the religious-seeking behaviour of Hindus. It explores the transformation of rituals in the digital age and reviews several issues concerning legitimacy, innovation, the role of authority, and the validity of online worship in the digital age.

Your research:

My M.Phil. (continues in Ph.D.) research examines Hindu Worship online focusing on three core areas, the online temple, commercial puja site (puja ordering sites), and religious discourse site. It argues that online ritual practice creates a new form of religious experience among religious communities. It achieves these prospects in different ways, which depend on the conditions that determine the negotiation of religious authority and current social trends of a particular society. The sacredness of digital technology and its incorporation into Hindu religious life reflect the historical trend of expansion of the symbolic universe of Hinduism. For instance, Online worship considers as a lower form of religious experience by religious authority, show historical trends of Hindu authority’s dual strategy which instead of rejecting or accepting new thoughts and behaviour, accommodated within the Hierarchal social order.

The current scholarship on Digital Hinduism recognises the traditional way of religious behaviour allowed to perform rituals in cyberspace. On the other side, the user-generated approach to religion was presented to create a democratic sphere of religious practices. However, the social and cultural life of Hindus in terms of hierarchical inequality among them invites us to engage with Digital Hinduism in which caste and class relations have to be discussed. Therefore, my work is an attempt in that sense to look at historical-cultural hegemony and resistance in the Hindu social order and its transition to cyberspace.

Areas of study:

The focus of this study is to find the genealogically intertwined between the new media technology and Hinduism and its impact on the religious and political development in India. It explores it in the field of Sociology and Social Anthropology of Religion, Digital Religion, Mass Media Studies, and Popular Culture. My Ph.D. research focuses on the Hindu religious changes in the digital era but other than this I am also interested in digital culture including online Hindu nationalism, digital identity formation, digital humanity, and caste conflict in cyberspace.

Workshop/Paper Presentations:

Paper Presented at the conference “Space, Stuff and Sacrality: Everyday Engagements with Religion in Society” (16- 17 June, 2022, online; University of Leeds). Paper title- Making of Sacred Place: With reference of Hindu Online Worship Online.

Paper Presented at MESAAS graduate student conference (25 March, 2022) at the Colombia University. Paper title- Making of Sacred Place: The case of Online Pooja and Darshan.

Paper Presented at the Research Workshop (10 Sept, 2021) organised by the Department of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics. Title- Making a Cyberspace as Sacred Place: The case of Online Pooja and Darshan.

Participated in the British Academy Writing Workshop on Critical Communication: Supporting effective academic writing in the field of media, communication, and cultural studies in India.