SUMMARYThe objective in this thesis has been to discuss how broader, contemporary debates on religion were reflected in Western scholarship on Hindu nationalism in the 1990ies. In order to do so, I have selected one book from the period which has made Hindu nationalism its central object of inquiry. Hence, The saffron wave, written by Thomas Blom Hansen in 1999, has been a starting point from which I have inquired into scholarly debates of the late 20th century. My intention has been to discuss how these debates might have contributed to structure the way in which religion is dealt with in scholarship on Hindu nationalism, exemplified by The saffron wave. Further, I have intended to discuss the kind of challenges that these scholarly debates pose to the study of religion, and the kind of challenges that the issue of religion poses to them. Starting with the issue of essentialism, I have reflected upon the arguments behind the anti-essentialist approach to religion, and the implications of such arguments for the study of religion. By holding the ideals of anti-essentialism up against the political analysis in The saffron wave, I have found that the political explanation in that book falls pray to the very essentialism from which its author intended to escape. Next, I have discussed how the wave of anti-essentialism has been expressed in theoretical discourses on religion. Seeing social constructionism as an attempt to overcome the methodological problem associated with essentialism, I have discussed the alternative approach to religion that social constructionism represents. Next, I have contextualised The saffron wave in the discourse on modernity, suggesting that a progressive modernisation theory may have informed the approach to religion in that book. Further, I have discussed the class analysis on which the argument in the The saffron wave is base, with a particular view to the relation between class and cast. Lastly, I have discussed the workability of the concept of religion, arguing that it is a useful analytical tool that may contribute fruitfully to shed light upon the phenomenon of Hindu nationalism.