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Spaces of Religion in Urban South Asia
 2020040804, 9780367561505, 9781003106067

Table of contents :
Cover
Half Title
Series
Title
Copyright
Contents
List of figures
Notes on contributors
Acknowledgements
1 Introduction: spaces of religion in urban South Asia
2 Defining the postcolonial sacred: contested places of worship and urban planning in Delhi after Partition, 1947–1951
3 Inclusivism and its contingencies: following temple-goers in Kanpur
4 Conversionary Christian place-making in 19th-century Madurai
5 Sikh pilgrimage sites in the city of Nanded in Maharashtra
6 The production of Muslim space: Mohalla life and Milad celebrations in Lahore
7 The boundary within: demolitions, dream projects and the negotiation of Hinduness in Banaras
8 Mantras of the metropole: Chetan Bhagat’s millennial Hinduism
9 Kālī and the queen: religion and the production of Calcutta’s pasts and presents
10 Timelines and lifelines: landscape practices and religious refabulations from South Asia
11 Land-grabbing deities: the politics of public space in a multireligious neighbourhood
12 Making the “smart heritage city”: banal Hinduism, beautification and belonging in “New India”
13 Hindutva 2.0 as information ecology
14 Purpose built: Islamabad, the Cold War, and non-Muslim minorities in Pakistan
15 “We stand, but we do not pray”: religious plurality in a Mumbai chawl
Index

Citation preview

Spaces of Religion in Urban South Asia

This book explores religion in various spatial constellations in South Asian cities, including religious centres such as Varanasi, Madurai and Nanded, and cities not readily associated with religion, such as Mumbai and Delhi. Contributors from different disciplines discuss a large variety of urban spaces: physical and imagined, institutional and residential, built and landscaped, virtual and mediatised, historical and contemporary. In doing so, the book addresses a wide range of issues concerning the role of religion in the dynamic interplay of factors which characterise complex urban social spaces. Chapters incorporate varying degrees and forms of the religious/spiritual, ranging from invisible and incorporeal to material and explicit, embedded in and expressed as spatial politics, works of fiction, mission, pilgrimage, festivals and everyday life. Topics examined include conflictual situations involving places of worship in Delhi, inclusive religious practices in Kanpur, American Protestant mission in Madurai, the celebration of the Prophet’s birthday in Lahore, gardens as imaginative spaces, the politics of religion in Varanasi and many others. Illustrating and analysing ways and forms in which religion persists in South Asian urban contexts, this book will be of interest to researchers and students in the fields of cultural studies, the study of religions, urban studies and South Asian studies. István Keul is Professor in the Study of Religions at the University of Bergen, Norway. His areas of research include various aspects of the history and sociology of South Asian religions. He is the author of a monograph on the Hindu deity Hanuman and has edited volumes on tantra, Yoginis, Banaras and consecration rituals.

Routledge South Asian Religion Series

  9 Women, Religion and the Body in South Asia Living with Bengali Bauls Kristin Hanssen 10 Religion, Space and Conflict in Sri Lanka Colonial and Postcolonial Contexts Elizabeth J. Harris 11 Religion and Technology in India Spaces, Practices and Authorities Edited by Knut A. Jacobsen and Kristina Myrvold 12 The Baghdadi Jews in India Maintaining Communities, Negotiating Identities, and Creating Super-Diversity Edited by Shalva Weil 13 Regional Communities of Devotion in South Asia Insiders, Outsiders, and Interlopers Edited by Gil Ben-Herut, Jon Keune, and Anne Monius 14 Ritual Journeys in South Asia Constellations and Contestations of Mobility and Space Edited by Jürgen Schaflechner and Christoph Bergmann 15 Muslim Communities and Cultures of the Himalayas Conceptualizing the Global Ummah Edited by Jacqueline H. Fewkes and Megan Adamson Sijapati 16 Spaces of Religion in Urban South Asia Edited by István Keul For more information about this series, please visit: www.routledge.com

Spaces of Religion in Urban South Asia Edited by István Keul

First published 2021 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN and by Routledge 52 Vanderbilt Avenue, New York, NY 10017 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2021 selection and editorial matter, István Keul; individual chapters, the contributors The right of István Keul to be identified as the author of the editorial material, and of the authors for their individual chapters, has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Keul, István, editor. Title: Spaces of religion in urban South Asia / edited by István Keul. Description: Abingdon, Oxon ; New York, NY : Routledge, 2021. | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2020040804 | ISBN 9780367561505 (hardback) | ISBN 9781003106067 (ebook) Subjects: LCSH: Sociology, Urban—South Asia—Religious aspects. | Religion and sociology—South Asia. | Cultural landscapes—South Asia. Classification: LCC HT147.S64 S63 2021 | DDC 306.60954/091732—dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2020040804 ISBN: 978-0-367-56150-5 (hbk) ISBN: 978-1-003-10606-7 (ebk) Typeset in Times New Roman by Apex CoVantage, LLC

Contents

List of figuresvii Notes on contributorsviii Acknowledgementsxi   1 Introduction: spaces of religion in urban South Asia

1

ISTVÁN KEUL

  2 Defining the postcolonial sacred: contested places of worship and urban planning in Delhi after Partition, 1947–1951

9

CLEMENS SIX

  3 Inclusivism and its contingencies: following temple-goers in Kanpur

24

KATHINKA FRØYSTAD

  4 Conversionary Christian place-making in 19th-century Madurai

39

MARY HANCOCK

  5 Sikh pilgrimage sites in the city of Nanded in Maharashtra

56

KNUT A. JACOBSEN

  6 The production of Muslim space: Mohalla life and Milad celebrations in Lahore

72

AMEN JAFFER AND HAJRA CHEEMA

  7 The boundary within: demolitions, dream projects and the negotiation of Hinduness in Banaras VERA LAZZARETTI

87

vi  Contents   8 Mantras of the metropole: Chetan Bhagat’s millennial Hinduism

100

MANISHA BASU

  9 Kālī and the queen: religion and the production of Calcutta’s pasts and presents

115

DEONNIE MOODIE

10 Timelines and lifelines: landscape practices and religious refabulations from South Asia

128

SMRITI SRINIVAS

11 Land-grabbing deities: the politics of public space in a multireligious neighbourhood

144

MOUMITA SEN

12 Making the “smart heritage city”: banal Hinduism, beautification and belonging in “New India”

160

PHILIPPA WILLIAMS

13 Hindutva 2.0 as information ecology

176

ANUSTUP BASU

14 Purpose built: Islamabad, the Cold War, and non-Muslim minorities in Pakistan

191

CARA CILANO

15 “We stand, but we do not pray”: religious plurality in a Mumbai chawl

206

ISTVÁN KEUL

Index219

Figures

5.1 Śrī Hazūr Sāhib in Nanded 5.2 The road from the Gurdwārā Śrī Hazūr Sāhib to the Godavari River 5.3 The fast run with pointed swords which symbolises a military charge 11.1 The neighbourhood, drawing by the author 11.2 The Shani mandir, photographed by the author, Kolkata 2017 11.3 A remembered shrine, drawing by the author 11.4 The rebuilt mazar with the name Saiyadpur written in iron letters on the gate

61 62 68 148 152 153 156

Contributors

Anustup Basu is Associate Professor of English, Critical Theory, Film and Media Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. His research has been lately focused on media politics and techno-religiosity in the South Asian context. His most recent work, Hindutva as Political Monotheism, was published by Duke University Press in 2020. Manisha Basu is Associate Professor of English, African Studies, and Criticism and Interpretive Theory at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Her research interests are in postcolonial studies, South Asian studies, literary theory and African literature, and she teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses in these areas. She has recently become interested in global Anglophone fiction and hopes to publish her second book on that subject soon. Hajra Cheema is an architect and visual artist based in Lahore. Her art and research focus on the social geography of everyday life and its links to the politics of space. She is currently preparing an exhibition on religious gatherings in Lahore. Formerly, she was a lecturer in architecture, urban design and theory at COMSATS University, Islamabad. Cara Cilano is Associate Dean in the College of Arts and Letters and Professor of English at Michigan State University. Most of her scholarly work focuses on Pakistani English-language literature. She is the author of three books on Pakistani literature and has edited a collection of essays on literary representations of September 11, 2001, from outside the United States. Kathinka Frøystad is Professor of Modern South Asian Studies at the University of Oslo. She is a social anthropologist interested in practices assumed to promote cohesion in multireligious societies. Her interests also include ritual participation across religious boundaries and the legal regulation of religious offence. She has conducted research on New Age–inspired religious movements and on everyday Hindu nationalist rhetoric and its articulation with social inequalities. Mary Hancock is Professor in the Departments of Anthropology and History at University of California, Santa Barbara. She is an anthropologist of South

Contributors ix Asia, with particular interests in urban South India. Her research and teaching specialties include spatial studies, cultural memory, gender, statecraft and religion. Her current research concerns the history of transcultural religious networks between India and the U.S. Knut A. Jacobsen is Professor in the Study of Religions at the University of Bergen, Norway. His main fields of research are Hindu studies, classical and contemporary Samkhya and Yoga, South Asian pilgrimage traditions, ideas and rituals of space and time, and the globalisation of South Asian religions. He is the author or editor of around 40 books and the founding editor-in-chief of Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism (six volumes, 2009–2015) and Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism Online. Amen Jaffer is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS). His current research focuses on the sociality of urban life in Pakistan by examining the social relations of religious institutions, the politics around infrastructure in mixed-use neighbourhoods and the social economy of waste and recycling in Lahore. István Keul is Professor in the Study of Religions at the University of Bergen, Norway. He has worked on various aspects of South Asian religions, such as the history and sociology of Hanuman worship, new religious movements, ritual as technology and the polysemy of the Yogini. His current research interests include religion in urban contexts and situated cosmopolitanism. Vera Lazzaretti received her PhD in Indian and Tibetan studies (University of Turin, 2013) and is currently a researcher at the South Asia Institute in Heidelberg, where she is working on the entanglements of security and heritage in urban South Asia. Her fields of research include the anthropology of space and place, religion and politics in South Asia, contested heritage, inter-religious spaces, religious offence, pilgrimage, temple politics, Hindu nationalism and South Asian cartography. Deonnie Moodie is Associate Professor and Chair of the Religious Studies Department at the University of Oklahoma, where she teaches about the intersection of religion, politics and economics in South Asia. Her research centres on the production of novel Hindu forms in urban centres, especially Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) from the late 19th century until today. She is currently writing a book about the recent emergence of Hindu ideologies in Indian business schools and corporations. Moumita Sen is Associate Professor of Culture Studies at MF, Norwegian School of Theology, Religion, and Society in Oslo. She has worked on the intersection of aesthetic discourse, popular religiosity and organised politics in the Mahishasur movement. Her larger research interest is in the field of Indian visual culture. Her doctoral dissertation (2016) studied the practices of claymodelling in West Bengal, which weave together the worlds of art, religion and politics.

x  Contributors Clemens Six is Associate Professor of Contemporary History at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands. Previously, he worked at the Department of History at Bern University, Switzerland, was a Senior Research Fellow at the Divinity School, University of Chicago, and worked as a consultant for UNESCO. His research interests include politics and religion in 20th-century South and Southeast Asia, transnational secularism studies, global intellectual history since 1945 and the history of international development cooperation. Smriti Srinivas is Professor of Anthropology, University of California, Davis. She has authored numerous articles and five books on cities, religion and South Asia, including Reimagining Indian Ocean Worlds (2020) and A Place for Utopia: Urban Designs from South Asia (2015). The Mellon and Rockefeller foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, UC Humanities Network, the American Academy of Religion, and many others have supported her research. She is Series Editor, Routledge Series on the Indian Ocean and Trans-Asia. Philippa Williams is Senior Lecturer in Human Geography, Queen Mary University of London. Her research and teaching intersect political, economic and development geography, with a focus on everyday political life in India and its transnational community. Her current research collaborations in India explore the impact of digital transformations on everyday political life and lived experiences of justice for survivors of domestic violence.

Acknowledgements

The present volume is the outcome of a two-day workshop organised in September 2018 and hosted by the Department of Archaeology, History, Cultural Studies and Religion (AHKR) at the University of Bergen. The workshop was generously funded by the Research Council of Norway as part of the interdisciplinary, international research project Dwelling and Crossing: The socio-cultural dynamics of religious spaces in Mumbai (2014–2018). I am grateful to all the participants who contributed essays to this collection. For various reasons, not all the presentations could be included in the volume, and I thank Ajay Gandhi (Leiden University), Rémy Delage (CNRS, Paris), Borayin Larios (University of Vienna) and Mara Matta (Sapienza University, Rome) for their participation in the workshop. I am also grateful to Clemens Six (University of Groningen) who was not present in Bergen but generously agreed to contribute a chapter to the collection. I thank the two anonymous reviewers who provided thoughtful suggestions, and Dorothea Schaefter and Alexandra de Brauw at Routledge for their support during the publication process.

1 Introduction Spaces of religion in urban South Asia István Keul

The present volume has its starting point in an interdisciplinary, international research project on religion in Mumbai titled Dwelling and Crossing: The sociocultural dynamics of religious spaces in Mumbai (2014–2018) funded by the Research Council of Norway. While the project coordinators (Michael Stausberg and the editor of this volume) are working in the academic study of religions, the other participants come from different fields: political science, sociology, anthropology and modern South Asian studies. Unlike more conventional approaches in the study of religions, our project did not aim at providing histories or ethnographies of more or less clearly defined religious groups or movements. Instead, it took a spatial approach: The locations of religion in the various subprojects included neighbourhoods, cross-religious places of worship, the sidewalk and the slum, but also literary works containing (re)presentations of religion in urban contexts. This approach offered a number of advantages: Firstly, it avoided an unnecessary homogenisation of religions and religious groups, allowing room for discussions of individual trajectories spanning multiple identities and histories. In addition, zooming in on limited socio-geographic spaces seemed to be a more practicable way of dealing with the continuous transformation of a megalopolis impossible to comprehend as a whole. The spatial approach also offered an opportunity to conceptualise place and space in ways other than as taken-for-granted, confined settings with inhabitants  – namely, as socially constructed, relational, complex spaces (Low 2009: 21–22). This collection of essays is the outcome of a workshop that expanded the project’s geographical scope of inquiry to include South Asian cities of various sizes: Mumbai (Bombay), Delhi, Kanpur, Madurai, Nanded, Lahore, Banaras (Varanasi), Kolkata (Calcutta) and Islamabad. In the resulting essays, scholars from different disciplines look at religion as one of the (still very much persistent) variables in the dynamic interplay of factors that characterises complex urban social spaces. In addition to physical (built, residential, landscaped; historical and contemporary) spaces, a wide range of other spatial constellations that lend themselves to a fruitful analysis and interdisciplinary dialogue, such as virtual, medial and fictional spaces, are addressed as well. Ranging from the material, corporeal and explicit to the less or even in-visible, the spatial frameworks of the contributors’ reflections on South Asian urban articulations of religiosities and “spirited topographies”

2  István Keul (Hancock and Srinivas 2018) reflect the multiple potentialities inherent in a field of study that is still in its beginnings. The present volume also aims at contributing to filling (empirically and conceptually) a “conceptual void between religion and the city” diagnosed by Berking and others (2018), who characterise the different approaches to this field of research as both fragmentary and fragmented. At first glance, and from a historical perspective, the focus on some of the South Asian urban contexts encountered in the contributions to this volume do not come as a surprise. Varanasi, the century-old pilgrimage centre and seat of Sanskrit learning on the banks of the Ganges figures prominently among the Indian cities readily associated with religion. Also, an old temple city such as Madurai, or a pilgrimage destination such as Nanded in Maharashtra (even if less known) would probably not raise any eyebrows. These are cities that can be called, following Eck (1987: 2), orthogenetic cities, creators and sustainers of a cultural order. Mumbai or Delhi, on the other hand, seem to be less obvious choices at first, being examples of the heterogenetic city; collectors of a culture’s plurality and divergence; and places characterised by both economic and cultural productivity, and ambiguity (see also Redfield and Singer 1954: 59). The religious landscape of such cities is much more complex, and its importance for the fabric of these places is often overlooked. Studying the dynamics of religious spaces in large cities rich in contrasts and ambivalences reveals the various ways in which cultural perceptions and social practices on different societal levels contribute to the creation and shaping of complex imagined and real spaces of religion. The study of religion and religiosity in such multicultural settings benefits from taking into consideration Arjun Appadurai’s works, which point out that localities (and the relationalities and factors within, including the religious) are not given but are historically and contextually produced and should be understood not only as spatially bounded but also as imaginatively connected to other social spheres and spatial configurations (Appadurai 1996: 188). As seen next, the contributors to the volume paid particular attention to this aspect as well.

The contributions In the opening essay of the volume, Clemens Six discusses situations of contestation and conflict involving places of worship in Delhi after Partition (August 1947). Spaces of the urban sacred became focal points for the implementation of political authority and legitimacy and of a model urban society, and – at the same time – for the contestation of cultural hegemony as places of opposition and subversion. In the process, a large number of Hindu temples and Muslim shrines and mosques were officially authorised or demolished. The author shows that through these actions, the municipal and national authorities had a twofold aim: to fashion what in their view was a modern and religiously diverse India and to implement their version of secular statehood. The essay addresses further important issues: the contested boundaries between religious and secular urban spaces in the context of decolonisation, forced migration and inter-religious violence. It also takes up

Introduction  3 more general questions concerning the category of the sacred in (modern) urban history, such as its transitivity as a result not only of religious practices but also of modern governmentality; the continuities and ruptures that characterise the transition from colonial to postcolonial societies; and the connections between religious transformations, on the one hand, and the socio-economic and political transformations of the 20th century on the other. Applying a dynamic fieldwork strategy, Kathinka Frøystad looks in her contribution at inclusive religious practices in Kanpur and selected “contingent moments” that occurred during her research. The author starts out from one particular religious site, a Kali temple in the city’s suburbs, and follows visitors of the temple and a Brahmin priest around as they move through their neighbourhood, the city and surrounding villages. The focus of the study lies on her interlocutors’ engagement (or non-engagement) with a variety of non-Hindu religious festivals and sites, each coming with their own characteristic sensitivities and associations. In addition to documenting a certain degree of religious flexibility and openness, Frøystad also shows how the temporary crossing of religious boundaries can generate offence and has the potential to develop into inter-religious conflict. The “tag-along method” used by the author provides insights into the selective approach of her interlocutors to (cross-religious) sites and ritual events and their (often) low level of familiarity with the intricacies and sensitivities of others’ practices. The latter aspect, in turn, generates at times “contingent moments” and “inter-religious lapses,” the first-hand observation of which contributes to increasing our knowledge about the largely unexplored area between religious openness and religious offence. The topic of Mary Hancock’s essay is American Protestant mission in 19thcentury southern India, more specifically the spatial practices connected to intercultural exchange and urban development in Madurai. The resulting new spaces included built environments created by and for the work of Christianisation: residences, churches, schools, dispensaries and orphanages. Their production and valuation were underwritten by the missionaries’ notions of sacrality and their perceptions of competing local sacralities. At the same time, these spaces can be described as hybrid in architecture and interior design, as well as in the logics of their placement and use. Together, these built forms constituted a set of architectural, cultural and religious borderlands, shaped by colonial urban spaces, while being also products of and stages for Indo-American interactions that existed in complicity with and as counterpoints to British imperial formations. The author examines these issues through an analysis of the paired spatial projects of the company state and American Protestant mission in Madurai, a temple-centred settlement and node of medieval religio-political power. These aspects of the production of urban space reveal how religious convergences and frictions were entwined with the making of urban worlds in colonial South Asia and offer a genealogy for the ways in which urban world-making helped extend a new American imperial formation, built on commercial, religious, and education networks, in the interstices of British empire.

4  István Keul In his contribution, Knut A. Jacobsen looks at a Sikh pilgrimage centre located far away from the region of greater Punjab, where most of the historically and religiously important sites of Sikhism are. Pilgrimage is a widespread, popular and accepted ritual in contemporary Sikh religious traditions. Nanded in southern Maharashtra is the town where Guru Gobind Singh passed away in 1708, a year that marks for the Sikhs the end of the lineage of human Gurus and the beginning of the Guruship of the Sikh holy book, the Guru Granth. Nanded is also one of the five takhts, the Sikh seats of religious authority and legislation. Apart from the main gurdvārā in Nanded, which contains a number of relics of Guru Gobind Singh, the Sikhs have built a large number of additional sites associated with Guru Gobind Singh’s life. At the time when the Guru Granth was compiled, Nanded was not yet a pilgrimage place, but it developed into one over the centuries as Sikh pilgrims increasingly visited historical sites associated with their Gurus and celebrated the memory of historical events. As Jacobsen shows in his description of the town’s sacred sites, key features of the Sikh tradition were spatialised in Nanded, with the Sikh presence continuously expanding over the last decades. He also points out that the emphasis in Sikh pilgrimage on the history and territorialisation of faith did not lead to an increased effort towards architectural preservation, and the continuous replacement of old buildings with new structures does not seem to affect the feeling among pilgrims of being present at historical places. Amen Jaffer and Hajra Cheema analyse Milad celebrations in working-class neighbourhoods of Lahore from a local perspective, focusing on neighbourhood sociality rather than situating the festival in the wider framework of religious nationalism. The annual festival commemorating the Prophet Muhammad’s birth has grown in significance in recent years and continues to be in a process of transformation. According to the authors, even though Milad has become the main vehicle for the public showcasing of a Sunni identity, its norms are still being worked out. The same applies to the limits to which other, non-religious elements can be incorporated within it. Jaffer and Cheema discuss religious rationalities and their spatial implications in connection with the event, as well as other factors that shape public behaviour in urban contexts, such as expressions of masculinity, patriotism or competitivity. For instance, while the streets of the neighbourhoods are converted into colourful worlds, veritable settings for beauty and spectacle, the Milad celebrations provide the young men involved in the process with an opportunity to express their control over the space of the respective neighbourhood. According to Jaffer and Cheema, Milad is more than just a festival meant for expressing religious sentiments. It is at the same time a space in which the social relations that constitute the fabric of the neighbourhood are produced and reproduced. In her essay, Vera Lazzaretti explores the politics of religion in Banaras (Varanasi) by looking at the transformation of the area around two central religious sites, the Kashi Vishvanath temple and the Gyan Vapi mosque, focusing on boundaries and “in-between spaces.” Her vantage point is the Vyas Bhavan, a

Introduction 5 hundred-year-old building owned by a family of Hindu ritual specialists with a long tradition and high standing in the area, which was demolished in the summer of 2017 as part of a large government development project of urban renewal. Based on a close ethnographic relationship with Kedarnath Vyas (the head of the family), observations in the buffer zone between the two sites, and conversations with the area’s residents, Lazzaretti introduces and discusses the notion of the “boundary within,” a demarcation exposed by the demolitions in connection with the development project. In addition to the tendencies of delimitation against the Muslims that characterised the history of the space under discussion long before the demolitions, in recent years the struggle of Kedarnath Vyas for maintaining both his religious authority and his property was directed against the Kashi Vishvanath Temple Trust and assimilation into the temple domain. As more and more buildings in the compound were demolished, with the ruins of the buildings visible for months, residents deeply affected by the destruction of the neighbourhood’s material fabric and distinctive way of life started a protest movement, criticised political leaders and the government’s development plan, and debated about “real Hinduness.” Manisha Basu’s essay has its point of departure in Chetan Bhagat’s novel One Night @ the Call Center. Large parts of the novel’s narrative unfold at a call centre in Gurgaon, a satellite township of New Delhi and one of the world’s most important offshoring centres. In a dramatic moment of the plot, when the leading characters go through near-death experiences, one of them receives a phone call from God, in which the deity offers to save them if they in return promise to change their lives. Sounding like a self-help guidance counsellor, God speaks to the characters in an English inflected by Americanisms, an idiom familiar to them. As it also turns out in the course of the novel, God is Hindu, and a woman. The larger issues addressed by Manisha Basu concern the ways in which religion is instantiated in modern urban contexts characterised by the newest digital technologies and networked life-worlds (in this case, as an emancipated, female, digitally enabled supreme deity) and, more importantly, what she calls “the postpolitical Hinduisation and the woman question.” According to Basu, authors such as Bhagat work to provide urbanised contemporary Hindu nationalism with an apolitical face, a process in which the vision of the emancipated Hindu woman plays an important role. In her contribution, Deonnie Moodie juxtaposes two iconic sites of Kolkata (Calcutta), the Victoria Memorial and the temple complex (and pilgrimage site) at Kalighat, to inquire into the ways in which the city’s residents produce and cultivate their past and contribute to constructing and forming their heritage. Even though at first sight the memorial reminds Kolkata’s inhabitants of the British dominance, it also provides a space in its built structures for promoting national figures and art, and it houses a permanent city museum in which the emphasis in the telling of Calcutta’s story lies on the city’s openness for cross-cultural exchange. Kalighat, on the other hand, considered to be the place of the goddess since time immemorial (by her devotees), or the site of a temple for many

6  István Keul centuries (by Bengali historians around 1900), is often employed to challenge the predominant narrative, according to which the city was built by Britons for commercial purposes. While both sites are important for heritage purposes and contribute to producing particular narratives of the city, especially Kalighat resists attempts to be turned into a heritage site and to be left in the past, as the author puts it, with thousands of Kolkata’s residents being in a personal relationship with the goddess. What would happen if one would think about networks, kinship between humans and non-humans or religious practice through the perspective of gardens? This is the question asked by Smriti Srinivas in her essay. Gardens as cultural and material spaces played an important role in Buddhist traditions. Mughal gardens and botanical institutions of the British period have also received much attention in the specialised literature. Srinivas proposes to look at gardens as imaginative spaces that offer fruitful material for understanding space, temporality and religion. Focusing mainly on the period between the last decades of the 19th century and the 1940s and also including sites from outside of South Asia, the author shows how the lives of plants and the lives of humans are interconnected and – through garden landscapes – tied to communities and philosophical ideas. Discussions of the genealogies of gardens in Adyar, Auroville, Singapore and Honolulu illustrate the processes and practices in time through which gardens take on their textures and materiality, enfolding spaces of religion and human lives. One of the main goals of the essay is to show how space can be studied as a “place crossed by pathways of life, aspiration, and remembrance,” emphasising movement, physical and imaginative. Moumita Sen discusses in her contribution the course of events around the building of a shrine dedicated to Shani, a Hindu deity considered inauspicious, in a gentrifying area of southern Kolkata in the 1970s. Initially inhabited by Muslim working-class residents, the neighbourhood began undergoing major transformations when middle-class Hindus acquired land in the area, and when the shrine was established, it not only changed many aspects of local Hindu-Muslim social dynamics but also the neighbourhood’s name. In the course of her research, Sen uncovered earlier histories connected to the neighbourhood, such as the demolition of the local dargāh in 1964. When she first talked to members of the local Muslim community in 2008, they were trying to raise funds through networks of political patronage to build a religious site of their own, eventually managing both to build a large mosque and to rebuild an old tomb. By exploring the history of the neighbourhood and the processes of competitive identity-building, mainly through interviews with Hindu and Muslim residents, the author addresses such fundamental questions as the ownership of public space and the strategies of resistance against majoritarianism. The chapter on the persistence of religion in contemporary visions of Varanasi’s urban future written by Philippa Williams also draws on interviews, carried out in 2017 and 2019, as well as on government and city-level documents, political speeches and media material. The questions raised by Williams concern

Introduction 7 the politics of religion and utopian urbanism and the implications for imagining future urban citizens in a city that has acquired a special status within Indian national politics in the early 21st century. Since his election as prime minister in 2014, Narendra Modi has increasingly mobilised Varanasi (the constituency from where he contested the elections) as an urban stage for asserting a modern, Hinduised version of the city. Varanasi as an ancient site of Hindu orthodoxy is the point of departure for a movement aiming at a utopian vision of a future “smart heritage city.” Williams argues that through the prosaic language of India’s smart-city policy, a vision of a new India is projected that is tied to a Hinduised imagination of the nation. The appointment of the Hindu priest and politician Yogi Adityanath as Uttar Pradesh’s chief minister illustrates how the relationship between state and religion becomes institutionalised. According to the author, the representation of Varanasi’s urban future and state-level policies have interacted to bolster Hindu nationalist sentiment and everyday communalism in the city. Anustup Basu’s essay addresses the question of Hindu nationalist discourse and, more precisely, the ways in which urban Hindu nationalist publicity replaces the literary-theological project of fashioning a universal Hindu religion (modelled on Abrahamic monotheism) with the informational project of advertising the Hindu nation. As any attempt at inventing singular Hindu traditions has to effectively deal with the plurality of religious systems and practices found on the Indian subcontinent, as well as the complexities of social stratification (caste system) and untouchability, such constructions have to remain incomplete, especially under the auspices of print capitalism. In the last decades, however, the author diagnoses the emergence of an electronic urban religiosity paired with advertised modernisation, which he calls Hindutva 2.0. Described as a “diagram of informational power,” “a new metropolitan template . . . for the Hindu axiomatic as ethno-religious political monotheism,” Hindutva 2.0 is expressed through an “urban resonance machine,” a “Bollywoodisation,” producing the “unimaginable communities” of electronic capitalism. Thus, according to Anustup Basu, a monotheism nearly impossible to justify theologically is now rendered into a “spectral sublimation,” which makes superfluous the necessity to narrate a Hindu nation into being, as it can now simply be advertised. Cara Cilano’s contribution to the volume takes as its point of departure Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s founding spatial vision for Pakistan, articulated in a speech to the Constituent Assembly on 11 August 1947, in which Jinnah assures his soonto-be fellow Muslim and non-Muslim Pakistanis that they are free to visit any religious place in Pakistan. Cilano examines the developmentalist discourse operating in Pakistan in the 1950s and 1960s, and early U.S.-Pakistan relations, with particular attention to Constantinos Doxiadis’s plans for the capital, Islamabad, and to the question concerning the interconnections between internal and external politics. In addition to looking at Doxiadis’s work, the author analyses how the representations of non-Muslim minorities in fictional texts help produce the spatialisation of Islam and shape the lived spaces and mobilities of these minorities alongside those of the majority. The three fictional texts that depict Pakistanis

8  István Keul over several decades of the country’s existence are Sorayya Khan’s 1995 novella “In the Shadow of the Margalla Hills,” her 2009 novel Five Queen’s Road and the 2017 novel City of Spies. In these works, seemingly domestic issues and global concerns are interwoven in a complex fictional universe that – if taken together – effectively contribute to enlivening Doxiadis’s theories on the connection between humans, the everyday and the built environment. In the volume’s last chapter, I introduce residents of a mostly single-room tenement building (chawl) in Mumbai and write about my attempts at inquiring into the ways they perceived their culturally diverse surroundings and the extent to which they engaged with their neighbours who belonged to culturally and religiously different communities. Situated in a diverse area of the city, the threestorey structure had ten units, housing families with various backgrounds: Shia and Sunni Muslim, Maharashtrian Hindu, Jewish (Bene Israeli) and Christian (Goan Catholic). Repeated conversations with residents revealed recurrent patterns, such as initially evasive responses when asked about living next to culturally different neighbours, as well as long descriptions of doctrinal and ritual aspects specific to my interlocutors’ own religious community. Interactions with them and the time spent in their homes also allowed glimpses at what I take to be strategies of neighbourly cohabitation in mixed-religious environments. However, acquiring a better understanding of how a civil sociality and peaceful everyday are possible across religious demarcations in that building (and in other, similar mixed-religious residential constellations in Mumbai, for that matter), even without having close personal relationships, requires a closer look at what seems to be one of the key factors, namely, the notion of (civil, watchful, etc.) indifference.

References Appadurai, A. (1996) Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Berking, H., J. Schwenk and S. Steets (2018) “Introduction: Filling the Void? Religious Pluralism and the City.” In H. Berking, J. Schwenk and S. Steets (eds) Religious Pluralism and the City: Inquiries into Secular Urbanism. London: Bloomsbury, pp. 1–23. Eck, D. L. (1987) “The City as a Sacred Center.” In B. Smith and H. Baker Reynolds (eds) The City as a Sacred Center: Essays on Six Asian Contexts. Leiden, New York, København, Köln: Brill, pp. 1–11. Hancock, M. and S. Srinivas (2018) “Roundtable on Spirited Topographies: Religion and Urban Place-Making. Ordinary Cities and Milieus of Innovation.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 86 (2): 454–472. Low, S. (2009) “Towards an Anthropological Theory of Space and Place.” Semiotica 175 (1–4): 21–37. Redfield, R. and M. Singer (1954) “The Cultural Role of Cities.” Economic Development and Cultural Change 3 (1): 53–73.

2 D  efining the postcolonial sacred Contested places of worship and urban planning in Delhi after Partition, 1947–1951 Clemens Six Introduction The partition of British India into the two sovereign states of India and Pakistan in the summer of 1947 was one of the major humanitarian disasters in world history after the Second World War.1 The (by now) significant body of literature on this event has illuminated many obvious and less obvious facets of human suffering related to inter-religious violence, forced displacement, mass exodus, starvation and gender-related forms of humiliation.2 Some aspects of this collective trauma, however, have so far been underacknowledged in historical research, although they seem to concern some fundamental and far-reaching layers of Partition, which influenced not only the direct witnesses but also subsequent generations of Indian and Pakistani citizens. Jawaharlal Nehru, prime minister of India’s transitional government during decolonisation, emphasised in November 1947 that, in his view, the most terrible dimension of Partition and its aftermath was the “psychological part” – that is, the “perversion of man’s mind” especially among the younger generations on both sides of the new borders “growing up seeing these horrors.”3 Until today it is indeed challenging for historians to fully grasp the immediate as well as long-term psychological impact of Partition. This chapter seeks to contribute to this reflection by addressing one specific dimension of Partition’s “psychological part,” namely, the hostility towards and the annihilation of religious infrastructure, material culture and religious representation in urban areas. Although historians have extensively analysed the farreaching consequences of Partition due to (forced) migration and the consecutive demographic changes on both sides of the new borders, the collective trauma of inter-religious mass violence had an important cultural-psychological dimension. The separation of the two states was also a contestation of the sacred, in particular in Northern Indian and Pakistani cities. The violence deliberately targeted what the other religious community considered as sacred, sought to extinguish the sacred in its manifold representations and thereby aimed to redraw the boundaries of the “own” sacred in order to establish it as the undisputed national heritage. In this light, Partition was a period not only of mass killings and forceful evictions but

10  Clemens Six also of widespread destruction of cultural and religious traditions and their architectural forms of representation and, by extension, of collective identities, particularly in urban areas. As such, these acts of annihilation, together with the numerous successful and failed efforts to reverse them, determined the socio-cultural landscape of Northern Indian and Pakistani cities for generations to come. During the months and years after Partition, the city administration in Delhi was confronted with around 500 disputes over places of worship including desecrated mosques, destroyed Islamic graveyards and Sufi shrines, damaged Hindu temples, as well as religious claims over locations previously unrecognised as sacred. These conflicts reflected a broader dialectic of Partition between the redrawing of the new nations’ external borders and a reconstitution of these societies’ internal boundaries between religious, regional and social communities. Not all of these disputes led, of course, to major controversies, and many could be solved by state authorities without any significant altercation. From a larger perspective, though, these disputes were significant because they occurred in a general atmosphere of inter-religious hatred between Hindus and Sikhs on the one side and Muslims on the other side. Furthermore, the context of decolonisation, a more than shaky lawand-order situation, the general shortage of almost all resources and confusing competencies among state institutions aggravated the explosive potential of these conflicts. On this backdrop, the disputes reveal three more specific, context-bound lessons on the meaning of the sacred (and the secular) in early postcolonial urban space. First, the conflicts over Islamic and Hindu sacred spaces were an opportunity for the state and its new elites to install their authority over society. More specifically, they defined and implemented this authority through the certification and authorisation of the sacred as well as the self-image as a secular instance located above the conflictive claims of religious communities. As Eric Lewis Beverley has shown for colonial South Asia, cities had since long been spaces of political negotiations, in which conflictive claims of order, the subversion of this order, as well as different forms of agency were negotiated (Beverley 2011). In this view, postcolonial Delhi was simply a continuation of political contestations in the radicalised and rapidly evolving context of the transition from colonial to postcolonial order. The disputed status of sacred places during Partition, however, was an opportunity for state authorities to open a new chapter in these political negotiations through the medium of urban space and in this way implement their (not yet self-evident) political legitimacy. Second, these disputes provided an occasion to implement the state’s vision of a model (urban) society in the capital city as the torchbearer of independent India. In this model society, both the sacred and the secular were of central importance. In urban studies, questions of hegemony and its production, preservation and decline have a long tradition. Henri Lefebvre started his magisterial work on the production of space with the question of how hegemony in a Gramscian sense influences the formation of class as well as space in a capitalist system. According to Lefebvre, space not only has an active role in the existing (capitalist)

Defining the postcolonial sacred 11 mode of production but is also actively used by hegemonic milieus to manifest their predominance (Lefebvre 1991: 10–11). For Gramsci himself, historical change was fundamentally “spatialized” in the sense that claims to urbanity (and rurality) were for him moments of hegemonic struggles.4 In this view, contests over urban space are at the centre of struggles for predominance and control. What the disputes over places of worship in post-1947 Delhi illustrate, however, is the central meaning of the sacred (and the secular) for these urban processes to produce hegemony. Built environments became loaded with hegemonic forms of religious meaning and thereby constituted a diverse and power-connoted urban landscape. Yi-Fun Tuan’s notion of urban architecture as a space that instructs, reveals and teaches is a good starting point to grasp these power-related dynamics around the urban sacred (1977: 114, 116). Third, conservative and extremist Hindu as well as Islamic organisations instrumentalised and fuelled the disputes over mosques, shrines, temples and graveyards to counter state-authorised visions of the city and postcolonial society. They deliberately used the contested “sacred” as a means to propagate their own versions of the nation, religious-cultural hegemony and social order. In this sense, urban space also functioned as a medium of opposition and subversion. The framing, authorisation and certification of the sacred turned into a central arena in which ideas on the state, society and the future were negotiated. In light of the empirical evidence discussed next, the more recent breakthrough of Hindu majoritarianism under the leadership of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in contemporary India appears more as a conjunctural rise of an ideology and political practice that was alive and striving during the very foundation period of the republic. Parts of the government and the bureaucratic apparatus at various levels actively enhanced this majoritarianism also during and after Partition.

Authorising the sacred and legitimising the secular Delhi’s 20th-century architectural history is characterised by many different, often contradictory and conflictive claims over urban space and its monuments. Time and again, the city was confronted, on the one hand, with large-scale social challenges such as poverty, soaring inequality and a lack of housing, and ambitious political-ideological utopias on the other. As a consequence, social, economic and devotional realities on the ground frequently thwarted the municipality’s endeavours of planning, control and social engineering (Sutton 2018). However, Delhi as the capital city of British India after 1911 and of the Indian Republic after independence functioned as a torchbearer of the elite’s normative ideas about the state and society, including the administration of religious affairs. Historians have come up with contrasting interpretations of Prime Minister Nehru’s own approach to India’s religious traditions. Some prominent voices in the field of South Asian history accused him of uncritical devotion to scientific progress, technological modernity and anti-religious Enlightenment ideas that sought to break altogether

12  Clemens Six with the ties of the past (Chatterjee 1986: 132–133). More adequately, though, it seems that, especially after Partition, Nehru developed a rather nuanced interpretation of Indian history as a delicate combination of continuity and change.5 His vision of a secular state as “the only modern and civilized approach”6 to India after colonialism was embedded in important national traits of historical longue durée.7 Others in the administration, such as B. R. Ambedkar, saw no contradiction either in a strong commitment to India’s religious-cultural inheritance, state-led religious reform and much-needed social change (Lamba 2013: 187–206). In this light, the preservation of sacred spaces belonging to different religious communities was not only a practical necessity to restore law and order, but also an indispensable requirement for India as a religiously composite nation. The preservation of Islamic sites in Delhi and elsewhere enjoyed a particular relevance for this vision of postcolonial India in the face of the multiple contradictions of urban realities on the ground. A more detailed look at the programmes and strategies to solve the conflicts of sacred space in the aftermath of Partition helps to explain these contradictions. On 18 September 1947, only several weeks after India’s formal independence, Mahatma Gandhi chose a pressing topic for one of his regular speeches to his closest adherents during his daily prayer meetings at the Birla House in New Delhi.8 He criticised the expulsion of Muslims from India and the widespread destruction of mosques and other Islamic sites in the city. In his view, these developments were disastrous not only for India’s Islamic communities but also for the religions of Hinduism and Sikhism themselves. The annihilation of Islam in the city was a contradiction to these religions’ core ethics. Similarly, Nehru was increasingly concerned about these cultural-religious destructions, which threatened to forever transform Delhi’s social and cultural landscape. For that reason, he reminded his home minister Vallabhbhai Patel that “the question of mosques” was of “outmost significance” for the nation as a whole.9 Although the disputes also concerned damaged Hindu and Sikh sanctuaries, the large majority of cases were about mosques that had been converted into Hindu temples. In order to address and, if possible, solve these disputes before they could escalate into major inter-religious clashes, the state bureaucracy created formalised procedures to authorise contested sites either as “Islamic” or “Hindu,” or declare them as altogether “secular.” In the latter case, no religious identity could be identified and, as a consequence, no religious acts of any nature were permitted. The concrete form of these procedures varied, but, as a general pattern, the municipal authorities undertook research and historical investigations on British colonial modalities. The main interest of the government thereby was to ensure continuity from colonial times and thus reject any change in status triggered by Partition. The city administrators sent out inspectors to visit and investigate the disputed sites, looked into colonial tax registers, and tried to identify the leases concluded between the British authorities and the officially recognised Hindu and Muslim organisations.10

Defining the postcolonial sacred  13 The government interventions were not only about the principled religious status of land and architectural sites but also concerned religious provocations in the context of inter-religious violence and religious conquest. In several cases, unknown persons had installed images of Hindu deities in mosques in order to symbolically convert these buildings into Hindu temples. This pattern was a particular concern in the outskirts of Delhi where arriving Hindu refugees and emigrating Muslims had significantly altered the religious composition of local neighbourhoods. The share of Hindu communities had risen sharply. As a consequence, the remaining but shrinking Islamic communities struggled to sustain their social and religious presence as they increasingly lost political influence and control over their religious infrastructure.11 In other cases, refugees occupied mosques to simply have a roof above their heads. Hindu images inside mosques were frequently just a provocative spin-off of the broader issue of refugee housing and the overwhelming challenges of relief work. As a reaction, the government sent significant police forces to remove the images or even destroy any architectural alterations that had been made inside the Islamic compounds. The historical method of the city authorities was sometimes close to arbitrary. In order to clarify the historical status of a disputed sacred place, the municipal bureaucrats consulted British tax registers, contracts over the use of land or other formalised arrangements between the state and the religious institutions. But what exactly counted as historically verified was a question beyond clear criteria. In the case of a mosque in Takia Bela Road, for example, historical research into the official registry unveiled that this piece of land had been claimed by an Islamic clergy as early as 1923.12 The British, though, had prosecuted the Maulvi and rejected his claim. In 1946 – that is, before Partition – the successor clergy again initiated plans for the construction of a mosque but was (again) rejected by the colonial administration. Now, in the postcolonial context, the Delhi administration concluded in line with British colonial practice that a mosque had never existed on that particular spot. Any Islamic or other religious claim was thereby illegal, and the spot was declared “secular.”

The cultural extinction of Islamic heritage The government and the municipal administration undertook several concrete efforts to protect Islamic infrastructure in the city. The authorities repeatedly instructed their police force to restore the original condition of mosques used as temples or “inhabitations” and to consequently punish any forms of misdeeds in accordance with existing laws.13 However, the general atmosphere of hatred and violence as well as the – at best – half-hearted response within the police forces made the immediate clearance and restoration of mosques and other Islamic sites frequently impossible. In the traditionally strong Muslim areas of Qarol Bagh, Subzi Mandi and Paharganj, where many Hindu and Sikh refugees had settled, the municipality was forced to readapt its procedures to settle the disputes and ordered its own

14  Clemens Six “custodian of Evacuee Property” to take control over the mosques.14 Due to the ongoing tensions and violent clashes, the city administration decided not to repair these Islamic sites immediately because it expected them in such a case to be damaged or even destroyed again. Refugees, who had provisionally settled in the immediate neighbourhood or even on the compounds of the mosques, were evicted by the police.15 In reaction to this, refugees organised public demonstrations against the police, which frequently escalated into riots. For the authorities, the almost unsolvable dilemma was that the official policy of restoring Islamic sites was frustrated by the legitimate material and social needs of the refugees. In spite of its already exhausted capacities, Kingsway Camp, one of the biggest refugee camps in Delhi, and other comparable premises in the city had to be expanded in order to accommodate the refugees evicted from these mosques.16 In the long run, the problems of the restoration policy towards Islamic sites became even more apparent. The overall trend was that in the following years the city administration was forced to reduce its restoration and repair efforts due to a lack of funding, lukewarm political support from within and ongoing pressure from the streets to give in to the pressure exerted by refugees and their socio-economic interests. In 1951, Delhi’s chief commissioner admitted that the restoration of mosques and other Islamic sites was no longer a political priority.17 In contrast to official orders, many mosques had actually been occupied and inhabited by refugees and factually repurposed as cow shelters, food stalls, small shops and other forms of economic infrastructure. In numerous other cases, the actual status of mosques was fully unknown to the administration. Again a few years later, the municipality conceded that action taken hitherto in Delhi against the unauthorised occupation and desecration of mosques had largely been “ineffective.” Refugees but also non-refugee Hindu and Sikh inhabitants were using these Islamic premises for various social and economic purposes. A brief overview on the status quo showed that, where once Muslims used to pray, non-Muslims had erected housing, engine workshops, tea and pan shops, schools or nurseries.18 The problem was not only the pressing needs of refugees for a source of income as well as social infrastructure.19 Equally important, it seems, was the strong business acumen of established residents, who interpreted the overall chaotic situation and inter-religious hostility as a welcome opportunity to enhance their own prosperity. A peculiar form of religious-cultural annihilation concerned the realm of the dead. Islamic graveyards were exposed to several forms of destruction and, consequently, extinction. In the centre of Delhi, Muslim graveyards were occupied by refugees who used the land for housing.20 Their central location in the midst of soaring land prices made these graveyards an attractive resource for the new residents. The municipality was clearly not always on the side of the Islamic communities, which tried indefatigably to defend their ancestors’ last resting places. Especially when the local Islamic communities were poor, officials tended to join wealthier refugee circles and decide these disputes in their favour. In New Rhotak Road a little outside the city centre, for example, the administration itself

Defining the postcolonial sacred 15 destroyed an Islamic graveyard for the profitable construction of new residential areas.21 This inability  – or, better, lack of political will  – to effectively protect Islamic sites resulted in the vanishing support among Muslim communities for the Congress Party. Originally, the Indian National Congress had been the biggest hope for Indian Muslims to secure a secular India in which Muslims would be on an equal footing with Hindus and others. Now, confronted with the harsh realities on the ground, which meant a gradual decline of Islamic cultural presence in the city, Muslims were disappointed by the Congress’s quiet and sometimes not-soquiet acceptance of this religious displacement.

Engineering religious pluralism Addressing the disputes over places of worship was an opportunity for the government to communicate and enforce its vision of postcolonial India. In this sense, religious architecture in urban space functioned as a medium to manifest and propagate concrete ideas about social and political order after the formal abolition of colonial rule. In the aftermath of Partition, Delhi’s governmental authorities discovered a specific form of religious architecture that appeared exceptionally suitable as a form of “petrified ideology” (Maran 2006: 10). In this case, the hegemonic state ideology comprised a secular state in which religious pluralism was a core feature of society, and religious communities would coexist peacefully or even support each other in their respective religious endeavours. To be sure, not all factions within the bureaucratic apparatus and the national administration – at that time in charge of the national capital city – shared this vision. From the very first day after independence, there were conflictive ideas about the desired shape of religious pluralism and the existence of a cultural-religious (Hindu) mainstream in post-independence India. What these conflicts and the official policy of state secularity illustrate, though, is that religious pluralism is indeed not something given but a product of historical construction efforts (Formichi 2014: 1–2; Malik 2005). In other words, religious pluralism is the result of political engineering that converts religious diversity into an object of political-administrative management. The sacred spaces the authorities discovered to propagate their vision of postcolonial India were the so-called dargāhs, Islamic Sufi shrines usually built over the graves of Sufi saints and dervishes. Over generations, these dargāhs had regularly attracted large numbers of Muslim worshippers from various regions in South Asia but also significant numbers of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains. Dargāhs were also connected in wider urban networks and in this way formed their own spatial identity. As such, these shrines were not only exceptional spaces of co-worshipping but also places that enjoyed a certain degree of autonomy from established Islamic authorities and (conservative) clergy. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, Islamic reform movements as well as secular state authorities in the Muslim world repeatedly targeted Sufi orders and their places of worship (van Bruinessen 2009). Because of their internal

16  Clemens Six heterogeneity, liberal theological orientation and contested meaning as a religious label, Sufi orders were frequently suspected of breeding political subversion and religious non-conformity. The most extreme example of such a controversy between Sufi orders and a modernising state was Turkey after 1925, where Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk) and his prime minister Ismet Inönü outlawed Sufi orders altogether, accusing them of providing an organisational framework for political opposition. The unintended consequence was, of course, that state repression politicised Sufi orders and, together with Kurdish tribal groups, pushed them into a position of resistance and opposition against the state’s all-encompassing efforts to penetrate all segments of social life (Bianchi and Yavuz 2003: 52–53). In a slightly different manner, Sufi dargāhs in modern South Asia also became key sites of political contestations over administrative control and state secularity, as well as Muslim belonging (Dandekar and Tschacher 2016: 9–10). Sufi shrines have occasionally been idealised as manifestations of religious reconciliation. Scholars of religion and anthropology have emphasised, though, that throughout the centuries, dargāhs in South Asia were not mere places of interreligious harmony and dialogue. By contrast, they are better understood as spaces of non-interference. Their distinct sphere of religious tolerance was more the result of indifference rather than deliberate mutual appreciation (Hayden 2002: 206). In the context of Partition, though, these shrines turned into opportunities to propagate and engineer inter-religious understanding, irrespective of a more active or passive form of tolerance. One of the most prominent dargāhs in Northern India is located in Mehrauli in the southern outskirts of New Delhi. During the annual Urs festival, Muslims and other believers used to assemble at the shrine and celebrate this festival upon the grave of a Sufi saint who lived 800 years ago. In 1942, the British had stopped these celebrations due to the war, Gandhi’s proindependence campaign and rising inter-religious tensions. During Partition, the dargāh in Mehrauli was severely damaged. Serious harm was done to its marble fencing, the magnificent terracotta work, and the minarets. Nehru himself recognised the political significance of this case for the reputation of the government, the secular state and the persistent ill-feelings between Hindus and Muslims. In spite of the government’s severe financial constraints and the overwhelming task of “refugee relief and rehabilitation,” he declared the repair of this shrine a national priority.22 The repair that followed was determined by good will but had also practical limitations. Local Muslim clergy, for example, were disappointed that the precious marble elements of the architecture were replaced by ordinary wood constructions. The ongoing security challenges related to riots and inter-religious hostilities strongly impacted the repair works and led to delays and additional architectural compromises.23 Nevertheless, the authorities succeeded in correcting at least parts of the damage done to this site and in initiating Muslim worship that gradually extended to other religious adherents. As the dargāh in Mehrauli made headlines in these months and parts of the national political elite became aware of its political significance, Delhi’s municipality reinforced its efforts to also investigate other comparable cases within

Defining the postcolonial sacred 17 the city’s territory. A special opportunity for Muslim representatives to urge the city administration for more repair funding and for politicians to engineer interreligious co-worshipping were the annual Urs celebrations. “Urs” is an Arabic word for a wedding ceremony. But an Urs festival can also commemorate the birth and death anniversary of a (Sufi) saint, usually celebrated with prayers, singing and dancing. Under the British, a dargāh near Connaught Place in the centre of New Delhi, for example, had usually hosted two Urs gatherings every year. These gatherings were attended by thousands of Muslims as well as Hindus from Delhi but also other Northern Indian regions. After Partition, the Delhi administration made plans to revive this tradition by repairing the extensive damage done to this site.24 Inside the dargāh in Ferozshah Khadar, six graves had been seriously damaged during the mass violence but could be repaired right on time for the upcoming Urs festival in the fall of 1948.25 Dargāhs also became subject to social dynamics related to migration and a general shortage of housing and land in Delhi. In Qutub Road in the north of the city, the dargāh had been a centre for Muslim pilgrimage for more than 600 years. In 1948, the site was surrounded by Hindu refugees who had provisionally settled in the houses nearby. The dargāh itself had been seriously damaged inside, where the footprints of the Prophet had for generations attracted pilgrims from India as well as abroad. Muslim worshippers were hesitant to access the shrine due to the ongoing hostilities between the religious communities. As a consequence, Muslim representatives demanded the large-scale relocation of local Hindu refugees and the resettlement of more than 300 Muslim families in order to restore the “original” social environment of the dargāh.26 These representatives interpreted the immediate neighbourhood of the shrine as an integral element of the sacred site. As such, it also fell under the responsibility of the government in order to secure the unhindered access to the dargāh itself. Co-worshipping in particular by Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs became a central element in the officialised image of postcolonial India. Leading bureaucrats and political decision-makers increasingly recognised the relevance of religious architecture to accommodate social coexistence. The sources also illustrate, though, that some high-ranking observers recognised that repairing religious architecture could only be the beginning of a reconciliation process.27 Mutual respect between Hindus and Muslims in everyday life was far more important but also much harder to achieve.

A sacred geography of resistance Government authorities were not the only relevant party in the contestations of the urban sacred after Partition. Hindu reform movements such as the Arya Samaj, founded in Punjab in 1875, were key players during and after the separation of India and Pakistan. The inter-religious violence, the weakness of state institutions and the lack of financial and logistic resources were an opportunity

18  Clemens Six for such organisations to extend their organisational reach, recruit new members, expand their institutional networks and selectively influence national and local politics. One of the scarcest resources in Delhi and other Northern Indian cities after 1947 was land. The pressure on Delhi due the hundreds of thousands of refugees streaming into the city and extensive land speculation by the urban landowning class culminated in severe conflicts over the allocation of land. Land dedicated to religious purposes and allotted to religious organisations was thereby no exception. The agenda of the city administration in the aftermath of Partition in relation to religious affairs was complex and also contradictory. On the one hand, the authorities intended to foster a diverse religious life within the city boundaries. Delhi was supposed to become the torchbearer of a religiously diverse, peaceful and prosperous India. On the other hand, the municipality had no interest in supporting religious movements that had enhanced inter-religious hatred or even violence. Land allocated to religious organisations was to be limited to clearly humanitarian purposes and would only be granted (at a significantly reduced fare) to charitable religious institutions. The Arya Samaj is a particularly controversial case in point. As was already known at that time, this organisation had been involved during Partition in the unauthorised occupation and desecration of mosques and had thus contributed to the tensions between Hindus and Muslims.28 In particular in fast-growing Hindu neighbourhoods in Delhi and among refugees, the Arya Samaj provided social services in the form of education, childcare, youth work etc. In a nutshell, these services were designed along and meant to support its Hindu nationalist ideology. In the aftermath of Partition, the Arya Samaj pursued an aggressive agenda of expanding its temple network across the city in order to broaden its strongholds particularly in new Hindu neighbourhoods. In a refugee colony today known as Sarojini Nagar in South West Delhi, for example, the Arya Samaj came into conflict with the municipality over a piece of land of around 500 square yards for a temple.29 For months, the organisation portrayed itself as a charitable institution serving only humanitarian purposes beyond religious sectarianism and thus entitled to concessional rates of land acquisition. In the end, the land was indeed allotted to the Samaj after secular circles within the ruling Congress Party were outmanoeuvred by influential Congress members more sympathetic to Hindu nationalism. The archives in Delhi reveal many more comparable cases in which Hindu organisations not only pursued their own religious agenda but also managed to influence governmental decisions in their own favour. However, this became harder in the second half of the 1950s when the scarcity of land resulted in soaring land prices in Delhi. The demographic change, which the city had experienced throughout the years since 1947, and the continuing pressure on land forced the government to adapt its policy of land allocation. The policy to give land at concessional rates to religious and charitable organisations in particular in the rehabilitation colonies, where refugees primarily

Defining the postcolonial sacred 19 settled, became pricier. Land also turned into a speculative asset that generated huge profits for wealthier residents in Delhi. In return, the speculation drove the prices up even further.30 To cope with this development, the municipality introduced a sharper distinction between charitable social institutions such as schools, hospitals and orphanages, on the one hand, and religious and political institutions on the other hand. For the latter, the privileged access to land was abolished.31 In other words, the overall economic pressure on the city forced the government to secularise its subsidy policy towards religious affiliations. Disputes over the sacred in the city were not always handled in a consistent way by a coherent body of state bureaucracy. Rather, the practice of state secularity was the result of conflictive interests, views and approaches within the municipality and the (at times more coherent) strategies of the religious organisations. In all these cases, however, the definition, authorisation and certification of the sacred was a central arena for the struggle over postcolonial order.

Conclusions To conclude then, let me emphasise some more general observations from my case study over the meaning of sacred space in (modern) urban history. First, the sacred is usually understood as a transitive category that arises from people’s ritual practices and their attribution of meaning and value (Knott 2010: 34). The sacred is thus not simply a given but an imminent historical product. While I agree with the historical character of the sacred, my case study in this chapter illustrates another facet of the sacred gradually detached from people’s practices and meanings. In post-Partition Delhi, the sacred was a contested concept reflecting both state interventionism and the attempt to keep the sacred pure, that is, beyond the (secular) state’s agenda and interest. Thus, the sacred is historically significant for at least two reasons: it enables and brings to life secular statehood; and it is the sphere beyond this secularity that demonstrates its boundaries and limits. Second, the analysis of the urban sacred provides valuable lessons about decolonisation and the discussion around (dis)continuities from the colonial era.32 Scholars of history have repeatedly analysed the impact of colonial discourses and imperial administrative apparatuses on the definition of religion and the secular.33 For the postcolonial era, however, this line of argumentation tends to overemphasise continuity and underestimate change. The findings in this case study are not beyond the dialectic of continuities and discontinuities during decolonisation, but they rebalance this dialectic in favour of discontinuities and a focus on change. The political struggles over hegemony within the state structure as well as in the field of religious policies cannot be understood simply as continuations of colonial practices. Rather, they are a distinct product of decolonisation itself. The case of Delhi after 1947 refocuses historiographical attention towards the spaces of manoeuvre that opened up during decolonisation in some important areas: new notions of the future (manifested

20  Clemens Six in urban architectural orders), struggles for (national) cultural-historical authenticity in which religion was central, new appropriations of the past (in which, again, religion was central) and the role of new elites in redefining the boundaries between the sacred and the secular. Finally, the city is a specific historical context for the sacred that scholars are only now beginning to understand in its multiple complexities. Justin Wilford argued already some time ago that we should see modern urban space “not as secularist space but rather as differentiated and fragmented space marked by specific limitations and affordances for religious activity” (Wilford 2010: 329). In other words, in spite of undeniable dynamics of secularisation, the modern city is a space that transforms traditional forms of religion and religiosity and produces new ones. More recently, Peter van der Veer (2015) suggested to analyse cities as spaces of aspiration. Religion provides a fascinating lens to understand what these aspirations are about, how they change and which social dynamics they reflect. The case of Delhi after 1947 takes this agenda further and interprets early postcolonial nation-building in the light of the sacred. Struggles around the sacred in urban space can be read as a matrix for socio-economic and political processes in (urban) society as a whole. Consequently, Delhi’s history during and after Partition underlines the importance of an integrated approach in the analysis of the sacred in urban space. In principle, this is nothing new. The social dimension of space has been repeatedly analysed before. Roy Shields’s “social spatialisation” (1991: 31) or Kim Knott’s “simultaneity” of space (2005: 23), integrating different layers of social dynamics into spatial configurations, are valuable suggestions in this direction. The example of Delhi, however, illustrates the religious in its various interdependencies and mutual entanglements with not only the social but also the economic and political matrix of the city during the compressed history of decolonisation. Because the sacred is here not limited to people’s perceptions but is also a result of state authorisation and certification, sacred urban space reflects as well as co-determines these other facets of historical change and is itself determined by them.

Notes 1 This paper continues a discussion started in Six (2018: Ch. 2). 2 A critical review of the existing literature is provided by Gilmartin (2015) and Pandey (2001), Chapter 3. 3 Speech, November 29, 1947, SWJN, 2nd series (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1987). Vol. 5, pp. 192–199. 4 On Gramsci’s notion of hegemony, space and the city see Kipfer (2013). 5 Purushotham (2017: 839, 842), Brown (2003: 189–190), Bhargava (2017). 6 Report to the All-India Congress Committee, New Delhi, July  6, 1951, JN Papers, NMML, excerpts reproduced in Iyengar (2007: 364–370). 7 This emphasis of historical long-term developments is present in several speeches and letters Nehru drafted around Partition; cf., for example, his Note to the Cabinet Ministers on the “Muslim Population in India,” 12 September 1947, JN Papers, NMML, reproduced in Iyengar (2007: 303–306). For an early evidence on Nehru’s understanding of Indian history based on “cultural unity” see Nehru (1938: 231–243).

Defining the postcolonial sacred 21 8 Speech at Prayer Meeting, New Delhi, 18 September 1947, CWMG (Ahmedabad: Navajivan Trust, 1983), Vol. 89, p. 201. 9 Letter to Patel, 22 October 1947, SWJN, 2nd series (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1986), Vol. 4, p. 174. 10 Report, P. H. B. Wilkins, Registrar to Chief Commissioner, Delhi, 20 November 1947, DA CC Office/2(53)/1947 Health and Public Works, 1947; Report “regarding the orders of the C.C. Delhi about disputed mosques,” Shankar Prasad, Chief Commissioner, Delhi, 18 July 1948, DA CC Office/24(122)/1948, L.S.G./PWD, 1949, Part II, 2–5; NAI Ministry of Home Affairs, Delhi Section, 47/1/59-Delhi, 1959, Correspondence, 11–12. 11 See, for example, Letter, Office Jamiat Ulamai Hind, to the Prime Minister of India, 13 March 1951; S. W. Shiveshwarkar, Jaipur, to C. Ganesan, Deputy Secretary to the GOI, Ministry of States, New Delhi, 20 July 1951; K. P. U. Menon, Government of Rajasthan, Political Department, to C. Ganesan, 27 March 1952, NAI Ministry of States, Political Branch, 10-P(A)/51, 1951, Correspondence. 12 Report “regarding the orders of the C.C. Delhi about disputed mosques,” Shankar Prasad, Chief Commissioner, Delhi, 18 July  1948, DA CC Office/24(122)/1948, L.S.G./PWD, 1949, Part II, p. 5. 13 Letter, Sahibzada Khurshid, Chief Commissioner, Delhi, to D. W. Mehra, Deputy Inspector, General of Police, Delhi Province, 17 November  1947, DA CC Office 2(53)/1947 Health and Public Works, 1947, 9. 14 M. S. Randhawa, Deputy Commissioner’s Office, Delhi, to Sahibzada Khurshid, Chief Commissioner, Delhi, 14 November 1947, DA CC Office 2(53)/1947 Health and Public Works, 1947, 20. 15 Jaswant Rai, S.H.O. Paharganj, 10 December 1947, DA CC Office 2(53)/1947 Health and Public Works, 1947, 62. 16 Sahibzada Khurshid, Chief Commissioner, to G. V. Bedekar, Deputy Secretary to the Government of India, 7 January 1948, DA CC Office 2(53)/1947 Health and Public Works, 1947, 69. 17 The Chief Commissioner, Delhi, U.O.No.406/ST/CC/53, 5.2.1953, to the Superintendent R&R, DA CC Office/17(11)/1950 Health and Public Works 1950, 28. 18 Ibid. 19 For a more detailed discussion on the socio-economic lot of refugees and copying strategies see Kumari (2013: 60–67). 20 NAI Ministry of Home Affairs, Delhi Section, 47/1/59-Delhi, 1959, List attached to Correspondence, 9–10. 21 DA CC Office/2(192)/1955 L.S.G. 22 DA CC Office 24(71)/1949 L.S.G./P.W.D. Correspondence 3. 23 Nehru to B. K. Gokhale, W.M.&P. Ministry, 25 February  1949, DA CC Office 24(71)/1949 L.S.G./P.W.D., 9. 24 “Petitioner” Kashana-i-Faruqi Katra Nisar Ahmed, Kucha Pandit, Delhi, n.d., DA CC Office/Correspondence File No. I, 116. 25 Deputy Commissioner, 16 November 1948, DA CC Office/24(88)/1949 L.S.G./P.W.D., 13. 26 Letter, Sahibzada Bhaiya H.S.M. Rashiduddin Ahmad, President, All India Jamiatul Quresh & member, Committee of Union & Progress, to the Governor General of India, August 29, 1948, DA DC Office/348/1948, 37. 27 For example, Mohan Lal, M. L. C. Jullundur, “What Is the Cure?” Letter to the editor, The Hindustan Times, 11 October 1956. 28 Letter to Patel, 22 October 1947, SWJN, 2nd series (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1986), Vol. 4, p. 174. 29 Congress Party in Parliament, Sd. Algu Rai Shashtri, M.P., 9 January 1958, NAI Ministry of Home Affairs, Delhi Section, L-3(51)/56, 1956, 38. 30 Ministry of Works, Housing and Supply, Note for the Cabinet, 22 March 1960, NAI Ministry of Home Affairs, Delhi Section, 37/27/59-Delhi, 1959, 70.

22  Clemens Six 31 Ministry of Works, Housing and Supply, Note for the Cabinet, December 1959, NAI Ministry of Home Affairs, Delhi Section, 37/27/59-Delhi, 1959, 56. 32 On the conflict-ridden process of decolonisation and its inherent contradictions see Shipway (2008). 33 Cf. Nicholas (1994), Cohn (1996), Masuzawa (2005).

References Beverley, E. L. (2011) “Colonial urbanism and South Asian cities.” Social History 36 (4): 482–497. Bhargava, R. (2017) “Nehru Against Nehruvians: On Religion and Secularism.” Economic and Political Weekly LII (8): 34–40. Bianchi, T. S. and M. H. Yavuz (2003) Islamic Political Identity in Turkey. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Brown, J. M. (2003) Nehru: A Political Life. New Haven, London: Yale University Press. Chatterjee, P. (1986) Nationalist Thought and the Colonial World: A Derivative Discourse? New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Cohn, B. S. (1996) Colonialism and Its Forms of Knowledge. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Dandekar, D. and T. Tschacher (2016) “Introduction: Framing Sufism in South Asian Muslim Politics of Belonging.” In D. Dandekar and T. Tschacher (eds) Islam, Sufism and Everyday Politics of Belonging in South Asia. London, New York: Routledge, pp. 1–15. Formichi, C. (2014) “Religious Pluralism, State and Society in Asia.” In C. Formichi (ed) Religious Pluralism, State and Society in Asia. London, New York: Routledge, pp. 1–10. Gilmartin, D. (2015) “The Historiography of India’s Partition: Between Civilization and Modernity.” The Journal of Asian Studies 74 (1): 23–41. Hayden, R. M. (2002) “Antagonistic Tolerance: Competitive Sharing of Religious Sites in South Asia and the Balkans.” Current Anthropology 43 (2): 205–231. Iyengar, U. (ed) (2007) The Oxford India Nehru. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Kipfer, S. (2013) “City, Country, Hegemony: Antonio Gramsci’s Spatial Historicism.” In M. Ekers, G. Hart, S. Kipfer and A. Loftus (eds) Gramsci: Space, Nature, Politics. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons, pp. 83–103. Knott, K. (2005) The Location of Religion: A Spatial Analysis. London, Oakville: Equinox. ———. (2010) “Religion, Space, and Place: The Spatial Turn in Research on Religion.” Religion and Society: Advances in Research 1: 29–43. Kumari, A. (2013) “Delhi as Refuge: Resettlement and Assimilation of Partition Refugees.” Economic and Political Weekly XLVIII (44): 60–67. Lamba, R. (2013) “State Interventionism in the Reform of a ‘Religion of Rules’: An Analysis of the Views of B. R. Ambedkar.” In B. J. Berman. R. Bhargava and A. Laliberté (eds) Secular States and Religious Diversity. Vancouver, Toronto: UBC Press, pp. 187–206. Lefebvre, H. (1991) The Production of Space. Malden, Oxford, Carlton: Blackwell. Malik, J. (2005) “Introduction.” In J. Malik and H. Reifeld (eds) Religious Pluralism in South Asia and Europe. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, pp. 1–20. Maran, J. (2006) “Architecture, Power and Social Practice – An Introduction.” In J. Maran, C. Juwig, H. Schwengel and U. Thaler (eds) Constructing Power: Architecture, Ideology and Social Practice. Hamburg: LIT, pp. 9–14. Masuzawa, T. (2005) The Invention of World Religions or, How European Universalism Was Preserved in the Language of Pluralism. Chicago, London: University of Chicago Press. Nehru, J. (1938) “The Unity of India.” Foreign Affairs 16 (2): 231–243.

Defining the postcolonial sacred  23 Nicholas, T. (1994) Colonialism’s Culture: Anthropology, Travel and Government. Cambridge: Polity Press. Pandey, G. (2001) Remembering Partition: Violence, Nationalism and History in India. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Purushotham, S. (2017) “World History in the Atomic Age: Past, Present and Future in the Political Thought of Jawaharlal Nehru.” Modern Intellectual History 14 (3): 837–867. Shields, R. (1991) Places on the Margin: Alternative Geographies of Modernity. London, New York: Routledge. Shipway, M. (2008) Decolonization and Its Impact: A Comparative Approach to the End of the Colonial Empires. Malden, Oxford, Carlton: Blackwell. Six, C. (2018) Secularism, Decolonisation, and the Cold War in South and South East Asia. London, New York: Routledge. Sutton, D. (2018) “Inhabited Pasts: Monuments, Authority, and People in Delhi, 1912– 1970s.” The Journal of Asian Studies 77 (4): 1013–1035. Tuan, Y. F. (1977) Space and Place: The Perspective of Experience. London: Edward Arnold. van Bruinessen, M. (2009) “Sufism, ‘Popular’ Islam and the Encounter with Modernity.” In M. K. Masud, A. Salvatore and M. van Bruinessen (eds) Islam and Modernity: Key Issues and Debates. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, pp. 125–157. van der Veer, P. (2015) “Introduction: Urban Theory, Asia, and Religion.” In P. van der Veer (ed) Handbook of Religion and the Asian City: Aspiration and Urbanization in the Twenty-First Century. Oakland: University of California Press, pp. 1–17. Wilford, J. (2010) “Sacred Archipelagos: Geographies of Secularization.” Progress in Human Geography 34 (3): 328–348.

Abbreviations used in notes BJP CWMG DA CC Office DA DC Office NAI NMML RSS SWJN

Bharatiya Janata Party (Indian People’s Party) Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi Delhi Archives, Chief Commissioner Office (Delhi) Delhi Archives, Deputy Commissioner Office (Delhi) National Archives of India (New Delhi) The Nehru Memorial Museum & Library (New Delhi) Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (National Volunteer Organisation) Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru

3 Inclusivism and its contingencies Following temple-goers in Kanpur Kathinka Frøystad

India’s famous religious inclusivism has long been on the wane. Originally launched to capture the acceptance and appropriation of external religious elements within what we now label Hinduism (cf. Halbfass 1988), contemporary studies of inclusivism primarily pertain to appropriation and ritual engagement across the religious boundaries established by the Census of India. Their consensus is unanimous: Despite the persistence of certain inclusivist practices, their extent and variety have declined steadily for at least a century due to the steadfast work of religious reform movements striving to “purify” religious practices, followed by an increasingly entrenched religious nationalism. Worried about the fallout for India’s fragile inter-religious coexistence, journalists and academics became increasingly interested in inclusivist practices, asking how much remains and with what beneficial effects. Today certain liberal journalists virtually cover cross-religious engagement as keenly as anthropologists used to document human life forms that were threatened with extinction. Academics follow suit by detailing past and present varieties of inclusivism, often combined with a keen attention to the societal context that perpetuates and obstructs them. Most studies of present-day inclusivism take as their point of departure Sufi-Muslim dargāhs (grave shrines), where inclusivist practices still thrive despite reduced attendance from upper-caste Hindus and reformed Muslims alike. This chapter aims to expand the latter strand of scholarship by asking what a somewhat unusual category of interlocutors for such a subject – passionate Kali devotees and other devout Hindus in urban Uttar Pradesh – reveal about the state of inclusivism in a period characterised by considerable religio-political polarisation.1 To this end I break free from the common strategy of studying a shared religious site such as a dargāh. Instead, I take as my point of departure a Kali temple on the outskirts of Kanpur, from which I follow its protagonists as they traverse the geography of their neighbourhood, city and surrounding village area to seek divine blessings, assistance, insight or sometimes merely free entertainment from a variety of sacred sources, each coming with their own sensitivities and associations. My argument is threefold. Firstly, though inclusivism is indeed weakening, many inclusivist practices go undetected since they are done in relative solitude or even in secrecy. Secondly, certain inclusivist practices are fraught with

Inclusivism and its contingencies 25 contingency, whether because they are impeded by perceived danger or because they unfold in ways that can spell trouble. And thirdly, following people around as part of one’s fieldwork can significantly enhance the ability to detect understudied modalities of inclusivism. That said, inclusivist practices can be a more doubleedged sword than suggested by most of the journalistic and academic accounts I have encountered so far, as I was to discover when I went to the North Indian city of Kanpur in 2013 for what was to become eight field visits over a period of seven years.

Kanpur and Milanganj in the time of Modi Located at the heart of Uttar Pradesh, Kanpur is surrounded by places that have left profound impressions on Indian historiography. Best known are the Hindu pilgrim towns of Banaras and Prayagraj (known as Allahabad until 2018) as well the state capital Lucknow, which served as headquarters for the Shi’ite Nawabs of Awadh in the 18th and 19th centuries. Kanpur itself is primarily an industrial city, though its famous cotton mills now blemish the city as padlocked ghost factories. Today its cornerstone industries include ordnance factories, chemical factories, leather tanneries and factories producing the mildly stimulating mixtures of areca nuts known as pān masālā and guṭkhā. Though many outsiders denigrate Kanpur as a “dirty” city due to its industrial pollution and scarcity of architectural beauty, those who are born here appreciate their city for its “big heart” that still enables its inhabitants to have time for each other and allows even the modestly salaried residents to afford its delicious street food. Kanpur’s 2.77 million inhabitants comprise 78 per cent Hindus, 20 per cent Muslims, 1.0 per cent Sikhs, 0.46 per cent Christians and a minuscule percentage of Buddhists, Parsis, Jains and “others” (Census of India 2011). Most of the city is a patchwork of Hindu and Muslim, upper-caste and lower-caste, and middle-class and impoverished residential quarters. That said, there is also a city elite mainly consisting of upper-caste Hindus who reside in the northern part of the city. In the south there is a smaller elite of Muslim tannery owners amidst the low-caste Muslim and Dalit tannery workers. The neighbourhood from which the ethnography of this chapter is drawn is a patchwork neighbourhood at the lower economic end. Located at the outer periphery of Kanpur, “Milanganj” (as I dub it in my writings) is a residential neighbourhood demarcated on two sides by dusty highways where trucks and long-distance buses thunder past all day. A market street divides the neighbourhood in two on its way towards the city centre, though few of Milanganj’s inhabitants find much reason to go downtown. To the east of the market street are the Muslim-dominated residential quarters; to the west we find the Hindu- and Sikh-dominated quarters. Yet despite a certain dominance of one community, none of these quarters are entirely homogeneous in terms of religion. They are all fairly mixed, a heterogeneity that extends further to class. Here are no gated neighbourhoods of the kind increasingly found in India’s metropolitan cities (cf. Waldrop 2004 for Delhi; Srivastava 2014 for Gurgaon; and Fuller and

26  Kathinka Frøystad Narasimhan 2014 for Bangalore), though they certainly have begun to come up in the northern part of the city. It is the double heterogeneity, population density and concomitant panoptic character I want to emphasise by pseudonymising this locality as Milanganj, milan denoting a meeting or encounter and ganj signifying a market area. A note on the political context is also required to appreciate the sense of contingency I address toward the end of this chapter. In May 2014, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power after a landslide victory in the general election. From then on the prime ministerial position was manned by Narendra Modi, well known for his past as chief minister of Gujarat during the anti-Muslim pogroms in 2002, which scholars and critics claim he did little to stop (see e.g. GhassemFachandi 2012). The years that followed confirmed his party’s long-term ambition of transforming India from a secular state founded on principled distance between the state and the religions (cf. Bhargava 2009) to a Hindu rāṣṭra (nation, state). Though legal changes were still years ahead, impatient Hindu nationalist extremists quickly initiated several campaigns to kick-start this transformation. These included the “ghar vāpasī ” (home return) campaign to “reconvert” Muslims and Christians to Hinduism; the “love jihad” campaign preventing Muslim men from “luring” Hindu girls into marriage; and a revitalised Cow Protection movement that cracked down on suspected production and consumption of beef that led to at least 44 deaths, primarily of Muslims (Human Rights Watch 2019). Though the Supreme Court was yet to rule in favour of Hindus in the Babri Masjid case, the Muslim right to instant triple talāq divorce was yet to be outlawed, Cow Protection laws were yet to be strengthened and the Citizenship Act was yet to be amended, the political context had already imbued Milanganj’s inhabitants with a certain sense of risk. Even though they rarely referred to any of these issues explicitly – presumably to keep them at bay (as described by Sanchez 2016), if not to distance themselves from politics altogether – they were clearly apprehensive about acts that could spell trouble. Before providing details, let me describe the mobile fieldwork I deployed to get an idea of the extent to which Milanganj Hindus still crossed religious boundaries in pursuit of divine intervention or insight.

Mobile fieldwork: following temple-goers around As my fieldwork progressed, I developed two methodological approaches to trace movement between different religious spaces and practices. The first was to invite myself into the homes of the Hindus I came to know to elicit the history of the objects in their home temples. Interestingly, my curiosity about the origin of each object often made my hosts pull out their photo albums, whether in print or on their phones, claiming that photos would give a more accurate impression of their ritual circuits than the objects in their home temples. As it turned out, their digital photos also depicted religious sites that they wanted to visit as well as deities and religious personas they held in high regard but without necessarily paying regular homage to them.

Inclusivism and its contingencies 27 The second methodological approach was to begin to hang out at one of the tem­ ples in the neighbourhood – a Kali temple managed by the Saini community of flower cultivators and gardeners classified as one of the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) – to trace the movement between this temple and other religious spaces.2 Its location right adjacent to a gurudwārā (Sikh temple), a Radha-Krishna temple and the mansion of a big-shot with a constant trickle of visitors made the tiny square in between these buildings into a milan within the milan, as it were. It was the latter approach that really “opened up” the field. Besides enabling me to study movement in between these three temples, many of those who worked in the Kali temple or visited it daily began to invite me home, added me to their social media networks, brought me along to other religious sites they appreciated and sometimes, at a safe distance from prying ears, began to disclose some of the deeper motives that made them seek divine assistance beyond the Kali temple in which I first met them. This is how my mobile field method came about, a method that was less of a pre-planned strategy than an adaptation to local circumstances and opportunities. Most of my interlocutors were thus Hindus who frequented this temple or lived nearby, a majority of whom were either OBCs with roots in the surrounding villages or descendants of refugees from Pakistani Punjab, though there was also a small contingent of Brahmins and other upper castes of variable economic means. Sociologists who advocate go-alongs as a research strategy frequently point to their potential to combine interviews with observation. Margaret Kusenbach, for instance, claims that go-alongs enable scholars to “observe their informants’ spatial practices in situ while accessing their experiences and interpretations at the same time” (Kusenbach 2003: 463). Though I  agree with this assessment, Kusenbach’s go-alongs differ significantly from my own. Whereas Kusenbach conducted 50 go-alongs with 30 respondents with whom she does not seem to have interacted in other ways, I conducted between ten and 20 go-alongs with each of my around ten core interlocutors. Additionally, I talked to hundreds of others, participated in rituals within and beyond the temple, visited innumerable homes, shops and religious spaces besides keeping abreast of the religio-political context and its visual culture by means of local newspapers, smartphone memes and billboards. Being an anthropologist rather than a sociologist, I thus embedded go-alongs in participant observation rather than isolating it as a research method in its own right. Though my teaching commitments made me shuttle back and forth far more than I would have liked to, I share the classic anthropological ideal of participating in local everyday life as much as possible to understand the values and motivations that drive action combined with a keen eye to their divergence and change. Interestingly, the many walks, motorcycle rides and rickshaw drives I made with my core interlocutors came to change my mental map of Milanganj completely. The more I followed them around, the more its outer demarcation (described earlier) gave way to an octopus- or jellyfish-like image marking the spatial trajectory of our movement, an image with the Kali temple at its head and our walks and drives as tentacles or threads (cf. Frøystad 2016). Let me now detail some of the inclusivist practices this method brought to view, beginning

28  Kathinka Frøystad with general features before exemplifying the relation between inclusivism and dangerous contingency.

Seeking blessings and divine intervention beyond the temple Just by staying put in the Kali temple I could easily fill my notebooks with inclusivist statements such as sab kā mālik ek, which means that God is one across all denominations of faith. Sitting at the temple steps I could also watch Sikhs crossing over from the gurudwārā to pay respects to Mother Kali or to give dān (charity) to the beggars outside her temple. Conversely, I could also see Kali devotees – mainly female Punjabi Hindus – entering the gurudwārā to listen to kīrtans (hymns, in this case from the holy Guru Granth Sahib scripture), bow their heads in front of the scripture or help prepare the langar (collective meal) that concluded all major gurudwārā events. Though I often joined them, I quickly realised that, to get an idea of inclusivist practices beyond Hindu and Sikh traditions, I had to employ a more person-centred fieldwork that included greater mobility. The general pattern was as follows. Kali devotees in Milanganj tended to seek general blessings from temples, gurudwārās or dargāhs alike whenever the opportunity arose, even if time only allowed a respectful bow while passing by on the street. Churches and mosques were however ignored. Hindu and Sikh religious festivals were treated with positive curiosity whereas the public festivals of other religious communities were either overlooked or regarded as mild annoyances. Explicit critique of Christianity or Islam was hardly ever articulated; the general response was that “they have their traditions, we have ours.” When Kali devotees in Milanganj approached religious spaces and specialists beyond Hinduism and Sikhism, it was usually because they had persistent personal problems that had not yet been solved despite consulting both worldly experts and regular divine powers. A typical example was the young OBC man who fell head over heels in love with a petite Brahman beauty. Instead of sending him packing due to their caste differences, the girl’s father promised that, if he succeeded in landing a government job (sarkārī naukrī) within one year, the girl would be his. So for an entire year the lovesick fellow ran from pillar to post, first consulting placement agencies but discovering that they charged unaffordable fees, next tiring out his expanded network of contacts, then stepping up the time he spent doing daily seva for Goddess Kali. It was only when none of this worked he began to expand his ritual repertoire in a way Carrithers (2000) may have called “polytropic,” paying respect in many (poly) manners/directions (tropos), bowing his forehead to the floor in every gurudwārā he had time to enter and occasionally offering chādars (decorated cloth) and incense in dargāhs as well, but only if accompanied by someone in the know who could help ensure that he did not do it wrongly, in which case his effort might be counterproductive. Besides unruly love, other drivers of inclusivism were the desire to conceive, to overcome persistent health problems, to ensure success in exams, to land a

Inclusivism and its contingencies 29 secure job, to solve marital problems and to clear family disputes. The tendency to seek divine intervention across religious boundaries was particularly pronounced if their problems had persisted for so long that it made them suspect the root cause to be nazar (evil eye), kālā ilm (black magic) or unwanted possession. For a few, inclusivism was also motivated by a desire to expand their ritual skills. It was particularly inclusivism across the Hindu-Muslim boundary that was fraught with a sense of contingency. To exemplify I first turn to public festivals, contrasting my interlocutors’ attraction to the Nagarkirtan procession of the Sikhs with their apprehension of the Muharram procession of the Shia community.

Nagarkirtan but not Muharram One morning in the Kali temple a young carpenter named Kapil asked me and some other temple regulars to join him for the Nagarkirtan procession, which was to traverse the market street in the evening. Seven people joined us, many of whom dressed up for the occasion. Nagarkirtan is an annual procession in which local Sikhs join forces in a parade to spread the message of God throughout the city (nagar). Spearheading the parade was a decorated cart with the Guru Granth Sahib scripture and turbaned Sikhs singing kīrtans (hymns). Next came the elders and representatives of the gurudwārā trusts, some walking, others following in chariots. The third and longest section of the parade was organised by Sikh-run schools and colleges, each institution represented by a combination of alumni and current students. Additional chariots were filled with kīrtan-singing women. The main attraction for the spectators from the Kali temple came at the end: the young men showing their prowess by juggling swords and making human pyramids. Scholars have long emphasised the entertaining dimensions of religious festivals and public rituals. What the Milanganj Nagarkirtan drove home was the temporalisation of the efficacy/entertainment dyad as well as the importance of both even to non-Sikh spectators such as OBC Kali devotees. When the first sections passed by, they watched silently, many with covered heads, as if the parade had transformed the market street into a temporary gurudwārā. Once the sword jugglers came, they lit up, removed their head-covering, and laughed and chatted while beginning to take photos. When the organisers distributed free packets of Frooti juice, they supplemented them with some potato crisps, which completed the transition from sanctity to entertainment. Everyone was now mazā (merry). To preserve this moment of low-cost joy that had unfolded from auspiciousness, the smartphone owners among them began to take selfies, resulting in the same kind of pictures I had often been shown when asking people about their home temples. The enthusiasm that many Kali temple regulars showed for Nagarkirtan contrasted sharply with their apprehension towards the annual Muharram processions of the Shia community. Each year, on the evening of the ninth or tenth of the Islamic month of Muharram, Kanpur Shias take out processions to conclude their commemoration of the demise of Prophet Muhammad’s grandson Hussain in the battle of Karbala in 680 CE. Men and boys parade with elaborate replicas (tāziyās)

30  Kathinka Frøystad of Hussain’s tomb, accompanied by a long trail of men with solemn faces, dressed in black, green or white, if not bare-chested. Nowadays self-flagellation is rare in Kanpur, but some hit themselves rhythmically with their palms while others raise swords and daggers in the air. Having reached their destination, which they term Karbala, the tāziyās are buried. Milanganj’s proximity to a Muslim-majority area made me curious to know whether any of the regulars in the Kali temple would watch. Despite being acutely aware of the academic consensus that Hindu participation in Muharram had petered out in this region long before (Gottschalk 2000: 51; Kumar 1988: 16), I could not rule out that some of them would watch. After all, local newspapers still reported that certain Kanpur Hindus assisted the tāziyā decoration or sweet distribution (cf. Siddiqui 2018; Alvi 2018), though such instances may well have been newsworthy by virtue of having become so rare. Asking around if any of the Kali temple regulars would watch only yielded negative replies. The men claimed to avoid Muharram processions due to the traffic restrictions, diversions and delays that would occur, whereas the women pointed to the risk of violence, one even claiming that Muharram “always” generates violence. Interestingly, none of the men expressed similar reservations against traffic diversions during the Nagarkirtan or Ganesh Chaturthi processions, and none of the women thought of mentioning the lack of female participation in Muharram processions, which would probably have made them feel highly uncomfortable since it converted the entire procession route into a uniquely masculine space. Though I hesitated to ask directly, their standardised replies made me wonder whether they had ever watched any Muharram procession up close or merely knew about them from hearsay. What seems clear, however, is that my temple interlocutors virtually treated Muharram processions as inverse tīrthas,3 that is, as space-time–specific vortices of potentiality that open up towards a phantasmagoria of disarray, danger, destruction and death. Consequently, each year on the evening of the Muharram procession their spatial movement contracts, as when an octopus withdraws its tentacles and a snail retreats into its shell. On Muharram it is best to stay close to home. My interlocutors’ sense of contingency was not unfounded. Procession-related clashes recur in the scholarship of inter-religious relations as instances of friction. The news media were replete with instances of Muharram processions that had involved violence somewhere in the state, whether because they had passed a Hindu- or Sunni-dominated neighbourhood in a manner its inhabitants found provoking or defiling, or because the Muharram processions had coincided with another festival (typically Dussehra, Ganesh Chaturthi and Durga Puja) and their processions crossed paths. Yet the predictability of such skirmishes enables the district administration to plan precautions well ahead of time. The aforementioned traffic diversions were an element of this. Additionally, the authorities reinforce CCTV surveillance, deploy additional police and Rapid Action Force personnel, tell people not to spread rumours and restrict unnecessary assembly (see e.g. TNN 2013; HT Correspondent 2014). Religious leaders and elders frequently join in by convening in advance to ensure peaceful cooperation. Yet not even such measures

Inclusivism and its contingencies  31 prevented clashes entirely. Only in Kanpur there were Muharram-related clashes both in 2015 (Siddiqui and Malhotra 2015) and in 2017 (HT Correspondent 2017; Dixit 2018), and many more were reported from other parts of the state. Additionally, there were incidents in which the district administration prohibited Muharram processions due to prior tension (Siddiqui 2015; PTI 2015) as well as incidents in which local Shias shelved their processions for similar reasons (Jha 2015). Though few of my interlocutors were eager news consumers, they were nevertheless acutely aware that Muharram was a high-risk event and had been so for generations. By contrasting their participation in Nagarkirtan with their avoidance of Muharram, we begin to see why they are attracted to certain inclusivisms but not to others, reasons that may have little to do with perceived ritual efficacy.

Expanding ritual knowledge Ritual efficacy is, however, a crucial ingredient in the next examples, both of which concern a Brahman priest’s desire to improve his skills as a tantrik ritual specialist. “Paṇḍitjī,” as people respectfully call him, lived next to the Kali temple and officiated in a tiny Hanuman shrine inside the Kali temple premises. His secondary job as a tantrik was primarily a way of ensuring a sufficient income for his expanding family. To perfect his skills, he frequently exchanged notes with other ritual specialists, whether they be other tantriks, Hindu exorcists or Muslim “babas” of various kinds. Despite his profession as a Hindu priest, he regarded Muslim ritual knowledge as being particularly specialised and potent for certain kinds of problems. This was not something he talked about in the vicinity of the temple or his home. It was only when accompanying him around, whether on the back of his motorcycle, in a battery-driven rickshaw or strolling along the banks of the Ganga, that he felt comfortable talking about what he had learnt from such places. As soon as he realised my interest in inclusivism, he began inviting me along. On two occasions I accompanied him to a Hindu exorcist claiming to master a dual exorcism repertoire. “Dr Thakur,” as I pseudonymise him, was an Ayurvedic doctor in a village an hour’s motorcycle ride from Kanpur who was widely renowned for his ability as an expert exorcist. Paṇḍitjī was eager to learn from him, claiming that possession is so difficult to treat that devising faulty rituals could easily be disastrous. So far he had thus passed the most complicated possession cases on to Dr Thakur. If only he could tap into Dr Thakur’s knowledge, he once said, he could deal with the difficult cases himself, thus sparing weak patients from a difficult journey as well expanding his source of income even further. Having watched Dr Thakur in action for a few hours, we finally got the opportunity to talk to him. Dr Thakur volunteered that the rituals we had just seen him devising would not always work, as most of them were to be done in temples. In the case of Muslim clients, he explained, the spirit would normally be a Muslim jinn rather than a Hindu bhūt (ghost),4 in which case temple offerings would be futile. Fortunately this was one of the few conversations I tape-recorded, as Dr Thakur

32  Kathinka Frøystad now recited the incantation he claimed to use when driving away Muslim jinns. Interestingly, his recital was so rapid that no matter how many times I have asked my South Asian Muslim acquaintances in Norway to help me decipher it, all they can make out is a mishmash of key Islamic phrases including bi-smil lāhi r-raḥmāni r-raḥīm (in the name of God) subḥānallāh (God is perfect) astaghfiru’llah (I seek forgiveness from Allah) Allahumman salli’ala Muhammad wa Ali Muhammad (O Allah! Bless Muhammad and the progeny of Muhammad)5 Those I consulted also sensitised me to the harshness of Dr Thakur’s voice, which differed sharply from the soft, melodious rhythm generally used when Muslims recite Islamic phrases and sūrās. Additionally his rapid speed and monotonous voice modulation made his incantation sound more like a Hindu recital than like an Islamic one.6 In all likelihood, Dr Thakur had learnt this incantation from his father – an octogenarian who now watched his son in action from his cot – along with the rest of his skills. If so, the incantation may well have become increasingly Hinduised over the years. Paṇḍitjī was unusually poker-faced throughout this conversation, as if not wanting to divulge that he did not know how to deal with jinns already. But the next time we visited Dr Thakur, the priest made him recite it once again, this time attempting to make a secret recording with his cell phone under the table. Since Dr Thakur’s incantation was equally rapid this time around, I  doubt whether Paṇḍitjī was able to make more sense of it than my Muslim acquaintances in Oslo. Yet the extent he went to in order to expand his knowledge beyond the religious tradition with which he primarily identifid was nevertheless telling. Clearly, this is not something I would have known about without accompanying him around and knowing him reasonably well. Had he talked about such matters near the temple, he would have jeopardised his reputation as a Brahman custodian of divine Vedic revelations believed to contain not only the ultimate Truth but also the source of all religions. Another place Paṇḍitjī occasionally brought me to was Dargāh Muhabbat Shah in Takia, located in a rural area about a two-hour motorcycle ride from Kanpur. His wife hailed from a nearby village, which was how Paṇḍitjī had come to know about this dargāh though his wife had never been there. By the time I came to know him, Paṇḍitjī had frequented this place for two decades or so, initially to attend the annual Urs (Muhabbat Shah’s reunion with Allah) that doubled as a melā (fair) for spiritual wanderers and ritual specialists of all hues, but increasingly also to meet its main custodian, Sufi Sayyad Ghulam Husein Shah, who also was a ritual specialist of some repute. During one of these visits I was also alerted to how inclusivism could be fraught with contingency. To reduce the risk of lengthy motorcycle rides along dark highways I had insisted on renting a car, and since the car had extra space, the priest decided to invite his wife, their daughter, son-in-law and some additional relatives along, the

Inclusivism and its contingencies  33 plan being that we would first visit his wife’s natal village and then proceed to the dargāh.7 For them the dargāh was but a compulsory stop following a visit to their rural relatives. The entourage from Kanpur that entered the dargāh that day was thus a radically diverse one in terms of their familiarity and interest in dargāh culture, which is central to the events that ensued. The dargāh’s spiritual head, originally from Mumbai, was just as hospitable as on earlier occasions. Unperturbed by the size of our group, he invited us all into the room he used when receiving clients, a room steeped in green silence decorated with images of the Ka’aba and Islamic calligraphy. The silence felt like a relief to me after the long journey amidst honking cars, but to my companions it could just as well have come across as alienating given the fact that the religious spaces they were accustomed to were saturated with the sounds of bells, voices and rickety loudspeakers blaring bhajans (religious hymns). The dargāh head asked us to sit down on the white cloth that covered the floor and arranged for water, tea and biscuits. As he talked softly with the priest and me about his practices, the others sat silently behind us, either listening or waiting for it to end. After an hour or so, our host’s wife turned up, a friendly woman wearing black burqā but with the face cover open. Would we care for any food? Paṇḍitjī accepted hesitatingly, fearing (as he later explained) that it would be impolite to reject our host’s hospitality. Though he generally stuck to a sattvik diet prepared by sattvik people to preserve his priestly purity, his eagerness to access non-Hindu ritual prescriptions occasionally forced him to compromise. “Sometimes one has to do these things,” he reasoned. Today was such a day, and as if by an unspoken pact, the rest of our entourage followed suit. This was when it happened. Before Paṇḍitjī’s 22-year-old daughter dared to take a bite of the rice, lentils, pea curry and salad we were served (all vegetarian to accommodate the dietary restrictions of Hindu Brahmans as far as possible), she shouted “Oṃ namaḥ Śivāya” from her position in the back. Loudly. So loudly that it produced an echo in the silent, spacious room. The dargāh head startled. Paṇḍitjī straightened his back and looked discreetly around for reactions. The rest of the group froze, shrank their bodies and looked down at their plates, as if trying to become invisible. The quiet murmur that had begun as the food was served, suddenly gave way to a pin-drop silence. Everybody seemed to fear that invoking Lord Shiva in this space would be a considerable faux pas, knowing that conservative Muslims would certainly have regarded this as idolatry (shirk).8 What would the reactions be here? One second. Two seconds. Three. Four. Five. How long did it take before our host cleared his throat and asked if everyone had been served pea curry? It felt like an hour. But eventually the murmur picked up and people resumed their eating, though nobody seemed particularly hungry anymore. What would the caretaker have done if he had been offended? Judging from the growing number of news reports about blasphemy controversies originating in similar incidents (cf. Rollier et al. 2019), he could have thrown us out, lectured us about why such things had better be left unsaid in such a space, refused future assistance to Paṇḍitjī or even charged his daughter for violating sections 295A or

34  Kathinka Frøystad 153A of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalise expressions that offend religious sentiments and promote disharmony. Fortunately nothing of this sort happened. This does not entail that he was equally as “inclusivist” as the priest, an inclusivism that occasionally could be mirrored in Sufi-Islamic spaces. For the female Sufi healer in Hyderabad described by Flueckiger, it was fully acceptable that an ex-Hindu disciple invoked Lord Hanuman inside her premises, albeit as a messenger (maukīl) rather than as a deity (Flueckiger 2006: 99, 178). Judging from how Ghulam Husein Shah related to Hindu deities in other contexts, it was highly unlikely that he acknowledged the existence of any Lord Shiva even as a subordinate entity. Consider his treatment of a framed, silver-coated relief of Goddess Durga that he had once been given by a wealthy Hindu client. Now it was wrapped in a dark cloth and placed in a bottom shelf in the storage room. As a gift, it could not be discarded, but as a Hindu goddess, it could not be displayed either.9 This was clearly not a suitable place for Hindu deities. Ghulam Husein Shah’s reaction was thus to try to ignore the young visitor’s faux pas; that is, he treated it with interpretive charity, just like the Islamic scholar quoted by Ahmed (2018) argues that offensive expressions arising from ignorance should ideally be treated. Evidently he did not want to jeopardise his friendship with the priest either, and he clearly realised that the priest’s relatives were unaccustomed to dargāhs and their Sufi-Islamic norms. Perhaps he even sensed their unease over the locality and the food because he refrained from insisting when hardly any of his visitors wanted a second helping of pea curry. Some days later the priest’s wife enlightened me about the fear that had provoked her daughter’s outburst. One reason was the food they had been given. Though the hosts had done their best to meet the dietary restrictions of pious Brahmans, the hostess who had cooked the food was nevertheless a Muslim, which in their eyes polluted the food irrespective of its content. Even though the priest occasionally committed strategic violations, neither his wife nor his daughter were comfortable doing so. Another reason was their discomfort with death. Although many Hindus approach dargāhs for blessings and boons, Hindus unacquainted with dargāhs foreground the fact that such spaces contain graves. In their understanding, each grave houses an un-cremated body to which no last rite has been done to enable its ātmā (self) to slip properly out and move on.10 To them, dargāhs are thus saturated with invisible bodiless spirits, some of which could potentially be harmful. Since women are believed to have more “open” bodies than men, particularly in their fertile years (Lamb 2000), dargāhs may come across as just as risky for women as regular graveyards, cremation grounds, riverbeds and village peripheries, all of which are spaces where spirits are known to dwell. Whereas the priest’s wife was close to menopause and bodily closure, their daughter was at risk by virtue of being a young mother. Their daughter-in-law, who had given birth just six months earlier, had not even been allowed to join our excursion even though the priest had seriously contemplated bringing her and the baby boy along to make his Sufi friend bless his little grandson and maximise his

Inclusivism and its contingencies  35 divine protection. On this background, the priest’s daughter’s invocation of Lord Shiva parallels the way in which Catholics make the sign of the cross to protect themselves from danger. In the end, then, not much happened, and Paṇḍitjī has visited this dargāh several times since then. Nonetheless, the pin-drop silence and stooped bodies suggest how easily inclusivist practices involving visits to unfamiliar religious spaces governed by unfamiliar dos and don’ts can open an abyss of conflict-related phantasmagoria. Paying deeper attention to inclusivist practices and how their occasional contingencies are dealt with would considerably enhance our understanding of how multi-faith societies survive despite considerable religio-political polarisation, and accompanying people around to a variety of ritual sites makes us well positioned to study it.

Concluding remarks The more polarised Uttar Pradesh and the rest of India became under Narendra Modi and, since 2017, the state’s Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, the more frequently I encountered romantic accounts of religious inclusivism in the liberal press and the blogosphere. Historical examples were constantly dug up, and local journalists appeared to be on a constant lookout for contemporary residuals of religious fluidity, as if the religio-political polarisation that accelerated during Modi’s prime ministership could be reversed if only people would revert to the inclusivism of a real or idealised past. Perhaps there is a grain of truth in this. By and large, however, nostalgic accounts of inclusivism tend to ignore the contingency that certain inclusivist practices are fraught with, downplay the inherent hierarchisation they involve and under-communicate the political context in which they occur. To understand contemporary inclusivism, we also need to take seriously the perceived or real contingencies that can impede or surround it. Though inclusivism can certainly promote cosmopolitan inter-religious understanding, it can also ignite religio-political rifts. To arrive at these arguments, I employed the method of following my interlocutors around as part of a long-term anthropological fieldwork, which in my case took shape as annual field visits over a seven-year span. In this way, what I initially had conceptualised as a neighbourhood study of “Milanganj” in Kanpur gradually transmuted into a fieldwork in which I  traced the ritual circuits that emanated from one of the temples in the neighbourhood. Looking back at this neighbourhood today, what my inner eye sees is an octopus- or jellyfish-like shape with the temple at its head and the walks and excursions I made with my interlocutors as tentacles. Unlike the prototypical method of studying inclusivism by means of fieldwork in a shared religious space, this approach holds considerable potential to detect modalities of inclusivism that are understudied because they are idiosyncratic, concealed, fraught with contingency or a combination of the three. Phrased differently, research methods that treat the urban space as a multi-faith field while paying attention to its religious nodes and the routes between them can put us on the trail of a wealth of unexpected nodal relations and unanticipated

36  Kathinka Frøystad routes. If I were to recommend a spatial approach to religious complexity, I would thus encourage more research methods that involve movement.

Notes 1 Fieldwork for this chapter was funded by the Research Council of Norway. I am indebted to the Indian Cosmopolitan Alternatives research group for methodological inspiration and to members of the South Asia symposium in Oslo and the contributors, editors and reviewers of this volume for fruitful comments to earlier drafts. 2 A closer description of this temple is given in the ethnographic film A Kali Temple Inside Out. Made by Dipesh Kharel and Frode Storaas in 2018, the film will hopefully soon be available for public streaming. 3 In Hindu traditions, a tīrtha is a crossing between worlds, typically between that of the humans and that of the gods. Pilgrim places are archetypical tīrthas. Tīrthas can also be temporal and indicate auspicious timings for pilgrimages, rituals and festivals. Moreover, one can also strive to reach a “tīrtha within” by performing certain actions, meditation being a case in point. 4 Dr Thakur and Paṇḍitjī concurred that jinns and bhūt are fundamentally different entities and not merely different words for the same kind of spirits, as claimed by many non-specialists. For a fuller account of Indian conceptualisations of jinns, see Taneja (2018). 5 I am indebted to Iffit Qureshi and Mubashar Hasan for helping me to discern the discernible of Dr Thakur’s incantation. Neither recognised any Quranic sūrās in it – not even the famous Four Qul verses commonly used by many South Asian Muslims to ward off jinns and protect against black magic. 6 A common example from Uttar Pradesh is the rapid Hanuman Chalisa recital done by Hindus who honour Lord Hanuman by reciting this longish text every Tuesday. YouTube contains several examples of fast Hanuman Chalisa recitals. 7 The ethnography I draw on in this section epitomises how ethnographic observations can be influenced by the observer, which is part of the reason why anthropologists insist on referring to their method as participant observation. 8 Ironically, many Islamic reform movements, including the Tablighi Jama’at, consider Sufi Islam as involving shirk in itself, holding pīr veneration to be tantamount to idolatry (see e.g. Kumar 2018; 2019 for detailed analyses). As the number of conservative Muslims rises, Muslim dargāh attendance dwindles. In 2017, the dargāh of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sindh, Pakistan, was attacked by a suicide bomber with ISIS links, killing at least 80 people (Callimachi 2017). 9 Why a wealthy Hindu would donate a Durga image to the head of a Sufi Muslim dargāh, particularly as a former client who donated it in gratitude, is an interesting but unanswerable question. To learn more about this and other enigmatic events, I contemplated staying on in this dargāh for some weeks, but I eventually shelved the idea due to its lack of amenities (Frøystad 2020). 10 See Parry (1994) for a detailed exposition of hegemonic Hindu cosmologies of death.

References Ahmed, A. A. (2018) “Contesting and Containing Accusatory Practices in Contemporary Pakistan.” Containing Religious Offence Conference, University of Oslo, Oslo, June 7–8. Alvi, K. (2018) “In Good Faith: The Hindus with Hussain.” The Indian Express, September 21. https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/hussaini-brahmins-hindusmuslims-muharram-mohyal-brahmins-5367234/, accessed January 25, 2019.

Inclusivism and its contingencies  37 Bhargava, R. (2009) “Political Secularism: Why It Is Needed and What Can Be Leant from It.” In G. B. Levey and T. Modood (eds) Secularism, Religion and Multicultural Citizenship. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Callimachi, R. (2017) “To the World, They Are Muslims. To ISIS, Sufis Are Heretics.” The New York Times, November 25. www.nytimes.com/2017/11/25/world/middleeast/sufimuslims-isis-sinai.html, accessed February 1, 2019. Carrithers, M. (2000) “On Polytropy: Or the Natural Condition of Spiritual Cosmopolitanism in India: The Digambar Jain Case.” Modern Asian Studies 34 (4): 831–861. Census of India. (2011) “Kanpur City Census 2011 Data.” https://www.census2011.co.in/ census/city/131-kanpur.html, accessed 21 October, 2020. Dixit, N. (2018) “In Run-Up to 2018, NSA Is the Latest Weapon Against Muslims in UP.” The Wire, September 10. https://thewire.in/rights/in-adityanaths-up-the-national-secu rity-act-is-latest-weapon-against-muslims, accessed January 30, 2019. Flueckiger, J. B. (2006) In Amma’s Healing Room: Gender and Vernacular Islam in South India. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Frøystad, K. (2016) “Alter-Politics Reconsidered: From Different Worlds to Osmotic Worlding.” In B. E. Bertelsen and S. Bendixsen (eds) Critical Anthropological Engagements in Human Alterity and Difference. Cham: Springer, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 229–252. ———. (2020) “Failing the Third Toilet Test: Reflections on Fieldwork, Gender and Indian Loos.” Ethnography 21 (2): 261–279. Fuller, C. J. and H. Narasimhan (2014) Tamil Brahmins: The Making of a Middle-Class Caste. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Ghassem-Fachandi, P. (2012) Pogrom in Gujarat: Hindu Nationalism and Anti-Muslim Violence in India. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Gottschalk, P. (2000) Beyond Hindu and Muslim: Multiple Identity in Narratives from Village India. New York: Oxford University Press. Halbfass, W. (1988) India and Europe: An Essay in Understanding. New York: SUNY Press. HT Correspondent. (2014) “Moharram: 80,000 Devotees Walk in Procession Marking 10th Day.” Hindustan Times, November 5. ———. (2017) “Communal Clashes Erupt in Kanpur During Tazia Procession, 30 Injured.” Hindustan Times, October 1. www.hindustantimes.com/lucknow/communalclashes-erupt-in-kanpur-during-tazia-procession/story-gNMNad4vO7wi4colU33T2L. html, accessed January 30, 2019. Human Rights Watch. (2019) “Violent Cow Protection in India: Vigilante Groups Attack Minorities.” https://www.hrw.org/report/2019/02/18/violent-cow-protection-india/vigi lante-groups-attack-minorities, accessed July 1, 2020. Jha, D. K. (2015) “Why Muslims in 40 UP Villages Scrapped Traditional Muharram Processions This Year.” Scroll, October 26, accessed January 30, 2019. Kumar, M. (2018) ‘The Saints Belong to Everyone’: Liminality, Belief and Practices in Rural North India. Doctoral Dissertation, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Technology, Sydney. ———. (2019) “The Art of Resistance: The Bards and Minstrels’ Response to AntiSyncretism/Anti-Liminality in North India.” Journal of The Royal Asiatic Society 29 (2): 219–247. Kumar, N. (1988) The Artisans of Banaras: Popular Culture and Identity, 1880–1986. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Kusenbach, M. (2003) “Street Phenomenology: The Go-Along as Etnographic Research Tool.” Ethnography 4 (3): 455–485.

38  Kathinka Frøystad Lamb, S. (2000) White Saris and Sweet Mangoes: Aging, Gender, and Body in North India. Berkeley: The University of California Press. Parry, J. P. (1994) Death in Banaras. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. PTI (2015) “Uttar Pradesh: Clash in Kanpur Over ‘Disrespect’ to Religoius Poster.” DNA, October 24. www.dnaindia.com/india/report-uttar-pradesh-clash-in-kanpur-over-disre spect-to-religious-poster-2138188, accessed October 30, 2019. Rollier, P., K. Frøystad and A. Engelsen Ruud (2019) “Introduction: Researching the Rise of Religious Offence in South Asia.” In P. Rollier, K. Frøystad and A. Engelsen Ruud (eds) Outrage: The Rise of Religious Offence in Contemporary South Asia. London: UCL Press, pp. 1–47. Sanchez, A. (2016) “Profane Relations: The Irony of Offensive Jokes in India.” History and Anthropology 27 (3): 296–312. Siddiqui, F. R. (2015) “BSF Conducts Flag March After Violence Leaves 1 Dead in Kannauj.” Times of India, October 25. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kanpur/BSFconducts-flag-march-after-violence-leaves-1-dead-in-Kannauj/articleshow/49522712. cms, accessed January 30, 2019. ———. (2018) ‘This Hindu Man Keeps Muharram Tradition Alive.” Times of India, September 21. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kanpur/this-hindu-man-keepsmuharram-tradition-alive/articleshow/65894070.cms, accessed January 25, 2019. Siddiqui, F. R. and A. Malhotra (2015) “Riot rocks Kanpur over damaged religous poster.” Times of India, October 25. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kanpur/Riot-rocksKanpur-over-damaged-religious-poster/articleshow/49522716.cms, accessed January 30, 2019. Srivastava, S. (2014) Entangled Urbanism: Slum, Gated Community and Shopping Mall in Delhi and Gurgaon. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Taneja, A. V. (2018) Jinnealogy: Time, Islam and Ecological thought in the Medieval Ruins of Delhi. Stanford: Stanford University Press. TNN. (2013) “Alam, Tazia Processions Taken Out on Muharram Eve.” Times of India, November 15. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kanpur/Alam-Tazia-processionstaken-out-on-Muharram-eve/articleshow/25782492.cms, accessed January 30, 2019. Waldrop, A. (2004) “Gating and Class Relations: The Case of a New Delhi ‘Colony’.” City & Society 16 (2): 93–116.

4 Conversionary Christian place-making in 19th-century Madurai Mary Hancock

Introduction: mission place-making and the colonial world At the turn of the 19th century, South Asia loomed large in the American evangelical imaginary, and by 1834, Protestant mission stations had been founded in Jaffna, Bombay (now Mumbai) and Madurai. The new republic of the United States, struggling to maintain domestic political and economic order, had limited commerce with British India and no diplomatic relations (Bean 2001; Raghavan 2018). What drew American Protestants there? And what came of their presence? I engage with this history through an examination of missionary place-making in and around Madurai, a small city in peninsular India, considering the built environments that were created, the religiosities that infused their production and use, and the transcultural religious networks in which these places were enmeshed.1 Suffused with the revivalist fervour of the Second Great Awakening and acting on information supplied by British mission periodicals, American evangelicals formed societies for foreign mission, including the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) in 1810. They were committed to what Emily Conroy-Krutz (2015: 7, quoting Porter 2004) termed “Christian imperialism” and, with their British counterparts, “understood that empire created a ‘reciprocal obligation to promote the spread of Christianity.’ ” The ABCFM began operations in South Asia initially by dispatching missionaries to support English Baptist missionaries in Bengal and then by establishing its own mission stations soon after. The size and reach of the American Madura Mission (AMM), initiated in 1834, quickly exceeded other Protestant mission societies in the region. While American activity in India suggests how different national interests and religious motivations articulated (or not) with Britain’s imperial policies, their place-making practices reveal this mix of collaboration and disjunction on the ground (Stoler and McGranahan 2007: 16). Most work on India’s colonial urban history understands spatial production to be in the service of British colonial interests, for example, the interpretation of colonial cities as laboratories for social experiments, such as housing or sanitation measures, conceived in the metropole. Further, such work, like the bulk of urban studies, treats religion as an epiphenomenal factor in urban development, a by-product of political and economic interests. In framing mission as a spatial project, I examine how American missionaries

40  Mary Hancock settled in Madurai contributed to its urban development, collaboratively and in counterpoint to British activities.2 I argue that missionaries’ place-making, resting on spatial practices and the mobility implied by those practices, drew on and materially mediated their own American-inflected Protestant religiosity; its conversionary dynamic; and the tenets, practices and affective orientations that sustained that dynamic.3 Recent work on Christian modes of place-making informs my argument.4 Maintaining that most evangelicals “engage in careful, sustained work to actualize their Christian concerns in specific enduring places,” Hovland (2016: 334) proposes that evangelical Protestant spatiality is organised around simultaneous efforts to “take apart and bring together faith and place.” These efforts rest on the intentionality of missionary actors and on the conditions of possibility that enabled Christian missions to flourish in some locales while remaining marginal in others. Place-making is exemplified by the ways that Protestant missionaries worked with and through the materiality of dwelling, building and furnishing homes, churches and schools to express and help cultivate Christian community and personhood. It is also manifested in missionaries’ acts of dis-embedding or dis-emplacement, such as their efforts to sustain transregional spiritual and affective bonds with U.S. home churches through communications media and rituals of prayer and worship. For American missionaries in 19th-century Madurai, emplacing and disemplacing acts were shaped by the centrality of conversion to Protestant identity. Most were Congregationalists with New England roots, with understandings of conversion that had been shaped by the Second Great Awakening’s revivalism and its millennialist theology. They advocated world Christianisation, and many embraced foreign mission as an expression of the “disinterested benevolence” that Christians were enjoined to pursue (Porterfield 1997: 16–19). Conversion was understood and experienced as a behavioural, affective, spiritual and cognitive transformation that involved disavowing prior identities and assuming a new Protestant selfhood. Congregationalist thought, with its Calvinist roots, regarded this transformation as predicated on the personal conviction of one’s sinful nature and the recognition that salvation, an unearned gift of divine grace, depended on belief in Jesus Christ as God’s mediator. They also understood conversion as a process, a matter of repetitions and permutations, rather than a single, discrete act or fixed condition. For both missionaries and indigenous Christians, conversion involved regular self-examination, discipline, teaching, prayer and surveillance as hedges against backsliding or other moral failings. Thus, in addition to seeking to bring non-Christians to Christianity through education and direct evangelisation, the evangelical impulse also implied the possibility, if not necessity, of Christians’ re-conversion – recommitment to Christian tenets, values and practices – placing a conversionary dynamic at the core of Protestant selfhood (Coleman 2003; Porterfield 1997). Through their habitation and remaking of colonial spaces, American missionaries created stages for (re)conversionary practices and affects. Hoping to attract

Conversionary Christian place-making 41 “inquirers,” missionaries preached extemporaneously and distributed tracts to encourage private reading of scripture. They travelled regular circuits to oversee indigenous Christians, from those considered nominal (e.g., “readers”) to those who had been baptised as church members; they also trained and monitored indigenous catechists, teachers and pastors. Missionaries expected that certain social actions and institutions encouraged conversion, namely, the company of fellow believers and cycles of collective and private prayer, worship, exhortation and revival. They created their own residential clusters and, to remove indigenous Christians from the influences of non-Christian neighbours and family members, they encouraged Christian enclaves near mission compounds and established boarding and day schools and a theological seminary. They also created worship spaces, including purpose-built churches and acquired plots for cemeteries, setting them aside as places for pious remembrance of deceased missionaries. Such actions nurtured their own Protestant commitments while initiating and monitoring the process of bringing heathens to the Christian fold. If all Protestant missionaries aimed to establish spaces conducive to conversion, those in South Asia perceived particular challenges and opportunities. The latter were afforded by colonial infrastructure, with missionary operations reliant on spaces made accessible by the colonial state’s expropriation of indigenous property and its creation of new roads and ports. As imperial allies, missionaries staffed local schools and undertook English-language education, thereby enacting what the colonial state deemed its civilising mission while also creating conditions thought conducive to native Christian conversion. Among the challenges were what missionaries understood as the entrenched nature of “Hindoo” idolatry and the caste system that it buttressed (Altman 2017). They dedicated sustained attention to Hindu temples, deity icons, ritual accoutrements and liturgical cycles in the hope of undermining their spiritual, cognitive and affective claims on the population. On the one hand, they treated temples as sites of moral confrontation, where they reaffirmed Christianity by disavowing idolatry and refusing the agency granted to its material forms (Keene 2007). On the other hand, they were deeply curious about temple architecture, iconography and ritual operations, which they described in copious detail in communications with the ABCFM. They immersed themselves in the material spaces of idolatry by collecting souvenirs (e.g., ritual objects) at the board’s behest. While letters were recirculated in the mission press, artefacts were re-emplaced as display items in churches and mission society offices. In those new settings, removed from spaces of idolatry, these narratives and artefacts acquired new semiotic frames. They became sites for the cultivation of Christian piety, as home church members, engaging the artefacts visually and with touch, encountered and disavowed heathenism, emulating the virtuous actions of missionaries in the field. Missionary place-making thus generated sites in both India and the U.S. where the continuous, incremental work of Christian conversion and re-conversion could unfold. Mission, if construed as both emplacement and dis-emplacement, as embedding and dis-embedding, reveals place-making to be reliant on connections between

42  Mary Hancock places. Mission projects were not simply matters of building discrete stations but always implied an inscription, backed by the force of legal institutions, militarism and rhetoric, of Christian territoriality. Networks of personnel, information and finance connected missionaries in the field to churches and mission boards in the U.S. These various networks depended on commercial travel facilities; on quotidian mobilities entailed in preaching, tract distribution, teaching, worship and sociality; and on the movement of letters, books, periodicals, money and artefacts between mission sites and board offices. With the acceleration of these exchanges over the 19th century, American foreign mission became a major globalising force, and stations like Madurai’s multiplied across Asia, Africa, the Middle East and the Pacific, transecting the boundaries of the British, Ottoman, Japanese and Chinese empires. If the numbers of Christian converts remained low, especially in India, the global impacts of Protestant institutions were significant. Some scholars locate the roots of an American “moral empire” in these networks, observing that missionbased humanitarian interventions in education, famine relief, temperance and medical care transmitted American influence and served as necessary adjuncts to the exercise of military and political force (Tyrrell 2010: 5, 89–95; see also Kaplan 2002) at the end of the 19th and early 20th centuries. While those considerations exceed the scope of this chapter, the AMM’s establishment marked a foundational moment in this history. Its operations, understood through the lens of place-making, provide a granular example of how American interests, shaped by evangelical Christianity, articulated with those of contemporaneous imperial powers and formed a node within America’s nascent moral empire.

Entwined histories When American Protestants’ attention turned to India, Madurai was a fortified Hindu-majority city of about 35,000. Located in the interior of peninsular South India, it was dominated by the massive Sri Minakshi Sundareswarar (SMS) temple and the adjoining Tirumala Nayaka palace complex. Continuously occupied since approximately 300 BCE, Madurai served as a political, economic, and ritual centre for the dynastic states that controlled the region (Lewandowski 1977). And, if celebrated in the present as a decidedly unmodern place, in the first half of the 19th century, Madurai was a site for experiments in imperial modernity conducted through the remaking of its urban landscape. By 1800, the East India Company had extended its claims from the coastal settlements established in the early 1600s to the traditional market, ritual and political centres of the interior, including Madurai, transforming them in piecemeal fashion into military and administrative nodes of the nascent colonial state (Heitzman 2008: 118–121, 129–135). The peninsular region was annexed by the company in 1801, following its victory over Mahratta forces in the fourth Mysore War. Upon annexation, the region (population estimated at 1.3 million) was designated as the Madras Presidency and divided into two districts, Madura and

Conversionary Christian place-making  43 Tinnevelly. The ryotwari settlement, a property regime introduced in 1820, commodified land, positioned indigenous aristocrats as landlords and tax collectors, and redefined cultivators, often bonded labourers or hereditary tenants, as smallholding peasants subject to taxation and rents. The region’s rice-based economy was diversified with the company’s introduction of cash crops (cotton, tobacco, coffee, oilseeds), and Madurai continued to grow in area and population as an inland market and administrative centre for the presidency’s southern region.5 In 1866, under provisions of the Towns Improvement Act of 1865 and in the wake of the company’s dissolution and the imposition of direct parliamentary rule in India in 1858, Madurai, with a population of approximately 43,000, was declared a municipality.6 By 1900, its population had reached 105,984 and it had grown in area, with extensions to the north, east and west. The 65 years during which a colonial order was overlain on Madurai’s templecentric social space saw major changes in the city’s infrastructure and built environment – changes that coincided with the establishment of the AMM and on which it collaborated. Invoking familiar imperialist tropes, company officers sought to “open” the city, which was figured as a space of danger and contagion. These spatial and administrative apertures enabled the company’s surveillance and navigation of a complex, layered urban world, ensuring efficiency in resource assessment and extraction. These efforts were launched by the district’s collector, John Blackburne, who took office in 1834. Urban renewal entailed forcible displacements of indigenous residents and new claims on urban space by both the company state and colonial elites, including the American missionaries. It began with demolition of the city’s fortifications and the reorganisation of its temple-centric core and continued with the stabilisation and expansion of transport arteries and the creation of suburban residential spaces. Blackburne began operations by demolishing some sections of the fort’s walls and auctioning other portions of the fort and its embankment on the condition that purchasers aid in demolition and new construction (Chandler 1911: 13; Viguier 2011: 225). By 1840, the fort’s walls were razed, a surrounding ditch filled in, and the stone-lined embankment partially disassembled (Chandler 1911: 13). Renovations at each of the fort’s four original gates included “bazaar squares” and cart depots, and by 1844, one such square had been completed at the east gate, with the AMM claiming an adjacent plot that included a residence, a church and a school (Chandler 1911: 13). The transformation of the temple-palace complex in the city’s core followed a similar pattern. Claiming that temple-adjacent buildings were fire and/or health hazards, the company razed structures and offered inducements for relocation, including grants for purchasing land in areas created by the fort’s demolition (Chandler 1911: 15; Viguier 2011: 226). By 1844, over 200 homes had been built or were in progress on newly acquired plots north of the temple (Viguier 2011: 226–228). Contemporaneously, the company demolished some sections of the palace and repurposed others for offices (Chandler 1911: 15). The SMS temple precincts also underwent infrastructural development. The drainage system was extended, the three streets that served as concentric ritual

44  Mary Hancock procession paths were widened, and two outer streets were laid in the fort’s footprint to facilitate access between the city’s core and new regional transport arteries (Breckenridge 1976: 241–244; Chandler 1911: 14). Alongside these efforts, new regulations were imposed on property assessment, transfer and taxation, as well as on building styles and materials (e.g., thatched roofs were prohibited and building heights limited) and temple operations. Although temples and other indigenous religious institutions had been beneficiaries of company officers’ donations and patronage during prior centuries, the company, under pressure from evangelical interests in Parliament and within its own ranks, began to enforce its religious non-interference policy more vigorously; alongside this, the resources accumulated by temples attracted company scrutiny (Breckenridge 1976: 219–220, 222). At the time of the region’s annexation, those resources, which included land, buildings, jewels, precious metals, currency and produce, had been audited and a system of taxation devised, with a share of revenues redistributed among the temples within the Madras Presidency.7 Thus, as the city’s fortifications were demolished to open the city to its surroundings, the temple at its centre was also opened to state surveillance and administration. By 1866, colonial territoriality, funded in part by the company’s capture of temple resources, had been overlain on the temple-centric city.

America in Madurai The missionaries’ arrival in Madurai coincided with the company’s programme of urban transformation, and they benefited from and collaborated with this project. The AMM was launched by three missionaries fluent in Tamil who, with their wives, were sent from the board’s Jaffna (Ceylon, now Sri Lanka) station; they were joined by two new recruits from the U.S. Upon arrival in Madurai, they were welcomed by Blackburne and, with the company’s support, embedded themselves into Madurai’s spatial fabric.8 Through their practices of habitation and their resignification of space as Christian, American missionaries acted as both racial allies and moral critics of the company state. While recognising bonds of whiteness with British colonisers, missionaries departed from and at times criticised company policies, such as religious non-interference, with their explicit advocacy of the Christianisation of those deemed heathen, be they “Hindoo,” “Mahometan,” or “Romanist.”9 They also sought the abolition of caste, which they understood as buttressing “Hindoo” ideas and practices, and advocated for women’s education. And, diverging from the company’s imposition of English, they envisioned a vernacularised form of Christianity with missionaries expected to gain fluency in regional languages and eventually superintend congregations led by Indian pastors and catechists. American missionaries, moreover, aimed to settle permanently in British India, as distinct from the temporary residence anticipated by company officers and employees. They were committed to lifelong mission service, and missionaries, predominantly male during this period, arrived with wives and sometimes children.10 They constructed new buildings and rented others, selecting locations

Conversionary Christian place-making 45 strategically to integrate mission spaces within company-engineered networks of communication, drainage and transportation. In turn, mission settlements formed hubs in the new territories of Christian influence that missionaries hoped to overlay on company-controlled areas. The AMM initially claimed space near the fort’s east gate, just north of the partially refurbished palace and the government offices it housed. Missionaries rented dwellings owned by company officers within and outside the city’s fortifications, using them as worship spaces, schools and residences for local assistants and servants. During the decade that followed, the AMM expanded its property holdings at the east gate to over nine acres to accommodate additional structures. Imagined as islands of white, American Christianity, mission homes were valued as teaching tools for demonstrating the virtues of a Christian household (Heim 1994). As the AMM’s 1852 Report asserted: “Next to the direct influence of the preaching of gospel there is no power so mighty as that exercised by a well conducted Christian family and it is an influence, moreover peculiarly Protestant.”11 Mission dwellings were barriers against the effects of the tropical climate, which was deemed responsible for stigmatised racial characteristics such as dark skin, licentiousness and indolence. With a hybrid bungalow style and mix of imported and locally sourced furniture, utensils and decorative items, including imported watches, clocks and almanacs, they enabled missionaries to maintain temporal and material identifications with the worlds they had left behind. For example, rituals of Christian self-making, such as Sabbath observances and prayer services, were synchronised with the liturgical calendars of home churches, and missionaries were punctilious, in journal entries and letters, in noting dates and times using Western conventions. The AMM pursued both direct evangelisation and teaching in the city’s changing landscape. If the dominating presence of SMS marked Madurai’s need for Christian influence, the city’s compact layout and existing network of local and company-built schools gave the Americans stages for action. Direct evangelisation took the form of open-air preaching along the thoroughfares near the SMS temple, and during festivals, missionaries and catechists claimed the feeder roads at the city’s edge for tract distribution.12 They soon acquired additional plots for new, mission-built churches. Teaching was carried out initially in schools convened in temple pavilions, the verandahs of mission bungalows, gardens and repurposed sections of the palace. Missionaries saw schools as means to amplify their impact, and in 1835, they agreed to supervise 26 of the company’s schools in Madurai. By 1838, the number of schools under their supervision had grown to 60, one-third of which were located in surrounding villages.13 By 1845, in addition to supervising company schools, the AMM operated four boys’ boarding schools, two girls’ boarding schools, two girls’ day schools, one theological seminary and an English-medium school attended by mostly upper-caste Hindus, though within the next decade some schools were consolidated and the English-medium school closed, with missionsupervised schools only multiplying again in the late 1860s.

46  Mary Hancock Although evangelisation did not necessitate purpose-built Christian churches, churches, like homes, were crucial spaces to sustain missionaries’ own reconversionary dynamic because of their design features and size. By the midcentury, churches had been built near the sites of the demolished fort’s east and west gates. The East Gate Church was described as “a commodious and handsome building on the model of a New England meetinghouse” (Chandler 1911: 120), identifying it as a distinctively Christian space within the city’s Hindu landscape. With their prominent bells, churches also helped create the Christian soundscapes that missionaries considered critical adjuncts to mission space. Bells were obtained from the U.S. and from local foundries (Chandler 1911: 121–122). They conjured memories of home while imposing acoustic order on a soundscape that, filled with the voices of devotees and vendors, calls to prayer, and the sounds of the drums and other instruments that accompanied processions, missionaries found noisy and discordant.14 Upon his arrival in Madurai in April of 1857, missionary William Capron noted: “It was very pleasant the first Sabbath after our arrival to hear the sound of the church going bell whose clear tones rung out over the city, so far superior to the tinkling of the bells of that immense and wealthy heathen temple.”15 The AMM’s operations depended on the company’s geographic and administrative opening of Madurai. While the fort’s demolition had enabled the AMM to initiate a settlement network in Madurai, they also benefited from the razing of its residential and commercial spaces, which put some plots into commercial circulation, severing the ties of hereditary use rights and other non-commodified forms of ownership. Although the American board, as a foreign corporate body, could not purchase land outright, the company furnished long-term deeds of occupancy for missionaries and occasionally allowed individuals to make private purchases. The deeds required annual quit-rent and were sometimes contingent on missionaries’ clearance and levelling of the plots.16 By 1866, the AMM’s station comprised three residential clusters each with adjacent schools and/or churches, located at the fort’s original east, west and south gates.17 The Christian spaces and sounds that encircled the SMS temple prompted missionaries and indigenous Christians to imagine its weakening hold on the populace, with one catechist writing in 1853 that “heathen temples are now actually habitations of numerous bats.”18 Adjacent to each compound were settlements of low-caste and Dalit Christians who served as pastoral assistants and domestic servants. The cart depot at the west gate property facilitated the Madurai missionaries’ regional circuits. The AMM was granted a plot for a burial ground near the west gate in 1842 and, in 1851, it constructed an adjacent hospital.19 Infrastructural development afforded connectivity within the city and between Madurai and its hinterland. The new streets contained the city’s temple core and connected the earliest spaces of colonial modernity; they were also axes for continued expansion. New regional arteries helped missionaries create a Maduraicentric mission district: a main station surrounded by accessible substations and Christian villages. During its first decade of operation, the mission also expanded

Conversionary Christian place-making 47 beyond Madurai, establishing residences, schools and churches at substations to the north in Dindigul (1837), to the east in Tirupuvanam and Tirumangalam (1839) and to the southeast in the zamindari of Sivaganga (1841). By 1863, the AMM estimated a district-wide Christian population of about 62,000 persons (Colton 1863). In Pasumalai, four miles southwest of Madurai, missionaries constructed a theological seminary in 1844 and, over the objections of indigenous landholders, gained title to about 90 acres of arable and non-cultivated land (Richardson 2002). By 1847, much of Pasumalai had been made over into a Christian settlement, encompassing a church, residential structures, a classroom building, a dining hall, a kitchen and an infirmary. The AMM’s claims on and occupancy of space reveal its dependence on and co-constitution of the company’s property regime, while grounding its conversionary projects in new spaces. Like the company, the AMM framed its work as opening Madurai, and by collaborating with the company it materialised this opening through specifically Christian modes of habitation. As missionaries sought to convert others to Christianity they also cultivated and sustained their own Christian personhood.

Conversion in place American missionaries sometimes expressed dismay that the core work of mission, evangelising and education, was curtailed by temporal duties associated with the acquisition, management and maintenance of properties. They nonetheless recognised that Christian conversion had spatial correlates: Churches were spaces for cultivating Christian personhood; missionary homes demonstrated the virtues of companionate marriage and time-discipline; schools created conditions for Protestant becoming. In addition, their own re-conversionary experiences were emplaced, often triggered by sensory encounters with “Hindoo” ritual spaces, practices and objects. In this section, I zoom in on the conversionary practices that animated these spaces, with particular attention to schools and to the diverse sites of missionaries’ encounters with local religious practices, considering the simultaneous processes by which they took apart and brought together faith and place. Christianisation, from a Protestant perspective, depended fundamentally on literacy because it afforded a direct personal encounter with the words of God in scripture. This encounter, facilitated by the distribution of scriptural tracts, set the stage for the renunciation of heathen practices, including caste, and the embrace of a new Christian identity that began with recognising oneself as a sinner. Missionaries also found Christian-allied models for conceiving both space and time in sciences, such as geometry, astronomy and geography, and, as educators, they hoped that imparting knowledge of Western science would further undercut the claims of heathen ideas. These diverse aims were conjoined in educational projects that missionaries wove into Madurai’s spatial remaking. In addition to what missionaries considered the beneficial effects of isolating students from non-Christian family members and neighbours, boarding schools

48  Mary Hancock were spaces of both educational and social activity, the latter situated in mixedcaste dining, prayer and assembly spaces. In the mid-1840s, missionaries ramped up these efforts with a new ritual, the “love feast,” designed to force indigenous Christian converts to fully disavow caste. The love feasts, mixed-caste meals prepared and served by low-caste or Dalit cooks, were held at boarding schools and the Pasumalai seminary, where the AMM had the power to impose its own moral geography. The love feasts were short-lived. Not only did they cause students to leave the schools and catechists to renounce Christianity, they also caused angry confrontations with both Christian and non-Christian families.20 Conversionary projects were also pursued through science education, which they hoped would effect a cognitive reorientation of vernacular spatio-temporal principles and unseat “tenacious adherence to ancient usages and the system of mutual checks and restraints exercised by one over the other.”21 AMM missionaries introduced astronomy and geography in all schools, using tools that included globes and telescopes. Missionaries with sufficient fluency in Tamil delivered public lectures on these topics and seized on astronomical events, such as eclipses and the October 1837 appearance of a comet, as teaching opportunities.22 Finally, they tried to inculcate Western systems of time reckoning by printing and distributing Tamil-language Christian almanacs.23 These new systems of space and time reckoning were reinforced by the timediscipline that structured mission education, labour and liturgical cycles. For example, company schools ordinarily recessed on new and full moon days, both of which were ritually significant for Hindus and Muslims. Missionaries, predictably, were vexed by this assertion of heathen temporality. One, Daniel Poor, devised a means to constrain teachers’ adherence to this ritual cycle by making their receipt of wages contingent on attending training sessions on those days. The same missionary described the opportunities for moral confrontation that schools’ locations within Hindu temples offered. At one such school, taught in the antechamber of a Ganesha temple, Poor found that questions posed by “respectable persons present . . . gave fair opportunity for bringing forward the great truths of the gospel.”24 He also described a less successful interaction. When asked by Poor where “God” was, one student pointed to the figure of the deity sheltered in the shrine. Poor later reported: I made a truce with this god in the beginning that I would not attack him in person in his prison house if he would allow me to teach the commands of god to the children. It is rather marvelous to me that he consents to such proposals or even keeps the peace while I am preaching.25 Although Poor’s archly worded description implied that schools, like churches, functioned as conversionary spaces, those outcomes were never assured. Indeed, missionaries admitted that conversions were few, with annual reports distinguishing between the many who received tracts and made inquiries, the fewer who attended services, and the small numbers of baptised members. Those who were suspended or excommunicated were also carefully enumerated.

Conversionary Christian place-making 49 Consistent with what missionaries reported as discouraging rates of conversion was the ongoing resistance to the spatial hegemony of the company and its missionary allies. There had been overt resistance to the demolitions of Madurai’s housing stock, with other spatially grounded forms of resistance also reported. When missionaries took to the streets to evangelise, audience members regularly interrupted and ridiculed them. Missionaries regularly sought (but rarely received) permission to enter temple and mosque complexes to deliver educational addresses about Christianity and were often confronted by groups opposing their presence.26 The aforementioned Daniel Poor remarked on his delivery of one such lecture during a “Hindoo” wedding. After extolling the virtues of companionate marriage, under the guise of pedagogy he read out the Tamil text of a Christian marriage service including the actual marriage vows, “so that they might know the simplicity of our method.” This act of ritual hijacking was meant to forcibly dis-embed the couple from the space of idolatry: “I put it pointedly to the bridegroom whether he would thus promise, to which he promptly replied yes. This produced a slight sensation in the company as though he had done something wrong but I commended him for his answer.”27 As implied in Poor’s reports, direct encounters with Hindu temples were opportunities to refute idolatry’s power and reaffirm Protestant values and beliefs, to dis-embed themselves from the densely heathen place of the mission field and re-embed themselves in a universalised Christian community that transcended the discrete and dispersed places of Christian settlement. Missionaries nonetheless recognised that they were never free from the possibility of compromising entanglements in the spatio-temporal worlds of heathenism. Their experience of the fragility and porosity of Christian selfhood as they moved within heathen ritual space and exerted themselves in the discernment of the godly from the demonic are suggested in a letter written in 1836 by William Todd. Declaring, “I fear I have polluted myself with idols,” Todd recounted a “case of conscience” brought on by the American board’s request for artefacts for home churches to use in teaching Americans about the “extent of idolatry” and to help them direct their prayerful attention to the mission cause.28 Todd’s purchase of a Ganesha figure for the board’s collection had led him to wonder whether a “secondary species of idolatry is rising up in the churches,” and he questioned the value of viewing them, even as curiosities: “If these abominations were sentient beings they must be pleased with the unexpected attentions which they are now receiving from Christians.”29 As Todd suggested, objects like the Ganesha figure were both desired and feared, serving multiple functions and affective valences as they moved between different ritual spaces and semiotic ideologies (Davis 1997; Hancock forthcoming; Keene 2007). As material metonyms of heathen places, they were feared and even despised because they encapsulated idolatry and the misattribution of divine agency to material form on which it rested. They circulated, however, as products of the re-conversionary dynamic of mission, acquiring virtue as products of missionaries’ own encounters with and disavowals of heathenism. Likening themselves to the first generations of Christians described in the New Testament’s Acts of the Apostles, missionaries saw themselves as re-enacting the foundational

50  Mary Hancock moment of Christian becoming by refuting idolatry.30 Furthermore, the recontextualisation of heathen artefacts within Christian spaces fed a nascent ethnological imagination while encouraging audiences to form connections with missionaries and mission fields through the affect-laden, prayerful attention they attracted.31 But, as Todd cautioned, objects like the Ganesha figure also retained the capacity to entrap viewers, to reconstitute the ritual spaces of their origins, as they enjoyed “unexpected attention” of new viewers.

Conclusion: mission’s afterlife In the history of the American Madura Mission that he prepared for its 75th anniversary, John Chandler envisioned a still-hoped-for Christianisation of Madurai in this way: “While the great Minachi Temple holds the center of the town, these four schools [for Hindu girls] together with the four churches of the Mission scatter Christian influences in the way of the people coming from the four quarters into the town” (Chandler 1911: 319–320). Nearly a century of “Christian influences,” however, had not led to conversions at the rates that the AMM had hoped. Of Madurai’s over 105,000 residents, only 3% identified as Christian, and most were Roman Catholic.32 The AMM itself was dissolved in 1934 and its properties transferred to local religious institutions. Although Christian conversion rates remained low, the AMM achieved more success in its educational efforts. As of 1911, it maintained high schools, boarding schools, a college and a seminary in Madurai, alongside two hospitals, a book depository and a reading room.33 In Pasumalai, a boys’ high school, a women’s teacher training institute, a men’s college and a printing press were added to the original seminary complex and residences. And in 1904, the seminary-affiliated college was reconstituted as a new, secular men’s college, American College. With funding secured from John D. Rockefeller, American College’s campus was moved to a newly established residential area north of the city.34 Beyond the city, a Christian territory took shape, with the Madurai station serving as hub for a network of other mission institutions, including schools, training institutes for women and men, churches and dispensaries. While the AMM’s spatial projects marked the city in enduring ways, its impacts were also felt transculturally, within the broader ambit of America’s moral empire. The Christian imperialism of the first missionary generation was, by the end of the 19th century, fused with the new social gospel, which promoted Christianisation alongside programmes for social and economic reform, such as temperance. American College was a special site for such efforts. Along with a handful of other secular colleges founded by Protestant missionaries between 1860 and 1920, it was an outpost of America’s moral empire, a space where American interests, conveyed in curricular materials, pedagogy and instructors recruited from the U.S., transected the boundaries of other imperial formations. Its first principal, AMM missionary William Zumbro, captured both the aspirations of American moral empire and the college’s contribution to it in a 1908 essay. He observed that American political and commercial influences in India

Conversionary Christian place-making 51 were negligible, asserting that America’s only direct influences were through missionaries who went out “with an American idea of a fair chance to all and a helping hand to the one who is in need.” Mission schools, with their scientific and industrial training designed to enhance graduates’ employability in teaching, government service and commerce, “crystallized much of the best that America has” (Zumbro 1908: 292). American College exemplifies the mission-affiliated institutions that hastened the coalescence of American moral empire while also revealing its formation in networks of mission travel, information and finance of the 1830s. Well before American College’s founding, the transcontinental and localised mobilities of missionaries inscribed a Christian (and Americanised) modernity on Madurai and delivered the city, in words, pictures and artefacts, to co-religionists in the U.S. The artefacts, especially, invited collisions between the semiotic ideologies of American Christianity and Hinduism, with missionaries finding unexpected moral benefits and perils in these entanglements. Fed by missionaries’ donations, American Board collections grew to over 3,000 objects by 1895.35 Over the course of the century, they served simultaneously as ethnological specimens and as inducements to piety, reminders of the still-urgent task of world Christianisation on which mission was founded. They were incorporated into Protestant worship and pedagogy, in Sabbath schools and seminary instruction, and in the “monthly concerts” where congregations assembled to learn about distant mission fields and to offer collective prayer for mission purposes, eventually finding mass audiences in large-scale missionary expositions. The story of the AMM’s Christian place-making in Madurai reveals moral empire as not only a network of institutions but a product of the affective, material and haptic experiences of missionary place-making. These entanglements engendered distinctive processes of evangelical place-making, the simultaneous emplacement of faith in specific conditions and localities and its dis-emplacement through the mobility of images, objects, persons and ideas. Mission spaces enabled American exceptionalism to go global, even as they entwined it in local practices, desires, mores and imaginaries.

Notes 1 On the historiography of mission in British India see Cox (2002), Kent (2004), Mosse (2012), Porter (2004), Viswanathan (1998), van der Veer (1996), Zupanov (1999). 2 By contrast, Viguier’s study of Madurai’s development merely noted the existence of a Protestant church and a Catholic settlement. See Viguier (2011: 230). 3 Lefebvre (1991); see also Büscher et al. (2011), Cresswell and Merriman (2016), Hancock and Srinivas (2018), Jensen (2013), Urry (2007). 4 Bergmann (2007), Bielo (2013), De Rogatis (2013), Hovland (2016), Kong et  al. (2013), Sutherland (2017). 5 “Madura District.” The Imperial Gazetteer of India (new edition), Vol. 16. (1908– 1931): 394–395. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 6 “Madura District.” 406. 7 Hurdis Report, January  26–28, 1802. Madura District Collectorate Records, Vol. 1248, cited in Breckenridge 1976: 143.

52  Mary Hancock 8 “Reverend D. Poor’s Journal.” p. 2. ABC 16.1.9, A467, Reel 499, #24. American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Mission [hereafter ABCFM]. Blackburne donated Rs. 200 per year to the AMM. A Judge Thompson averaged Rs. 780 per year and in 1841 was appointed a corresponding member of the Prudential Committee of the ABCFM. Between 1836 and 1847, donations from British officials were about Rs. 1,000 per year along with a one-time donation of Rs. 3000 from the government to support schools (Chandler 1911: 31–32). 9 Daniel Madras, “Memorial to the Right Honorable Sir Frederick Adam, KCB, from Ministers and members of the different denominations of Protestant Christians in the Presidency of Fort St George.” 6 August 1836. Cited in Breckenridge (1976: 195). 10 Because tropical climates were thought to stir sexual desire, aspiring missionaries were expected to marry in advance of foreign postings; the single women who applied for mission posts were sometimes sent as teachers, but only wives deemed suitably pious and skilled were designated “Assistant Missionaries.” See Bowie et al. (1993), Burton (1994), Flemming (1992), Forbes (1986), Haggis (1998), Haggis and Allen (2008), Hill (1985), Ramusack (1990), Robert (1996). 11 “Report, September 1852.” p. 6, ABC 16.1.9, A467, Reel 467, #48. ABCFM. 12 “Report for Madura, Year ending December 31, 1837.” p. 14. ABC 16.1.9, A467, Reel 466, #2; “Extracts from D. Poor’s Journal, Madura.” p. 4, ABC 16.1.9, Reel 499, #2. ABCFM. 13 Mission reports refer to supervision of 16 schools for high-caste Hindus, 13 lowcaste schools, two girls’ schools and one private English-language school for “IndoBritons.” Over 30 other schools in surrounding villages were also established. “Report for Madura, year ending December  31, 1837.” p.  3, ABC 16.1.9. A467, Reel 466, #2. ABCFM; “Donation to Certain American Missionaries for Purposes of Public Instruction.” IOR/F/4/1832/75934: September 1837-April 1838. India Office Records and Private Papers, Records of the Board of Commissioners for the Affairs of India, 1620–1859, India Office Library, British Library. 14 John Lawrence to Rufus Anderson, 18 April 1836, pp. 5,8. ABC 16.1.9, A467, Reel 499, #56; John Lawrence to Rufus Anderson, 27 May 1836, p. 3, ABC 16.1.9, A 467, Reel 499, #60. ABCFM. 15 William Capron to Rufus Anderson, 20 April 1857, p. 4, ABC 16.1.9, A467, Reel 467, #179. ABCFM. 16 “Copy of Land Owned by ABCFM on the Glacis, Date of Original 18 April 1850, signed by R. Parker, as Collector” p. 7, ABC 8.2.17, Box 3, Folder 7. ABCFM. 17 Outside the fort’s footprint, just north of the city, was a fourth station, Madura Fort Station (later named Melur), whose compound housed a residence, school, small church and storage structures; those properties were sold in 1857 (Chandler 1911: 73). 18 Winfred to Rufus Anderson, 3 July  1853. ABC 16.1.9, A467, Reel 467, # 60, p.  2, ABCFM. 19 “Revised List of Tombs of Europeans and Americans in the Madura District with Inscriptions Thereon” Madura: Madura Collectorate Press (1904). IOR/V/27/74/41. India Office Records and Private Papers, Records of the Board of Commissioners for the Affairs of India, 1620–1859, India Office Library, British Library. 20 John Rendall, Letter accompanying Annual Report for 1857, ABC 16.1.9, A467, Reel 467, #106, p. 28. 21 For example, William Todd to Rufus Anderson, 9 January 1837, pp. 6–7, 10, 11. ABC 16.1.9, A467, Reel 499, #23; “Prospectus of an English school for the inhabitants of Madura under the supervision of the American Missionaries, August 1836” in “Extracts from D. Poor’s Journals.” pp. 9–10, ABC 16.1.9, A467, Reel 499, #31. ABCFM. 22 “Journal of a Visit to Madura, by Rev. D. Poor. Printed at Manepy, 1837.” ABC 16.1.9 A  467. Reel 466, #1 pp.  8–9; Rev. D. Poor’s Journal (November  1835), p.  4. ABC 16.1.9, A467, Reel 499, #24. ABCFM.

Conversionary Christian place-making  53 23 “Rev. D. Poor’s Journal” (November 1835), p. 2. ABC 16.1.9, A467, Reel 499, #24; Daniel Poor to Rufus Anderson, May 3, 1836, Madura, p. 7. ABC 16.1.9, Reel 499, #34. ABCFM. 24 “Extract from D. Poor’s Journal.” 27 June 1835, p. 8, ABC 16.1.9, A467, Reel 499, #35. ABCFM. 25 Ibid. 26 “Extracts from D. Poor’s Journals.” 2 May 1836. p. 9, ABC 16.1.9, A467, R499, #31. “The Journal of Cone” pp. 1–4, ABC 16.1.9 A467, R 466, #34. Both ABCFM. 27 “Extract from D. Poor’s Journal.” 1 August 1836, pp. 9–10, ABC 16.1.9, A467, Reel 499, #191, ABCFM. 28 William Todd to Rufus Anderson, 15 September 1836. P. 2. ABC 16.1.9, A467, Reel 499, #33. ABCFM. 29 Ibid. 30 “Journal of a Visit to Madura. By Rev. D. Poor.” p. 4. ABC 16.1.9, A467, Reel 466, #1. ABCFM. See also “Plea for the Monthly Concert: A Sermon by Andrew L. Stone.” pp. 6–7. ABC 85.9, Box 8, “Monthly Concert” Folder, ABCFM. 31 William Todd to Rufus Anderson, 15 September 1836, p. 1, ABC 16.1.9 A467, Reel 499, #33. ABCFM. 32 District-wide, the AMM had 17,600 members, with 11 stations and a presence in 506 villages. Imperial Gazetteer, p. 391. 33 “Inventory of the Board’s Property of the Mission, 1892” and “Inventory of the ABCFM Property in Madura District, South India” both ABC 8.2.17. Box 6, “Madura” folder. ABCFM. 34 James L. Barton, “Presented to the Prudential Committee, April 4, 1905, to be sent to the Corporate Members of the Board.” Pamphlet. In Folder, “Case of John D. Rockefeller and Tainted Money.” ABC 41, Box 11. ABCFM. 35 “Report of the Sub-Committee on Library.” 30 June 1939. ABC 85.9, Box 8, Museum folder. ABCFM.

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54  Mary Hancock Chandler, J. (1911) Seventy-Five Years in the Madura Mission. Chennai: American Madura Mission, Lawrence Asylum Press. Coleman, S. (2003) “Continuous Conversion? The Rhetoric, Practice and Rhetorical Practice of Charismatic Protestant Conversion.” In A. Buckser and S. Glazier (eds) The Anthropology of Religious Conversion. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, pp. 15–28. Colton, J. (1863) Maturaicciimai viruththaantham [Description of Madurai]. Palamcottah: Christian Vernacular Education Society, Church Mission Press. Conroy-Krutz, E. (2015) Converting the World in the Early American Republic. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Cox, J. (2002) Imperial Fault Lines: Christianity and Colonial Power in India, 1818–1940. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Cresswell, T. and P. Merriman (eds) (2016) Geographies of Mobilities: Practices, Spaces, Subjects. London: Routledge. Davis, R. (1997) Lives of Indian Images. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. De Rogatis, A. (2013) Moral Geography: Maps, Missionaries and the American Frontier. New York: Columbia University Press. Flemming, L. A. (1992) “New Humanity: American Missionaries; Ideals for Women in North India, 1870–1930.” In M. Strobel and N. Chaudhuri (eds) Western Women and Imperialism: Complicity and Resistance. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, pp. 191–206. Forbes, G. (1986) “In Search of the ‘Pure Heathen’: Missionary Women in Nineteenth Century India.” Economic and Political Weekly 21 (17): WS2–WS8. Haggis, J. (1998) “Good Wives and Mothers or Dedicated Workers? Contradictions of Domesticity in the ‘Mission of Sisterhood,’ Travancore, South India.” In K. Ram and M. Jolly (eds) Maternities and Modernities: Colonial and Postcolonial Experiences in Asia and the Pacific. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 81–113. Haggis, J. and M. Allen (2008) “Imperial Emotions: Affective Communities of Mission in British Protestant Women’s Missionary Publications c1880–1920.” Journal of Social History 41(3): 691–716. Hancock, M. (Forthcoming) “Did the Masters of Disenchantment Ever Wonder? India in the Nineteenth-Century American Evangelical Imaginary.” In T. Srinivas (ed) Wonder in South Asia: An Anthology. Albany: SUNY Press, pp. 140–172. Hancock, M. and S. Srinivas (eds) (2018) “Spirited Topographies: Religion and Urban Place Making (Special Roundtable).” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 86 (2): 454–472. Heim, M. (1994) Making a Life in India: American Missionary Households in NineteenthCentury Madurai. PhD Dissertation, Department of History, Boston College, Boston. Heitzman, J. (2008) The City in South Asia. New York, Oxon: Routledge. Hill, P. (1985) The World Their Household: The American Woman’s Foreign Mission Movement and Cultural Transformation, 1870–1920. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Hovland, I. (2016) “Christianity, Place/Space, and Anthropology: Thinking Across Recent Research on Evangelical Place-Making.” Religion 46 (3): 331–358. Imperial Gazetteer of India (new edition). 1908–1931. Oxford: Clarendon Press. India Office Records and Private Papers. 1620–1859. India Office Library, British Library. Jensen, O. (2013) Staging Mobilities. London: Routledge. Kaplan, A. (2002) The Anarchy of Empire in the Making of US Culture. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Conversionary Christian place-making 55 Keene, W. (2007) Christian Moderns: Freedom and Fetish in the Mission Encounter. Berkeley: University of California Press. Kent, E. (2004) Converting Women: Gender and Protestant Christianity in Colonial South India. New York: Oxford University Press. Kong, L., P. Hopkins and E. Olsen (eds) (2013) Religion and Place: Landscape, Politics and Piety. New York: Springer. Lefebvre, H. (1991) The Production of Space (Trans. Donald Nicholson-Smith). Oxford, Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell. Lewandowski, S. (1977) “Changing Form and Function in the Ceremonial and Colonial Port City in India: An Historical Analysis of Madurai and Madras.” Modern Asian Studies 11 (2): 183–212. Mosse, D. (2012) The Saint in the Banyan Tree: Christianity and Caste Society in India. Berkeley: University of California Press. Porter, A. (2004) Religion Versus Empire? British Protestant Missionaries and Overseas Expansion, 1700–1914. Manchester: Manchester University Press. Porterfield, A. (1997) Mary Lyon and the Mount Holyoke Missionaries. New York: Oxford University Press. Raghavan, S. (2018) Fierce Enigmas: A History of the United States in South Asia. New York: Basic Books. Ramusack, B. (1990) “Cultural Missionaries, Maternal Imperialists, Feminist Allies: British Women Activists in India, 1865–1945.” Women’s Studies International Forum 13 (4): 309–321. Richardson, J. (2002) Distinguishing Selves: History and Identity in a South Indian Christian Community (1844–1999). PhD Dissertation, Department of Anthropology, University of Wisconsin, Madison. Robert, D. (1996) American Women in Mission: A Social History of Their Thought and Practice. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press. Stoler, A. L. and C. McGranahan (2007) “Introduction: Refiguring Imperial Terrains.” In A. L. Stoler, C. McGranahan and P. Perdue (eds) Imperial Formations. Santa Fe: School for Advanced Research Press, pp. 3–44. Sutherland, C. (2017) “Theography: Subject, Theology and Praxis in Geographies of Religion.” Progress in Human Geography 4 (3): 321–337. Tyrrell, I. (2010) Reforming the World: The Creation of America’s Moral Empire. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Urry, J. (2007) Mobilities. Cambridge: Polity Press. van der Veer, P. (ed) (1996) Conversion to Modernities: The Globalization of Christianity. New York: Routledge. Viguier, A. (2011) “An Improbable Reconstruction: The Transformation of Madurai, 1837–47.” The Indian Economic and Social History Review 48 (2): 215–239. Viswanathan, G. (1998) Outside the Fold: Conversion, Modernity and Belief. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Zumbro, W. (1908) “India: A Nation in the Making.” Missionary Review of the World 31: 288–293. Zupanov, I. (1999) Disputed Mission: Jesuit Experiments and Brahmanical Knowledge in Seventeenth-Century India. New York: Oxford University Press.

5 S  ikh pilgrimage sites in the city of Nanded in Maharashtra Knut A. Jacobsen

Pilgrimage is a widespread and popular ritual in contemporary Sikh religious traditions. Sikhism is a religion mostly of people from Punjab, and the majority of the Sikh places of pilgrimage are in the greater Punjab. These pilgrimage places are mainly gurdvārās built to celebrate historical events related to one or more of the Sikh Gurus and their historical presence at the sites. However, three of the major pilgrimage places are situated far away from the greater Punjab – Śrī Hazūr Sāhib in the city of Nanded in Maharashtra, Hemkund Sāhib in the Chamoli district in Uttarakhand and Takht Śrī Patna Sāhib in the city of Patna in Bihar – and these are all associated primarily with the tenth of the Sikh Gurus, Guru Gobind Singh. Nanded in southern Maharashtra is the place where Guru Gobind Singh spent his last days and where he passed away in 1708, which for the Sikhs marked the end of the lineage of human Gurus and the beginning of the Guruship of the Guru Granth. Nanded is also one of the five takhts, the Sikh seats of religious authority and legislation.1 Apart from the main gurdvārā in Nanded, which contains a number of relics of Guru Gobind Singh – especially his weapons – and graves of saints, the Sikhs have built a large number of additional gurdvārās in Nanded on sites associated especially with Guru Gobind Singh and historical events. Sikhs travel on pilgrimage from all over the world to Nanded, but Nanded has a particularly large presence of Nihaṅg warriors during the pilgrimage festivals. The largest number of pilgrims arrives in connection with the Daśahrā celebration, Divālī and Holī. Some stay for weeks. The largest crowds are during the Daśahrā celebration.2 The city of Nanded is interesting from the point of view of religion primarily because it is one of the most important Sikh pilgrimage places. In the last hundred years there has been a growth in the number of Sikh pilgrimage sites in the city and its surroundings and a great expansion of the main pilgrimage site, especially in connection with the 300th anniversary in 2008 of Guru Gobind Singh’s death and the instalment of Guru Granth as the eternal Guru. This expansion was preceded by the destruction of many homes and historical buildings (Pasricha 2011; Nihang and Singh 2008). A new road to the gurdvārās in the areas surrounding Nanded was also constructed in connection with the anniversary, which strengthened the idea of a pilgrimage parikramā in the Nanded area.

Sikh pilgrimage sites 57

Sikh pilgrimage In spite of the mistaken claim of some scholars that pilgrimage goes against the teaching of the Sikh Gurus,3 pilgrimage is indeed an important part of Sikh religion and an immensely popular religious practice.4 That Sikh pilgrimage goes against the teaching of the Sikh Gurus seems to rest on mistaken interpretations. It is correct that Guru Granth is critical of Hindu (tīrath pūjā) and Muslim (hai kabai) pilgrimage, that is, travel to Hindu tīrthas and the haj to Mecca and the belief that pilgrimage places have salvific power regardless of the intentions and attitudes of the pilgrim. Arguing against Hindu and Muslim pilgrimage, the text maintains that the only pilgrimage is contemplation on the Nām and the only centre is in one’s heart and that rewards from pilgrimage comes from control of the mind. “In the month of Māgh, I become pure, I know that the sacred shrine of pilgrimage is within me,” says Guru Nanak (Guru Granth, p. 1109, line 11). The Nām is the tīrath (GG 687, line 14, Guru Nanak), and contemplation on the Nām is a better method since, despite the many sacred tīraths to bathe in, the minds of those taking sacred baths “are still stained by their stubborn ego” (GG, p. 687, line 3, Guru Arjan). However, Guru Granth is not critical of Sikh pilgrimage places, that is, pilgrimage to the places associated with their Gurus. Guru Granth says about the sarovar in Amritsar, the most important Sikh pilgrimage site: Rāmḏās sarovar nāṯe Bathing in the sacred pool of Guru Ram Das, sabẖ lāthe pāp kamāṯe all the sins one has committed are washed away.

(GG, p. 624)

Pilgrimage is an important institution in Sikhism, and different from both Hindu and Muslim pilgrimage, but strange as it may seem, in Harbans Singh’s famous four volumes The Encyclopaedia of Sikhism published by Punjabi University, Patiala (Singh 2011 [1st ed. 1992]), there is no entry on pilgrimage and also no entry on tīrath, the term used in Guru Granth for the Hindu places of pilgrimage.5 In the Guru Granth, significantly, “tīrath” is mentioned many times (in the English translation “pilgrimage” is mentioned around 185 times; in some verses haj or haj kābe is used for “pilgrimage” when speaking about pilgrimage to Mecca).6 Muslim and Hindu pilgrimage is distinguished in Guru Granth; pilgrimage is either to Hindu tīraths or to Mecca. Guru Arjan writes: “haj kābai jāo na tīrath pūjā” (I do not make pilgrimages to the Kāba in Mecca, nor do I do Hindu pilgrimage pūjā) (1136, line 10). But always when Nām (the Name, referring to the one divine power) is mentioned as the place of pilgrimage, the term “tīrath” is used, never “haj.” Tīrath in the Guru Granth means “Hindu pilgrimage place,” a visit to which is considered fruitless for followers of the Sikh Gurus. Guru Nanak and the other Sikh Gurus criticised Hindu ritual practices, including those performed at Hindu pilgrimage places, because what mattered was control

58  Knut A. Jacobsen of the mind, the company of the true congregation (satsaṅg) and meditation on the Nām. The power of the pilgrimage place belongs to the divinity and not to the place, as is often the case in Hindu pilgrimage traditions (Jacobsen 2013). “Meditate in remembrance on the Nām, the Name of the One Lord, in this way, the sins of your past mistakes shall be burnt off in an instant. It is like giving millions in charity, and bathing at sacred shrines of pilgrimage” (GG, p. 1221, lines 12–13, Guru Arjan). Guru Ram Das writes: “Instead of bathing at the sixty-eight places of pilgrimage, take the bath in the Name” (tīrath aṭhsaṭh majanu nāi) (GG, p. 1263, line 7; for the concept of the 68 places of pilgrimage, see next). Gur sabadi, the word of the Guru, is the 68 places of pilgrimage, and by bathing in the word, filth is washed away (GG p. 753, line 16, Guru Amar Das). The creator (kartā) himself is the 68 places of pilgrimage, and he himself takes purifying baths in them, says Guru Ram Das (page 554, line 2). For gurmukhs, meeting the sant janā (community of saints) is like making a pilgrimage (GG, p. 597, line 13, Guru Nanak). Visiting the 68 pilgrimage places is presented as a method of getting rid of moral impurity, to which the Gurus offered a different and better method. Being part of the true congregation (satsaṅg) is compared to having taken baths at all the 68 tīraths (p. 1198, line 11, Guru Ram Das). Pilgrimage to tīraths, it is stated, is a worldly affair and brings no religious rewards (GG, p.  1195, line 19; p.  1191, line 6). It should be noted that a critique of the ideology of tīrthas and Hindu pilgrimage is not unique to Sikhism but is found also in the Hindu Dharmaśāstra literature and other Hindu texts (see Jacobsen 2013). In the Guru Granth, the phrase “sixty-eight places of Hindu pilgrimage” is used frequently (aṭhsaṭh tīrath),7 but there is no fixed list of 68 places of pilgrimage in the Hindu tradition, and the origin or meaning of the concept of aṭhsaṭh tīrath is not known. No well-known list of 68 places of pilgrimage exists in the Hindu pilgrimage tradition. Important places of pilgrimage such as Ganga Sagar and Triveni (veṇī saṅgam, i.e., Prayag) apparently is not part of the 68 because in one verse Guru Nanak says that Ganga Sagar and Triveni and the 68 tīraths are merged in the divine (GG, p. 1022, line 1). An attempt to list 68 Hindu places of pilgrimage was found in Bhai Kahan Singh Nabha, Encyclopaedia of the Sikh Literature. Nabha noted that in Sikh literature the figure 68 points to the Hindu places of pilgrimage (Nabha 2006: vol. I, p.  118). He comments correctly that Hindu scriptures differ from one another on the exact number of places, and one could add that the Hindu pilgrimage tradition is a dynamic tradition in which pilgrimage to some places may cease, and new pilgrimage places are continuously being created. There is no fixed total number, although there are some fixed numbers in the attempts of constructing certain pilgrimage systems, such as four dhāms, 12 jyotirliṅgas and 51 śakti pīṭhas, but no fixed 68. Nabha notes that in a text he refers to as Kapil Tantar (perhaps the pilgrimage text Kapilapurāna), a list of pilgrimage places is found which contains 68 sites, and he provides the list. However, in this list is included also Ganga Sagar and Triveni, which according to Guru Nanak was not part of the 68 (GG p. 1022, line 1). In the Harmandir Sāhib on the bank of the Amritsar tank is a site called aṭhsaṭh tīrath, and this

Sikh pilgrimage sites 59 is supposedly where Guru Arjan uttered the hymn “aṭhsaṭh tīrath jah sādh pag dharahi” (That is the sixty-eight sacred shrines of pilgrimage, where the sādhus place their feet.) (Nabha 2006: vol. 1, p. 119). Guru Arjan stated about the amṛt sarovar: “Gurdev tīrath amṛt sarovar” (The divine Guru is the sacred pilgrimage place and the pool with the water of immortality.) (GG, p. 250, line 3, Guru Arjan). A raised, canopied platform marks the place at which many visitors bathe. They take a bath, writes W. Owen Cole, either “in the hope that they may accomplish the arduous journey to the sixty-eight Hindu pilgrimage sites around India, or more acceptable, in the belief that the Ath Sath Tirath has the efficacy of them all put together” (Cole 2004: 7). In the Guru Granth, it is especially the view that bathing at the pilgrimage places has salvific power by itself and that this power works independently of the proper mentality of the pilgrim that seems to be criticised. This view was promoted by the Hindu paṇḍās (pilgrimage priests), the māhātmya texts and the sthalapurāṇas of the Hindu pilgrimage sites (for salvific power of place in Hinduism, see Jacobsen 2013). The Sikh Gurus were against the idea of salvific power of place promoted at many Hindu places of pilgrimage, but they were not against religious travel to meet the Guru. Quite on the contrary, the Guru is the tīrath (gur tīrath), it is stated by Guru Arjan (GG, p. 52, line 14). For Guru Nanak, the divine is the pilgrimage place: “Har [the divinity] is my tīrath” (GG, page 1286, line 3). The blessing of having darśan of the Guru is compared to having taken sacred baths at all the 68 places of pilgrimage (p. 1392, line 9, bard Kal-sahar). Nanak says that one who bathes in the immortal knowledge (amṛt giān) gains the virtues of the 68 shrines of pilgrimage (p. 1328, line 18). The rewards from meditation on the Nām are compared to the rewards believed by Hindus to be attained from pilgrimage. Guru Nanak in a hymn glorifying the divine wrote that the divine power had created the places of pilgrimage: Tīrath dharam vīcār nāvaṇ purbāṇiā. He created the sacred shrines of pilgrimage, where people contemplate righteousness and Dharma, and take cleansing baths on special occasions. (GG, p. 1279) Sikh pilgrimage can be understood as religious travel in order to be in the presence of the Guru and is a continuation of the travel to pay visit to the Gurus when they were alive. Sikh pilgrimage therefore is primarily to historical places associated with the ten Gurus. It seems for a site to become a pilgrimage destination, a historical relationship with the site to one of the Gurus has to be established. This includes claims of connection to a previous rebirth of one of the Gurus, as in the case of the Sikh pilgrimage site of Hemkund where the connection is only to a previous rebirth of a Guru. In the 1930s, Hemkund became identified as the place Guru Gobind Singh had stayed for meditation in a previous rebirth. Such a place is apparently described in Dasam Granth (in Bachitar Natak, Chapter 6), and Hemkund was in the 1930s identified with this place supposedly based on

60  Knut A. Jacobsen the descriptions in Dasam Granth. A small hut functioning as gurdvārā was constructed in stone in 1936, and the work on the present gurdvārā started in mid1960s. It has become one of the major Sikh pilgrimage sites. However, in most other cases historical relationships with the site to one or more of the Gurus have been established and are the reason for the site becoming an object of pilgrimage travel. Claims of connection to a previous rebirth of a Guru may nevertheless be added to such places to increase their sacredness. This shows that the unique feature of Sikh pilgrimage is that it is the previous presence of their Gurus at the sites that has created the sites’ sacredness.

Sikh history and the layout of the pilgrimage town of Nanded For the Sikh community “the past was foremost expressed in relation to land” (Murphy 2012: 252). Nanded undeniably exemplify this expression of the past in relation to territory. Various sacred sites in Nanded are associated both with the first Guru, Nanak, and the tenth Guru, Gobind Singh, and also with the sacred scripture of the Sikhs, the Guru Granth. According to the pilgrimage tradition at Nanded, every Sikh should visit Śrī Hazūr Sāhib in Nanded before their 60th birthday (Śrī Hasūr Sāhib n.d.: 23).8 This statement seems to attempt to make pilgrimage to Nanded a religious duty for Sikhs. The most important Sikh pilgrimage places are situated in and around towns and cities. The sacred place of Hemkund in the Himalayas is an exception. Nanded is an example of a Sikh pilgrimage city but unlike the pilgrimage places in contemporary Punjab, the main population of the pilgrimage place of Nanded is not Sikh but Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist (Navayana). The number of Sikhs living permanently in Nanded is quite small. According to the 2011 census, of the population of 550,000, 48 per cent are Hindus, 33 per cent Muslims, 15 per cent are Buddhists (Navayana) and only 2 per cent are Sikhs. It seems that the spiritual power of the sacred Sikh history of Nanded and the main gurdvārā did not draw a large number of Sikhs to settle here permanently.9 Because of the absence of a large Sikh population, the Sikh pilgrims do not blend in in the city, but they constitute a separate pilgrimage community and stay in the Sikh areas of the city. The Sikh pilgrims stay primarily in the areas around the Hazūr Sāhib gurdvārā and the street going from the Hazūr Sāhib to the Godavari River. In and around the Hazūr Sāhib and in the street to the Godavari there are a number of large dharamsālās for people to stay. The Sikh sacred geography of Nanded is a different geography than the one experienced by the local people and has relevance mainly for the Sikhs. However, the Sikh pilgrimage has influenced the city as a whole: the railway station was expanded, and in 2008, an airport opened in connection with the 300-year anniversary celebration of the Guruship of the Guru Granth and the 300th anniversary of the death of Guru Gobind Singh. Most Sikh pilgrims arrive from Punjab and North India. There are several special trains going between Punjab and Nanded to connect the sacred places of Amritsar and Nanded. The language spoken by the Sikh pilgrims is mostly Punjabi, their food is Punjabi, their dress is Punjabi and especially popular among the pilgrims is the

Sikh pilgrimage sites  61 blue Nihaṅg uniform. According to the tradition, armed Nihaṅgs represented the most important groups of the early Sikh settlers in Nanded (Banerjee 2017: 442). The Sikh sacred geography in Nanded has continually been expanding, especially in the 20th and 21st centuries, as the number of pilgrims has grown. Old centres have become bigger and old historical structures have been destroyed to create more open space at the sites in order to be able to handle the large numbers of pilgrims. New sites for pilgrims to visit in Nanded and its surroundings have continuously been established. The main sacred area is the Śrī Hazūr Sāhib and its surroundings and the road from the Śrī Hazūr Sāhib to the Godavari River. Sikhs also live in this area. In a map prepared by British officers between 1832 and 1841, the Sikh settlement (referred to in the map as Sheik Darbar) was in the area along a street that connected the Hazūr Sāhib to the Godavari River (Nihang and Singh 2008: 140–141). The street from Hazūr Sāhib to Godavari today has a number of shops, mostly owned by Sikhs, on each side of the street and several dharamsālās and gurdvārās. Banerjee notes that in the early years the secluded location of the Hazūr Sāhib “facilitated the demarcation of takhat’s boundary” and that “a long line of babūl trees was planted to hide the takhat’s location from outside” (Banerjee 2017: 442). According to the Sikh tradition, the first Sikh Guru, Nanak, visited Nanded with his musician Mardana in the 16th century, and from that visit a group of Nanak panthīs supposedly arose in Nanded (Nihang and Singh 2008: ix). Nanak, after

Figure 5.1  Śrī Hazūr Sāhib in Nanded. Photo: Knut A. Jacobsen

62  Knut A. Jacobsen

Figure 5.2 The road from the Gurdwārā Śrī Hazūr Sāhib to the Godavari River. Photo: Knut A. Jacobsen

having meditated for a while at a site in Nanded, told Mardana that this was his place of penance in Satya Yuga and that at that time there was a town covering an area of six miles with houses built from gold and inhabited by sages. He then told Mardana that in his tenth incarnation (i.e., as Guru Gobind Singh) he would reveal the place and establish there the realm of truth (sach khand) (Nihang and Singh 2008: ix). Nihang and Singh argue that from this arose a myth that Nanded was once the centre of a big empire, which lay in the centre of the universe (Nihang and Singh 2008: ix).10 Thus the origin of the sacred site is claimed to be not the historical events of Guru Gobind Singh, but its discovery by Guru Nanak, and its sacredness is also claimed to be eternal and part of the structure of the universe itself. Guru Gobind Singh was cremated on this spot on which Nanak was supposed to have meditated in a previous life.

Sikh pilgrimage sites  63 The reasons for Nanded becoming a pilgrimage place for the Sikhs seems nevertheless to have been because of historical events connected to Guru Gobind Singh (1661–1708), the tenth manifestation of Guru Nanak, as predicted in the myth. Guru Gobind Singh had an enormous influence on the formation of Sikhism. He founded the khālsā and defined the Sikh identity markers, and he collected the final part of the Guru Granth and established the Guru Granth as the eternal Guru. While the khālsā was founded in Anandpur in Punjab (in 1699), several of the other key events that gave shape to the Sikh religion took place in Nanded. The large Sikh pilgrimage circuit in contemporary Nanded and its surroundings with a number of sacred sites visited by the pilgrims are all connected to the days Guru Gobind Singh stayed there and the events that took place. The structure of the sacred geography is based on the historical events and religious narratives about these events. The Sikh map of Nanded constitutes a territorialisation of these events and narratives, and a large number of gurdvārās have been built to mark and celebrate the events. The events were accompanied by miracles and the display of powers. Gobind Singh had been selected by his father, Tegh Bahadur, to be the tenth Guru, which he became in 1676, as a boy after his father had been beheaded by the Mughals the year before. Guru Gobind Singh arrived in Nanded in August 1708. Singh had travelled south to meet with Aurangzeb. He sought justice for the murder of his two youngest sons, who had been killed by Aurangzeb’s forces, and Aurangzeb had agreed to a meeting, but it never took place. Aurangzeb died in 1707. In the war of succession that followed, Gobind Singh supported the eldest of Aurangzeb’s sons, Prince Mu’azzam. In 1707, in the battle of Jajau, Gobind Singh and his forces assisted Mu’azzam against his brother Azam Shah. Mu’azzam took the name Bahadur Shah when he became the successor. He invited Guru Gobind Singh to his court. They exchanged gifts when they visited each other in Agra. Bahadur Shah travelled south to suppress an uprising in Hyderabad and asked Guru Gobind Singh to follow him. Moving southwards, the route took them to the banks of Godavari River at Nanded, where they stayed for a few days before Bahadur Shah continued towards Hyderabad while Guru Gobind Singh remained in Nanded to consider what to do next. Guru Gobind Singh camped a mile from the city with 300 Nihaṅg warriors and the rest of his retinue, and the connection to Satya Yuga was made when he shot an arrow that landed at a place where Nanak had meditated and announced that this was his place of penance in Satya Yuga. A follower of Nanak approached Guru Gobind, and he informed the Guru that Muslims had built a mosque at the ancient āśrama place. The local Muslims obviously did not like that an arrow had been shot on their mosque, and a conflict started. Guru Gobind informed Bahadur Shah that the Muslims had built a mosque on the spot that was sacred to the followers of Guru Nanak from the time of Satya Yuga (Nihang and Singh 2008). After the conflict and some digging at the site of the mosque, proof that it was an ancient place of meditation was found, and Gobind Singh bought the property. The mosque was relocated, and Gobind Singh moved the camp to this place. Gurdvārā Māl Ṭekeḍī Sāhib is built at this place.

64  Knut A. Jacobsen In another event, Guru Gobind met with a bairāgi sādhu, Madho Das (1670– 1716), who was known for his great yoga powers. Guru Gobind wanted to visit him and went to his āśram. Madho Das was not there, and Gobind Singh sat down on his bed. When Madho Das arrived and saw this, he became angry and tried to topple Gobind Singh from the bed with his magical powers. When he was unable to, he became a follower of the Guru (Śrī Hasūr Sāhib n.d.: 16). Contest involving magical powers is a common theme in medieval Indian hagiographies. According to another version of the episode, Guru Gobind Singh went to the place of Madho Das with his warriors, and he ordered the Nihaṅgs to kill some of Madho Das’s goats and cook him a meal. When Madho Das came he was infuriated and sent warriors to kill Guru Gobind Singh. The warriors returned bloody and defeated, and Madho Das mobilised a crowd from Nanded. But following a brief conversation with Guru Gobind Singh, he became a follower of him (Nihang and Singh 2008). His new name was Banda Singh, and he became subsequently one of the greatest warriors of the Sikh tradition. Gurdvārā Bābā Banda Bahādur Ghāṭ Sāhib marks this historical place. Gobind Singh wanted justice from Bahadur Shah and a remedy for all the ills Aurangzeb had caused the Sikhs. But Bahadur Shah would not give that, and Gobind Singh then said he would continue the war against the Mughal regime. While the Nihaṅgs were preparing for battle, Gobind Singh was attacked by a Pathan named Gul Khan with a dagger. Gobind Singh survived and the wound partly healed, but after having been challenged by a Maratha warrior to shoot an arrow with a steel bow, the wound started to bleed again. Gobind Singh, becoming aware that he would soon die, called his closest followers and told them that the line of personal Gurus had ended and that the Adi Granth should be his spiritual successor and their Guru. Gobind Singh also told one of the Sikhs, Santokh Singh, who ran the community kitchen (laṅgar) to remain in Nanded and to continue running the kitchen. It has, according to the pilgrimage tradition of Nanded, been running uninterrupted since. Several other Sikhs also remained and built a small shrine in which they installed the Guru Granth. In the 19th century, Udasins took over the management of the shrine and an endowment of 525 acres of land around the shrine was secured. It was Maharaja Ranjit Singh who financed the building of the first large gurdvārā – a gurdvārā with a golden dome – on the place in 1832. Sikh artisans arrived in Nanded for this, and some settled permanently. Some also enlisted in the army of the Nizam of Hyderabad, and with the increase of Sikhs, they took over the responsibility for the religious services in the shrine. The control of the main shrine and other gurdvārās at Nanded was transferred to a 17 member Gurdvara Board, with a five member Managing Committee constituted under the Nanded Sikh Gurdwaras Act passed on 20 September  1956 by Hyderabad state legislature.11 The Śrī Hazūr Sāhib gurdvārā is different from most gurdvārās in Punjab in that it has two shrines, one with Guru Granth and the other apparently with Dasam Granth, and a sacred room at the back of the shrines to which only the pujārī has access. In this room Guru Gobind Singh’s relics are stored: a cakra, a broad

Sikh pilgrimage sites  65 sword, a steel bow, a steel arrow, a gurz (heavy club with a large spherical knob), a small kirpān and five swords. In the evening, āratī to the relics is performed, in which the relics are displayed by the pujārī one after another. Similar rituals are performed in the Patna Sāhib, the birthplace of Guru Gobind Singh, but not usually in the gurdvārās in Punjab. The foundation stories of many of the gurdvārās in Nanded are about powers and miracles. Gurdvārā Hīrā Ghāṭ Sāhib exemplifies this feature. The gurdvārā is 10 km from Nanded and a stop on the parikramā route. It is built on the spot where Gobind Singh stayed when he first arrived in Nanded. According to the sacred narrative, Bahadur Shah gave a very valuable diamond to Gobind Singh at this spot. The Guru looked at it shortly and threw the diamond away into the river. The Guru then invited the emperor to look in the water, and he saw heaps of diamonds lying at the bottom of the river. Bahadur Shah’s pride was broken, according to this educational narrative (Śrī Hasūr Sāhib n.d.: 5). The story illustrates a key doctrine of Sikhism: that pride and egoism are the opposite of gurmukh, truthful living. A gurmukh is a person who has destroyed his haumai, selfishness and pride. Next to Gurdvārā Hīrā Ghāṭ Sāhib is the Gurdvārā Mātā Sāhib. It marks the spot of the place where the tents of Mātā Sāhib Kaur (Devan), Guru Gobind Singh’s wife, were placed. This was the place of the laṅgar, and here laṅgar has been served continuously since. The gurdvārā building at the place was constructed as late as 1976–1977. A few kilometres from Gurdvārā Mātā Sāhib is Gurdvārā Śikār Ghāṭ Sāhib. Guru Gobind Singh used this site to set off for hunting expeditions. The reason for the gurdvārā building here is another story of the superior powers of Gobind Singh. Guru Gobind Singh killed a rabbit at the place marked by the gurdvārā and by killing it liberated the soul of Bhai Mula, who had been under a spell from Guru Nanak saying that he would continue in the cycle of birth and death until released by Guru Gobind Singh. This gurdvārā was built as late as 1971. It also has a bathing tank. Gurdvārā Nagīnā Ghāṭ Sāhib is next to Godavari, one kilometre from Śrī Hazūr Sāhib. The sacred story associated with this gurdvārā is similar to the one at Gurdvārā Hīrā Ghāṭ. Guru Gobind Singh threw a jewel presented by a rich Sikh into the river at this place. The guru then asked the rich merchant to look into the water and the merchant saw heaps of glittering jewels in the river. This story also illustrates that pride and egoism is the opposite of gurmukh, truthful living. Gurdvārā Nagīnā Ghāṭ Sāhib was built in 1968. Gurdvārā Bābā Banda Bahādur Ghāṭ Sāhib is a kilometre upstream of Nagīnā Ghāṭ and marks the site of the āśrama of the sādhu Madho Das. It was at this place sādhu Madho Das lost his pride and his magical powers and was renamed Banda Singh after he became a follower of Guru Gobind Singh. Gurdvārā Māl Ṭekḍī Sāhib, mentioned earlier, is five kilometres northeast of Śrī Hazūr Sāhib. Guru Gobind Singh is believed to have unearthed a hidden treasure, given part of it to his soldiers, and buried the rest. The grave of a Muslim faqīr Lakkar Shah is

66  Knut A. Jacobsen close to the gurdvārā, which was built in 1929. Lakkar Shah lived at this place, and according to the tradition, Guru Nanak met him here. Gurdvārā Saṅgat Sāhib is probably named after the Sikh community that is thought to have existed in Nanded before the arrival of Gobind Singh. The hidden treasure unearthed at the place of Gurdvārā Saṅgat Sāhib was distributed at this place, according to the tradition. Two of the pañj piāre, Bhai Daya Singh and Bhai Dharam Singh, who volunteered to be beheaded when the khālsā was founded in 1699, survived the war in Punjab and were sent in 1705 to deliver the guru’s letter, Zafarnāma, to Emperor Aurangzeb. They rejoined Guru Gobind in Nanded and later died there. The place of their cremation is marked by a small room within the compound of Śrī Hazūr Sāhib. Some old weapons are also displayed here on a platform in the room. Another stop along the pilgrimage route, Gurdvārā Bāūlī Damdamā Sāhib, is the turning place of the processions. The place is a staple and a gurdvārā. It displays the strong connection between Sikhism and horses, and many Sikhs donate horses here. The continuous establishment of new Sikh places of pilgrimage in Nanded has been financed by Sikhs living in Punjab and abroad. Raṇjit Singh gave a large donation for building Hazūr Sāhib, and other Sikh kings followed. The foundation of the inner sanctum of Śrī Hazūr Sāhib was laid in 1839 (Nihang and Singh 2008: 124). In the last few years, the Gurdvārā Laṅgar Sāhib has bought land and built several new gurdvārās from the donations they have collected from pilgrims. Gurdvārā Laṅgar Sāhib in the main street connecting Śrī Hazūr Sāhib with the Godavari was established in the 1920s to provide food and shelter for pilgrims coming to Nanded from distant parts based on donations collected in the Indian army. It is always open and hot food available. The newly built Gurdvārā Nānak Sār Sāhib is built on land 10  km from Nanded in memory of Nanak’s visit. Another recent gurdvārā is Gurdvārā Nānakpuri, built by Dakhaṇi Sikhs about 100 metres from Nanak Sār. These last two illustrate that the expansion of Sikh pilgrimage spots at Nanded is an ongoing process. Another new gurdvārā is Gurdvārā Ratangarh Sāhib, 14 kilometres outside of Nanded. It has been built next to a farmhouse, and it celebrates the story according to which Guru Gobind Singh, three days after he had been cremated, met here with Sheth Uttam Shreshtha. The story of this meeting probably intended to show that Gobind Singh’s life transcended death. Gobind Singh is supposed to have said before he died, “Do not employ the great wealth that will accumulate here [in Nanded, from the offerings of pilgrims] to build a shrine. Instead, spend it all on degh [large cooking pot, i.e., food]. Have the pañcāmṛt12 prepared. The descendants of those who build a shrine will perish” (Sūraj Prakāś 14: 6335). The Sikhs have not been able to follow his wish and instead continue to expand and build new shrines. Almost all the Sikh pilgrims to Nanded stay at the many dharamsālās in the vicinity of Śrī Hazūr Sāhib run by the gurdvārā organisations. Special buses owned by the dharamsālās and gurdvārās pick up the Sikh pilgrims from the railway station and the airport, so the Sikhs also do not need to interact with

Sikh pilgrimage sites  67 local non-Sikhs for local transport. The Sikhs are not present all around the city, but mainly only in the Sikh area of Nanded; in the Hazūr Sāhib and its surroundings, especially in the street going from Hazūr Sāhib to the Godavari River; on the ghāṭs next to the river; and in the gurdvārās built at the historical places associated with events involving Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh along the parikramā route. The annual hola mohalla and nagar kīrtan processions, however, pass through the central roads of Nanded. The processions give associations to the military parade, and they perform a symbolic conquest of the city (Jacobsen 2008). The annual Daśahrā procession starting from the Hazūr Sāhib goes through the main streets of Nanded and is an important annual event. The greatest number of pilgrims is present at the time of this event. The procession ritual is loud and focuses on displays of weapons and symbolic military conquest. The procession has long stops for play and display of martial art (gatka) and includes a fast run with pointed swords involving many thousands of people, which symbolises a military charge and is considered a high point of the procession. Films of the run are posted on YouTube, which gives the processions a more permanent presence.13 In another annual procession in Nanded the weapons of Guru Gobind Singh are brought to the river Godavari and given a sacred bath (Pasrich 2011: 59). The festivals in Nanded celebrate weapons, especially the weapons of Guru Gobind Singh, which are stored in the most sacred place in the main gurdvārā Śrī Hazūr Sāhib and are displayed during the evening āratī ritual in the gurdvārā. Āratī is not commonly done in Sikh gurdvārās after the reforms of the 19th and 20th century, but the ritual has been preserved in Nanded. In addition, in earlier days “the worship of the weapons necessitated the decapitation of numerous goats in order to anoint the Guru’s weapons with their fresh blood” (Nihang and Singh 2008: 124). Currently goats are not decapitated in the daily evening āratī, but apparently one goat is decapitated before the start of the main procession ritual during Daśahrā. Nanded is unique in that many of the early Sikh customs have been preserved here. One Sikh writer comments: This shrine differs from other historical places of Sikh worship, including Harmandar Sahib of Amritsar. All ancient customs which were practiced at the time of the Guru are still followed here. For example, sandalwood tilak is still applied on the foreheads of priests and local devotees. This practice was followed by the Guru himself. The holy book on which he used to apply tilak every morning is unfortunately missing. The most important aspect of this holy shrine is that there are two sanctum sanctorums here. While all the functions are carried out by the priests in the outer room, the inner room is a vault which houses priceless objects, weapons and other personal belongings of the Guru. No one except Baba Kulwant Singh, the head priest – the 31st in line of succession – can enter this holy vault! He is a brahamachari. His day starts exactly two hours after midnight! That’s the hour Guru Gobind Singh used to wake up and take his bath before sitting down for his meditation! (Tajwant Singh 2002)

68  Knut A. Jacobsen

Figure 5.3 The fast run with pointed swords which symbolises a military charge. Photo: Knut A. Jacobsen

In connection with the celebration in 2008, the weapons of Hazūr Sāhib were taken for display on a specially designed van in a nationwide procession (jāgṛti yātrā), which commenced on 15 November  2007 and returned to Nanded on 10 August 2008. The purpose of the procession was to “arrange a darshan” of the “weapons for devotees all over the country” (Pasricha 2011: 47).14 Another purpose might have been to make the pilgrimage place of Nanded better known to the Sikhs and to attract more pilgrims for the event, because Pasricha writes, “Astoundingly, many devotees did not know of Nanded or what the Gurta Gaddi Diwas15 was. The Yatra brought Sri Hazūr Sāhib closer to the people after which devotees started pouring into Nanded in thousands, their numbers increasing with the passage of time” (Pasricha 2011: 61). The pilgrimage place of Nanded was dramatically transformed between 2006 and 2008 in connection with the 300th anniversary of the passing of the Guruship from Guru Gobind Singh to the Guru Granth. Nihang and Singh noted that the transformations included “the building of a modern airport (air-linked to Chandigarh and Amritsar); upgrading the existing railway station; improvement of sewage and water facilities; upgrading of the traffic management and security systems; and the laying of a fourteen-mile-long corridor linking all the Sikh shrines in the vicinity of the town” (Nihang and Singh 2008: 280). This resulted in “massive damage to many historical buildings, notwithstanding their well-documented

Sikh pilgrimage sites  69 sacred and historic associations” (Nihang and Singh 2008: 280). Nihang and Singh comment that “history stood in the way of government sponsored development” for the goal of making Nanded “an international pilgrimage destination.” The homes of around 750 poor Sikhs living in the houses around the Hazūr Sāhib, which had been built by the first Sikhs who had settled there, were demolished in 2006 (Nihang and Singh 2008: 288). The destructions are described and documented in Nihang and Singh (2008: 281–290), Dogra (2008: 16–18) and Pasricha (2011). Dogra points out that the leading Sikh organisations generally always prefer new white marble buildings instead of preserving the old buildings. An autobiographical description of the transformation of Nanded is found in Pasricha (2011). Pasricha led the rebuilding of the Nanded that was thought necessary for the 2008 celebration.

Conclusion Nanded was not a pilgrimage place when Guru Granth was compiled and assigned Guruship; it became one afterwards. Pilgrimage to Nanded is not condemned in the Guru Granth. What is condemned in the Guru Granth is the belief that pūjā at Hindu tīrthas and the haj to Mecca are efficient means to attain salvific goals, not religious travel to see the Gurus. Sikh pilgrims to Nanded want to be present at the historical sites associated with two of their Gurus and celebrate the memory of historical events. In Nanded key features of the Sikh tradition have become territorialised. The presence of large crowds of Sikhs at the festival times in Nanded adds to the feeling of importance of the place. Interestingly, the tearing down of old buildings and the building of new ones do not seem to have obliterated the feeling among pilgrims of being present at historical places. One would have expected that the emphasis in Sikh pilgrimage on history and territorialisation of faith would have led to efforts of preservation of the old buildings instead of erasing them, since pilgrimage to historical places means for the pilgrims to have the experience of being “transported back in time” (Brar 1998). Perhaps one way to understand this paradox is to situate the transformation of Nanded in the current global expansion of Sikhism and its pilgrimage traditions.

Notes 1 The five takhts are Akāl Takht near Śrī Harmandir Sāhib (Golden Temple) at Amritsar, Takht Śrī Keśgarh Sāhib (Anandpur), Takht Śrī Damdama Sāhib (Talwandi), Takht Śrī Patna Sāhib (Patna) and Takht Śrī Hazūr Sāhib (Nanded). 2 My visit to Nanded on which the field observations of this chapter are based was during Daśahrā in 2017. 3 For such arguments see Jutla (2002) and (2006). Jutla writes: “In Sikhism a dichotomy exists between the authority of the Guru Granth Sahib and what is actually practised by believers. In spite of all textual references to the contrary, Sikhs still go on pilgrimage” (2002: 68). On this ambiguity, see also Paine (2003). 4 Clarence O. McMullan noted in his study of popular religious beliefs and practices in rural Punjab that that “visiting pilgrimage centres is a common practice among

70  Knut A. Jacobsen the Sikhs.” He further informs that “every Sikh that we interviewed had visited one or another such place” and adds that “most had visited a number of these places” (McMullan 1989: 47). 5 McLeod in his Historical Dictionary of Sikhism has a short entry on tīrath: “A Hindu pilgrimage center. Nanak taught that the only tirath is within the person. The idea of visiting pilgrimage centers proved too strong to be eliminated, but for Sikhs the places were to be locations associated with one of the Gurus” (McLeod 2002: 212). 6 www.srigranth.org/servlet/gurbani.gurbani. All quotations from the Guru Granth are from this edition. 7 Sometimes the word aṭhsaṭh itself is used in the sense of aṭhsaṭh tīrath. 8 Pasricha (2011) refers to “a legend that says that guru Gobind Singh waits for his followers to visit Sri Hazūr Sāhib till the age of sixty” (Pasricha 2011: 50). 9 See Heitzman (2008: 43–62) for the argument that spiritual power attracts human settlements. See also Jacobsen (2011: 181–182). 10 The claim of being the centre of the universe is made in the māhātmyas of several Hindu pilgrimage places. 11 www.thesikhencyclopedia.com/india/nanded. 12 Kaṛāḥ prasād, the sweet food, is offered before Guru Granth and afterwards distributed to devotees in Sikh gurdvārās. 13 For one example, see www.youtube.com/watch?v=dfmjw5W2S2c. 14 Pasricha notes that “the Jagriti Yatra evoked a sentimental feeling among the followers and many unfortunates who were unable to visit Nanded believed that their attendance had been accepted at Sri Hazur Sahib” (Pasricha 2011: 50). 15 The declaration made by Guru Gobind Singh that the next Guru was going to be the Adi Granth.

References Banerjee, H. (2017) “Beyond Punjab: India.” In K. A. Jacobsen, G. Singh Mann, K. Myrvold and E. Nesbitt (eds) Brill’s Encyclopedia of Sikhism, Volume I: History, Literature, Society, Beyond Punjab. Leiden: Brill, pp. 430–446. Brar, S. S. (1998) “Historical Gurdwaras of Punjab.” www.sikhs.org/gurdwaras/, accessed September 12, 2018. Cole, W. O. (2004) Understanding Sikhism. Edinburgh: Dunedin Academic Press. Dogra, C. S. (2008) “Have You the Eyes for It?” Outlook, May 5. https://magazine.outlookindia.com/story/have-you-the-eyes-for-it/237371, accessed October 30, 2020. Heitzman, J. (2008) The City in South Asia. London: Routledge. Jacobsen, K. A (ed.) (2008) South Asian Religions on Display: Religious Processions in South Asia and in the Diaspora. London: Routledge. ——— (2011) “Town and City.” In K. A. Jacobsen (ed) Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism. Volume III: Society, Religious Specialists, Religious Traditions, Philosophy. Leiden: Brill, pp. 177–185. ———. (2013) Pilgrimage in the Hindu Traditions: Salvific Space. London: Routledge. Jutla, R. S. (2002) “Understanding Sikh Pilgrimage.” Tourism Recreation Research 27 (2): 65–72. ———. (2006) “Pilgrimage in Sikh Tradition.” In D. J. Timothy and D. H. Olsen (eds) Tourism, Religion and Spiritual Journeys. London: Routledge, pp. 206–219. McLeod, W. H. (2002) Historical Dictionary of Sikhism. Oxford: Oxford University Press. McMullan, C. O. (1989) Religious Beliefs and Practices of the Sikhs in Rural Punjab. New Delhi: Manohar.

Sikh pilgrimage sites 71 Murphy, A. (2012) The Materiality of the Past: History and Representation in Sikh Tradition. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Nabha, B. K. S. (2006) Encyclopaedia of the Sikh Literature. 4 volumes. Patiala: Punjabi University. Nihang, N. S. and P. Singh (2008) In the Master’s Presence: The Sikhs of Hazoor Sahib. London: Kashi House. Paine, C. (2003) “Sikh Pilgrimage: A Study in Ambiguity.” International Journal of Punjabi Studies 10: 143–162. Pasricha, P. S. (2011) Nanded: A Journey of Transformation. Nanded: Takhat Sachkhand Sri Hazur Abchalnagar Sahib. Singh, H. (ed) (2011) The Encyclopaedia of Sikhism. 4 volumes. 3rd ed. (1st ed., 1992). Patiala: Punjabi University. Singh, T. (2002) “Hazoor Sahib – A Salute to the Savior.” The Tribune, April 27. www. tribuneindia.com/2002/20020427/windows/site.htm, accessed September 12, 2018. Śrī Hasūr Sāhib. (n.d.) Nanded: Gurdvārā.

6 The production of Muslim space Mohalla life and Milad celebrations in Lahore Amen Jaffer and Hajra Cheema Introduction For most visitors, Sanda is a rather unremarkable place with little to distinguish it from many other working-class localities in Pakistan’s cities.1 Located on the north-western edge of Lahore, until a few decades ago it was a village surrounded by agricultural land and fruit orchards. Today, as you approach it via Sanda Road, you will be greeted by a busy commercial strip dotted with single- and doublestorey buildings occupied by cramped shops and offices, small-scale manufacturing enterprises and storage facilities. These markets are awash with signage and advertisements in a variety of sizes, colours and designs that announce the many wares and services sold here. The commercial activity spills onto the road in the form of extended shops, makeshift stalls and carts. If you turn away from this usually grid-locked road into one of the many side lanes, the landscape shifts to a dense residential zone traversed by narrow, crooked lanes. It overflows with drab buildings of varying heights and sizes draped by exposed gas and water pipelines, with hundreds of jumbled up electricity, telephone and cable TV wires filling up the air between them. At the ground level, narrow and poorly lit lanes are dotted by potholes and leaking gutters, while small heaps of garbage accumulate on street corners. Residents also find little to note in the spatial layout, design or aesthetic of Sanda. If anything, they speak about it in terms of decline – a forgotten neighbourhood marked by poverty, filth, decaying infrastructure and broken public services. However, every year on the 12th day of Rabi-ul-Awal, the third month of the Islamic calendar, the neighbourhood of Sanda, like hundreds of other localities in Lahore, is completely transformed. This is Eid Milad-un-Nabi,2 the day of the birth of the Prophet of Islam and the occasion for the largest annual celebration of Sanda. Unlike most religious or national celebrations that are carried out in particular landmarks of the city or restricted to private family gatherings inside homes, Milad celebrations are very much a mohalla (neighbourhood) affair in Lahore that turn ordinary, mundane space of everyday life into a dreamscape, a space straight out of fantasy. In these localities, teams of teenage boys and young men decorate their streets using mostly funds they have collected from their neighbourhood. They use

The production of Muslim space  73 buntings, fabric, lights and other colourful materials to construct decorative structures that cover the walls of the buildings and hang in the air as high as the first storey to form a canopy. The ground is covered by paharis – imaginative sculpture models that use a variety of material, including toys and household items, to depict various settings ranging from a market to iconic Islamic architecture. In 2016, when I first witnessed Milad celebrations in Sanda, I was struck by how each block presented a unique and unreal landscape. One intersection was dominated by a decorative motif with a massive purple chandelier hanging in its centre and strands of multi-coloured fabric – blue, magenta, green, yellow, white, red, orange – stretching outwards from it and joined to a string of shimmering silver paper cut up into hundreds of ribbons that formed a square border around the entire piece. A few strategically placed light bulbs illuminated this aerial edifice. It was complemented by two giant metal arches on the ground below that had been moulded into a heart shape covered by strings of multi-coloured Christmas lights. A few blocks away, a middle-aged man, known as Haji sahib, and his two sons had constructed a hut of mud and straw in the middle of their street. Inspired by Nativity representations, this structure represented Punjabi village life with charpoys, hookahs, a wooden spinning wheel and a tray full of cattle feed. The two goats, calf and rooster roaming about the space lent it further authenticity. Wearing a white Arab dress and perched atop the charpoy in the middle of the hut was Haji sahib himself, very much a key prop in this arrangement. Even though there is an unreal quality to these decorative arrangements, they are very much a fixture of this mohalla. Enacted every year, they are a source of immense pride for the residents of Sanda, many of whom speak of Milad as the most important annual event in their lives. In this chapter, we argue that the celebration of Milad in Lahore’s mohallas is not merely a religious event but is quite central to the production of space in the city. Through participation in this event, residents are not just expressing their love for the Prophet but are also actively making and giving meaning to their neighbourhoods. They are engaged in a process of defining these spaces and enveloping them in a web of social relationships. Milad celebrations offer a unique opportunity for neighbours to work together and let their imaginations transform the spaces they inhabit into realms of fantasy. By doing so, they are giving meaning to Islam and their relationship to it. Using their creative talents, they give physical form to religious sentiments. The ordinary and often dilapidated spaces of their neighbourhood are rendered into a canvas on which the sacred is creatively illustrated. Besides decorating neighbourhoods and markets, Lahoris also distribute food and drink and organise processions and religious gatherings during Milad. While these activities also play significant roles in transforming space, this chapter focuses on aesthetic interventions in mohallas to understand the production of space during Milad.

Contestations in the production of space Milad celebrations have historically been a part of the religious and cultural calendar of Lahore but have dramatically grown in size, scope and significance over the

74  Amen Jaffer and Hajra Cheema last decade. One explanation for this expansion is their significance for publicly showcasing a Barelvi-Sunni identity centred on devotion to Prophet Muhammad. Since the 21st century, a number of Barelvi groups have been publicly asserting their sectarian identity in Pakistan. The formation and rapid rise of the Tehreeke-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), a Barelvi movement ostensibly created to protect the honour of Islam’s Prophet, is the latest example of the muscularisation of Barelvi politics. By mobilizing massive, sometimes violent, street protests and other pressure tactics they have sought punishment for alleged blasphemy against the Prophet. While TLP represents the violent side of Barelvi politics, celebrating the Prophet’s birth can be viewed as a cultural articulation and consolidation of this identity. Such an explanation, however, reduces this event to a narrow sectarian logic and ignores its importance for the neighbourhood itself. It fails to account for the many locally grounded motivations and sensibilities – exhibition of status, wealth and masculinity; spirit of competition among neighbourhoods; creation of beauty and spectacle; joy of public gathering; etc. – that are quite important in driving these celebrations. Appadurai (2005: 198) argues that in the contemporary world, the inherently fragile production of locality in neighbourhoods has become even more of a struggle, because it is not only fighting the corrosion of its own context but also competing with the context produced by more complex, hierarchical organisations, especially the modern nation-state. Another contradiction in Milad celebrations emerges from the paradoxical power relations that structure all festivals. On the one hand, their temporary suspension of the social order promotes the letting out of frustrations resulting from an oppressive social order (Marriott 2010), and on the other, this loosening of social boundaries allows ruling elites to display their dominance through conspicuous displays of wealth and generosity (Picard 2016). Milad celebrations are also characterised by such contestations because even though they allow for an expression of sentiments from below, they also display, dramatise and reproduce the status and power of influential interests located both inside and outside the neighbourhood. Even though they allow residents to inscribe local relations onto the material space of their neighbourhood, a number of outside concerns – those of the Pakistani state and Sunni sectarian organisations, for example – also colour these celebrations.

Milad-ul-Nabi: traditions of celebrating the Prophet Despite scholarly consensus that this celebration only began in the 12th century, some five centuries after the death of Prophet Muhammad, Milad or Mawlid is now celebrated almost everywhere in the Muslim world and diasporic Muslim communities3 (Akhtar 2014). Kaptein (1993) has convincingly demonstrated that the tradition actually began as a state occasion in the Fatimid dynasty of Egypt under the patronage of Shii Ismaili rulers. Within a century, the celebration had expanded eastwards into Sunni empires and became a popular Muslim celebration (Grunebaum 1992). As it spread around the Muslim world, Milad developed

The production of Muslim space 75 as a flexible ritual that emerged from “the slow coalescence of a constellation of devotional narratives and practices” (Katz 2009: 208). Schussman (1998) argues that despite this increasing popularity, Muslim jurists and theologians have maintained a hesitant and equivocal stance towards the Milad. Even though they widely view it as biddat, or innovation, in Islam, many still consider it an acceptable innovation and therefore legitimate as an Islamic celebration. However, this does not mean that it is not rooted in Islamic tradition. Katz (2009), for one, demonstrates that some of the common practices of this celebration, such as hosting and feeding guests, are based upon ideals of mutuality and generosity that have deep Islamic roots (102). Furthermore, Milad participants understand this celebration as a key occasion for publicly expressing their love, joy and reverence for Prophet Muhammad and thereby cultivating a normative Islamic piety. It is these emotional expressions that confer the greatest legitimacy on this practice because it enables adherents to establish emotional bonds with the Prophet (Katz 2009). The disagreement between supporters and critics of Milad-un-Nabi is therefore not with regard to the Islamic values upon which it is based, but rather about which behaviours can be considered as proper expressions of those values. While critics only consider specific behaviours that can be traced to the Prophet and early Muslims as acceptable, supporters claim that religiously valid sentiments can be expressed through many different behaviours (Katz 2009: 140). These different positions on Milad-un-Nabi celebrations are also found among mohalla residents in Lahore. For some, such as Zubair from Mazang, the occasion is a licence to showcase their love and passion for the Prophet, and the joy of his presence and a variety of behaviours, which can include dancing to music or extravagant decorations, can serve as reminders of these sentiments. Rashid from the same neighbourhood, however, rejects most public Milad practices as inappropriate and recommends spending the night in prayer. Mehr Fayaz of Sanda falls somewhere in between these positions, as he only considers certain Milad practices, such as lighting lamps or distribution of food, as legitimate and rejects many of the decorative arrangements as well as music and dancing because he believes that they have no relation to Islam. Clearly, celebrating Milad is a much debated and contentious public celebration in Pakistan. Another recurring theme in scholarship on contemporary practices of Milad/ Mawlid is that of gender. Scholars of Islam in Yemen have pointed out that the Mawlid is understood as women’s Islam in the country (Katz 2008; Meneley 1996). However, there are important generational differences, as the event has been largely reduced to older Yemeni women, while younger women view it as an old-fashioned tradition that they associate with their mothers’ uncritical acceptance of tradition in the name of Islam (Pandya 2009). The trend in the U.K. appears completely opposite, as Akhtar’s (2014) research on Pakistani-origin migrant women finds a surge in women’s participation in Milad activities since 2009. While younger women understand it as a source of emancipation from cultural restrictions, it is a new understanding of Milad, shared across generations,

76  Amen Jaffer and Hajra Cheema as a community activity which encourages social participation that really explains its increasing popularity. While women’s celebrations in Yemen and the U.K. are mostly conducted inside homes, Milad in Pakistan is very much a public festival enacted in neighbourhood streets. They are by and large dominated by boys and young men and women are mostly reduced to a supporting role or that of spectators. As we will demonstrate in the section on giving meanings to Milad, this particular gender dynamic plays a key role in defining this event. It is important to note though that the publicness of Milad celebrations and a number of other religious festivals is itself a relatively recent phenomenon that emerges in colonial India. In the next section, we trace the historical context in which religion assumes such public importance and the political significance of this publicness in contemporary South Asia.

Public religion in South Asia and beyond Eickelman and Salvatore (2002) define the public sphere as a site for contestations over defining the common good and for the virtues, obligations and rights required by members of society to realise that good (94). Notice that this definition challenges the secular Habermasian version of the public sphere by focusing attention on the common good rather than on the rational-critical discourse that Habermas (2014) considered crucial to the political impact of the bourgeois public sphere in 19th-century Europe. Eickelman and Salvatore’s version of the public sphere is explicitly designed to include religion, and a number of scholars of Islam, such as Eickelman and Anderson (2003), Hefner (2000), Hoexter et al. (2002) and Salvatore and Levine (2005), have demonstrated the importance of religion for the formation of public spheres in Muslim societies. van der Veer (2002) claims that much scholarship considers religion to be a defining element in the politics of belonging and identity in modern South Asia. The answer to why this is the case has been sought in the policies of the British colonial state, which forced mass politics into religious publics because they were one of the few mass gatherings permissible under colonial rule (Hansen 2001). An example is Bal Gangadhar Tilak’s circumvention of colonial laws that forbade political gatherings by using the Ganapati festival in Maharashtra to disseminate his nationalist political views (Kaur 2001, 2002: 72–73). Freitag (1989) uses the concept of public arenas to characterise symbolic behaviour, such as religious festivals, that foster community identities beyond the immediate locale and define their boundaries. In this new nationalism, religion came to serve as the basis of imagined group identity (van der Veer 1994: 22). While the trend of using religious events to publicly create and sharpen communal identities began in the late 19th-century milieu of colonial India, some of these processes continued and even gathered greater force in the postcolonial states of South Asia. An illustrative example is the shift in Muharram rituals in Pakistan. Commemorating the martyrdom of Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, Imam Hussain, Muharram rituals and processions in pre-Partition India are widely portrayed

The production of Muslim space 77 as an example of India’s composite culture in which Shias, Sunnis and Hindus participated together. However, by the late 19th century, Muharram had already begun to be associated with a sectarian Shia consciousness, which really took root in the increasingly sectarian atmosphere of 1980s Pakistan (Zahab 2008). Today, Muharram processions have become a vehicle for asserting and mobilising an exclusively Shia identity (Zahab 2008: 108). As a Shia interlocutor asserts, it is only Muharram rituals that make him a Shia and differentiate him from Sunnis (Pinault 2003: 56). Parvez (2014) extends this argument for the politicisation of religious events by demonstrating the reinvention of Milad in the city of Hyderabad as a public event invested with new meanings and politics. Specifically, she locates these new public celebrations in the domain of ethno-nationalist politics and understands it as a Muslim strategy to demand education, employment, public space and identity representation from the state.4 In the case of Lahore, evidence suggests that influential political actors are attempting to use Milad events to advance their own political ambitions and interests, but this rapidly expanding public event continues to defy exclusive control by any political or religious authority. Especially in neighbourhoods, Milad still offers an opportunity for “ordinary” residents to write themselves into an Islamic celebration. Through decorating their neighbourhoods and constructing miniature models, these residents enter the debate on defining the contours of Islam. They present Islamic sensibilities, showcase Islamic aesthetics and comment on the values Islam should uphold. Milad is thus not only about shaping a Muslim or Sunni identity from above but also an opportunity for creating a Muslim geography from below. This production of a Muslim landscape is also important for giving creative meaning to spaces of everyday life. By focusing on the localness of Milad celebrations and situating them within neighbourhood sociality rather than religious nationalism, we diverge from scholarship on public religion in South Asia. However, we also complement it by illuminating another register, that of neighbourhood life, at which religion operates publicly. This analysis not only reveals the specificities of Milad as an Islamic celebration in Pakistan but also demonstrates the similarities in the organisation of religious events, whether it is Milad, Holi or Dussehra, in mohallas across South Asian cities.

Organisation matters: behind the scenes of Milad In analysing religious rituals and events, the mundane practical details of actually putting these festivals together are often overlooked in scholarly analyses. However, in our conversations on the subject of Milad-un-Nabi, our interlocutors kept referring to logistical details – explaining different models for organising participants and activities and clarifying the process of collecting funds. As mentioned earlier, Milad celebrations in Lahore are collectively organised by groups of boys and young men that go by different names – some call themselves a team, others use the more official-sounding “committee” and yet others refer to themselves as

78  Amen Jaffer and Hajra Cheema simply a group. Each represents their neighbourhood and competes with other groups in a masculine rivalry over which neighbourhood has the most elaborate Milad decorations. They collect funds from fellow residents for purchasing decoration material and then collectively design and install these decorations. Beginning on the evening and continuing long into the night of Milad, they display their creations to the public. Even though the basic structure and functioning of these groups may appear quite similar to the casual observer, there are important variations not only in the scale and scope of their activities but also in their internal organisation, which reflect the specific social organisation and culture of different neighbourhoods in the city. This section explores these various organisational forms and the relations that define them through examining the activities, strategies and discussions involved in collectively decorating neighbourhoods for Milad. Every year for the last seven years, Haider Ali’s team of cousins have been participating in Milad celebrations. They started on a small scale by pooling a little money to build a few small models in their residential street in Sanda. In a few years’ time, the scale of their decorations had expanded to a nearby market on Captain Jamal Road and was attracting contributions of thousands of rupees from a number of shopkeepers and residents of the area. Now, the team creates highly elaborate decorations over a 400-metre section of this market. They divide up this space into 13 quadrants and decorate each in a different style and pattern. On the aerial level, they hang strings of multicoloured fairy lights, shiny streamers, colourful fabric, paper cut into various designs and other decorative elements to enclose this space. Inside this canopy, they exhibit various sculpture models on the ground. These can be of sacred Islamic sites such as the Kaaba or Prophet Muhammad’s mosque in Medina but also include non-religious motifs such as a model of a railway station or a mountainous landscape. Haider is in his late twenties and has lived his entire life in Sanda. He also works in the area in a small family business of repairing and selling used machine parts. Haider comes across as someone steeped in his neighbourhood. He identifies closely with this world, claiming that it is the only place he really knows. The fact that his extended family and clan are also based in this area adds to his pride in belonging to it. Muhammad Jamil, a shopkeeper in this neighbourhood, informed me that Haider’s family is part of the Mahatam clan, a Punjabi subcaste of low social standing that is traditionally associated with the profession of weaving charpoys. There are a number of Mahatam households in Sanda, and Haider’s extended family is mostly settled here. While connected through family relations, all members of Haider’s Milad team also live in this neighbourhood. It is thus not family or clan ties alone that explain the workings of this team, but also the ties they have developed by living in the same locality. Haider recounts that the idea of making this team emerged from seeing other neighbourhoods in Sanda that were lavishly decorated for Milad. The cousins felt inspired to do something similar for their own neighbourhood.5 Milad celebrations are thus a source of both neighbourhood and clan pride for this team.

The production of Muslim space 79 Initially, the team members, all young boys at the time, consulted a professional model-maker in the Walled City of Lahore. They received a few tips and basic technical know-how about model building from him but performed all the labour themselves. Haider describes the team as non-hierarchical and informal but also quite serious, determined and organised. They start planning decorations a month in advance by holding meetings to exchange ideas and sketch out designs. Haider explains that their design inspirations come from a number of sources, including photos and patterns that they find on the internet. When they have to make decisions on designs and their execution, they do so through consultation. Whosoever is able to convince the others usually carries the day. When probed about handling disagreements, Haider brushed aside my concerns by asserting that it was not really difficult for the team to reach agreement. “We know each other quite well,” he elaborated, “and are quite open and blunt with each other so decisions are made quite quickly and smoothly.” Haider suggests that it is almost as if the power of the design itself compels the team to select it. One of the distinctive qualities of Haider’s Milad team is their fund collection strategy. Haider explained that around 18 shopkeepers in their neighbourhood give them regular donations for purchasing decorations. The system that they have worked out is to collect funds every day of the year. Each day a team member approaches the shopkeepers with a collection box and they usually contribute Rs. 10 to it. The team takes this fund collection quite seriously and are very disciplined in making their daily rounds. Haider joked that he was even collecting these funds on the day of his wedding. Initially, a young shopkeeper vouched for them, but once the team’s Milad decorations began to attract a sizeable audience, shopkeepers donated quite willingly. Now these donations have become such an entrenched part of this market’s culture that even new shopkeepers contribute without any fuss. Haider’s team is an example of a highly successful Milad team. Jamil estimates that upwards of 10,000 visitors flocked to their decorations in the 2017 Milad. Their finances are in very good shape as well. The regular funding that they receive from shopkeepers is supplemented by contributions from area residents if they face any shortfall. Quite a few spectators also offer some token cash if they like a particular model. In 2017, Haider’s team ended up saving Rs. 10,000 from their funds and set them aside for next year’s decorations. Zubair’s group, on the other hand, is in a crisis because they are unable to raise enough funds for purchasing decorations. Members of this group live in a dead-end residential lane off the Main Bazaar in Mazang. Even though they are in close proximity to a large and growing market of hundreds of small shops, Zubair and his group fail to get any sizeable donation from them. In fact, Zubair was quite dismissive of the shopkeepers, describing them as outsiders to the area with little connection to the locality or its people, hence their lack of interest in beautifying it for Milad. This group raises funds by setting up a collection box in the middle of the street a few days before the Milad and asking passersby for donations. While this strategy is common in a number of neighbourhoods of Lahore, it is nowhere as efficient or profitable as that of Haider’s team.

80  Amen Jaffer and Hajra Cheema In fact, Zubair’s group were unable to raise enough funds in 2017 and decided against doing any decorations at all. Like many other residents of his street and its Milad group, Zubair was born and raised in this neighbourhood. However, unlike Haider’s team, which is going from strength to strength, Zubair’s group is on the decline. Wistfully, Zubair recalls the yesteryears in which his group would participate with a lot of passion and excitement and really got into the spirit of Milad. He feels that his group members have become too busy in their own lives and no longer value their friendships with each other. In fact, Milad is now one of the few occasions when these friends actually spend extended time with each other. The deteriorating performance of this Milad group reflects the coming together of declining neighbourhood relations among the young men with a lack of interest by shopkeepers in funding them. Zubair understands both trends as resulting from a growing individualism; his friends and the shopkeepers are more interested in their own homes and shops than in the shared space of their mohalla. Another group type that is more formal in its structure is what I call the committee model, with members holding specific designations and defined roles. Mian Abdur Rehman occupies the position of Sarparast-e-Aalah (the first leader) in one such committee that decorates the Chah Pichwara neighbourhood in Mazang. Mian, who is in his early thirties, formed this committee with some of the younger boys in the area around four years ago. He claims that they revived the longdormant tradition of Milad decorations in his neighbourhood. Differently from the other groups discussed thus far, this committee has a number of hierarchically ordered positions. Besides the first leader at the top, there is a chairman, vicechairman, president, vice-president, general secretary and committee secretary. Despite these designated roles, Mian relates that he ends up performing a lot of the work and taking much of the responsibility for Milad arrangements. For example, if there is a shortfall in funds, he is usually the one to make up for it. Mian admits though that he enjoys considerable power over the activities of this committee. Muhammad Naeem, a resident of this mohalla, informs that this particular committee also has strong links with a major political party. In fact, a former elected representative of this constituency, Majid Zahoor, visits this neighbourhood on Milad – at the committee’s invitation – and shows his support for their efforts. Committee members also actively participate in political gatherings and events organised by Zahoor’s party and work for it during elections and other campaigns. These political links and the formal organisation of this committee reveals the political ambitions of its members. It also hints at the political appropriation of Milad celebrations. In concluding this section, we want to iterate that the organisation of Milad activities reflects the social organisation and power dynamics of the neighbourhoods in which they take place. Relations among neighbours, the structure of caste or clan networks, and political affiliations all play key roles in the organisation of these celebrations. While I agree with Zubair’s observation that economic resources fuel Milad celebrations, it is the social and political relations in which residents are embedded that hold the key to unlocking whatever resources are

The production of Muslim space 81 available in their neighbourhood. This festival is also quite important for determining the social boundaries of mohallas. Who identifies with it? Who is considered part of it? What are its borders? The answers to these questions become apparent during Milad when the composition of groups and the area they end up decorating clearly demarcate the socio-spatial limits of the mohalla. In the next section, we explore the meanings given to these transformed spaces by their residents.

The symbolic register of Milad: giving meaning to space It had already been a long day in December 2016 when we followed Hassan Abrar, an avid Milad decorator, around a street corner in Sanda. The slightly chilly night had taken full hold and we were beginning to feel at home amid the thousands of spectators gathered to experience the fantasy worlds created by residents to celebrate Milad. A friend accompanying us commented that she felt like she was on a film set. The sets, however, kept changing every few hundred metres, and suddenly we came across a highly elaborate pahari depicting the Lahore Metro Bus Line, Pakistan’s first rapid transit service, in shimmering silver that had attracted quite a crowd. Partly elevated and partly running on the level of the road, this mega infrastructure with its modern design and gleaming red buses quickly achieved the status of a landmark in the city when it was opened to the public in 2014. Ahsan, who appeared to be in his mid-teens, was seated on a plastic stool next to the model he had constructed. Beaming from ear to ear, he was basking in the attention and praise getting showered on him and his model by the growing audience. When we inquired about the making of the model, he proudly replied, “I made this. I made the whole thing myself. It took me three days and three nights. First I made a sketch for it, then I started building it.” There was a section in the pahari where he had shown the ongoing construction of the Orange Line Metro Train, Pakistan’s first metro train line. Someone from behind us quipped, “Your model may be accurate for years to come! The High Court has issued a stay order for this construction.” Ahsan laughingly responded to the banter by expressing his hope that the construction gets underway again since he plans to build a new model for the next Milad anyway. A few feet from Ahsan, three boys, who appeared around ten, were milling around another pahari that displayed a toy plane crashed into the side of a small mountain. On inquiry, they responded in unison that this was the aeroplane of Junaid Jamshed, a pop star who had died in a plane crash near Islamabad a few days earlier. In the same pahari, one of us noticed a grave with the name Modi written on a cardboard tombstone. A plastic snake was slithering atop the grave and a few toy soldiers were stationed around it. The boys explained that they got the ideas for their pahari from watching television news shows. They learnt that Narendra Modi was an enemy of Pakistan and hence depicted a sorry ending for him. In the next lane over, we ran into the biggest audience of the night thus far. The crowd was so thick that it took us several minutes to squirm through it and locate the source of the excitement. It turned out to be a massive replica of an English

82  Amen Jaffer and Hajra Cheema town replete with houses, roads, cars, traffic lights, electricity poles, a market and even a town hall. A number of small cash bills had been showered on this model as a token of appreciation for its creators. Seated in a strategic spot behind the model, a middle-aged man kept an eye on proceedings. We discovered that he had migrated to England some two decades ago and this was a replica of the English town in which he now lives. Wanting to show something of his new life to the people of Lahore, he purchased all the construction material back in England, travelled to Lahore especially for Milad and recruited his nephews and other young men of this neighbourhood to construct this model. There were thousands of other paharis in Sanda and all around Lahore this night that creatively interpreted scenes from everyday life and beyond. While there is a particular genre of Milad models that depicts sacred Islamic sites, many do not attempt any overt reference to Islam. Instead, they depict the reality experienced by mohalla-dwelling boys and men of the city. One can pose a number of questions to these representations. Why do they choose to make the objects and scenes that they do? What are the meanings that they imbue them with and what are the aspirations and values reflected in them? While it is beyond the scope of this chapter to explore the many answers to these queries, we want to focus on how these models speak to and radically reimagine the mohalla’s location and spatial relations in the world. The neighbourhood transforms from the obscurity of a quotidian space ignored by the outside world to a magical fantasy that folds the world into itself. Glitzy road infrastructures weave through it, newsworthy events happen in it and faraway architecture springs up in it. The lighting and decoration suspended above creates the aura of a magical enclosure in which anything becomes possible. Events and objects that appear far removed from each other are convincingly juxtaposed and imaginatively linked in visual narratives. One way to think about this Muslim space is in terms of Foucault and Miskowiec’s (1986) concept of heterotopia  – a space that mirrors reality but also contests and inverts it. Paharis, for example, do not offer an otherworldly utopia but represent an inverted reality by radically challenging the production of space. Objects that are not meant to be in mohallas are scattered all over them. Spaces reserved for capitalist exchange under state control are transformed into the playgrounds of young boys. Events portrayed as national tragedies are casually recreated by a group of ten-year-olds, and matters of foreign policy and security operations are toyed with. Besides the disconnect between the location and content of this reality, it is being authored by writers whose voices are rarely heard. Most of the boys and young men who create these models have few opportunities for public recognition of their creative skills and expression. In fact, we found a general sense of powerlessness and lack of control over their life among many of these individuals. However, Milad is a rare occasion when such despondency is shoved aside and the city sits up and takes notice of their imagination. Despite their seeming popularity, a number of Sanda residents are critical of paharis. Mehr Fayaz argues that they have no relation with Milad or Islam. This is a question that we have also wondered. How does a coterie of barbie dolls and

The production of Muslim space  83 toy soldiers on a dirt mound relate to the Prophet’s birth? Those constructing such paharis, however, understand their creations to be very much in the spirit of Milad. They affirm an Islamic logic by presenting paharis as an expression of passion, love and joy for the Prophet. Even if the form and aesthetics of the pahari may not be identifiable as Islamic, the work that went into it is driven by religious motivations. Another Islamic aspect of paharis is premised on the assumption that Prophet Muhammad is not an ordinary being but is made of light. Therefore, lighting and decorating space and making paharis is understood in terms of creating beauty to invite his blessings. Along with their sacred meanings, the symbolic register of Milad decorations also speaks to the politics of neighbourhood life, as the display of decorative artefacts is an effective strategy for demonstrating power and wealth to residents and visitors. The labour and financial resources expended in these decorations is also a legitimate method to claim religious capital as individuals become associated with Milad celebrations in particular localities. Muhammad Tahir, a resident and shopkeeper of Sanda, mentioned Babar and Faisal, two wealthy residents who contribute significant funds to Milad activities in his locality. Similarly, Jamil stressed the financial support of a resident who owned an electronics business as crucial to making Sanda’s name as an important centre for Milad celebrations in the city. Naeem described a similar pattern in Mazang, where a number of wealthy and politically connected locals play leading roles in sponsoring activities and overseeing Milad affairs. For the young creators of Milad decorations, their primary concern is not with displaying wealth and/or enhancing their religious credentials but with getting recognition for their efforts. The pride with which they speak about their creations reflects the sense of achievement they feel in this activity. The recognition that comes with making a popular pahari or decoration is not just an acknowledgement of their religious passion but also a testament to their creative abilities. But it is also much more: it serves to enhance their respect and status within the neighbourhood. The importance of such recognition can be judged by the energy and commitment that these boys and young men bring to this activity and their investment in presenting their creations to the audience. Unsurprisingly, the process of decorating and presenting one’s creations is characterised by a spirit of competitive masculinity. The boys and young men involved in these activities seek to outdo each other and view their creations as a matter of masculine pride, even though dominant gender understandings locate aesthetics and beauty in the feminine domain. However, the act of constructing objects in public is very much a masculine affair. As Haider Ali confided, his group does occasionally turn to their female relatives for help with embroidery, etc., but these contributions are rarely acknowledged. Instead, they highlight the technical challenges of construction, the solving of which elicits masculine power. Haider proudly gave the example of his team’s successful installation of a motor that created an effect of chopping animal fodder in a Punjabi village model. Haider’s nonchalant mention of such feats gave the impression that such tasks were not a big deal for his team. He even

84  Amen Jaffer and Hajra Cheema added that they were school dropouts and did not have much formal education but knew how to work with tools and machines. However, this very casualness indicated the masculine stakes of these decorations.

Conclusion We have analysed Milad celebrations in Lahore to demonstrate that the production of spaces and objects in this event is co-imbricated with the creation of religious feelings and desires as grey, narrow spaces are transformed into shiny, colourful and spectacular fantasies of another world. Yet it is a world that constantly refers to and interprets everyday reality. This study also demonstrates that the imagination of locality is made up of many “elsewheres” in Lahore’s working-class neighbourhoods. These include widely recognised Islamic symbols but also modern technology and violent nationalist narratives. In the contestations over permissible forms of expressing feelings for the Prophet, the creators of Milad decorations and their audiences offer their celebrations as an expression of an Islamic sensibility. However, rather than submitting to Islam or any other national or global discourse, residents imbue these creations with their own local concerns. For example, the cardboard model of a small English town in Sanda does not just represent a globally dominant style of urban planning but also communicates the personal success story of a working-class migrant from Sanda to his neighbours. It also comments on the highly politicised debate on urban infrastructure by expressing the demand for a well-functioning infrastructure and public services, which is a central claim of citizenship in working-class neighbourhoods of Pakistan (Jaffer 2017). Finally, Milad celebrations have important implications for public life in South Asia. The event is an example of the vibrant, collective public life of workingclass neighbourhoods in Lahore, albeit one that is dominated by men. However, a visible tension runs through this process of space making. If, on the one hand, it is an opportunity for those lacking power to publicly make status claims, then, on the other, it is also an occasion to demonstrate status for the relatively more privileged. Milad thus serves both to reproduce the social hierarchies of the locality and to offer a liminal opening to display a different imagination.

Notes 1 This article is based on field visits and interviews conducted in Lahore over the 2016– 2018 period. 2 We refer to Eid Milad-un-Nabi as Milad in this chapter. However, Milad also has other meanings in Islamic contexts. For example, it refers to religious gatherings for reciting the Prophet’s praises. 3 Exceptions include Saudi Arabia and Muslim communities that subscribe to the Salafi sect. 4 Also see Bourmaud (2009) for nationalist appropriations of Milad. 5 Muhammad Jamil, another lifelong resident of Captain Jamal Road, recounts that a couple of decades ago this neighbourhood was renowned for its Milad celebrations. Then a fight broke out between two families of the Mahatam clan, which brought an abrupt

The production of Muslim space 85 end to the celebrations. Jamil credits Haider’s team for reviving Milad in this locality. It should be clear from this brief history that the fall and rise of Milad celebrations here are very much connected to the local Mahatam community.

References Akhtar, P. (2014) “ ‘We Were Muslims, but We Didn’t Know Islam’: Migration, Pakistani Muslim Women and Changing Religious Practices in the UK.” Women’s Studies International Forum 47 (B): 232–238. Appadurai, A. (2005) Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Bourmaud, P. (2009) “The Political and Religious Dynamics of the Mawlid al-nabawi in Mandatory Palestine.” Archiv Orientalni 77: 317–329. Eickelman, D. and J. W. Anderson (eds) (2003) New Media in the Muslim World: The Emerging Public Sphere. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Eickelman, D. and A. Salvatore (2002) “The Public Sphere and Muslim Identities.” European Journal of Sociology 43 (1): 92–115. Foucault, M. and J. Miskowiec (1986) “Of Other Spaces.” Diacritics 16 (1): 22–27. Freitag, S. B. (1989) Collective Action and Community: Public Arenas and the Emergence of Communalism in North India. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Grunebaum, G. (1992) Muhammadan Festivals. London: Curzon. Habermas, J. (2014) The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society. Cambridge: Polity. Hansen T. B. (2001). Wages of Violence: Naming and Identity in Postcolonial Bombay. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Hefner, R. W. (2000) Civil Islam: Muslims and Democratization in Indonesia. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Hoexter, M., S. N. Eisenstadt and N. Levtzion (eds) (2002) The Public Sphere in Muslim Societies. Albany: SUNY Press. Jaffer, A. (2017) “Sociology from Pakistan: The Politics of Infrastructure.” Global Dialogue 7 (2): 15–16. Kaptein, N. J. G. (1993) Muḥammad’s Birthday Festival: Early History in the Central Muslim Lands and Development in the Muslim West Until the 10th/16th Century. Leiden: Brill. Katz, M. H. (2008) “Women’s Mawlid Performances in Sanaa and the Construction of ‘Popular Islam’.” International Journal of Middle East Studies 40 (3): 467–484. ———. (2009) The Birth of the Prophet Muhammad: Devotional Piety in Sunni Islam. London: Routledge. Kaur, R. (2001) “Rethinking the Public Sphere: The Ganapati Festival and Media Competitions in Mumbai.” South Asia Research 21 (1): 23–50. ———. (2002) “Martial Imagery in Western India: The Changing Face of Ganapati Since the 1890s.” South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies 25 (1): 69–96. Marriott, M. (2010) “The Feast of Love.” In D. P. Mines and S. E. Lamb (eds) Everyday Life in South Asia. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, pp. 238–249. Meneley, A. (1996) Tournaments of Value: Sociability and Hierarchy in a Yemeni Town. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Pandya, S. (2009) “Religious Change Among Yemeni Women: The New Popularity of Amr Khaled.” Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies 5 (1): 50–79.

86  Amen Jaffer and Hajra Cheema Parvez, Z. F. (2014) “Celebrating the Prophet: Religious Nationalism and the Politics of Milad- un-Nabi Festivals in India.” Nations and Nationalism 20 (2): 218–238. Picard, D. (2016) “The Festive Frame: Festivals as Mediators for Social Change.” Ethnos 81 (4): 600–616. Pinault, D. (2003) “Shia-Sunni Relations in Contemporary Pakistan.” Journal of South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies 26 (3): 62–84. Salvatore, A. and M. Levine (eds) (2005) Religion, Social Practice, and Contested Hegemonies: Reconstructing the Public Sphere in Muslim Majority Societies. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Schussman, A. (1998) “The Legitimacy and Nature of Mawlid al-Nabī: Analysis of a Fatwã.” Islamic Law and Society 5 (2): 214–234. van der Veer, P. (1994) Religious Nationalism: Hindus and Muslims in India. Berkeley: University of California Press. ———. (2002) “Religion in South Asia.” Annual Review of Anthropology 31 (1): 173–187. Zahab, M. A. (2008) “ ‘Yeh matam kayse ruk jae?’ [‘How Could This Matam Ever Cease?’]: Muharram Processions in Pakistani Punjab.” In K. A. Jacobsen (ed) South Asian Religion on Display: Religious Processions in South Asia and in the Diaspora. Abingdon, New York: Routledge, pp. 104–114.

7 The boundary within Demolitions, dream projects and the negotiation of Hinduness in Banaras Vera Lazzaretti In summer 2017,1 one of the buildings on the eastern side of the controversial Kashi Vishvanath temple and Gyan Vapi mosque compound in Banaras2 was demolished. This was the Vyas Bhavan, the house of the Brahman ritual specialists who had managed the area between temple and mosque, at the core of Banaras’s old city, since at least the 19th century. Its demolition was part of the first phase of implementation of the “Kashi Vishvanath Corridor” – a lavish government project of urban renewal, often referred to as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “dream project.”3 The house had opened onto a wide maidān, an open area that, although squashed between the temple and mosque, had developed into an independent Hindu ritual arena supervised by members of the Vyas family. It is through and from this boundary space that I explore here the politics of religion in contemporary Banaras. Because of its strategic position, the house and surrounding maidān had long been a target for adhigrahan, or acquisition, for the expansion of Kashi Vishvanath, the city’s most prominent temple that attracts crowds of devotees daily. Entertained by various state governments in recent decades, plans for expansion had not amounted to much until 2017, even though a few houses in the neighbourhood had been acquired by wealthy individuals and donated to the temple over the years. The idea gained new impetus, however, when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) achieved a crushing electoral victory in Uttar Pradesh in March 2017 and Yogi Adityanath  – a well-known and controversial renouncer and champion of the Hindutva cause – became chief minister. The Corridor began to materialise at a fast pace. Since 2013 I have spent many hours in that boundary space, within the walls of that house that is no more, developing a deep ethnographic relationship with the then head of the family, the ageing Kedarnath Vyas. When demolitions for the Corridor began in the neighbourhood, I spent time experiencing, observing and talking with residents and frequenters about that seismic change. I draw on these ethnographic explorations to argue that the demolition of the Vyas Bhavan signalled the exposure and then collapse of a material and symbolic boundary – not only one that separated and connected temple and mosque and thus two religious communities (Hindus and Muslims), but one that, at a closer look, afforded negotiations of Hinduness.

88  Vera Lazzaretti

The Corridor and its urban abjection The emphasis placed on vikās, or development, by Modi’s BJP since the 2014 national election campaign has had considerable impact on Banaras – a city long imagined as “sitting outside of mortal time, and as a seemingly unique urban site with a particular (‘Hindu’) religious character” (Dodson 2012: 1). As Modi’s own constituency, it has become a preferred showcase for the BJP’s development and cultural agenda, of which the Corridor is perhaps the most ambitious manifestation.4 The project is intended to create a wide access path (kāridor or pāthve) that connects the temple to the Ganges River and features a wide-open space with an exhibition hall, cafés and cultural and religious performance stages. It targets an area of around 50,000 square metres, previously characterised by cramped galīs, or lanes, and narrow intersections, and entailed the acquisition and demolition of about 300 residential, commercial and religious buildings, whose owners have been compensated to varying degrees but who have been displaced for good. According to its advocates, the beautification (saundaryīkaraṇ) of the previously congested pakkā mohallā5 around the Kashi Vishvanath temple will contribute to turning the city into a world-class tourist destination.6 A detailed discussion of the kind of space envisioned in this project is beyond the scope of this chapter, but the literature about such “spatial cleansing” suggests that the Corridor may well resemble a theme park, “partially made up of ancient materials but heavily restored and refurbished to suit modern ideas about the past” (Herzfeld 2006: 132; cf. Brosius 2012). Certainly, the Corridor seems to be inspired by the “world-class aesthetic” discussed by Ghertner in his work on urban development and beautification in millennial Delhi, which is a “sensory knowledge that allows for the easy differentiation between what is or is not worldclass and the associated visual criteria that set the boundary between what does or does not belong in a place with world-class ambitions” (Ghertner 2015: 9). Producing these spaces, then, necessarily entails a process of “urban abjection” that leaves behind unwanted social groups and spaces (Ibid. 79; cf. Kuldova and Varghese 2017). However, while in Delhi and other aspiring-to-be-world-class cities the abject is made up of the urban poor, slums and their occupiers, the Corridor in Banaras leaves behind a variety of other people and remnants, some of which are less expected than others. For one thing, the Corridor is not only a flagship development project but also a controversial endeavour tinted with saffron – the colour associated with Hindu nationalism – and likely to irreversibly exclude Muslims from the centre of the city. The Kashi Vishvanath temple indeed shares a large compound with the Gyan Vapi mosque, a prominent Mughal structure frequented for prayers by Sunni Muslims. Due to its controversial history,7 the mosque was targeted for destruction by Hindu nationalists who, during the Ramjanmabhumi movement that led to the destruction of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya, specified Gyan Vapi as one of the two places to be “liberated” next from the Muslim presence. As a consequence of this campaign, the area became subject to security arrangements in the 1990s

The boundary within 89 and is today heavily policed (Lazzaretti 2020). During major interventions for the Corridor since 2017 it has become clear that inter-religious relationships and the status of the Gyan Vapi mosque – located in the middle of the area to be developed and less than 50 metres from the temple – are at stake. While in 2017 and 2018 there was silence on all sides about the fact that mosque and temple share the compound to be beautified, later local people and commentators began to suggest that vikās might well be the acceptable face of a project that is also a way to pursue the long-term Hindu nationalist agenda of “liberating” Islamic places of worship.8 Indian Islamic sites have been constructed through time as controversial and “out of place,”9 but these depictions have become mainstream in the Hindu nationalist “new normal” of contemporary India, in which Muslim bodies and spaces are “legitimate arenas where . . . violence can be freely, joyfully, performed, with impunity” (Sarkar 2019: 151). The exclusion of Muslims and forced assimilation – or abjection – of Gyan Vapi, then, would not be unexpected. This is, after all, a project that has been conceived of by muscular Hindu nationalists to enhance a major Hindu temple next to a contested mosque. But while elsewhere I discuss changes to perceptions of Gyan Vapi triggered by demolitions and the potential impact of the Corridor on inter-religious relationships and minority Muslims (Lazzaretti forthcoming), in this chapter I am more concerned with the area’s longer-term spatial politics in terms of intra-religious negotiations and the other, less expected outcomes of the Corridor and its urban abjection. I analyse the buffer zone between the temple and mosque as what I  call a “boundary within” – a space of disputes and negotiations among people who identify themselves as Hindu  – and show how demolitions led to its exposure and progressive collapse. This coincided with the urban abjection of the whole pakkā mohallā and the production of other excluded and left-behind elements – Brahman ritual specialists and other Hindu residents, who were an overwhelming majority there.10 As shown later, what was left behind was also the layered and affective material fabric of the historic neighbourhood, including tiny shrines and local deities. For many of my interlocutors, this material fabric represented ways of living, worshipping and “being Hindu” apparently in stark contrast to what was envisioned by proponents of the Corridor. Banaras has long been a stronghold of the BJP, and the pakkā mohallā is in the UP constituency of Varanasi South, which the party has won without interruption since 1989.11 The heart of this iconic city is, then, a singularly appropriate site for exploring competing definitions of Hinduness and negotiations at, and of, a “boundary within.”

The boundary within The rich literature on shared and contested religious sites attunes the researcher to viewing the Kashi Vishvanath temple and Gyan Vapi mosque compound as characterised primarily by inter-religious relationships – antagonistic, syncretic or a choreography of both.12 As well, at a time in which Indian society is becoming more polarised along religious lines and division between Hindus and Muslims

90  Vera Lazzaretti is projected in public discourse as a given, one may fail to see other divisions or boundaries. This is particularly true when dealing with a site that has a history of inter-religious controversies, but because of my access and position in the field – often and repeatedly in the Vyas Bhavan, observing and experiencing the temple-mosque compound from within – I have been more receptive to inner fragmentations and latent divisions. Cohen (1994: 54) distinguishes boundaries that alert us “to lines which mark the extent of contiguous societies or to meeting points between supposedly discrete social groups” from other kinds of boundaries, which he describes as “more amorphous divisions which appear routinely, not just between cultures nor even within them, but between intimates who share cultures.” As he put it, the latter exist as a consequence of fragmentation within an artificially uniform collective identity. What I experienced during my research and scrutinise in this chapter, then, is a “boundary within,” one at which Brahman ritual specialists of the Vyas family, other temple authorities and officials, and residents of the pakkā mohallā appear to share Hinduness but in fact, on closer inspection, their ideas of Hinduness are found to be fragmented and negotiable. In my analysis I draw on a phenomenological conception of place as the locus of experience, dwelling and relational exchange.13 More precisely, I follow the path outlined by Navaro-Yasin (2009, 2012) and read the space under investigation as constituting for the residents a sentient and affective material fabric and an entity that is, time and again, put into discourse, interpreted and politicised. I use affect in Navaro-Yasin’s terms, not exclusively as a non-discursive sensation, as proposed by some of the most influential theorists of the “affect turn” (for example, Deleuze and Guattari, Thrift, Massoumi), but more as a relational exchange. Places and the people who inhabit them are not “affective on their own or in their own right, but both produce and transmit affect relationally” (Navaro-Yasin 2009: 14). I show ways in which Kedarnath Vyas and other residents engage with the material fabric of their neighbourhood before and after demolitions and how their critique of the Corridor draws on this engagement. The establishment of the Vyas family as independent religious authorities was spatially enacted through efforts to define and maintain an inherently fragile locality (Appadurai 1996: 179): the maidān and the family house. These efforts appear at first to have been more oriented towards the reinforcement of boundaries without, against the Muslim neighbour, the Gyan Vapi mosque. Colonial records at the local branch of the Regional Archive and private records of the Vyas family show that they have been involved for generations in legal battles and negotiations over spatial demarcation and interventions in the compound. A  record from 1925–1926,14 for example, mentions that Raghunandan Vyas, great-grandfather of Kedarnath, participated in finding a peaceful solution to a “knotty problem.” An ablution tank used by Muslims was being contaminated by droppings from a pipal tree considered sacred by Hindus, and the solution entailed the construction of a structure over the tank. This record testifies to the attention given by colonial authorities and locals even to a minor intervention in

The boundary within 91 the material fabric of this buffer zone. Another file of records from 1917 to 192115 deals with a series of interventions in the compound, and Raghunandan Vyas is said to have built a solid and stable plinth at the site of the aforementioned pipal tree, where a Hanuman image was already located. The file also deals with the use of part of the mosque’s platform for coffins and for mourning, a use of space opposed by Hindus. A bound folder originally belonging to Baijanath Vyas, the grandfather of Kedarnath, contains proceedings of lawsuits from the 1930s in which Hindus and Muslims dispute the use of portions of space around temple and mosque.16 The crucial role of the state, through the courts, in defining and shaping the religious sphere has been pointed out by scholars such as Berti et  al. (2016), but more light can be shed on the fact that such definition in practice necessarily unfolds in space. Without discussing the content of these proceedings in detail, I just note here that at its core was the negotiation of numerous apparent minutiae about the material fabric of the area,17 and I came to realise that, because of that, the folder remains a crucial document for the Vyas family. The attitude of the Vyas family towards that folder and the history of demarcation it represents, is illustrated in more recent efforts to maintain their position in opposition to other Hindu religious authorities. In the decade preceding the demolition of their house they initiated several court cases to maintain control of the maidān, presenting that bound folder to the court as evidence that they had previously been recognised as the managing authority of that part of the compound. That recognition also became fundamental in the recent struggles over their house, when they needed to assert their independence from their other cumbersome neighbour, the Kashi Vishvanath temple. To explain the struggle that culminated in the demolition of the Vyas Bhavan and the exposure of that boundary within, let me zoom more closely into the walls and intimate space of the house and of my ethnographic relationship with Kedarnath Vyas. During periods of fieldwork in 2015, 2016 and 2017, I spent a great many hours sitting in the now shabby and dusty room that he had had constructed on the rooftop of the house when, after a long period spent working outside the city (as a supplier for various businesses), he decided in his late forties to settle down with the family and devote himself to research and writing about the city, eventually becoming a notable authority for local pilgrimage (Lazzaretti 2019). Kedarnath Vyas and I would sit there day after day discussing changes to pilgrimage practices provoked by the presence of the police in and around the compound, as well as the various health issues facing his ageing body. The ageing Vyas, with failing eyesight, would go out less and less and, in winter, his room would become his entire world, from which in his mind he would walk around the city. In many of the stories he told in that room, the house was the setting for the action. Rooms that had been used by his ancestors and had seen lifetimes pass were now locked with rusty padlocks whose keys had been lost, and objects, many dilapidated, were kept like treasures and viewed by Vyas as embodying traces from his grandparents, his mother and brothers, and from his own past.

92  Vera Lazzaretti Many pieces of furniture – all affective scraps of time that he would try to put into words for me – had been purchased or given to the family as donations for their ritual services, and Vyas would tell of the donors and their stories. The more we became friends, the more things of the room he would show me, each prompting memories and allowing him to put the affects attached to them into words, gestures and silences. Or perhaps it was vice versa: the more I knew about his space, the closer we became, because the trust I gained seemed to be proportional to the permission I had to move within his house and touch the objects in his room. A recurring theme in our conversations – I realised over time – was the precarious, dilapidated condition of the building in which we were sitting and the possibility of its restoration. The latter was articulated in terms of material ameliorations but also in terms of a more symbolic refashioning of the house as a “historic building” that could appropriately represent the status of the family as an independent religious authority. The concern for the condition of the house, however, and the struggle to maintain authority and properties was now not directed against the Muslim neighbour at all, but rather against the expansion of a different kind of Hindu religious authority, the Kashi Vishvanath Temple Trust (KVTT), a secular body directly controlled by the UP Department of Religious Affairs. This struggle had existed in some form since 1983, when the previous management of the Kashi Vishwanath temple by another local family was declared to be inadequate and corrupt, and the KVTT was established by act of Parliament.18 Since I  first met him in 2012, Kedarnath Vyas had become more and more worried about the acquisition of properties in the area by the KVTT and was constantly in search of strategies to deal with the pressure to sell the house. In 2013, an adjacent building was sold to a wealthy patron, demolished, and the land donated to the KVTT. This affected the Vyas Bhavan structurally, making the foundations weaker. Pressure then increased on the family, and on several occasions the chief executive officer of the KVTT cordially and directly invited the Vyas family to sell. But despite the pressure and the advice of many to sell, Vyas proudly announced to me in 2014: “Instead of selling, we will have the house repaired, we will maintain its old style so that everyone will see that this is a historic place. They can offer me a huge amount of money, but I will not sell it. This house is not for sale.” His resistance was principally enacted through material interventions. He had the house painted and, despite its weakened state and the difficulty of having building materials delivered inside the securitised compound, also managed to have several new rooms added to the upper storey. This, he said, was to provide more space for family members, who were very grateful and repeatedly told me that the expansion of the house was a major achievement in Vyas’s recent life. “Yah becnevālā makān nahīṁ hai” (This house is not for sale) became a mantra that Vyas repeated to make clear that he was firm. The decision, however, was not entirely in his hands because ownership of the Vyas Bhavan and other properties was also vested in a number of members of the extended family. Several members sold their shares and together with the growing pressure from the KVTT, they

The boundary within  93 encouraged the nephews of Kedarnath Vyas seriously to consider negotiating a price for the house. In spring 2017, just months before the building came down, Vyas told me he was finally thinking of accepting the will of the younger members of the family. He saw his own demise approaching and said that he thought the future did not belong to him anymore. He said that the whole process was symptomatic of the cosmic disorder of the Kali Yug (the “dark age” of Indian mythology) that he had been facing for so long. The period immediately preceding the demolition of the Vyas Bhavan was one of confusion and even further heightened anxiety for Vyas and his family. Family members recall renewed approaches by dalāls, or agents, of the KVTT and potential buyers willing to acquire the house and donate it to the KVTT. Rumours were rife and veiled threats were reported.19 Desultory and ultimately failed negotiations apparently took place between the KVTT and the Vyas family before the final demolition, which occurred without the agreement of the Vyas family and without compensation.20 In retrospect the demolition of the Vyas Bhavan and the subsequent takeover of the maidān for the Corridor meant that the buffer zone between temple and mosque was progressively collapsing, signalling that the status of Gyan Vapi as a living mosque was under threat and its incorporation in a Hindu “theme park” more likely. However, at a closer look, it also meant that the boundary within, the struggle of the Vyas family to maintain its status as an independent Hindu authority and resist assimilation into the Kashi Vishvanath temple domain, had finally been exposed. While Kedarnath Vyas provides a very particular example because of his personal disposition towards place and his role as a religious authority, his case is an illustration of ways in which the pakkā mohallā was lived affectively and narrated by many of my interlocutors – a way of experiencing place that is diametrically opposed to the one projected by the Corridor and that informs residents’ critique of it. I now zoom out to examine the impact that the exposure of the boundary within, and other demolitions, had on the neighbourhood.

Haunting scraps and negotiations of Hinduness Soon after Yogi Adityanath came to power as UP chief minister in March 2017, several other buildings on the eastern side of the temple-mosque compound were purchased and then demolished in the winter and spring of 2018. But the material fabric of the demolished buildings was not removed at that time. Thick dust, fallen masonry, broken bricks and domestic detritus were left where they fell, and a wide area of scraps and remnants opened directly onto the maidān that was the domain of the Vyas family. As they received pressure to sell their properties, residents of the pakkā mohallā lived for months with(in) these scraps: the precarious status of their houses leapt out at them daily. How did the exposure of the boundary within affect local residents and their understanding of the Corridor project? What sorts of affects were discharged by the material remains of the demolitions? To deal

94  Vera Lazzaretti with the broken landscape of remains and dust of the immediate aftermath of first demolitions in 2018, I utilise the concept of “haunting” (Navaro-Yasin 2012) and the idea of urban “scraps” as vehicles for citizens’ agency (Laszczkowski 2015), and I describe the dust, detritus and remains of demolished buildings and lost deities as “haunting scraps.” These, I suggest, prompted the emergence of protest movements in opposition to the Corridor, complicating government aspirations to urban beautification and, perhaps unexpectedly, questioning the very Hinduness of BJP leaders. During and after the demolitions I frequented the area almost daily, stopping at tea stalls to observe the situation and the walking paths of the people, now diverted through the narrow galīs to avoid the closed-off demolition ground. I talked to, and often spent time in silence with, shopkeepers and residents whose houses or businesses had been, or were likely to be, affected by the Corridor. Many spent their days standing in the dust and looking at the remains, recalling the structures that were no more, their history and inhabitants. Some observed that what was left behind on the ground, and the half-demolished houses that revealed the interiors of recently inhabited rooms, resembled the scene after an earthquake (bhūkamp). The metaphor speaks of a catastrophe which not only affects humans and their belongings but that also sweeps over the surface of the earth itself and disrupts previously existing order. Many were deeply disturbed by the destruction of what they saw as a living organism: “The pakkā mohallā is counting its last breath” (pakkā mohallā apnī antim sāns gin rahā hai). And some said they felt they were dying with it or did not want to live any more (jīne kī icchā nahīṁ hotī). These sentiments might seem rhetorical or hyperbolic, but they are telling of the sort of affective engagement with place that I have illustrated in my ethnography with Kedarnath Vyas. The remnant objects, scraps and dust of the demolition ground seemed to retain for my interlocutors the ghostly materiality that Navaro-Yasin (2012) argues is retained by objects associated with a disappeared human presence and which she identifies as the causes of the feeling of being “haunted.” Indeed, it was not the years of rumours, pressure to sell properties or the distorted, partial and often contradictory media coverage of the Corridor that provoked a collective reaction from residents. It was finally seeing and experiencing the absent presence caused by the collapse of the material urban fabric that was a bridge too far. A movement was then established by some residents of the pakkā mohallā to “rescue the city’s heritage” under the name Dharohar Bachao Sangharsh Samiti (Save Heritage Struggle Committee or DBSS). It started as an across-the-board movement, including a variety of people with diverse caste backgrounds, political preferences and reasons for participation, but it was initially led by a senior journalist and known BJP supporter. In meetings and events that I attended, and through social media, participants articulated their understandings of what was being lost. At the centre of the critique of the Corridor was the fact that it takes no account of what the residents saw as the neighbourhood’s distinctive ways of living, socialising, worshipping and trading, as reflected in the material fabric. Essential spatial qualities identified by the residents included cramped old shops, hidden shrines and narrow galīs in which everyone knows each other, for better or

The boundary within 95 worse. A sentiment I heard often was expressed by a resident: “Visitors come here from far away to see these galīs and our old houses and shops. They do not come to see malls and skyscrapers! Foreigners do not come here for this! They want to see the antiquity (prācīntā). You don’t come here to see large roads.” Another recurring idea was that the very form of Kashi, as residents of the pakkā mohallā refer to the city, is represented by these galīs (Kāsī kā svarūp is galīyoṁ meṁ hī hai), and the urban fabric is often associated with the body of Śiva himself. In the eyes of those residents, the government had completely misunderstood the essence of the city and was imposing a new sort of space that took inspiration from elsewhere.21 Many small shrines and deities, supervised by private families and found in homes or built into walls and at street corners, had been an important part of the material fabric. In the Vyas Bhavan alone as many as 40 mūrtis (images of deities) were built into various corners and rooms when the house was constructed at the end of the 19th century. After the demolitions, the idea of abject and broken divine images and buried deities covered with dust was unbearable for many interlocutors, who told me that they were kept awake at night by the images of detritus that circulated widely on social media. Such residents were “haunted” and the fate of the allegedly buried or broken deities provoked fiery reactions at DBSS meetings, as well as demands for particular rituals to re-install deities or to salute their departure. People were sure that the local administrators and political leaders responsible for the destruction of divine images would reap negative consequences in their lives, and harsh declarations were made in speeches and through social media about politicians supposedly supporting the Hindu “cause” but in reality behaving “worse than Aurangzeb and the Mughals.”22 Many interlocutors commented on the development plan in less extravagant but nonetheless pointed ways when they said that Hindu expectations of a BJP state government had been completely dashed. For example: “They [the government] want to work for Hindutva or for a Hindu nation, but without what is really Hindu” (Ye log hindutva, yā hindū rāj karnā cāhte hain, lekin binā jo aslī hindū hai), said a member of the Vyas household, and this was a recurring sentiment. Residents represented themselves as being the real Hindus, unlike the politicians and local officials. In particular, they said they were authentic (pakkā) Hindus because they cared not only for the city’s major shrine, but also for its multitudinous divine population, attached to and hidden in the lanes and houses of the old city. These sites, many claimed, did not attract pilgrims from all over the world like the Kashi Vishvanath temple, but nonetheless were an essential part of what was, for them, “the real Banaras.”23 Being a real Hindu implied for these interlocutors the capacity to feel and live together with an urban fabric in which stories and markers of the past are emplaced and local deities dwell.

Concluding thoughts In these pages I have examined the spatial politics of religion at the Vyas Bhavan and its maidān, a buffer zone that separates and connects the Kashi Vishvanath

96  Vera Lazzaretti temple and Gyan Vapi mosque in Banaras. I have illustrated how this space was shaped, lived and reproduced over time not only as a “boundary without,” against the Muslim neighbour, but also as a “boundary within.” Here, the struggle for recognition and maintenance of a separate religious authority, that of the Vyas family, has been spatially enacted over time. Demolitions for the Kashi Vishvanath Corridor project, I have argued, led to the exposure of this boundary within. Such exposure, and particularly the haunting sight of the abject remains – detritus, scraps of the city’s fabric and broken deities – led to protest and debates about “real” Hinduness. The exposure of the boundary within led to the creation of a space for resistance and the expression of dissonant visions. Questions remain, however, about why the residents’ critique seems ultimately not to have undermined government plans. The next state election might provide an indication of whether the credibility of the government has been affected, at least in Varanasi South, by the sense of betrayal expressed by the pakkā mohallā’s residents and other critics of the Corridor. But many residents, after the initial protests, began to express resignation and speak of their powerlessness in the face of the government, relegating public protests to individual court cases and social media. This, together with their almost total silence about the fate of the Gyan Vapi mosque and lack of engagement with local Muslims, suggests that their alternative articulations were perhaps just a slightly dissonant voice in an underlying choral unity: although fragmentation was revealed, as Cohen put it, among those who “share cultures,” Hindu nationalist logic and its exclusive aesthetic, in fact, were not subverted. Some residents who took part in the protests later even became supporters of the Corridor, perhaps hoping not to be, in the end, excluded from the future world-class Banaras. As I write (May 2020), works continue at the boundary within to assimilate what used to be a space of struggle and negotiations about Hinduness into Narendra Modi’s dream project.

Notes 1 This chapter draws on research in Banaras between 2013 and 2018, which I  conducted first as an independent researcher and then as part of projects funded by the University of Milan, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Research Council of Norway. I wish to thank participants in the “Spaces of Religion in Urban South Asia” workshop in September 2018 at the University of Bergen for a very stimulating exchange, colleagues at the South Asia Symposium in Oslo for insightful comments on a previous draft, and Geoff Ainsworth for editorial and other invaluable support. 2 Banaras is the commonly used name of the city of Varanasi, in the state of Uttar Pradesh (UP), India. 3 See, for example, “Kashi Vishwanath Corridor: PM Narendra Modi’s Dream Project to Realize Soon, Global Tender Releasing on Dhanteras.” Financial Express, October 25, 2019. www.financialexpress.com/lifestyle/travel-tourism/kashi-vishwa nath-corridor-pm-modis-dream-project-to-realize-soon-global-tender-releasing-ondhanteras/1745281/, accessed May 2020. 4 See the chapter by Williams in this volume for a discussion about the rhetoric of development and ideas of “smart city” as applied to Banaras.

The boundary within 97 5 This is one of the urban areas that first had pakkā houses and streets – pakkā here means solid, constructed of stones and bricks – and which comprises a series of smaller mohallās, or neighbourhoods. 6 See for example “Soon, Access Kashi Vishwanath Temple Directly from Ghats.” The Times of India, May 8, 2018. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/varanasi/soonaccess-kashi-vishwanath-temple-directly-from-ghats/articleshow/64072869.cms; and “Ahmedabad-Based PSP Projects to Create Kashi Vishvanath Corridor.” Ultra News, December 28, 2019. https://ultra.news/t-t/49293/ahmedabad-based-psp-projects-tocreate-kashi-vishvanath-corridor, both accessed May 30, 2020. 7 The Gyan Vapi mosque was apparently built on the same site and with some of the material of a previous Vishvanath temple, probably shortly after the demolition of that temple was ordered by Emperor Aurangzeb in 1669 (Khan 1947: 55). Alternative narratives do, however, circulate among local Muslims about Aurangzeb and the building that existed before the mosque (Kumar 1987: 270). In the century before the construction of the Vishvanath temple in its current location, failed attempts were made to demolish the mosque and rebuild the temple (Desai 2017: 58, 81). 8 During the first demolitions in late 2017 and early 2018, local Hindi-language newspapers such as Amar Ujala, Hindustan and Dainik Jagran gave daily and often contradictory updates but hardly mentioned the mosque. The first in-depth English-language report came a year after the first demolitions and was the cover story “Target Varanasi.” December 7, 2018. https://frontline.thehindu.com/cover-story/article25545271.ece, accessed May 30, 2020. Other reports about the alleged secret agenda behind the project appeared in following months. See, for example, “How Modi’s Kashi Vishwanath Corridor Is Laying the Ground for Another Babri Incident.” The Caravan, April 27, 2019. https://caravanmagazine.in/religion/how-modi-kashi-vishwanath-corridor-islaying-the-ground-for-another-babri-incident, accessed May 30, 2020. 9 On the origins of the idea of a contested “Indian Islamic Architectural Heritage” see Ahmed (2014: 50–96). 10 Demolished buildings mostly belonged to, or were inhabited by, Brahmans, Baniyas, Khatris and families from so-called Other Backward Castes. A bastī (settlement) where Dalits and other lower-caste families lived, next to the cremation ground, has also been dismantled. 11 Data are available from the Election Commission of India at: http://eci.nic.in/eci_main/ electionanalysis/AE/S24/ partycomp226.htm (last accessed in September 2018). 12 For an overview of this literature and approaches to shared and contested religious sites, see Barka and Barkary (2015). 13 Phenomenological approaches to place have been adopted in various disciplines. My work is informed by approaches within the anthropology of space (for example, Appadurai 1988; Rodman 1992; Feld and Basso 1996; Hirsch and O´Hanlon 1995; Ingold 2000). 14 Uttar Pradesh Regional Archives, Banaras, List 7, box. 8A, file 212: “Note on the satisfactory solution of a knotty problem in the sacred precincts of the Vishwanath temple and Gyan Vapi mosque.” 15 Uttar Pradesh Regional Archives, Banaras, List 7, box. 8C, file 105: “Repairs of Gyan Vapi mosque.” 16 These include the original suit Din Mohammad and others versus the Secretary of State for India Council through the District Magistrate and Collector Benares, CWP No. 61 of 1936 in the Court of Additional Civil Judge of Benares and the subsequent appeal no. 466 of 1937 in the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad. 17 For example: a wall that has to be repainted, an obstructed passage, building material collected beside the mosque, a staircase built to access the Vyas Bhavan which is said to be some inches larger than the stipulated size, urinals damaged by the falling branches of a pipal tree and so on.

98  Vera Lazzaretti 18 The Trust was created through the Uttar Pradesh Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple Act in 1983. The full text of the act (with subsequent amendments) can be found at http:// updharmarthkarya.in/booking/pdf/1983UP29.pdf, accessed July 2018. 19 Vyas recounted angrily that he heard a high-level bureaucrat speak in a mocking tone to KVTT officers about the house during an inspection: “Let them stay. The house is in bad condition anyway, and when the monsoon comes, the building will collapse with the whole family into the sewage” (Unko rahane dījie. Makān to bekār hai, bariś āegī tab pūrī building aor ye log bhī apne āp gir jāeṅge mal meṁ). 20 The circumstances of the demolition are not entirely clear: as reported by the article “Vyas bhavan ko girāne kā adheś.” Hindustan, 4 August 2017. www.livehindustan. com/uttar-pradesh/varanasi/story-order-to-demolish-vyas-bhawan-1235671.html, accessed May 2020, it seems that a portion of the house collapsed by itself during monsoon and, for the safety of the public, an order for its demolition was issued by the administration. However, members of the Vyas family and other residents of the area insisted that the house was made to fall (makān ko girā diyā gayā), perhaps hinting at repeated pressures to sell and what they had perceived as intentional damage caused to the house by government-led demolitions of surrounding buildings. 21 Indeed, the Corridor has been compared by its conceivers to the spectacular riverfront in Haridwar and by Prime Minister Modi himself to the Somnath temple; “Sugam banāye śrī kāśī viśvanāth darbār kī rāha.” Dainik Jagran, March  13, 2018, p.  1; “Somnāth kī tarah par Viśvanāth, 650 kroḍ maṅjūr.” Amar Ujala, March 15, 2018, p. 3. 22 The senior journalist who initially led the DBSS repeated this in our conversations, and this article reports his sentiment: http://twocircles.net/2018jan31/420440.html, accessed September 2018. Later, however, he withdrew from the protest movement because he thought that it was being taken over by members of opposition parties. He himself remained an active supporter of the BJP. 23 A separate movement for the protection of the small shrines and deities started in April 2018, and was led for some time by svāmī Avimuktesvarananda, disciple of the controversial Swaroopanand Saraswati, śaṅkarācārya of Jyotirmath and Dwarka. On his Facebook page, Avimukteshvarananda repeatedly questioned the Hinduness of the BJP leaders, and distinguished between two kinds of Hindu: those who destroy divine images (mūrti toḍnevālā) and those who mingle with the divine images (mūrti se svayam ko joḍnevālā). https://livevns.in/2018/04/19/swami-avimukteshwaranandaworte-letter-to-cm-yogi-adityanath/, accessed September 2018.

References Ahmed, H. (2014) Muslim Political Discourse in Postcolonial India: Monuments, Memory, Contestation. New Delhi: Routledge. Appadurai, A. (1988) “Place and Voice in Anthropology.” Cultural Anthropology 3: 16–20. ———. (1996) Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Barka, E. and K. Barkary (eds) (2015) Choreographies of Shared Sacred Sites. New York: Columbia University Press. Berti, D., G. Tarabout and R. Voix (eds) (2016) Filing Religion: State, Hinduism, and Courts of Law. New York: Oxford University Press. Brosius, C. (2012) India’s Middle Class: New Forms of Urban Leisure, Consumption and Prosperity. New Delhi: Routledge. Cohen, A. P. (1994) “Culture, Identity and the Concept of Boundary.” Revista de Antropologia Social 3: 49–61. Desai, M. (2017) Banaras Reconstructed: Architecture and Sacred Space in a Hindu Holy City. Seattle: University of Washington Press.

The boundary within 99 Dodson, M. (2012) Banaras: Urban Forms and Cultural Histories. New Delhi: Routledge. Feld, S. and K. H. Basso (eds) (1996) Senses of Place. Santa Fe, New Mexico: School of American Research Press. Ghertner, D. A. (2015) Rule by Aesthetics: World-Class City Making in Delhi. New York: Oxford University Press. Herzfeld, M. (2006) “Spatial Cleansing: Monumental Vacuity and the Idea of the West.” Journal of Material Culture 11 (1–2): 127–149. Hirsch, E. and M. O’Hanlon (eds) (1995) The Anthropology of Landscape: Perspectives on Place and Space. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Ingold, T. (2000) The Perception of the Environment: Essays on Livelihood, Dwelling and Skill. London: Psychology Press. Khan, S. M. (1947) Maasir-i-Alamgiri. Translated by J. Sarkar. Kolkata: Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal, Reprint 1986. Kuldova, T. and M. A. Varghese (eds) (2017) Urban Utopias: Excess and Expulsion in Neoliberal South Asia. London: Palgrave Macmillan. Kumar, N. (1987) “The Mazars of Banaras: A New Perspective on the City’s Sacred Geography.” CMC Faculty Publications and Research, January. https://www.cmc.edu/sites/ default/files/media/academic/faculty/profile/KumarN2018CV.pdf Laszczkowski, M. (2015) “Scraps, Neighbors, and Committees: Material Things, Place Making, and the State in an Astana Apartment Block.’ City & Society 27 (2): 136–159. Lazzaretti, V. (2019) “Making the Story New: Individuals, Variations and Embodiment in Local Urban Pilgrimage.” Rivista degli Studi Orientali XCII (I–II): 165–182. ———. (2020) “The Burden of Security: Moral Frictions and Everyday Policing in a Contested Religious Compound.” Journal of Extreme Anthropology 4 (1): 74–93. ———. (forthcoming) “Religious Offence Policed: Paradoxical outcomes of containment and the ‘know-how’ of local Muslims at the centre of Banaras.” South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies. Navaro-Yasin, Y. (2009) “Affective Spaces, Melancholic Objects: Ruination and the Production of Anthropological Knowledge.” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (N.S.) 15: 1–18. ———. (2012) The Make-Believe Space: Affective Geography in a Postwar Polity. Durham: Duke University Press. Rodman, M. C. (1992) “Empowering Place: Multilocality and Multivocality.” American Anthropologist (N.S.) 94 (3): 640–656. Sarkar, T. (2019) “How the Sangh Parivar Writes and Teaches History.” In A. P. Chatterji, T. B. Hansen and C. Jaffrelot (eds) Majoritarian State: How Hindu Nationalism Is Changing India. New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 151–175.

8 Mantras of the metropole Chetan Bhagat’s millennial Hinduism Manisha Basu

As the title attempts to indicate, this essay concerns itself with the question of how religion – often considered the atavistic other of technologised societies – continues to be instantiated in those contemporary urban Indian contexts characterised by the newest digital technologies and the dizzying pace of their penetrations into the polity. I will address this matter through a reading of Chetan Bhagat’s highly successful, second English-language Indian novel, One Night @ the Call Center (2005). The novel taps into the phenomenon of offshoring and, therefore, its subject is primarily India’s present-day economic relationship to the Unites States, but more broadly speaking, One Night @ the Call Center points to the quickly transforming aesthetics and politics of increasingly networked life-worlds. The issue of how religious sentiment and/or spiritual feeling embeds itself in the ­telematics of such life-worlds is one I hope to account for when I begin to unravel and critically plot the framing of the novel. Before that, however, I think it important to understand why we are considering Chetan Bhagat – someone who has been called by the Guardian the “biggest-selling writer in English you have never heard of” (emphasis mine) – instead of an author with perhaps more of a recognisable place in the glittering cannon of Indian writers of English.1 To some extent, the answer to the question is provided in the Guardian’s signature tonguein-cheek acknowledgement of Bhagat’s stature. Even though “you” (the implied addressee remains under elision of course) may not have heard of him, Chetan Bhagat is the “biggest-selling writer in English.” Period. Yet in order to nuance this reality we must ask ourselves a series of questions that in fact will help to unpack the possible reasons for which the addressee of the Guardian’s claim is put under erasure: Why may “you” not have heard of the biggest-selling writer in English? Who then does Chetan Bhagat appeal to; for what myriad complex of reasons; what is the nub of his appeal; and perhaps most importantly, in what political, cultural and fiscal circumstances has his influence come to be? Chetan Bhagat has been and continues to be widely celebrated in the Indian popular press for opening up a world of books written to an upwardly mobile middle- and lower middle-class Indian youth faced with the many hopes and frustrations that accompany the prospect of growing national wealth under the auspices of economic liberalisation. The content of his work is familiar to them: higher education and how it needs to be changed to suit emerging markets in India,

Mantras of the metropole 101 entrepreneurial potencies in young Indians and youthful lovers who must face obstacles from an older generation that is still committed to the idea of arranged marriages. Their desire for such thematic orientations apart, these readers are also comfortable with what is more or less ubiquitously known to be Chetan Bhagat’s mediocre stylistics. That is to say, if this is a reading public which may not be used to literary fiction outside school and college curricula and is probably intimidated by the formal and linguistic dexterity of authors like Salman Rushdie, Arundhati Roy and Aravind Adiga who people the razzle-dazzle of contemporary world literature, then in Bhagat, this first generation of “post-call center [English] readers” finds what one critic has called a language and structure as “unpretentious as a call center cubicle.”2 The call centre is an important trope for Bhagat’s readers, for they are canny enough to know that in a post-liberalisation Indian context, the next call centre job could be around the corner, and that job would come with a preference for what we might call a kind of internationally graspable, client-friendly, “unpretentious” English. In other words, often coming from small-town India and moving to the bigger cities in search of “a better, more globally connected life,” Bhagat’s readers are youth who for the first time are being overtly exposed to the idea that reading a particular kind of English fiction may help them to market themselves for particular kinds of jobs (Dutta 2009). They are thus distinct from that other kind of reader who insists on a disconnect between literature and worldly success; that kind of reader who in her alleged cosmopolitan elitism is drawn to the Salman Rushdies of the literary canon; that kind of reader, in short, who is perhaps the elided addressee of the Guardian’s reference to Chetan Bhagat. Repeatedly hailed by publishing professionals in the Indian context as a marketing phenomenon that has radically transformed the industry, Chetan Bhagat is, even though not recognisable in canonical terms, not just another best-selling author as the Guardian would have it. Indeed, Indian publishing in English has been so powerfully influenced by his works that it can henceforth be divided into pre– and post–Chetan Bhagat periods, argue some publishers. The numbers they call upon to consolidate their claim are, as it were, mind-boggling. Five Point Someone: What not to do at IIT, Bhagat’s first novel published in 2004, sold 100,000 copies within no time of its launch. His third novel, titled The 3 Mistakes of My Life and published in 2008, sold a million copies in ten months, and just a year later, a fourth novel, Two States: The Story of My Marriage, was all set to meet the astronomical target of a million copies in ten weeks. The promotion plans are carefully designed to ensure that the books are instantly accessible to an expanding middle class from one end of the nation to the other, for they are all priced judiciously, just below a hundred rupees, and released simultaneously across big metropolises and smaller towns. Given the resulting sales figures, it is not surprising that the common mantra amongst publishers is that Chetan Bhagat sells more, and is more accessible, even than a daily newspaper in a city, and indeed, it is in so far as his books provide the same habitus as newspapers that the author is less a feature of the canonical literary world than he is a part of emerging questions of lifestyle (Us Salam 2009).

102  Manisha Basu In a 2006 interview conducted by Tapan Basu, V. Karthika, the former managing editor of Penguin India, points to the entry of large retail bookstore chains like Landmark, Crossword and Oxford to further explain the phenomenon of Chetan Bhagat as a matter of lifestyle choices: You see the big Landmark, Crossword, Oxford sort of chains coming in, they are selling to the middle class and they are selling not just books but toys and music and lifestyle to them. Therefore what happens is that along with the success of Indian writing the media picks up on it. Because the English language media – the newspapers, the magazines – are also talking to the middle class. Their readers are from the middle class. So they start giving visibility to books. So . . . book launches are glamorous events to go for. It says that this is valuable, this is glamorous, this is what you want to be a part of. So every second person . . . also wants to write a book. So everyone says oh everyone is talking about it. I must take it back to my book shelf.3 It is no wonder, given Bhagat’s embeddedness in matters of building lifestyles, that he appeals to young Indians who are becoming more and more comfortable with the nation’s “shining aspect” on the global economic and cultural stage. They find in Bhagat a “national” youth icon who does not have to narrate the nation from afar, unlike an earlier generation of Indian writers in English who wrote from and to their own migrant lives in the West, often recounting their histories of exile from the homeland or their diasporic relation to their countries of origin and weaving those in with their everyday lives in alien lands. For Chetan Bhagat’s audience, squarely situated in a national (even nationalist, one dare say), albeit globally connected context, these themes seem distant and deserving of dismissal. Secure in their global positioning, perhaps to their minds for the first time since independence, his readers are happy through Bhagat’s work to retreat into their own internal and internalised conversations, share their own private jokes and revel in a kind of idiom that does not need to be italicised, translated or explained to the outside world.4 Remarkably self-conscious in its cultivation of a style for an almost exclusively “homegrown” audience armed with an emerging national arrogance, the new Indo-Anglian novel in the hands of someone like Chetan Bhagat fashions for itself a buoyantly assertive rhetorical stance that is adamant, amongst other things, about the youthful character of the new India (Gupta 2012: 50). No longer is this a nation of only sage and august gurus, no longer are Indian youth to be held back from progress by its ancient and venerable torpor, and no longer is this antique land to be celebrated only for its unchanging antiquity. After all, these stereotypes are associated with an older, antiquated “idea of India” that is quickly being displaced. Thus, if indeed the young nation is still sentimentally attached to the quasi-Vedic wisdoms and the ethno-traditional practices of the past, then such attachments can only manifest in the form of lifestyle practices suited to the

Mantras of the metropole  103 young and successful, the kind of lifestyles Chetan Bhagat proffers. And so, the youth of a new India aspire toward metropolitan landscapes dotted with hypermodern gated communities named after “Vedic Villages,” haute fashion constituted by what has come to be known as “the ethnic look” and multimillion dollar Bollywood projects involving mythic figures of the past. It is at this juncture that our initial question about how religion – much like Vedic homes, traditional attire and mythopoetic pasts  – continues to instantiate itself in highly technologised urban spaces becomes resonant, for the new lifestyle that Bhagat is both shaping and addressing is indeed one that has come to be through the Indian polity’s arguably successful embrace of new age telematic lifestyles. One Night @ the Call Center, in its plot and framing, overtly calls upon this embrace, but it remains to be seen, as we unravel the content and structure of the novel, in what specific ways God (an arguably Hindu God, one might add) sits with digitally enabled citizens who live their lives through computer screens, text messages, social media and cyber realities. One Night @ the Call Center is framed by a train journey from small-town Kanpur to metropolitan Delhi, one on which the author Chetan Bhagat meets a beautiful woman. This young woman offers to tell him a story to pass the time, but her condition is that he must turn this story into his second novel. The ensuing narrative unfolds predominantly at a call centre in a satellite township of the capital. This township, Gurgaon, was once only an arid agricultural village, but now popularly termed “Millennium City,” it is known to be one of the most important offshoring centres in the world and the site of some of the most valuable real estate in the country. Dotted with dazzling high-rise shopping malls; the Indian corporate headquarters of international giants like Coca-Cola, IBM, Pepsi, Microsoft and American Express; and, of course, a dense concentration of outsourcing call centres, Gurgaon is often showcased as the perfect illustration of a bold new India. But in Bhagat’s hands, it is more. Indeed, cyber city Gurgaon is in One Night @ the Call Center the sacred site upon which God Herself descends to intervene in the affairs of men, and as I  have mentioned before, and as we shall see more elaborately in the following pages, this is a decidedly Hindu God. A simple plotline leads to this momentous event. During the span of one night at a call centre, all the six leading characters confront some aspect of themselves or their lives they would like to change, and the story takes a dramatic and decisive turn toward the very end when, in the clutches of a near-death experience, these characters receive a phone call from God. In Her disembodied avatar on the cellular phone, God communicates in an idiom that is literally no different from the language that the characters speak  – an idiom inflected by youthful Americanisms and what we might call a kind of management-speak. In Her avatar as a young Indian who is causally and fashionably “American” in Her lingo, God tells the characters She is “checking in on them,” She asks them “how it’s going,” and threatens to “hang up” if they don’t believe She is in fact God. Finally, when She offers solutions to their inner problems as well as the

104  Manisha Basu immediate danger they face, She employs a language of managerial brokering combined with self-help guidance: Listen, let me make a deal with you. I will save your lives tonight, but in return you must give me something. Close your eyes for three minutes. Think about what you really want and what you need to change in your life to get it. Then, once you get out of here, act on those changes. . . . The “four things a person needs for success”: “a medium amount of intelligence”; “a bit of imagination”; “self-confidence” and the experience of failure. Once you’ve tasted failure, you will have no more fear. You’ll be able to take risks more easily, you will no longer want to snuggle in your comfort zone, you will be ready to fly. And success is about flying not snuggling. (Bhagat 2005: 245–246, 249–251) The management-speak through which God talks to the central characters of One Night @ the Call Center is consolidated in the coming together of a strong telematic network of exchanges and controls. Channels of information processing in the cyber city of Gurgaon combine with the global managerial intelligences of the business process outsourcing industry, and these in turn attach to the increasing spread of mobile telecommunications, symbolised as they are through the presence of God in the medium of the cellular phone. In short, God here breaks with tradition to suavely insert Herself into a digitally enabled technocratic lifestyle where the kind of success that is valued involves risk-taking high fliers, figures who are undoubtedly made in the image of those recognisable stereotypes associated with ruthless investment bankers, Wall Street sharks and shifty hedge fund managers. Indeed, it is precisely because of such a remarkably smooth transition from tradition to technocracy that God remains pertinent for the kinds of characters that people Chetan Bhagat’s works and, more broadly, the kind of audience he is writing for in the hopes of calling into being and representing the new India. To act on God’s onto-theology of self-help, the two young men in One Night @ the Call Center, Shyam and Vroom, are propelled towards “taking risks” through self-employment and entrepreneurial innovation. The married woman, Radhika, is moved to fight for a divorce with the economic independence afforded her by her call-centre employment, and the younger Esha, who aspires to a career in modelling, is able to freely admit to allowing herself to be sexually used by a man. Finally, Shyam’s love interest, Priyanka, is pushed to liberate herself from the demands of an arranged marriage, and like all good emancipated women, is inspired to “marry for love.” In pointing to these shifts, my aim is by no means to argue that the youthful breaking with tradition as it appears here is inherently undesirable. However, in Bhagat’s world, this break from tradition, or this ability to take risks and to fly rather than snuggle in one’s comfort zone, comes on the heels of the sort of swaggering confidence that God advises in the pages of One Night @ the Call Center – a confidence that cannot and will not see how structures of domination persist despite attempts toward liberation. For instance, it must be

Mantras of the metropole 105 noted that at the end of the novel, while the now allegedly emancipated women move towards socially useful work like charity and teaching, it is the men who are given the responsibility of taking risks and becoming innovative. To gloss over this politics of gender as Bhagat seems to is to share in a feeling of national coming of age that encourages the forgetting of the continuities between India’s tradition, her colonial past and her emerging technocratic present. In other words, this is a kind of nationalist sentiment that is the synonym for a globally recognisable amnesia that conceals the precarious complicities and fractures that define any narrative of national becoming. Such a sentiment is sealed in One Night @ the Call Center when, in the epilogue, we find that the beautiful young woman who had been narrating this tale to Chetan Bhagat is actually the God of the story. Women may certainly still be tied to traditionally feminine occupations such as teaching and charity, but Bhagat seems to want to erase the asymmetrically gendered roles of our everyday material lives simply by suggesting that, after all, the highest “immaterial” authority is a godly woman. It is no surprise then that after the author realises that his companion on the train is in fact God, he kneels before Her, and after lightly touching his head in a gesture of blessing, She immediately “dematerializes.” The gendering of God as a woman, beautiful and young, brings me to the “woman question,” as it were, in Bhagat’s thinking, just as it also foregrounds the insidious matter of God being implicitly Hindu in One Night @ the Call Center. The matter of goddesses dotting the polytheistic landscape of Hinduism apart, the words that in the novel give away Bhagat’s female travelling companion as God are recognisably from the Bhagavad Gita, a text instituted through a complex of 18th- and 19th-century Orientalist-nationalist mappings as the holy book of a singular Hindu civilisation.5 In that book, God is however decidedly male, and the fact that Bhagat reverses that gendering is, I will argue, a key axis in the marriage our author effects between Hindu tradition and technocracy. But before unlocking further this key point, it is important to plot some of the women in Chetan Bhagat’s novels and tie them to comments he has made on other platforms about the place of women in the contemporary Indian context. As I have already noted, it is the two young women in One Night @ the Call Center who are advised by God to adopt “human service” professions like teaching and social work. These of course have traditionally been highly gendered, relying on a masculinist conceptualisation of feminine care and, of course, the parallel reality of lower wages.6 In contrast to such a fate for Priyanka and Esha, the two young men in the novel must play the heroic knights who not only rescue the call centre from complete dissolution but also take upon themselves the much more complicated task of developing entrepreneurial skills to bring about economic reform within national space. The same is true of at least two other women in relation to the men of Bhagat’s novels – Neha Cherian of Five Point Someone and Vidya of The 3 Mistakes of My Life. In the former, Neha is the 18-year-old love interest of the primary narrator, Hari Kumar, and she pursues a degree in fashion designing, a field stereotypically indebted to the ostensibly intuitive aesthetics of women. In contrast,

106  Manisha Basu it is left to Hari and the other men in that novel to make their way through an elite course in mechanical engineering, questioning large academic structures that stultify their creativity and thereby advancing the cause of educational remodelling in the nation. Similarly, in Bhagat’s third novel, The 3 Mistakes of My Life, while her brother and his friends are entrepreneurs in the sports industry, honing talent to perfect India’s already pre-eminent place in the high-stakes cricketing world, Vidya’s ambition is to be accredited in public relations. This, according to some studies, is an industry increasingly dominated by women, possibly because “men lack crucial sensitivity toward maintaining relationships with clients, journalists, and target groups” (Fröhlich and Peters 2007: 240). In showcasing these largely limpid women from the world of Bhagat’s novels, my point is not to suggest that the new India has no room for its women, or that the new India has no room for its women unless they stay in their “place.” My point, instead, is to demonstrate the far more menacing reality that that “place” itself has been only nominally transformed and that it is precisely this nominal transformation that is expected to lend to the branding of a young, liberated, cyber India. Indian women are now expected to venture forth from the home, for in the new India they cannot be taken seriously if they were to stay home, bake the bread, care for the children, shy away from sex or seem in any way stymied by what used to be understood as a traditional Indian set-up. However, when such women do go out into the world, they do so only to find careers in traditionally feminine walks of life – fashion, interior design, modelling, charity, teaching, and in the world of business, only public relations, where they can play the role of event managers and clothes horses. In other words, in Bhagat’s oeuvre, new age India has a permissive face rather than a conventional one associated with the antiquated customs of an ancient Hinduism, but this face is the result of creating a vision of the emancipated woman while still conserving and sustaining a traditional patrimonial structure. The idea appears most clearly in Bhagat’s journalistic columns, which, starting in 2005 and increasingly so in the years after 2012, begin to be invested more and more in the “woman question.” These include “Home Truths on Career Wives” (29 July  2012), “Five Things Women Need to Change about Themselves” (10 March 2013), “Let’s Talk about Sex” (24 March 2013), “Watching the Nautchgirls” (1 June 2013), “Item Girls of Politics” (25 January 2014), “The New Vote Bank for Politicians: Aam Aurat,” or, Common Woman (9 February 2014) and “Wake up and Respect your Inner Queen” (6 April 2014).7 In these columns, Bhagat, in his signature not-so-gentle manner, guides Indian women toward the choices he believes are available to all women in the civilised world. He encourages them to live as full and free human beings (which means to be able to wear swimsuits on beaches); to embark on journeys of self-discovery; to share their homes with male room-mates; and to have sexual, career, and parenting free will – and he is unabashedly lucid about the “national” reason for which they might want to do so. That reason is the following: the new nation will come into being on a continuum between a telematic Hindu God, managerial technocracy and nominally liberated women, and in One Night @ the Call Center, this continuum is adroitly effected

Mantras of the metropole 107 as God appears, a beautiful, young, Indian woman, empowered to travel alone through the country and comfortable speaking to her disciples in a kind of poetics of management through the medium of the cellular phone. However, one still needs to understand at this point in the argument how exactly, in Bhagat’s account, the liberation of Indian women is to be achieved. In “The New Vote Bank for Politicians,” Bhagat provides something of an answer, beginning with the gimmicky claim that “women are the new Muslims” in India (Bhagat 2014a). His only thinly veiled attack in this case is of course directed against “pseudo-secular” politicians who, according to most contemporary Hindu nationalist party sympathisers, have for long numerically seized upon the figure of the Muslim citizen merely as an axis for the question of electoral balances. Now that Muslims have “figured out the political games played with them,” that vote bank is neither as “secure” nor as “predictable” as it once was. Especially given the wake of the recent spate of gender-related crimes, attention has turned to women voters, who as a massified population have the power to swing any party’s fortunes. But Bhagat’s counsel for “the common woman” voter is to not allow either political or legislative action to offer to change her condition, for politics can only be a game, as we have seen in the case of the Muslim citizen. No number of schools for girls, movements to end female infanticide or reservations for women in Parliament can affect a difference in cultural attitudes, and so women must take it upon themselves to transform the “sexist” attitudes that prevail amongst Indian men – “one guy at a time” (Bhagat 2014a). In short, empowerment is to be realised not in the alterations women could make to the violent history of their structural environments, but rather in the changes they ought to make to their own styles of being. This argument reaches its climax in “The New Vote Bank for Politicians,” with Bhagat exhorting “the ladies” to “assert” themselves, to not “back down” and “be too eager to please the men,” and to never “accept inequality.” Platitudes as they are, the same guidelines had appeared in an earlier Bhagat column paternalistically and therefore aptly titled “Five Things Women Need to Change about Themselves.” In this column, writing in the epistolary form, Bhagat addresses his “dear ladies” on the occasion of “Women’s Day.” But because, as he puts it, “we men are prone to risk-taking,” he also attempts the unthinkable – the task of declaring, as a man, and on a day that purports to celebrate women, what women need to “change about themselves to make things better for their own kind.” However, when he asks their forgiveness for having dared to tell them what to do – “So forgive me, for I have dared” – it is clear that the nerve “to dare” is for Bhagat the sign of a superior mettle, on par with the pioneering pluck rooted in what he has called the habitual “risk-taking behavior of men” (Bhagat 2013a). Things have at this point come full circle, for we are back at the same sentiment we had noted in the novels of our author: it is indeed Bhagat’s men in these stories that have entrepreneurial verve, while the women, even as they emancipate themselves, must rein their ambitions to manageable limits. This is precisely why in One Night @ the Call Center God is a beautiful young woman, who, in order to remain pertinent to the new nation, must insinuate Herself into the instruments of its emergent lifestyle practices.

108  Manisha Basu

Post-political Hinduisation and the woman question In recent years, several scholars like Paola Baccheta, Tanika Sarkar, Partha Chatterjee, Nivedita Menon, Radha Kumar, Janaki Nair, Urvashi Butalia and Kumkum Sangari have commented on the role of patriarchy and colonial society in shaping the Indian nationalist imaginary of women, the contemporary feminist movements peculiar to the Indian context and the role that women (ideologues) play both in consolidating and resisting Hindu nationalist movements.8 I will not repeat here these valuable and already established conversations. Instead, I will argue from a slightly different perspective that someone like Chetan Bhagat instrumentalises the empowered figure of the woman – but of course only in the restricted sense I have previously described – as primary evidence for a new kind of Hinduism that is suited to the global spread of quickly liberalising economies as well as to a new kind of urban Hindu nationalism that has gained ground amongst the technocratic middle classes in the contemporary Indian context. Indeed, it is not too far-fetched to claim that Bhagat’s liberated lady – confident about her sexuality, assertive about her inalienable right to bare her flesh, to fight for a divorce, and to travel the world without being chaperoned – is the symbol who will shield against the notion that Hindus are trapped in an antiquated tradition and thus incapable of progressing in the modern world. It is this symbol that will rescue the Hindu-Indian man from being seen as a parochially sexist creature unable to process the success of women in his world, and if deployed cleverly enough, it is also this symbol that will blunt accusations of human rights violations levelled by international platforms against the contemporary Indian context. Most importantly, this symbol of a certain kind of empowerment could be the most graphic way of demarking the Hindu from the Muslim, the timid taker of hijab from the swimsuit-donning diva and the oppressed female follower of Mohammad from the free-spirited devotee of Shiva. The growing pace and intensity of Bhagat’s self-righteousness on the question of the free Indian woman came hot on the heels of what was rightly publicised in India and across the world as one of the most heinous crimes against women in recent recorded history. In the face of severe national and international condemnation after the fatal gang rape of a 23-year-old physiotherapy intern who was travelling with her male friend on a public bus in New Delhi on the night of 16 December 2012, Bhagat and other defenders of a quickly liberalising national space ran helter-skelter to rescue brand India both at home and abroad.9 It is with this context in mind that we should understand not only the increasing frequency during this time of Bhagat’s columns addressing gender issues, but also his advice to the Indian man to celebrate (working) women, “in the interest of the nation” (Bhagat 2014b). Such national interest would involve first and foremost providing a pro-growth economic environment to domestic and foreign investors, but such a desirable business environment would have to have “security,” “democratic freedom” and a “liberal culture” as its globally recognisable principal features. It is precisely these features that are attached to the “woman question” as it is developed by someone like Chetan Bhagat, and it is also precisely these

Mantras of the metropole 109 features that are attached to the female Hindu God as She appears in One Night @ the Call Center. Chetan Bhagat belongs to that strange ilk of self-fashioned raconteurs who hope to function as public intellectuals without having to take into account the pressures inherent to traditional institutions of the public sphere. This is why, just as his directions to women involve the idea that they isolate themselves from legislative and parliamentary promises in order to affect change on genderrelated matters, so too are Bhagat’s columns addressing ostensibly political issues emptied – tonally – of what the author understands as divisive ideological content. In so far as this is the case, the post-political and post-ideological tenor of Bhagat’s journalistic mantras is central to shaping the kind of audience he hopes for. He has maintained for instance that parliamentary politics should be about “managing” the nation rather than politically lording over it, and in order to do so he has argued that it is time to stop treating India like a fractured polity and think in terms of that which provides Indians a common bond (Bhagat 2013e). He has also suggested, as I mentioned earlier, that in order to arrive at this common bond, India must concentrate on providing a market-driven, pro-business, pro-growth landscape to global investors (Bhagat 2013d). Furthermore, since “the fashionably left, almost communist, intellectual mafia” has (an unfair) absolute hegemony over representative public institutions in the country, Bhagat has contended that to be “anti-poor” in India is to be right-wing with a dash of the communalist thrown in (Bhagat 2013c). And finally, according to Bhagat, secularism is a desirable commodity, but Muslims in India ought to develop a specifically Indian way of being Muslim, and Hinduism should be practised in a manner consonant with the aspirations of Indian youth in a globalised world (Bhagat 2013f). It is not entirely clear what the conceptual strength is behind Chetan Bhagat’s pithy dictums of millennial motivation, but it is indeed perfectly clear, as I will illustrate momentarily, that the “political” content of some of these scattered wisdoms could be more easily found in the ideology of what I have elsewhere theorised as a kind of urbanisation of Hindu nationalism, rather than in the admittedly post-political air of Bhagat’s thinking (see Basu 2016). In the course of his career as a special columnist, Chetan Bhagat has commented a number of times on the possible fate in contemporary India of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, its politicians and its agenda of Hindutva (loosely understood as cultural nationalism under the banner of Hinduness). In a 2011 article titled “Five Steps to a Revitalized Brand BJP,” Bhagat strains against what he sees as the imminent irrelevance of the BJP if they do not develop poised, “aspirational, globalized Indian[s]” to lead the party, leaving behind the “crass,” “regressive” politicians who have no relationship to “modern thought” (Bhagat 2011). Indeed, for Bhagat, a globalised Hindu nationalism of the 21st century ought to be, for instance, about cleaning up the holiest of the Hindu temples – “infected with bad management and corrupt priests” as well as unsanitary and unhygienic conditions – not about religious riots and fanaticisms. After all, the face of development can be productively advertised in the former and only irredeemably harmed by the latter. This is what Bhagat calls Positive Hinduism:

110  Manisha Basu “Modern, safe, scientific, free, liberal, and . . . with good values” (Bhagat 2013b). The terms used here are perilously proximate to those one may imagine Bhagat using to describe his ideal new Indian woman, the phrase “with good values” harking back to the idea that for Bhagat no matter how “free” and “liberal” the Hindu woman becomes, she will always be a “good girl” in accordance with the moral weight of her religious orientation. It is for this reason that the kind of Hinduism that Bhagat prescribes for the contemporary Indian context is one that can address the fundamental issue of security – and, as we have seen, particularly women’s security as the referent for national/territorial security – without encroaching on the (sexual) “freedom” of youth. In short, Bhagat’s thinking in this regard carries Hindu nationalism, on the backs of its women, into the new millennium – not only with a liberal, safe, scientific, hygienic and free face, but with a technologically viable aspect, as comfortable on Twitter platforms and Facebook portals as it is with gods and goddesses, temples and priests. In this context, it is worth remarking that Bhagat advises Hindu nationalist parties what he calls just “the right amount of saffron-ness” – a euphemism referring to the colours of the followers of Hindutva – even though there is nothing wrong in his opinion with using aggressive Hindu symbols like the tilak, the sword, and the pagdi to wage one’s political campaign (Bhagat 2013b). In the same vein, he also writes that although “it is true that in the name of secularism, the Hindu voice is often subverted,” this “doesn’t mean that we criticize other communities for the same,” slipping almost unnoticeably from the third person adjective “Hindu” to the first person pronoun “we” to indicate either the shiftiness of his allegiances, or conversely, where these allegiances actually lie (Bhagat 2011). Indeed, it is precisely such shiftiness that explains the vacuity of Bhagat’s political dictums, even though my contention is that it is in turn this very post-political vacuity that serves not only as the nub of his understanding of the woman question, so to speak, but as the optimum peak for the style of governance proper to Hindu nationalism in its latest millennial-metropolitan avatar. In his June  2013 column for the Times of India, asking “Can Modi win in 2014?,” Bhagat (2013b) lays out what ought to be the BJP’s plan for those fence sitters who could still be won over by the campaign leading up to the parliamentary elections. His suggestions are actively apolitical, carefully isolated from the mechanisms of the public sphere, and emphasising at once both the place of “numbers” in imagining a massified population of voters and the importance of one-on-one contact with each voter. As such, Bhagat’s is a model that perfectly illustrates the simultaneous tendencies toward individualisation and totalisation that Michel Foucault had pointed to in his study of the intersection of disciplinary and regulatory instruments of power: They can’t be marketed to. They have to be persuaded on a one-on-one basis. An army of educated, not overtly political volunteers, say one lakh in total or 200 per constituency is required. They’d work one-on-one on no more than eight families, or about 20 votes a day. This would be the level of

Mantras of the metropole 111 micro-campaigning required to convince people. . . . Trust needs one-on-one interaction, not mass media advertising. (Bhagat 2013b) Not surprisingly, this argument resonates with the way in which Bhagat speaks to women through his journalistic columns, encouraging them to change their situations on an individualised basis, while also totalising them as a mass population of voters who, as we have seen before, are, according to him, the “new Muslims” of the Indian context. To understand further his model of campaigning to women and to particular political parties, it would be worth taking into account the specificities of Bhagat’s own intellectual and professional formation. Coming from an elite educational background starting at the Army Public School in Delhi, Chetan Bhagat received a degree in mechanical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, and then went on to be certified by the Indian Institute of Management (Ahmedabad), without doubt the premier centre for management training in the country.10 In 2009, he abandoned an international career in investment banking and returned from Hong Kong to Mumbai to become a full-time writer and stay-at-home dad. Bhagat has several times suggested, perhaps in keeping with his business management background, that he is interested in the idea that “commercializing creativity [is in itself] a creative act,” and it is not difficult to see that his project is to transform “creativity” into the principle of commerce and imagination into the matter of business – just as in One Night @ the Call Center, the creative principle that is God becomes a managerial principle, and the new allegedly emancipated Indian woman becomes the bearer of such a God, while still ensuring she is associated with good Hindu values.11 In short, in Bhagat’s works, the traditional idioms of Hinduism are slickly tailored to the millennial aspect of urbanised Hindus through a syntax of Americanised English, managementspeak and the medium of social networking sites, all cleansed ostensibly of fractious political ideologies and borne on the shoulders of the new Hindu-Indian woman. It is thus that Bhagat provides contemporary Hindu nationalism with a much-needed apolitical face, resplendent in its upwardly mobile youthfulness, dazzling in its call for emancipated women and complete with the powerful language of instantaneity provided it by a telematic assemblage of networks of information processing, managerial controls and mobile telecommunications. Despite Bhagat’s visibility specifically in a national landscape, it is perhaps significant that this aspect of his work circulates quite successfully in the global corridors of economic power. In this context, one could remark that even though his six blockbuster novels did not receive much attention from the Anglo-American literary or academic establishments, Bhagat featured on the 2010 list of Time magazine’s “100 most influential people in the world,” as well as on Fast Company’s list of “the 100 most creative people in business” – along with the likes of Jack Dorsey and Sebastian Thrun of Twitter and Google X fame, respectively. Bhagat’s choice place in the emerging global financial market for younger and younger celebrity entrepreneurs is the function on one hand of a kind of global

112  Manisha Basu talent-spotting phenomenon that is currently a principal factor in the world of business. On the other, it is the product of the flourishing of premier business schools and management education and research in the Indian context. That is to say, Bhagat is both a discovery for international platforms like Time magazine and Fast Company, as well as someone who is able to influence the protocols for that kind of discovery in national space. To put it differently, one could say that he is both himself globally recognisable as a young icon, as well as a galvanising principle for the circulation of the concept of youth in the national management of economic and cultural desires. His pioneering status notwithstanding, in so far as Chetan Bhagat is part of this larger picture, he is not alone but rather is part of a consolidating telematic formation that has furthered and will continue to further the optimisation of a new age discourse of Hindu nationalism, one that rides – as I have tried to argue in this essay – on the shoulders of liberated Indian women, a digitally savvy citizenry and a Hindu God who can insert Herself into both the image of the swimsuit-donning diva as well as the medium of the cellular phone. Indeed, it is this instantiation of religion – of an emancipated, female, digitally enabled God – that is the animating force on a global stage of the emergent, increasingly powerful Hindu India.

Notes 1 Guardian, 8 October 2008. 2 For the reference to Chetan Bhagat’s post–call centre English readers, see Dutta (2009). For the reference to Bhagat’s “unpretentious” language, see Thottam (2008). 3 Extracts from the interview with Mrs V. Karthika, (now former) managing editor, Penguin India; Interviewers: Tapan Basu, Vaibhav Iype Parel and Akhil Katyal, November  2006, New Delhi. www.open.ac.uk/Arts/ferguson-centre/indian-lit/documents/ unpub-doc-interview-mrs-v-karthika.htm. 4 See extracts from the interview with Mrs V. Karthika, (now former) managing editor, Penguin India; Interviewers: Tapan Basu, Vaibhav Iype Parel and Akhil Katyal, November  2006, New Delhi. www.open.ac.uk/Arts/ferguson-centre/indian-lit/docu ments/unpub-doc-interview-mrs-v-karthika.htm. 5 I have elsewhere elaborated on the Bhagavad Gita and its Orientalist-nationalist mappings. See Basu (2016). 6 See Gilbelman (2003) for an elaboration of this claim, particularly in relation to social work, but also taking into consideration the gendering of other human service professions. 7 The columns I list here all appeared in the English-language national daily the Times of India, but Bhagat has also written, albeit less prolifically, for the Hindustan Times. 8 See Baccheta (1996, 2001), Bacchetta and Power (2002), Chatterjee (1989, 1993), Menon (2000), Kumar (1993, 1994), Nair (1994), Sangari and Vaid (1989), Sarkar and Butalia (1995). 9 See Buncombe (2012); Anne F. Stenhammer, “UN Women Condemns Gang-rape of Delhi Student.” www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2012/12/un-women-condemnsgang-rape-of-delhi-student/; “Delhi Gang Rape: Protests Go Viral Nation-Wide, Unstoppable Public Outpouring as Gang Rape Victim Dies.” Economic Times, 29 December 2012 for a sense of the outrage in the face of this event. 10 It is noteworthy that the establishment of the Indian Institutions of Management (now numbering 13 public, autonomous institutions of management education and research

Mantras of the metropole  113 in the country) was initiated by the first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, on the recommendation of the proto-socialist Planning Commission of the Government. The irony in the situation lies in the fact that it is precisely a Nehruvian socialism that the most successful of current IIM graduates decry, and indeed, in his first Independence Day speech (15 August 2014), the BJP prime minister, Narendra Modi, whose ideology can no doubt be aligned with the managerial class, announced in no uncertain terms the end of the life of the Planning Commission. 11 Subhash K Jha interviews Chetan Bhagat, “Commercializing Creativity is Creative Act.” Mid-Day, 21 May 2011.

References Baccheta, P. (1996) “Hindu Nationalist Women as Ideologues.” In K. Jayawardena and M. de Alwis (eds) Embodied Violence: Communalizing Women’s Sexuality in South Asia. London: Zed Books, pp. 126–167. ———. (2001) “Extraordinary Alliances in Crisis Situations: Women Against Hindu Nationalism in India.” In K. M. Blee and F. Winddance Twine (eds) Feminism and Antiracism: International Struggles for Justice. New York: New York University Press, pp. 220–249. Bacchetta, B. and M. Power (eds) (2002) Right-Wing Women: From Conservatives to Extremists Around the World. New York: Routledge. Basu, M. (2016) The Rhetoric of Hindu India: Language and Urban Nationalism. London, New Delhi: Cambridge University Press. Bhagat, C. (2005) One Night @the Call Center. New York: Ballantine Books. ———. (2011) “Five Steps to a Revitalized Brand BJP.” The Times of India, July 31. ———. (2013a) “Five Things Women Need to Change About Themselves.” The Times of India, March 10. ———. (2013b) “Can Modi Win in 2014?” The Times of India, June 14. ———. (2013c) “Pro-Poor or Pro-Poverty?” The Times of India, July 12. ———. (2013d) “Can India’s Backward Polity Ever Provide a Pro-Growth Economic Environment?” The Times of India, September 6. ———. (2013e) “Manage the Nation, But Don’t Try to Play King.” The Times of India, October 19. ———. (2013f) “Being Hindu Indian or Muslim Indian.” The Times of India, November 1. ———. (2014a) “The New Vote Bank for Politicians: Aam Aurat.” The Times of India, February 9. ———. (2014b) “Wake Up and Respect Your Inner Queen.” The Times of India, April 6. Buncombe, A. (2012) “ ‘I Feel the Attack in My Heart’: India’s Shame at Brutal Rape.” The Independent, December 20. Chatterjee, P. (1989) “The Nationalist Resolution of the Women’s Question.” In K. Sangari and S. Vaid (eds) Recasting Women: Essays in Colonial History. New Delhi: Kali for Women, pp. 233–253. ———. (1993) The Nation and Its Fragments. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Dutta, D. (2009) “The Writers Community on Chetan Bhagat.” Forbes India Magazine, December 23. Fröhlich, R. and S. B. Peters (2007) “PR Bunnies Caught in the Agency Ghetto: Gender Stereotypes, Organizational Factors, and Women’s Careers in PR Agencies.” Journal of Public Relations Research 19 (3): 229–254. Gilbelman, M. (2003) “So How Far Have We Come: Pestilent and Persistent Gender Gap in Pay.” Social Work 48 (1): 22–32.

114  Manisha Basu Gupta, S. (2012) “Indian ‘Commercial Fiction’ in English, the Publishing Industry, and Youth Culture.” Economic and Political Weekly 47 (5): 46–53. Kumar, R. (1993) The History of Doing: An Illustrated Account of Movements for Women’s Rights and Feminism in India, 1800–1990. New Delhi: Kali for Women. ———. (1994) “Identity Politics and the Contemporary Indian Feminist Movement.” In V. Moghadam (ed) Identity Politics and Women: Cultural Reassertions and Feminisms in International Perspective. Oxford: Westview Press, pp. 274–292. Menon, N. (2000) “Embodying the Self: Feminism, Sexual Violence, and the Law.” In A. Chatterjee and P. Jeganathan (eds) Community, Gender and Violence. New York: Columbia University Press, pp. 66–105. Nair, J. (1994) “On the Question of Female Agency in Indian Feminist Historiography.” Gender and History 6 (1): 82–100. Sangari, K. and S. Vaid (eds) (1989) Recasting Women: Essays in Colonial History. New Delhi: Kali for Women. Sarkar, T. and U. Butalia (eds) (1995) Women and Right-Wing Movements: Indian Experiments. London: Zed Books. Thottam, J. (2008) “Techie Lit: India’s New Breed of Fiction.” Time, October 30. Us Salam, Z. (2009) “It’s All About Numbers.” The Hindu, November 23.

9 Kālī and the queen Religion and the production of Calcutta’s pasts and presents Deonnie Moodie

The Victoria Memorial is perhaps the most widely recognised icon of Calcutta (now Kolkata).1 Its white marble dome, columns and portals are both regal and imposing and stand on 57 acres of sprawling green lawns and gardens right in the centre of the otherwise overcrowded metropolis.2 Queen Victoria carved from marble stands triumphantly on a dais with sceptre in hand underneath the central dome. This is a memorial to the woman who reigned when India first became the jewel in the imperial crown with Calcutta as its capital. There is no starker illustration of the imperial legacy of this city than this and, in turn, the place this city occupied in the British Empire. Today, an estimated 34 lakh (3,400,000) tourists visit the memorial each year.3 On the southern side of the city, there is another icon of Calcutta that evokes a very different legacy and that features a very different sovereign at its centre. The dark goddess Kālī resides in the inner sanctum of the Kālīghāṭ temple complex in a crowded neighbourhood populated by priests, sex workers and beggars. Thousands of devotees flock to this temple each day to make offerings to the powerful goddess within. This is not just any temple, but a Śaktipīṭh, signifying the goddess’ presence there since the mythic satya yuga (age of truth). In stories that are told about this site, and in efforts to transform it into a heritage site today, Calcutta is imagined not as a British or imperial city, but as a Hindu city made great by its first inhabitant, Kālī. By juxtaposing these two icons, I examine the ways Calcutta’s citizens wrestle with the past and create their heritage. The past does not simply exist to be recalled or remembered but requires active cultivation from the writing of history books and creation of museums to the installation of busts and plaques. Often, these projects are engaged in order to either complement or overturn other heritage projects, so that in examining them, we gain a window into the active process by which city residents assert particular pasts over others. Of course, these projects are never only about the past. They animate life in the here and now, and they imagine various futures for Calcutta’s citizens (see Chakrabarty 2008: 248; Hancock 2008: 3). This chapter on religion in Calcutta disrupts the neat divisions by which Smriti Srinivas argues scholarly attention to Indian cities often abides: sacred, colonial or developmentalist (2012: 70).4 Despite previous attempts to either ignore or erase religion from urban pasts,5 religious sites, peoples and practices have been central

116  Deonnie Moodie to the creation of cities the world over and to their ongoing lives (see Knott et al. 2016; Orsi 1999 for examples from Europe and America, respectively). Recently, scholars in the fields of anthropology and religious studies have turned their attention to religious sites and practices that constitute urban spaces in India that have not traditionally been thought of as sacred cities. The creation of religious sites and the presence of gurus and spirits, for example, sacralise cities like Chennai, Puttaparthi and Delhi (see Waghorne 2004; Srinivas 2010; Taneja 2018, respectively). Religious processions provide alternate ways of mapping and inhabiting high-tech cities like Bangalore (Srinivas 2001, 2015). Meanwhile, Mary Hancock argues that the creation of religious heritage sites addresses the nostalgia urbanites feel in the wake of India’s economic liberalisation and its “urban regimes” (2008). Small shrines as well as giant monuments constructed along roadways in and between urban spaces furthermore provide new opportunities for fast and convenient darśan (divine visual exchange)6 (see Larios and Voix 2018; Jain 2016, 2017). In other words, the Indian urban – whether sacred, colonial or developmentalist – is constituted by landscapes of vibrant religious devotion and innovation and is infused with divine presences. Thinking with this literature, I want to look at Kālīghāṭ in Calcutta in two distinct ways. Firstly, I examine the way a religious site is employed by city residents to challenge the predominant narrative of Calcutta as a colonial city built by and for Britons and their commercial purposes. In stories about Kālīghāṭ, the colonial project is simply a blip in the divine and eternal history of the goddess – a history that supersedes human time and humans themselves. While much scholarship has focused on the use of temples in anti-Muslim agendas throughout India (see Brass 1997, 2004; Davis 1997; Hansen 2001; Varshney 2003), the way rhetoric and renovation projects are mobilised around Hindu temples in anti-colonial agendas in the postcolonial period requires more scholarly attention and understanding. India gained independence over 70 years ago, and yet in the midst of the neoclassical domes and columns that dominate Calcutta’s city centre, the colonial past feels very near. As such, attention to Kālīghāṭ in Calcutta provides a different lens through which we might think about how Hindu sites become part of urban India’s story of itself. While anti-colonial projects can swiftly be subsumed within anti-Muslim projects as we have seen time and time again, they need not be. It is worth paying attention to examples where they have not (at least not yet). Secondly, I examine the ways that sites leveraged for heritage purposes produce particular narratives of the city while at the same time resisting attempts to fix those narratives in time. By all appearances, the continued existence of the Victoria Memorial fixes British dominance in the heart of the city. Upon closer examination it becomes clear that the memorial provides a site through which curators and visitors subvert the aims of its British creators by actively wrestling with Calcutta’s imperial history, drawing on Bengali intellectuals’ advances in science, literature and religious reforms to do so. More radically, Kālī’s presence and devotees’ relationship to her mean that despite the historicist projects that seek to turn Kālīghāṭ into a heritage site, it will not become a heritage site like any other.

Kālī and the queen 117 People go to the Victoria Memorial to witness the past as represented by the figure of a deceased queen. But when people go to Kālīghāṭ, they encounter the living goddess. Whether or not a particular visitor or tourist believes in the goddess, they enter a space where thousands of others are in relationship to her – asking her for things, receiving things and having the goddess’ demands put upon them. Kālī’s presence, like all divine presence, is invisible and illegible in modernist constructions of the city (Orsi 2016: 5), and yet it is very real for thousands of Calcutta’s residents. As such, the goddess thwarts all attempts to leave her in the past.

Two icons The Victoria Memorial is located in the centre of Calcutta at 1 Queens Way. Lord George Curzon, then viceroy of India, advocated the construction of a memorial to the late queen of the British Empire in 1901 in this way: A traveller might come to India and leave it with the impression that, since the days of the great Moguls, whose tombs and temples are the wonder of the East, it had had no history that was worthy of concrete commemoration, had produced or seen no great figures, but had only been fortunate in the enjoyment of an administration which had been lavish in endowing it with law courts, town halls, educational institutions, secretariats, and gaols. (Curzon 1901: 953) Curzon was sure that the British would long be remembered for bringing modern institutions to India. But he was not so sure that the glory of their empire would live on. It was on this basis that both Europeans and the Indian princes who supported them were so forthcoming in donations to fund the site. They all realised that heritage had to be made and that they had the power to make it. The project was not without its detractors, who argued that such funds should go toward a charity rather than a building such as this (Tillotson 1997: 10). However, Curzon felt strongly that the creation of a cultural monument would impart upon citizens a more valuable and lasting lesson. The site selected for the memorial was the vast maidān about a mile away from Fort William at the centre of what was then “White Town” and what still remains the centre of the city. The Prince of Wales laid the foundation stone in 1906, and 15 years later, the memorial was completed. The Kālīghāṭ temple that stands today was constructed between 1799 and 1809 by the former zamindars (landholders) of this area – members of the Sabarna Roy Choudhury family. The temple they built replaced one that stood before it, but it is unknown for how long the previous one stood, or if there was one that preceded that. What we do know is that the mūrti (image) of Kālī – the large black stone with a crown, three bright orange-red eyes, a golden tongue and four hands affixed to it – pre-existed the current structure. The structure of Kālīghāṭ’s garbhagṛha (inner sanctum) follows a characteristically Bengali āṭcālā design resembling the thatched huts traditional to the Bengali

118  Deonnie Moodie landscape (McCutchion 1972: 32). Devotees queue up around the platform of the lower structure and then enter the garbhagṛha to have darśan of Kālī. When devotees approach her, they offer sweets and flowers they have purchased at nearby shops. In front of the garbhagṛha is a nāṭmandir where devotees sit to pray, recite mantras or read sacred texts. Behind the nāṭmandir is the sacrificial arena just large enough for two sets of stakes. Devotees bring goats here to be sacrificed to the goddess. Separate shrines within the temple complex include those housing Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, four separate Śiva liṅgas, a fire pit for performing homa and a manifestation of Ṣaṣṭhī in the form of a tree.

Calcutta’s first inhabitant In the decades directly following the establishment of Crown Rule in 1858, historians began to create historical narratives of the city’s origins.7 British historians in particular were keen to mark the city as theirs – as grand, controlled and beautiful. They wrote what is by now a familiar story. Job Charnock landed on the banks of the Hooghly River in 1690, thus founding the city (Cotton 1907: 9). He and his compatriots saw the land of the three villages that came to comprise Calcutta (Govindapur, Kalikātā, Sutāṇuṭi) as a kind of terra nova – a vast spread of relatively uninhabited marsh and jungle that was ripe for their own settlement. These historians then write of Calcutta’s British inhabitants building up magnificent architectural structures in what became known as “White Town,” turning this once marshy wasteland into a “City of Palaces” (Rainey 1876: 5). Kālīghāṭ featured in these histories as epitomising the primitive past of this place – part of a “dim twilight of legend and poem” that would be replaced by “real history” with the coming of the Europeans (Wilson 1895: 131). This was wrapped up in Britons’ vehement criticisms of the kind of worship that took place at Kālīghāṭ. This site was in fact the central point of critique for British administrators and Orientalists, epitomising for iconoclastic Protestants the superstition of idol worship and what they saw as evidence of the natives’ violent nature. They recorded instances of hook swinging, widow burning and human and animal sacrifices at Kālīghāṭ in their journals (Duff 1839: 266–268; Graham 1813: 134; Parkes 1850: 104). As I have previously argued, Bengali historians in the late 19th and early 20th centuries began to compose histories of the city that told a different story than those of their European counterparts (Moodie 2018: 37–66).8 By and large, they began their histories with Kālīghāṭ, but not as a site of the primitive. Some dated the human history of the temple back to the 15th century (Bysack 1891: 315), while others back to the first or second century BCE (Caṭṭopādhyāy 1986 [1891]: 26). In these narratives, it was the presence of the goddess and the Brahmins and pilgrims who attended her who made Calcutta great. When the British arrived, they were “mere squatters on the soil of Kalikshetra [the land of Kālī]” (Ray 1982 [1902]: 55). In some of these histories, authors draw upon the well-known and oft-repeated mythological story of Dakṣa’s sacrifice found in various Purāṇas and Tantras.9

Kālī and the queen 119 While there are many different versions of the story (see Sircar 1948), the basic outline is as follows: Dakṣa, father of the goddess Satī, held a sacrifice but did not invite Satī’s husband, Śiva. Satī was so upset by this slight that she immolated herself on the sacrificial pyre. Śiva, in turn, was so upset by his wife’s death that he traversed the earth holding her corpse on his shoulder with steps so violent that they threatened to destroy the universe. To stop Śiva’s destruction, Viṣṇu slowly cut off pieces of Satī’s corpse, creating pīṭhas, or “seats,” where various forms of the goddess manifested herself in the 51 places those pieces landed. Once Satī’s corpse was gone, Śiva ceased his dance of destruction and manifested himself next to each of his wife’s body parts at each pīṭha. Satī’s four toes (excluding the big toe) from her right foot fell at Kālīghāṭ, and Kālī manifested herself there. Śiva then manifested himself nearby as Nakuleśvara. For historians who refer to this story and for the countless Kālī devotees who have been relaying it to me over and over again for a decade now, one thing is very clear – Kālī has always been in this place. The land she sits on is made sacred by her presence. Calcutta, then, was never a blank slate upon which Britons arrived and built their city of palaces. It has always been sacred ground where a piece of the goddess’s body actually resides and where Kālī and Śiva chose to manifest. It is therefore not a commercial and secular city like Delhi or Chennai, but a sacred city like Varanasi or Madurai. In the 19th century, and still today, Calcutta’s etymology is popularly linked to Kālīghāṭ or Kālīkṣetra. The exact lineage of this etymological claim is rarely proffered. It is simply known that somehow, somewhere down the line, some reference to the goddess Kālī became corrupted and turned into the village name “Kalikātā,” which was corrupted again into the city name “Calcutta.” A number of historians including Gaur Das Bysack (1891) and P. T. Nair (1985) have deconstructed these arguments, but this has not dampened the popularity of the sentiment. Yet the dominance of the British narrative is perhaps best exemplified in the city’s celebration of its 300-year anniversary in 1990, thus reinforcing Job Charnock’s arrival as the city’s founding moment. In that year these historical debates were reanimated. A slew of city histories was published in celebration of the tercentenary. There, too, Kālī and Charnock are pitted against one another for title of city’s founder. Sukanta Chaudhuri’s Calcutta: The Living City (1990) opens with an explanation of the etymology of Calcutta entitled “Calcutta: The Name” (1990: 1). He outlines various explanations, settling on some derivation from the goddess Kālī of Kālīghāṭ. Pratapaditya Pal (1990) writes in his Changing Visions, Lasting Images: Calcutta Through 300 Years, “Job Charnock may have been responsible for the foundation of the city, but its most ancient inhabitant is the goddess Kālī” (p. xii). He maintains that Calcutta, like Bombay and Madras, is a “creation of the British” (Pal 1990: vii) but pays homage to the pre-existence of Kālī. This discussion came to the fore of public debate when the Sabarna Roy Choudhury family brought a Public Interest Litigation suit to the Calcutta High Court in 2003, contesting the notion that Calcutta had a founder or a founding date. They were particularly unhappy with the assertion that Job Charnock’s arrival marked the city’s foundation. Historians at nearby universities were consulted, and they concluded

120  Deonnie Moodie that in fact, “the famous shrine of Kalighat” and a “flourishing cloth market” proved that “Kalikata before the coming of the English was an important place” (Sabarna Roychowdhury Paribar v. The State of West Bengal and Ors).10 It is perhaps no surprise that shortly thereafter, some city residents including Mridul Pathak initiated efforts to make Kālīghāṭ a heritage site to rival, in particular, that of the Victoria Memorial. To news media in 2004 he lamented that the site “leaves the tourists with a bad impression of the city.”11 He cited the temple’s “ugly skyline,” lack of “control over beggars” and absence of tourist amenities as just a few of the many issues that he felt needed to be addressed there. In conversation with me in 2012 he remarked further, “People today will take you to the Muslim Taj Mahal and Victoria Memorial, but will not take you proudly to Kālīghāṭ. The pride is not there.” But Kālīghāṭ, he said, is the “original Calcutta” that existed “300  years before the British.” Despite support from the Calcutta High Court, which enlisted state tourism boards to aid in cleansing and restoring the temple, these plans have not come to fruition due to resistance from temple administrators, labourers and devotees (see Moodie 2018: 135–160). In all of this, Kālīghāṭ is wrapped up in a historicist narrative of modern, secular time (see Hancock 2008: 117). Even the Śaktipīṭh story is read through the framework that modern historiography demands – a historiography that argues about who came first. And in this framework, it becomes clear that Calcutta’s origins matter to people not just as a matter of fact, but as a matter of cultural pride. The notion that Calcutta began as Kālī’s city is not simply an alternative narrative to the idea that Charnock founded Calcutta. It is an alternative way of thinking about who matters, who is really in power and whose city this really is. Narratives about Kālīghāṭ imagine a pre-colonial past of the city that was in fact valuable – and a colonial past in which a Hindu goddess reigned supreme, even at the very centre of British earthly rule.12

Wrestling with Calcutta’s imperial past While Job Charnock’s tomb exists in Calcutta today, as do many other remnants of the East India Company and British Crown’s presence, it is the Victoria Memorial through which the city’s imperial history is most remembered. This icon of empire created explicitly as a pedagogical project to educate citizens of the might and virtue of British rule still stands today, occupying prime real estate in the heart of the former colonial capital. That is despite the centrality of Calcutta to India’s nationalist movements in the early 20th century and despite the removal of British architecture throughout the city to make way for various development projects. One might well ask at this point: Why are Calcutta residents interested in keeping this monument around? What does this site do for people today? What kind of past does it conjure? What kind of future does it imagine? Today, this site serves not only as a memorial, but as a park and a museum. Located on the maidān, the Victoria Memorial’s verdant lawns feature stonepaved pathways leading visitors in between giant trees, ponds and statues.13 These

Kālī and the queen 121 provide a space where one can be relatively removed from traffic, blaring horns and hawkers in the midst of the overcrowded concrete jungle that is Calcutta. Getting into the park costs a mere ten rupees for Indians (500 for foreigners). Families picnic and kids flip cartwheels under the shade of the trees while young couples sit closely on benches. Visitors take pictures with one another on their phones with the impressive monument behind them. Some take selfies with the queen. One wonders whether these visitors are aiming to revive or relive the city’s imperial past as they do all of this. I think it is more likely that they are taking advantage of one of few green spaces in the city to enjoy one another’s company in the fresh air and beautiful surroundings. They avail themselves of the vendors who cater to their needs – flavoured soda water, bhelpuri and squeaky toys for the kids. And yet, the selfies with the queen seem to indicate that they are not just enjoying a day at the park – that is, not just any park. They perhaps feel themselves to be in the midst of something very important. They will post those selfies on their Facebook pages, or – for the old fashioned among them – have them printed out and framed. The memories they take away from the Victoria Memorial are those in which they got to be witness to history – not in specific terms necessarily, but “history” as a kind of edifying imaginative entity. That is to say, I doubt that many visitors to the memorial think about the oppressive or exploitative regime it memorialises. They more likely feel edified in the way that one does upon watching a documentary rather than a movie. There are certainly some who do want to memorialise the British regime, if not the queen specifically. In conversation with me in 2018, historian and head of the Society for Preservation, Calcutta, Abhik Ray argued that it is absolutely essential that sites like the Victoria Memorial be preserved because they are evidence of a critical moment in the nation’s past. Calcuttans, he says, are responsible for preserving artefacts like this, no matter how they feel about the past such artefacts represent. He looks at the British architecture in the city with reverence because, he says, “No other Indian city can claim such antiquity.” He argues that it is part of the pride of Calcutta that its history reaches back to the very beginnings of colonial rule and features some of its most famed monuments. It was in that period that Calcutta was in the limelight. It did not have the same fame or status prior to that period, and it has not had it again since the capital was moved to Delhi in 1911. Indeed, in the field of art history, the architecture of this site as well as the memorial’s collections of paintings and artefacts are of global significance. The oil paintings on display in Durbar Hall include works by some of the most famous European painters of the late 18th and early 19th centuries: Thomas and William Daniell, Johann Zoffany, William Hodges, Thomas Hickey, James Wales and Baltazar Solvyns, among others. According to Philippa Vaughan, head of the Calcutta Tercentenary Trust that is charged with preserving this artwork, these are “the finest group of oil paintings in the world by European artists active in India between 1780 and 1830” (Vaughan 1997: 2). But curators do not only preserve these European artefacts. They also use the spaces and built structures of the memorial to promote nationalist figures and

122  Deonnie Moodie artwork. In perhaps the most famous example, the statue of Curzon which once stood at the front of the memorial was replaced in the 1960s by one of Aurobindo, a Calcutta native who was active in the nationalist movement before creating his now famous āśram in Pondicherry (Swallow 1997: 55, fig. 8 and Gupta 1997: 45, fig. 10). Temporary exhibits featuring Indian artists rotate through other spaces. In July 2018, for example, an exhibit of 19th-century woodblock prints from the Battala area of northern Calcutta (part of former “Black Town”) was set up in the central portion of the memorial surrounding the queen. The memorial’s website features virtual exhibits of many Indian artists. Renowned intellectuals deliver lectures in the memorial’s conference hall, many of which challenge the primacy of British art and iconography there and elsewhere.14 The most compelling way the memorial wrestles with the city’s colonial past is in a permanent city museum entitled “Calcutta Gallery” housed in the second gallery open to visitors. Here, Calcutta’s story is told in such a way that its strength lies in its openness to cross-cultural exchange. It turns the exploitation of British rule into an advantage of cultural assimilation. The city’s story begins with British traveller-historian Kathleen Blechynden’s 1905 account of servants of the East India Company boldly battling a torrential downpour to make it to Sutāṇuṭi, the small village on the eastern bank of the Hooghly River, in 1690. But just after Job Charnock’s debut, a blurb explains Calcutta’s significance in global history: By the end of the seventeenth century a fragmented world has been largely explored and pieced together and a global linkage set up. . . . Cities like Manila (1572), Madras (1640), Bombay (1661), and Calcutta (1690) are products of this coming together of nations which marks the beginning of world history. They may be young, but they are not insular. Therein lies their modernity. Mutual knowledge, however, does not always lead to mutual happiness. The global network that arises is Eurocentric. It is largely colonized and commercially exploited by the powers that rule the waves. The stage is nearly set for the operation of imperialism and colonialism. It is not really one world.15 Curators go on to explain that the British were attracted to this locale not only because it would be easily fortified (surrounded by a river, a jungle and salt marshes) but also because of its riches in muslin, silk and spices, all traded from a market set up by the Sett and Basak families who had moved to the village of Govindapur in 1550. The narrative also makes reference to Kālīghāṭ – again placing it into the historicist framework of the museum exhibit.16 After further sections on “A Fort and Zamindari for the British,” “City of Palaces,” “Imperial City” and “Living in White Town,” the narrative lingers on the Bengali Renaissance, providing lengthy portraits of major figures like Rammohon Roy, Debendranath Tagore, Dinabandhu Mitra, Isvarchandra Vidyasagar, Bankimchandra Chatterjee and Michael Madhusudan Dutt. They are described as being “versatile, articulate, and refreshingly modern in their attitudes,” having “realised

Kālī and the queen  123 the true significance” of contact between Britons and themselves. Another panel reads that they “tried, on the one hand, to give their own traditions a more liberal appearance and reconcile them to the new ideas of the West, and, on the other, to relate Western perspectives and values to the social and cultural realities of Bengal and the rest of India.” This is the double bind of Calcutta’s history. Without colonial rule, history would have taken a very different path. Perhaps it would have been better, but it would not have been the path that created Calcutta’s most celebrated intellectuals, making it the cultural capital of India. The final panel of the Calcutta Gallery states: No other Indian city benefitted in quite the same way from British rule, but no other city had to pay as high a price either. But the spirit of interchange and assimilation, which has been part of Calcutta’s ethos from the beginning, triumphs once more. As the twentieth century progresses, Calcutta continues to provide pioneering leadership in various fields. In Calcutta, and for the rest of India, the spirit lives on. The British history of Calcutta cannot be erased or ignored – it can only be wrestled with. That is precisely what curators, academics and art historians are doing through the Victoria Memorial. Far from fulfilling Curzon’s objectives to commemorate the “great figures” and accomplishments of British rule, these individuals interrogate just what was so “great” and what was not so great about both, and they encourage visitors to do the same. The Victoria Memorial today imagines a past, present and future in which Calcutta carries significant global importance because Calcuttans are at the forefront of global “interchange and assimilation” – taking good ideas wherever they come from and rejecting bad ideas even if they are their own.

Calcutta’s divine present Back at Kālīghāṭ, interchange and assimilation are all but invisible. Those Bengalis most influenced by the sentiments of the intellectuals featured in the “Calcutta Gallery” noted earlier have been trying to modernise Kālīghāṭ’s rituals, management system and physical spaces for over a century now, but with little success. Curzon and the queen, like their missionary and historian compatriots, dismissed Kālī as a remnant of the region’s superstitious past and likely thought Kālīghāṭ would be abandoned and forgotten by the 21st century. Moreover, the city has many reformers, secularists and Marxists today who would prefer to downplay the temple’s significance in the modern city. A  tourist site, fine. A monument to the past. But that’s all. Yet Kālī – through her relationships with human actors – has refused to succumb to criticisms that seek to purge Hinduism of mūrti worship and animal sacrifice, just as she has refused attempts to keep Kālīghāṭ contained to historicist narratives of the city. People do not go to the temple to picnic and cartwheel as they do the Victoria Memorial – in fact,

124  Deonnie Moodie there is no room in the cramped complex for either of those activities. Nor do they visit it to learn about history or great art by walking through exhibits set up for their education. Selfies – and indeed any photographs of Kālī – are not allowed. Instead, visitors go to see Kālī and be seen by her, laying bare their most intimate fears and dreams at the goddess’s feet. They do not go to Kālīghāṭ to be informed about the past but to be transformed by Kālī’s sacred presence. Kālīghāṭ refuses to be frozen in time – to become a dead monument.17 While the queen is very much deceased and it is only her memory that lives on, Kālī remains very much alive. Throughout my fieldwork in 2011 and 2012 I  met countless devotees who brought Kālī their daily frustrations and needs as well as their major life traumas – men and women with tension at work and financial troubles at home, parents anxious about their children’s exams and careers, adults whose parents’ ailing bodies had not responded to medical treatment. I listened to people recount how upsetting it was for them to live away from Kālī (not just any Kālī but this particular Kālī at Kālīghāṭ) for a period in their lives, and how they longed to return so that they could see Mā (their mother) every day. Some implored me to seek blessings from the goddess. They said I should pray to Kālī and Ṣaṣṭhī at Kālīghāṭ for a baby (I had just been married when I first arrived for fieldwork in 2011) and success in my research. When I returned years later having borne a child, they insisted he was a gift from the goddess and demanded I make her an offering of thanks in return, just as they had done when they delivered their own babies. For these devotees, Kālīghāṭ signifies a different and more intimate city centre than the maidān and its memorial. As devotees make their way from home to Kālīghāṭ to work each day, they enact a different kind of urban modernity (Srinivas 2012: 79) and embody life-worlds that Britons as well as Hindu reformers would like to have eradicated (see Taneja 2018: 229). For so many of Calcutta’s citizens, Kālī is the founder of the city, its most important resident and their last hope in times of need. She works against what Taneja calls the “amnesia” of the colonial state’s historicism (Taneja 2018) – the one that did not find anything of value in pre-1690 Calcutta. She also works against the present state’s dismissal of non-secular, enchanted landscapes and ways of being. Devotees at Kālīghāṭ imagine a past, present and future of their city and their lives that is first and foremost imbued with Kālī’s divine presence. Visitors may take selfies with the likeness of queen, but they lay their lives at the feet of Kālī. One question remains. If Calcutta has always been Kālī’s kṣetra, how was it that the divine sovereign allowed the mortal queen to reign in her territory? It can only have been what one priest at Kālīghāṭ explained to me as māyer icchā – the wish of the mother. It was not until Calcutta became the capital of the British Empire in India that Kālīghāṭ became the popular, well-attended pilgrimage site it is today. New modes of communication and transportation to and around the capital city attracted more residents, visitors and pilgrims who learnt of the sacred site of Kālīghāṭ and had easier means of travelling to it (Gupta 2003: 62). The queen may have held the goddess in disdain, but she contributed directly to her worship. Kālī’s presence and sovereignty is not to be outdone.

Kālī and the queen 125

Notes 1 The city officially changed its name in 2001. I employ the former spelling throughout to avoid confusion, as most of this piece focuses on the city prior to 2001. 2 Funding for this research was provided by a Fulbright-Nehru Research Grant in 2011– 2012 and the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Oklahoma in 2018. This paper was first presented at the international workshop Spaces of Religion in Urban South Asia: An International Workshop at the University of Bergen on September 28–29, 2018. I am grateful to István Keul for organising this event and to all participants for producing a stimulating workshop. My sincere thanks go to Kathinka Frøystad, Mary Hancock, Amen Jaffer and Philippa Williams in particular for their insightful critiques of this paper. 3 http://victoriamemorial-cal.org/citizen_chart/content/en . 4 On sacred cities, see for example, Eck (1983), Keul (2014) and Parry (1995) on Varanasi; Fuller (1984) and (2003) on Madurai; and Dube (2001) and Mubayi (2005) on Puri. 5 See Waghorne (2004: 12–18) and Knott et al. (2016) for an overview of this literature. 6 See Eck (1998). 7 Prior to that moment, plenty of people had written about the history of India or even of Bengal, and they recorded observations of life in Calcutta in journals and letters. See Moodie (2018: 38–39, footnotes 5 and 6) for references. I am distinguishing those from texts that demarcate the city’s origins in particular. 8 The binary I outline here was not followed by all British and Bengali historians, and I note exceptions to the rule in Moodie (2018: 63–65). However, a major divide does exist within historical writings at the turn of the 20th century regarding Calcutta’s origins. 9 This version of the story is found in the Cuḍāmaṇi Tantra, Devībhāgavata Purāṇa and Kālikā Purāṇa. See Sircar (1948) for a synopsis of variants of this story. 10 The 300-year anniversary is problematic for a host of other reasons, including the fact that the East India Company and then British Crown did not hold Calcutta either independently or even continuously from 1690 onward. When the East India Company first arrived in what would become Calcutta and set up a small factory there, they did so only with the permission of the Nawab of the region, who answered to the Mughal Emperor in Delhi. Their grasp of this site was tenuous at best. Various Nawabs objected to their demands for tax breaks, not to mention the fortification of their factory. In 1756, Siraj-ud-daulah defeated the company there and for a brief moment, Calcutta became Alinagar (see Chatterjee 2012). 11 “From Pilgrimage to Heritage.” The Statesman, September 9, 2004. 12 Of course, the city’s history is not strictly either British or Hindu, and there are many other histories of the city from Muslim to Armenian to Jewish to Jain that these ignore. 13 Statues include those of former British rulers as well as Rajendra Nath Mookerjee, a Bengali industrialist involved in the construction of the memorial. 14 Tapati Guha-Thakurta, professor of history at the CSSS, delivered a lecture recently: www.victoriamemorial-cal.org/special_events/perpage/0/en . See also her essay in the volume edited by Philippa Vaughan (1997: 139–156). 15 This and all subsequent material on the “Calcutta Gallery” exhibit at the Victoria Memorial was gleaned by the author during visits on 8 and 11 July 2018. 16 They also reference Gobindaram Mitter’s “Black Pagoda” in northern Sutāṇuṭi that was by far the tallest building in Calcutta in 1731 when it was constructed. It was later destroyed in a cyclone. 17 The Archaeological Survey of India in fact refused to declare Kālīghāṭ an official heritage site in response to the Calcutta High Court’s request in 2011 (Bose v. Union of India 2013). They reasoned that too many additions had been made to the temple since 1809, such that it was impossible to tell which parts of the building comprised the original.

126  Deonnie Moodie

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Kālī and the queen 127 Knott, K., V. Krech and B. Meyer (2016) “Iconic Religion in Urban Space.” Material Religion 12 (2): 123–136. Larios, B. and R. Voix (2018) “Introduction. Wayside Shrines in India: An Everyday Defiant Religiosity.” Samaj 18: 1–42. McCutchion, D. (1972) Late Mediaeval Temples of Bengal: Origins and Classification. Kolkata: Asiatic Society. Moodie, D. (2018) The Making of a Modern Temple and a Hindu City: Kālīghāṭ and Kolkata. New York: Oxford University Press. Mubayi, Y. (2005) Altar of Power: The Temple and the State in the Land of Jagannatha. New Delhi: Manohar. Nair, P. T. (1985) Calcutta: Origin of the Name. Kolkata: Subarnarekha. Orsi, R. A. (1999) Gods of the City: Religion and the American Urban Landscape. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. ———. (2016) History and Presence. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Pal, P. (1990) “Introduction.” In P. Pal (ed) Changing Visions, Lasting Images: Calcutta Through 300 Years. Bombay: Marg Publications, pp. vii–xii. Parkes Parlby, F. (1850) Wanderings of a Pilgrim in Search of the Picturesque, During Four-and-Twenty Years in the East: With Revelations of Life in the Zenana. London: P. Richardson. Parry, J. P. (1995) Death in Banaras. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Rainey, H. J. (1876) Historical and Topographical Sketch of Calcutta. Kolkata: Englishman Press. Ray, A. K. (1982 [1902]) A Short History of Calcutta. Edited by N. R. Ray. Kolkata: Ṛddhi. Sircar, D. C. (1948) “The Śākta Pīṭhas.” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal 14 (1): 1–108. Srinivas, S. (2001) Landscapes of Urban Memory: The Sacred and the Civic in India’s High-Tech City. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. ———. (2012) “Urban Forms of Religious Practice.” In V. Dalmia and R. Sadana (eds) The Cambridge Companion to Modern Indian Culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 67–79. ———. (2015) A Place for Utopia: Urban Designs from South Asia. Seattle: University of Washington Press. Srinivas, T. (2010) “Building Faith: Religious Pluralism, Pedagogical Urbanism, and Governance in the Sathya Sacred City.” International Journal of Hindu Studies 13 (3): 301–336. Swallow, D. (1997) “Curzon’s ‘National Gallery’: The Art Collections Hall.” In P. Vaughn (ed) The Victoria Memorial Hall, Calcutta: Conception, Collections, Conservation. Kolkata: Marg Publications, pp. 48–65. Taneja, A. V. (2018) Jinnealogy: Time, Islam, and Ecological Thought in the Medieval Ruins of Delhi. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Tillotson, G. H. R. (1997) “A Visible Monument: Architectural Policies and the Victoria Memorial Hall.” In P. Vaughn (ed) The Victoria Memorial Hall, Calcutta: Conception, Collections, Conservation. Kolkata: Marg Publications, pp. 8–23. Varshney, A. (2003) Ethnic Conflict and Civic Life: Hindus and Muslims in India. 2nd ed. New Haven: Yale University Press. Vaughan, P. (1997) “Introduction.” In P. Vaughan (ed) The Victoria Memorial Hall, Calcutta: Conception, Collections, Conservation. Kolkata: Marg Publications, pp. 1–7. Waghorne, J. P. (2004) Diaspora of the Gods: Modern Hindu Temples in an Urban MiddleClass World. New York: Oxford University Press. Wilson, C. R. (1895) Early Annals of the English in Bengal. Kolkata: Thacker, Spink & Co.

10 Timelines and lifelines Landscape practices and religious refabulations from South Asia Smriti Srinivas

Introduction This essay has two goals: first, to unsettle the methods we use to study space by treating it less as a surface to travel on, a location to arrive at, a stage for religious and cultural practices or an enclosure for multiple life-worlds, and more of a place crossed by pathways of life, aspiration and remembrance. This is akin to discussions of place as a spatio-temporal event, as collections of stories, of space as consisting of multiple trajectories and loose ends, and open to the future (Massey 2005). The second goal is to see if this method generates modes of thought about our ways of dwelling in urban space as an “ecology of life” or as “relations along  .  .  . severally enmeshed ways of life” (Ingold 2016 [2007]: 106). Or, to put it differently, the goal is to understand that the landscapes we see, discover meanings in or journey through take on their textures and materiality through embodied practices and processes in time such that our lives are imbricated with the times and lives of other plants, animals or stones. To understand landscapes thus is to emphasise movement as a foundational component in the making of cultural institutions, spaces and lives, including walking, mechanical transport (cars, ships or trains), and virtual and imaginative mobility, as well as the blockages and immobilities that constrain or channel movement. While injecting contingency and agency into the study of space, this approach also enables us to spatialise our thinking about religion. Alongside movement, therefore, I draw attention to forms of refabulation that we may encounter – narrations and fables, shrines and altars, rituals and performances, or other kinds of vernacular imaginaries – that incorporate and inscribe idioms and practices of devotion and religiosity in landscapes, thereby transforming them.1 My point of departure lies in the following queries: Can we think of gardens as landscapes  – as comprised of embodied practices and processes in time including the lives of humans, trees, plants and rocks? Thus considered, can gardens-aslandscapes open up new ways of thinking about the past and present, religion and space, in South Asia? I have two proximate genealogies for this focus on gardens. First, gardens as cultural and institutional spaces were prevalent in South Asia from early times. Gardens, trees and plants, for example, played an important role in Buddhist traditions. Early Buddhist literature and stories associate gardens with

Timelines and lifelines 129 events in Sakyamuni Buddha’s life: his birth in a Lumbini garden, his enlightenment under a bodhi tree near Gaya, his first sermon at the deer park near Kashi and his parinirvana at the Sala grove in Kushinagara. In accounts of the Buddha’s life, for example, the Mahaparinibbana Sutta, the Buddha appears against the identifiable backdrop of several named groves, discussing religious topics. These groves are urban retreats for the peripatetic Buddha: for example, in Nalanda, the Blessed One stays in the Pavarika mango grove; in Vaisali, at the courtesan Ambapali’s grove; in Pava, at the mango grove of a smith; and near the Hiranyavati River, at the Sala grove of the Mallas (Rhys Davids 2000 [1881]: 14, 28, 70, 85). Gardens and groves, like Buddhist monasteries, were separate but proximate to urban and courtly space: they could be used to emphasise the Buddha’s miraculous life and to separate it from secular lords; garden plants and flower motifs could also be symbolic of a new non-agonistic social order; and architectural structures, such as stupas, could contain garden motifs on their railings and gateways (see Shimada 2012; Hawkes and Shimada 2009). In the Jataka, or stories from the Pali collection about the Buddha’s former births, 70 types of animals (319 animals or groups of them) appear in half of the 550 stories accepted in the Theravada tradition. Monkeys appear the most (in 27 different stories), followed by elephants (24), jackals (20), lions (19), crows (17), deer (15), birds (15), fish (12) and parrots (11). In ten stories, the Buddha and others take the form of tree or plant spirits (see Chapple 1997). This continuity of life and its forms, an ecological theme central to Buddhist cosmology discussed by Chapple, forms an important feature of this essay as well. In addition to the textual record, we should also gesture to the colonial and postcolonial actors involved in the discovery and transformation of Buddhism’s archaeological heritage and its sacred landscape, including Burmese kings, Alexander Cunningham, Anagarika Dharmapala, the Dalai Lama, the Indian state, pilgrims and tourists. The spatial politics of landscape transformation of the Mahabodhi tree, the Mahabodhi temple complex and Bodh Gaya into a global anchor for various Buddhist communities as symbolic registers of origins and authenticity and the focus of various discourses and stakeholders (including the UNESCO Convention on World Heritage) has been discussed (see Geary 2017). Exploring all the various genealogies for South Asian gardens would take another piece of writing. Scholars, for example, have discussed the ecological contexts of the Sanskrit and oral epics – forests, hermitages, cities, gardens (Lutgendorf 1997, 2000; Srinivas 2001). Mughal gardens (e.g., Westcoat and WolschkeBulmahn 1996) and botanical institutions of empire (e.g., Herbert 2011; McCracken 1997) have received the most attention. Peninsular India also contains many kinds of landscape practices within the built environment as well as in literary, poetic, religious and visual contexts (Ali and Flatt 2012). I have previously discussed typologies and spaces of contemporary urban gardens in South Asia – religious greens (temples, tombs, burial grounds and so on), horticultural gardens, theme parks, civic parks and municipal enclaves, unintended greens, and memorial enclaves (Srinivas 2015). Despite the significance and the long duration of landscape practices in the subcontinent and their contemporary manifestations, the scholarship on gardens is scarce and uneven.

130  Smriti Srinivas Second, my queries grow directly from my last book, A Place for Utopia (Srinivas 2015). This book, situated within and across South Asia, Europe and North America, chronologically proceeding from the early 20th century to the early 21st century, is an extended study of the valency of utopia as a concept for understanding designs for alternative, occluded, novel, eccentric or counter urbanisms in the last hundred years. I align with scholarship (Nandy 1987; Geetha and Rajadurai 1998) focused on the value of utopia for socio-cultural and historical analysis while discussing a range of designs emerging from religious movements, devotees, urbanists and ordinary city-dwellers in several cities. I emphasise the continued significance of religiosity or spiritual topographies alongside somatic practices for contemporary utopias. Some of these may be transcultural and migratory, so that India’s Vedanta finds places in California or Japanese energy work comes to be located in Bangalore. Central to the designs for utopia in the book are themes of memory, death, hope and gardens.

Traces, layers, trails Any anthropological consideration of gardens-as-landscapes rather than enclosures or cartographic spaces – as collections of stories or spatio-temporal events – must surely begin with the walking/moving body as a tool for gathering insights. I  have shown in detail elsewhere (Srinivas 2015, 2001) that when the urban scholar or student of cities becomes a pedestrian, this technique of the body can become a pathway for ethnographic observations and generating concepts. Walking or pedestrian living-as-method allies the urban scholar or anthropologist with the large number of other actors who use streets, parks and other public spaces to pursue various religious and non-religious activities that are part of life and livelihood (see also Bayat 2010; Simone 2010). Pedestrian movements captured in their ritual, associational, ordinary and “enmeshed” lives allow us to observe the regularities on our paths as well as unexpected events, trails and relationalities. This kind of pedestrian practice does not exclude more accelerated or extended forms of movement: my walks over the years in many South Asian gardens are brought into contrapuntal association with passage elsewhere – in the university town in California where I have a home, for example, with its lawns, parks, community gardens and many miles of cycling and walking paths. In contrast to South Asian gardens, we find different histories anchoring growing practices, plant life or meanings for parks and gardens in the American landscape. Pollan, for instance, argues that New York’s Central Park is “less a garden than a counterfeit natural landscape” and in it are sought the “satisfactions of nature rather than art” (Pollan 1991: 73). In the case of the University of California– Davis Arboretum (founded in 1936), in addition to nature, the “satisfactions” include education and environmental stewardship. The Arboretum occupies 100 acres along the banks of the old north channel of Putah Creek in California’s Central Valley with trees and plants adapted to a Mediterranean climate. The gardens within represent different geographic areas, plant groups or horticultural

Timelines and lifelines  131 themes. The site was home to the Patwin people and includes many historical traces including an ancient oak that was a boundary marker on an early Mexican land grant and the oldest reservoir in the Central Valley built by Chinese workers in the 1860s.2 These traces and layers remind us of the connected ways in which mobilities of plant life and human lives have remade garden landscapes in the search for a good place to inhabit. Gardens are, in reality, crisscrossed by all kinds of trails, inhabitants and stories, such that they seem like a multilingual, bustling Indian Ocean or Pacific port city imbricated with other places and times rather than a bounded enclosure. My first home in Davis was graced by the benevolent canopy of an oak tree, its presence attesting to the older history of a Californian oak grove that gave way to a Davis neighbourhood and single-family homes in the 1970s. Under its solid embrace, I dreamed of many other places as I planted lemon, rose, avocado and jasmine. Gardens accommodate new plants, aesthetics, yearnings and lives that flourish alongside older ones: in my current garden in Davis, a small tulsi on which I had cast great hopes – almost as if it would bring India to California – did not survive this past winter. It was an offshoot of another migratory journey: a gift to me from my Punjabi Fijian gardener whose grandmother first carried the tulsi from Punjab to Fiji; a child of that original arrived in the Central Valley when they left Fiji in the 1980s. And less than a year ago, I planted a yellow rose bush over the ashes of Dashiell, my dog and companion for 14 years, in a spot where he enjoyed the garden most, keeping an eye out, even in his last year, for his archenemy the squirrel. Every morning that I see Dashiell’s rose, I am reminded of C. Jinarajadasa’s words, “There is no dead substance.” I could follow other trails here, such as Canada’s history of breeding coldtolerant roses like Dashiell’s Morden Sunrise in Manitoba for a global market, or the ways in which settler colonialism and diverse layers of migrations have produced California’s gardens  – private residential gardens, botanical gardens, public parks or urban community gardens – and their aesthetics, ethics and politics (see, for example, Hondagneu-Sotelo 2014). Instead, I will focus on the ways in which garden landscapes and spaces of religion, times past and times present, and many lives are folded into each other. In a few weeks, I hope to plant a variety of spineless cactus in my garden from the one originally bred by Luther Burbank (1849–1926). He gave three leaves of a spineless cactus to Paramahamsa Yogananda (1893–1952) that grew into the fullness of their estate in the Self-Realization Fellowship headquarters at Mt. Washington, Los Angeles. Yogananda speaks about Luther Burbank – “A Saint among the Roses” – his botanical experiments, initiation into Kriya Yoga, pedagogical ideas and his book, The Training of the Human Plant, in Chapter 38 of his Autobiography of a Yogi (also dedicated to the “American Saint”): “The secret of improved plant breeding, apart from scientific knowledge, is love.” Luther Burbank uttered this wisdom as I walked beside him in his Santa Rosa garden. We halted near a bed of edible cacti.

132  Smriti Srinivas “While I was conducting experiments to make ‘spineless’ cacti,” he continued, “I often talked to the plants to create a vibration of love. ‘You have nothing to fear,’ I would tell them. ‘You don’t need your defensive thorns. I will protect you.’ Gradually the useful plant of the desert emerged in a thornless variety.”3 Something unique emerges here from this plant biography, even while the temporality of plant life is different from human life, and the spread of their timelines can be very short or very extensive. Without being a bodhi tree, the spineless cactus can still gather philosophies, affects, knowledges, practices or communities through its lifeline. For now, through garden walks, trails of memory and association that lead to other gardens, plant life, growing practices and transplants, I will take us on a narrative pathway that brings together timelines with lifelines, the biographical and the botanical, the religious and the spatial. My main chronotope – signalled by the figures of Burbank and Yogananda – spans the period between the last decades of the 19th century to the 1950s, covering tracks between South Asian garden landscapes and others, from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific. I hope also that we can see how particular gardens, plants and their designs contrast with others, the “thigmotropic tales” (Subramaniam 2014) or the nature-cultures of variation. In the context of gardens, this implies the material conditions and negotiations required to produce gardens and the soil, as it were, of their longer spatial histories.

Tropical tales One such tropical tale is described by Jayeeta Sharma (2011), who shows how in the mid-19th century, the discovery of Assam tea held promise for the region’s transformation from a wild frontier and jungle into an Edenic garden for prospectors, missionaries and local gentry. As tea and rice replaced forests, labourers were imported under various regimes to work in these “gardens of empire,” creating complex interplays between race, ethnicity, religion, culture, commodities and places that had long-lasting consequences. “An indentured existence in the Assam garden racialized previously diverse groups into the status of ‘aboriginal coolies.’ Despite the subsequent easing of indenture bonds, their subaltern status kept the majority of coolies close to plantations” (Sharma 2011: 236). I invoke Assam in part because the first six years of my life were spent among tea gardens in postcolonial Assam, and I have vivid memories of travelling winding roads and visiting plantations with tennis courts. The lush expanses and lifestyles of the white sahibs in the colonial period were continued after independence by new managers of these estates until the tea industry was nationalised in the 1970s (see Sharma 2011). There are also sunny memories of my bamboo home in Dibrugarh near the Brahmaputra (which flooded at least once so that we sat on our beds until the waters receded) and our extensive kitchen garden where we grew Indian corn, beans and peas. There are stories that in a famous Brahmaputra flood in the 1950s,

Timelines and lifelines  133 the waters came up to the Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara (established in 1919) and then stopped; in a recent flood in 2015, members of the Gurdwara were hard at work helping feed those affected by the flood in the city. Seen across oceanic spaces, gardens-as-plantations become ways of connecting the coolie and the slave and labour conditions in the colony and post-colony. The Assamese plantations, thus, have striking resonances elsewhere in South Asia and in Indian Ocean worlds, including rubber plantations in Singapore and Malaysia to which Tamils and Chinese were brought to work. Forced by declining practices and competition, farmers largely abandoned rubber by the 1990s. Willford (2014) explores the decline of the rubber plantation economy associated with workingclass Tamil community life alongside the growth of a neocolonial and neoliberal Malay Islamic modernity that has increasingly negated any Hindu or Indian past. He graphically registers the politics of race in modern Malaysia, the conversion of estate workers into “squatters” on the peripheries of urban life, the violence and neglect experienced by Tamil Indians and the search for “compensation” in moral and religious terms. The extractive histories of colonialism and capitalism signified by these plantations are visible in other ways. Natasha Myers (2017) describes Gardens by the Bay in Singapore as designed for the Anthropocene: the garden perpetuates apocalyptic imaginaries or specific ideas of sustainability while leaving intact the exploitative logics of labour of late industrialism. Gardens by the Bay, in fact, have eclipsed from public memory the Tiger Balm gardens for which Singapore was famous for many decades. Every year that my family spent in Malaysia in the early 1970s, when rubber was still king, we drove from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore past dozens of plantations to visit Tiger Balm gardens, the visionary terraced landscape commissioned by the mentholated ointment and newspaper magnate, Aw Boon Haw, for his brother, Aw Boon Par. The Aw brothers, whose father was a small herbalist from Fujian, became the richest family in Rangoon by 1918 through their medicines. Originally built in 1937, the garden contained gateways, ponds and pavilions drawn from Chinese architectural traditions and exhibits from Buddhism, Taoism and Chinese history and mythology. These exhibits, such as the Virtues and Vices Tableaux, or the Courts of Hell, were meant to educate visitors – several of its terraces were free and open to the public – about filial piety, resisting temptation and evil-doing, loyalty, community service or judgement in one’s afterlife. The Aw family fled Singapore on the eve of the Japanese occupation, and one brother returned after the war. Some descendants of the family made additions until about 1971. The park was acquired by the government in 1985, had a life for several years as a theme park, and is now a free public park, although there are fewer visitors to it, unlike in its heyday in the 1960s and 1970s.4

An ethics of human/non-human fellowship Tiger Balm gardens embodied a religious-pedagogic project, an iconic product and colonial networks between Burma, China and Singapore, while Gardens by

134  Smriti Srinivas the Bay can be thought of as designed for the Anthropocene. The gardens of the Theosophical Society in Chennai/Madras across the Bay of Bengal, however, are a repository of biographical, religious and botanical tracks between South Asia, Europe and the Americas that sought to embody an ethics of human/non-human fellowship, among other objectives. On the one hand, Theosophy’s articulation of religion with ideas of race, nation, science or gender bore a somewhat direct relationship to empire. The ideas of universal brotherhood or various races and subraces deployed by Theosophists such as Madame Blavatsky appropriated racial evolutionism even while they were reflections on the dominant place of Christianity within the colonial project. On the other hand, Theosophists’ foregrounding of spiritualist cosmologies inspired critiques of imperialism or produced anticolonial manifestos as in the case of Annie Besant, the socialist-feminist turned Theosophist (see Ramaswamy 2004; van der Veer 2001; Viswanathan 1998). My focus here is on the different versions of life (including religious life) that appear in the garden, the garden that escapes enclosure by spilling across global networks and the botanical garden that defies colonial classification. In 1882, Madame Blavatsky and Colonel Olcott – founders of the Theosophical Society – purchased the 28-acre Huddleston Gardens on the right bank of the Adyar River in Madras near its confluence with the sea for the society’s international headquarters. Huddleston Gardens, then a country residence, consisted of a main building with a garden and two riverside bungalows. In early photographs this area seems less densely covered by shrubbery, brush or trees than it later became and had some open vistas. The main bungalow became the headquarters building (where Blavatsky lived between 1882 and 1885), which underwent many alterations over time. Additional construction at the estate took place under the direction of Olcott, who remained society president for life from 1875 to 1907. Under Annie Besant, the next president, further land acquisition took place, and by 1925, the estate had grown to 262 acres. Although several new constructions appeared  – the Vasanta Press, a library, Leadbeater Chambers, Olcott Bungalow (where Maria Montessori lived for several years), the Bhojanasala and others – most of the acreage was given to various groves and separate garden spaces: Blavatsky Gardens, Alsace Grove, Damodar Gardens, Besant Gardens, Besant Grove and Olcott Gardens. Some parts of the landscape included native trees and plants, such as tamarind and Ashoka. Local trees and plants also backed exotic species in other parts, including baobabs and cannonball trees. “Founders Avenue” is inspired by an internationalist vision and contains mahogany trees planted on soil brought from all the nations where Theosophical Society sections existed: 41 were planted in 1925 and another eight in 1950 (although many did not survive). Fruit trees are also to be found in parts of the estate and there is an extensive coconut grove; there were also experimental spaces given to an orangery and for cultivating spineless cactus as animal fodder. The famous banyan tree, said to be about 500 years old and spread over more than an acre of land until its central trunk was uprooted by a gale in 1989, still occupies a central place in the estate. It is recalled that J. Krishnamurti, the

Timelines and lifelines  135 philosopher, gave his first talk there, Annie Besant gave her “Twilight Talks” under the tree, and it functioned as a meeting place regularly. Near the Big Banyan also stands one of five trilithons brought to the estate by Col. Olcott from a temple in the North Arcot district. Several spaces of worship currently exist: the Bharata Samaja, a Buddhist shrine, a Zoroastrian temple, a Liberal Christian church, a Masonic shrine, a Hanuman temple, a village temple, a Jain temple and a mosque; the Jewish synagogue was not completed (Adyar Through the Lens 2011; Muthiah 1995: 72; Ninetyfive Years 1978). The garden, trees and plants, thus, are generative spaces of confluence and dispersion of discourses and communities.

The Flower of Flowers Adyar’s renaturing was largely the project of C. Jinarajadasa (1875–1953), who, more than anyone else in the society, consistently articulated a place for Theosophy’s ecological potential, especially the interconnectedness temporally between humans and non-humans, in his writings and practice: “Life is everywhere. There is no dead substance. . . . The life of the plant, of the animal, of man . . . is not different in kind from that invisible life which exists in stone” (Jinarajadasa 2007 [1923]: 18–19). I have discussed details of his life elsewhere: his birth in Ceylon to Sinhalese Buddhist parents; his encounter with Charles Leadbeater at age 13 and travel with him to England in 1889; his meeting Madame Blavatsky and becoming a society member in 1893; studies in Cambridge and the University of Pavia; and his linguistic accomplishments in European and Asian languages. He was married to the Irish feminist Dorothy Graham (who founded the Women’s Indian Association with another Irish feminist-Theosophist, Margaret Cousins, in 1917), was an admirer of Maria Montessori (who stayed at the Theosophical Society headquarters in Adyar during the Second World War) and bore the enormous challenge and strain of his Theosophical work post-war and post-colony valiantly (Srinivas 2015). Many remember his quiet charm and sense of duty, his erudition, his extensive travels as society president and his motto, “I am that Work, that Work am I.” A magazine picture of him as a young man remains with me: a rather small man dressed in a suit, a gentle yet serious expression in his eyes, cradling a street tabby to whom he gave the honorific “Ji.” Ji lived with him for ten years in Cambridge and later accompanied him on many of his travels to Italy, Ceylon and India: “So we were chums. But soon I began to understand that in my cat was taking place a wonderful transformation; she was ceasing to be a cat and was becoming a soul. . . . In one thing I have succeeded – I have loyally and lovingly served one little soul” (Jinarajadasa 1993 [1908]: 82–83). A  few record his occult or psychic abilities and, in addition to his love for cats, his great love of trees and plants. “He communed not merely with the souls of the trees and plants, but also the many devas and nature spirits who had their home in them. . . . For him the Sangha included ‘a brotherhood of venerable trees’ ” (The Trees and Plants of Adyar 1975: 148). Trees were not felled but allowed to grow in freedom to their

136  Smriti Srinivas fullness: “Brother Raja looked on plants not as mere mechanical things existing for the comfort of man but as living organisms slowly evolving” (Venkataramanan 1953: 328). Jinarajadasa became vice president of the society (1921–1928), president of the International Fellowship of Arts and Crafts (1923–1927) and later president of the society after George Arundale’s death in 1945. Long before he became president, however, Jinarajadasa supervised the vast acreage of the Adyar gardens to which he had contributed greatly. In a reversal of colonial journeying to the tropics and the South for the collection of flora and fauna but in concert with the expansion of a global network of botanical gardens, Jinarajadasa brought to Adyar about 300 species of seeds and plants from various countries, including bougainvillea from Australia and Panama, guanacaste trees from Mexico, a pithaya creeper from Guatemala, hibiscus from Cuba and tea from Paraguay. I have argued that three norms produced the Theosophical Society gardens (Srinivas 2015): First is the “South Indian Victorian,” which draws on European 19th-century wild and pastoral visions of arcadia, along with South Indian designs for horticultural gardens and the scrub jungle typical of the area. Second, there is a “greening of the idea of comparative religions,” with religious shrines from several traditions set amidst nature. Third, the gardens are rooted in the idea of a Buddhist fellowship of all living organisms (including trees or plants) that are evolving into sentient beings. This ecology of life and fellowship also appears in many of Jinarajadasa’s writings. I focus here on two of them: Flowers and Gardens: A Dream Structure and A Divine Vision of Man, Nature and God. The first text is an outcome of a vision Jinarajadasa had while contemplating a beautiful garden at Septeuil, France – we could speculate that it was the gardens of Claude Monet (1840–1926) at Giverny about 34 km away. All we know from his description, however, is that it was early spring, the gardener had not thought to mow the lawn, the grass was carpeted thick with daisies and primulas (both flowers are found in Monet’s Clos Normand) and after some showers in the night, the sun was shining again. Jinarajadasa writes about a utopian community and its beliefs that he sees in the vision: “When a person does what is serviceable, they say, ‘His flower is opening’; when he dies, they say, ‘He has seen his flower.’ They believe in a Supreme Intelligence guiding all things, but they call Him ‘the Flower of Flowers’ ” (Jinarajadasa 2006 [1913]: 8–9). Following the analogy between flowers and humans further, he writes that in this community, they strive to create the right conditions for their flowers to open and grow. “For when ‘the flower in man’ grows, it is really the Flower of Flowers that is growing in him and through him, for there is One Life in the Flower of Flowers and in ‘the flower in man,’ and the growth of the two is inseparable” (Jinarajadasa 2006 [1913]: 47–48). Jinarajadasa’s second text is a collection of lectures delivered in London in 1927. I want to focus on the relationship between humans and nature that is articulated in this text: “When, with the aid of Theosophy, you analyze life’s processes, and especially when you begin to understand the mystery of your own suffering, you begin to realize that life is forcing us, driving us to learn certain lessons; and

Timelines and lifelines  137 one great lesson is that of the One Life” (Jinarajadasa 2005 [1951]: 5). Nature is ethical, not mechanical, he states, and there are four avenues to approach this vision: the worship of nature, the study of nature, the love of nature and the refashioning of nature, for example, through art (reflected in his writings is his admiration for poets such as Wordsworth, Shelley, Yeats and Tennyson, as well as Wagner and Ruskin). Then we begin to understand “the rhythm of life,” “how life comes, possesses a form and grows in it, and then, when it has come to the limits of its growth, vanishes, and then, after an interval, comes back again” (Jinarajadasa 2005 [1951]: 41). We understand then that “rocks, too, long as men long; the plants have their own aspirations; and all nature . . . is the embodiment of divine life” (Jinarajadasa 2005 [1951]: 45).

Affinities I want to gesture to the affinities between Jinarajadasa’s ideas – for example, of the similitude between humans and flowers – and those of two other figures. The first is the figure of Edward Bach (1885–1936), originator of the Flower Remedies for healing. In his writings, for example, Heal Thyself: An Explanation of the Real Cause and Cure of Disease, first published in 1931, Bach argues that disease cannot be eradicated by present materialist methods because disease is not material in its origin (Bach 2009). Voicing his objections to materialist and vivisectionist methods, he writes that with the homeopathy of Hahnemann (who was following in the tracks of the Buddha and Paracelsus) there was a streak of light after a long darkness, and “it may play a big part in the medicine of the future” (Barnard 2007: 167). In an articulation that resembles the Buddha’s Four Noble Truths, he states, “Thus we see that our conquest of disease will mainly depend on the following: firstly, the realisation of the Divinity within our nature and our consequent power to overcome all that is wrong; secondly, the knowledge that the basic cause of disease is due to disharmony between the personality and the Soul; thirdly, our willingness and ability to discover the fault which is causing such a conflict; and fourthly, the removal of any such fault by developing the opposing virtue” (Barnard 2007: 176). The healing arts, thus, will concentrate on “remedies” from “the most beautiful plants and herbs to be found in the pharmacy of Nature, such as have been divinely enriched with healing powers of the mind and body of man” (Barnard 2007: 177). In “Ye Suffer from Yourselves” (an address given in 1931), he states that we must go one step higher than Hahnemann’s principle of “like curing like” to understanding that disease itself is “like curing like”; our remedial action is “to develop the opposing virtue” (Barnard 2007: 145). These remedies in the pharmacopoeia have “the power to elevate our vibrations, thus bringing more union between our mortal and Spiritual self, and effecting the cure by greater harmony thus produced” (Barnard 2007: 147). Bach’s original 12 remedies – agrimony, centaury, cerato, chicory, clematis, gentian, impatiens, mimulus, rock rose, scleranthus, vervain and waterviolet (English names, not botanical ones) – were joined over time

138  Smriti Srinivas by others, including trees like oak, pine, chestnut, olive and so on, making the total number of remedies at the time of his death 38. Apart from Hahnemann, we find ample evidence in Bach’s writings of his familiarity with Theosophical ideas with references to the Buddha, the “white brotherhood,” the Masters, the evolution of the soul, life on earth as a “school” and India (see Bach 2009; Barnard 2007). Weil (1984: 16) writes that Bach “spiritualized” disease in the same way that Theosophy “spiritualized” evolution and recognises that Bach was familiar with Theosophy’s wisdom. It is Jinarajadasa, among the Theosophists, who may have been the specific inspiration for Bach’s Flower Remedies developed in the 1920s and 1930s. The realisation that “nature is living,” that clouds, waves, rocks, grass or trees are “life veiled indescribably in matter” (Jinarajadasa 2005 [1951]: 42) with their own aspirations, also has parallels not far away from Adyar in Pondicherry in a second figure. The visions of Aurobindo (1872–1950) and Mirra Alfassa (1878– 1973) – popularly known as the Mother  – of life veiled in living things in the course of cosmic creation, of spiritual self-development as consisting of efforts to reverse this process and of its translation into reforestation of the Auroville plateau since the founding of the utopian community in 1968 have been discussed (see Kent 2013). Aurobindo’s philosophy was the “soteriological framework” (p.  124) for the labours of Aurovillians, but the Mother gave the concrete and organisational contexts for practice. “For instance, the Mother was passionate about gardening. Flowers were to her a profound symbol of a key concept of Integral Yoga – aspiration . . . the germ of consciousness present in matter and the aspiration of that latent consciousness to find expression” (Kent 2013: 129). The Mother applied her powers to discover the “psychic prayers” that flowers represented. Thus, lotuses signified Divine Wisdom, the night jasmine carried the name Aspiration, and the coconut tree was called Multitude (Kent 2013: 129). “This kind of animism, attributing a form of consciousness to plants . . . in the years since environmental restoration of the region has become one of the central organizing features of Auroville. [It] has taken on new importance” (Kent 2013: 129). There are other parallels between the Theosophical Society in Adyar and Auroville that deserve mention here, including the place of trees in gathering and facilitating religious communities, transnational discourses and renaturing efforts. One of Auroville’s “origin narratives” is that sometime in 1968, the Mother drove north from Pondicherry and stopped her car somewhere in the dry landscape and pointed in the direction where two banyan trees could be found. On 28 February 1968, Auroville’s inaugural ceremony took place under a banyan tree; its “internationalist ambitions” were signified by a marble urn in which soil from 124 countries was placed (Kent 2013: 122, 130). Alongside the creation of a utopian township went the hard labour required to reforest and reclaim land in the plateau. Apart from soil and water conservation, thousands of saplings were planted: one of the most successful species was a quickly growing acacia from Australia (which the Mother called “Work Tree”) under whose shade grew indigenous species; seeds were also collected from reserve forests and sacred groves in the region (Kent 2013: 131).

Timelines and lifelines  139

The temporality of the One Life The sociality of humans and nature in the temporality of the One Life in Jinarajadasa’s thought emerges more from the central place of the Buddha in his imagination than from Theosophy; we could also say that his was a Buddhist Theosophy. The iconic form of lifelines and timelines is the Mahabodhi tree under which the Buddha sat about 2500 years ago, which was transplanted and replanted in many locations globally, bridging the time from the Buddha’s life to ours through many roots and shoots. Under the direction of Jinarajadasa, three saplings from offshoots of that tree in Bodh Gaya were brought to the Theosophical Society gardens in 1950 (one of them was sent to Vietnam); of the two remaining, one occupies a central place near the Buddhist shrine and lotus pond. Walking through the Foster Botanical Garden in Honolulu in 2015, I encounter another bodhi tree. I learn that the garden is named after Mary Foster, a native Hawaiian woman who first met Anagarika Dharmapala when he passed through Hawaii on his way back to Ceylon after the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893. Dharmapala, founder of the Maha Bodhi Society in 1891 that played a major role in the revitalisation of Bodh Gaya, maintained close relations with the Theosophical Society for many years although his modernist-nationalist Buddhist project was clearly a historical counterpoint to Jinarajadasa’s gentler Buddhist Theosophy. Dharmapala’s ship made a one-day stop in Honolulu, and he spent that day in conversation with Mary Foster, the beginning of a long friendship in which the latter became his most faithful patron.5 Born in 1844 as the eldest child of James Robinson, a shipwrecked Englishman who became a prominent shipbuilder in Hawaii, Mary Foster was part Hawaiian royalty through her mother Rebecca Robinson. In 1861, she married Thomas Foster, a shipbuilder from Nova Scotia who worked for her father; he died in 1889 and, apparently, she found no solace in the Christian beliefs in which she had been schooled. The year she met Dharmapala coincided with the overthrow of the monarchy, and she was part of the growing resistance against American and European domination, including being a member in an underground religious organisation that combined Christianity and Hawaiian spirituality. The spiritualist movements that arose in Hawaii in response to Christian conversion efforts in the late 1800s included Theosophy, Anthroposophy and the Bahai movement; in addition, there was a revival of interest among Japanese and Chinese plantation workers in Buddhist practices. In 1894, Mary Foster and Auguste Marques established the Aloha Branch of the Theosophical Society in Honolulu; it appears that Colonel Olcott visited Hawaii in 1901 and received an enthusiastic response from the Japanese Buddhist migrant population. We do not quite know why Mary Foster embraced Theosophy or Buddhism, but we know that after meeting Dharmapala she began to contribute generously to schools, hospitals, orphanages and temples, including the Foster Robinson Memorial Hospital in Colombo and the Mulagandhakuti Vihara in Sarnath that commemorates Sakyamuni Buddha’s first teachings. Her donations were so extensive that she is described as one of the greatest benefactors of Buddhism in South Asia

140  Smriti Srinivas by Sangharakshita in his biography of Dharmapala: her first gift in 1903 alone was about $44,000 for educational and publication work in India and Ceylon. When she died in 1930, despite her very substantial philanthropic activities in South Asia and Hawaii, her estate was valued at over $3  million and included Hillebrand Gardens, the estate of Thomas Hillebrand, a horticultural specialist who travelled the world bringing back tropical plant species. Mary acquired this estate in 1880 and gave 5.6 acres of it to the City of Honolulu to build a public tropical park. The park includes a bronze Buddha and a bodhi tree, most likely from the Bodh Gaya original or its offshoot in Anuradhapura. Mary Foster was not only a benefactor of Buddhism; her life connects to the figure of Paramahamsa Yogananda, with whom we began this essay. The year 1924 was a momentous one for Yogananda, who not only met Luther Burbank at his home in Santa Rosa but also bought the property on Mt. Washington in Los Angeles that became the Self-Realization Fellowship headquarters and home to the spineless cactus. He had barely managed to secure the property by raising funds among his admirers through courses he taught, especially with the support of two wealthy women; but the mortgage was still to be met and Yogananda – in spite of a hectic lecture tour all over the West Coast – apparently had only $200 in the bank. In San Francisco, where he was giving classes for six nights in a row, he was approached by Mary Foster. She had heard him speak, discussed his plans and offered to support him. She wrote him a cheque for $27,000. The maiden issue of the fellowship’s East-West (which also contained an essay by Burbank) published later that year was dedicated to Mary Foster (see Goldberg 2018: 145–158). I have tried to show that the lives of plants and plant personalities are intertwined with “human plants” (to use Burbank’s image) and through gardensas-landscapes enmesh several communities, philosophical ideas and religious refabulations across time and space. Working against enclosure, these gardens open us up to other imaginaries: some of this is through memory-work; some of it is through the labours of planting, replanting and transplanting; and some of it is through networks of religious philanthropy or practice that imbricate many lives and urban places. Within these processes and practices, different ideas of inheritance, heritage and belonging operate. On the one hand, we have to acknowledge the growth of a global environmental consciousness that arose with trade, maritime and colonial expansion, what Richard Grove calls a “green imperialism” (Grove 1995), as well as the role of botany in tropicalising many landscapes (Arnold 2006) in India, Singapore or Hawaii. On the other hand, seen through the practices and lives of Jinarajadasa, Edward Bach, the Mother or Mary Foster, and the mobilities of gardeners, plantation workers, trees, plants and seeds, other timelines and lifelines appear.

Notes 1 “Fabulation” has several genealogies including Claude Levi Strauss’s 1963 discussion, “The Sorcerer and his Magic” in Structural Anthropology. My use of “refabulation” follows Allen Roberts and Mary Roberts’s deployment of the term stemming from their

Timelines and lifelines 141

2 3 4 5

two decades of work on arts in Senegal to indicate the ways in which people re-world the cultural topography of their cities by replacing colonial names, monuments and the like with those of their own yearnings, histories and collective imaginations (see especially Roberts and Roberts 2003). See also the recent roundtable, Spirited Topographies, for a detailed discussion of the terms “refabulation,” “mobilities” and “underscapes/overscapes” in the context of religion and urban place-making (Hancock and Srinivas 2018; Srinivas 2018). https://arboretum.ucdavis.edu/about-uc-davis-arboretum, accessed 16 January 2019. www.crystalclarity.com/yogananda/chapter-38/, accessed 15 February 2019. http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/infopedia/articles/SIP_560_2004-12-14.html, accessed 11 May 2018. For this account of Foster’s life, I depend entirely on Masters and Tsomo (2000).

References Adyar Through the Lens (2011) DVD. Chennai: Adyar Publishing House (DVD). Ali, D. and E. J. Flatt (eds) (2012) Garden and Landscape Practices in Pre-Colonial India: Histories from the Deccan. New Delhi: Routledge. Arnold, D. (2006) The Tropics and the Traveling Gaze: India, Landscape and Science, 1800–1856. Seattle: University of Washington Press. Bach, E. (2009) Heal Thyself. Electronic ed. London: Bach Centre. Barnard, J. (ed) (2007) The Collected Writings of Edward Bach. Enlarged and Revised Collection. Hereford: Flower Remedy Programme. Bayat, A. (2010) Life as Politics: How Ordinary People Change the Middle East. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Chapple, C. K. (1997) “Animals and Environment in the Buddhist Birth Stories.” In M. E. Tucker and D. R. Willams (eds) Buddhism and Ecology: The Interconnection of Dharma and Deeds. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, pp. 131–148. Geary, D. (2017) The Rebirth of Bodh Gaya: Buddhism and the Making of a World Heritage Site. Seattle, London: University of Washington Press. Geetha, V. and S. V. Rajadurai (1998) Towards a Non-Brahmin Millennium: From Iyothee Thass to Periyar. Kolkata: Samya. Goldberg, P. (2018) The Life of Yogananda: The Story of the Yogi Who Became the First Modern Guru. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, Inc. Grove, R. H. (1995) Green Imperialism: Colonial Expansion, Tropical Island Edens and the Origins of Environmentalism, 1600–1860. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Hancock, M. and S. Srinivas (2018) “Ordinary Cities and Milieus of Innovation.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 86 (2): 454–472. Hawkes, J. and A. Shimada (eds) (2009) Buddhist Stupas in South Asia. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Herbert, E. H. (2011) Flora’s Empire: British Gardens in India. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. Hondagneu-Sotelo, P. (2014) Paradise Transplanted: Migration and the Making of California Gardens. Berkeley: University of California Press. Ingold, T. (2016 [2007]) Lines: A Brief History. New York, Abingdon: Routledge Classics. Jinarajadasa, C. (1993 [1908]) Christ and Buddha. Chennai: Theosophical Publishing House. ———. (2005 [1951]) A Divine Vision of Man, Nature, and God. Chennai: Theosophical Publishing House.

142  Smriti Srinivas ———. (2006 [1913]) Flowers and Gardens. Chennai: Theosophical Publishing House. ———. (2007 [1923]) In His Name. Chennai: Theosophical Publishing House. Kent, E. F. (2013) Sacred Groves and Local Gods: Religion and Environmentalism in South India. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press. Lutgendorf, P. A. (1997) “Imagining Ayodhya: Utopia and Its Shadows in a Hindu Landscape.” International Journal of Hindu Studies 1 (1): 19–54. ———. (2000) “City, Forest, and Cosmos: Ecological Perspectives from the Sanskrit Epics.” In C. K. Chapple and M. E. Tucker (eds) Hinduism and Ecology: The Intersection of Earth, Sky and Water. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, pp. 245–268. Massey, D. (2005) For Space. London: Sage Publications. Masters, P. L. and K. L. Tsomo. (2000) “Mary Foster: The First Hawaiian Buddhist.” In K. L. Tsomo (ed) Innovative Buddhist Women: Swimming Against the Stream. Richmond, Surrey: Curzon Press, pp. 235–248. McCracken, D. P. (1997) Gardens of Empire: Botanical Institutions of the Victorian British Empire. London, Washington: Leicester University Press. Muthiah, S. (1995) Madras: Its Past and Its Present. Chennai: Affiliated East-West Press. Myers, N. (2017) “From the Anthropocene to the Planthroposcene: Designing Gardens for Plant/People Involution.” History and Anthropology 28 (3): 297–301. Nandy, A. (1987) Traditions, Tyranny and Utopias. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Ninetyfive Years at Adyar, 1882–1977. 1978. Adyar, Chennai: Theosophical Publishing House. Pollan, M. (1991) Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education. New York: Grove Press. Ramaswamy, S. (2004) The Lost Land of Lemuria: Fabulous Geographies, Catastrophic Histories. Berkeley: University of California Press. Rhys Davids, T. W. (2000 [1881]) Buddhist Suttas. Translated from Pali. Escondido, CA: Book Tree. Roberts, A. F. and M. N. Roberts (2003) A Saint in the City: Sufi Arts of Urban Senegal. Seattle: University of Washington Press for UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History. Sharma, J. (2011) Empire’s Garden: Assam and the Making of India. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Shimada, A. (2012) “The Use of Garden Imagery in Early Indian Buddhism.” In D. Ali and E. J. Flatt (eds) Garden and Landscape Practices in Pre-Colonial India: Histories from the Deccan. New Delhi: Routledge, pp. 18–38. Simone, A. (2010) City Life from Jakarta to Dakar: Movements at the Crossroads. New York: Routledge. Srinivas, S. (2001) Landscapes of Urban Memory: The Sacred and the Civic in India’s High-Tech City. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. ———. (2015) A Place for Utopia: Urban Designs from South Asia. Seattle: University of Washington Press; Hyderabad: Orient Blackswan. ———. (2018) “Highways for Healing: Contemporaneous ‘Temples’ and Religious Movements in an Indian City.” In Journal of the American Academy of Religion 86 (2): 473–496 (M. Hancock and S. Srinivas (eds) Spirited Topographies Roundtable). Subramaniam, B. (2014) Ghost Stories for Darwin: The Science of Variation and the Politics of Diversity. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. van der Veer, P. (2001) Imperial Encounters: Religion and Modernity in India and Britain. Princeton, NJ, Oxford: Princeton University Press. Venkataramanan, S. G. (1953) “C. Jinarajadasa – Lover of Plants, Animals, and Children.” The Theosophist, C. Jinarajadasa, 1875–1953, Commemorative Issue 74 (11): 327–333.

Timelines and lifelines  143 Viswanathan, G. (1998) Outside the Fold: Conversion, Modernity, and Belief. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Weil, M. (1984) ‘Free from Science, Free from Theories’: The Flower Remedies of Edward Bach, MD. Masters Degree Thesis, Department of History, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS. Westcoat, J. and J. Wolschke-Bulmahn (eds) (1996) Mughal Gardens: Sources, Places, Representations. Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks. Willford, A. C. (2014) Tamils and the Haunting of Justice. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.

11 Land-grabbing deities The politics of public space in a multireligious neighbourhood Moumita Sen

A man used to stumble on a stone every day as he left his house. Having had enough, one day, he picked it up with great effort and threw it out of the way. A couple of days later he realised that he had flung the stone in such a way that it planted itself at the base of an ashattha tree, revealing a smooth, rounded top. Soon, his neighbours started worshipping this stone, which they thought had appeared by a miracle, as an embodiment of Shiva. Dhutro flowers, bel leaves and piles of garlands started appearing around it as days passed. The man would laugh at the stupidity of his neighbours – they could not tell apart a meagre stone from the street and Shiva! A few years passed and the shrine to the stone came to be known as particularly jagroto (powerful/awake); it had miraculous healing powers. At this time, the man fell severely ill; no amount of medication from different types of doctors could heal him. His neighbours kept urging him to pray to the stone Shiva. One day, having had enough, the man, now weakened from his growing sickness, walked from his house to pray to the stone deity that he had once flung out of his way. This is the gist of a popular Bengali short story titled “Debotar janmo” (The Birth of God) (Chakraborty 1947: 7–29). It illustrates effectively how little it takes to build a street shrine. Indeed, the number of street shrines – small temple-like structures housing Hindu deities and stones worshipped as deities under trees – in Kolkata is remarkable. Every turn on a narrow alley or broad highway will have at least one. They stand lining streets, tucked away at the corner of lanes, the end of parks, at the gate of markets or at the gate of a private home. My initial forays in this aspect, led in no small manner by the traces of Marxist politics among the important men of local youth clubs,1 was that street shrines were an easy way to make money for the unemployed youth of the area. However, when I started asking questions about the patronage and production of a small street shrine in my own neighbourhood, Shodepur, I began to uncover other motivations in addition to the financial profit made by the local youth who established this temple in 1981. The shrine in question is a small temple dedicated to Shani. A malevolent deity, Shani is often considered inauspicious as a domestic deity in Bengal. However, since this angry god must be appeased, he is strictly worshipped outside homes. In 1981, when the temple came up in an even humbler form, the duties

Land-grabbing deities 145 of management and the profits first went to the young men who came together to build it, then to the local Youth Club. However, when the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPIM) came into power, the young men, the local Youth Club and the temple came under the Marxist banner. As the temple started gaining popularity, the neighbourhood shared by Hindus and Muslims changed its name from the neutral “Shodepur” to the clearly Hindu “Shodepur Shani mandir” (Shodepur Shani temple) and sometimes simply “Shani mandir.” This query about naming uncovered almost forgotten histories of the neighbourhood in addition to another old forgotten name. The politics of majoritarianism, tied to processes of gentrification, altered the name, the demographics and the identity of the neighbourhood in 50 years. Yet, the minority Muslim population retained its identity, its shrines and its narratives. With the shift of the political regime from CPIM to Trinamool Congress (TMC) – who has a markedly different attitude towards caste and religious minorities  – the Muslim community began to re-inscribe these forgotten names, shrines and narratives on the Hinduised neighbourhood. This chapter unravels the longue-durée narrative of how one street shrine transformed the religious identity, the political allegiance and even the name of the suburban, lower-middle-class neighbourhood in Kolkata, in which it is located. In addition, it reflects on the acts of resistance against this majoritarianism. The focus of this chapter is as much on the “street” as it is on the “shrine.” The main questions I address are: Who owns public space? Who has the right to show what to whom? And what are their stakes?2 I seek to answer these questions by exploring the history of the neighbourhood, the nature of the shrine and the history of its institution, the conflicts around it and, finally, the processes of competitive identity-building it unleashed among the residents. The larger question I address relates to Hinduism and the claim to public space. While a lot has been written on contestation over public spaces in India during religious processions (Jacobsen 2008), this case study brings up the question of small-scale constructions for the purpose of everyday religiosity. Processions are large-scale and highly visible; but they occupy the space temporarily. They also have distinct relationships with the civic authorities such as the municipality and the police in Kolkata (Guha-Thakurta 2015: 77–116). Street shrines, on the contrary, arise rhizomatically and are sanctioned later, if at all. Instead of top-down processes of civic governmentality, some scholars argue that the “metaphysics” of the Indian street is governed by “adjustment, osmosis and porosity” (Gandhi 2015). Studies of footpath-dwellers and street-hawkers have repeatedly argued for the street as a space of the “counter-archive” of civic governmentality, subversion, libidinal energies and transgressions (Bandyopadhyay 2011). Instead of seeing the social, lived space of the street simply in relation to the abstract mapping of civic governmentality, I focus on the question of “adjustment” by looking at the inhabitants and actors on one particular street. I argue that the imaginary of the street as a subversive space homogenises the people who lay claim on the streets – because not everyone has the right to stake claims on the so-called public space, nor is every claim staking approved. The street, even though it resists several forms of

146  Moumita Sen governmental control, is traversed by other kinds of power and hierarchy. While an Old Delhi street appeared to be “the most democratic space” to one scholar (Gandhi 2015), historians of Calcutta have repeatedly pointed to ghettoisation of Muslims and Hindu majoritarianism (Siddique 2005 [1974]). From naming to claiming public space, in my research the bargaining capacity of a group or an individual depended on their politics of communal belonging.

When the “home” stands in the “field”: a note on methodology In fact, ethnography usually works best when conducted by an outsider with considerable inside experience. The reason is that the ethnographer’s job is not to replicate the insiders’ perspective but rather to elicit and analyze it through systematic comparison between inside and outside views of particular events and processes. This task includes detecting tacit knowledge, something that by definition is generally invisible to insiders. The ethnographic stance requires mental distance. Insiders do indeed know what is going on in their practice settings, but such inside knowledge is not the same thing as a systematic and analytical overview of the situation. (Forsythe 1999: 130)

A long-standing idea in standard methodology handbooks reflects the aforementioned argument: insiders are often steeped in the ideology of their field-site, making them incapable of systematic and “scientific” analysis. Kirin Narayan’s germinal article (1993) has very effectively questioned the assumptions that underlie the binary between the “insider” and “outsider” in ethnography, including those that originate in the colonial history of the discipline which separated “native informants” as sources of data and the ethnographer as the producer of scientific knowledge. Many scholars have questioned the dichotomy between familiarity and strangeness, “home” and “field,” and the markers of identity that still render the expertise of scholars of the Global South practicing ethnography in their “own” regions as somewhat suspicious (see Gupta and Ferguson 1997). However, on the other hand, when anthropology came home to the Global North, many saw it as positive. It was perhaps essential given the critiques coming from questions of reflexivity and “objections to intellectual imperialism,” in addition to pragmatic questions of funding and the tightening of rules around research permission granted to foreigners, among other factors (O’Reilly 2008). But perhaps more important was the development of ideas that has led to the recognition of our own role in research and writing and the impact this must have on the naïve distinction between insider and outsider. Anthropologists and sociologists are now less wedded to the idea of a science of society; they have more or less accepted that research is complicated, messy, personal, and subjective, and so are less concerned with achieving distance. Or at least they are aware of the problematic nature of trying to achieve it. (O’Reilly 2008: 3–4)

Land-grabbing deities 147 Michel de Certeau, a pioneer of urban studies scholarship, prefaced his germinal study thus: “I myself come from this neighbourhood. The division between the objective data of the study and my personal roots here is not obvious” (de Certeau and Mayol 1998: 10). In this study, similarly, the “field” comprises literally the street where my Calcutta “home” stands, my para (neighbourhood) and my people. In researching the history of this street shrine, I have uncovered “forgotten” stories of communal violence. I have analysed the politics of majoritarianism in the neighbourhood as a member of the majority Hindu community. I have sat in tea stalls with my father’s friends and laughed with them as they made jokes about the history of communal rioting that no one tells the youth of the neighbourhood. While most of the data represented here came from recording oral narratives with the permission of my respondents, some of the information comes from my own memories of growing up in that neighbourhood. Perhaps this qualifies as auto-ethnography in the way it was conceived in the 1970s as “insider ethnography,” or perhaps it qualifies because this narrative in many ways embraces the uncertainty, mess and chaos of being part of a social life. Instead of defending against the disadvantages of such insider-ness, let me argue for the advantages. The unique advantage of being an insider in many capacities to this area – which has layers of necessary social amnesia about communal disharmony and no historical accounts  – allowed me to a contextualise the events in the longue durée. As I switched between being perceived as a “local girl” and a note-taking, earnest interviewer with a recorder, my Hindu respondents shared their memories with me as if I already knew or should know these stories as a Hindu in that para, specifically because I was seen as an insider. My partial belonging to the insider identity also led me to contextualise the lip service to peaceful communal cohabitation that people pay almost as a routinised performance in front of individuals they can readily perceive as outsiders. I supplement the text with my drawings in the interest of both showing a lived space as opposed to an abstract space (See Figure 11.1) and conjuring up spaces from my memory that no longer exist in the neighbourhood. Almost a decade has transpired from the time that I started drafting a research proposal and conducted a pilot study to the time of conducting in-depth interviews in order to write this chapter. Over these years, I have put together vignettes from my neighbours; collected bits and pieces of gossip, anxieties and aspirations from the people around me; and seen political regimes change the climax of the story at least twice.

“Ghosts in the city”: a brief history of the neighbourhood Instead of using the demarcations of a “ward” in the language of civic governmentality, I have been using the term “neighbourhood” to signify a lived space without strict or clearly agreed- upon boundaries. It is not clear where Shodepur ends and Adarsha Palli, the neighbouring para, begins; the answer varies from person to person depending on where in the street they live, which lane they take to walk to the nearest auto-rickshaw stand, where their corner shop stands and

148  Moumita Sen

Figure 11.1  The neighbourhood, drawing by the author.

Land-grabbing deities 149 so on. To answer the “embarrassing” question “What is a neighbourhood?,” de Certeau maintains: The proposition of Henri Lefebvre, for whom the neighborhood is “an entrance and exit between qualified spaces and a quantified space” – a key proposition for the inauguration of our first step. The neighbourhood appears as the domain in which the space-time relationship is the most favorable for a dweller who moves from place to place on foot, starting from his or her home. Therefore, it is that piece of the city that a limit crosses distinguishing private from public space: it is the result of a walk, of a succession of steps on a road, conveyed little by little through the organic link to one’s lodgings. (de Certeau and Mayol 1998: 10) A history teacher of the area claims that the neighbourhood now called Shodepur was an extended part of Tipu Sultan’s family property in the late 18th century, in the western part of Calcutta. Around 50–60 years ago, it was called Syedpur Mouja (colloq. for mahakuma or an administrative division denoting a sub-district). The oldest residents of the neighbourhood recall that when they were children, it was located right outside the limits of Calcutta. Even 30 years ago, the residents of Calcutta would not have considered Shodepur or the adjoining Haridevpur area habitable for bhadraloks.3 It was a swampy area with paddy lands; one could even hear foxes howl at night. There were a few poor Muslim households in the area. There was also a Sufi shrine called Fatema bibir dargāh (“Dargah of Fatema Bibi”) at the outer limit of the area. When the Naxalbari movement (1965 onwards), an armed Maoist uprising originating in North Bengal, swept over the youth of Calcutta, many tried to escape the police by hiding out in the outskirts of the city. In the late 1960s, this neighbourhood became one such hideout of the rebels. An elderly Hindu man, who dabbled in Naxal politics in his youth, reminisced that the Muslim families protected them from the police. However, there were one or two Hindu families too in that area. These were rather rich families; the men had little education but a lot of wealth. Some of them, I was told, were called “dacoits” or dakats behind their backs. An earlier name for the main street where the shrine is located, was “Binod dakater goli” (“The lane of the dacoit Binod”) (name changed). In demographic terms, the para was a Muslim one with a few rich Hindu households who had money and power, if not social status in the eyes of the elite of South Calcutta. However, in the last 50 years, Hindu families who lived in rented kaccā and pakkā houses4 in slums in South Kolkata started buying land and building pakkā houses in Shodepur. The Muslim families, whose only asset was land, were selling this land to the newly gentrified Hindu Bengalis. Several of my Hindu respondents repeated that Muslimra jomi byache ar khaye (“Muslims sell their land and eat”). Soon upwardly mobile Hindu families, mostly from the lower castes, became the majority. Muslim men were working as manual labourers and living in a small slum-like area surrounded by the pakkā Hindu houses on all

150  Moumita Sen sides. As a young adult living in that area, I saw that in order to get employed as domestic help, Muslim women would try to pass off as Hindu by putting sindur (vermillion) in the parting of their hair, but Hindu women would not employ them. Yet, I have also seen Hindus of this lower-middle-class neighbourhood repeat set phrases when asked about their feelings about Muslims by “outsiders”: jei ram shei rohim (“Ram and Rahim are the same”), or jato mat, tato path (“many paths but the same goal”). The Hindu women of the area regularly take their children to the mazar or dargāh (Sufi shrines), where the Muslim pir baba exorcises evil spirits out of them or blows around them a magic shield that protects these children from the tantric black magic of other women in the family. However, these women also warn their daughters from time to time: “If you fall in love with a Muslim boy, I will break your leg.” The men who will quote Ramakrishna’s phrases5 when asked about the difference between Hindus and Muslims are also regularly heard complaining about how the federal government of West Bengal shamelessly pleases the “minority” (Muslims) as the heated debates continue over several cups of tea at the tea stall adda (informal, regular gathering of men). In all the years that I have lived in this neighbourhood, I have never witnessed any open hostility or violence between Hindus and Muslims. However, I have witnessed micro-events: fights around sexual harassment of young Muslim girls, difficult negotiations about whether the Eid celebrations can occupy the main street, and so on. Nevertheless, the difference in wealth between the Hindus and Muslims stands as a stark fact, as new cars line next to the pakkā houses of Hindus and middle-class Hindu families move into newly built apartment complexes. Next to them we see Muslim women fight and struggle to fill their pots and bottles around a single municipality “time kawl” (public water taps that work for three hours every day) every morning and evening. This is true, not just for this small para, but for all of West Bengal. As Kenneth Bo Nielsen points out: West Bengal’s Muslim minority are in many respects excluded from both the developmental and political processes in the state. Muslims score significantly lower on a range of socio-economic indicators compared to other sections of the population, and their representation in the political sphere is poor. (Nielsen 2011: 345) However, the politics of Hindu majoritarianism in the para is perhaps best understood by the fact that at some point during the 1960s or 1970s, its name changed from the clearly Muslim sounding Saiyadpur to the more neutral Shodepur. An older resident, whose family lived in Calcutta before the Partition, told me with a wink that the East Bengali refugees could not pronounce “Saiyadpur” because of their strange dialect, so the name changed “because of their tongues.” What he meant by this joke is that refugees who fled to Calcutta from parts of contemporary Bangladesh (erstwhile East Pakistan) were hostile towards Muslims, unlike the Hindu Bengalis who already lived in Calcutta before Partition. The revision of the name of the neighbourhood was so complete that the youth of the para had

Land-grabbing deities 151 no idea about Saiyadpur. When the Shani temple became popular, the name was changed a third time to Shodepur Shani mandir.

The malevolent deity who changed the religion of a street Shani is an angry, malevolent deity who is too dangerous to be worshipped at home. To quote my Brahmin respondent, “He is an anti-hero of the Hindu pantheon.” In Bengal, the common knowledge is that, even though it is inauspicious to worship Shani at home, he must be appeased because his wrath can wreak havoc in a person’s family life or career. Growing up in Bengal, we heard that Shani is a chhotolok debta, or a subaltern god. Several marginal communities, particularly low-caste Hindus, exclusively worship Shani (Channa and Mencher 2013). Some argue that Shani is a subaltern deity like Shashti, Shitala and other “small” gods of Bengal (Sircar 2017). However, since the airing of Karmaphal Daata Shani, a television serial (2016) in a dubbed Bengali version that became immensely popular in Bengal, Shani is now being hailed as the earliest and highest of Vedic Hindu deities. Not only do the Brahmin priests quote the mythology shown on the TV series in great detail, even the women in my family and neighbourhood are fluent in the “Vedic story.” It remains to be seen if the inauspiciousness and low status of Shani will eventually change with such narratives connecting him to the Vedic pantheon. Coming back to our Shani mandir, it is now a small red square building with a pyramid on top and a trishul (trident) on its shikhar (peak). It now holds a range of deities, not just Shani. A clay image of Kali, just as tall, stands next to Shani. Around them there are framed posters of Shiva and other deities. In a corner, there is a Hanuman image donated by a resident of the para. A priest is formally hired by the club to carry out pujas (ritual worship) every evening, but these are more elaborate on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Women from all over the neighbourhoods along the main highway, Mahatma Gandhi Road, come to visit the temple with fruits, sweets, garlands and other ritual offerings every Saturday afternoon. One of my Brahmin respondents told me that the owner of the shop across the street, despite being Muslim, has been a generous donor for the temple. Even though I have not seen Muslim women around that temple, I was told that they do puja too to get wishes fulfilled. In the late 1970s, when young Hindu men of the area decided to build a Shani mandir, they selected a plot of land next to a lake because Shani is supposed to be worshipped next to a water body. However, the Hindu man whose house was next to that plot was vehemently against living near a crowded temple and the commotion he anticipated. Being an influential person in the para, he was able to stop the construction. The young men had to “adjust” and shift to another venue that they had in mind. They decided to build the temple at the corner of a crossroad on the main street. They made this decision for a number of reasons: they wanted to liven up that corner, but they also wanted to stop the corner from becoming a spot for men from other neighbourhoods to indulge in ganja-alcohol or to set up

152  Moumita Sen a pan-cigarette shop or even a snack cart. However, the main motif was to make money from the offerings devotees would bring. The mandir, according to an older resident who was part of this process, is “successful.” He defined it thus: “When you set up a shrine and people come in big crowds, you have to admit that there is something there! People from all over this area now know of this mandir . . . so obviously it is successful.” The success of the mandir extended beyond the lives of the women who gather around it every Tuesday and Saturday. It ended up changing the name of the neighbourhood a second time. When it became a popular node in the street, cycle-rickshaws and auto-rickshaws started parking there. Eventually it became a “stand,” a designated spot for the vehicles, with the name “Shodepur Shani mandir.” Having become an auto- and cycle-rickshaw stand (see Figure 11.2), now the area was not simply called “Shodepur”; it came to be known as “Shodepur Shani mandir”.

The debris of lost shrines: uncovering dangerous histories In 2008, when I first started talking about this shrine to the locals, I spoke to a relatively wealthy Muslim man whose family owns a grocery store near the Shani mandir. After having lived in this area for 15 years as a Hindu, I heard the “real” name of the neighbourhood for the first time: Saiyadpur. Ali’da (name changed) had a strong Muslim identity and was deeply disgruntled by the way Hindus had

Figure 11.2 The Shani mandir, photographed by the author, Kolkata 2017.

Land-grabbing deities  153 infiltrated and changed the hawa-pani (the feel/identity of the place) and even the name of his native place. He told me: “The Shani mandir now defines this neighbourhood, but it used to be our mazar [Muslim shrine/tomb].” In 2008, this is what that mazar looked like (see Figure 11.3) – a grave with a chadar and a chadowa with a small green bulb shining on it. However, at that time the Muslims in the neighbourhood barely made both ends meet, a situation that has only slightly improved in the last decade. As a result, this man was trying to collect funds from other well-off Muslim localities in Central and North Calcutta. Back in those days when most of us could not call other cities from our mobile phones, as I walked past this shrine to call my friends from the local STD (telephone) booth, I kept wondering if they would manage to build it up. Over the years, I found out hidden stories of the neighbourhood. In the 1964 riots in East Pakistan and West Bengal, one mosque was burnt in the para. I immediately recalled that an auto-rickshaw stop on this lane was called pora mosjid (“burnt mosque”). I recalled the deserted remains with some red walls and piles of bricks. But my generation of Hindus never asked how it got burnt, even though we lived next to it. Fatema bibir dargāh was razed to the ground and occupied by young men to form the Ajeya Sanghati Youth Club, which to this day is one of the most prestigious sites for Durga puja in the city. My father’s friend, a Brahmin man, who has lived in this area since he was five, said that the men who broke and burnt these shrines are still part of their adda. Paran-jethu (uncle) (name changed), who recently passed away, was known as “the footballer” to many. I knew Paran-jethu

Figure 11.3  A remembered shrine, drawing by the author.

154  Moumita Sen as a fair-minded man and my father’s friend; he used to walk around in a grey shawl and socks for half of the year. Unlike other men in the para, he stood up for me when I alleged his neighbour of molestation. Unlike others who prefer to marry off their daughters as soon as possible, he bought me a big bag of bhujia (snacks) when I was travelling to the West for higher studies. He gave me advice about running techniques, when all the men in his generation were scowling at a woman running in public in Shodepur. Paran-jethu, I found out, led the gang that broke the dargāh. In his home, like in many other older Hindu homes in the area, one can find silver plates with Muslim names engraved on them. After the riots, the wealthy Muslim families fled. Their abandoned homes and belongings were looted by young Hindu men. The adda that Paran-jethu was a part of for decades met at a Muslim man’s tea stall. “Did the Muslims forgive what Paranjethu did?” I asked. “The Muslims are good, honest people, they want to live with us,” my father’s Brahmin friend repeatedly told me. “The Hindu immigrants are the hooligans,” said one of the oldest Brahmin residents of the area. I wonder if this so-called goodness meant that they had accepted their place in the social hierarchy in this gentrified neighbourhood. It appeared that both the Hindus and Muslims needed to look away from these dangerous histories of violence. To aid the process of forgetting these tales of violence, the Hindu parents who knew these stories did not share them with their children. Several studies of West Bengal’s Muslims have repeatedly pointed out the “adjustments” that Muslims had to make after the Partition when communal relationships became tense. Joya Chatterji, in her micro-history of another Calcutta neighbourhood, writes: But almost everyone who stayed on recognized that they had no choice but to eat humble pie, proclaim allegiance to the doctrine of a communal harmony which had ceased to exist in practice, however much people paid lip-service to it. (Chatterji 2005: 232) Under the new law and order of postcolonial India, Muslims faced “intimidation and harassment” in their daily lives, being particularly vulnerable to volatile communal relationships in the decades following the Partition (Chatterji 2005: 236). Public rituals, graveyards and places of worship became contentious issues after the Partition with refugees migrating to mixed settlements in Calcutta. One of the ways they could extend the olive branch both to the disgruntled refugees and to the West Bengali Hindus – and this applied even to Muslim elites who had lived in Calcutta before the Partition – was to readily surrender their claim over public spaces which had been historically used for public observance of Muslim rituals, such as cow sacrifices. The British rule, which upholds the primacy of “precedence” in all rulings regarding conflicts around public rituals, was upheld by the Indian Constitution too. Yet, one of the ways Muslims embraced their minority status was precisely by voluntarily abnegating their rights to continue observing religious rituals in public spaces (236–237). The role of intimidation,

Land-grabbing deities 155 ghettoisation and the lurking spectre of a violent post-Partition Calcutta is often subsumed under ideas of peacekeeping and goodness of heart. However, this situation was about to change in Shodepur.

The return of Saiyadpur: re-inscriptions In 2011, Mamata Banerjee became the chief minister of West Bengal as the Trinamool Congress came into power replacing the earlier Communist Party. CPIM’s version of secularism meant that their influence or patronage of religious institutions and festivals was largely tacit and formally disavowed. In contrast, the Trinamool Congress’s main domain of political mobilisation is squarely in the field of popular religiosity. TMC defines secularism as equal support of all religions. Mamata Banerjee’s support for the Muslim community is welldocumented: building housing for imams, building haj houses and sanctioning the institution of new madrassas, in addition to her offering namaz, reciting the kalma and other such public symbolic gestures, have led to a popular opinion among Hindus that she is “pro-Muslim” (Nielsen 2011). Hindus in the para complain that she desperately tries to appease the minority in the interest of securing the Muslim vote (roughly 30% of the population). The CPIM were questioned for living privileged lives as Hindu upper-caste males while marching under the banner of communism. Under the CPIM, Hindu public rituals were seen in terms of “nostalgia” or “fun” and not as religious rituals that occupy major city streets annually (Nielsen 2011). However, unlike Banerjee’s predecessors, the Brahmin, bhadralok (elite) men, her policy towards caste and religious minorities has been remarkably distinct, particularly in her open support of public religiosity of all groups (Sen 2018). Firhad Hakim, one of the most prominent ministers of TMC, has had a profound role in the religious festival culture of Calcutta. On the one hand, he is the major patron of Kolkata’s Durga puja (Sen 2018), but on the other hand, he has supported the endeavours of Muslim communities to build or rebuild their places of worship and observe rituals in public spaces. Under the TMC, with the help of funds generated by Firhaud Hakim, the Muslim community rebuilt the pora masjid (burnt mosque). However, when the debris was cleared and the new building came up, iridescent with shining red granite on its façade, the name of the site was also changed. The site that was known as pora masjid for decades was rechristened baro masjid (big mosque), playing on the phonetic similarity of the words pora (burnt) and baro (big). The words Baro Masjid now appear in bold English letters on the façade of the building. It is not clear if Muslim grandparents tell their children about its dark past; but the glory of the new, shimmering building stands for all to see. The mazar from my memories was also rebuilt (Figure 11.4). The humble grave with a chadar, chadowa and a light bulb has transformed into a large pakkā mosque-like structure with green domes and an ornate façade. When I returned home after a year abroad, I saw Ali’da’s dream project standing next to the shop where the STD booth used to be.

156  Moumita Sen

Figure 11.4 The rebuilt mazar with the name Saiyadpur written in iron letters on the gate. Photo: Abhishek Das

Right across the street there had been a disputed plot of land that, despite the gentrification, had been empty for decades. It was used by the Muslim community as a graveyard before the influx of Hindu families. Hindu respondents tell me that originally the land belonged to a Brahmin Hindu man who did not claim it legally. However, when Hindu families started settling around that plot, they complained

Land-grabbing deities 157 about seeing the ghost of a Muslim man in a fez and lungi walking in the air above that land at night. They managed to stop future burials on that land, but the local dalals (informal real estate agents) could not negotiate with the Muslim community and sell it. At the same time when the mazar was rebuilt, the dispute over the graveyard was also settled. The husband of the Hindu local councillor – everyone knows Sunil’da (name changed) is the one “really in power” – came with a truck full of men under the orders of a TMC minister. He stood on the spot, to avoid violent resistance from Hindu men, as the workers built a boundary wall around the area. After the wall was built, it was painted green, and a façade with green domes to mirror the mazar across the street was also built. In addition, on the gate now it says in large iron letters: Saiyadpur kabristan (Saiyadpur graveyard). In a para that was made to forget its old name, where every shop and every household has signs stating its address as “Shodepur,” the gate now stands proclaiming clues to a hidden history.

Conclusion: readjusting questions of street “adjustments” In this chapter I have shown how a poor Muslim neighbourhood was gentrified into a lower-middle-class Hindu-majority neighbourhood. By placing a temple strategically, the Hindu population was able to Hinduise not only the hawa-pani (the feel or identity) of the area, but also its name. Nevertheless, with the change in political regimes, the Muslim community found a way to reclaim its lost heritage and its forgotten name. In a study of a disputed graveyard in South Calcutta, Joya Chatterji writes: This is why the history of Selimpore, itself a tiny episode in the wider history of West Bengal’s Muslims, warrants its place in the larger account. Calcutta’s landscape is dotted with Selimpores. Most Muslim burial grounds in the city bear similar marks of retreat and defeat. (Chatterji 2005) Shodepur is yet another Selimpore, and contemporary Kolkata holds many such stories under the layers of social amnesia. Yet, the “marks of retreat and defeat” are often construed as peacekeeping in a multireligious space. Alternatively, these negotiation processes are seen as “adjustments” in studies on shared public spaces. While the study of public religious festivals clearly shows how social hierarchy is negotiated and displayed in these processions, the study of pavement religiosity is often limited to working out the politics of sacralisation in the “secular” public space, and their resistance to civic governmentality (Sekine 2006). I argue that in a multireligious neighbourhood, the men of the dominant religious group, by default, have the right to claim it. In this case, I have shown that the intervention of civic governmentality, instead of thwarting the possibility of religiosity in public spaces, encouraged and aided it. When “adjustment” is raised as a quick fix  – informal, innovative common sense among Indians (Singh et al. 2012), which can be understood in line with

158  Moumita Sen jugaad (a hack, shortcut or innovative solution6) – one should not look away from what the “adjustment” entails. Who has the right to make claims, whose claims are successful and who has to “adjust” repeatedly for lack of economic and political status, which translates as bargaining power in these negotiations? Alongside studies that justifiably read the deepening of democracy in these processes of claim-staking in the public sphere, or those that read the street as a space for subversion, we cannot homogenise the policies of different states towards pavement religiosity. Neither can we celebrate the subversion of pavement life, religious or otherwise, focusing on the binary between secular and sacred spaces.

Notes 1 Local youth clubs are semi-formal civic organisations of mostly men, which represent neighbourhoods in Kolkata. 2 Here I follow Jacques Ranciere’s idea of the distribution of the sensible (Rancière 2013), where he reflects on the mobilisation of the sensory by employing aesthetic forms towards the making of a community, which Birgit Meyer calls an aesthetic formation (Meyer 2009). 3 Bhadralok: prosperous, westernised men, a result of Victorian morality, tastes, etiquette. For a detailed genealogy of the bhadralok figure, see Chatterjee (1994). 4 By kaccā (unbaked/unfinished) houses I mean one-storeyed, one-room dwelling units with a thatched or asbestos / brick tile roof. By pakkā (baked/finished) houses, I mean multi-storeyed concrete buildings. 5 The iconic jato mat tato path was coined by Ramakrishna Paramahansa (1836–1886), who is perhaps the most popular 19th-century mystic and Kali worshipper in Bengal. 6 For a deeper understanding of the concept, see Kaur (2016).

References Bandyopadhyay, R. (2011) “Politics of Archiving: Hawkers and Pavement Dwellers in Calcutta.” Dialectical Anthropology 35 (3): 295–316. Chakraborty, S. (1947) Debotar Janmo and Other Stories. Kolkata: Kalika Press Limited. Channa, S. M. and J. P. Mencher (eds) (2013) Life as a Dalit: Views from the Bottom on Caste in India. New Delhi: Sage. Chatterjee, P. (1994) “Claims on the Past: The Genealogy of Modern Historiography in Bengal.” Subaltern Studies 8: 1–49. Chatterji, J. (2005) “Of Graveyards and Ghettos: Muslims in West Bengal, 1947–67.” In M. Hasan and A. Roy (eds) Living Together Separately: Cultural India in History and Politics. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, pp. 222–249. De Certeau, M. and P. Mayol (1998) The Practice of Everyday Life: Living and Cooking. Vol. 2. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Forsythe, D. E. (1999) “ ‘It’s Just a Matter of Common Sense’: Ethnography as Invisible Work.” Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) 8 (1): 127–145. Gandhi, A. (2015) “The Postcolonial Street.” In C. Bates and M. Mio (eds) Cities in South Asia. London: Routledge, pp. 281–302. Guha-Thakurta, T. (2015) In the Name of the Goddess: The Durga Pujas of Contemporary Kolkata. Kolkata: Primus Books. Gupta, A. and J. Ferguson (1997) Anthropological Locations: Boundaries and Grounds of a Field Science. Berkeley, Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press.

Land-grabbing deities 159 Jacobsen, K. A. (ed) (2008) South Asian Religions on Display: Religious Processions in South Asia and in the Diaspora. London: Routledge. Kaur, R. (2016) “The Innovative Indian: Common Man and the Politics of Jugaad Culture.” Contemporary South Asia 24 (3): 313–327. Meyer, B. (2009) “From Imagined Communities to Aesthetic Formations: Religious Mediations, Sensational Forms, and Styles of Binding.” In B. Meyer (ed) Aesthetic Formations: Media, Religion, and the Senses. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 1–28. Narayan, K. (1993) “How Native Is a ‘Native’ Anthropologist?” American Anthropologist 95 (3): 671–686. Nielsen, Kenneth Bo. (2011) “In Search of Development: Muslims and Electoral Politics in an Indian State.” Forum for Development Studies, 345–370. O’Reilly, K. (2008) Key Concepts in Ethnography. London: Sage. Rancière, J. (2013) The Politics of Aesthetics. London: A&C Black. Sekine, Y. (2006) “Sacralization of the Urban Footpath, with Special Reference to Pavement Shrines in Chennai City, South India.” Temenos: Nordic Journal of Comparative Religion 42 (2): 79–92. Sen, M. (2018) “Politics, Religion, and Art in the Durga Puja of West Bengal.” In C. Simmons, M. Sen and H. Rodrigues (eds) Nine Nights of the Goddess: The Navaratri Festival in South Asia. New York: SUNY Press, pp. 105–120. Siddique, M. K. A. (2005 [1974]) Muslims of Calcutta: A Study in Aspects of Their Social Organization. New Delhi: Anthropological Survey of India, Government of India. Singh, R., V. Gupta and A. Mondal (2012) “Jugaad – from ‘Making Do’ and ‘Quick Fix’ to an Innovative, Sustainable and Low-Cost Survival Strategy at the Bottom of the Pyramid.” International Journal of Rural Management 8 (1–2): 87–105. Sircar, J. (2017) “The Subaltern Deities of Bengal Are up Against Aggressive Hindutva Now.” The Wire. https://thewire.in/culture/bengal-deities-bjp-ram-durga, accessed October 19, 2020.

12 M  aking the “smart heritage city” Banal Hinduism, beautification and belonging in “New India” Philippa Williams Introduction In July 2018 Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, stood alongside Yogi Adityanath, a Hindu monk and chief minister of Uttar Pradesh (UP), to address a public meeting in Varanasi. On stage, the two men were accompanied by the president of the BJP and other dignitaries to announce the launch of Meri Kashi – vikas ke path par (“My Kashi, on the path of development”), a glossy A4-sized book that showcased the development projects undertaken in the city since 2014. Located within India’s most populous and electorally significant state, Varanasi had been selected as the constituency from where Modi, the then BJP prime ministerial candidate, should contest the 2014 national elections. In response to the BJP spokesperson’s announcement, Modi tweeted: “Grateful to the party for giving me opportunity to contest the election from the holy city of Varanasi!” (@NarendraModi, 12 March 2014). Located on the banks of the River Ganges in North India, Varanasi (or Banaras) has an “ancient reputation as the sacred city of the Hindus” (Eck 1983: 3) and is a place of “pilgrimage to sacred places, bathing in sacred waters, and honouring divine images” (1983: 6). As political commentators at the time observed, Varanasi afforded Modi with a symbolic religious and urban backdrop that would appeal to his Hindu-right supporters  – committed to realising India as a Hindu rashtra (nation) – and bolster his campaign, which he had largely fought on an economic platform (for example, see Burke 2014). Indeed, since his election to prime minister, Modi has increasingly mobilised Varanasi as an urban stage for asserting a modern, Hinduised vision of the city and of the nation. Whilst popular narratives portray Varanasi as a timeless and sacred city, Freitag (2006: 242) has documented how the contemporary image of Banaras “is almost entirely a construction (both literally and figuratively) of the eighteenth century” that was mobilised to fulfil religio-political ambitions. In 18th-century Varanasi, the cultural production of its sacred landscape was the product of patronage by Maratha leaders in the pursuit of territorial expansion and legitimation (2006: 242). This “Hindu renaissance” created the potential for “modernising individuals to search for new personal as well as collective meanings” (Freitag 2006: 247, see also Dalmia 1997), which obscured more complex realities of the city. In the early 20th century, Banaras was an important administrative and commercial city within the

Making the “smart heritage city”  161 colonial state of Uttar Pradesh. Administrative and commercial elites played an important role in developing the city’s built heritage and cultural imaginations to attract tourism. Varanasi’s primordial mythical representation often supersedes its status as an important metropolis in Uttar Pradesh and location of regional and religious diversity. Muslims represent almost a third of the population, and Ansari weavers constitute the backbone of the city’s silk weaving industry (see Williams 2015). Muslims first settled in Varanasi in the 11th century; their long history is materialised through 1366 Muslim shrines and mosques, which also populate the urban landscape beside 3600 Hindu temples (Singh and Rana 2002). Compared with some cities in UP, such as Meerut, Moradabad, Aligarh, Allahabad and Ayodhya, Varanasi has witnessed comparatively few incidents of Hindu-Muslim violence, and when it has witnessed riots, they have been relatively low intensity in terms of fatalities (Parry 1994). Moreover, during moments of local and national communal tension, the bonds of tana-bana (warp and weft) and bhai-bhai/bhaiachara (brotherhood) between Hindus and Muslims who work together in the silk sari industry have underpinned narratives of shanti or “peace talk” in the city, as well as everyday realities of Hindu-Muslim coexistence. However, popular narratives of “everyday peace” can perpetuate structural inequalities and Muslim marginality, as well as occlude the ongoing and uneven labour required to reproduce everyday peace (Williams 2007, 2015; Featherstone et al. 2018). As Varanasi has arguably acquired a renewed and elevated status within Indian national and international politics in the early 21st century, this chapter examines the persistence (as well as the absence) of religion in contemporary visions of the city’s urban future to raise questions about the politics of religion and utopian urbanism and the implications for imagining future urban citizens. More specifically, the chapter makes three key arguments. First, I argue that Modi’s patronage of Varanasi has enabled him to pursue a Hindu nationalist agenda from the city with a national and geopolitical reach. The powerful primordial narrative of Varanasi as an ancient site of Hindu traditions is being quietly harnessed by political and urban actors to articulate the utopian vision of the future “smart heritage city,” coined #Smartkashi, in order to pursue neoliberal ambitions through the growth of tourism and urban development in the city. The progressive intimacy between the state, Hindu religion and business for the extension of power is understood as a normal feature of Indian life, what Nanda (2009) has termed India’s “statetemple-corporate complex.” Second, this vision of the city necessarily entails and reproduces a narrowly constructed Hinduised vision of urban transformation, which, alongside cultural-political shifts in state power with the appointment of the Hindu priest Yogi Adityanath as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh (UP), is emboldening supporters of a Hindu rashtra and underpinning a perceived saffronisation of the city. Third, against this urban and national backdrop of banal as well as more belligerent Hindu nationalism, Varanasi’s Muslims experience the saffronising streets with increasing fear and perceive the growing challenges they face to define a safe and “acceptable vision” (Freitag 2006: 247) of themselves as citizens in the future “smart city.” The chapter draws on interviews carried out in

162  Philippa Williams April 2017, soon after the appointment of Yogi Adityanath to chief minister in UP, with some further interviews conducted by Mukesh Kumar in February 2019.1 These insights build on the author’s fieldwork in Varanasi between 2006 and 2008, 2011, and 2014, as well as on government and city-level documents, political speeches, media and Twitter.

Meri Kashi, #SmartKashi: smart city visions and banal Hinduism Since 2014 Modi has visited Varanasi over 15 times, and during this time he cultivated an affective and intimate style of politics with his adopted sacred city, which he increasingly refers to as Kashi. In doing so he privileges the name derived from the Rigveda, one of Hinduism’s four sacred canonical texts of Vedic Sanskrit hymns, meaning the “shining one,” and frequently interpreted as the “City of Light” (Eck 1983). In his address to 500 dignitaries and residents of Varanasi who had gathered in an air-conditioned auditorium, Modi declared: “People of Kashi own me. . . . I am imprisoned in your love. I am deeply touched how people, from Varanasi, including children and women, write letters to me in Delhi. I feel indebted that Kashi accepted me as their MP. . . . In fact, I have myself become a Banarasi now. Some come to Kashi when they die. . . . I am lucky to have come here while I am alive. . . . This city has given me so much affection. Our bond is not about government programmes or budgets” (Modi speech, 14 July 2018, Sharma 2018). Modi further detailed his developmental achievements in the city, which are designed to transform Banaras for a “New India,” including road-widening schemes and junction improvements, cleaning the ghats (steps down to the river) by the river Ganga as part of his Swachh Bharat (Clean India) mission, rejuvenating its sacred religious water bodies, building new medical facilities at Banaras Hindu University (BHU), repositioning electric cables underground and creating colourful light displays at the city’s ghats and railway station. He announced future funding for further projects including improvements to the city’s railway networks, sewage and waste disposal and the widening and beautification of roads leading to key religious sites (Modi, 14 July 2018; Indian Express 2018). Modi’s urban vision was underpinned by his drive to augment domestic and international tourism to Varanasi whilst transforming the “spiritual city” into a “smart city” (Modi, July 14, 2018). The “smart city” status was awarded to Varanasi on 19 September 2016 by the Indian government, along with 26 other cities, in phase three of the government’s mission to make India’s 100 smart cities (www.smartcities.gov.in). As a result, Varanasi received an injection of funding, Rs. 2,500 crore over five years,2 from the central and state government with contributions from the city and the public private partnership model (PPP) to invest in India’s “next generation urban infrastructure schemes” and realise its transformation into a smart city. Premised on the integration of digital and urban planning as the solution to the contemporary challenges of urbanisation and sustainable development, smart cities have been

Making the “smart heritage city”  163 increasingly marketed as the urban future of India, designed and built in partnership with corporate actors and investors (Datta 2015, see also Townsend 2013). In Varanasi, Modi, city actors and corporate partners are pursuing the utopian vision of a “heritage smart city,” “a city with a mix of tradition and modernity” (Modi, July 14, 2018), that retains its pauranik swaroop (ancient character) whilst simultaneously undergoing beautification, landscaping and mapping projects to transform and enhance mobility and security in the city. The visions of Varanasi communicated in the “Kashi Vision” (Phase 1) and #SmartKashi (Phases 2 and 3) proposals attempt to position Varanasi as the future model “smart city” for a New India that seamlessly integrates its ancient Hindu heritage with modern innovation. The #SmartKashi proposal centrally encompasses Lord Shiva’s trident in its logo and aims “to rejuvenate the oldest Indian living city of Varanasi as a great place to live and visit by conserving and showcasing its enriched heritage, culture, spirituality and traditions through innovative social and financial inclusion solutions.”3 Accordingly, six pillars for envisioning the future city are promoted, each represented by a Sanskritised term and justified by a logic that connects the traditional with modern attributes: Suramya (“Picturesque,” through religion, culture and heritage), Nirmal (“Pure/clean,” through greening spaces and ecological ordering and reviving the Ganga River as soul), Surakshit (“Safe,” through better transport, pathways and vehicle movement), Sammunat (“Improved,” through citizenship, civility, liveability and viable employment), Ekatrit (“Integrated,” through interfacing and coordination among the various cells for maintaining SDGs) and Sanyojit (“Planned,” through a balance between traditions and modernity in the frame of “lifenology”) (see Singh and Rana 2017). As Jazeel (2015) has demonstrated, representational work is fundamental to urban futures and the making of city-ness as an imaginative and material geography. “In the context of utopian urbanism, the imagined future is very much part of the real; cities are never complete.” He draws on Henri Lefebvre (2003 [1970]: 45) to argue that for urbanism “the possible is . . . part of the real and gives it a sense of direction, an orientation, a clear path to the horizon . . .” (Jazeel 2015: 2). In India, as elsewhere, representations of the smart city have been closely allied to the production of a new national consciousness. Indeed, for Modi, “ ‘smart city’ is not just a campaign to improve the infrastructure of cities, but it is a mission to give a new identity to the country.” As he perceived it, “This is a symbol of Young India, New India” (Modi, 14 July 2018). Soon after Modi’s appointment to prime minister, he visited Japan and signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe to formalise future collaboration in heritage conservation, city modernisation and art and cultural projects between Kashi and Kyoto. As one of Japan’s most important centres for Buddhism, and a city which has undergone rapid transformation whilst apparently maintaining its cultural heritage, Modi has spotlighted Kyoto’s approach in his visions for Varanasi as a modern heritage city. In 2018, the Japanese embassy in India showcased its support towards India’s smart city initiatives, including Varanasi, and particularly in relation to the completion of a state-of-the-art convention centre and the

164  Philippa Williams construction and rehabilitation of sewage facilities under the “Ganga Action Plan Project.” Through a corporate partnership with Toyota Kirloskar Motor Pvt Ltd, the Japanese government is also delivering sanitation and water purification projects in Varanasi, which saw the installation of 124 toilet units in the city, and implementing behavioural change training for school children.4 The construction of Varanasi’s urban future is predicated on a narrowly constructed idea of the city’s religious and cultural heritage that prioritises the Hindu city, populated by priests, pilgrims and tourists, in the making of this “New India.” Moreover, as Modi intimated in his July 2018 speech, the smart city vision also concerns promoting India’s cultural superiority in order to transform India’s geopolitical standing: “Until Varanasi is rashtraguru [the nation’s spiritual master], how can India be jagadguru [spiritual master of the entire world]?” (Modi, 14 July 2018). The significance of Varanasi on the geopolitical stage was made evident when Modi invited the French president, Emmanuel Macron, to the city during his four-day visit to India in March 2018. Together with UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath, Modi hosted Macron to a programme that showcased the city’s cultural heritage, including religious recitals, music and dance. At Assi ghat Macron was welcomed with the beats of the damaru (pellet drum) and chants of har har mahadev, which was followed by 120 priests chanting Vedic mantras and blowing conch shells, whilst city residents showered the French prime minister and visiting dignitaries with flower petals. Later they embarked on a boat ride along the River Ganges, travelling to Tulsi ghat where they watched a performance of the Ram Lila followed by a recital of Ramcharitmanas couplets and a traditional wrestling match before disembarking at Dashashwamedh ghat.5 The importance afforded to Varanasi and the River Ganges as the backdrop for Modi’s geopolitical negotiations with his “strategic partner” reveal much about the vision of New India that Modi wished to project in this high-level meeting, one that foregrounded a visibly Hindu face of the nation. The geopolitical status of Varanasi was further reinforced through its role as host city for the 2019 Pravasi Bhartiya Divas (Overseas Indian Day) convention with the theme “The role of Indian diaspora in building a New India.” Yogi Adityanath celebrated the event as an opportunity to showcase the “ancient” “Atithi Devo Bhava” culture of the holy city of Varanasi, thereby drawing on the Sanskrit mantra of welcoming your guest as though they were God.6 Overseas Indian visitors to these celebrations were also encouraged to combine their trip with the Hindu pilgrimage to the Prayagraj Kumbh Mela.7 The overtly Hindu religious presentation of these celebrations by Modi’s administration serves to reveal both the exclusionary framing of the overseas Indian population as Hindu and who it seeks to include in “building the New India.” Modi concluded his July 2018 address on Varanasi’s development with the arousing chant har har mahadev, a war-like motivational call to Lord Shiva, the Hindu deity who, according to tradition, permanently resides in Varanasi and underpins its urban cosmology (Eck 1983). The everyday and banal assimilation of Hindu religious idiom and imaginations by the state in development projects, diplomacy, overseas Indian celebrations and utopian urban visions constitute a form of “banal Hinduism” (Bénéï 2008; Nanda 2009). As Bénéï (2008) and Harriss et al. (2017)

Making the “smart heritage city”  165 have argued, the reiterative coupling of Hindu religiosity and state activities produces Hindu nationalist imaginings as normative, which then informs everyday ideas about who is included and excluded in the city and in the nation. The mobilisation of Varanasi as the sacred smart city of New India represents a powerful platform for Modi at the local, national and geopolitical scale as he draws on the ancient traditions of Kashi to promote a Hinduised vision not only of Varanasi’s past but also of India’s past in the making of its smart future “new identity.”

Beautification of the “heritage smart city”: towards a clean, pure city There is immense potential for tourism in Varanasi, and all efforts should be made to keep the city clean. (Modi, 12 March 2018)

Central to Modi’s ambition to transform Varanasi into a “heritage smart city” and project a “New Indian identity” is the drive to clean and beautify Varanasi, and in particular the River Ganges – which is considered sacred to Hindus and personified as the goddess Ganga – as well as its sacred water bodies and the ghats that line the river. This local initiative should be interpreted within the context of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Mission) which was inaugurated in Varanasi in 2014 on the auspicious day of Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday. Modi’s Clean India Mission compels Indian citizens to take pride in their nation by coming together as a “team” to clean away the filth and thereby realise a clean, modern, healthy and hygienic India, a purified nation. The River Ganges has been the subject of government proposals to improve the water quality and reduce pollution over the years, particularly since 1986 when the Ganga Action Plan was launched by then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. Yet the river continues to register toxic levels of pollutants and has been given renewed visibility in Modi’s campaigns in the city. In an election campaign speech in Varanasi, Modi highlighted the significance of the river for his constituents and for the nation in terms that emphasised the spiritualmoral obligation to improve its water quality and surrounding environment: Whenever India is discussed . . . the discussion is incomplete without reference to the river Ganga. For others, Ganga can just be a river, but for us, Ganga is not just a river, it is like our mother! Ganga is not just a stream of water; it is a stream of our culture! (Modi 2013) He proceeded to equate the treatment of the Ganga with perceived political corruption in the country: Tell me loudly, those who have messed up and ruined Ganga even more, should they be allowed in the Government again? Can we hand over the

166  Philippa Williams nation to them? The people who can’t take care of Ganga, how will they take care of the nation? . . . Before we clean Ganga, Delhi needs to be cleaned, Lucknow needs to be cleaned, then only Ganga can be purified. With these people in power Ganga can never be depolluted! (Modi 2013) Modi’s Cleaner Kashi campaign aligned with the need to “rejuvenate and develop the spiritual capital of India” (Modi, 15 May 2015). As part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launch, Modi was photographed at Assi ghat with a spade in hand, clearing silt off the ghats. The image was circulated on his Twitter account and tagged #cleanIndia, which advanced a moral-political message about the ideal Indian citizen as one who actively participates in the drive to clean and purify the ghats and Ganga Ma, as well as rid India of dirt and corruption (see also Coe 2017). The rhetorical relationship between cleanliness and corruption found further expression in the state government’s scheme to relocate the city’s electricity cables underground and install electricity metres on all houses. This initiative to remove overhead supply lines from the built environment was also framed as a political project to reduce the illegal extraction of electricity direct from the grid, with tripping devices installed to detect incidences of tapping, which is relatively common in India’s urban settlements. Since 2014 Assi ghat has become a showcase for urban and spiritual transformation in Varanasi aimed at attracting and accommodating an increasing number of pilgrims and tourists in the city. Tourism represents one of Varanasi’s biggest industries; in 2017, almost 6.3 million tourists visited the city, bringing valuable income which the state and city offices are eager to grow.8 Towards this end, the ghats have undergone a significant beautification and renovation project, involving the cleaning and installation of new steps (by the NGO Sulabh International), upgrade of stone work, introduction of a designated parking area and urinals, and the installation of performance stages. These aesthetic transformations have been accompanied by the launch of new cultural programmes, such as Subh-eBanaras, a morning programme of Vedic chanting, music and yoga, initiated by the district magistrate of Varanasi and the chief of the Regional Cultural Centre and supported by the Vishvanath temple as well as the Ministry of Tourism. Illustrating the everyday materialisation of the “state-temple-corporate complex,” the ghat renovation and cultural programmes are sponsored by the Bank of Baroda, which has funded Rs. 2 crore (20 million) of the renovation (Hindustan Times, 29 March 2018) and whose branding is highly visible at the site, along the ghat’s railings and above tourist shops. The transformations have been warmly welcomed by some pilgrims and local priests with whom we spoke. A resident priest of a temple on Assi ghat shared with Mukesh his praise for Modi, stating that “Modi ji had done a lot for this city.” Sitting at his temple under a sign that read “Naya Assi” (“New Assi”), the priest went on to explain that previously there was nothing in the area and people would hardly come to Assi ghat. But since Modi had been elected as the MP in

Making the “smart heritage city”  167 Varanasi’s constituency, huge improvements have taken place, with more events and people participating in the artis held on the ghats. As became clear in the priest’s narrative, the perceived changes in the use of the ghats were underpinned by both his material observations and moral judgements. “Everything was dirty here. As a result of Modi’s work, you can see there are new lights, policemen are here all the time, you can go and use toilet anytime. The place is much cleaner than it used to be. . . . What is a smart city? Smart means good and beautiful, city means city. Banaras is becoming a smart city. People come here in the morning. They pray and do yoga. This is all good for many people. The place is alive again, whereas before, rickshaw-wallahs, drug addicts, low caste people used to come and spread their dirt. Modi ji has stopped all that.” The priest further elaborated how two doms (Dalits) who used to live in tents on the Assi ghat and had “slowlyslowly taken over the space” were forcibly removed. “They were not clean. Now, everything looks clean and this is a smart city for me. Ek smart city me dharm ka dharm chale aur safai ki safai [In a smart city both religion and cleanliness coexist simultaneously].” The notion of cleanliness and dirt in “new” India was therefore mapped onto caste identities according to ideas of purity and pollution, determining who was included and excluded within public spaces of the new “smart city.” Modi’s national ambition to “clean India” demanded the practical and imaginative removal of lower caste bodies from public spaces in Varanasi. Support for Modi’s “smart city” ambitions was by no means universal, even amongst Varanasi’s Hindu residents. Some ridiculed the idea that Kashi could ever be transformed into Kyoto, whilst older residents grieved the loss of their Banaras, known for its galis, ghats and magical beauty. Central to these concerns was a tension between, on the one hand, national party-political visions of religious urban space as that to be witnessed by tourists, politicians and pilgrims and, on the other hand, everyday practices of urban religiosity performed by local residents. Vishwambhar Nath Mishra, the mahant of Sankat Mochan temple, lamented the damaging impact that development imposed by the BJP was having on the spiritual city of Shiva. Interviewed before the 2017 Uttar Pradesh state elections, Mishra argued that the BJP’s “smart city” interventions were undermining rather than enhancing the traditional sacred landscape of Banaras. He takes particular issue with the lane-widening scheme to enhance access to the Vishwanath temple,9 which has the political and financial backing of Narendra Modi and Yogi Adityanath (see Lazzaretti in this volume). Mishra explained that people do not come to Banaras looking for a Smart-City. Why people come to Banaras is not visible to you (BJP leaders in Delhi) but only to those who come here. Why else is Banaras second only to Lucknow in terms of inbound flights? The beauty of this place is in its lanes and galis. You are widening them more than required because you are bent upon destroying these traditions. You are even disturbing the equilibrium of the Vishwanath temple system under the guise of developing it. (cited in Singh in Outlook 2015)

168  Philippa Williams His grievances are echoed by others in the city, some of whom fear that the visual emphasis now afforded to the Vishvanath temple with the mosque adjacent to it adds greater potency to the site, around which Hindu nationalists can mobilise. In an interview with the Wire magazine Sayid Yasin, general secretary of the Anjuman Intazamiya Masjid, articulated his fears: “Before the Babri masjid was demolished, the area around it was cleared. Everything around it was brought down till the mosque stood alone and exposed. And because the area was cleared, it meant that lakhs could gather. They did and eventually demolished the mosque” (cited in Agarwal 2019). For Yasin, the reconfiguration of the urban landscape opened up the potential for contingent moments of religious tension, which triggered a sense of unease and discomfort within a majority Hindu city and nation (see Frøystad in this volume). The drive for tourism growth in the city has also been met with resistance following the approval of luxury cruises on the River Ganges. These have been publicly opposed by both religious organisations, such as the Ganga Mahasabha, who fear that alcohol and meat will be served to foreign tourists on the cruise liners which will pollute the sacred river (Dhillon 2018), as well as local boat men who are concerned that the introduction of large passenger boats present a real threat to their already modest livelihoods (see Doron 2008). A key smart city strategy concerns beautifying the city through practical redevelopments and imaginative lighting schemes, which present the city as religious spectacle both for its pilgrims and tourists and as emblematic of the “new” India – spiritually Hindu yet modern. In practice, realising Kashi’s smart city image rests on the figurative absence and practical exclusion of caste and religious minorities in urban space which is disrupting the multicultural fabric of the city. In the final section I consider the lived experiences of Varanasi’s Muslim residents in the context of these political and structural transformations.

“The fear is there”: saffronising streets and belonging in the city Against this backdrop of Hinduised development policies for Varanasi’s smart urban future, I turn to explore the shifting everyday realities of the city’s Muslim Ansaris.10 The appointment of Yogi Adityanath as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh in 2017 appeared to align Modi’s ambitions for vikās (development) with religious-political leadership. Now the head priest of Gorakhnath Mutt (monastery), Yogi Adityanath founded his own youth militia, the Hindu Yuva Vahini (HYV), in 2002, and in 2007 its members and Adityanath were implicated in communal violence in Gorakpur that resulted in two deaths and a city curfew. Adityanath’s political rhetoric has been unashamedly anti-Muslim in his campaign against “love jihad” (a supposed Islamist conspiracy to seduce Hindu women and to convert them to Islam), and in 2005 he promoted a “purification drive” of India through the conversion of Christians to Hinduism, reportedly saying “I will not stop until I  turn the UP and India into a Hindu rashtra [Hindu state]” (cited in

Making the “smart heritage city”  169 Harriss et al. 2017: 6). His appointment to chief minister sets a new precedent in India, which appears to institutionalise the relationship between the Hindu religion and the state under the BJP government (Harriss et al. 2017; Jaffrelot 2017). In the first month of his appointment Yogi ordered the closure of unlicensed slaughter houses across Uttar Pradesh in April 2017. The ban was portrayed as a developmental drive to install cleaner, more hygienic slaughter facilities and harnessed the rhetoric of a clean, pure India projected under Modi’s Swachh Bharat campaign. The policy move was interpreted as an attack on the economic and cultural rights of Muslim and Dalit communities in the city and wider state, who predominantly work in the industry as waged labourers and are the primary (but not only) consumers of meat. Given that the BJP’s manifesto promised a ban on all mechanised slaughter houses and illegal abattoirs, confusion and anxiety proceeded Adityanath’s announcement, which led to the further enforced or voluntary closure of other slaughter houses and meat shops across Varanasi. The policy to close slaughter houses was perceived to be closely allied with the BJP government’s strategic and tacit endorsement of the protection of cows to further its Hindu nationalist agenda, evidenced in BJP president Amit Shah’s vociferous campaign speeches that tacitly underscored the party’s support for “cow vigilantism” (thehindu.com 2017a; see also Banaji 2018). But as Muslim Ansaris eagerly highlighted, they consumed buffalo (not cow), a meat that is not revered by Hindus but is nonetheless affected by the slaughter house closures, along with other forms of meat. Right now, we are struggling with food because of the Chief Minister’s new policies where illegal slaughter houses are being closed down. This action has greatly affected our food habit which is based on meat in our everyday life. We can’t eat chicken because that’s something we get every 3–4 days, it’s really expensive. The meat of sheep and goats is also very expensive. The ban on buffalo meat is causing real difficulty. (Hussain, small business owner, interviewed in April 2017) Muslim Ansaris were frustrated that their food preferences were being severely limited by the government’s religiously driven political policies, with further negative repercussions for their enjoyment of cultural and economic rights, where the cost of meat readily available was at a greatly inflated price and wedding celebrations were curtailed or sometimes suspended for the lack of a suitable or affordable feast, as Nazir explained: There’s a wedding coming up in my family on 14 May in my brother’s family. So, they can’t buy and sacrifice the buffalo. They were considering doing this, but now they will sacrifice chicken instead. Many people don’t like the taste of chicken, they are used to meat of buffalo, the goat meat is very expensive, so it’s not possible to invite as many guests. (Nazir, small business owner, April 2017)

170  Philippa Williams The sense of annoyance was further compounded for those Muslims with whom I interacted, given that they took for granted the sanctity of the cow for their Hindu neighbours. As Abdul, a middle-aged sari businessman phrased it bluntly: “The Muslims of this country are bound by the laws of this nation. If the law says no slaughtering of cows, then we stick to that, those are the rules” (April 2017). As some have observed, the debate provoked and reproduced around “cow protection” served to distract all communities from more germane concerns about Muslim socio-economic rights (see Mahmudabad 2017). In spite of Modi’s election victory promise that, “Ma Ganga has called me, and I am here to serve the weavers of this holy city” (Modi cited in Mishra 2016), Muslim Ansaris have felt more, rather than less, socially and economically marginalised in Varanasi under Modi. The investment in a trade facilitation centre and crafts museum has so far failed to boost the domestic and international market activity, as it was promised it would do, and moreover Modi’s demonetisation and GST policies have had a damaging impact on the silk sari industry and the livelihoods of those who work in it (Mishra 2016; Chowdhury 2017). Meanwhile, living-room conversations of middle-class Brahmins in Varanasi reflected strong support for Yogi Adityanath’s policy and conveyed the need to protect the nation’s Hindu values, as a Varanasi resident Hindu businessman from Rajkot (Gujarat) asserted: “Hinduism is not just a religion, it’s a culture, so it’s important to live this way of life  – in a Hindu nation.” Soon after the Vidhan Sabha elections in 2017, middle-class Brahmins with whom I spoke praised Modi for refusing to appease Muslims in return for votes, like the so-called secular parties did. They drew upon Modi’s narrative in opposition to perceived religious bhedbav (discrimination), saying that “if you create a kabristan [graveyard] in a village, then a shamshan [cremation ground] should also be created. If electricity is given uninterrupted during Ramzan, then it should be given during Diwali without a break as well” (Modi, Fatehpur, 19 February  2017) to evidence the PM’s “fair” handling of religious affairs. Such kind of “everyday communalism” (Jeffery and Jeffery 1999) had gained heightened prominence in Varanasi, certainly since the mid-2000s when I conducted fieldwork during the period of the Congress-led national government. Under Modi, city residents communicated a strong sense of intimacy with their prime minister, which was cultivated in the course of his frequent visits to his “adopted city,” when he rode atop his heavily securitised jeep through the city’s neighbourhoods or awarded graduation certificates at BHU, as well as through his personable and direct style of communication via the Narendra Modi App, Twitter and his monthly broadcasts of Mann ki Baat (“Speaking from the heart”). Young Hindu residents proudly recited the many programmes launched under Modi, including Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Jan Dan Yojana, notebandi (the note ban), toilet and sanitation projects, Housing for All and Digital India, as well as Modi’s ambition to transform Kashi into Kyoto. Whilst many freely admitted that the practical outcomes of these projects had not materialised, the level of pride in Modi’s ideas for a “New India” was evident and wrapped up in a sense of renewed national confidence.

Making the “smart heritage city” 171 Given Modi’s involvement in anti-Muslim violence in Gujarat in 2002, Muslim Ansaris, weavers and businessmen alike were naturally uncomfortable with Modi’s ascendancy within the city and national politics. Whilst some sari businessmen tentatively articulated their respect for Modi as prime minister of India, presenting him with a shawl when he passed through their neighbourhood, the appointment of Yogi Adityanath to chief minister had boosted an unwelcome transformation in the mood of the city. This was visibly symbolised by the proliferation of saffron gumchar (cotton material worn around the neck or head) worn by men as they rode motorbikes and bicycles in the city. The coloured gumchar typically worn in Banaras is red, green and sometimes blue, so the increased visibility of saffron – available to buy in Chowk and evident on the streets – was widely noticed. Given the potent symbolism of the saffron flag for Hinduism and the rise of Hindu nationalist sentiment, Muslim Ansaris interpreted this shift as a sign of growing public support for Yogi’s Hindu Yuva Vahini. The saffronisation of Varanasi’s streets stimulated great unease amongst Muslim friends and research participants, as well as Hindu friends, who were equally alarmed at the rise of publicly asserted Hindu nationalist sentiments in the city. Muslim residents in particular described how this shift in public religiosity was underpinning their everyday experiences of religious-based harassment in Varanasi, as Nazir explained: It’s a new thing, but it was the same situation in the 1990s when the communal riots were very frequent, when every second year there was something happening in the name of Durga or Holi, for instance when Muslims got colour on them in Chowk and were beaten badly. Then things calmed down after that for a few years, but now it has started again. . . . Since the Lok Sabha election there have been some incidents in BHU, but really it’s since the state assembly election. Now the other community think they’re the only ones who are powerful and exist. They think Muslims are on the toe of their shoe [vah sochte hain ki Muslim log unki jutti ki nok par hain]. Muslim citizens drew attention to the increasingly routine nature of taunts received from passers-by in Varanasi, such as “if you want to live in the country you have to say Yogi Yogi or Modi Modi.” Mujtaba, a Muslim Ansari, explained how upon arriving at Fatia to perform a religious ritual at the Muslim shrine there, a man had addressed them and insisted they say “Jai Shri Ram.” Interpreting the man’s request as unwelcome verbal harassment, Mujtaba had responded: “You’re Hindu, I’m a Muslim, if you say Jai Shri Ram then I will say Allah.” In his defence to me, Mujtaba continued: “The thing is, nowadays people want to convert India into the Hindu rashtra. . . . More people are wearing more saffron, they’re carrying the saffron flag around, they’re applying the tika. That’s all fine, but I’m concerned about the behaviour of people. . . . The atmosphere of the neighbourhood has changed. If anyone has to go in a Hindu neighbourhood at night, they are too scared to go” (April 2017). A series of violent incidents against young Muslim men, allegedly by Hindu nationalist sympathisers in the city, were narrated for having transformed Muslim

172  Philippa Williams Ansari perceptions of their security in the city and sense of belonging. One such event involved Juber, a young Muslim man in Lanka, a mixed and increasingly middle-class neighbourhood near BHU in the south of Varanasi, who was attacked after an altercation with supporters of Hindu Yuva Vahini escalated into violence. The victim circulated news of the attack, including photos of his facial injuries and open wounds, on his WhatsApp group chats, which was subsequently disseminated more widely, inspiring a three-day protest by Muslim residents outside the Bhelupur police station, calling for the perpetrators of the attack to be brought to justice. This failed to happen and instead, police attention turned to the potential for information circulated on WhatsApp to trigger tension and communal division in the city. A joint order was issued by the district magistrate and senior superintendent of police which stated that “any statement made by a group member which is fake, can cause religious disharmony, or rumour, the group admin must deny it on the group and remove the member from the group. . . . In the event of inaction from the group admin, he or she will be considered guilty and action will be taken against the group admin” (thehindu.com 2017b). Muslim Ansaris perceived a blatant case of religious discrimination, where the police had not only failed to deliver justice by failing to pursue Juber’s attackers, but subsequently sought to blame the victim for hurting religious sentiments in the city, threatening him with legal action. The incident and police response reverberated uncomfortably with residents of Varanasi’s Muslim mohallas and reinforced opinion that young Muslim men in particular were facing new risks in the city. A sari business owner called Jamil described the recent experience of his brother-in-law when travelling by motorbike along a back lane behind a temple one evening. He encountered a group of young Hindu men who called out katua (a derogatory word for Muslim) and asked, “Where are you going? Look here!” When Jamil’s brother-in-law didn’t respond and kept riding, they became upset and shouted after him: “We are talking to you!” Still he didn’t respond and kept travelling. Jamil was relieved that his brother-in-law’s reaction had averted the risk of taunts spiralling into a quarrel, or worse. Jamil articulated the tactics described by a number of Muslim Ansaris when he insisted that “if someone says something bad to you, don’t react, just walk back. Head down and come back” (interview in April 2017). Experiences of everyday fear by the city’s Muslims were underpinned by a visible shift towards the “normalisation of discrimination” (Jayal cited in Henghan 2016) by members of the Hindu population and majoritarian police administration. There is widespread concern that Muslims increasingly have no recourse to justice in the city. Under the Congress-led government (2004–2014), even whilst degrees of everyday Hindu nationalism persisted, research participants spoke of their belief in the secular state and exploited the language of secularism in order to realise their citizenship (Williams 2015). In the context of a saffronising city – and nation – this raises questions about the future potential of the city’s secular fabric in spite of its Hindu image. Research participants who had previously worked closely with the police to actively maintain everyday urban peace between Hindus and Muslims

Making the “smart heritage city”  173 reported stepping down from these informal roles fearing the increased risk now that the police might turn on them.

Conclusion Seen in a longer historical time frame, Modi’s #SmartKashi vision represents the latest strategy to recast the city’s spiritual heritage for political and economic expediency, both at the local and national as well as geopolitical scale. As I argue here, through the prosaic language of India’s smart city policy, #SmartKashi is being mobilised by Modi to project a vision of a New India that is unquestioningly tied to a Hinduised imagination of the nation. This vision is importantly underpinned by the state’s neoliberal imperative to expand tourism and urban development in the city and accordingly co-opts the role of not only the state, NGO and religious actors, but also the corporate sector in its delivery of beautification schemes, such as at Assi ghat. If the orientation of Modi’s religious politics were in any doubt, the appointment of the Hindu priest and politician Yogi Adityanath as UP’s chief minister institutionalises the relationship between the state and religion. Together, the representation of Varanasi’s urban future and state level policies have interacted to bolster Hindu nationalist sentiment and everyday communalism in the city. This is felt most acutely by the city’s Muslim residents, who are increasingly subject to rhetorical and physical discrimination on the city’s streets in a way not experienced since the early 1990s when political Hindu nationalism was in ascendance. Banal and belligerent forms of Hindutva are thus working together in the city to (further) undermine both the potential to reproduce everyday peace and the legitimacy of the Indian Muslim citizen.

Notes 1 My thanks to Mukesh Kumar for carrying out interviews for this chapter in February 2019 to supplement research I conducted in April 2017. 2 25,000,000,000 INR, which is equal to 314,885,471 EUR (1 EUR = 79.39 INR). 3 http://nnvns.org/userfiles/Smart-City-Project-Overview.pdf, accessed 26 August 2019. 4 www.in.emb-japan.go.jp/itpr_en/00_000541.html, accessed 26 February2019. 5 www.youtube.com/watch?v=oNoU6-yAovI. 6 The mantra is cited in the Hindu scripture, Taittiriya Upanishad. 7 Allahabad was renamed Prayagraj in October 2018 by Yogi Adityanath’s administration. Reverting to the city’s original Sanskrit name is a political act intended to erase the city’s Mughal history. 8 5,947,355 were Indian tourists and 334,708 foreign tourists. http://uptourism.gov. in/site/writereaddata/siteContent/Tourist%20Arrival%202013%20to%202017.pdf. accessed 20 March 2019. 9 Plans to open up the complex, which is also home to the Gyanvapi mosque, were originally proposed under a Congress government but shelved by the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party governments due to a lack of local support. 10 Descendants of traditional weaving families who comprise the majority of Varanasi’s Muslim population and who continue to be involved in the production and sale of silk fabrics (see Kumar 1988).

174  Philippa Williams

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Making the “smart heritage city” 175 Jazeel, T. (2015) “Utopian Urbanism and Representational Cityness: On the Dholera Before Dholera Smart City.” Dialogues in Human Geography 5 (1): 27–30. Jeffery, P. and R. Jeffery (1999) “Gender, Community and the Local State in Bijnor, India.” In P. Jeffery and A. Basu (eds) Resisting the Sacred and the Secular: Women’s Activism and Politicised Religion in South Asia. New Delhi: Kali for Women, pp. 123–142. Kumar, N. (1988) Artisans of Banaras: Popular Culture and Identity, 1880–1986. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Lefebvre, H. (2003 [1970]) The Urban Revolution. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. Mahmudabad, A. K. (2017) “The Debate Over the Future of Muslim Politics in the Wake of Adityanath’s Election.” The Caravan Magazine: A Journal of Politics and Culture, June 1. Mishra, S. (2016) “Demonetisation: Voices from Varanasi, Modi’s Constituency.” The Wire, 30 November. Modi, N. (2013) “Complete Speech: Shri Narendra Modi Addressing Vijay Shankhnaad Rally in Varanasi, UP.” December 20. https://www.narendramodi.in/complete-speechshri-narendra-modi-addressing-vijay-shankhnaad-rally-in-varanasi-up-2809, accessed October 22, 2020. Modi, N. (2015) “Heading Towards a Cleaner Kashi.” May 15. https://www.narendramodi. in/heading-towards-a-cleaner-kashi-115170, accessed October 22, 2020. Modi Speech, July 14, 2018; Sharma 2018 Economic Times. Nanda, M. (2009) The God Market: How Globalisation Is Making India More Hindu. New Delhi: Random House. Parry, J. (1994) Death in Banaras. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Singh, P. (2015) “By the Time They’re Done, Banaras Will Be dead.” Outlook, March 2. www.outlookindia.com/magazine/story/by-the-time-theyre-done-banaras-will-be-dead/ 293471, accessed March 30, 2019. Singh, R. P. B. and P. S. Rana (2002) Banaras Region: A Spiritual and Cultural Guide. Varanasi: Indica Books. ——— (2017) “Varanasi: Sustainable Development Goals, Smart City Vision and Inclusive Heritage Development.” Kashi Journal of Social Sciences 7 (1–2): 219–236. Townsend A. (2013) Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia. New York: W. W. Norton & Co. Williams, P. (2007) “Hindu-Muslim Brotherhood: Exploring the Dynamics of Communal Relations in Varanasi, North India.” Journal of South Asian Development 2 (2): 153–176. ——— (2015) Everyday Peace? Politics, Citizenship and Muslim Lives in North India. London: Wiley Blackwell.

13 Hindutva 2.0 as information ecology Anustup Basu

Introduction This essay is part of a wider inquiry into the long terrain of Hindu nationalist publicity and the quest for an axiomatic Hindu nation. Let me begin by identifying some basic themes that have been central to the Hindutva (Hinduness) project of extra-parliamentary organisations like the Rashtriya Svayamsevak Sangh (RSS, or National Volunteer Service) or Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP, or World Hindu Council) and political parties like Jan Sangh or the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The traditional figuration of the Hindu nation in this terrain has generally been along the Orientalist lines of an organismic late 18th-century tradition of German idealism. Rather, it would be more accurate to say that the Hindu nationalist discourse has always been dogged by the fact that a one people, one culture, one language romance has been difficult to replicate in the evidently pluralistic Indian scenario. Secondly, it is quite well known that what has been historically identified as a denominational “Hinduism” by a 19th-century colonial religious anthropology has always been a mélange of castes and eclectic traditions that could be variously described as theistic, polytheistic, henotheistic, pantheistic, kathenotheistic or atheistic. It has thus been a difficult matter to imagine one Hindu people with a common eschatology and providential destinying. Finally, Hinduism, because of the caste system, perpetually lacked a universal church and congregation that could be transposed into a political fraternity. These factors of course come into play only when one is committed  – such as Hindutva proponents are – to imagining India as an organic, ethno-religious whole, rather than an associational or Völkerbund entity. I have suggested elsewhere, drawing from the work of Nazi jurist Carl Schmitt, that from a narrow, exacting perspective of conservative nation-thinking of a certain kind, the diagnosis inevitably would be that in order for there to be a Hindu nation, there had to be a jealous “Hindu Monotheism” (see Basu 2012), that is, one that was always alert to distinguishing a core peopleness from apostates and “infidels” and had the institutions to organise a flock in terms of a common purpose and destination. In theological terms, it would mean absorbing a million subcontinental gods and traditions of piety into a single edifice of faith, cast along Abrahamic lines.

Hindutva 2.0 as information ecology 177 In political or cultural transposition, the imperative would be to put in place a singular monotheme of selfhood as a secular derivative of Hinduness. The broader history of Hindu nation-thinking has featured both these tendencies; that is, it has had a theo-philosophical impulse to invent a “Semitic” Hinduism with Krishna or Rama taking the place of Christ. It has also featured ethno-cultural projects to sidestep thorny theological matters and build a template of Hindu cultural nationalism as substituting for an Indian political theology.1 In a concomitant manner, this nationalism has telescoped the many-armed, eclectic flows of subcontinental Islam to identify it as competing political monotheism. It was an original polarisation that, in the fullness of time, would birth a nation or two. As such, Hindu nationalism – of which organised Hindutva has been a major part, but not the whole  – was a classic modernising project under the auspices of print capitalism. The mode of publicity was based on the novel or the essay form; it featured the newspaper, the journal or the pamphlet as classic organs of publicity; and it tried to devolve pastoral organisations like the RSS shakha with common eating areas and uniforms to settle the matter of caste. This was a literary undertaking within a modern disciplinary order of power/knowledge, as Foucault would put it, fielding the Vedas or the Bhagavad Gita against religious anthropology, the Manushastra against modern jurisprudence or Hindu mythology against modern history. It would be fair to say that the agonistic construction of this Hindu India has largely been incomplete. It has, for instance, struggled to square caste ethics with modern democratic tempers, a Vedic cosmology with enlightenment reason or the colonial image of the ascetic and otherworldly Hindu with the so-called Protestant ethos of capitalism. It must be remembered that organised Hindu nationalism of the 20th century, birthed by the Hindu Mahasabha (1906) or the RSS (1925), largely avoided the theological debates and proposed Hindutva as a template for ethno-religious cultural nationalism with Islam as the common enemy. Yet even in the realm of a purported national culture, the ideology has always been troubled by the question of whether the national “way of life” they advocate is just a pan-Indian amplification of North Indian, Brahminical, Hindi-speaking and vegetarian elite interests and customs. In the sphere of literary modernisation, it has, for example, failed to provide a compelling answer as to why caste Bengalis should emulate Chitpavan or Karhade Brahmins and give up meat and alcohol, or why traditionally ostracised and exploited Dalits (depressed castes) should join their diurnal oppressors in a national Hindu fold. These and other antinomies between an “Aryan India” and a “Dravidian India,” between an austere Vedanta and the many-armed flows of Bhakti, between Sanskritisation and vernacular nationalisms in the south or the east, have been central to the long gestation of the Hindu nation. Intricate caste politics aside, the broader family of Hindutva itself has been marked by contemporary tensions between a technocratic urban elite committed to neoliberal development and agrarian conservatives against westernisation. The alliance contains provincial outfits like the Shiv Sena that, while being generally supportive of the Sangh Parivar cause, seem to inevitably turn towards weighing their Maratha and

178  Anustup Basu “Hindu” priorities whenever there is a BJP government at the centre. In terms of European parallels, the assemblage of Hindu chauvinism has indeed contained right-wing energies mobilised on the lines of Italian fascism as well as German Nazism. But it has also housed conservative powers akin to the Spanish Carlists during the Civil War or the Catholic corporatism of Salazar in Portugal’s Estado Novo after 1933. Old disputes and lamentations about a historically fragmented Hindu identity remain to this day. That was perhaps the primary reason that the Sangh Parivar failed to kill Gandhi and Nehru – the primal fathers standing in their way – and for a long time, till the mid-1980s at least, hardcore Hindu nationalist politics was marginal in the Indian scenario. I want to suggest that in the last three decades, a new metropolitan template has emerged for the Hindu axiomatic as ethnoreligious political monotheism, that is, one which is comfortable with the works of planetary financialisation and Anglophone technocratic development, unlike the Swadeshi ethos and a Gandhian agrarian socialism that marked the BJP economic vision of the 1980s. This is a novel ecology of media sensations and urban religio-political experience. It is a form of advertised modernisation that I will call Hindutva 2.0. “Modernisation,” in the sense I am using it here, does not signify modernity triumphing “tradition.” Rather, it is a perpetually mutating arrangement that Rajni Kothari has described in the following manner: A modernizing society is neither modern nor traditional. It simply moves from one threshold of integration and performance to another, in the process transforming both the indigenous structures and attitudes and the newly introduced institutions and ideas. (Kothari 1997: 58) I thus want to mark a new phase of electronic urban religiosity that has shifted away from the dominance of print capitalism. It has done so in its own terms, setting its own rules of engagement between universes of cognition and belief. With the intense spread of information culture in India, this ecology has created a virtual metropolitan network of intermingling desires, anxieties and pieties that tends to besiege and induct the countryside into a virtual web of ethno-religious feeling; that is, it does not necessarily end sectarian conflicts within the Hindu order but in a sense localises them in relation to a national monotheme that increasingly provides the bedrock of a jealous Islamophobia that may be weaponised from time to time. This form of publicity orchestrates arguments, tensions and embattled desires to precipitate a new metropolitan Hindu normal. Hindutva 2.0 is a resonance machine (rather than an enclosed echo chamber) whose affective powers and flows increasingly redefine the state of Indian secularism and compel even enemies to participate in a normative that it creates like the eye of a storm; that is, a situation in which even ideological opponents of Hindutva are increasingly compelled to respond to issues in the terms set by an informational Hinduness,

Hindutva 2.0 as information ecology 179 whether they are talking about Pakistan, militarisation and human rights abuse in Kashmir, the economy, affirmative action, the rights of women and minorities, KFC or the game of cricket. Opposing left and liberal discourses face a crisis not necessarily due to some lack of rigour, innovation or logical consistency in their arguments, but because they discover their categories themselves to be drained of affectional power. In other words, classic ideas, references and universals of political liberalism – indeed ones on which the Indian constitutional revolution itself was founded, like secularism, social justice, equity, rights or citizenship – seem to affect contemporary metropolitan masses less and less unless they are submitted to a populist “Hindu minimum” of memory, interest and belief. The thought of Hindutva 2.0 is thus of an informational scene that tends to reinvent the entire political spectrum itself into gradations of soft and hard Hinduness. This ecology of the Hindu normative – a new dynamic regime of signs and references – pertains to that paradigm shift that the BJP leader L. K. Advani perhaps had in mind when he declared in the wake of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement and the destruction of the Babri Mosque in 1992: “Now all parties have to respond to us” (cited in Rajagopal 2001: 117). Hindutva 2.0 is a diagram of informational power that brings together a Hindu sense of being and a neoliberal credo of development. It gives that assemblage itself a form of religiosity and destination. In order to do that, it conjoins matters that were once incommensurable into a new state of concert: squaring the desire for a steadfast Brahminical ordering of society with the irreverent creativedestructive energies of finance capital, wedding paternalism with techno-financial management or doxa with science. I will argue that it tends to accomplish such unities by orchestrating opposing propositions on a pure plane of the advertised, that is, without resolving these binaries in terms of dialectics, narration or realism. Hindutva 2.0 thus refers to a plane of consistency, a mythic informational continuum of Indian thought and feeling amidst the welter of the profane. It presumes a neuropolis of populations rather than a historical city of peoples when it comes to ideas of representation, self-determination or thymos. It is centred upon what Andrew Murphie (2007) has called the “ontogenetic politics of cognition.” Hindutva 2.0 is an ecology of monothematic “nation-effects” rather than an always deconstructable national narrative. The Hindu nation tends to become a spectral sublimation in this environment, drawing disparate particulars of feeling and neurosis ranging from nuclear pride, to double-digit growth or hauteur toward Pakistan. There have been many important scholarly works on this assemblage of finance capital, urban Hindutva and new media in the Indian context.2 I will not rehearse them here, but provide a few glimpses of the transformational landscape that came into being after the liberalisation of the Indian economy after 1991. This was a new form of urban development  – a diagram of techno-financialisation, information networks, post-Fordist manufacturing and, more importantly, the industrialisation of agriculture. Such transformations created Fortune 500 hubs like Gurgaon out of sleepy feudal hamlets like Gurgram.3 It led traditional Kannadigas

180  Anustup Basu of Bangalore or Marathas of Mumbai to feel differentially excluded by a new cosmopolitan gentrification that tended to erase historical striations of the city – the caste enclaves, the refugee colonies, the slums of Mumbai built on land claimed from the sea or the informal nooks of immigrant survival – into smooth and secure spaces of prime real estate (see Nair 2005; Prakash 2011). Multiplex and shopping mall cultures penetrated small towns and mid-sized cities along with cell phones and the internet. By May 2007, India, at 9.4 per cent, was posting its highest growth figures in more than two decades. Meanwhile Indian television would go from a handful of state-owned channels at the eve of 1995 to around 308 by 2008, with more than 50 24-hour news portals operating in 11 languages (see KohliKandhekar 2010: 64). The increasingly corporatised Indian media and entertainment industry would grow from 9 billion U.S. dollars in 2005 to $22.3 billion in 2018, across a wide spectrum, from FM radio to cell phones to IT or animation.4 It is quite well known that the rise of late 20th-century political Hindutva happened in synergy with this landscape of media and techno-financial transformations. The process that began in the early 1990s reached its high point in the 2014 Indian elections, in which the BJP, led by Narendra Modi, won a resounding victory in what was the first high-finance, tech-driven, U.S. presidential–style campaign in subcontinental history. It was an undertaking that borrowed its central promise of “Achche Din” (Good Days) from a cola advertisement and involved 437 mass rallies for which Modi was flown across a total distance equalling seven times the circumference of the planet. The rallies were complemented by endeavours like 200 “Namo Raths” (vehicles equipped with 54ʺ LCD screens) visiting 19,000 villages in Uttar Pradesh to show recorded speeches and Modi interacting with commoners in 4,000 tea stalls across 24 states through video conferencing technologies (see Jaffrelot 2015; Chhibber and Ostermann 2014). Two studios were set up in Delhi and Gandhinagar for a massive “shock and awe” campaign, as journalist Rajdeep Sardesai described it. A  3-D hologram technology was procured from the British company Musion. If the sheer number of rallies Modi spoke at was impressive, what was more impressive was the fact that millions in more than a thousand other locations were “touched” by the magical projection of his three-dimensional image, like the coming down to earth of distant gods (see Sardesai 2014; Price 2015). The massive populist mobilisations and grand symbolic gestures were complimented by policing, trolling, propagandising and myth-marketing in social media and the Twitterverse by the BJP’s IT Cell. This was an electronic mobilisation that, in terms of critical width and penetration, would not have been possible in the general elections of 2009. In the Indian media landscape of 2009, there were 584.32  million cellular phones with 192.88  million in rural areas; there were 16.8 million internet subscribers. By 2014–2015, there were almost a billion mobile phone users, 377.73 million of them in villages; the number of internet subscribers had grown exponentially to 251.9 million.5 A significant chunk of the Indian population  – urban elites as well as the mid-town, mid-caste, mid-trade quarters – had taken to social media with passionate intensity. Among a million mutations of a novel form of sociability, the electronic commons birthed new

Hindutva 2.0 as information ecology 181 interactive networks along the lines of religion, caste, trade, region, kinship or ethnicity. It was an electronic abstraction that rose above traditional barriers and set up new avenues of religious and affectional commerce between the Anglophone world and the vernaculars, and between town and country. It was a new congregational plane animated by instantaneous and wide disseminations beyond stigmas of touch, food, liquor, vocation, custom, law, cohabitation, the veil or vice. It was audible and imagistic beyond the literary protocols and institutions of the lettered city. Marked by speedy information flows and feedback loops independent of traditional institutions of news and veracity, here one could freely disperse affectations and fantasies without traditional mediating entities like the news agency. It was, in a sense, a great liquidation of the hardened pathways for stories and statements, by which the historical city as well as its hinterland had been redrawn by virtual lanes of data and information flow. This dispensation of capital as faith and emotion industry was preceded by necessary shifts in the linguistic map and demographic distributions between town and country. The liberalisation era had witnessed unprecedented growth of urbanisation in India and a telescoping of the country’s much-vaunted historical pluralism. Robin Jeffrey (2006), for instance, has observed that it was the age of cable television that made Hindi more acceptable to other parts of the country. A recent survey by the Bhasha Research and Publication Centre, under the leadership of G. N. Devy, has concluded that about 220 Indian languages have disappeared in the last 50 years; another 150 could become extinct in the next half a century (see Devy 2014). It must be remembered that Hinduism, as a marketable religion, had also long since acquired new powers of augmented, transnational presence in this media environment. Today, it offers online darshana of idols, virtual pilgrimages including a VR experience of the Kumbh Mela, remotely purchased rituals in Varanasi for the souls of ancestors or atonement of sins, desktop deities and a plethora of other activities hitherto hierarchically mediated by the priest and caste society (see Mallapragada 2010). The “postmodern” Hindu assemblage markets a variety of goods and services pertaining to scriptural knowledge, “new religious” or motivational therapy, feel-good nostrums, pop-philosophy, yoga, Ayurveda medicine, lifestyle products, food, ritualistic paraphernalia including bottled Ganges water, Vaastu, gemstones or astrology across the world.6 It features a bevy of jet-setting star godmen with multimillion dollar incomes and global spiritual empires and includes designer real estate, interior decoration, education, hospitality and tourism industries. Marketable Hindu religiosity has percolated all avenues of culture, from techno-music to animation, advertising or graphic novels. It has readily adopted many modes of American televangelism and product marketing through 24/7 channels like Aastha TV or Sanskar TV.

What is advertised modernisation? The acute sense of a swiftly changing here and now, an overwhelming sea of information, immigrant crises and nativist reactions to Islamicised and ethnicised labour has, in our times, birthed many media polities of rage and charismatic

182  Anustup Basu authoritarianisms across the world. Contemporary Hindu revivalism, in that sense, bears a family resemblance to untimely chauvinistic revivalisms and revanchist desires across the world, like monarchism in Bolsonaro’s Brazil or neo-Ottomanism in Erdogan’s Turkey. It belongs to an informational order marked by what Bernard Stiegler (2008) has called an industrial temporalisation of consciousness and the compression of memory to consolidate an absolute vision of the past. This ecology often delivers “lumped” massifications of majoritarian “gut feeling” and perception. It promotes a culture of neuropolitics in which multi-directional stimulations, attention spans, diversions, ennui or boredom become potent political factors. This pertains to an early realisation about the culture industry that the anti-fascist generation of Benjamin and Adorno insightfully registered: that it can lead to a form of herd mentality by which the masses become masses only when they can experience both politics and philosophy only as forms of faith. It is against this backdrop that I want to argue that a contemporary Hindu majoritarian nationalism has fomented what can be called an electronic political monotheism that is no longer weighed down by the pedagogies of print capitalism. The doctrinaire or propagandist expressions of Hindutva are essential parts of that overall sphere, but not the whole of it. I want to explore some cultural and existential facets of an overall Hindu-normative India that has emerged in the last quarter century or so, a general majoritarianism that is greater and deeper than just the electoral fortunes of BJP, Modi or institutional Hindutva. This Hinduness seeks to publicise a techno-financially upgraded, upper-caste existence as the only desired form of life in the modern metropolis; that is, it desires to merge a new age Hindu religiosity with the civic religiosity of contemporary market structures. Conversely, it seeks to differentially exclude the Dalit, the Muslim or the poor in terms of custom, attire, speech, food, hygiene, habitat and other details of lived life. I have, of course, used “advertised” as a concept metaphor in the title of this essay. We have long since adjusted ourselves to a certain civic indulgence to the phenomenon of the advertisement as long as it deals with identifiable commonplace feelings and objects; that is, we accept its hyperbolic declarations about beer, clothes or cars without actually believing that such procurements will absolutely live up to their primary product promises and contribute ancillary effects, like improving one’s sex life, confidence or professional success rate. The advertisement is supposed to render an innocuous “take home,” a “feel good” sensation or, in some cases, a consumable fear. It is designed to fix an often intangible sense of prestige, pride or belonging in relation to a particular brand. The advertisement is supposed to do so without narrative obligation to truth or closure and without reference to a consistent or realistic world-picture to formally authenticate its claims. It is also, by virtue of its nature and terms of engagement, instinctively majoritarian. The propagandist lie of course is a relatively small part of the broader cultural phenomenon of advertised modernisation. In order to understand this, we need to update the concept of advertising itself, from its 20th-century incarnation in the age of industry and vertical institutions of mass culture to an order of convergence

Hindutva 2.0 as information ecology  183 marked by non-directional flows between platforms, instant audience migrations and co-operations between industries – that is, from a moment in the 1960s when advertisers could reach 80 per cent of U.S. women with a prime time slot on three networks to the present mediaverse in which the same content would have to run on 100 channels to gather nearly as many eyeballs (Jenkins 2006: 66). In the age of the hyperlink and industrial temporalisation of consciousness, advertising does not work according to David Ogilvy’s “push model” anymore.7 Campaigning becomes interactive, driven by continuous feedback loops and data processing, between partial attention and complete immersion. It becomes a matter of acquiring continuous “lovemarks”8 across a range of media “touch points,” blurring the lines between entertainment and product placement and passing the brand through a circuit of emotive experiences (Jenkins 2006: 20). This, in a sense, is the cultivation of “Google juice” or positive patterns of linkage in “pull media” like the internet, where it is the public that seeks out information and decides which news should rise to the surface. Contemporary campaigning involves navigating a sea of variables, no longer under expert editorial control, in order to achieve a workable signal-to-noise ratio. Advertising today is about merging the brand into an overall picture of a secure metropolitan life worth living in an order in which capital produces social life itself. It inaugurates a regime of affectations in which it is better to mine information from Facebook or Twitter rather than through conventional market research.9 This could be seen in Barack Obama’s revolutionary run in 2008, which challenged and changed the rules of political campaigning as well as psephology, or in the way that orchestrated fake news was decisive in catapulting Trump to the presidency. Advertising in the digital age therefore is an enterprise that ideally looks to reduce the purely informative, the purely pedagogic or the purely doctrinaire to degree zero of top-down execution. As Amit Rai points out, the generic 30-/15-second ad has reached the end of its shelf life. The future belongs to uninterrupted branding of digital content “that integrates the marketing interval into the attention of consumers contagiously” (Rai 2009: 87). Contemporary advertising therefore aims to insert and circulate particulars of the informative or the doctrinal immanently in a wider realm of infotainment, which, in itself, is a whirlpool of industrial attention and diversion. Branding becomes a matter of controlled chaos. It seeks to achieve critical densities of affect, recall value or regularities of reference amidst a multitude of competing sensations. The keywords in advertising jargon therefore become the microsegment, the mosaic, the hide and seek or the creation of “affinity spaces” for visitors who are “loyals,” “zappers,” “minglers” or “casuals” (Jenkins 2006: 66, 280). This playfulness is achieved not just by negating rival clusters of energy, but also by “piggy-backing” some others and entering into synergies with some more. The advertisement, in an ideal form, should therefore merge with the pulsations of the city itself – its forms of customary life and its horizons of faith and expectation. The thought of Hindutva 2.0 as a new age political monotheism for a virtual Hindu congregation involves such an advertised realignment between tradition and the modern. It is not based on holistic enunciations of philosophical, theological

184  Anustup Basu or political truth by way of the essay or the novel. It may, pace Ranciere, be called an informational distribution of the Brahminical sensible.10 The energies in this distribution may “touch upon” the diverse works of the world contagiously, without enclosing them into a truth of Hindu metafiction. This is exactly what gives Hindutva 2.0 an affectional latitude, a non-obligatory flippancy that the older discourse of Hindu nationalism lacked. That older revivalist discourse struggled to subsume the modern disciplines and the physical sciences – from archaeology to medicine or astrophysics – into a constitutive Hindu vision. It had to world the caste question afresh in an altered universe of rights and freedoms. It attempted, at every turn, to reconcile mythology with history and realism, or theodicy with justice. Such discursive efforts – rarely sublime, often ludicrous – have had a long history and continue to this day. However, in this new ecology, a neo-traditionalism acquires fresh powers of effecting touchpoints and leaving lovemarks on all worldly works, from the economy, to computation, or the Mars Mission. The Tripura chief minister Biplab Deb’s recent assertion that there was internet during the age of the Mahabharata11 is, in that sense, no different from the postulates that have regularly come up in Hindu discourse, right from the late 19th-century moment of the Calcutta or Poona revivalists, such as the ideas that Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle validates Vedic creation theory, that the Hindu scriptures anticipate Newton and Darwin, or that the mythical story of the Sage Agastya drinking up the ocean provides a parable of ancient Hindu electrolysis. The difference, however, is that Deb’s comment arrives in an informational environment saturated with random Hindu emotives. This ecology offers instant transmissions between town and country, between Sanskrit and the vernacular, between the Bhagavad Gita and labour management, or between Vedic cosmogony and astrophysics. The energies of Hindutva 2.0 can, accordingly, advertise a new Hinduness by curving around, piggy-backing or assembling with a much wider spectrum of objects and postulates. It can thus bravely “touch upon,” without obligation, many matters that traditional Hindu nationalist discourse has either avoided, been unsure about or approached gingerly. It can make Deb’s statement itself Trumpian by placing it in a wider, but essentially homogenous, spectrum of neurosis and laughter. The spectre of the majoritarian normal becomes apparent exactly when we realise that there are indeed available “Hindu” ways – city-slick or rustic  – of taking Deb seriously, indulging him, making fun of him or even dismissing him altogether. It is this stance of the advertised in a general realm of culture rather than political speak that I hope to illustrate in the next section, this time in terms of “Bollywood” as affect industry.

Hindutva 2.0 and Bollywood A major cultural expression of Hindutva 2.0 is, in a sense, a “Bollywoodisation” of the modern religion, the older ideology or its predicates of cultural nationalism; that is, in terms of how these forces are inducted into an overall immersive experience of contemporary metropolitan culture, birthing its own versions of

Hindutva 2.0 as information ecology 185 what Shanti Kumar (2006) has called the “unimaginable communities” of electronic capitalism. “Bollywood,” as it has been understood in recent times, is a media assemblage which cuts across multiple avenues: television, cinema, radio, travel, fashion, jewellery, music, consumer goods, event management, internet, cell phone ringtones and advertising. As an urban resonance machine, it strongly inflects shopping mall environments, marketing and contemporary global presentations of a brand India in general.12 It infuses its advertising energies into state overtures to the NRI communities, international diplomatic missions and state projects of cultural ambassadorship like the “India Everywhere” campaign in Davos 2006.13 I have elsewhere theorised Bollywood cinema of the 1990s and after against this backdrop in terms of a geo-televisual and informational aesthetic with a pronounced high-Hindu ontology (Basu 2010), that is, as a cultural dispensation that absorbs geo-televisual pressures of metropolitan globalisation by setting up “advertised” relationships between these and ethical postulates of “tradition.” A template of Bollywood cinema, in other words, was one among many modes by which Hindutva 2.0 absorbed and adjudged new sensations, hermeneutics of desire, and visions of life that had either arrived or were out of the closet: unapologetic consumerism, the profit motive, pre-marital sex, live-in relationships, swinger lifestyles, adultery or homosexuality. The challenge lay in squaring these profanities of the new world order with a traditional Brahminical shepherding of culture. Hindi cinema thus adopted what is now known as the signature Bollywood style, involving sudden transportations to fantastic scenarios beyond the determined milieus of the story, or non-obligatory breakaways into MTV-friendly song and dance capsules. In that sense, it reserved a space for the purely advertised, one beyond the control of contextual storytelling. This was a zone of affects and immersions celebrating a spectral form of life that connected metropolitan India across cultures and languages to the diaspora. The infusion of non-directional powers of the advertised began at the level of colours, saturations, textures, magical spaces, luminosities and the sonorous. In most cases, they operated at the level of semiotics, not at the level of ethical propositions, problems and solutions. The cinematic image of Mumbai itself – as a stage for gathered metropolitan desires and plenitudes  – frequently became an advertised compact of the real and the geo-televisual. In Sanjay Gupta’s Aatish/Mirror (1994), it became a hybrid of the historical city itself and Mauritius of the golden coasts and the deep blue sea. In Yaarana/Friendship (David Dhawan 1995), the protagonist started driving a car in the dusty streets of Mumbai and continued driving till the vehicle came to a stop in a lush, touristy landscape in Switzerland. Similarly, in Rajiv Kapoor’s Prem Granth / Book of Love (1996), the agrarian heartland of village India was upgraded as manicured vistas of South African locations. “Bollywood” came with new alluring textures of traditional piety, consumerism and a lush heritagism perhaps best seen in the famous extended family marriage melodramas of the late 1990s and early 2000s. In these influential films, the

186  Anustup Basu ritualistic paraphernalia of the high-Hindu home could assemble with conspicuous consumables and exotic locales of Europe and the world at large. The super-rich Raichand Mansion in Karan Johar’s Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham / Happiness and Tears (2001) was a filmic combination of lavish neo-traditional interiors melded with European aristocratic exteriors and the grounds of the Waddeson Manor in Buckinghamshire, U.K., expansive enough for a private helicopter to land in the driveway. The neo-Hindu Gurukul in Aditya Chopra’s Mohabbatein (2000) was a never-never school that featured a rather draconian Hindu spiritual makeover of British public school education. The campus was an assemblage of Longleat, a country house in Wiltshire, England, and spots in the Oxford and Cambridge universities. Increasingly, during this period, it seemed that a cinematic high-Hindu “tradition” could no longer be staged without a concomitant richness of worldly paraphernalia. It was thus a cultural shift away from the powerful 20th-century credo of Gandhian asceticism and principled poverty. The form of melodrama in such films mitigated key transformational anxieties about irreverent globalisation and assured a caste/class patriarchal status quo. It presented mega-“business” in the era of finance capital as essentially interiorised “family business,” always under the spiritual control of the caste father and never dispersed into a body of anonymous shareholders. The Bollywood geo-televisual aesthetic was thus an advertising mode by which a new, urban caste Hindu elite presented its life and aspirations as artwork. In this expressive form, stories of home were immersed into a wider basin of planetary affectations and desires. The form came with a global distribution of the Brahminical sensible, by which spaces, movements, bodies, objects, customs and rituals of the world were imbued with new spiritual animations and resonances. It was precisely because of this opening out that such cinema required a dimension of the advertised beyond the narrative as master organiser of effects. That was because the films had to concede a volume of signs in the mise en scène that were voluptuous and libidinal beyond measure. These too-hot-to-handle objects, spaces, lifestyle signatures or forms of urbanity could only be segmented off by way of music, dance and various touch points of spectacle. The “dream” and fantasy sequences could therefore feature the Hindu woman in otherwise compromising and scandalous situations. The faithful wife in Yash Chopra’s Darr (1993) could partake in a lusty dance sequence with her stalker in the dreamscapes of his psychopathic mind, in assemblage with forbidden objects like the swimsuit or the champagne bottle. The devoted Hindu wife in Girlfriend (Karan Razdan 2004) could display a lesbian side, but only when she was drunk out of her wits. This does not mean that there was no relationship between a caste Hindu moral cultural governance of narration and the spectacular mounting of desires that flirted with the forbidden. The relationship may be called disjunctive in a Deleuzian spirit, involving semiotic osmosis and diverted channels of energy. It is usually an interface in which sensations and principles are brought into a state of dangerous proximity rather than frontal collision. Sensations and principles affected and energised each other without necessarily entering into a dialectal exchange.

Hindutva 2.0 as information ecology 187 Hindutva 2.0 as advertised modernisation could thus be a thrilling orchestration of touch points and lovemarks between a neoliberal modernity and Hindu tradition, a chiming together of signs that belonged to contrary domains of thought and feeling, that is, between the father’s absolute “No” and the million worldly lures the prodigal had to navigate before returning home. The “take home” consequently became a photosynthetic mix of moralisms and pleasures, both transformed by mutual exposure and semiosis. It was the informational dance of the geo-televisual that sublimated a majoritarian urban normal as the default position between the polarities of boredom and terror. This synergy yielded both a new urban Hinduness as well as indigenous pictures of globalisation. In the digital age, the advertised neo-Hinduism has inserted Vedic and Puranic cosmologies into the generic Hollywood-style super hero film (Krrish, Krrish 3, Raakesh Roshan 2006, 2013), the science-fantasy (Rudraksh, Mani Shankar 2004; Ra. One, Anubhav Sinha 2011) and the animated feature.14 It has infused energies of a messianic patriotism across hitherto cinematically unexplored domains of a national civic religiosity, from the sports film, the biopic, entrepreneurial heroism, or techno-military achievements like space exploration or the 1998 nuclear tests in Pokhran. What has been especially illuminating in the digital dispensation is the emphatic return of the historical, the period piece or the folklore film after a protracted period of twilight. Films like Bajirao Mastani (Sanjay Leela Bhansali 2015), Mohenjo Daro (Ashutosh Gowrikar 2016) or the recently controversial Padmavat (Bhansali 2018) variously present a new Hindu will to the past. This involves not just the insertion of marketable myths into the field of the historical or the faux-historical, for example, the introduction of the “Aryan” horse and the unicorn in the Indus Valley setting of Mohenjo Daro. Other than the monumental canvases and antiquarian mise en scènes, what distinguishes this will to the past is a phatic re-texturing of the pictures of the bygone. The acute resolutions, colourations and imaging possibilities of the digital are deployed in these films in the service of a new sovereign desire to monarchically direct the energies of memory. The digital imparts new epic animations, breathtaking vertical looms, a burrowing acuity of Dolby sound, a critical buoyancy, musculature and lustre to pictures of an imagined past that was hitherto denied to a third-world cinema. The digital is capable of both a cosmic verticality as well as a particularised acuity of sound and vision. As such it can conjure up a panoptic perspective that is also haptic and tactile; it is meant to be felt in the inner recesses of being rather than merely witnessed (see Basu 2011b). As an assemblage of affectations, it presents the thrill of two temporal visions – that of a techno-determined future of the nation and what Benjamin would call the ornaments of a great forgetting. A technologically emboldened Hindu nation is finally able to birth pictures and an invasive experience of sound that are adequate to the profound nature of Hindu remembrances. Does that mean that we are declaring all films that have come out of the Hindi, Tamil or Telugu industries in the last three decades essentially Hindu nationalist? That is certainly not what I am saying, since Hindutva 2.0 is an ecological principle of solicitation, orchestration, enrolments or contagion. It is also, thereby,

188  Anustup Basu a mode of capital as affect or emotion industry that tends to assign value to all expressions of publicity or art. Hindutva 2.0 is not an ideological or doctrinal enclosure, like the older discourse of Hindu nationalism. As a form of capitalisation, Hindtuva 2.0 “touches upon” all gestures of aesthetics or instrumentation; that is, it exerts pressures and presents allures and supplications even when it comes to film, television or radio works that might be scrupulously “secular” and decidedly against Hindu bigotry. Hindutva 2.0, in that sense, becomes apparent as a normative informational ecology when a gesture – let us say in the form of a “progressive” film – enters it and finds the range of possibilities pertaining to narration, aesthetics or ideology already narrowed and already committed to a majoritarian ontology of being. This is a constriction not in the range of formal choices in and of themselves, but a constriction of the affectional possibilities of these choices. This is when one finds out in the plane of industrial temporalisation of consciousness that there are increasingly limited ways of being nationalist, being a “responsible citizen” or simply being human. Conversely, it is important to understand that Hindutva 2.0, as a diffusion of profane energies, may actually foster unhappy consciousness and repulsion among the puritan and agrarianconservative old guard of Hindu nationalists. Hindutva 2.0 is thus not a line of thought guided by a technological determinism, in the sense that it is not technologism that solely guides it, with predictable outcomes. It is the picture of an alternate Hindu ecology for an electronic political monotheme and a virtual ethno-religious congregation, but one that is historical as much as technological. This monotheme is advertised instead of discursively elaborated within the auspices of print capitalism. Accordingly, it is, in essence, not reliant either on dogma or on those great themes of modern consciousness – realism and novelistic narration. The spectral and advertised Hindu nation, as a dynamic cluster of particularised feelings and memories, promises to ward off the nightmare of perpetual postmodern instrumentation, the hypertrophy of will, and an empty time without the heroic. It promises, in a spectacular manner, a new Hinduism that can square the Gemeinschaft of old pastoral enclaves with the Gesellschaft of the metropole. In the process, it also claims to absolve the rawness of capital itself as a cultic religion without a dogma or theology that, as Benjamin (2000) once put it, produces guilt without atonement.

Notes 1 For a wider look into this broad terrain, see Basu (2020). 2 For book-length studies, see, for instance, Basu (2010), Butcher (2003), Kumar (2006), Kohli-Kandhekar (2010), Mankekar (1999), Mazarella (2003), Mehta (2008), Punathambekar (2013), Rai (2009) and Rajagopal (2001). 3 An excellent work on this new form of urbanisation is Sunderam (2009). 4 India Brand Equity Foundation Report on Media and Entertainment, February 2019. www.ibef.org/download/media-and-entertainment-feb-2019.pdf. 5 See the TRAI Annual reports, 2009–2010 and 2014–2015. https://trai.gov.in/sites/ default/files/ar_09_10.pdf> and < https://trai.gov.in/sites/default/files/TRAI-AnnualReport-%28English%29%3D01042015.pdf.

Hindutva 2.0 as information ecology 189 6 See, for instance, Urban (2015). 7 See, for instance, the essays in Turrow and Tsui (2008), especially Hespos, Schulman and Smith. 8 The term was coined by Kevin Roberts, CEO worldwide of Saatchi & Saatchi. 9 See, for instance, Schulman (2008), Smith (2008) and Hespos (2008). 10 I allude to Ranciere (2004). 11 See, for instance, “Internet Existed in the Days of the Mahabharata: Tripura CM Biplab Deb.” The Economic Times, April 18, 2018. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/ news/politics-and-nation/internet-existed-in-the-days-of-mahabharata-tripura-cm-bip lab-deb/articleshow/63803490.cms. 12 See the essays in Kavoori and Punathambekar (2008). 13 See Thussu (2013) and Punathambekar (2013) on the Democracy – Bollywood – IT mode of branding India. 14 See, for instance, Basu (2011a).

References Basu, A. (2010) Bollywood in the Age of New Media. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. ——— (2011a) “The Eternal Return and Overcoming ‘Cape Fear:’ Science, Sensation, Superman, and Hindu Nationalism in Recent Hindi Cinema.” South Asian History and Culture 2 (4): 557–571. ——— (2011b) “The Passion of the Digital: The Ontology of the Photographic Image in the Age of New Media.” Recherches Sémiotiques 3 (1–3): 175–202. ——— (2012) “The ‘Indian’ Monotheism.” Boundary 2 39 (2): 111–141. ——— (2020) Hindutva as Political Monotheism. Durham: Duke University Press. Benjamin, W. (2000) “Capitalism as Religion.” In M. Bullock and M. W. Jannings (eds) Walter Benjamin, Selected Writings. Vol. I. Cambridge, MA: Belknap, pp. 288–291. Butcher, M. (2003) Transnational Television, Cultural Identity, and Change: When STAR Came to India. London: Sage. Chhibber, P. K. and S. L. Ostermann (2014) “The BJP’s Fragile Mandate: Modi and Vote Mobilizers in the 2014 General Election.” Studies in Indian Politics 2 (2): 137–151. Devy, G. N. (ed) (2014) People’s Linguistic Survey of India, Vol. 1: The Being of Bhasha: A General Introduction. Hyderabad: Orient BlackSwan. Hespos, T. (2008) “How Hyperlinks Ought to Change the Advertising Business.” In J. Turrow and L. Tsui (eds) The Hyperlinked Society: Questioning Connections in the Digital Age. Ann Arbor: University of Minnesota Press, pp. 137–144. Jaffrelot, C. (2015) “The Modi-Centric BJP 2014 Election Campaign: New Techniques and Old Tactics.” Contemporary South Asia 23 (2): 1–16. Jeffrey, R. (2006) “The Mahatma Didn’t Like the Movies and Why It Matters: Indian Broadcasting Policy, 1920s–1990s.” Global Media and Communication 2 (2): 204–224. Jenkins, H. (2006) Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. New York: New York University Press. Kavoori, A. P. and A. Punathambekar (eds) (2008) Global Bollywood. New York: New York University Press. Kohli-Kandhekar, V. (2010) Indian Media Business. 3rd ed. London: Sage. Kothari, R. (1997) “Caste and Modern Politics.” In S. Kaviraj (ed) Politics in India. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.

190  Anustup Basu Kumar, S. (2006) Gandhi Meets Primetime: Globalization and Nationalism in Indian Television. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. Mallapragada, M. (2010) “Desktop Deities: Hindu Temples, Online Cultures and the Politics of Remediation.” South Asian Popular Culture 8 (2): 109–121. Mankekar, P. (1999) Screening Culture, Viewing Politics: An Ethnography of Television, Womanhood and Nation in Postcolonial India. Durham: Duke University Press. Mazarella, W. (2003) Shoveling Smoke: Advertising and Globalization in Contemporary India. Durham: Duke University Press. Mehta, N. (ed) (2008) Television in India: Satellites, Politics, and Cultural Change. New York: Routledge. Murphie, A. (2007) “The Fallen Present, Time in the Mix.” In R. Hassan and R. E. Pursur (eds) 24/7: Time and Temporality in the Network Society. Stanford: Stanford University Press, pp. 122–140. Nair, J. (2005) The Promise of Metropolis: Bangalore’s Twentieth Century. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Prakash, G. (2011) Mumbai Fables: A History of an Enchanted City. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Price, L. (2015) The Modi Effect: Inside Narendra Modi’s Campaign to Transform India. London: Hodder and Stoughton. Punathambekar, A. (2013) From Bombay to Bollywood: The Making of a Global Media Industry. New York: New York University Press. Rai, A. (2009) Untimely Bollywood. Durham: Duke University Press. Rajagopal, A. (2001) Politics After Television: Hindu Nationalism and the Reshaping of the Public in India. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Ranciere, J. (2004) The Politics of Aesthetics: The Distribution of the Sensible. London: Continuum. Sardesai, R. (2014) 2014: The Election That Changed India. New Delhi: Viking. Schulman, S. L. (2008) “Hyperlinks and Marketing Insight.” In J. Turrow and L. Tsui (eds) The Hyperlinked Society: Questioning Connections in the Digital Age. Ann Arbor: University of Minnesota Press, pp. 145–158. Smith, M. A. (2008) “From Hyperlinks to Hyperties.” In J. Turrow and L. Tsui (eds) The Hyperlinked Society: Questioning Connections in the Digital Age. Ann Arbor: University of Minnesota Press, pp. 165–180. Stiegler, B. (2008) Technics and Time, 2: Disorientation. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Sunderam, R. (2009) Pirate Modernity: Delhi’s Media Urbanism. London: Routledge. Thussu, D. K. (2013) Communicating India’s Soft Power: Buddha to Bollywood. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Turrow, J. and L. Tsui (eds) (2008) The Hyperlinked Society: Questioning Connections in the Digital Age. Ann Arbor: University of Minnesota Press. Urban, H. B. (2015) Zorba the Buddha: Sex, Spirituality, and Capitalism in the Global Osho Movement. Oakland: University of California Press.

14 Purpose built Islamabad, the Cold War, and non-Muslim minorities in Pakistan Cara Cilano

Due to Pakistan’s unique history  – it, like Israel, came into being immediately after WWII very pointedly to serve as a homeland for a specific religious identity (Kumaraswamy 1997) – Pakistan faced and continues to grapple with linking territory and identity, place and ideology. The region’s long historical arc adds complicating layers that ask us to understand the built environment itself as a primary text via which Pakistan represents what it is and who properly belongs there. Remarkably, destruction plays a central role in the production of the built environment as text. My work examines how fictional and non-fictional representations of the built environment in Pakistan – particularly as they involve acts of destruction – inform the production and interpretation of what it means to be “Pakistani.” The representations sometimes serve as aspirations, sometimes as descriptions of actual everyday life and sometimes as provocations to think more critically about the material consequences of interactions between history and politics as they manifest in the built environment. I approach the concept of national belonging from both internal and external angles, leveraging the nation’s ongoing efforts to articulate how “Islam” operates in relation to claims of belonging for non-Muslim Pakistanis (internal approach) and to relations between the U.S. and Pakistan through the Cold War (external approach). Less an effort to plot out these approaches along parallel historical tracks, my goal is to examine where they overlap so that we might question more purposefully whether domestic and global politics have exerted a reciprocal pressure or, put more plainly, to explore whether internal efforts to Islamise Pakistan via the built environment bore any connection to Pakistan’s geopolitical role as an erstwhile U.S. ally in the Cold War. The monumental project of siting, funding and building Islamabad, Pakistan’s new capital city, in the 1960s establishes the link between what I refer to as Pakistan’s spatialisation of Islam and global Cold War interests. The early moments of U.S.-Pakistan relations connect to the development discourses operating in Pakistan through the 1950s and 1960s, particularly through Constantinos Doxiadis’s plans for Pakistan’s purpose-built capital, Islamabad, that were, in part, underwritten by the Ford Foundation. Doxiadis’s work was textual and material, captured in letters, journals, reports, plans and eventually structures, roads and more. Given that Islamabad was newly built, imagined from the ground up, its representations

192  Cara Cilano and all that inform them, including Doxiadis’s impressions of post-Partition Pakistan, offer a singular opportunity to follow how history, politics and a variety of views shape the built environment. Additionally, I turn to literary representations of the built environment in Pakistan, with a particular interest in how non-Muslim minorities, as well as others, are imagined to occupy and move through this space. As with the textual representations emerging out of and feeding into Doxiadis’s work, these literary works also grant important perspectives into the built environment through their abilities to imagine the phenomenology of place and to create a conceptual space for the analysis and critique of what influences such experiences. Here, I concentrate on Sorayya Khan’s fictional universe populated by characters appearing in a trio of fictional texts: the 1995 novella “In the Shadow of the Margalla Hills,” the 2009 novel Five Queen’s Road (Khan 2009) and the 2017 novel City of Spies. As Khan’s work weaves a multifaceted fictional universe, it engages spatially inflected quandaries unique to Pakistan raised by other scholars, including what effects the conflation of “Pakistani” with “Muslim” has had on the occupation of place and the phenomenological import of Pakistan’s long-standing and irresolute issues with “Islamic” nationhood. These quandaries invite a cross-disciplinary examination. For instance, by taking a spatial turn – that is, by attending to the territorialisation or spatialisation of Islam in Pakistan – I extend Sadia Saeed’s analysis of how the Pakistani state inflected and took shape from “a new definition of the national community by equating the nation with Islam,” a move that, in Saeed’s view, led to the “construction of new social imaginaries” (Saeed 2016: 133). I am interested in how these imaginaries take material form, especially with respect to minority experiences of the built environment. In working with representations to grasp lived spaces, I deliberately turn to both imaginative and non-fictive writings not just to scrutinise textual hierarchies but also to initiate dynamic analyses that refuse to fix the spatial aspects of representation as unchanging or mimetic. With more specific reference to the Islamabad project itself, Markus Daechsel argues that Doxiadis’s role provides a critical perspective on post–World War II development discourse that helps “to avoid the trap of automatically equating development with state agency” (Daechsel 2015: 14). Highlighting the role of non-state actors in the Islamabad project matters because it helps illustrate how dynamics within Pakistan operated within the political upheaval that immediately preceded the awarding of the Islamabad project to Doxiadis and how domestic tensions over development aid within the U.S. inaugurated an era of reliance on prominent philanthropic foundations for “soft diplomacy” in the Cold War. The interworkings of these currents in Pakistan and the U.S., as they channelled through Doxiadis’s efforts, lead Daechsel (2015: 6) to contend that Pakistan’s articulation of postcolonial nationhood put it in tension with mid-century Global North development discourse, even as Pakistan sought to position itself regionally and internationally. Taken cumulatively, these scholars introduce a conversation about interconnecting issues dealing with Muslim identity, Islam, Pakistan and the built environment. I bring to this conversation a particular interest in non-Muslim minorities

Purpose built  193 in Pakistan and the consideration of literary representations as source materials appropriate to address these issues.

Territorialising Pakistan Pakistan, as an idea, took shape in South Asian political imaginaries well before geographical boundaries demarcated the territory that would make up the nation. From the moment of the term’s coinage, “Pakistan” already hinted at what has become a significant challenge: how to spatialise or territorialise a nationalism itself subject to contested views of the role of Islam in the nation’s identity. Choudhary Rahmat Ali’s pamphlet, “Now or Never: Are We to Live or Perish Forever?,” first published in January 1933, introduced the term “Pakistan” into the many anti-colonial discourses gaining purchase in South Asia in the first decades of the 20th century. In the first clause of his pamphlet, Rahmat Ali coined the term as an acronym for the territories that would, in part, eventually make up West Pakistan: “PAKISTAN by which we mean the five Northern units of India viz: Punjab, North-West Frontier Province (Afghan Province), Kashmir, Sind, and Baluchistan” (Rahmat 2017). The term also means “land of the pure,” a definition that neatly connects space and concept (here, religious identities).1 Within this neat connection lies an irony: the territories encompassed by Rahmat Ali’s term were Muslim majority, so, while in the grander context of the British exit from South Asia, Muslims were a minority in relation to Hindus, in the space (partially) identified as Pakistan, the minority-majority ratios swung in a different direction. The minorities were the non-Muslims. And, as the process of decolonisation accelerated after World War II, this idea took on increasingly concrete dimensions, culminating in the actual territorialisation of Pakistan into a new nation bisected across the north of the South Asian subcontinent. Consequently, the minority-majority ratios, especially in what became West Pakistan, tilted even more in favour of the Muslim majority.2 Thus, the physical reality of Pakistan added new dimensions to the reality of minority status, especially in spatial terms. In an 11 August 1947 speech to the Constituent Assembly, Muhammad Ali Jinnah assures his soon-to-be fellow Pakistanis that they “are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan” (Jinnah 2017: n.p.). These lines encapsulate a founding spatial vision for Pakistan not only in terms of the actual physical existence of temples, mosques, churches, etc., but also in terms of mobility. NonMuslims, in this vision, will be free to move about cities and villages to get to their respective houses of worship. This vision is, at once, both descriptive insofar as it captures the everyday lived experience of people currently inhabiting the territories that would shortly become Pakistan and prescriptive in that Jinnah and members of the Muslim League were highly cognisant of the need to ensure the safety of minorities throughout the decolonising process. Moreover, what remains as yet unexamined though crucial to this analysis of space and the built environment in relation to non-Muslim minorities in Pakistan

194  Cara Cilano are the broader geopolitical dynamics that may have shaped the domestic politics of the nation. Jinnah closes his 11 August 1947 address, for instance, with mention of George Marshall’s greetings. Marshall, as U.S. secretary of state in the post-WWII era was, of course, the architect of the Marshall Plan and, thus, a prime mover in the U.S.’s Cold War ascendancy and its eventual identification of Pakistan as a crucial ally because of its geopolitical location.3 As a key player in the nascent post-war relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan, John Foster Dulles, the U.S. secretary of state from 1953–1959 (Dulles was serving as the U.S. delegate to the UN in 1947), exchanged cables with the American diplomatic staff in Karachi that made clear the secretary’s preference for dealing with Pakistan because of its Muslim-majority population over India, with its polytheistic majority. Dulles, a staunch Christian, believed that “people of the book” bore a natural mutual affinity and aversion to the threat of godless communism, whereas polytheists were less stringent regarding others’ belief systems. Thus, Dulles set a religiously tinged tone at a crucial formative moment in U.S.-Pakistan relations.4

Doxiadis | the Ford Foundation | Islamabad Constantinos Doxiadis’s archive, including reports, diaries, letters and other papers, chronicles his immersion into the Pakistani context – its urban centres, its countryside and, in an interested and (self-)invented vein, its architectural idiom. Analyses of these documents, which themselves are products of impressions and actual projects that accumulated over nearly two decades, show the planner’s changing understanding of the place around which so much of his work centred, even as these changes did not explicitly alter his driving theories about how planning and lived experience co-mingle. Instead, Doxiadis’s papers and the material results of his work show a conflated tendency that attempts to render religion and the built environment inextricable. The strength of this connection relied, unexpectedly, on the destruction of environments that erased evidence of religiously motivated violence and, in doing so, also attempted to homogenise or unify places’ identities. Perhaps despite Doxiadis’s intentions or knowledge, this unification through the planning of the built environment itself mimicked the very dynamics operating politically within Pakistan. Doxiadis’s extended involvement in Pakistan, which spans the early 1950s to the mid-1960s, connects back to his post–World War II role as Marshall Plan administrator in Greece. His training in architecture and urban planning made him a valuable asset to post-war efforts to rebuild Greece, especially as that nation emerged from its own civil war (Brooks 1964).5 As a known quantity in U.S. foreign aid circles, Doxiadis eventually began working with the Harvard Advisory Group (HAG), an organisation of academics and consultants based at Harvard who served in an advisory capacity to the government of Pakistan. Writing over 40 years ago, Asaf Hussain characterised this group’s influence in Pakistan as one “neo-colonial allianc[e]” that served to “legitimize . . . western ideologies of economic development and transfer of technology” (Hussain 1976: 926).6 Supported

Purpose built 195 in part through Ford Foundation money, Doxiadis and the Harvard Advisory Group wrote Pakistan’s First Five Year Plan, which was to cover development in Pakistan from 1955 to 1960 (Daechsel 2015: 109).7 Clearly, Doxiadis’s work on the First Five Year Plan, the plan’s administration by the HAG and that group’s reliance on the Ford Foundation serve as one example of U.S. Cold War dynamics connecting to urban planning and development in the Global South. Doxiadis’s tours of Pakistan that informed the composition of this First Five Year Plan and his subsequent involvement in the nation’s business provide a compelling glimpse into the extent to which he understood the role of religion in the construction of a Pakistani national identity via the built environment. These observations about religion mark a nascent triangulation between it, Cold War interests and the built environment in Doxiadis’s records. In the writings Doxiadis penned between October and November 1954, he links his recorded observations to those of the unsurpassed Orientalist T. E. Lawrence (1999), crediting the latter’s The Seven Pillars of Wisdom (written between 1919 and 1926) with introducing him to the Arabian landscape even though he had never travelled there. Doxiadis’s admission of the power of Lawrence’s text – that it “taught [him] the nature of the land and the people and their culture” (ibid.) – imbues written representations with great material significance: we can know places through textual encounters. That Doxiadis places his diary in the same tradition as Lawrence’s also traces a through line from colonial representations prior to the Second World War to the neocolonial relations that characterise the United States’ Cold War ascendancy. Doxiadis’s explicit invocation of this literary tradition as a key part of his own introduction to Pakistan signals the interestedness of his plans for this nation’s built environment. In other words, Doxiadis’s claims to represent Pakistan in writing (and photographs that are taped into his diary) are not neutral. Daechsel formulates a convincing argument on this point, emphasising how Pakistan’s unique iteration of postcolonial nationhood was at odds with modern development discourse emanating from the Global North (2015: 6). I expand this line of enquiry to include the ways Doxiadis’s plans for Pakistan’s built environment overlooked central ideological and socio-cultural troubles involving that nation’s “Islamic” identity. Daechsel contends, for instance, that Doxiadis’s role as a non-state actor heading up development projects in Pakistan highlights how a “whole range of otherwise unconnected sites of struggle were brought to influence each other” (2015: 4). Compellingly, Doxiadis’s involvement in Pakistan, even years before the Islamabad project, also touches upon a site of struggle dealing with non-Muslim Pakistanis and how/where they fit into the built environments that Doxiadis planned. While his papers show his awareness of Partition’s aftermath (i.e., the absence of Hindus) and a desire to design locations for their proper inhabitants (i.e., Muslims), Doxiadis does not make explicit any knowledge of the larger domestic tensions surrounding definitions of “Islam” – to say nothing of the growing intolerance for minorities – within Pakistan. This crucial disjuncture may well have facilitated Doxiadis’s ability to work successfully with the Ford Foundation, as it

196  Cara Cilano mirrors Dulles’s own limited understanding of religion in this new nation. A timeline outlining Doxiadis’s views on religion, people and place set in line with Pakistan’s history illustrates these points. The Pakistan diary Doxiadis wrote in the fall of 1954 records his impressions of Partition’s impact on the built environment with references to non-Muslims who previously occupied the places that were now a part of Pakistan. Curiously, his views appear to shift slightly over the course of his multi-week tour of rural Sindh. At first, Doxiadis seems to value the workmanship and habitational maintenance he sees in areas previously occupied by Hindus. In an entry dated 20 October 1954, for instance, Doxiadis notes his “feeling of depression and [his] complete conviction” that Pakistan’s evacuee property policy is “wrong”: Here we have good buildings but they are already in a few years’ time falling to pieces. This is certainly also the Government’s fault as the ownership of these houses has not yet been given to these people [the new Pakistanis], but this is not a justification for the complete abandonment and bad maintenance of this building wealth. (Doxiadis 201; Pakistan Diary DOX-PP 20, Oct-Nov, vol 2, archive ref 23554)8 This despair and judgement arise from Doxiadis’s observation that the nation’s wealth is “slipping through the people’s fingers” as buildings – sometimes large portions of villages – decay: I am asking myself what has happened to the skilled workers who have been building such beautiful building [sic]. Were they Hindus who left for India? I cannot get an answer to this question. (ibid.) The silence Doxiadis faces in response to his question about the absent Hindus resounds in that it speaks to the very real violence that came about due to the ideological and socio-cultural currents swirling around religious identities and shaping Pakistani nationhood at the time of his visit. Although acknowledged in various official ways, Pakistani society continues to struggle with how to represent this violence and its far-reaching consequences.9 In the next paragraph, Doxiadis further ponders: “I  am thinking again that it is not enough to have good buildings unless you have the right people to inhabit them and the appropriate relationship of people to buildings” (ibid.). While Doxiadis is likely referring to his Ekistics theory of the necessary connection between humans, everyday life and built environment here, his thoughts also reveal a bias that discriminates against people according to their suitability for the habitation of buildings;10 that is, Doxiadis posits an intrinsic connection between types of people and types of structures. Briefly, Ekistics is an interdisciplinary approach to the built environment, ascendant in the mid-20th century, that considered topography,

Purpose built 197 sociology, urban planning, engineering and architecture in formulating modern and ideal (as in Doxiadis’s ongoing interest in the City of the Future) habitation designs. His creeping depression suggests that he sees the Hindus’ absence as a loss, as though they are the (only?) suitable inhabitants of this place, these buildings. In subsequent entries dated 6 and 8 November 1954, Doxiadis returns to this theme of the poor maintenance of Hindu buildings. On 9 November, though, Doxiadis seems to articulate a way through the impasse caused by the absence of a place’s “proper” inhabitants presented by his Ekistical convictions. Now in Lahore, Doxiadis comments: LIT [the Lahore Improvement Trust] has shown lately a great initiative in the old town of Lahore. Following the partition and riots, a big destruction by fire or by demolition of the evacuee Hindu’s [sic] properties has taken place. Big parts of the old town lie now in ruins. . . . LIT has used this occasion to open some completely new streets in the middle of the old town. (228–229) Doxiadis’s entry on 12 November 1954 records a similar phenomenon in Peshawar, marking the clearing out of Hindu structures as “an important change” (294). In both locations, the newly created openness appeals to Doxiadis, whose planning philosophies prioritised the regularity of gridded design over the maze-like and haphazard historical development of Pakistan’s old cities.11 These philosophies also insisted on the appropriate spacing of structures on plots so as to avoid a sense of crowdedness. With apparently little concern over the trauma of the riots that sparked the fires and demolition, or its aftereffects, Doxiadis sees here an opportunity to align place and people properly, that is, to align or, perhaps more accurately, conflate the built environment with Pakistanis, whom he reads as Muslim. But this conflation overlooks or ignores the centre-periphery challenges, many involving questions of religion, language and identity, the Pakistani government was facing since before the nation’s inception. One of these challenges involved (and continues to involve) how to define “Islam” in a geographical region featuring an array of religious practices and identities under that name (not to mention those Pakistanis who identified and practised otherwise). With respect to the Islamabad project more specifically, the government’s proclamation of the capital’s name illustrates the force with which it was seeking to stabilise a unified national identity in the midst of pluralism, fractiousness and outright hostility. Via a process that putatively included national input, Ayub’s cabinet decided upon “Islamabad” and made the announcement on 24 February 1960. The article appearing in Dawn (“New Capital Named Islamabad” 1960), Pakistan’s oldest English daily, cites Z. A. Bhutto, who was minister for National Reconstruction and Information and Broadcasting at the time, as declaring that the “new Capital would be in keeping with the ideology of Pakistan and the name Islamabad would reflect the real feelings of the people” (Dawn). In the next paragraph, the article ascribes to Bhutto the claim that the “planning of the

198  Cara Cilano Capital . . . would reflect not only architectural individuality of Pakistan but would also develop a personality for the nation with special emphasis on the values of the people of the country” (Dawn). The import of Bhutto’s comments attesting to Islamabad’s name manifesting the authentic will and values of the Pakistani people emphasise a centralised and centred national identity. As much as Doxiadis owed to Ayub, Pakistan’s first military dictator, and his strong-armed tactics (Hull 2010: 456), the urban planner did not recognise or acknowledge in his work the regime’s efforts to consolidate power and national identity around an idea of “Islam” that was not tied to the region’s specificities. Given this disjuncture, Doxiadis’s success at landing the Islamabad job seems improbable. His prolonged association with the Ford Foundation, though, may have contributed to his longevity in the region. In short, that organisation had the money desperately needed by Pakistan and officially fraught in the U.S. (Daechsel 2015). Frances Stonor Saunders’s groundbreaking work, The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters, traces how “the systematic organization of a network of ‘private’ groups or ‘friends’ ” became a “central feature of the [CIA’s] efforts to mobilize culture as a Cold War weapon” (1999: 129). While Stonor Saunders focuses on work done in western Europe under the “cover” and through the “funding pipeline” of these private groups (ibid.), the Ford Foundation did not restrict its activities to that region only. As noted earlier, the HAG relied on Ford Foundation support for its work in Pakistan, and Doxiadis’s participation in this group gave him the necessary contacts to keep those funding pipelines open. Any review of the leadership at the Ford Foundation in the 1950s and 1960s shows the tight connections that organisation had with the CIA and the U.S. government more broadly. Many men worked between the two entities – the foundation and the agency or U.S. government – prompting reasonable speculations over whose agenda the Ford Foundation was forwarding in its projects in Pakistan and elsewhere in the Global South. Doxiadis’s self-fashioning in the early 1950s as a mid-century South Asian T. E. Lawrence positions him in vexed relation to the very places he sought to make inhabitable for the new Pakistanis. Clearly entrepreneurial in approach, Doxiadis nonetheless seems to have grounded his planning in ideologically charged ways when it came to considerations about non-Muslim Pakistanis and to the forces and funds supporting this work. With respect to Islamabad’s afterlife, that is, after Doxiadis was no longer involved, his “planned” methodology carried through to the Capital Development Authority (CDA), which is still in existence today. While the CDA has worked seemingly around its own strictures to allow for mosque building in Islamabad, this government agency has not, according to Matthew Hull, officially accommodated its “substantial Christian population.” Hull states that “unplanned” “attempts to build [churches] have generated virulent protest” (2010: 481, n.17). At the same time, other shifts in Islamabad’s built environment attest to the increasingly evident role U.S.-Pakistan relations play in that nation’s affairs. Thus, while Doxiadis’s work in Pakistan through the 1950s and 1960s forwarded the U.S.’s Cold War agenda under the cover of development

Purpose built 199 work, by the time the Soviets asserted themselves in Afghanistan, the U.S.’s position in Islamabad imprinted itself even more materially on the built environment.

Khan’s fictional universe Sorayya Khan’s fictions animate this imprint and enrich it with imagined experience, enlivening Pakistani history, Doxiadis’s plans and Cold War geopolitics. Through three texts, Khan constructs an imagined Pakistan that tracks carefully the phenomenological consequences of that nation’s history and, more specifically, its government’s efforts to build and maintain a national(ist) identity in the midst of that history. With “In the Shadows of the Margalla Hills,” Five Queen’s Road and City of Spies, Khan develops a network of characters and places whose relations take shape in some measure through Pakistan’s own fitful starts and stops.12 Reading these works together as elements of a composite national imaginary – but not a nationalist one – identifies how destruction creates the elisions of non-Muslims that appear to be necessary to claim legitimacy in the nation precisely through laying claim to the built environment. Together, these three fictions suggest connections between the initial exclusions of non-Muslims at the time of Partition to the American-supported dictatorship of Zia-ul-Haq and its aftermath. In gesturing toward such connections, Khan’s work marks important points of intersection between Pakistan’s internal politics and broader geopolitics operating in the last quarter of the 20th century. Published between “In the Shadows” and City of Spies, Five Queen’s Road (FQR) sets the historical precedents for the other two works, in effect making the fictions occurring in later decades possible. While it is itself split across two temporal planes, FQR portrays minority absence as foundational to the establishment of belonging for those characters deemed appropriately Pakistani. As a minority resident in Lahore after the creation of Pakistan in 1947, Dina Lal gauges both belonging and displacement through his claim to the built environment. The protagonist purchases a grand home at Five Queen’s Road initially as a direct rebuke to the British. Conceding his own complicity with empire building, for “he had profited from the railway lines expanding across his village land” (FQR 15), Dina Lal nonetheless has “had enough” by the time 1947 rolls around; Radcliffe’s cartographic “etchings” spur Dina Lal to “teach [the British] a lesson. On this side of the lines in Pakistan” (ibid.). Spatial occupation, for Dina Lal, is an assertion of legitimacy: he is “like the country, land of the pure, just born” (FQR 25). Anti-colonial resentment translates into national belonging. Dina Lal’s invocation of Pakistan as “land of the pure” is not about religious identity, since he is not (as yet) Muslim, but, instead, appears to refer to the British departure from the subcontinent. Khan’s novel highlights the futility of Dina Lal’s anti-colonial sentiments as the violent realities of Partition and its aftermath for Pakistan’s minority populations becomes evident. Dina Lal effectively erases himself by converting to Islam. At the same time, he partitions his grand home and invites a Muslim tenant, Amir

200  Cara Cilano Shah, thinking that doing so will secure his own and his wife’s belonging, spatially and nationally. In Dina Lal’s mind, these acts constitute “whatever was necessary to claim [Lahore] back” (FQR 52), even as they signal the dissipation of Dina Lal’s sense of having begun a new life in the land of the pure. Within months of Amir Shah’s occupancy, however, Dina Lal’s wife is abducted by unidentified men (FQR 85). That Amir Shah’s presence does nothing to deter this act of violence leads Dina Lal to conclude that Amir Shah “had failed in his obligation to protect him and his wife” (FQR 91), a figurative representation of the vexed majority-minority tensions occurring extra-fictionally. Indeed, Dina Lal’s expectation of Amir Shah’s obligation to protect and his allegation of his tenant’s failure to do so invoke assurances made by Jinnah, such as those cited earlier, in the years leading to Partition, as well as those reasserted (though with different emphases) by Liaquat Ali Khan and Jawaharlal Nehru in 1950. In a joint agreement, the prime ministers declared: The Governments of India and Pakistan solemnly agree that each shall ensure, to the minorities throughout its territory, complete equality of citizenship, irrespective of religion, a full sense of security in respect of life, culture, property and personal honour, freedom of movement within each country and freedom of occupation, speech and worship, subject to law and morality. (Nehru and Khan, “Agreement” 1950: 344) When added to the prevailing gender and communal economy of this historical moment as portrayed in Khan’s novel, Liaquat and Nehru’s agreement appears inattentive to the lived experiences of the non-Muslim minorities who remained in Pakistan. Dina Lal goes from feeling as though he could claim belonging to Pakistan via ownership of Five Queen’s Road to recognising “the truth was [that] he was left behind” (FQR 96). The image of Dina Lal’s ironic abandonment complicates his spatialised belonging just as much as Amir Shah’s attempts to delegitimise it over the course of the two characters’ long association. In the novel’s first unnamed reference to Dina Lal, for instance, readers learn that “Amir Shah wasted as little energy as he could on a person [Dina Lal] who had made it his mission to rob him of his peace and property alike” (FQR 11). This initial presentation of Dina Lal, made early in the novel but ten years into his and Amir Shah’s acquaintance, invites the conclusion that Amir Shah is the proprietor of Five Queen’s Road, as it is Dina Lal who seeks “to rob” his “peace.” Although the novel makes Dina Lal’s ownership of the house clear when it introduces the earlier narrative plane in the next chapter, Amir Shah’s claims of ownership in the later plane prompt confusion in the reader and demonstrate the imbalanced interdependence of both characters’ identities. The power differentials revolve on an axis of religious identity and the built environment. The novel also includes crucial episodes that return again to the placelessness of non-Muslim minorities. For instance, in the novel’s epilogue dated 1980, the

Purpose built 201 city of Lahore sends an announcement to Amir Shah at his new residence informing him that Five Queen’s Road will be demolished. Yunis feels compelled to witness the demolition. As the bricks crumble, Yunis stifles the unexpected anger that rises within him. His anger’s targets include: “The angrez, for one. The prime ministers, the presidents, generals and the reach of all who had come in between and would surely come again” (FQR 210). Khan’s precedent-setting novel closes in this context: the anger of a non-Muslim Pakistani at the actors responsible for the nation’s history. Tellingly, this history, in Yunis’s view, is a violent one, a force encapsulated by the narrator’s description of the house at Five Queen’s Road as “being devoured” (FQR 209). Thus, rather than have the house’s demolition be a clearing of the Muslim-Hindu tensions that sparked the contentious living arrangements between Dina Lal and Amir Shah, the novel instead posits the house’s city-sanctioned destruction as yet another erasure of non-Muslim minority belonging to the built environment. Through the fiction’s temporal expansion within FQR itself and into City of Spies, its companion novel, passing decades and their accompanying historical events naturalise the majority-minority imbalances through generational ties. City of Spies opens in 1977 Islamabad with Amir Shah’s son Javid, Javid’s wife Irene, and their three children relocating to Pakistan’s capital after years in Vienna. Drawn back home and to the newly inhabited capital by Javid’s job as head of the Water and Power Development Authority, this novel concentrates most on Pakistan-U.S. relations and, in doing so, seems to leave off any concerns about non-Muslim minorities. However, Amir Shah’s recurring presence, as well as that of Yunis and his brother Sadiq, who is not a convert to Christianity like his brother, draws a through line from Five Queen’s Road to the present narrative.13 Javid and Irene’s youngest child Aliya serves as the novel’s narrator, and her status as a child allows the novel to filter its highly charged political events through a child’s (albeit precocious) naiveté. For instance, as the novel’s opening timeframe indicates, the family’s return to Pakistan coincides with Zia’s coup and the expansion of the Islamisation process Bhutto inaugurated. The family and particularly Javid, due to his government post, are thus at the epicentre of the nation’s very explicit efforts to spatialise Islam in public life. Indeed, Javid’s prominence – his job literally makes him responsible for the nation’s infrastructure – is made possible through the privilege of his upbringing by Amir Shah. It derives from that family’s relationship to the house at Five Queen’s Road or, to be more direct, to the debt they own Dina Lal, their Hindu landlord. Yunis’s appearance in this later story, too, subtly recalls his own displacement even while he continues to bear considerable responsibility for Amir Shah. City of Spies features a violent alteration of the built environment – the burning of the American embassy in Islamabad in 1979 – once again to call attention to the sublimation of historical trauma rather than the inauguration of a more hopeful and equitable order. Due to Aliya’s role as narrator, the embassy attack unfolds retrospectively only after she is rescued by Amir Shah from the American school, which is also a target. As she puts together a larger understanding of

202  Cara Cilano what transpired, Aliya mentions that the next day’s newspapers did not “offe[r] a solid reason for why the general [Zia] had not sent help to the burning embassy” (City 181). Zia’s apparent disregard for the peril experienced by the American diplomats, which mirrors actual historical accounts, appears to signal a Pakistani disengagement from U.S. influence. Javid’s responses to Aliya’s enquiries about the aftermath of the attack reinforces this possibility: “The newspaper said the Americans fled to a vault” [states Aliya]. “Perhaps it’s a large room where they keep confidential papers, special equipment or . . .” [replied Javid]. “With enough space to fit one hundred and thirty-seven people?” I  asked doubtfully. My father cleared his throat and changed the subject. “Things will be different once US citizens leave the country . . .” . . . “Why will things be different once the Americans leave Pakistan?” [asks Aliya]. “For one thing, there are so many of them,” my father said (City 183). This exchange illustrates how Khan’s novel makes use of Aliya’s childlike perspective: she’s smart enough to question but not worldly enough to know what her father’s elisions and silences signify. In this instance, Javid will not be explicit about the Americans’ intelligence activities and the influence these activities wield over Pakistan. Nonetheless, his replies to Aliya do indicate Javid’s sense that American absence from the place itself will benefit Pakistan. This absence is prompted, of course, by the violent destruction of the most explicit signifier of American presence: the embassy. Much as with Doxiadis’s determination that the demolition of Hindu structures in Lahore and Peshawar, as well as the razing of the house at Five Queen’s Road in Khan’s other novel, Javid’s attitude toward the “good” derived from the violent alteration of the built environment and, relatedly, the Americans’ mobility throughout the capital privileges moving on from historical trauma rather than directly addressing or working through it. Khan’s fictional depictions of Pakistanis in place and in history serve as an exploration of the possible lived experiences that coincide with, result from or themselves influence how history materialises, so to speak, in the built environment. As her novels engage the many decades of Pakistan’s existence, their development plays out a critique of how identity connects to place by interweaving seemingly domestic issues involving religious minorities with decidedly global Cold War concerns. In this layered context that conjoins the internal and the external, Khan’s novels subtly make visible a recurring tendency to frame the built environment – or its demolition – as a flat or oversimplified way of containing or enabling select articulations of identity. Considering these fictions alongside Doxiadis’s work enlivens what Doxiadis’s theory of Ekistics aimed to capture: namely, how people and place engage in everyday life. In many ways, Doxiadis’s attitudes, even aside from his Ekistical theorisations, similarly flatten the relation

Purpose built  203 between identity and place. Given the geopolitical moment in which he was working, this flattening, perhaps inadvertently, forwarded ideological agendas for both the U.S. in its Cold War antagonisms with the Soviet Union and Pakistan in its own struggles with defining “Islam” and securing a national(ist) core. From even before Pakistan’s inception, its advocates deployed Muslim identity as a crucial factor in their argument for political, social, cultural and economic autonomy from India’s Hindu majority. Post-Partition Pakistan saw the reiteration of this distinguishing feature in ways that became, at least officially, increasingly orthodox, exclusive and encompassing: Pakistan went from a homeland for India’s Muslims to an Islamic republic. This trajectory did not launch in a vacuum, and its propellers and consequences draw from or impact many quarters, including the U.S. and non-Muslim Pakistanis. With respect to the construction of Pakistan’s new capital, this trajectory begs the question: for whom was it purpose built?

Notes 1 See Chapter 7 of my National Identities in Pakistan: The 1971 War in Contemporary Pakistani Fiction (2011) for a lengthier discussion of Rahmat Ali’s engagement from afar with the Pakistan Movement. 2 In “Pakistan’s Policies and Practices towards the Religious Minorities,” Tariq Rahman (2012) gives hard figures from census data in the 1940s and 1950s that demonstrates the stunning shifts in religious demographics in what became Pakistan. 3 Markus Daechsel points out that, early on, the U.S. was reluctant to see Pakistan as an ally, even despite Marshall’s greetings to Jinnah. Pakistani prime minister Liaquat Ali Khan’s visit to Moscow in 1949 appears to have influenced Washington to rethink their options (2015: 58). 4 Dulles did not have a deeply informed understanding of the religious contexts of South Asia, much less those of Pakistan itself, though this limitation did not prevent him from oversimplifying the situation in favour of Islamic monotheism. See McMahon (1998: 832), Haqqani (2005), Riedel (2011: 12), for instance. 5 Zinovia Lialiouti concludes that Doxiadis’s service in this role earned him a bad reputation in Greece, as his compatriots came to associate him with Greece’s “post–civil war regime, to its authoritarian features and to its aspects of poverty and social inequality” (2018: 694). Further, Doxiadis’s connection to American Cold War ascendency via his role as Marshall Plan administrator is often viewed as evidence of his ideological views. However, scholars dispute Doxiadis’s anti-communist credentials. For Daechsel, Doxiadis was staunchly anti-communist (2015: 4), while Lefteris Theodosis views such assertions as “problematic,” preferring instead to acknowledge Doxiadis’s proAmerican tendencies and his entrepreneurial spirit (2015: 106). 6 Daechsel also recognises the inordinate influence the HAG had on the Pakistani government, though he uses less charged language (2015: 109). 7 This configuration that brought together the Ford Foundation, the HAG and Doxiadis is a prime illustration of Daechsel’s “non-state actors” that were deeply involved in development projects in the Global South. 8 By late September 1947, the government of Pakistan instituted an evacuee property geared toward the distribution of properties “abandoned” by departing Hindus and Sikhs to the new Pakistanis (Schechtman 1951: 407). Historians, such as Ayesha Jalal (2014), and novelists, including S. Khan, underscore the corruption and inefficiencies plaguing the implementation of this policy.

204  Cara Cilano 9 Vazira Fazila-Yacoobali Zamindar’s study The Long Partition and the Making of Modern South Asia: Refugees, Boundaries, Histories (2010) explores exactly the longue durée, especially bureaucratically, of the Partition process. 10 See Doxiadis’s own “Ekistics, the Science of Human Settlements” (1970) for an elaboration of this theory by its founder. Just to be clear, my use of the word “discriminates” is not meant in the sense of civil rights or equal housing. Rather, my interpretation of Doxiadis’s diary and larger approach asserts his interest in connecting people and built environment through a flattened idea of cultural and historical belonging that, on the ground, especially in Pakistan, has particular material effects on non-Muslim Pakistanis. 11 The KMC’s anti-encroachment efforts find their historical echo in Doxiadis’s preferences: a constructed and neat order over the haphazard ways in which Peshawar changed. 12 Khan’s novella “In the Shadows of the Margalla Hills” was written and published well before the other two novels and, most immediately, tells a story from an American perspective that gets retold in City of Spies from a Pakistani one. For the sake of space, I will leave off an analysis of the novella. 13 Yunis, Sadiq and Aliya (as an unnamed narrator) all appear in “Shadows,” too.

References Archive Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archive. Athens (CADA): Pakistan Diary; Pakistan Diaries and Reports; Ford Foundation Correspondence.

Literature Brooks, P. C. (1964) “Oral History Interview with Dr. Constantinos Doxiadis.” Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum, May 5. www.trumanlibrary.org/oralhist/ doxiadis.htm, accessed September 1, 2018. Cilano, C. (2011) National Identities in Pakistan: The 1971 War in Contemporary Pakistani Fiction. London: Routledge. Daechsel, M. (2015) Islamabad and the Politics of Development in Pakistan. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Doxiadis, C. A. (1970) “Ekistics, the Science of Human Settlements.” Science 170 (3956): 393–404. Haqqani, H. (2005) “US Grand Strategy for South Asia.” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, May 25. https://carnegieendowment.org/2005/05/25/u.s.-grand-strat egy-for-south-asia-pub-17006, accessed June 20, 2019. Hull, M. (2010) “Uncivil Politics and the Appropriation of Planning in Islamabad.” In N. Khan (ed) Beyond Crisis: Re-Evaluating Pakistan. London: Routledge, pp. 452–481. Hussain, A. (1976) “Ethnicity, National Identity and Praetorianism: The Case of Pakistan.” Asian Survey 16 (10): 918–930. Jalal, A. (2014) The Struggle for Pakistan: A Muslim Homeland and Global Politics. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Jinnah, M. A. (2017) “First Presidential Address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan (August 11, 1947).” Islam in South Asia: Useful Study Materials, June 3. www.colum bia.edu/itc/mealac/pritchett/00islamlinks/txt_jinnah_assembly_1947.html.

Purpose built 205 Khan, S. Y. (2009) Five Queen’s Road. New Delhi: Penguin Books. ——— (2015) City of Spies. New Delhi: Aleph. Kumaraswamy, P. R. (1997) “The Strangely Parallel Careers of Israel and Pakistan.” Middle East Quarterly 4 (2): 31–39. Lawrence, T. E. (1999) Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Hertfordshire: Wordsworth Editions. Lialiouti, Z. (2018) “The ‘Treason of the Intellectuals’: The Shadowy Presence of the Congress for Cultural Freedom in Greece, 1950–1963.” Intelligence and National Security 33 (5): 687–704. McMahon, R. J. (1998) “United States Cold War Strategy in South Asia: Making of Military Commitment to Pakistan.” Journal of American History 75 (3): 812–840. Nehru, J. and L. A. Khan (1950) “Agreement Between India and Pakistan on Minorities.” Middle East Journal 4 (3): 344–346. “New Capital Named Islamabad.” 1960. Dawn, February 25, p. A1. Rahman, T. (2012) “Pakistan’s Policies and Practices Towards Religious Minorities.” South Asian History and Cutlure 3 (2): 302–315. Rahmat Ali, C. (2017) “Now or Never: Are We to Live or Perish Forever?” Islam in South Asia: Some Useful Study Materials, June  3. www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/ pritchett/00islamlinks/txt_rahmatali_1933.html. Riedel, B. (2011) Deadly Embrace: Pakistan, America, and the Future of the Global Jihad. Washington, DC: Brookings. Saeed, S. (2016) Politics of Desecularization: Law and the Minority Question in Pakistan. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Schechtman, J. B. (1951) “Evacuee Property in India and Pakistan.” Pacific Affairs 24 (4): 406–413. Stonor Saunders, F. (1999) The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters. New York: The New Press. Theodosis, L. (2015) Victory Over Chaos? Constantinos A. Doxiadis and Ekistics 1945– 1975. Director: Manuel Guardia Bassols; Co-Director: Jose Luis Oyon. Barcelona: Departament de Composicio Arquitectonica, Escola Tecnica Superior d’Arquitectura de Barcelona, Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya. Zamindar, V. F. Y. (2010) The Long Partition and the Making of Modern South Asia: Refugees, Boundaries, Histories. New York: Columbia University Press.

15 “We stand, but we do not pray” Religious plurality in a Mumbai chawl István Keul

Prologue Inspired among others by the work of anthropologist Laura Ring on social spaces in an ethnically mixed Karachi apartment building (2006), the initial main objective of the research that has led to this essay was to look at modes of sociality in culturally and religiously diverse areas of Mumbai and – more specifically – to look into the role that religion may or may not play in the mutual perceptions and everyday interactions of these areas’ residents. I was interested in the ways in which religious factors contribute – if at all – to the forging of neighbourly structures and relations in their day-to-day lives. Known for its unparalleled religious diversity, Mumbai seemed like the perfect setting for a wide range of culturally mixed residential constellations that could be studied as “composite spaces of socio-religious dynamics.”1 Based on earlier stays in the city and on relevant literature, it was not hard to identify potential localities of interest. In the course of the first weeks in the field, helpful interlocutors in South-Central Mumbai were instrumental in further narrowing down the scope of my explorations in this area to an inconspicuous three-level structure a little off a busy road. A variety of religious sites along this road and its side lanes were visible marks of the locality’s cultural diversity, with a number of Hindu temples and shrines, Jain temples, mosques and dargāhs, a Jewish prayer hall and a Catholic church, as well as a Buddhist vihāra. With a total of ten units, their sizes varying from approximately 180 to 300 square feet, the building belonged to the type of architectural structure that accommodates rows of mostly single-room tenements on several floors, locally called a chawl.2 The families residing there had diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds: at the time of my fieldwork (mainly between 2015 and 2017) four families were Muslim (Shia and Sunni), three Hindu (Maharashtrian), one Jewish (Bene Israeli), one mixed (Jewish/Hindu) and one Christian (Goan Catholic). I visited three of these families a number of times, and they generously shared with me their life stories, talking also about various aspects of everyday life in the neighbourhood.3 Even though I have not gone back to the chawl for some time now, I still like to think of these conversations as ongoing and as part of a work in progress. The reflections on the margins of the collected material presented in the following are therefore

Religious plurality in a Mumbai chawl 207 preliminary. The focus lies on the data itself and the ways in which my research at this particular site  – one of several – unfolded. Unsurprisingly, the resulting essay consists mainly of passages that resemble a field diary. That being said, it also contains a few pointers to possible directions for more detailed analysis (to follow at a later stage), which would include material from other areas of Mumbai as well.

Contact My research in this part of the city evolved gradually, from repeatedly walking through the area to spending time at various places, to the more thorough exploration of mixed-religious dwelling. I crisscrossed the neighbourhood, stopping at various places, initiating conversations and spending time wherever I felt welcome enough. I remember a local pharmacist instantly giving me half of the orange he had just finished peeling, and we ended up talking about the Jain community he was part of. A pickle seller first praised and then gifted me his “world-famous” mixture of spices for seasoning fish. During a later visit we watched together a Muslim procession passing on the street from inside his shop. When I asked a tailor in one of the side lanes for directions, he was eager to help and went on explaining how parts of the area were reclaimed from the sea during the British period. Our subsequent conversations had as a recurring theme the question of the universality of religious ethics. To a rather terse owner of a flour mill I apparently looked both suspicious and harmless at the same time, a situation which resulted in us having a rather surreal exchange. I sat for a while at one of the neighbourhood temples, sipping tea and talking first about Hindu mythology with the priest and two visitors, then about particularities of the area. They were quick to point out the proximity of the temple to a Muslim neighbourhood they labelled – not entirely unexpectedly – “little Pakistan.” At one of the local dargāhs I tried to talk to the caretaker. He listened and seemed friendly but turned out to be uninterested in anything I had to say or ask. Then, one evening I sat on a bench outside the local church when mass just ended, and the participants were coming out. An elderly man approached me and inquired about where I was from, whether I was a Catholic and whether I had just come for a visit or for business purposes. I told him I was working at a Norwegian university and was interested to learn about the history and everyday life of the area’s communities. The man’s ten-year-old granddaughter joined us after a while, and the three of us engaged in a conversation about school and the girl’s favourite subject (English), about the weather (it was unusually warm for early February), and later about the locality in general and the dwindling number of parishioners (with a large part of the young people moving to the northern parts of the city). The man, whom I will call Mr Fernandes,4 was quite jovial and communicative and seemed to be sympathetic to my project. When it was time for them to leave, he invited me to go along and see the chawl where he and his family lived. Also, he wanted me to meet his downstairs neighbours.

208  István Keul

Lived multiculturalism, everyday peace and the nature of sanity Before the reader meets other residents of the building, a brief note on the directions in which my research evolved in those first weeks of interacting with interlocutors in various parts of the city will contribute to placing the material presented next in a more adequate context. In the course of fieldwork in SouthCentral Mumbai my initial research design became somewhat untidy, with the focus of inquiry gradually blurring and including aspects that had not been part of the project proposal.5 Exploring inter-religious perception and communication in socially and historically multilayered areas had sounded wonderful on paper and in the project application but proved to be difficult if not impossible to pursue in the field, at least not in the consistent and focused manner I had imagined. Other factors and perspectives had made their presence felt from the very first moments, and more pertinent themes seemed to suggest themselves, which contributed to a gradual shift of focus. Overall, the scope of my inquiry became broader, with additional research questions such as: How do individuals perceive their culturally diverse surroundings? How open are they in relation to culturally different others? To what extent – if at all – do they engage with people belonging to ethnic, cultural, religious and linguistic groups differing from their own? And, aimed at the chawl I was about to explore, which of the modes and degrees of individual engagement between residents will be prevalent? With other words, I first drifted, then steered towards the constantly growing field of scholarship on everyday multiculturalism. The wide-ranging possibilities resulting from multicultural encounters listed by Wise and Velayutham (2009) in the introduction to their eponymous edited volume offered a first orientation. Like their observation site, but embedded in a different socio-geographical context, the residential buildings I was looking at could also turn out to be sites of “conviviality, of light-touch rubbing along, of competition for space, everyday racism and cross-cultural discomforts, . . . of interethnic exchange and hybridity, encounter and hospitality” (2009: 2). In addition to interactions of potentially various kinds and intensity levels, there were other aspects to take into consideration as well, for example the stability of individual self-positionings in mixed-cultural settings. Scholars such as Glick Schiller and Irving (2015: 5) describe cultural openness as relational, aspirational and processual, as part of situated individual epistemologies. An exploration of individual life-worlds in a Mumbai chawl and the relational positionalities of their residents with regard to the culturally different others next door seemed to be an increasingly attractive task. From yet another perspective, that of peace studies, an ethnographic approach to “undramatic” sociality promised possible contributions to understanding the complexities and processual nature of everyday peace (Williams 2015). Reflecting on a passage from Amitav Ghosh’s The Shadow Lines (2008 [1988]: 254) (“that indivisible sanity that binds people to each other independent of their governments”), Laura Ring ends her study of the Karachi apartment building by emphasising the need for analytical

Religious plurality in a Mumbai chawl 209 inquiry into the nature of such sanity, or everyday peace, “its forms of authority, narrative properties, sensibilities, and contingencies” (2006: 182). While this gradual widening of my research focus unburdened me somewhat and offered useful theoretical vectors and coordinates, it made me aware of the limitations of my fieldwork and the consequences for my material and subsequent analysis. Not having the possibility to reside in the building(s) under study for a longer period of time, I had to rely on repeated interactions with my interlocutors in the form of conversations about their life histories and everyday lives, hoping to observe and document in the process the one or other serendipitous neighbourly exchange as well.

Mr Nawgaonkar Mr Fernandes did introduce me to the downstairs neighbours on that same night. Two octogenarian men – Mr Fernandes’s neighbour, whom I will call Mr Nawgaonkar,6 together with a visitor – sitting under a lazily rotating fan in a rather dimly lit corner of the ground-floor tenement greeted us warmly when we entered. “He is a professor at a university in Norway and wants to study how we live,” Mr Fernandes said after a brief exchange of social niceties, and the two aged gentlemen nodded approvingly in my direction. I introduced myself, talked briefly about my research interests and sat around for some time listening to the neighbours chatting about a common acquaintance, apparently continuing an earlier conversation. After a while, Mr Nawgaonkar said he was happy to see that I was interested in the history of the Jewish communities in Mumbai, adding that, while around 1950 there had been more than 50,000 Jews in the city, today there were only a few thousand left, in spite of 2,000 years of Jewish history in the area.7 He then mentioned Marx, Freud and Einstein as towering Jewish figures of European cultural history. “He knows so many things,” Mr Fernandes said admiringly to me, to which Mr Nawgaonkar replied that he had always been interested in history and had gone to very good schools, mentioning the Catholic school of the area and Mumbai’s Jesuit-founded St Xavier’s College. To this, Mr Fernandes interjected proudly: “Yes, it was us [the Catholics] who provided education to everybody.” Mr Nawgaonkar nodded again and said that I was welcome to return and meet with him on one of the coming days. We exchanged phone numbers and I took my leave. Mr  Fernandes excused himself as well and left the ground-floor flat together with me. Before going up the flight of stairs leading to his floor, he reassured me that I was in good hands and that I will most surely find out everything I needed to know from Mr Nawgaonkar, whom he – once again – characterised as a very knowledgeable interlocutor who may have a surprise or two to share. Mr Fernandes also said that he was hoping to see me again and extended what sounded like an open invitation for a cup of tea at his place. When I called Mr Nawgaonkar the next day, he sounded eager to meet. Pleasantly surprised by the impact I seemed to have made, I happily cancelled my plans for fieldwork in another part of the city and went to see him. After I reiterated my

210  István Keul interest in the multicultural neighbourhood and especially the religiously diverse building he was living in, the first thing Mr  Nawgaonkar told me was that the building was more than 100 years old and that, at some point, all the rooms had once belonged to Jewish families, most of whom migrated to Israel from 1948 onwards. He was quick to point out that he had never experienced anti-Semitism in India and neither had those Bene Israeli who left the country. The coexistence of Jews and Hindus in Mumbai had always been peaceful, he said, and its harmoniousness was well illustrated by the fact that many members of the Jewish community (him included) gave up eating beef a long time ago. When I asked him whether he knew who the first non-Jewish resident in the building was, he replied that he did not know, but he supposed they were Bohra Muslims. The first hour of our meeting was spent talking mostly about issues related to the Jewish community, despite my occasional attempts to steer the conversation towards questions concerning his everyday experiences in a multicultural residential context. The themes alternated between contemporary and historical ones, Mr Nawgaonkar talking, for instance, about one of the community’s trustees opposing the reopening of the Worli Jewish cemetery for burials and about the arrogance displayed for many decades by Mumbai’s Baghdadi Jews8 in their dealings with the Bene Israelis. When I asked about his family history, he told me that his parents had migrated to Israel in the 1970s together with his younger brother. We talked about their lives, both in India and in Israel, and their professions, with all male family members including Mr Nawgaonkar (who never married) having worked in relatively high positions in the city’s economic and administrative sectors. When I asked him about his everyday life in the neighbourhood, he again at first seemed to evade the question by talking mainly about his self-imposed marginalisation in the local Jewish community, as a result of a perceived lack of transparency on the side of the community leaders. But then he suddenly mentioned his upstairs neighbour Mr Fernandes as someone with whom he had a good relationship and regularly discussed politics and other issues. When I asked him to tell me about the Muslim families in the building and his interactions with them, Mr Nawgaonkar replied – again rather evasively – that there were no problems whatsoever, that he had good neighbourly relations with everybody and that he had not experienced anti-Semitism in his entire life. Then, after a few moments of silence, which I used for quickly finishing my notes on our latest exchange, he mentioned almost casually that some years ago he took in Ravi, a Hindu boy, who gradually became like an own son to him. When the young man reached marital age, Mr Nawgaonkar travelled to Uttar Pradesh, to the home village of his adopted son, found a bride and arranged their marriage. The young couple moved in with him, and today, he said, he was the grandfather of two beautiful, intelligent children. Noticing my somewhat surprised look, Mr Nawgaonkar added that both at the time of my last visit, as well as now, the young people were not at home, and that I will most certainly have the opportunity to meet them next time. My first longer encounter with Mr  Nawgaonkar was revealing in several respects. In addition to learning about the rather unusual biographical details and

Religious plurality in a Mumbai chawl 211 the living arrangement he was part of, I was left wondering whether his repeatedly evasive reactions to my questions about everyday interactions with his neighbours or other culturally different residents of the area were deliberate deflections, or just random expressions of his momentary lack of interest in talking about the matter. Even though I had described to him in some detail the broadly crosscultural thrust of my research project, he seemed to view our meetings primarily as opportunities to converse about the history of the Jewish communities of Mumbai, ignoring most of the time my occasional questions aimed at lived cultural and religious diversity and cultural difference. In the weeks and months to come, I experienced similar reactions from my other interlocutors in the building as well.

Mr Fernandes Soon after meeting him for the first time, I went to Mr Fernandes’s place. His wife prepared tea and we sat in the living room talking about family history. He told me that he was a Goan Catholic and that his family came to Mumbai in the 1940s, when he was six years old. He said he felt the need to clarify one thing, as this was something people often got wrong: the Goan Catholics did not convert to Christianity but were descendants of Portuguese who had married Goan women. About his childhood he did not have much to say, except that he grew up in another tenement in the same area and received up to eighth standard free education at the local Catholic school. He started working at an early age in his father’s metal workshop, got married when he was 22, and continued to live, together with his wife and children, in his parents’ home. When the tenement was sold for redevelopment purposes – with both his parents having passed away a few years earlier – Mr and Mrs Fernandes and their five children moved into the present building. The year was 1980, and they bought the tenancy rights for the 300-square-feet room from the Hindu family who had lived there before them. The landlord was a Bohra Muslim. Mr Fernandes, in the meantime a trained mechanic, worked in a garage for some time, before founding together with a partner his own business of producing elevator parts. Since he moved in, two Bohra families replaced a Hindu and a Jewish family in the chawl. Mr Fernandes then talked about the exponential growth of rent rates and housing prices in this part of the city, noting that buying tenancy rights today would cost him almost a hundred times the amount paid in 1980. When I asked him about his relationship with the other tenants in the building, he was quick to point out that there were no problems at all with any of them, except on rare occasions when children quarrelled and parents had to intervene. He then remarked that they had always been the only Catholic family in the building, which he found strange, given that in the 1980s there were still many Christians in the area. But the number of parishioners had been steadily decreasing over the years, with the young people moving away in search for a better life in the northern, less congested parts of the city, only to realise, he said, that they were not happier there, on the contrary. Four of his children had done that and they were constantly complaining. In many areas there were no proper cemeteries even,

212  István Keul he said, giving the conversation a somewhat surprising twist. To be sure, he went on, there was the central one at Mahalakshmi, but in Mahim, for example, they had to bury their dead in the vicinity of the church. This was fortunately not the case here, and even if small, the congregation was still vigorous to a certain extent. He himself went to mass two or three times a week, his wife even more often. Having received the evasive response I was already prepared for, I then inquired directly whether there were any special occasions, such as festivals or other functions, when the building’s residents came together. Mr Fernandes reacted to my question by talking about the exchange of sweets and other typical dishes among the residents during various religious festivals: the Muslims sent over sheer korma at Id (Eid), the Hindus sent chakli at Divali, the Jewish families sent malida and pakoras at Hanukkah and Mrs Fernandes reciprocated at Christmas with coconut gujias, kulkuls and other sweets. Listening to Mr Fernandes talk about what sounded like ongoing neighbourly conviviality, for a moment I already saw myself snowballing through the homes of every family in the building and having long conversations about their everyday experiences with their culturally different neighbours, only to realise in the next moment how non-specific his replies until then had been. (He did not say, for instance, that Ms  Gupta made wonderfully juicy gulab jamuns, or that the Ahmeds would always send their little boy over with a plate of sweets.) I asked him nevertheless towards the end of our conversation whether he could put me in contact with his neighbours, to which he replied jovially that this was no problem and that I should call him in a day or two. However, when I did, he sounded very apologetic, saying that he was not able to get anyone to talk to me. He explained that most of his neighbours were not at home during the day, and, besides, some were uneducated and could not have helped me anyway.

Ms Lohawala I was standing with Mr Nawgaonkar in the backyard of the chawl on a warm evening in June when a young woman wearing a rida, the typical two-piece dress of the Bohras,9 came rushing down the stairs. She greeted Mr Nawgaonkar and headed towards one of the scooters parked in the yard. A few minutes earlier I had asked Mr Nawgaonkar (once again) whether he saw any possibility to introduce me to one of his neighbours, and he replied that this would be probably difficult, as he did not have much contact with the people staying upstairs, except for Mr Fernandes, but that he would see what he could do. As I had heard this before, I did not have much hope. But this time, as the woman was starting up the scooter, we approached her, introductions were made, and an appointment fixed for later that same week to meet with her and her family. As it turned out, the Lohawalas’ flat was only two doors away from the double unit where the Fernandeses lived. Mr Lohawala had to work that afternoon, so I talked to Ms Lohawala and her 15-year-old son Ismail. They were both accommodating, although – at least in the beginning of our conversation – also somewhat

Religious plurality in a Mumbai chawl  213 reserved. I briefly described my research project, answered a few questions on my own background and suggested to begin with the Lohawala family history, and Ms Lohawala graciously obliged. Her grandparents from the mother’s side hailed from a village in Gujarat, while those from her father’s side were Mumbaikars. When she was a child, her family lived in one of Mumbai’s northern suburbs, where she also attended the English-medium community school. She pointed out that this was a school run by the Bohras themselves and founded by the spiritual leader of community, who had died recently (with the leadership being passed on to his son). Later, Ms Lohawala obtained a B.Com from one of the colleges in Mira Road. She was now a housewife, and the income for the family was provided by her husband, who ran a hardware business. We then talked briefly about the advantages of an English education, and Ms Lohawala said that there was never a doubt in her mind that her two children (her eight-year-old daughter was visiting a friend at the time of our conversation) would attend English schools as well and that her husband was of the same opinion. When I asked her about her family’s history in this building and their everyday lives and experiences with the neighbours over the years, Ms Lohawala gave me a detailed listing of how long each family had been residing on their (the first) floor, how long the previous residents had lived in their (the Lohawalas’) room, as well as its size and floor plan. To begin with, she pointed out that they were the last to move in seven years ago, all the others having lived there for several decades: The Fernandeses for 30 years (it was actually 35), one of the Maharashtrian Hindu families for more than 50 years, the other for 30 years. On the same floor there was also another Bohra family (living here for at least 20 years), the remaining room being occupied by “some Muslim [non-Bohra] family,” who had been in the building for 30 years. She then went on to enumerate the residents who previously lived in their (the Lohawalas’) unit: Hindus, then Bohras (for 30  years), another Bohra family for seven years and then “some Muslim guy” who had bought the tenancy rights as an investment and from whom they took over seven years ago. The Lohawalas’ unit had a size of 180 square feet (approximately 16.5 square metres), which meant basically the room we were sitting in (on a mattress on the floor), where “everything [was] happening: eating, sleeping, studying” (Ms Lohawala); a rather crammed kitchen corner behind a mid-height partition wall; and a small bathroom with a washing machine. The shared toilets were outside, Ismail added, pointing towards one end of the open hallway running in front of the rooms. I then asked again about the neighbourly relations on their floor, and Ms Lohawala said that everything was fine, that they greeted each other in the hallway and in the staircase, and that this pretty much summed up all the interaction. How about a chawl committee, I inquired? Were there any regular meetings of the tenants to discuss building maintenance and such? No, there was nothing like that, she said. Only when some urgent repair was needed would the residents call an ad-hoc meeting. Asked about possible get-togethers with the occasion of religious festivals, Ms Lohawala explained that at Christmas they would get cake from

214  István Keul the Christians, and that they, the Lohawalas, reciprocated at Id, when they used to send sweets to everyone in the building. And at Divali, the Hindus distributed their specific dishes. The residents did not participate in each other’s celebrations, she said; they gave each other the sweets, wished Happy Christmas, Id or Divali, and that was it. We then talked about Ismail’s time-consuming school and sports activities and the fact that he grew up having no playmates his age in the building. We spent the remaining part of my visit touching on a wide range of topics related mostly to the Bohra community: the Raudat Tahera (the imposing mausoleum of the community’s leaders, with the Quran engraved on its inner walls) and the Saifee mosque (both located in Bhendi Bazaar); other Bohra mosques in Mumbai; the differences between the various Muslim communities; the Lohawalas’ daily religious practices (frequency and timings of the daily prayers, their weekly visits to the mosque); the languages spoken in the family (Hindi, English, Marathi, Gujarati); the peculiarities of the Lisan ud-Dawat, the language specific to the community. Ismail talked about his upcoming participation in the misaq ceremony and explained the difference between a festive topi (cap) with a golden border and the regular white one he was wearing. We parted cordially, with Ismail offering to accompany me to the Raudat Tahera on my next visit.

Ms Thakur The marriage he arranged for his adoptive son cost a lot of money, Mr Nawgaonkar said when I visited the chawl again. But he never regretted all that money, as both the new wife and later the grandchildren turned out to be kind and well behaved. One of them, the boy, a vivacious fifth-grader, had just left for a game of cricket on the playground behind the chawl, close to a bust of Chatrapati Shivaji. Ravi, his father, was not at home, and his mother could be heard working in the kitchen in a remote corner of the flat. The Jews were not converted to Islam precisely because of Shivaji, who protected the Hindus and created an empire out of nothing, my host said. He was a Maratha warrior, and the Marathas never harmed the Jews. And there was never any anti-Semitism in India, he added once again. It took some time before we could return to my questions concerning his adoptive son’s family. First, I listened to Mr Nawgaonkar talk about Prophet Elijah’s ascent to heaven from a rock near Alibag, a coastal town in the Raigad district; the conquest of Israel by the Assyrian king Sargon II, the subsequent exiling of the region’s inhabitants and the arrival of the legendary seven ships to the shores of India; the differences between Bene Israel and Baghdadi Jews with regard to their Jewish heritage and respective religious practices; the Yad Vashem memorial and the impossibility of visiting it only once; the genetic similarities between the Pathans of Malihabad and the Jews; the major role played by J. F. R. Jacob, an Indian general of Jewish descent and later governor of Goa and Punjab, in the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. Mr Nawgaonkar adopted Ravi Thakur when he (Ravi) was ten years old. He had come to Mumbai from a village near Allahabad, where his father, a small farmer,

Religious plurality in a Mumbai chawl 215 had experienced financial difficulties and decided to send his son to work for a distant relative in the city. In Mumbai, Ravi ended up as a tea stall boy, which is how he and Mr Nawgaonkar met: he delivered tea when Mr Nawgaonkar had meetings with colleagues in a nearby hall. Even after moving in with Mr Nawgaonkar, Ravi did not go to school much, learning with a private teacher how to properly read and write. Already as a boy he was very intelligent, Mr Nawgaonkar said, adding that he had now put Ravi in charge of managing his (Mr Nawgaonkar’s) stocks, paying him a fixed monthly salary. In the meantime, Ravi’s wife Ms Thakur joined the conversation. She had not been very happy during her early years in Mumbai, she said, but felt now more adjusted. For the first six to seven months she did not leave the house at all, but then she started going to the market, and things got better from there. She must have gotten to know her Hindu neighbours upstairs well during those first months, I said. No, she replied. Even if they were Hindus, they were Maharashtrians, and they only spoke to her when absolutely necessary. Which was fine, Mr  Nawgaonkar interjected on his way out, because she was already busy enough raising the children, going to the market, cooking and doing other housework anyway. When we were alone, Ms Thakur told me that she occasionally met with other women from UP when visiting a Ganapati shrine nearby but otherwise did not make many acquaintances here. Once in every two or three years she returned to her home village, often in connection with some life-cycle ritual for her children that she needed to perform in the village temple. The most recent ceremony they had to arrange was the muṇḍan (first haircut) for her son, she said. His hair was offered to the village goddess, together with the blood of a piglet. Ms  Thakur added that it was an expensive affair with many people, priests, an artistic programme and whatnot. Expectations in the village were higher, now that they were known to be coming from the big city, and her children were the first from that entire area to go to convent school. But they had no choice: upanayana, marriage, everything had to be done in the village temple, otherwise the goddess would get angry (devī gussā hogī). Which goddess, I asked? She was the village goddess and the kuldevī (family deity) at the same time, she said, who had been in the family for many generations, and they just called her “Kuldevi.” Ms Thakur then showed me a shrine in the wall beneath the TV set, with small images of Ganesha, Hanuman and Shiva, and pictures of Sai Baba and Durga. They were all equally important to her, she said when I asked about her iṣṭadevatā, her chosen deity, and every morning she performed a collective pūjā for them. We talked about her relatives back in the village (three brothers, one sister, all doing agricultural work, khetī kā kām); a case of levirate marriage in the family; the financial privileges that went with the harijan status during the rule of Mayavati, which lead many members of other jātis in her village to declare themselves harijans; the gradual improvements in health care and schools during the past years. Then, Mr Nawgaonkar returned and rejoined the conversation by saying that Ms Thakur was an excellent housewife, except for one thing. She went to the market regularly and prepared delicious dishes for the family but refused to shop at the fish market. Ms Thakur nodded in consent, saying that she could not stand

216  István Keul the smell there. She added that she had no problems cooking chicken and mutton, even though her family in the village was vegetarian. When a little later Ms Thakur excused herself, I asked Mr Nawgaonkar what he as a Bene Israeli thought about the images of Hindu deities in his house, to which he shrugged and said that the Jewish community had a long history of living together with Hindus, reminded me that he had stopped eating beef long before he met Ravi, and that when he was younger, he and his friends used to regularly participate in the annual Ganapati celebrations. Accordingly, he said, he did not have any problems at all with the Thakurs worshipping their deities, or with participating in religious functions connected to his grandchildren’s saṁskāras, or during festivals. “On all these occasions, we stand,” he said, “but we do not pray, fold our hands, or bow.”

Concluding remarks As already suspected, the repeated visits to this multireligious chawl in SouthCentral Mumbai did not offer opportunities to observe more than only a few fleeting neighbourly encounters. However, as the preceding pages hopefully showed, the conversations with members of resident families were earnest and informative. Yielding apparently limited insight into cross-cultural neighbourly relations in the building, they offered nevertheless a glimpse at strategies of dealing with culturally different others living next door. Certain recurrent patterns encountered in the conversations merit further consideration in future detailed analyses of the material, such as the interlocutors’ evasive answers when asked about experiences and opportunities of living in culturally mixed environments, or the (often lengthy) accounts of historical events and of doctrinal and ritual aspects concerning the interlocutors’ respective religious communities, likely indications of their pronounced community identity.10 The time spent with the people in the building seems to suggest that a civil and peaceful sociality across religious boundaries can be maintained even without building close personal relationships. While conscious of the dangers of drawing hasty parallels, the recipe for maintaining a peaceful everyday in this chawl did not seem to differ at the surface very much from what I had experienced in my childhood growing up in a multi-ethnic block of flats and from what most probably is a defining feature of many similar residential constellations: a combination of pragmatism, politeness and indifference. Of these, it is the latter ingredient in the mix, indifference, that will receive increased attention in the further work with the material collected in this and other mixed-religious neighbourhoods in Mumbai. Singled out in early social theory (Simmel 1903 [1995]) as one of the behavioural responses of individuals to the close proximity encountered in urban environments, reflections on the notion of indifference can be found not only in contemporary social theory (Amin 2012) but also in literature on everyday multiculturalism and situated cosmopolitanism (Wise 2009). In a range of possible reactions and attitudes vis-à-vis cultural otherness, indifference seems to occupy there a middle position between apprehension / cross-cultural discomfort and the

Religious plurality in a Mumbai chawl 217 wholehearted embracing of the other, somewhere in the vicinity of reserved scepticism and the concept of “parallel lives.” In Stichweh’s outline of a sociology of indifference, the notion is described as an “attitudinal complex” that is the result of “an incessant sorting out of most persons present to whom no further attention is given” (1997: 11). Stichweh draws on complementary perspectives developed by Goffman (“civil inattention,” or mutual non-engagement)11 and Silver (“routine benevolence”) (1985: 64). In addition, Bailey’s “civility of indifference” and “commonsensical pragmatism” (1996), developed in his analysis of social dynamics and hierarchy in rural Orissa, and Amit’s “watchful indifference” as a form of attentive co-presence (2020) are among the potentially useful perspectives to be considered in a forthcoming comparative analysis of a broader corpus of interviews conducted across South-Central Mumbai.

Notes 1 This essay is the outcome of an interdisciplinary, international research project on religion in Mumbai initiated by Michael Stausberg, based at the University of Bergen and funded by the Research Council of Norway (2014–2018). The project did not follow the more common strategy of looking at one specific religious tradition or movement, focusing instead on places and geographical areas and attempting to capture broader pictures that would simultaneously include a range of religious affiliations. The quote is from the project application. On the extraordinary cultural diversity of the city and its historical development see Fernandes (2013), Prakash (2010), Dwiwedi and Mehrotra (1995) and others. 2 On the history and typology of the chawl, see Adarkar (2011: 16f). 3 I am grateful to all my conversation partners for the time they spent with me, their openness, patience and hospitality. 4 This is not his real name, and the same applies to all my other conversation partners in this essay. In order to protect my interlocutors’ identity, I changed their names and altered parts of their socio-biographical data. 5 For a more detailed discussion of the initial stages of my research in Mumbai, see also Keul (2021: 37f). 6 The names of members of the Bene Israel Jewish community are very often biblical first names followed by surnames that end in -kar and refer to villages in the Konkan (Alibag) area: Nawgaon, Pen, Wakrul, Kurul, Kihim, Dive and others. 7 For a history of the Bene Israel Jewish community in India (and a bibliography), see Numark (2012). 8 On this Jewish community, see Weil (2019). 9 On the Dawoodi Bohras, see, for instance, Blank (2001). 10 Williams (2015: 14) correctly observes that spatial proximity can lead to a stronger demarcation of such identities and affiliations instead of intensified neighbourly exchanges and interaction. 11 “One appreciates that the other is present . . . while at the next moment withdrawing one’s attention from him so as to express that he does not constitute a target of special curiosity” (Goffman 1963: 84).

References Adarkar, N. (ed) (2011) The Chawls of Mumbai: Galleries of life. New Delhi: Imprint One. Amin, A. (2012) Land of Strangers. Cambridge: Polity Press.

218  István Keul Amit, V. (2020) “Rethinking Anthropological Perspectives on Community: Watchful Indifference and Joint Commitment.” In B. Jansen (ed) Rethinking Community Through Transdisciplinary Research. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 49–67. Bailey, F. G. (1996) The Civility of Indifference: On Domesticating Ethnicity. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Blank, J. (2001) Mullahs on the Mainframe: Islam and Modernity Among the Daudi Bohras. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Dwiwedi, S. and R. Mehrotra (1995) Bombay: The Cities Within. Bombay: Eminence Designs. Fernandes, N. (2013) City Adrift: A Short Biography of Bombay. New Delhi: Aleph. Ghosh, A. (2008 [1988]) The Shadow Lines. New Delhi: Ravi Dayal Publisher and Penguin Books. Glick Schiller, N. and A. Irving (2015) “Introduction: What’s in a Word? What’s in a Question?” In N. Glick Schiller and A. Irving (eds) Whose Cosmopolitanism? Critical Perspectives, Relationalities and Discontents. New York: Berghahn, pp. 1–22. Goffman, E. (1963) Behavior in Public Places. Glencoe, IL: Free Press. Keul, I. (2021) “Ethnographic Approaches: Contextual Religious Cosmopolitanisms in Mumbai.” In K. Day and E. M. Edwards (eds) The Routledge Handbook of Religion and Cities. Abingdon, New York: Routledge, pp. 35–47. Numark, M. (2012) “Hebrew School in Nineteenth-Century Bombay: Protestant Missionaries, Cochin Jews, and the Hebraization of India’s Bene Israel Community.” Modern Asian Studies 46 (6): 1764–1808. Prakash, G. (2010) Mumbai Fables. New Delhi: HarperCollins. Ring, L. A. (2006) Zenana: Everyday Peace in a Karachi Apartment Building. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Silver, A. (1985) “ ‘Trust’ in Social and Political Theory.” In G. D. Suttles and M. N. Zald (eds) The Challenge of Social Control: Citizenship and Institution-Building in Modern Society. Norwood, NJ: Ablex Publishing Corporation, pp. 52–67. Simmel, G. (1903 [1995]) “Die Großstädte und das Geistesleben.” In R. Kramme, A. Rammstedt and O. Rammstedt (eds) Georg Simmel, Aufsätze und Abhandlungen, 1901– 1908, Bd. 1, Gesamtausgabe, Bd. 7. Frankfurt a. M.: Suhrkamp, pp. 116–131. Stichweh, R. (1997) “The Stranger: On the Sociology of Indifference.” Thesis Eleven 51 (1): 1–16. Williams, P. (2015) Everyday Peace? Politics, Citizenship and Muslim Lives in India. Chichester: Wiley Blackwell. Weil, S. (2019) The Baghdadi Jews in India: Maintaining Communities, Negotiating Identities and Creating Super-Diversity. Abingdon, New York: Routledge. Wise, A. (2009) “Everyday Multiculturalism: Transversal Crossings and Working-Class Cosmopolitans.” In A. Wise and S. Velayutham (eds) Everyday Multiculturalism. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 21–45. Wise, A. and S. Velayutham (2009) “Introduction: Multiculturalism and Everyday Life.” In A. Wise and S. Velayutham (eds) Everyday Multiculturalism. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan, pp. 1–17.

Index

aesthetics 83, 100; in gardens 131; gestures of 188; Islamic 77; of women 105 affects 40, 90, 92 – 93, 132, 183 – 185 Allahabad 25, 58, 161, 164, 214 Ambedkar, B. R. 12 Amritsar 57 – 58, 60, 67 – 68 animals 128 – 129 Ansaris 168 – 172 anti-Semitism 210, 214 Appadurai, Arjun 2, 74, 90 architecture: British 120 – 121; Islamic 16, 73; religious 15, 17; temple 41; urban 11 Arya Samaj 17 – 18 aspiration 6, 20, 128 Assam 132 Assi ghat 164, 166 – 167, 173 assimilation: cultural 122; everyday 164; forced 89; resistance to 5, 93; spirit of 123 astronomy 47 – 48 Auroville 6, 138 Ayodhya 88, 161 Baghdadi Jews 210, 214 Bangladesh 150, 214 beauty: architectural 25; Brahman 28; creation of 74, 83; magical 167; settings for 4 Bene Israel 8, 206, 210, 214, 216 Besant, Annie 134 – 135 Bhagavad Gita 105, 177, 184 birth 65, 144; Buddha’s 129; Jinarajadasa’s 135; the Prophet’s 4, 72, 74, 83; of a saint 17 black magic 29, 150 blasphemy 33, 74 Bodh Gaya 129, 139 – 140 Bohras 211, 213 – 214 Bollywood 103, 184 – 186

borders 9, 10, 81 boundaries: community 76; of empires 42, 50; geographical 193; religious 9, 24, 26, 29, 216; social 10, 74, 81, 90; spatial 4, 147 Brahmaputra 132 British India 9, 11, 39, 44 calligraphy 33 capitalism: electronic 7, 185; histories of 133; print 7, 177 – 178, 182, 188; Protestant ethos of 177 cash crops 43 Census of India 24 – 25 Chennai 116, 119, 134 Christmas 73, 212 – 214 citizenship 84, 163, 172, 179, 200 class 10, 25, 186 cohabitation 8, 147, 181 communalism 7, 170, 173 Communist Party of India (Marxist) 145, 155 Congress Party 15, 18, 170, 172 converts 42, 48 conviviality 208, 211 corruption 92, 109, 165 – 166 cosmopolitanism 216 cotton mills 25 cricket 106, 179, 214 Curzon, Lord George 117, 122 – 123 Dalits 25, 46, 167, 169, 177, 182 dance 17, 75, 119, 164, 185 – 187 dargāh 15 – 17, 24, 32 – 33, 149 – 154, 206 death 30, 56, 65 – 66, 74, 130, 136, 138; anniversary of 17, 60; discomfort with 34; near- 5, 103; Sati’s 119 de Certeau, Michel 147, 149 demarcation 5, 27, 61, 90 – 91

220 Index demonetisation 170 diaspora 164, 185 discrimination 170, 172 – 173 disharmony 34, 137, 147, 172 Divali 56, 212, 214 diversity: cultural 8, 206, 208, 211; regional 161; religious 2, 15, 161, 210 – 211 domination 104, 139 Durga 30, 34, 153, 155, 171, 215 dwelling 1, 40, 90, 128, 207 earthquake 94 East India Company 42 – 49, 120, 122 Eck, Diana 2, 160, 162, 164 education 124, 130, 149, 181, 209; by the Arya Samaj 18; Christian 40, 47 – 48; demand of 77; English-language 41, 213; formal 84; free 211; higher 100; management 112; networks 3; public school 186; women’s 44 election 7, 160; campaign 88, 165; general 26; state 96, 171; victory 170 elites: colonial 43; commercial 161; Muslim 154; new 10, 20; ruling 74; urban 180 eschatology 176 ethics 12, 131, 133 – 134, 177, 207 ethnography 25, 94, 146 – 147 evangelicals 39 – 40 evangelisation 40, 45 – 46 exceptionalism 51 exorcism 31, 150 Facebook 110, 121, 183 fantasy 72 – 73, 82, 186 – 187 fauna 136 flora 136 flowers 135 – 138 Gandhi, Mahatma 12, 151, 178 Ganesha/Ganapati 48 – 50, 76, 215 – 216 Ganga 31, 162 – 166, 168, 170 gardeners 27, 140 gender 75 – 76, 83, 108, 134, 200; genderrelated crimes 9, 107; politics of 105 genealogies 3, 6, 128 – 129 ghettoisation 146, 155 ghost 31, 157 gift 34, 40, 124, 131, 140 Goan Catholics 8, 206, 211 graveyard 11, 14 – 15, 156 – 157, 170 Gujarat 26, 170 – 171, 213 Guru Granth 4, 28 – 29, 56 – 60, 63 – 64, 68 – 69 Guru Nanak 57 – 63, 65 – 67

Hanuman 31, 34, 91, 135, 151, 215 harassment 150, 154, 171 harmony 16, 137, 154 hegemony 2, 11, 19, 49, 109 heterogeneity 16, 25 – 26 heterotopia 82 hierarchy 146, 154, 157, 217 Hinduisation 5, 108 historiography 25, 120 Holi 56, 77, 171 Hooghly River 118, 122 Hyderabad 34, 63 – 64, 77 icon 102, 112, 115, 120 iconography 41, 122 idealism 176 idiom 17, 102 – 103, 128; architectural 194; religious 164; traditional 111 idolatry 33, 41, 49 – 50 imaginaries 140, 145; apocalyptic 133; evangelical 39; local 51; national 199; nationalist 108; political 193; social 192; vernacular 128 imperialism 122; Christian 39, 50; critiques of 134; green 140; intellectual 146 independence 11 – 12, 15, 102, 116, 132 indifference 8, 16, 216 – 217 infrastructure: colonial 41; decaying 72; economic 14; Islamic 13; nation’s 201; religious 9, 13; social 14; urban 43, 84, 162 – 163 innovation 75, 104, 116, 163, 179 investors 108 – 109, 163 Israel 191, 210, 214 Jewish community 8, 209 – 211, 214, 216 Jinnah, Muhammad Ali 7, 193 – 194, 200 jungle 118, 122, 132, 136 Karachi 194, 206, 208 Kashmir 179, 193 Kyoto 163, 167, 170 Lefebvre, Henri 10, 149, 163 liberalisation 26, 100 – 101, 116, 179, 181 lifestyle 101 – 104, 107, 181, 186 life-worlds 5, 100, 124, 128, 208 Macron, Emmanuel 164 majoritarianism 11, 145 – 147, 150, 182 Marathas 64, 160, 177, 214 marriage: arranged 104, 210, 214 – 215; companionate 47, 49; melodrama 185 masjid 26, 155, 168 materiality 6, 40, 94, 128 mazar 150, 153, 155 – 157

Index  221 Mecca 57, 69 memories 46, 92, 121, 132, 147, 188 migration 2, 9, 17, 131, 183 minority: absence 199; experiences 192; Muslim 89, 145, 150, 154 – 155, 193; non-Muslim 201; populations 199 Modi, Narendra 7, 25 – 26, 160, 162 – 167, 170, 180 multiculturalism 208, 216 monument 117, 120 – 121, 123 – 124 Muharram 29 – 31, 76 – 77 museum 5, 115, 120, 122, 170 music 75, 102, 164, 166, 185 – 186 mythology 93, 133, 151, 177, 207 nationalism: cultural 109, 177, 184; Hindu 5, 18, 88, 108 – 112, 161, 172 – 173, 177, 182, 184; religious 4, 24, 76 – 77 nature 130, 132, 136 – 139 Nehru, Jawaharlal 9, 11 – 12, 16, 178, 200 normativity 11, 75, 165, 179, 182 Norway 1, 32, 207, 209 openness 3, 5, 122, 197, 208 organism 94, 136 origins 50, 118, 120, 129 Orissa 217 parikramā 56, 65, 67 Patel, Vallabhbhai 12 pavement 157 – 158 pedestrian 130 Peshawar 197, 202 philanthropy 140 piety 41, 51, 75, 176, 185 pluralism 15, 181, 197 polarisation 24, 35, 177 police 145, 149; administration 172; demonstrations against 14; forces 13; personnel 30; presence of 91; response 172 pollution 25, 165, 167 poverty 11, 72, 186 Prayag(raj) see Allahabad preservation 4, 10, 12, 69, 121 pride: in the context of Milad 73, 78; cultural 120 – 121; masculine 83; national 165, 170; in relation to a particular brand 182; in Sikhism 65 processions: Dashahra 67; Milad 73; Muharram 29 – 31, 76 – 77; Nagarkirtan 29 – 30; religious 116, 145, 157; Sikh 66 – 68 public sphere 76, 109 – 110, 158 purity 33, 167

railway 60, 66, 78, 172, 199 reform movements 15, 17, 24 refugees 13 – 14, 17 – 18, 27, 150, 154 renaissance 122, 160 renewal 5, 43, 87 rickshaw 27, 31, 147, 152 – 153, 167 rights 76, 154; cultural 169; economic 169; hereditary 46; human 179; socioeconomic 170; tenancy 211, 213; universe of 184; violations of 108; of women and minorities 179 Ring, Laura 206, 208 Rockefeller, John D. 50 RSS (Rashtriya Svayamsevak Sangh) 11, 176 – 177 Sabbath 45 – 46, 51 sanctum 66 – 67, 115, 117 secularism 109 – 110, 155, 172, 178 – 179 Shiva: city of 167; devotee 108; embodiment 144; existence of 34; invocation of 33, 35, 164; posters 151 Sindh 193, 196 sindur 150 slum 1, 88, 149, 180 Sri Lanka 44, 139 statehood 2, 19 Sufi: healer 34; norms 34; orders 15 – 16; saints 15 – 17; shrines 10, 15 – 16, 24, 149 – 150; spaces 34 Swachh Bharat 162, 165 – 166, 169 – 170 sweets 118, 151, 212, 214 synagogue 135, 206 takht 4, 56 taxation 43 – 44 tāziyā 29 – 30 technocracy 104 – 106 technology 5, 84, 100, 180, 194 television 81, 151, 180 – 181, 185, 188 tenants 43, 211, 213 tenement 8, 209, 211 tensions: communal 161, 168, 172; contemporary 177; domestic 192, 195; Hindu-Muslim 14, 16, 18, 31, 201; majority-minority 200; work 124 territorialisation 4, 63, 69, 192 – 193 theology 40, 104, 177, 188 Tipu Sultan 149 tīrthas 30, 57, 58, 69 toilets 164, 167, 170, 213 tourism 120, 166, 173, 181; growth of 161 – 162, 168; potential for 165 Towns Improvement Act 43 trauma 9, 24, 197, 201, 202 trident 151, 163

222 Index Trinamool Congress 145, 155 Twitter 110 – 111, 162, 166, 170, 183 urbanisation 109, 162, 181 Urs 16 – 17, 32 utopia 82, 130 Uttar Pradesh 24 – 25, 87, 160 – 161, 167 – 169, 180, 210 values 27, 82; Christian 40; Hindu 110 – 111, 170; Islamic 75, 77; Pakistani 198; Protestant 49; Western 123

van der Veer, Peter 20, 76, 134 Vedanta 130, 177 Vishvanath temple 91, 93, 95, 166; beautification 88 – 89; compound 87; emphasis to 168; transformation of 4 wealth 66, 74, 83, 149; difference in 150; displays of 74; national 100, 196 World War II 9, 135, 192 – 195 yoga 64, 131, 138, 166 – 167, 181