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The Oxford History of Hinduism: Modern Hinduism
 019879083X, 9780198790839

Table of contents :
Cover
The Oxford History of Hinduism: Modern Hinduism
Copyright
Contents
Notes on Contributors
The Oxford History of Hinduism: Introduction to the Series
Introduction: Modernity and Hinduism
THE INVENTION OF HINDUISM?
MODERNITY AND STANDARDIZATION
THE CONTRIBUTIONS
REFERENCES
Part 1: Early Hindu Reformers and Reform Movements
1: Early Modern Hinduism
KEY CONCEPTS
Bhakti: Continuities, Innovations, Movements
Organization: Sampradāy, Rearticulations, Patronage
Language: Vernaculars, Literatures, Multilingualism
MAIN FIGURES
Syncretists?: Kabīr, Nānak
Initiators of Sampradāys: Caitanya, Vallabha
Literary and Devotional Figures: Sūrdās, Mīrābāī, Tulsīdās
CONCLUSIONS
REFERENCES
2: Rammohun Roy and the Bengal Renaissance
BENGAL IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY
The Political Background
Society
Education
Communications
RAMMOHUN ROY
Rammohun’s Life
Rammohun in Politics
Rammohun’s Religion
RAMMOHUN’S LEGACY
REFERENCES
3: Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay and Modern Hinduism
INTRODUCTION
MAJOR WRITINGS
WHAT IS HINDUISM?
THE DHARMA CONUNDRUM
TOLERANCE, SUPERIORITY, AND INCLUSIVISM
LEGACY
REFERENCES
4: Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī and ISKCON
INTRODUCTION
EARLY LIFE
THE GAUDIYA MATH AND MISSION
LONDON AND BERLIN
SCHISM
ISKCON
RESEARCH OVERVIEW
REFERENCES
Primary Sources
Secondary Sources
Part 2: Expressions and Locations of Modern Hinduism
5: Mūrti, Idol, Art, and Commodity: The Multiple Identities of Hindu Images
THE IMAGE AS MŪRTI
THE IMAGE AS IDOL
THE HINDU IMAGE AS ART
THE IMAGE AS POLITICAL SYMBOL
THE IMAGE IN CYBER SPACE: MŪRTI, COMMODITY, SYMBOL
CONCLUDING REMARKS
REFERENCES
6: Indian Cinema and Modern Hinduism
NEW STORIES FOR NEW TIMES
EROTIC LOVE: PRACTICE AND LITERARY TROPE
WILFUL ANACHRONISMS AND OTHER ‘MISTAKES’
THE MODERN INDIAN HERO
BIO-PICS: STRONG INDIVIDUALS
A MULTIPLE DISCOURSE NARRATIVE FROM MAHARASHTRA
TAMIL NADU: RELIGION AND POLITICS
SUPPRESSION OF SEXUALITY AND RELIGION
DOUBTS ABOUT RELIGION
REFERENCES
7: Hindu Pilgrimage and Modern Tourism
INTRODUCTION
PILGRIMAGE PRIESTS
MĀHĀTMYAS AND GUIDEBOOKS
PILGRIMS AND PILGRIMAGES
STATE-LED TOURISM DEVELOPMENT
SUMMARY
REFERENCES
8: Hinduism and New Age: Patrimonial Oneness and Religious Cosmopolitanism
GROWTH AND FUZZY CONTOURS
ATTRACTIONS
MIDDLE-CLASS COCOONS AND PATRIMONIAL ONENESS
RELIGIOUS COSMOPOLITANISM
CONCLUDING REMARKS
REFERENCES
9: Online Hinduism
INTRODUCTION
Hinduism and ‘Core Concepts’
A Historical Approach
HINDUISM AND THE INTERNET: A BRIEF HISTORY
ONLINE CREMATION
Online Cremation and Religious-Social Shaping of Technology
PŪJĀ
Online Pūjā or the Ordering of Pūjā Online
Virtual Online Pūjā
Virtual Online Pūjā and Māyā
CONCLUSION
REFERENCES
Cited Websites
10: Modern Hindu Diaspora(s)
UNPACKING TERMS AND CONCEPTS
DISPLACEMENTS: PRODUCING HINDU DIASPORA(S)
CONTOURS OF DIASPORA HINDUISM(S)
ORGANIZING SACRED SPACE: PRIVATE AND PUBLIC
ENERGIZED FOLK HINDU DOMAINS: SYNCRETISM AT WORK
CONTESTATIONS AND REFORMIST IMPULSES
A BRIEF ENDING NOTE
REFERENCES
Part 3: Politics, Ethics, and Law
11: The History of Hindu Nationalism in India
INTRODUCTION
AKHIL BHARATIYA HINDU MAHASABHA
SAVARKAR AND HINDUTVA
THE RASHTRIYA SWAYAMSEVAK SANGH
THE BHARATIYA JANATA PARTY
THE VISHWA HINDU PARISHAD
CONCLUSION
REFERENCES
12: Caste and Contemporary Hindu Society: Community, Politics, and Work
APPROACHING CASTE AS A CATEGORY
COLONIAL CONSTRUCTIONS
TOWARDS A SOCIOLOGY OF CASTE
STRUCTURE AND PROCESSES: DUMONT AND SRINIVAS
THE SUBSTANTIALIZATION OF CASTE
CASTE POLITICS, VIOLENCE, AND ASSERTION
WORK, LABOUR AND NEW DIMENSIONS OF CASTE
CONCLUSION
REFERENCES
13: Hindu Law in Modern Times: How Hindu Law Continues in Modern India
INTRODUCTION: NORMATIVE PLURALITY IN CHANGING TIMES
CONNECTIONS OF PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE
BRITISH COLONIAL ADMINISTRATION OF HINDU LAW
The Limits of Law
Legal Regulation in the Colonial Period
CONSTRUCTING ‘BOGUS’ ANGLO-HINDU LAW
THE PERCEIVED POSTCOLONIAL NEED FOR FURTHER CODIFICATION OF HINDU LAW
POSTCOLONIAL INDIAN LAWMAKING: INCOMPLETE REFORMS
CONCLUSIONS
REFERENCES
14: Modern Hindu Dharma and Environmentalism
A BRIEF RESEARCH REVIEW
MODERN HINDU NGOS AND THEIR ECOLOGICAL PROJECTS
HINDUS AND THE BOVINE DHARMA
DHARMIC ECOLOGY OF SWADHYAYIS
DHARMIC ECOLOGY OF BISHNOIS
DHARMA AND RELIGION
CONCLUSION
REFERENCES
15: Hinduism in the Secular Republic of Nepal
INTRODUCTION
A BRIEF HISTORY OF NEPAL
THE ETHNIC AND RELIGIOUS MAKE-UP OF NEPAL
SECULARISM IN NEPAL 2006–2014: ANTI-SECULARISTS RAISE THEIR VOICES
HINDU ACTIVISTS’ ANTI-SECULAR DISCOURSES
THE 2015 CONSTITUTION
HINDU STATE RITUALS IN A SECULAR STATE
POLITICAL CHANGE, RITUAL CONTINUITY
CONCLUSION
REFERENCES
Index

Citation preview

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T H E O X F O R D HI S T O R Y O F H I N D U I S M General Editor: Gavin Flood

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The Oxford History of Hinduism Modern Hinduism Edited by

TORKEL BREKKE

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Great Clarendon Street, Oxford, OX2 6DP, United Kingdom Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University’s objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide. Oxford is a registered trade mark of Oxford University Press in the UK and in certain other countries © Oxford University Press 2019 The moral rights of the authors have been asserted First Edition published in 2019 Impression: 1 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of Oxford University Press, or as expressly permitted by law, by licence or under terms agreed with the appropriate reprographics rights organization. Enquiries concerning reproduction outside the scope of the above should be sent to the Rights Department, Oxford University Press, at the address above You must not circulate this work in any other form and you must impose this same condition on any acquirer Published in the United States of America by Oxford University Press 198 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016, United States of America British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data Data available Library of Congress Control Number: 2019933440 ISBN 978–0–19–879083–9 Printed and bound by CPI Group (UK) Ltd, Croydon, CR0 4YY Links to third party websites are provided by Oxford in good faith and for information only. Oxford disclaims any responsibility for the materials contained in any third party website referenced in this work.

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Contents Notes on Contributors Introduction to the Series

Introduction: Modernity and Hinduism Torkel Brekke

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P A R T 1 . E A R L Y HI N D U R E F O R M E RS AND R EFORM M OVE MENTS 1. Early Modern Hinduism Adrian Plau

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2. Rammohun Roy and the Bengal Renaissance Dermot Killingley

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3. Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay and Modern Hinduism Hans Harder

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4. Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī and ISKCON Ferdinando Sardella

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PA RT 2. EXPRESSIONS AND LOCATIONS O F M O D E R N H I N D U IS M 5. Mūrti, Idol, Art, and Commodity: The Multiple Identities of Hindu Images Tanisha Ramachandran

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6. Indian Cinema and Modern Hinduism Gayatri Chatterjee

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7. Hindu Pilgrimage and Modern Tourism Knut Aukland

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8. Hinduism and New Age: Patrimonial Oneness and Religious Cosmopolitanism Kathinka Frøystad 9. Online Hinduism Heinz Scheifinger

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10. Modern Hindu Diaspora(s) Vineeta Sinha

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P ART 3. POL I TIC S , ET HIC S , AND LAW 11. The History of Hindu Nationalism in India Manjari Katju

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12. Caste and Contemporary Hindu Society: Community, Politics, and Work Divya Vaid and Ankur Datta

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13. Hindu Law in Modern Times: How Hindu Law Continues in Modern India Werner Menski

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14. Modern Hindu Dharma and Environmentalism Pankaj Jain

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15. Hinduism in the Secular Republic of Nepal David N. Gellner and Chiara Letizia

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Index

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Notes on Contributors Knut Aukland is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education and International Studies at OsloMet—Oslo Metropolitan University. Aukland has published a series of articles exploring tourism and Hindu pilgrimage. He has also co-edited ‘Religion, Pilgrimage and Tourism in India and China’ in the International Journal of Religious Tourism and Pilgrimage (with Michael Stausberg, 2018). Torkel Brekke is professor in the study of religion at the University of Oslo. He completed a D.Phil. in Oriental Studies at the University of Oxford and specialized in South Asian religious history in the colonial period. His research has its general focus on issues of religion and culture and their relation to politics and economics with a broad range of topics, such as the ethics of war in the Hindu tradition, fundamentalism in the world religions, Christian politics in Scandinavia, and Islamic finance in the West. Brekke also works for the liberal think tank Civita based in Oslo. Gayatri Chatterjee, a freelance scholar based in Pune, has taught Film Studies at the Symbiosis School for the Liberal Arts since 2011. She was previously at the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune. She has taught and lectured widely in the USA, and was a Fellow at the Birbeck University of London in 2015. Her book Awara (1992) won the Swarnakamal, the President’s gold medal, as the Best Book on Cinema. Mother India (2002) was for the British Film Institute’s film classics series. Her articles have appeared in national and international volumes. She has made two documentary films titled Homes for Gods and Mortals and Life is Water. A film based on her script Bitter Chestnut is in the post-production stage. Ankur Datta is Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at South Asian University. He has explored questions of forced migration, violence, and victimhood with reference to Jammu and Kashmir. He has published his work in journals such as Contributions to Indian Sociology and Modern Asian Studies. He is the author of On Uncertain Ground: Displaced Kashmiri Pandits in Jammu and Kashmir (2017). Kathinka Frøystad is Professor of Modern South Asian Studies in the Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages at the University of Oslo. Specializing on religious diversity and change, Frøystad has interests that span from everyday Hindu nationalism and religious transformations to ritual intersections and the politics of religious offence. Her works include Blended

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Boundaries: Caste, Class and Shifting Faces of ‘Hinduness’ in a North Indian City (2005). David N. Gellner is Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Oxford. He is the editor or co-editor of fourteen volumes, including Global Nepalis: Religion, Culture, and Community in a New and Old Diaspora (with S. L. Hausner, 2018) and Religion, Secularism and Ethnicity in Contemporary Nepal (with S. L. Hausner and Chiara Letizia, 2016). His other books include Rebuilding Buddhism: The Theravada Movement in Twentieth-Century Nepal (with S. LeVine, 2005) and The Anthropology of Buddhism and Hinduism: Weberian Themes, 2001). He has been conducting research on religion, politics, ethnicity, and social change in Nepal since 1980. Hans Harder is Professor of Modern South Asian Languages and Literatures at the South Asia Institute of Heidelberg University. He is the author of Sufism and Saint Veneration in Contemporary Bangladesh: The Maijbhandaris of Chittagong (2011) and Literature and National Ideology: Writing Histories of Modern Indian Languages (2009). Pankaj Jain is Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology and the Department of Philosophy and Religion at the University of North Texas, where he teaches courses on religions, cultures, ecologies, and films of India and Asia. He is the author of Dharma and Ecology of Hindu Communities: Sustenance and Sustainability (2011), which won the 2012 DANAM Book Award and the 2011 Uberoi Book Award. Manjari Katju is Professor at the Department of Political Science, University of Hyderabad, India. She teaches courses on Indian and Comparative Politics. She is the author of Vishva Hindu Parishad and Indian Politics (2003) and Hinduising Democracy: The Vishva Hindu Parishad in Contemporary India (2017). Her publications include ‘Mass Politics and Institutional Restraint: Political Parties and the Election Commission of India’, Studies in Indian Politics (2016) and ‘Election Commission and Changing Contours of Politics’, Economic and Political Weekly (2009). Dermot Killingley was Reader in Hindu Studies at Newcastle University and is Senior Associate Fellow at the Oxford Centre of Hindu Studies. He has published research on aspects of ancient Indian thought, and on modern developments, particularly Rammohun Roy, Vivekananda, and Radhakrishnan. His books include Rammohun Roy in Hindu and Christian Tradition (1993). Chiara Letizia is Professor of South Asian Religions at the University of Quebec, Montreal, and Researcher and Lecturer in Cultural Anthropology at the University of Milan, Bicocca. She is a research associate in the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography at the University of Oxford and an

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associate member of the Centre for Himalayan Studies of the CNRS. Her research interests focus on the anthropology of South Asia, Buddhism, Hinduism, ritual and symbolism, religion and politics, ethnic and religious activism. Her publications include Religion, Secularism and Ethnicity in Contemporary Nepal (co-edited with David N. Gellner and Sondra Hausner, 2016). Werner Menski is Emeritus Professor in the School of Law at the School of African and Asian Studies, University of London. His publications include Hindu Law: Beyond Tradition and Modernity (2003) and Comparative Law in a Global Context: The Legal Systems of Asia and Africa, 2nd edn (2002). Adrian Plau is leading a Wellcome Trust-funded research project on health, medicine, and treatment in early modern North India. He did his doctoral work on Jain literature in Brajbhāṣā at SOAS, University of London. His publications include a forthcoming critical edition and translation of Rāmcand Bālak’s Sītācarit, a seventeenth-century version of the Rāmāyana : that emphasizes Sītā’s perspective and that has never before been printed. Tanisha Ramachandran is Associate Teaching Professor and Director of Religion and Public Engagement at Wake Forest University. Her current research examines the connection between race and religion through narratives depicting Hindus as idolaters in nineteenth- and twentieth-century India by examining writings by missionaries, Orientalists, East India Officials and Phrenologists. Ferdinando Sardella is a researcher and the Director for the Forum for South Asia Studies for the Humanities and Social Sciences at Uppsala University. He is a fellow at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies. In 2010 he received the Donner Institute Prize for outstanding research in the field of Religious Studies at the Åbo Akademi University in Finland. He is the author of Modern Hindu Personalism: The History, Life, and Thought of Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī (2013). Heinz Scheifinger is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Zayed University, UAE, and has previously been a faculty member at universities in South Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Brunei Darussalam. Prior to this he was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Sociology at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, and at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore. He has also been a Visiting Scholar at the Singapore Internet Research Centre at Nanyang Technological University and Visiting Assistant Professor at the Asian University for Women, Bangladesh. His research has largely focused on the relationship between Hinduism and digital media. Recent publications include ‘The Significance of Non-Participatory Digital Religion: The Saiva Siddhanta Church and the Development of a Global Hinduism’, in Murali Balaji (ed.), Digital Hinduism—Dharma and Discourse in the Age of New

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Media (2018), and ‘Studying Digital Hinduism’, in Sariya CheruvallilContractor and Suha Shakkour (eds), Digital Methodologies in the Sociology of Religion (2016). Vineeta Sinha is Head of Department at the Department of Sociology as well as at the South Asian Studies Programme at the National University of Singapore. Her research and teaching interests include the following areas: Hindu religiosity in the diaspora; religion–state encounters; religion, commodification, and consumption practices; history and practice of sociology; critique of concepts and categories in the social sciences; rethinking the teaching of classical sociological theory. Her publications include Religion and Commodification: Merchandising Diasporic Hinduism (2010) and Religion–State Encounters in Hindu Domains: From the Straits Settlements to Singapore (2011). Divya Vaid is Assistant Professor in the Centre for the Study of Social Systems, School of Social Sciences, at Jawaharlal Nehru University. Her research interests include the study of social stratification, social mobility and inequalities, educational attainment, and the application of quantitative research methods. She has published in journals such as the Annual Review of Sociology, Contemporary South Asia and Asian Survey, and is the author of Uneven Odds: Social Mobility in Contemporary India (2018).

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The Oxford History of Hinduism Introduction to the Series The series offers authoritative, comprehensive coverage of the History of Hinduism. Although the word ‘Hinduism’ is problematic, as the term’s origin is only from the nineteenth century and Hindu is attested as a people’s selfdescription only from the sixteenth century, it nevertheless denotes a range of traditions within India whose roots reach deep into the past. The volumes in this series provide a history of the religious traditions encompassed by the term Hinduism from the first millennium BCE to the present day. One of the problems about studying the history of Hinduism, especially in the earlier period, concerns dating. It has been notoriously difficult to establish the dates of early traditions, figures, and texts before the medieval period. We can fairly accurately date Sanskrit texts of Buddhism when translated into Chinese, but ‘Hindu’ texts are more problematic, although there is general agreement about the sequence of major developments within this history. Another issue is the category ‘religion’. Some scholars have argued against using it in the Indian context on the grounds of its local origin in the history of the West, but arguably the term demarcates a set of ideas, practices, and hopes, and the English word is no more problematic than ‘culture’ or even ‘society’. But we do need to acknowledge these difficulties and that our claims as scholars are always provisional, subject to correction, and our categories must sometimes be used without consensual definition. Each volume considers the relationship between Hinduism and the wider society, for religion is always embedded within culture and sociopolitical structures. Hinduism needs to be understood as dynamically engaging with wider Indian society and with other religions, particularly Buddhism and Jainism, throughout its long history. This dynamism and the interactive nature of the religion are reflected in each of the volumes, some of which are more focused on Sanskrit traditions, while other volumes will have more weight on vernacular literatures such as Tamil. After the Vedic age, the volumes are organized thematically and chronologically. Thus, we have volumes devoted to the three major traditions focused on Shiva, the Goddess, and Vishnu, as well as volumes on philosophy and practice, Hinduism in the modern world, and vernacular traditions. Each volume addresses not only theological concerns but also material culture, such as temples and architecture, along with the history of practices such as making offerings to a deity (pūjā), observances or vows (vrata), and pilgrimage (yatra), which cut across specific traditions. Professor Gavin Flood FBA General Editor of The Oxford History of Hinduism series

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Introduction Modernity and Hinduism Torkel Brekke

In historical and social science research the term ‘modernity’ is defined in various ways, but on the most general level it refers to deep processes of transformation in the organization of economic activity associated with industrialization as well as changes in the organization of human life accompanied by new world views and values. It is commonplace to see these processes of modernity as originating in Western Europe sometime between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries and being exported to other continents through processes of globalization, not least in the context of colonialism. In a book called Hinduism and Modernity, David Smith (2003: 21–2) uses the idea of the Juggernaut, the great Hindu temple wagon at Puri in Eastern India, a metaphor of unstoppable societal processes crushing anybody who gets in the way. Modernity and colonialism—with their often immense economic and social disruptions—are Juggernauts in this sense. But Smith (2003: 202–3) also ends his treatment of modernity and Hinduism with the suggestion that India is more advanced than its previous colonial masters, in the sense that Indian society has managed—at least to some extent—to come to terms with staggering religious and ethnic diversity. As several chapters in this volume will explain, the management of diversity in India is not simple and straightforward. This means that in a volume like this there are good reasons to use the term ‘modern Hinduism’ to refer to cultural and religious developments that are results of contact between India and the outside world or effects of processes of globalization more generally. In this sense, a historical point of departure could be the Battle of Plassey in 1757, after which the British secured their presence in Bengal. Our starting point could also be pushed forward to the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815, after which the British faced no competition in their gradual colonization of South Asia. From this time, the foreign power and its military and administrative apparatus would engage in bureaucratic and educational practices that would have great consequences for Hindu culture.

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But there is a problem with an approach where we use a clearly defined starting point for modern Hinduism, a starting point that has to do with India’s interaction with Britain and the rest of the Western world. It would make us oblivious to religious developments in India that started long before and that should be analysed first of all by looking at cultural and political developments within the subcontinent. This is why this book has a first chapter that maps and discusses the important transformations that took place from the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, when religious geniuses such as Caitanya (1486–1533) and Vallabhācārya (1473–1531) founded new Vaiṣṇava bhakti movements and Kabir (1440–1518) relativized boundaries between Islam and Hinduism in his mystical visions, while Guru Nānak (1469–1539) founded Sikhism in the Punjab, collecting the religious impulses from a range of unorthodox Hindu traditions as well as from Islam. However, although it is important to trace the local developments that resulted in what we may call early modern Hinduism as a precursor and background to modern Hinduism, the main focus of the volume will be on developments starting in the nineteenth century. If the historical limits of modern Hinduism must remain somewhat vague, so must the distinctions between what counts as modern and not. A lot of the practices and ideas that we call ‘Hindu’ today are continuations, or natural developments, of earlier forms of Hinduism. Vedic sacrificial ritual, for instance, has a history stretching back three millennia and survives today in parts of South India in much the same forms as in ancient times, although the Vedic ritual system has also adapted to changing circumstances (Smith 2016). In what sense can we say that such rituals, as performed today, represent modern Hinduism? Are they elements of modern Hinduism simply because they take place in a modern society? Or should we see them as cultural relics, remnants of tradition that exist alongside the modernity that surrounds them? The answer to this question must be that by ‘modern Hinduism’ we do not mean all forms of Hinduism that are observable in India, or outside the subcontinent, in the modern period. All chapters in this volume have been specifically commissioned by the editor because their topics tell us something important about what is different in the Hindu tradition as a result of modernity. Historical scholarship has investigated how colonialism changed religion and culture in India and set in motion a chain of events where Hinduism would become more aligned with Western systems of thought and where voices representing Hinduism would become more concerned about the social ills associated with, and sometimes justified by, the authority of Hindu tradition. In this common conception of modern Hinduism, there is an inevitable tension, even contradiction, between the traditional and the modern. What is more, the modern is associated with progress and enlightenment while the traditional is associated with backwardness and social ills. Often, modern

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Hinduism is associated with the religious transformations initiated by great reformist figures, such as Rammohun Roy or Svāmi Dayānand Sarasvatī, but it is important to stress that modern Hinduism is not necessarily the same as reformed Hinduism (Hatcher 2016: 8–11).

THE IN VEN TION OF HINDUISM? One of the most contentious issues in scholarship about modern Hinduism is the argument that Hinduism is an entity created by colonial scholarship rather than an indigenous category. For the sake of simplicity, we may call this the Orientalist thesis, borrowing the term ‘Orientalism’ to refer to processes in which categories were constructed by Westerners to classify societies of the Orient. The categories were often essentializing, out of sync with reality, and served political purposes such as categorizing and governing subject peoples. Many scholars have made the argument that Hinduism is such an invented and essentializing category. This Orientalist argument was advanced in a critical and polemical way by Ronald Inden in a 1990 book called Imagining India, where the author accused scholars of India of transforming Indians into irrational beings without agency, while the Western scholar presumably has access to real and objective knowledge about Indian history and civilization (Inden 1990). The book generated reactions from other scholars claiming his criticism was unfair to those who work diligently to increase knowledge about India and its cultures while attempting to steer clear of either denigrating or romanticizing claims and statements. In a 1990 article, Timothy Fitzgerald made the more limited and more precise claim that it is a mistake to see Hinduism as a world religion on a par with Christianity and that the tendency to make this false parallel originated in theological arguments from within the Christian tradition. Fitzgerald (1990) borrowed the distinction between world religions and group-tied religions suggested by Ninian Smart, but insisted that it is an insufficient approach to research and teaching if we analyse a religion as a world religion abstracted from situated social realities. Similar arguments were developed by Richard King (1999) in a book that said, among other things, that Hinduism is a modern Western concept based on a Christian paradigm of religion where scripture is seen to define the essence of a religious tradition. However, as documented by Brian K. Pennington (2005), the invention of Hinduism was not a one-way process where colonial administrators and scholars created a conceptual and institutional straitjacket for the vast religious traditions of India. Indian intellectuals and leaders participated actively in a dialogue on the nature of religion in general, and of Hinduism in particular, a dialogue precipitated by the institutions and channels of

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communication created by colonialism, initially located in the colonial heartland of Bengal and its metropolis Calcutta. Some scholars think that there has been enough deconstruction of the concept of Hinduism and that we need to move on from this debate. As long as we are conscious of the fact that the modern concept of Hinduism was in fact constructed by certain historical processes of scholarly enquiry and debate from the nineteenth century and that the concept has its limitations, like any concept used to study cultural phenomena across time and space, we should probably not worry too much about the alleged dangers of using the concept Hinduism (Sweetman 2003). Even if we agree that enough energy has been spent on debates about whether or not Hinduism was invented, and the degree to which this invention rested on imperial and even racist institutional practices, there is a lesson here that needs to be taken seriously in a volume on modern Hinduism. The things that we now call religions are not things that exist in a straightforward sense, like animal species. On the contrary, the entities that we today call Hinduism (and other world religions) came into being through a long process that we can call reification. The core of this word is the Latin word res, which means ‘thing’. Reification is the process by which we make something into a thing. Religions were made into things by a variety of bureaucratic and scientific practices performed by the modern state: measuring, counting, mapping, delimiting, and defining. From the late 1800s, global processes increasingly standardized how religions are defined and how religious institutions are organized. This standardization was closely linked to processes of globalization, such as the increased speed of information-sharing across continents and the expansion of Western models of political and bureaucratic organization.

MODERNITY AND STANDARDIZATION Modernity is a powerful force for standardization in the sphere of culture, language, and religion, particularly when it converges with the ideology and practices of nationalism, which affected most societies in the world from the mid to late nineteenth century. In several parts of India, particularly in the cities, Hinduism went through processes of reification, and this laid the foundation for Hinduism to reinvent itself as a universal and missionary religion increasingly detached from ethnic identities (Brekke 1999). One result is that Hindu teachers today compete with missionaries from other religions to attract followers in Western societies. In these powerful processes of cultural transformation, the highly diverse religious traditions that existed in India before the modern era were increasingly standardized. Traditions that did not fit into new social and political realities were defined as outside the real Hinduism.

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The Ārya Samāj was among the most important movements that sought to reform Hindu religion and create cultural solidarity that would transcend sectarian and caste boundaries, uniting Hindus across the country. The organization was founded in 1875 by the Gujarati Brahmin Svāmi Dayānand Sarasvatī (1824–83) and was very influential in the Punjab in the north-west of the subcontinent. Dayānand’s book Sathyārth Prakāsh, first published in 1875, would have a major influence on the development of modern Hinduism in northern India, as would the many later publications from the Ārya Samāj. The Ārya Samāj was part of a broad spectrum of religious reform efforts taking place in the Punjab and beyond in the final decades of the nineteenth century, not only locking horns with other reformist Hindus, but also making fierce rhetorical attacks against Sikhism and Islam (Jones 1976: ch. 5). The religious and social reform promoted by the Ārya Samāj was similarly opposed by other Hindu groups, who felt that they threatened orthodox Hinduism. Throughout northern India, dharma societies conceptualized themselves as caretakers of Sanātana Dharma—the true, eternal Hinduism—and sought to provide a united front against the Ārya Samāj and like-minded modern reformists (Jones 1976: ch. 4; Zavos 2001). The self-proclaimed defenders of orthodoxy found several issues of great symbolic value on which to focus their public campaigns: cow protection and the traditional ritual roles of images (mūrti) were two essential issues. Although in direct competition for followers and cultural hegemony, the modern reformists and the traditionalist Sanātanists often agreed on the need for unity and solidarity in the face of foreign rule and Christian missionary activity. They disagreed, however, about the basic organizing principles that would bring about India-wide Hindu unity. The reformists believed that caste—and particularly the oppression of the lower castes and untouchables—was an obstacle to unity, while the orthodox often sought to retain the high status of the Brahmins and referred to tradition and scripture to defend social hierarchies. When we move from the late nineteenth to the early twentieth century, such disagreements were largely overshadowed by new and powerful forces of Hindu nationalism that insisted on unity and solidarity across barriers of geography, class, and caste. In this process of nineteenth-century standardization, Vaiṣṇavism was often elevated to the status of being the ‘real’ religion of the Hindus, at the expense of other cultural and religious traditions. The Hinduisms that did not make it into the new standard version of the religion were often traditions that did not sit well with the morality of an emerging urban middle class influenced by Christian norms prevailing in Victorian Britain. As a case in point, Tantrism was ‘the preponderant religious paradigm’ in India historically, but was increasingly marginalized both by middle-class Hindus and by modern scholars in the formulation of a modern type of Hinduism (White 2006: 2–3). We could say, then, that standardization also has an aspect of sanitation.

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In Benares, the important writer and orator Bhāratendu Hariśchandra looked for the basic ingredients of a universal Hinduism in Vais: navism. He : called this collective universal Hindu religion Hindu dharma, and sought to offer his countrymen a religion that would unite all Hindus of the subcontinent and be the basis for national religious identity (Dalmia 1997). He worked for the status of both Hinduism and the Hindi language in the face of colonialism and the challenge from Christian missionaries in India. Svāmi Vivekānanda was a slightly later proponent of a standardized form of Hinduism. He saw the Advaita Vedānta tradition as the core of Hinduism, and he was a key figure in the process of elevating Vedānta to Hinduism par excellence. Vivekānanda was part of a globalized academic debate with Western and other Asian scholars about the history and theology of Indian religions (King 1999: ch. 6, pp. 118–19; Brekke 2002). An honest critique of the categories we use in the study of religion would need to discuss how the academic study of religion itself was important in the processes of standardization and formatting of religions, including Hinduism. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, European scholars started conceptualizing the world as consisting of a certain number of great and relatively cohesive cultural units that could be called world religions (Masuzawa 2005). They were of the opinion that the world religions were shaped by their foundational texts, and their advanced traditions of textual interpretation, which are typically the domains of learned priesthoods. Except for a few scattered tribal societies that still held on to what was perceived as illiterate magical world views, humanity as a whole could now quite neatly be divided into these world religions. In other words, this early study of religions could be accused of an elitist bias, and in the study of India this meant that the real Hinduism could be found in Sanskrit texts. This was perhaps most clearly formulated by the academic superstar Friedrich Max Müller (1823–1900), who was professor of comparative philology at the University of Oxford and a friend of several Hindu leaders of his day. Max Müller created the important book series called The Sacred Books of the East, in which religious texts from India and China were presented to the Western public in English translation. He was also among the key figures behind the creation of a new world of academic Orientalist congresses and journals aimed at understanding the cultures of the world east of the Bosporus. A lesson to be drawn from the history of the disciplines that study Hinduism and other religions could be that we are—as scholars, students, or just interested readers—implicated in the reification and standardization of religion. Processes of reification and standardization have not stopped after Indian independence in 1947. Major public institutions—such as schools, hospitals, prisons, and the military—have emerged as an important focus for research in the sociological study of modern religion in the Western world. The interactions between religion and Indian public institutions have so far received

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less attention and could be an interesting focus for more research about modern Hinduism and about how the modern state shapes religion. For instance, the Indian army has established a corps of chaplains from the recognized religions of the country, following a Western model, while still nurturing deep-rooted, indigenous military (or ‘martial’) cultures of various Indian ethnic and religious groups (Brekke 2016). Since 1989, we have witnessed a rapid intensification in the forces that compel religious organization to relate to each other in an emerging global field of religion. The Internet is one technological precondition for this development today. In a globalized religious environment there is also a certain degree of conscious emulation taking place, in the sense that Hindu movements and leaders take their cue from other religions in order to build strong organizations. The Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), or the World Hindu Council, a key organization for Hindu nationalism in India and in the diaspora, has seen Semitic religions as a template for the reorganization and strengthening of Hinduism. Founded in 1964 by the lawyer Shiv Shankar Apte, the VHP has been concerned that Hinduism had no integrated structure that can serve to unite Hindus under a common cultural and political identity, and from the 1980s Hindu nationalists made important advances in the ways they organized themselves. They often felt that the other religions in India were threats to Hindu culture, and hence decided to emulate some of the organizing principles of these—for instance, by building a novel ecclesiastical structure. Processes of reification and standardization often have political implications. Robert E. Frykenberg (1997: 82) is not alone among scholars on India in claiming that the concept of Hinduism as a monolithic religious community has done ‘enormous, even incalculable, damage’ to the peace and security of the Indian political system. Romila Thapar (1997) has pointed out that the emergence of what she calls Syndicated Hinduism has been a process closely entwined with new political and economic realities and the emergence of a new Indian middle class. She notes that the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries are not the only period when emerging social groups have expressed their aspirations by creating new religious movements, or sects if you will. However, she points out that the novel element in today’s India is the attempt to include and represent all Hindus under the same banner of a monolithic world religion according to the template of Christianity and Islam (Thapar 1997: 78–9). Class still plays a major role in the continuous transformation of Hinduism, and this is reflected in several of the chapters in this book, as when Katju discusses Hindu nationalism and its relation to the middle class, or when Frøystad explores why New Age Hinduism took off among urban middle-class Hindus from the 1990s onwards. The standardized Vedānta that often becomes shorthand for modern Hinduism was rooted from its beginnings in a particular socio-economic segment of Indian society (Fuller 2009). In Bengal, where much of the social

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and religious reforms started, this new class was commonly referred to as the bhadralok—literally, the good people. An important aspect of the development of modern Hinduism is the shift in cultural authority away from traditional centres to this new class. The bhadralok was a social group held together by certain cultural and economic aspirations, with a view of themselves as being a significant factor in the life of the colonial metropolis (Mukherjee 1976). Many talented and highly influential representatives of the Hindu middle class that emerged in Bengal from the 1830s onwards identified with what has been called a bourgeois Vedānta (Hatcher 2007). This was a type of Vedānta that matched the aspirations and lifestyles of the middle classes: the rejection of world renunciation and the embrace of worldly initiative, business, and secular education. It is important to acknowledge the role of modern education in the cultural and religious transformations taking place in India, starting approximately from the middle of the nineteenth century. To a certain extent, the remaking and reform of Hinduism that started in this period was driven by students in higher education, with debates on religious reform often taking place in the colleges and universities that were established in the period. From the second half of the nineteenth century, there emerged a new social group in Bengal, particularly in Calcutta, that consisted of students enrolled in educational institutions where English was the medium of instruction and the subjects taught were ‘modern’. Science, economics, engineering, history, and law were taught according to British standards and concepts. In the 1880s there were over 3,000 of these modern college students in Bengal (which mainly meant Calcutta); in 1904 the number had grown to almost 10,000, and between 1875 and 1921 as many as 200,000 Bengalis passed the entrance examination to the colleges of this part of India (Berwick 1995). They were overwhelmingly Hindus (Muslims were underrepresented), and they mostly belonged to the higher castes of Bengali society. This was a very important group, politically and culturally, and here the reformers could find likeminded peers and venues for debating new ideas. It is perhaps no coincidence that at the time of writing this introduction—in 2018—important contestations about the nature of Hinduism take place on university campuses and among students in India.

THE CONTRIBUTIONS This volume is divided into three parts. The first part looks at the historical background to modern conceptualizations of Hinduism. In Chapter 1, Adrian Plau maps deep transformations in Hinduism from the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. That is the beginning of what is now commonly referred

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to as the early modern period, when novel modes of devotion emerged in Indian religiosity, altering the relationship between devotee and deity, and sometimes also the devotee’s social identity. New patterns of organization arose, and vernacular languages acquired new cultural roles. These changes allowed religious movements to define themselves as belonging to a family of religious traditions, thus contributing to new ideas of a common Hindu identity. Plau looks at key figures, such as Kabīr, Nānak, Caitanya, Sūrdās, Mīrābāī, and Tulsīdās, and employs the concepts of bhakti, organization, and language, highlighting the unique interrelations between these elements in early modern India, as well as how they allowed for unprecedented shifts in religious cultures. The developments described by Plau point in the direction of a basic question also already discussed: what does the emergence of a distinct Hindu identity in the early modern period mean for the question of whether Hinduism itself is a modern construct? Plau shows how popular religious traditions emerging in the early modern period provide us with unique sources of insight into the imagination of modern Hinduism. In Chapter 2, Dermot Killingley does two things that are important to create a starting point from which to think about modern Hinduism. First, he gives a broad overview of the fundamental transformations that took place in the politics, economy, education, and cultural life of Bengal at the end of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth centuries. This part of India was exposed to British colonialism first, and this is where many of the political and intellectual reactions to the colonial situation, and to other forces of globalization, would start. Secondly, Killingley provides an introduction to the life and work of Rammohun Roy, situating this great intellectual in the transformative period of India’s history called the ‘Bengal renaissance’. Roy was perhaps the most important figure in the transmission of religious and philosophical ideas between India and the Western world in the early nineteenth century. Killingley points out that Rammohun Roy, although critical to a number of socially undesirable practices, never rejected Hinduism, showing his contemporaries that one can indeed be a Hindu in a modern and international environment. In Chapter 3, Hans Harder looks at the contributions of Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay (1838–94), an important Bengali intellectual and writer, and discusses his key writings relevant to modern Hinduism. Bankimchandra was primarily an author—and not an organization-builder—and it was through his writings that he influenced younger generations of Hindu reformers and Indian nationalists. Bankimchandra merits a chapter in this volume not least because of his early and sophisticated attempts to define Hinduism, and, as Harder highlights, his reinterpretation of dharma as both equivalent and a counter-concept to ‘religion’, as well as his claim of inherent spirituality and tolerance being distinctive features of Hinduism. The Hindu and Bengali renaissance of the nineteenth century placed emphasis on reason and rationality, a corollary being that it often entailed a

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rejection of iconic bhakti because it was an emotional strand of Hinduism centred on a personal god, seen as the opposite of a modern and rational Hinduism. However, the religious current represented by Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī (1874–1936) and the institution that he founded in 1918, the Gauḍiya Math and Mission, generated a renewed interest in bhakti religiosity. In Chapter 4, Ferdinando Sardella gives an introduction to this religious innovator and his important legacy of a growing, missionary form of Hinduism. The chapter provides an overview of the life of Bhaktisiddhānta and a brief history of his movement, which includes one of its most prominent international offshoots, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, popularly known as the Hare Krishna movement. Moving away from the reforms of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the next part of the book contains five chapters each presenting key developments and changes in religious practice in modern Hinduism. In Chapter 5, Tanisha Ramachandran looks at how modern techniques in the creation of religious images have changed the religious values and practices of the mūrti, the image. Her chapter illustrates how the Hindu image takes on multiple meanings and functions. Analysing processes of sacralization, politicization, display, appropriation, commoditization, and protest at various points in history, Ramachandran looks at how the Hindu image has been signified and resignified by Hindus and non-Hindus. Hindu images serve a multitude of purposes in religious, social, political, artistic, as well as commercial realms. Ramachandran also discusses how Hindu images are invested with new meaning with the rise of religion on the Internet. On this point her chapter may profitably be read in conjunction with the chapter by Scheifinger. In Chapter 6, Gayatri Chatterjee looks at how issues of modernity and Hinduism have been treated in a key modern medium: film. Chatterjee looks closely at several important Indian films that all reveal changing ideas on the place of Hinduism in modern India. Several of these films are historical. For instance, Rammohun Roy, the subject of Killingley’s chapter, is the hero in the 1965 film bearing his name. It shows the reformer as an enlightened man fighting social ills, insisting that Hinduism should exist peacefully with Islam, while, according to Chatterjee, the portrayal also glosses over several other, and important, aspects of his life. The social and religious movements of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries inspired a large body of Indian films in the early decades of Indian cinema, and these are one of the main foci of Chatterjee’s chapter. Tourism as we know it is a product of modernity, but what happens when tourism meets the ancient Hindu tradition of pilgrimage? In Chapter 7, Knut Aukland shows how Indian modernity has stimulated Hindu pilgrimage in multiple ways and how modern tourism has helped it grow in popularity. The tourism industry has introduced travel agencies, hotels, tourist guides, and guidebooks to the pilgrimage sites and routes, and these have to some extent

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caused a decrease in the demand for traditional ritual services. Pilgrims spend less time at one particular site and often expect to combine pilgrimage with other types of travel, such as sightseeing or visiting theme parks. In the face of these changes, some priests have adapted by collaborating with tourist agencies and drivers, joining the tourism trade and catering to foreign tourists. A modern literary genre has emerged combining elements of the traditional pilgrimage texts with modern tourist information. The Indian state is a major player in shaping the operation of Hindu pilgrimage under the banner of tourism development. In Chapter 8, Kathinka Frøystad builds on her own fieldwork to explain the rise of New Age Hinduism in India from the 1990s. What are the reasons for the mushrooming of these new religious practices at this particular time in history, Frøystad asks, suggesting that the reasons may be found in deep transformations in India’s economy and its labour market, as well as in society at large. These changes created a demand for spiritualized self-development techniques. New gurus and new systems of thought and practice helped the Indian middle class adjust to these transformations. Technological change is a fundamental element of modernity, and an exploration of modern Hinduism must take seriously the role of technology in religious transformation. While the nineteenth century saw the introduction of the printing press as a new tool for mass mobilization, the Internet has become a new technological platform for religious innovation and transformation. In Chapter 9, Heinz Scheifinger gives an introduction to the topic of Hinduism online. He starts by giving a brief overview of the short history of Hinduism online, with the first movements and temples establishing a presence on the World Wide Web from the mid-1990s. Focusing on the core concept of pūjā, Scheifinger argues that online Hinduism and the wider Hindu tradition are so closely linked that it makes little sense to see the online and the offline as separate realms. In fact, online Hinduism is an integral part of contemporary Hinduism, and the Internet has already spurred interesting questions and dilemmas of theology and religious authority in the Hindu tradition and will certainly continue to do so. A key characteristic of modern Hinduism is its interaction with forces of globalization, and nowhere is this more evident than in the migration of Indians, especially with the introduction of indentured labour from the midnineteenth century. In Chapter 10, Vineeta Sinha writes about the modern Hindu diaspora. The Hindu diaspora is large and influential, and it may seem odd that a volume about modern Hinduism does not have more chapters on aspects of diaspora life and the interaction between diasporic Hinduism and India. The reason for this is that the series of which this volume is a part has a separate volume dedicated to the Hindu diaspora. In Part 3 of the book we move to issues of politics, ethics, and law. This part contains chapters that map and explain the powerful legal and political contexts

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created by the modern state—first the colonial government and then the Indian Republic—which have shaped Hinduism in new ways. In Chapter 11, Manjari Katju presents the history of Hindu nationalism, starting in the early twentieth century. She goes into the Hindutva ideology of Savarkar, Golwalkar, and other ideologues, and gives a history of key organizations such as the Hindu Mahasabha, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), and the political party presently ruling India, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Katju’s chapter gives a broad background to some of the most difficult debates about Hindu identity today—debates about ethno-religious chauvinism and about the prospects for peaceful coexistence of Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, and other groups in India. Religion is certainly not the only potential dividing line in modern India, and, in Chapter 12, Divya Vaid and Ankur Datta investigate the complex issue of caste and its relationship to modern Hinduism. Their chapter starts by drawing up a broad canvas of classical theories about caste from sociology and anthropology, considering caste in relation to the sanskritic concepts of varna and jati. The authors then move on to the emergence of caste in its modern form in the colonial period, looking in particular at the role of Dalit leader B. R. Ambedkar, and Dalit politics more generally. The chapter also discusses caste in relation to work and occupation, tracing the transformation of caste in the face of contemporary socio-economic change. Vaid and Datta’s discussion of the emergence of a modern conception of caste in the colonial period converges with what has already been discussed concerning the ‘invention’ or ‘standardization’ of Hinduism. Caste as a modern formation was largely shaped in the period of British colonial rule in India, the authors state, and the construction of modern caste was accompanied by the larger framing of Hinduism as a modern religion. In Chapter 13, Werner Menski looks at how the Indian state grapples with the issue of Hindu law. Menski engages with both colonial and postcolonial times as he digs into the complex relationships between law and religion, and the impact of state regulation on Hindu law in India. The key question to Menski is whether colonial and postcolonial legal interventions have turned ‘Hindu law’ into something that is far removed from the lived realities of India’s Hindu population. As Hindus in India often continue to live by customary norms and ethics, rather than following modern state law, significant discrepancies between formal law and the ‘living law’ exist. Menski suggests that ‘the right law’ for India today is a culture-specific, hybrid, plural construct containing Hindu elements. Contemporary India faces serious challenges concerning the environment and sustainability, and it is only natural that modern religious leaders should address such issues. In Chapter 14, Pankaj Jain discusses environmentalism in modern Hinduism. With an acknowledgement that some of the key ideas can be traced far back in the history of Hindu ethics, the focus of the chapter is on

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present-day activism and debates. Jain looks at several Hindu groups but gives particular attention to the environmental work of Bishnois and Swadhyayis. He notes that, while many modern urban Hindu organizations have included environmentalism in their agendas, the majority of rural Hindu communities are yet to wake up to modern environmental movements, which started after the 1970s. Most of the Hindu organizations starting out in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries are responding to ecological problems with modern means, often similar to Western-style activism. In Chapter 15, David Gellner and Chiara Letizia look at Hinduism in Nepal. Since its creation in the mid-eighteenth century, the state of Nepal has claimed to be the only true Hindu kingdom in the world. Gellner and Letizia show how the assertion of Nepal’s Hindu identity became an explicit and politicized state strategy in the decades between 1960 and 1990, and how the definition of the state as Hindu was challenged after 1990, culminating in the declaration of secularism in the aftermath of the civil war between 1996 and 2006. The authors offer a lot of details on how the concept of secularism itself became a main bone of contention in debates between the secularists and defenders of Hinduism. These debates have clear parallels in Indian debates about the position of Hinduism in the legal and political framework of the state, and this is one of the reasons why Gellner and Letizia’s chapter is instructive for a broad understanding of Hinduism’s relationship to modern states. The Nepali constitution of 2015 institutionalizes a shift in the understanding of Hinduism. Hinduism today is beginning to be conceptualized as one religion among many rather than as a collective and inherited identity.

REF E RENCES Berwick, John (1995). ‘Chātra Samāj: The Significance of the Student Community in Bengal c.1870–1922’, in Rajat Kanta Ray, Mind, Body and Society: Life and Mentality in Colonial Bengal. Calcutta: Oxford University Press, 232–93. Brekke, Torkel (1999). ‘The Conceptual Foundation of Missionary Hinduism’, Journal of Religious History, 23/2: 203–14. Brekke, Torkel (2002). Makers of Modern Indian Religions in the Late Nineteenth Century. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Brekke, Torkel (2016). ‘Religious Teachers in the Indian Army’, in Torkel Brekke and Vladimir Tikhonov (eds), Military Chaplaincy in an Era of Religious Pluralism. New Delhi: Cambridge University Press, 15–39. Dalmia, Vasudha (1997). The Nationalization of Hindu Traditions: Bhāratendu Hariśchandra and Nineteenth-Century Banaras. Delhi: Oxford University Press. Fitzgerald, Timothy (1990). ‘Hinduism and the “World Religion” Fallacy’, Religion, 20: 108–18.

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Frykenberg, Robert Eric (1997). ‘The Emergence of Modern “Hinduism” as a Concept and as an Institution: A Reappraisal with Special Reference to South India’, in Sontheimer and Kulke (1997), 82–107. Fuller, Jason D. (2009). ‘Modern Hinduism and the Middle Class: Beyond Revivalism in the Historiography of India’, Journal of Hindu Studies, 2/2: 160–78. Hatcher, Brian A. (2007). ‘Bourgeois Vedānta: The Colonial Roots of Middle-Class Hinduism’, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 75/2 June), 298–323. Hatcher, Brian A. (2016) (ed.). Hinduism in the Modern World. New York and London: Routledge. Inden, Ronald (1990). Imagining India. Oxford: Blackwell. Jones, Kenneth (1976). Arya Dharma: Hindu Consciousness in 19th-Century Punjab. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. King, Richard (1999). Orientalism and Religion: Postcolonial Theory, India and the Mythic East. London and New York: Routledge. Masuzawa, Tomoko (2005). The Invention of World Religions. Chicago: Chicago University Press. Mukherjee, S. N. (1976). ‘Bhadralok in Bengali Language’, Bengal, Past and Present, 15/11: 226–37. Pennington, Brian K. (2005). Was Hinduism Invented? Britons, Indians, and the Colonial Construction of Religion. New York: Oxford University Press. Smith, David (2003). Hinduism and Modernity. Oxford: Blackwell. Smith, Frederick M. (2016). ‘Vedic Sacrifice in Modern India’, in Hatcher (2016), 212–27. Sontheimer, Günther-Dietz, and Hermann Kulke (1997) (eds). Hinduism Reconsidered. New Delhi: Manohar. Sweetman, Will (2003). ‘ “Hinduism” and the History of “Religion”: Protestant Presuppositions in the Critique of the Concept of Hinduism’, Method & Theory in the Study of Religion, 15: 329–53. Thapar, Romila (1997). ‘Syndicated Hinduism’, in Sontheimer and Kulke (1997), 54–81. White, David Gordon (2006). Kiss of the Yogini: ‘Tantric Sex’ in its South Asian Contexts. Chicago: Chicago University Press. Zavos, John (2001). ‘Defending Hindu Tradition: Sanatana Dharma as a Symbol of Orthodoxy in Colonial India’, Religion, 31/2: 109–23.

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Part 1 Early Hindu Reformers and Reform Movements

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1 Early Modern Hinduism Adrian Plau

This chapter maps the transformations that took place within and around Hinduism from the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, which form the beginning of what is now commonly referred to as the early modern period.¹ So what was new and particular about the historical development of Hinduism at this time?² New modes of devotion emerged, altering the relationship between devotee and deity, and sometimes also the devotee’s social identity; new patterns of organization arose, allowing different sects and movements to define themselves as belonging to an interrelated family of religious traditions, and contributing to new ideas of Hindu identity; the rise of a range of devotional literatures in multiple vernacular languages allowed the new developments to attain a level of broad social influence beyond that of the Sanskrit high tradition, and many of the poets and texts spearheading this development still retain an important position in the modern practices and popular imagination of Hinduism. By building on previously established narratives on religious, literary, and intellectual movements during this period, I will outline these developments under the analytic concepts of bhakti, organization, and language, highlighting the unique interrelations between these elements in early modern India and how they allowed for unprecedented

¹ At every stage of my work with this chapter, I have benefited immensely from discussions with Emilia Bachrach, who also generously read and commented on its every iteration. I am deeply grateful to have had the benefit of her expertise and patience. I also owe debts of gratitude to Yan Jia, Maddalena Italia, and Francesca Orsini, all of whom provided important feedback and perspective. Any errors are my responsibility. ² In the South Asian context, Dalmia and Faruqui (2014a) have noted that prime indicators of early modernity included improving mobility and communications, both within the region and in terms of international trade, and growing wealth and monetization. Ali (2012) traces the rise of the concept of the ‘early modern’ in South Asia studies, especially in its relation to the ‘medieval’, and warns against teleological tendencies to construe the ‘early modern’ as simply a prologue to the ‘modern’.

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shifts in its religious cultures. I will also discuss several key figures, such as Kabīr, Nānak, Vallabha, Caitanya, Sūrdās, Mīrābāī, and Tulsīdās, around whom distinct Hindu traditions were formed and contributed to what have become shared articulations of Hindu, and specifically bhakti³ identity in the early modern period and beyond. This state of things opens the door for another question: Does the emergence of a distinct Hindu identity in the early modern period have repercussions for the question of whether Hinduism itself is a modern construct? To what extent can we really speak of an early modern ‘Hinduism’? As we shall see, this question is difficult to answer fully, owing not only to the variety and extent of data available, but also to how influential readings of these data have formed the foundations of diverse modern agendas and outlooks in both colonial and postcolonial India. The perspectives of scholarship and popular tradition can differ dramatically. Yet, rather than see the twain as incompatible, I will here attempt to show that popular traditions that emerged against the backdrop of early modern developments may be approached as unique sources of insight into the imagination of modern Hinduism. Much must be excluded. Fully surveying all of the movements, individuals, and localities that drove these processes, spanning several centuries and a range of geographical and linguistic boundaries, is not possible within a single chapter; individual agents will have to stand for multitudes, and much of my focus is restricted to North India. Yet I do believe that singling out certain key figures, even to the exclusion of others, allows us to ‘zoom in’ from a bird’s-eye view of the period, to consider how the elements under discussion could come together in particular instances, enabling us to approach the changing face of early modern Hinduism at close quarters.

KEY CONCEPTS

Bhakti: Continuities, Innovations, Movements For many students of Hinduism, its early modern history is almost synonymous with the concept of bhakti. The word itself derives from the Sanskrit verbal root bhaj (‘to share; to partake’) and has come to denote a particular form of religious devotion that emphasizes the devotee’s personal and direct emotional engagement with the deity. It is also commonly subdivided into sagun and nirgun: (‘with/without qualities’) forms. The former encompasses devotion to a deity’s particular form and character, such as those of the familiar Hindu gods,

³ Refer to the bhakti section for a discussion of this key concept.

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while the latter refers to devotion to a divine principle that remains beyond the scope of attributes—though the two may and do overlap.⁴ Yet the concept of bhakti is older than early modernity: It appears as an abstract idea already in pre- texts, and the early  Bhagavad Gītā speaks of how the devotee may employ bhakti devotion in ritual practice.⁵ So how did bhakti come to be representative of early modern Hinduism? Or, in other terms, what was new and special about how bhakti came to be formulated in the early modern period? We must approach these questions through the lens of another concept, for the idea of bhakti cannot be disentangled from the equally influential notion of a ‘bhakti movement’, and so any discussion of early modern bhakti will do well by tracing the narrative of the bhakti movement and the debates it has engendered. The bhakti movement is generally credited with spreading the notion and practice of bhakti as a form of devotion open to individuals from across religious and social spectres. By refocusing the dynamics of devotion from the guarded rituals and hierarchies of earlier, Brahmanic traditions over to the individual devotee’s direct rapport with the deity, often through the guiding example of supremely gifted innovators, this conception of bhakti is thought to have opened previously closed doors to women and low-caste men. The established narrative dictates that the movement arose among the Ā:lvār saints of South India by the seventh century and then travelled across the subcontinent, culminating in the full blossoming of a range of bhakti theologians, poets, and pilgrimage centres throughout the north from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries of the early modern era onwards. This narrative has proven enormously influential even into modern days, and may have given rise to the tendency to see early modern Hindu traditions as constituting a relatively uniform reform movement, solidifying Hinduism against various non-Hindu agents—an idea that was well received within the context of pre-independence India.⁶ Yet recent scholarship has contested the idea of a unified bhakti movement spreading across India and climaxing with an early modern formulation of Hindu unity and egalitarianism. In a landmark study of the idea of the bhakti movement, Hawley (2015) argues that the architectural and literary records indicate that the defining blossoming of bhakti in early modern North India should be understood as an expression of circumstances particular to that time and place. The rise of new ⁴ The dichotomy between sagun and nirgun: bhakti and its implications for how we should approach early modern Hinduism is the subject of much debate. Sharma (1987) warns against a traditional tendency to view only sagun forms of devotion as emblematic of bhakti. Hawley (2005) suggests that the distinction was less clear cut in the period itself than it was to later commentators. ⁵ Lorenzen (1995) gives an overview of the various appearances of bhakti in early Sanskrit literature. ⁶ For an in-depth discussion of the central influence of early twentieth-century nationalist scholars of Hindi on the modern concept of the bhakti movement, see Hawley (2015: 230–84).

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and defining pilgrimage centres in the Braj region of today’s western Uttar Pradesh was the result of Mughal patronage on an unprecedented scale, which was reflected in the Mughal-inspired architecture of the new temples. And bhakti itself was not unique to the Hindu traditions of early modern North India. Cort (2002) points to the presence of bhakti within Jainism already from the early centuries of the Common Era, and Jains of West and North India wrote much bhakti poetry in vernacular languages throughout the early modern period. Similarly, bhakti was an important ingredient in the formation of Sikhism in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The Guru Granth Sahib contains works written by poets that were influential to the rise of vernacular bhakti poetry, but not necessarily Sikhs themselves, such as Sūrdās and Kabīr. Finally, we should not overlook the importance of Islamic and Sufi ideas of devotionalism and literary aesthetics in the formulation of early modern bhakti. Behl (2007) has demonstrated how some widely popular Hindu bhakti texts, like Tulsīdās’s Rāmcaritmānas, were deeply influenced by the literary tradition of Sufi romances. Combined, these elements suggest that bhakti in the early modern period was a mode of religious devotion that was manifested across a wide spectre of religious traditions. Hawley’s study further argues that the first, defining texts linking the northern outpouring of Hindu bhakti with earlier, southern streams in the shape of a unitary movement, such as the Bhāgavata Māhātmya, were written by northern Brahmans in the late early modern period. Against a backdrop of multi-religious patterns of patronage and cultural exchange, there clearly was a drive to erect a streamlined narrative of explicitly Hindu bhakti that carried the legitimacy and authority of earlier, southern traditions. So, what was distinct to early modern Hindu bhakti was that, on the one hand, it evolved within a multifaceted context, and, on the other hand, it increasingly sought to define its own narrative of development within strictly Hindu terms. Moreover, this revised view, unlike the traditional perspective, does not see the emergence of early modern bhakti as a medieval, historical process of reform movements that bridge the gap between the modern and the pre- and early medieval, but rather as one that is wholly defined by its early modern context. Rather than speak of a bhakti movement, Hawley (2015) suggests that we may speak of ‘movements’ in the plural, or even of ‘networks’ of bhakti. Understanding how these networks or movements of bhakti increasingly began to identify under the same general banner of a distinct Hindu bhakti identity throughout the early modern period requires us to move to our next key concept—that of organization.

Organization: Sampradāy, Rearticulations, Patronage An almost equally influential concept to the study of early modern Hinduism as the thought of a unitary bhakti movement is that of the four sampradāys.

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Like bhakti, the word sampradāy itself, denoting an organizational lineage protected and handed down from teacher to student, pre-dates the early modern period. What was new about sampradāy in the early modern period was the idea of four separate sampradāys arising in North India, all of them Vais: nava, that were spiritual continuations of four earlier sampradāys of : South India. If the bhakti movement was the vehicle of the spread of Hindu bhakti throughout India, the four sampradāys supplied its organizational skeleton. Hawley (2015) has also questioned the historical foundations of the four sampradāy scheme. Tracing its formulations through a series of North Indian texts of the early modern period, he concludes that it was given definite shape in the first half of the eighteenth century following the royal patronage bestowed on the idea of Vais: nava bhakti and its institu: tionalized forms by Raja Savāī Jaisingh (1699–1743), king of the Kachvaha kingdom in today’s Rajasthan and founder of the modern city of Jaipur. But, even if the neat scheme of four sampradāys then emerges as a distinctly early modern notion, arising from early modern needs, Hawley’s research still points to the importance of the various sampradāys that arose in the period and their relationships of patronage and dialogue with new authorities. I will here discuss both of these elements in turn, by focusing on how they came to be expressed in the aforementioned developments in the Braj region. While not being a formal geographical delineation, ‘Braj’ is commonly taken to encompass the cities of Vrindavan and Mathura and their surrounding countryside. The image of the young, flute-playing Kr: s: na : who grows up in the Braj cow-herder community was first depicted in Sanskrit literature, most famously in the (most likely eighth- or ninth- century) Bhāgavata Purāna, : and is today an instantly recognizable Hindu deity. But the Braj region was not established as a site for Kr: s: na : worship until the early sixteenth century, at the start of the early modern period.⁷ It was then a hotbed for a variety of new Vais: nava bhakti movements, all of which could be identified as sampradāys. : Bachrach (2014) notes that, although they diverged in specifics, and especially on points of Kr: s: na : theology, they all understood themselves according to their own traditions as having been established by Brahmin preceptors. They were also similar in that they all claimed to offer organized bhakti practice to lowercaste individuals. A main vehicle for these sampradāys’ delineation of their respective identities was the writing of hagiographies. This literature would recount the lives of the sampradāys’ founders and exemplar members, often in vernacular languages and in clearly didactic terms. Moreover, the ritual and theological importance of the Braj region prompted some Kr: s: na-oriented : ⁷ A landmark work by Vaudeville (1976) showed that identifying the various sites throughout the Braj region where the episodes of Kr: s: na’s : childhood and youth were to have played out was conceived of as an act not of discovery but of remembrance. The sites had always been there, and only temporarily been forgotten or lost. This reminds us of how the narrative of tying early modern developments with earlier models is a recurring feature of the period.

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sampradāys that did not originate there, such as the Bengal-based Gauḍiya Vais: nava sampradāy, to extend symbolic links between their homelands and : Braj. This could be done by sending disciples there or by expressing their spiritual proximity to Braj both through ritual practice and by writing devotional literature. So in these Braj-centred sampradāys we see several elements working together: new organizations arose that promulgated the socially radical egalitarianism of bhakti, but at the same time retained the classical emphasis on Brahmanical roots and guidance; through their hagiographical writings, these organizations increasingly constructed distinct identities, both against each other and against non-Hindu religious communities; their shared affinity with the Braj region meant that they partook in an emerging sense of general Hindu identity that spread across different parts of India. Yet this crystallization of distinct sectarian Hindu identities in early modern Braj must also be understood with reference to the sampradāys’ relations with their political patrons. The cities and countryside of sixteenth-century Braj found themselves perched on the main route between Delhi and Agra, main cities of the recently established Mughal empire. Many of the grand templebuilding projects in the region at this time, stimulated by the influx of Vais: nava bhakti pioneers, were supported by the patronage and land grants : of first the Mughals, and then increasingly their Hindu Rajput servants, most prominently the Kachvahas, reflecting the dynamics of a complex relationship of power (Entwistle 1987). Pauwels (2009) provides an example of how these patterns of patronage could reflect early modern formulations of bhakti. Madhukar Shāh ruled over the Bundelā kingdom in today’s Madhya Pradesh province for most of the second half of the sixteenth century. Madhukar was also the patron of the Vais: nava bhakti poet Harirām Vyās, who hailed from : the same region but later settled in Vrindavan in Braj, and had bhakti-oriented temples erected in his home town of Orchha. A variety of sources indicate how Madhukar’s position towards the Mughals shifted between outright defiance, provoking multiple Mughal field campaigns, and vassalage. Within this tension, Madhukar seems to have made pragmatic use of the reputation that came with his bhakti patronage, both to express spiritual and, in extension, military independence from Mughal overlordship and to strengthen his position among competing warlords, such as the aforementioned Kachvahas, and within his own royal house. In this complex political field, emerging as a strong patron of bhakti could express both identity, in being eulogized by bhakti devotees, and power, in erecting highly visible temples in popular pilgrimage sites.⁸ Madhukar’s expertise in employing bhakti patronage for ⁸ Madhukar’s son, Vīr Singh Dev, went on to construct a temple in Mathura in Braj itself that dominated the city for several decades. Pauwels (2012) notes how Vīr Singh’s temple-building activities served both to set him up as an ideal, dharma-heeding king, despite the questionable circumstances of his accession, and to establish his position among the Hindu noblemen in the

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these ends seems to have prompted Harirām Vyās gently to chastise him for clinging to a far too worldly mode of bhakti. To recap, we see in the Braj example several elements come together: the emergence of sampradāys whose leaders were increasingly willing both to see themselves as distinct and as part of the same, overarching identity; how presence in and affinity with sites of bhakti activity could bestow a similar identity to patrons; and that the message of egalitarian bhakti, and the identities that potentially came with it, could not always be disentangled from familiar patterns of caste- or power-based hierarchies.⁹ These interrelations between different spheres of activity and their import on early modern Hinduism also shape the debates surrounding the key concept of language.

Language: Vernaculars, Literatures, Multilingualism A recurring element in discussions of early modern Hinduism is the role of language in the formulation, dissemination, and popularization of the new, devotional ideas. The fourteenth to eighteenth centuries saw the rise of a wide range of vernacular languages, enabling poets and sectarian leaders to propagate their ideas to a broader populace than that reached by Sanskrit literature, and the enduring appeal of devotional poetry written throughout this period indicates the broad influence of bhakti in early modern Hinduism and other South Asian religions. Several of the widely spoken languages of today’s India, such as Hindi and Gujarati, are popularly understood to trace their beginnings to this emergence of vernacular, devotional poetry. Yet the emergence of vernacular languages in the South Asian context was a complex process that, in addition to the religious ramifications that primarily occupy us here, also involved both social and political elements, and these elements cannot be disentangled from the others. The same goes for the relationships between the languages themselves; recent scholarship has demonstrated how these connections can illuminate the flow of religious ideas and literary practices between different agents, groups, and sites of early modern South Asia, and it is now difficult to understand the great figures of bhakti poetry without taking their multilingualism into account. A hugely influential study on the emergence of vernaculars in South Asia is Pollock’s monumental The Language of the Gods in the World of Men (2006). Here Pollock employs a conceptual distinction between ‘literization’, the process whereby a language comes to be written down in texts of various genres, and ‘literarization’, when a language begins to be used for wholly service of Jahāngīr, the new Mughal emperor. Again, religious patronage served multiple purposes. ⁹ Refer to the initiators section for information on specific sampradāys.

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literary purposes, as opposed to everyday, prosaic texts, such as basic documentation or recording of state affairs. The latter stage is dependent on the former and to Pollock they are both necessary prerequisites for the emergence of vernacular languages with any degree of cultural and political influence. Pollock’s analysis is grounded in the conceptual understanding of ‘literature’ that actually was current in the period he studies; while songs and other popular forms existed, only the particular genres of kāvya (‘ornate poetry’) and praśasti (‘royal panegyric’) were conceived of as ‘literature’ per se, and both genres were primarily developed and practised under royal patronage, with all the connotations of power that came with it. Reviewing a wide variety of material, especially focusing on the emergence of a vernacular Kannada literature in medieval Karnataka, Pollock argues that the vernacular languages of medieval and early modern South Asia, by making use of the genres and stylistic features of the transcultural, cosmopolitan Sanskrit language, such as the kāvya and praśasti genres, also acquired some of the prestige of that elite language and gradually came to supplant it as vehicles of cultural and political influence and power, becoming ‘cosmopolitan vernaculars’. Pollock’s study has been met with vigorous debate. In a study of its applicability to the emergence of Hindi, Busch (2011) points out that the first major early Hindi text, the Candāyan (‘The Story of Candā’) by Maulana Daud from 1379, is as much influenced by Persian narrative poetry (mas: navī) : as it is by Sanskrit poetics, and consequently falls beyond the scope of Pollock’s ‘cosmopolitan vernacular’ scheme. This is significant, since the Candāyan, as mentioned in the bhakti section, was an important influence on the later Rāmcaritmānas, one of the most influential Hindu bhakti poems of early modern India. Busch also notes that, while the poet Keśavdās, who was active at the turn of the seventeenth century in the court of Orchha (which we have met as a site of bhakti patronage) and wrote a series of works in Brajbhās: ā, a literary precursor to modern Hindi that drew heavily on Sanskrit poetics, falls perfectly within Pollock’s scheme, greatly influential bhakti poets such as Sūrdās, who wrote popular songs (pad) and appears to have worked in a devotional rather than a courtly setting, do not. Similarly, Orsini (2012) argues that the literary culture of North India in the early modern period was too diverse for Pollock’s court-oriented understanding of the concept fully to grasp the range of activities and influences. There were multiple agents and sites of literary activity beyond the Sanskriteducated court poets, such as Muslims and Jains in madrasas, temples, and private gatherings and bhakti devotees of various castes in emerging pilgrimage centres; a range of genres beyond those of courtly kāvya and praśasti circulated among these different literary domains; and the various domains and settings included the use of different languages and scripts. What emerges is a context for the rise of vernacular bhakti poetry in early modern North India that was ‘multilingual and multi-locational’ (Orsini 2012: 238).

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Finally, Truschke (2012) has explored how literary production in Sanskrit was supported at the imperial Mughal court throughout the early modern period, enabling the poetics and genres of Sanskrit literature to interact with those of Persian. This indicates how the interplay and exchange inherent in multilingualism was also played out at the centre of early modern imperial politics. So what these discussions have shown us that was particular to early modern Hinduism is that it expressed radical ideas about devotion, and did so both through new systems of patronage and the restructuring of hierarchies as well as through devotional vehicles in newly literary vernaculars. What was also particular was that these elements, on the one hand, drew on a variety of linguistic, cultural, and religious impulses, and, on the other, sought to establish new forms of delineations within this fluidity. In the following, I will focus on a selection of figures who can be seen to represent different aspects of these elements.

MAIN FIGU RES

Syncretists?: Kabīr, Nānak As I have already noted in the introduction, the geographical and historical scope of early modern Hinduism is broad indeed, spanning multiple centuries and the diverse range of political and religious developments and their intersections, over an equally broad range of geographical and political boundaries. In the following overview, I can only hope to include some of the most salient figures. An analytic aid when approaching these figures is to distinguish between those who were the founders of formal traditions, such as sampradāys, and those who gave rise to informal traditions, such as literary or hagiographical practices. This does not imply that founders of sampradāys could not be influential poets, or that poets could not be part of sampradāys; there are several examples of both. It does, however, reflect the diverse natures of the early modern Hindu traditions, ranging from the intentionally established and authoritatively guided to the (not less powerful) collaborative and decentred. While an exhaustive overview of the salient figures of early modern Hinduism remains beyond the scope of this chapter, I will in the following present some of those agents who, in myriad ways, have proven to be influential even into the modern era. To illustrate the diversity of early modern religious culture in India, and the question of potential syncretism within this culture, I will begin by looking at two figures who, to varying degrees, do not fall within ‘Hindu’ categories: Kabīr and Guru Nānak.

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The low-caste weaver Kabīr was a hugely influential figure both in the early stages of the rise of bhakti in North India and to the subsequent traditions. Active in fifteenth-century Vārānasī, Kabīr is a prime example of the figure : of the sant (‘poet–saint’)—the religious virtuoso who is equally a poet. While the early seventeenth-century hagiography Bhaktamāl (‘The Garland of Devotees’) by Nābhādās sets Kabīr in a historical tradition stretching from the fourteenth-century sant Rāmānand and all the way back to the S´rī Vais: nava movement of the southern A:lvars, Hawley (2015) rather suggests : that Kabīr’s work, even while drawing on predecessors, in its originality and distinctively early modern sentiment constituted something new, to which succeeding traditions already from the early seventeenth century looked for authority and authentication. Born into the Muslim julāhā community of weavers, Kabīr formulated an ideal of bhakti devotion that stressed moral integrity and mystical union with the divine over ritual and social strictures. This emphasis on the individual devotee’s inner union with the divine resulted in an utter rejection of organized religion, where even the very concepts of ‘Hindu’ and ‘Muslim’ were dropped; Allah and Rām, Kabīr stated, are one and the same to the innermost heart. In this, Kabīr can also be seen as an example of nirgun: bhakti.¹⁰ An indication of Kabīr’s pansectarian influence is the many poems ascribed to him that are included in the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy scripture of Sikhism. Sikhism itself was founded by the Punjab-based sant Guru Nānak in the fifteenth century. A near contemporary of Kabīr, Nānak also criticized the sectarian categories of ‘Hindu’ and ‘Muslim’, but, unlike Kabīr, envisioned a divine order (hukam) through which the true name (nām) of the divine is revealed to the devotee who is prepared to listen. Understanding the conceptual and theological relationship between Kabīr and Nānak has not been uncontroversial, and the endeavour can be illuminating to our broader questions about the establishment of a particular Hindu identity in the early modern period. For instance, Prill (2005) points to how the question of whether Nānak, like Kabīr, can be categorized as a sant hinges on whether one understands sant to be a purely Hindu category and whether Nānak’s status as the founding guru of Sikhism excludes him from being a sant as well. McLeod (2000: 19–36) argues that the problem stems from the frequent subsuming of the two under the general category of ‘syncretism’: While both were critical of established religious categories in a manner that reveals their common influences, their critiques led them in different directions. This tension between shedding religious identities, as in Kabīr’s rejection of any such identity, and erecting new ones, as in Guru Nānak’s inauguration of a

¹⁰ For a single volume offering translated examples of work by Kabīr and many of the other figures discussed in this chapter, see Hawley and Juergensmeyer (1988).

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completely new tradition, can also be seen as reactions to the increasing prevalence of these identities in the early modern period.

Initiators of Sampradāys: Caitanya, Vallabha I will here look at two initiators of distinct sampradāys, Caitanya (1486–1533) and Vallabha (1479–1531). In many ways, they are similar: They were contemporaneous to each other, both initiated Vais: nava bhakti lineages that : focused on the playful Kr: s: na and they were both Brahmins. : of Vr: ndāvan, : But there are also differences: their theological stances diverged, they were (mostly) far apart geographically, and their formal positions within their respective traditions range from embodying the ideal devotee (Caitanya) to the authoritative scholar (Vallabha). These elements were also central to the ways in which the hagiographies that followed in the two founders’ wakes shaped the identities of their traditions, and most of what we know about the two, as with many other early modern figures, stem from such texts.¹¹ I discuss them here to highlight how even ostensibly similar formal lineages established in the early modern period could give rise to different ideas and practices, even as they could be seen as partaking in the same general field, and to indicate the importance of textual traditions in the establishment of sampradāys. The bare bones of the received history of Caitanya’s life, as told by a plethora of hagiographies in both Sanskrit and Bengali, inform us that he was born in Navadvīpa in today’s West Bengal as the son of a learned Vais: nava : Brahman. After receiving a traditional Sanskrit education and marrying twice (his first wife dying prematurely), the then 22-year-old Caitanya seems to have had a transformative religious experience while performing his father’s funeral rites (śrāddha) in the city of Gayā. Having become an initiate of the guru Īśvara Purī, Caitanya the Brahmanic householder returned to Navadvīpa as a Kr: s: na : devotee who publicly sang songs of praise (kīrtana). It was around this practice of kīrtana that the sampradāy of Caitanya arose, which eventually became known as the Gauḍiya Vais: nava tradition. Yet Caitanya himself took : initiation as a renouncer and, following a series of pilgrimages around the subcontinent, which included excursions to Vr: ndāvan, settled in Puri in the : modern-day state of Orissa, where he died. Caitanya left nothing behind to guide his followers but a handful of Sanskrit verses, his own example as a supreme bhakti devotee, and a commandment to six select disciples, known as gosvāmīs, to settle in Vr: ndāvan, to develop Vr: ndāvan itself as a pilgrimage site, : : and to develop the theology of Kr: s: na : bhakti. ¹¹ Callewaert and Snell (1994) discuss the possibilities and challenges of approaching South Asian hagiographical literature as sources to historical insight. Rather than recording factual data, hagiographies may be understood as windows into traditions’ ways of self-identification.

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Stewart (2010) has shown how the main vehicle used to erect a distinct tradition of theology and ritual practice in this framework was that of hagiography. The late-sixteenth–early seventeenth-century Caitanya Caritāmrta : by Kr: s: nadāsa Kavirāja emerges as a hagiographical text, as it synthesizes the : diverse theological standpoints of Caitanya’s early followers into a uniform, authoritative system.¹² And the natural position of Caitanya as the central figure of this hagiographical literature not only reflects his status as the founder of the Gauḍiya Vais: nava tradition, but also the tradition’s distinct : understanding of Caitanya as being both Kr: s: na : and his lover Rādhā incarnate in one. This, Stewart and Dimock (Kr: s: nadāsa, Stewart, and Dimock 1999: 8) : note, distinguishes the Vais: nava tradition of Bengal from all other forms of : Vais: nava devotion. The tradition remains popular in India and beyond. One of : its offshoots, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), founded in 1966 by A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, is perhaps the most well-known example of a modern-day sampradāy on the international scene. We must also rely on hagiographical accounts when approaching the life of Vallabha. Hailing from a Brahman family of today’s Andhra Pradesh, Vallabha went on three major pilgrimage tours of India, during which many of the events that would be formative to his theology and his sampradāy occurred. These included identifying an essential form (svarūp) of Kr: s: na : in Braj, which became known as S´rī Nāthjī and remains at the ritual core of the sampradāy, and receiving instructions from Kr: s: na : to marry, which broke with traditional Indian expectations of ascetic chastity for ambitious devotees and established a patrilineal leadership for the sampradāy. Unlike Caitanya, Vallabha left a range of theological treatises in Sanskrit. Here Vallabha sets out his fundamental standpoint of śuddhādvaita (‘pure non-dualism’). According to this framework, the world as it appears is real, and Kr: s: na : uses his own power of illusion, māyāśakti, to shroud his immanence in it. The world we experience through Kr: s: na’s : illusion is the world of mundane (laukika) existence. But Kr: s: na may, through the agency of his grace (anugraha), allow the devotee : knowledge of the fundamentally transcendental (alaukika) nature of reality. But, in order to attain this grace, the devotee must purify his or her soul (jīva), and only Vallabha or his male heirs may facilitate this process.¹³ Bachrach (2014) has pointed out that this latter element is explicitly stated only in the hagiographical literature of the Pus: ti : Mārg. And, as in Caitanya’s case, the hagiographies are central to the shaping of the sampradāy itself, by providing models of ritual practice and exemplary devotion, effectively translating the theology of Vallabha’s writing into a practical framework in which ¹² An accessible and thorough English translation of the Caitanya Caritāmrta : : is Kr: s: nadāsa, Stewart, and Dimock (1999). ¹³ The standard introduction to the life, theology, and tradition of Vallabha is still Barz (1976).

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the sampradāy could take form. So, while both Caitanya and Vallabha may be perceived as inaugurators of sectarian lineages, they were not necessarily their founders in any formal sense. The establishment of distinct sectarian borders and attainment of wide-scale popular support fell to their successors. Dalmia (2014) has shown how the hagiographies could serve as vehicles of the demarcation between the emerging sampradāys. The vārtās of the Pus: ti : Mārg, for instance, could openly ridicule other Vais: nava bhakti movements, and espe: cially those whose teachings and practices closely resembled their own. Stewart (2010) and Bachrach (2014) have demonstrated that hagiographical literature may continue to play a defining role in the everyday life of contemporary devotees; Pus: t:i Mārg communities in today’s Gujarat read and discuss this literature in their homes, in the temples, and on Internet chat forums. These ‘grammars of tradition’ enable members of the sampradāys of Caitanya and Vallabha to negotiate between the particularities of modern life and the teachings of early modern initiators. What makes these initiators specifically early modern is then how they drew on established modes of lineage traditions and Sanskritic learning as they engaged with, and came to shape, new trends of devotional religion, and how the traditions they initiated contributed to the general tendency towards more clearly demarcated religious identities.

Literary and Devotional Figures: Sūrdās, Mīrābāī, Tulsīdās Sūrdās is widely hailed as perhaps the most influential bhakti poet of early modern North India, and especially within the field of vernacular Kr: s: na : bhakti. Writing in Brajbhāsā : in the early sixteenth century, Sūrdās is renowned for the extraordinary skill, imaginative force, and strong sense of human emotion he brings to familiar scenes of Kr: s: na’s : childhood and youth among the cowherders of the rural Braj country. Many of the songs attributed to him are still broadly popular throughout North India, and perhaps none more so than that of the child Kr: s: na’s : protestation to his foster mother that he did not eat of the butter, even as she catches him with his face smeared with it—Maiyā Maim : Nahim : Mākhan Khāyau (‘I didn’t eat the butter, mum!’). The case of Sūrdās is instructive to many aspects of the study of early modern Hinduism, such as the difficulties of attesting historical data and the resulting differences between scholarly and devotional perspectives on historical figures, the dynamics of bhakti literary traditions arising from a singular inaugurator, and the enduring influence of the pioneers of early modern Hinduism in contemporary popular and devotional culture. The main traditional source to Sūrdās’s life and work is the seventeenthcentury hagiographical text Caurāsī Vais: navan kī Vārtā (CVV), which details : the lives of the first eighty-four members of Vallabha’s Pus: t:i Mārg. The first edition of the CVV is attributed to Vallabha’s grandson, Gokulnāth

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(1551–1640), and a later and broadly popular commentary to Vallabha’s great-nephew, Harirāy (1590–1715);¹⁴ it is now common to view both text and commentary as a unified narrative. According to the CVV, Sūrdās was born blind, but also with the divine gift of clairvoyance. After gaining local fame for his special gift, Sūrdās finds that life is illusory and promptly moves to the Braj country. Once there, Sūrdās again wins fame, this time for his powerful songs of his sense of separation (viraha) from Kr: s: na. : But everything changes when Sūrdās meets Vallabha. In accordance with his ontological understanding of the world as a partial manifestation of the divine in which the union between devotee and the divine is brought about by the active grace (anugraha) of Kr: s: na, : Vallabha challenges Sūrdās to move away from his sense of separation to write life-affirming songs about Gopāla Kr: s: na : instead. This challenge unleashes Sūrdās’s poetic talent, and he quickly grows to become both a widely respected poet and, as he becomes a follower of Vallabha, a central propagator of the tenets of Pus: ti : Mārg. Consequently, Sūrdās’s many poems on Kr: s: na’s : childhood and youth in Braj are traditionally understood to be vernacular translations or reworkings of the Sanskrit Bhāgavata Purāna, : heavily influenced by Vallabha’s commentaries on that text (Gokulnāth and Harirāy 1971: 400–42). The arguments of recent scholarship stand in marked contrast to this traditional account. Studies by Bryant (1978) and Hawley (1984, 2005, 2009) have convincingly shown that the earliest layers of surviving manuscripts from the sixteenth century, Sūrdās’s most likely lifetime, contain no indications of Pus: ti : Mārg influence. Moreover, the blindness referred to in the poems is either of a wholly spiritual kind or of old age—the latter case effectively emphasizing that the poet had sight to lose. All that remains to be known is that Sūrdās must have lived in the early sixteenth century, that he was reasonably well known in parts of North India, and that he had little to no formal affiliations with the Pus: t:i Mārg. This perspective is reflected in Bryant and Hawley’s recent publication (Sūrdās 2015) of a critical edition with translation of the 433 poems that may be attributed to the historical Sūrdās. In contrast, the popular edition of Sūrdās’s poetry, the Nāgarīpracārinī : Sabhā’s Sūrsāgar (Sūrdās 1952) offers around 5,000 poems. The difference between these numbers point to the striking contrast between the early Sūrdās tradition, most likely inaugurated by a historical individual, and the later, where generations of poets have adopted a ‘Sūrdās mode’ in their poetry and routinely give the poems the traditional Sūrdās signature (chāp). For Hawley (2015: 274), this means that we can understand Sūrdās, and similarly influential bhakti poets in whose names poetry has been written for centuries, such as Kabīr and Mīrābāī, as

¹⁴ The dates of both Gokulnāth and Harirāy are traditional.

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‘bhakti movements in themselves’. By building on the devotional and literary model set up by their inaugurators, the written canons of these traditions, such as the popular Sūrsāgar, can serve as commentaries or embellishments of the earliest layers of writing, but also as nexuses of motifs and devotional outlooks through which devotees, poets, and performers can situate themselves. Tracing the lineage of the motif of Kr: s: na’s : female flute, muralī, through both the early and the later Sūrdās traditions, Plau (2015) has, for instance, argued that, while muralī in the early tradition primarily appears as a woman when seen through the eyes of the cow-herder girls, the gopīs, the later tradition allows her to take on a more active persona that can drive discussions on the prerogatives and imperatives of women as bhakti devotees. The enduring appeal of the traditional understanding of Sūrdās was recently demonstrated in the 2012 historical Hindi TV serial Upanis: ad : Gangā (Dwivedi 2012). Aiming to highlight the enduring influence of the Vedas and Upanisads in Indian culture, the serial presented a broad historical : ‘who’s who’ of Hindu mythological and hagiographical traditions. Three full episodes (E19–E21) focused on Sūrdās, where he again features as a physically blind man with special religious insight. The twist is that Sūrdās is portrayed as a Brahmin whose devotional poetry serves to illuminate the Vedas, elegantly reshaping the potential devotional radicalism of the early Sūrdās tradition to conform with received tradition—not unlike how the CVV associated him with the Pus: t:i Mārg. The construction of traditional frameworks for the pioneers of early modern Hinduism remains a work in progress. Another figure to consider is the female Vais: nava sant Mīrābāī. While : relatively little is known about the historical Mīrābāī, the broad popularity of the hagiographical traditions following in her wake exemplifies how figures of early modern Hinduism may transcend their original contexts. The broad outline of the traditional story of Mīrābāī’s life is as follows. In the early sixteenth century, Mīrābāī is born to the Rathor Rajputs, rulers of the province of Merta in today’s Rajasthan. When she is married away to the heir to the throne of Chittor, she refuses to fulfil her marital duties, claiming that her love is already pledged to the god Kr: s: na. : Scandalized by this public demonstration of female defiance, the Chittors attempt to assassinate Mīrābāī with poison and snakes, all of which are mysteriously turned into auspicious items when Mīrābāi touches them. Leading the life of a wandering ascetic, Mīrābāī is finally absorbed into the idol of Kr: s: na : in Dwarka. Throughout her life, she composes and performs songs that tell the story of her defiance and her love for Kr: s: na. : The subsequent popularity of this story may owe to Mīrābāī’s display of female defiance in the face of traditional society, and the place of devotion, bhakti, in that defiance.¹⁵

¹⁵ Hawley (2005) is a central work for the study of the historical Mīrābāī.

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In the modern era, variations on Mīrābāī’s story have appeared across a variety of popular media, including comic books and several films and TV serials. In an analysis of a 1979 Bollywood treatment of the story, Pauwels (2010) shows how the hagiographical framework is subtly updated to reference modern gender issues, such as when Mīrābāī’s sari catches fire in the ceremony fulfilling her arranged marriage. In Pauwel’s reading, the incidence hints towards both dowry deaths and the common Bollywood theme of ‘love marriage versus arranged marriage’, even while staying within the broad framework of the traditional Mīrābāī story. Following Pauwel’s arguments, the ongoing retellings and variations of that story continue to be evocative objects for studies of the dynamics of traditional ideas of gender in the interface with the potentially radical individual imperatives of early modern ideas of devotion. In terms of longevity and influence, few works of devotional literature from the early modern period equal the Rāmcaritmānas (‘The Lake of the Deeds of Rām’) of Tulsīdās, famously described as ‘the Bible of Northern India’ (MacFie 1930). Written in the late sixteenth century in Avadhi, one of several literary precursors to modern Hindi, the Rāmcaritmānas is a retelling of the Rāmāyana, : : the ancient epic of the story of Rām, an incarnation of Vis: nu, and his wife Sītā. Tulsīdās, seemingly a householder knowledgeable in Sanskrit literature who eventually became a renouncer and moved to Vārānasī, drew : on a wide variety of influences to add several novel touches to his telling of the story. A particularly striking innovation, inspired by the late-fifteenth/early sixteenth-century Sanskrit Adhyātma Rāmāyana, : was to let it be clear from the outset that Rām really is Vis: nu incarnate. Lutgendorf (1991) has docu: mented the continuing popularity of the Rāmcaritmānas in a seminal study of the diverse performance traditions that have followed it, ranging from storytelling sessions (kathā) to full-scale theatrical performances (rāmlīlā), and extending into the modern media of film and TV series.¹⁶ Richman (2001) comments that the influence of the Rāmcaritmānas throughout North India has come to surpass that of Vālmīki’s Sanskrit Rāmāyana, : mainly owing to its vernacular language. Indeed, the script of the wildly popular 1986 Rāmāyana : TV serial drew on both Tulsīdās’s and Vālmīki’s versions of the story. In that, we see again the familiar collation of the ancient and the early modern within a contemporary, popular framework.

CONCLUSIONS This chapter has surveyed a broad range of concepts, agents, and debates. Under the keywords bhakti, organization, and language, I explored some of ¹⁶ The first two volumes of Lutgendorf ’s new translation of the Rāmcaritmānas were published in 2016, with more to follow (Tulsīdās 2016).

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the defining discussions in the study of the early modern religious culture of South Asia. I emphasized how innovative ideas and practices circulated across religious and linguistic demarcations, even as these demarcations gradually became more defined. I then indicated how these tendencies could play out in the examples provided by a series of important figures in early modern Hinduism, and highlighted their continued influence into the modern era. In conclusion, we see that early modern Hinduism existed within contexts where multiple religious, cultural, and aesthetic impulses were current, and that these gave rise to a set of new modes of delineating Hindu identities. But was it ‘Hinduism’? The emergence of interconnected narratives and modes of expressing bhakti identity in explicitly Hindu terms suggests a ‘yes’, yet no overarching concept of ‘Hinduism’ as such seems to have been in circulation. What is possible is to argue that the particular historical processes of early modern Hindu traditions that I have explored in this chapter provided the general framework and building material from which that ‘ism’ could be constructed in the subsequent centuries. It is also clear that, as we saw in the cases of Sūrdās, Tulsīdās, and Mīrābāī, these materials continue to hold a special position in the religious life and popular culture of modern India. And so I may close by stating that the study of modern Hinduism, and of the concept of ‘Hinduism’ itself, should not overlook the early modern period.

REFERENCES Ali, Daud (2012). ‘The Historiography of the Medieval in South Asia’, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 22/1: 7–12. Bachrach, Emilia (2014). ‘Reading the Medieval in the Modern: The Living Tradition of Hagiography in the Vallabh Sect of Contemporary Gujarat’, Ph.D. dissertation, University of Texas at Austin. Barz, Richard K. (1976). The Bhakti Sect of Vallabhācārya. Oriental Monograph Series, 18. Faridabad: Thomson Press. Behl, Aditya (2007). ‘Presence and Absence in Bhakti: An Afterword’, International Journal of Hindu Studies, 11/3: 319–24. Bryant, Kenneth E. (1978). Poems to the Child-God: Structures and Strategies in the Poetry of Sūrdās. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. Busch, Allison (2011). Poetry of Kings: The Classical Hindi Literature of Mughal India. South Asia Research. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. Callewaert, Winand M., and Rupert Snell (1994) (eds). According to Tradition: Hagiographical Writing in India. Khoj, vol. 5. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. Cort, John E. (2002). ‘Bhakti in the Early Jain Tradition: Understanding Devotional Religion in South Asia’, History of Religions, 42/1: 59–86. Dalmia, Vasudha (2014). ‘Hagiography and the “Other” in the Vallabha Sampradaya’, in Dalmia and Faruqui (2014b), 264–89. Dalmia, Vasudha, and Munis Daniyal Faruqui (2014a). ‘Introduction’, in Dalmia and Faruqui (2014b), ix–xxiv.

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Dalmia, Vasudha, and Munis Daniyal Faruqui (2014b) (eds). Religious Interactions in Mughal India. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Dwivedi, Chandraprakash (2012). ‘Shodasha Samskara’ (Episodes 19–21). TV series. : Upanis: ad Gangā. Entwistle, A. W. (1987). Braj: Centre of Krishna Pilgrimage. Groningen Oriental Studies. Groningen: E. Forsten. Gokulnāth and Harirāy (1971). Caurāsī Vais:navan Kī Vārtā: Tīn Janma Kī Līlā : : Bhāvnā Vālī. Mathura: S´rī Bajrang Pustakālay. Hawley, John Stratton (1984). Sūr Dās: Poet, Singer, Saint. Publications on Asia of the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington. Seattle: University of Washington Press. Hawley, John Stratton (2005). Three Bhakti Voices: Mirabai, Surdas, and Kabir in their Times and Ours. Delhi and Oxford: Oxford University Press. Hawley, John Stratton (2009). The Memory of Love: Surdas Sings to Krishna. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Hawley, John Stratton (2015). A Storm of Songs: India and the Idea of the Bhakti Movement. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Hawley, John Stratton, and Mark Juergensmeyer (1988) (eds). Songs of the Saints of India. New York: Oxford University Press. Kr̥s: nadāsa, Kavirāja Gosvāmi, Tony K. Stewart, and Edward Dimock Jr (1999). : Caitanya Caritāmrt:a of Kr: s: nadāsa Kavirāja: A Translation and Commentary. : Harvard Oriental Series. Cambridge, MA: Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies, Harvard University. Lorenzen, David N. (1995) (ed.). Bhakti Religion in North India: Community Identity and Political Action. SUNY Series in Religious Studies. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. Lutgendorf, Philip (1991). The Life of a Text: Performing the Rāmcaritmānas of Tulsidas. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. MacFie, J. M. (1930). The Ramayan of the Tulsidas, Or, the Bible of Northwestern India. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark. McLeod, W. H. (2000). Exploring Sikhism: Aspects of Sikh Identity, Culture and Thought. New Delhi and Oxford: Oxford University Press. Orsini, F. (2012). ‘How to Do Multilingual Literary History? Lessons from Fifteenthand Sixteenth-Century North India’, Indian Economic & Social History Review, 49/2: 225–46. Pauwels, Heidi (2009). ‘The Saint, the Warlord, and the Emperor: Discourses of Braj Bhakti and Bundelā Loyalty’, Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, 52/2: 187–228. Pauwels, Heidi (2010). ‘Who Is Afraid of Mirabai? Gulzar’s Antidote to Mira’s Poison’, in Diana Dimitrova (ed.), Religion in Literature and Film in South Asia. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 45–67. Pauwels, Heidi (2012). ‘A Tale of Two Temples: Mathurā’s Keśavadeva and Orcchā’s Caturbhujadeva’, in Rosalind O’Hanlon and David Washbrook (eds), Religious Cultures in Early Modern India: New Perspectives. South Asian History and Culture. London and New York: Routledge.

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Plau, Adrian (2015). ‘The Female Flute: Kr: s: na’s : Muralī in the Poetry of Sūrdās’. MA dissertation, University of Oslo. Pollock, Sheldon (2006). The Language of the Gods in the World of Men: Sanskrit, Culture, and Power in Premodern India. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. Prill, Susan Elizabeth (2005). ‘The Sant Tradition and Community Formation in the Works of Guru Nanak and Dadu Dayal’, Ph.D. dissertation, SOAS, University of London. Richman, Paula (2001). ‘Questioning and Multiplicity within the Ramayana Tradition’, in Paula Richman (ed.), Questioning Ramayanas: A South Asian Tradition. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1–22. Sharma, Krishna (1987). Bhakti and the Bhakti Movement, a New Perspective: Study in the History of Ideas. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal. Stewart, Tony K. (2010). The Final Word: The Caitanya Caritāmr̥ta and the Grammar of Religious Tradition. New York: Oxford University Press. : Sūrdās (1952). Sūrasāgara: Jagannāthadāsa ‘Ratnākara’ Dvārā Sangr̥hīta Aura Sabhā Kī Pradatta Sāmagrī Ke ādhāra Para Sampādita, ed. Jagannāthadāsa Ratnākara and Nandadulāre Vājapeyī. 2 vols. Kāśī: Nāgaripracārini : Sabhā. Sūrdās (2015). Sur’s Ocean: Poems from the Early Tradition, ed. Kenneth E. Bryant, trans. John Stratton Hawley. Murty Classical Library of India. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Truschke, Audrey (2012). ‘Cosmopolitan Encounters: Sanskrit and Persian at the Mughal Court’, Ph.D. dissertation, Columbia University. Tulsīdās (2016). The Epic of Ram, trans. by Philip Lutgendorf. 2 vols. Murty Classical Library of India. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Vaudeville, Charlotte (1976). ‘Braj, Lost and Found’, Indo-Iranian Journal, 18/3: 195–213.

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2 Rammohun Roy and the Bengal Renaissance Dermot Killingley

The name of Rammohun Roy (1772?–1833) is often linked to the ‘Bengal renaissance’. This term refers to a broad movement in the nineteenth century, which looked outward to European ideas through the English language, and inward to the Hindu tradition through Sanskrit and Bengali. It was based mainly in Calcutta (now Kolkata), among the growing urban middle class, but it also reached other parts of Bengal. Its early generations were exclusively male, mainly upper caste, and mainly Hindu, but included some Christians of Hindu background. Its discourse was in Bengali and in English—sometimes both at once—in books and periodicals, in schools, in societies in which men read papers to each other, and in less formal discussion groups. In the first decades of the century, the use of Bengali involved a conscious effort to develop an indigenous discourse independent of English. It was only during those decades that Bengali became widely used for formal writing in prose; previously, its literature had been almost entirely in verse. Rammohun Roy pioneered the use of prose in his publications from 1815 to 1830. However, he was not the only one to do so, and the variety of Bengali that he developed was not the one that found favour in the succeeding decades, under the name of sādhu bhās: ā, ‘good language’ (Das 1966). While the men who engaged in public discourse in nineteenth-century Bengal increasingly used Bengali, it was through English that they received ideas from overseas; and it was in English that their ideas reached other regions of India, especially Bombay (Mumbai), Poona (Pune), Madras (Chennai), and other cities, through print and through lecture tours. Some reached an overseas readership through their writings in English, and a few travelled to Britain, the United States, or Europe. Besides Rammohun, who sailed to England in 1830, other notable travellers were Keshub Chunder Sen in 1870, Swami Vivekananda in 1893–96, and again in 1899–1900, and Rabindranath Tagore in 1890, and more eventfully in 1912–13. By the end

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of the nineteenth century, intellectuals from other parts of India were corresponding and travelling overseas; but, for much of the century, Calcutta was the centre for the international exchange of ideas. The term ‘renaissance’, literally ‘rebirth’, implies a flowering of fresh thought where before there had been at best repetition of stale ideas, and at worst total ignorance; it also evokes a picture of gifted, versatile, and vigorous thinkers, wealthy themselves or supported by wealthy patrons, looking at the world in new ways, and developing new and fruitful systems for interpreting it. In its original application, referring to Europe in and around the fifteenth century, it involved a renewed interest in Latin and Greek classical literature, and in the visual arts of Greece and Rome, as well as an intention to reinvigorate the arts by following classical models. It was also a time of scientific and geographical discovery, and a fundamental change of intellectual perspective, from the notion that knowledge consists of what each generation learns from its predecessors, to that of constant development to which each generation contributes, emulating and building on the achievements of the past, but not merely repeating them. How appropriate is the term renaissance to what happened in nineteenthcentury Bengal? Certainly, there was vigorous intellectual and artistic development, led by gifted and open-minded men—women began to take part later in the century (Borthwick 1984). Sanskrit literature provided a background to this development, as Latin and Greek literature had done in Europe. However, pandits had been studying and developing Sanskrit literature continuously for centuries and were still doing so; what happened in the nineteenth century was not so much a rediscovery of what had been forgotten as the opening of this literature to a class of people who had hitherto ignored it. Besides, it was English literature, not Sanskrit, that drove much of the new thinking, and provided models for new writing—books and articles on historical and current matters, novels, plays, and poetry; intellectual life in nineteenth-century Bengal was dependent on imports. But it is when we consider economic and political relations that the term ‘Bengal renaissance’ becomes particularly questionable. The European renaissance was supported by geographical discovery, sea power, commercial activity, and accumulation of wealth; Bengal, on the other hand, like other parts of India, had been discovered, explored, and exploited through British sea power, while its traditional industries were being displaced by the cheaper products of the Industrial Revolution. Pandits who had formerly found patronage in royal courts turned to institutions or individuals connected with the government and Christian missions. Many leading thinkers, writers, and artists were financially insecure, and several were plunged into relative poverty by the death of a father, the failure of a commercial house, or the loss of a post. Moreover, while European scientific discoveries were much discussed, opportunities for original scientific research were limited; education in the new

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schools and colleges, beyond basic instruction in literacy and numeracy, was mainly historical and literary.

BENGAL IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY

The Political Background From the mid-eighteenth century, Calcutta was the centre of British power in India. There were other powers, notably the Mughal empire based in Delhi, the Marathas in Poona (Pune), the French colonial power in Pondicherry, and the Portuguese in Goa; but, as these declined, Calcutta became the political capital of India, and remained so until the British imperial capital was moved to Delhi in 1911. British power was in the hands of the East India Company, founded by royal charter in 1600 to trade between India and England. In course of time the company became a political power, initially by establishing diplomatic relations with indigenous rulers, and then by raising its own armies to protect its interests. In the eighteenth century, partly through wars with indigenous powers and with its French rivals, and partly through the collapse of Mughal power, it acquired extensive territory in Bengal and the Ganges basin. The expense of these wars threatened its financial position, while individual members of its staff in India made fortunes that became a political scandal in the United Kingdom. In 1773, a Regulating Act attempted to stabilize the company financially while subjecting it to some parliamentary control, notably through the appointment of a Governor-General in Calcutta, ranking above the governors of the company’s two other main bases, Bombay and Madras, and through a requirement to review the company’s charter after twenty years. In 1784, a Board of Control was introduced, to oversee the company’s conduct of public affairs. Further legislation, particularly at each renewal of the charter, brought progressively tighter control. This process culminated in 1858, when the company, whose functions had already been greatly reduced, was virtually abolished, and the government of India brought directly under the Crown. British policy in India, especially in the early nineteenth century, was not determined by a single body; it depended on the British government’s influence over the directors of the company through the Board of Control, the directors’ attempts to regulate events 5,000 miles away through letters that took months in each direction, and the political power of the government of India, headed by the Governor-General, in relation to the company, to the declining Mughal empire and other Indian dynasties, and to the communities from which it exacted its revenues and recruited its army. It was only gradually that the various British actors in this process began to consider the possibility

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of influencing Indian society; the company’s traditional policy was to protect indigenous institutions. In the 1780s there was talk in parliament of promoting ‘the Happiness of the Native Inhabitants’; and, with the increasing influence of evangelicalism, both in Britain and among the company’s employees, this came to be interpreted as a duty to promote Christianity, contrary to the company’s tradition (Carson 2012: 20–2). The company did not ban missionaries, and indeed it often found them useful; but it did put difficulties in their way, asserting its right to control the entry of Europeans into its territories. It was only in 1813—after an unsuccessful attempt in 1793—that a clause was included in the company’s charter asserting ‘the Duty of this country, to promote the interests and happiness of the native inhabitants of the British dominions in India’ and that ‘such measures ought to be adopted as may tend to the introduction among them of useful knowledge, and of religious and moral improvement’. To the disappointment of those who had campaigned for it, the clause did not mention Christianity or missionaries, but only ‘persons desirous of going to, and remaining in India, for the purpose of accomplishing those benevolent designs’ (Carson 2012: 250). Even these benevolent persons required the company’s permission, though its refusals could be overturned by the Board of Control (Carson 2012: 151–2). The same Charter Act of 1813 established a Diocese of Calcutta, which was seen as a threat not only by the Dissenting churches to which many missionaries belonged, but by some Anglicans (Carson 2012: 154–5).

Society Calcutta in the early nineteenth century was ‘unique for its time, as a great port and a great centre of consumption largely of European creation’ (Marshall 1987: 163). It was also a city of many ethnicities, languages, and religions. There were speakers of English, Portuguese, Persian, Arabic, Greek, Armenian, Cantonese, and several Indian languages (Clark 1956). Besides Bengalis—some of whom spoke Persian or English, or both, as well as Bengali—there were people from other parts of India, working as traders, domestic servants, guards, palanquin bearers, and so on. There were people with Portuguese surnames, of varied ancestry, typically working as clerks or teachers (Sinha 1978: 44–51). There were numerous Hindu temples, mosques, two synagogues, a Catholic cathedral, an Armenian church built in 1724, an Anglican church completed in 1787, which became a cathedral in 1813, and a Buddhist monastery dating from 1775 (Anon. 1926). Hindus outnumbered Muslims by about five to two, and Christians of various denominations and degrees of observance were perhaps a twentieth of the population. Calcutta was a city of incomers, drawn by commerce or employment, and divided into ethnic communities, each having its distinctive occupation and its area within the

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city. The descendants of its original inhabitants had been pushed out into the fringes, and into degrading occupations (Sinha 1978: 33–44). The Bengali speakers, among whom the Bengal renaissance arose, were themselves descendants of families who had moved in from elsewhere, from the seventeenth century onwards. Some men of these families became banians (from Sanskrit vanik : ‘merchant’)—employed as managers and intermediaries by staff of the East India Company or by independent European traders; others became entrepreneurs in their own right (Marshall 1987: 167). Such families formed a new urban middle class, known as the bhadralok, ‘good people’, often contrasted with choto lok, ‘little people’. Among the bhadralok were some families called abhijāt, ‘high born’. Membership of this elite within an elite depended on several factors: residence in Calcutta through many generations, wealth, and prestigious forms of expenditure. These included grand houses, some in European style, sumptuous worship of images in household shrines, festivals (especially Durgā Pūjā), rites for the dead (śrāddha), and patronage of brahmins, whether learned pandits, ritual functionaries, or mere parasites whose presence at rituals conferred unseen blessings and worldly prestige (Marshall 1987: 173–4; Killingley 1993: 25–9). Rammohun was not one of the abhijāt bhadralok; and, though a brahmin, he had little use for brahminical rituals. Another source of prestige was investment in land, facilitated by the revenue arrangement of 1794, misleadingly called the Permanent Settlement, which had the effect of opening up a market in land as members of the old zamindar (‘landholder’) class failed to meet revenue demands and sold their holdings. Rammohun was one of many who bought rural land with the profits of a Calcutta business. Caste was another factor; the bhadralok consisted not only of brahmins but of kāyasthas, traditionally clerks, and vaidyas, traditionally medical practitioners, and these three groups vied for leadership. But caste boundaries were crossed by those of dals: multi-caste factions, grouped around a wealthy leader and arbiter of proper behaviour (Bayly 1988: 74). Calcutta’s most magnificent houses, and some of its poorer ones, were occupied by around 3,000 English speakers. Some of these were officials of the East India Company, some were independent entrepreneurs and professionals admitted by the company’s permission, which could be withdrawn if they attracted its displeasure, and some were interlopers whose position was even less secure. Since all official employment, and most non-official, was male, some had British wives, while others contracted less formal unions. Unlike most inhabitants, they at least hoped to retire to their home country— upon which such unions usually lapsed. Despite the social and geographical divisions within Calcutta, some at least of its inhabitants considered themselves as members of a public (Killingley 1993: 24–30; Guha 2011: 25). This was made possible by developments in education and communication, which in turn led to associations in which

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people of different ethnicity met together. Festivals, especially Durgā Pūjā, saw wealthy Hindus entertaining European and other guests with displays of music and dance.

Education Among the social changes brought about by the British presence in Bengal, especially in Calcutta, was the development of education, both in Bengali and in English. Indigenous provisions at the time consisted largely of village schools teaching literacy and numeracy, madrassas teaching Arabic and Islamic learning to Muslims, and tols, where pandits taught Sanskrit texts to brahmins, supported by endowments. Such schools were exclusively male; in the rare cases where girls had any education, it was at home. In the innovations of the early nineteenth century, government initiative had less impact than the work of Christian missions, and of individuals, both European and Indian, who responded to the demand for literacy, numeracy, and related skills created by growing commercial and administrative activity. Although the Charter Act of 1813 provided for 100,000 rupees from the government’s surplus to be ‘applied to the revival and improvement of literature, and the encouragement of the learned natives of India, and for the introduction and promotion of a knowledge of the sciences’ (Laird 1972: 68), this did not lead to any coherent public provision; a systematic educational policy was not established until 1854. The surplus mentioned in the Act was an aspiration, not a budget item, and, even if the money had been available, it was uncertain how it should be applied. Recurrent questions included whether to concentrate on a few advanced institutions or to promote widespread elementary education, what language to use, and especially whether to support traditional learning, which had declined through loss of patronage, or to introduce a new system based on Western learning. Rammohun contributed to this last debate in 1823 by writing to the Governor-General opposing the establishment of a Sanskrit College to foster traditional learning, and advocating Western scientific education, but without effect. It usually went without saying that education was only for boys, but missionaries began teaching girls in 1816 (Laird 1972: 134). In 1822, Radhakanta Deb—a conservative in most matters—published a Bengali pamphlet advocating female education, but at home, not in a school (Ahmed 1976: 33). Even in the 1860s and 1870s, ‘the project of female education was wholly tied to the purpose of enabling women to better discharge their domestic duties’ (Sengupta and Purkayastha 2016: 182). Despite the East India Company’s traditional hostility to missionaries, the government valued their contribution to education. The Baptist Missionary Society, formed in 1793, established a centre in the Danish enclave of Serampore (Srirampur), 20 miles north of Calcutta, in 1800, from which it

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ran a network of schools, teaching literacy, arithmetic, and the elementary geography, physics, and so on known as ‘useful knowledge’. Other missionary societies followed, working along similar lines. The missionaries, dependent largely on indigenous teachers, on the families who enrolled their children, and on the government, which sometimes supported them with grants, were cautious about introducing Christian teaching or the Bible, relying on literacy and useful knowledge as a praeparatio evangelica. Consequently, a British judge in Bengal, believing education to be necessary to reverse the moral decline that he and others saw in Bengali society, recommended the London Missionary Society’s schools ‘for the dissemination of morality and general improvement of society among natives of all persuasions without interfering with their religious prejudices’ (Laird 1972: 72; emphasis added). Missionaries were not alone in promoting education; there were individuals in Calcutta such as Rammohun Roy, the conservative Hindu Radhakanta Deb, the atheist watchmaker David Hare, and several British officials. Such individuals collaborated in the Calcutta School Book Society, founded in 1817, and the Calcutta School Society, in 1818. Both these societies had considerable missionary involvement—in writing books, in management, and in finance (Laird 1972: 102, 105; Carson 2012: 160). The education they provided was in Bengali, often using Bengali translations of English educational books, or specially written Bengali books. However, knowledge of English was increasingly required for dealing with the government and in public life; for instance, the two societies just mentioned conducted their business in English. A new missionary policy was introduced in 1830, when the first Scots Presbyterian missionary, Alexander Duff (1806–78), arrived in Calcutta. Duff was an English-educated Gaelic speaker to whom English was the language in which the ignorant Hindus—or Catholic Scots highlanders— were to be enlightened both intellectually and spiritually (Laird 1972: 208–9). Instead of the widespread vernacular elementary schools of the English missions, he established a college in Calcutta for boys from the growing class for whom English was a second language for use outside the home. He taught there himself, deliberately freeing young minds from what he saw as traditional ways of thinking, imparting his own ways, and—unlike the English missions—making some notable converts.

Communications The growing use of English facilitated communication with the outside world: with English-speaking countries, and in some cases with continental Europe, or with other parts of India where English was used. As a polyglot international port, Calcutta was uniquely placed to receive books and letters, and occasionally visitors, from around the world. It exported them also; Rammohun’s

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publications were sent to Britain and the United States, where several of them were reprinted, while he reprinted tracts sent by his Unitarian associates. English-language weekly newspapers, many of them short-lived, had existed since 1780. At first, they were run by and for expatriates, but by 1828 several had Indian subscribers, including some outside Calcutta, and the next few years saw Indian proprietors (Ahmed 1976: 79–80). In 1818, James Silk Buckingham, a former sailor who had travelled to India overland from Egypt, launched the Calcutta Journal. This published a wide range of news from Europe and from different parts of India, represented views of Indians as well as Europeans, and was often critical of the government. Buckingham was a close friend of Rammohun and helped to publicize his activities. The first successful Bengali-language newspaper was a weekly, Samachar Darpan (‘mirror of news’), launched by the Serampore Baptists in 1818; the next was Rammohun’s weekly Sambād Kaumudī (‘moonlight of news’) in 1821. In 1822, another Bengali weekly appeared, the Samācar Candrikā (also meaning ‘moonlight of news’), edited by Bhabanicharan Banerji, who had initially been employed by Rammohun to run the Sambād Kaumudī, but left it after a few months. These two papers were open opponents: the Kaumudī condemned Hindu customs, including lavish expenditure on rituals, polygyny, and above all the practice referred to in English as sati, or as spelt at the time ‘suttee’: the self-immolation of a wife on her husband’s funeral pyre. The Candrikā stood for the retention of Hindu norms, including sati, encouraged lavish rituals, and deplored the effects of English education. While the two papers attacked each other, the Serampore missionaries’ Samācar Darpan chided them both for their vituperative language. In 1822, Rammohun launched a Persian-language weekly, Mirat-al-Akhbar (‘mirror of news’), much of which he wrote himself (Ahmed 1976: 104). The periodical press was becoming a forum in which public questions could be debated, though at various times the government censored periodicals and deported expatriate journalists. The establishment of a discourse on the past was another development facilitated by the British presence, through printing, new patterns of education, and international correspondence, but also through the activities of individuals, usually in their spare time. The Asiatic Society, founded in 1784 by the judge and literary polymath Sir William Jones, coordinated work that had been hitherto done individually, encouraging scholarship and publishing research on literature, history, archaeology, and other branches of the humanities, and on the sciences; it established a library in 1808 and a museum in 1814. From 1829, it admitted Indian members. While traditional patronage declined, new forms of employment for Hindu pandits and Muslim maulvis emerged. The legal system, which attempted to govern Hindus and Muslims according to their own laws—and in so doing compiled a body of Hindu law that had not existed before—employed them as ‘law officers’ to sit with judges;

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the Serampore Baptists employed them as teachers, and on the Samacar Darpan and other vernacular publications; individuals engaged them as language teachers and guides to Indian traditions of learning. Fort William College, established in 1800 to train the East India Company’s recruits newly arrived from Britain, had a staff of Indians and Europeans—employed on very different terms—who taught and wrote textbooks. It engaged William Carey, one of the Serampore missionaries, as professor of Bengali, exemplifying both the government’s dependence on missionary enterprise, and the close relation between different agencies in promoting scholarship. Sanskrit texts began to be printed, and also translated into English and sometimes into current Indian languages, making them available outside the narrow circle of pandits who knew them from manuscripts or from memory. In this way, knowledge of the religious, philosophical, legal, and poetic traditions embodied in Sanskrit became available for public discussion, even to people who did not know Sanskrit, and this discussion could involve people overseas. From about 1817, Rammohun’s translations of the Upanishads and his Abridgment of the Vedant (loosely based on Shankara’s commentary on the Vedānta Sūtras) were read, reviewed, discussed, and reprinted in London (Zastoupil 2010: 27). From 1819, they were reported in Paris and elsewhere, joining a debate that was already current on the true meaning of the teachings of the ancient brahmins (Grégoire 1819).

RAMMOHUN ROY Rammohun Roy was the first Indian intellectual to be internationally known in his lifetime. Before him, there was the Buddha, but he become known long after his death. Similarly, rulers such as Akbar or Tipu were widely known during their lifetime, but, until around the beginning of the nineteenth century, communication between India and the rest of the world was too slow and attenuated for anyone to become known abroad, unless, like those rulers, their actions were a matter of concern to people far away. In 1933, at the centenary of his death, Rammohun was hailed as the ‘father of modern India’, though it would be rash to suppose that modern India would not have existed, or would have been totally different, but for him. On the other hand, to treat him as a mere product of the circumstances of his time would be to ignore his well-attested abilities and distinctive ideas. What can be known about him is affected by the limitations of communication in his time and place. On his early life in rural Bengal we have only sporadic records, many of them in the form of evidence presented in various legal disputes in which he was involved from 1817 onwards, and other official records. From around 1815, when he settled in Calcutta, and became a public

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figure known to other Indian thinkers and to British residents, we have far more evidence; and for the last two and a half years of his life, when he was a public figure in England, records are abundant (Carpenter 1866; Biswas 1992; Zastoupil 2010). Accordingly, while his death, in Bristol on 27 September 1833, is well attested, the date of his birth is uncertain. His monumental tomb in Bristol gives 1774; but it was not built until 1844, and the inscription added in 1872. The date may have been based on the obituary memoir by the Bristol Unitarian minister Lant Carpenter, which says Rammohun was born ‘most probably about 1774’. Rammohun’s first full-length biography, by Sophia Dobson Collet (1962: 1), gives 22 May 1772, on information received from a descendant, and his bicentenary was accordingly celebrated in India in 1972. The dates given or implied in memoirs published during his lifetime range from 1774 to 1788 (Killingley 1993: 1), and were not disputed by himself or anyone else; the later ones are the more improbable. Rammohun’s name, like many Indian names in his time, is spelt in Roman script in several ways, such as Ram Mohan Roy or Rammohan Ray; it is also sometimes given in the Sanskrit form Rāmamohana Rāya. However, Rammohun Roy is the form in which he signed his letters. Roy or Ray, from Sanskrit rājā ‘king’, is a hereditary title conferred on an ancestor of Rammohun by the Nawab of Bengal; like other Indian titles, it has come to be treated as a surname, so some books index him as Rammohun, some as Roy, and some as Ray. This minor inconvenience has some bearing on the theme of this book: the use of Roman script, with concomitant questions of spelling, and the identification of persons by surnames, often originating as hereditary titles, rather than by their personal names, are part of the modernization of India. Rammohun wrote and published in both English and Bengali, but also in Sanskrit, the classical language of Hindu India, and in Persian, the official language of the Mughal empire, learnt as a literary language not only by Indian Muslims but by many Hindus. Persian continued to be used by the East India Company’s officials after they had taken over the administration of Bengal in 1765, and was only formally abandoned in 1835, though by that time it had been replaced by English, and at lower levels by Bengali. While he used Sanskrit sources in much of his published writing, especially in controversy with Hindu writers, for whom Sanskrit texts were authoritative, he also valued Persian poetry, and was called a maulvi, an Islamic scholar. As we have seen, he was involved in many of the political, social, and intellectual events that were changing the life of Calcutta in the early nineteenth century.

Rammohun’s Life Rammohun Roy was born in the village of Radhanagar, in Burdwan, Bengal. His family were brahmins, with the hereditary title bandyopādhyāya (usually

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anglicized as Bannerji); but they used the title rāya (anglicized Roy), as already mentioned. He was married three times as a child; one wife died in childhood. As was usual, neither surviving wife shared in his social or intellectual life. His father and elder brother likewise had three wives each. Polygyny and child marriage were common, and his patriline was of the prestigious group of Bengali brahmins called kulin, literally ‘of [good] family’; other families gained status from marrying their daughters to them, and competed to do so by offering large dowries. Rammohun commented on this in 1819: ‘How many Kulin Brahmuns are there who marry ten or fifteen wives for the sake of money, that never see the greater number of them after the day of marriage, and visit others only three or four times in the course of their life’ (Roy 1906: 361–2). His family were Vaishnavas, following the Bengali tradition of Krishna worship. When Rammohun attacks Hindu mythology in his writings on religion, he most often picks on Vaishnava examples, the ones he was most familiar with. There is little reliable evidence about his education, but he had a lifelong love of Persian poetry, and also spoke Arabic (Killingley 1993: 9). At some point he learnt Sanskrit. We know more of how he came to learn English. In 1797, his father divided his property among his three sons, and the following year Rammohun moved to Calcutta, where he did well as a financier, dealing in the East India Company’s stock and lending money to its young employees— who often lived beyond their means, expecting to become rich later. Besides these young men, he made friends among British entrepreneurs. From 1803 to 1815, he worked in various parts of Bengal, employed privately by individual officials and sometimes by the company itself. It was during this period that he became thoroughly acquainted with English, having acquired some knowledge of it some years before; that may have been his intention in leaving his successful business for a less stable and independent life. John Digby, an official with whom he worked from 1805 to 1814, described how Rammohun studied, in his 1817 preface to a London reprint of two of Rammohun’s works on religion: By perusing all my public correspondence with diligence and attention, as well as by corresponding and conversing with European gentlemen, he acquired so correct a knowledge of the English language to be enabled to write and speak it with considerable accuracy. He was also in the constant habit of reading the English newspapers, of which Continental politics chiefly interested him. (Collet 1962: 24)

From July to November 1815, probably on Digby’s recommendation, Rammohun took part in a diplomatic mission to Bhutan. But from late 1815 he lived in Calcutta, until he left for England in November 1830. During that time, he became a public figure, well known to Indians, both admirers and enemies, and to Europeans, both official and non-official, both resident and

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visiting. He kept more than one fine house, and dressed well, in a Mughal style, while keeping to Hindu habits of washing and diet. He socialized with Europeans, but it is reported that he did not eat with them, or at least avoided being seen to do so. A Baptist missionary account of 1816 described how ‘Europeans breakfast at his house, at a separate table, in the English fashion’ (Collet 1962: 113), and his friend William Adam describes Rammohun’s visiting him and taking refreshment, but only after Adam’s servants had left (Collet 1962: 125). While others of his family declined in wealth, as many of the rural landed class did after the Permanent Settlement, Rammohun prospered in the new metropolitan economy. It was in Calcutta from 1815 to 1830 that he wrote the bulk of his works.

Rammohun in Politics Rammohun launched his newspapers Sambād Kaumudī and Mirat-al-Akhbar at a favourable time: in 1818, the Governor-General Lord Hastings had abolished censorship, defying the Court of Directors as well as his Chief Secretary, John Adam. But, in January 1823, Hastings left India, and Adam became acting Governor-General. In February, after many warnings, Buckingham was given two months’ notice to leave India; new Press Regulations were hastily introduced, imposing a licensing system, and the Journal closed later that year. In April, Rammohun closed the Mirat-al-Akhbar, refusing to operate under licence. But the Sambād Kaumudī, after a lapse of a few months in 1822–3, continued until 1836 (Ahmed 1976: 100). Rammohun and five others signed a petition against the Press Regulations, followed by an appeal to the Privy Council, without success (Zastoupil 2010: 101–3). Besides his journalism, Rammohun published tracts on matters of public interest. His longest campaign was on what he called concremation, or ‘the practice of burning widows alive’. The usual English term sati is a misapplication of the Sanskrit word satī, which refers to the person, not the practice; it means ‘good or true woman’, concremation being viewed as her ultimate act of devotion. Such an act had always been exceptional, but in Bengal it became a mark of prestige, and official figures begun in 1815 show an annual increase (Collet 1962: 83–4). In some cases, physical compulsion was evident; and, even where it was not, high-caste women were vulnerable to social pressure. The government was concerned about the matter, as were individual officials, but reluctant to interfere in matters of religion. Pandits were consulted, and ruled that concremation was optional, and compulsion unlawful. In 1817, Mrityunjay Vidyalankar, former chief pandit at Fort William College, who had worked with Carey on Bible translation, and was now chief pandit at the Supreme Court, went further, ruling that concremation, being optional, could not be enjoined; that it was ‘an unworthy act’, since it was performed from a desire for karmic

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reward, while living as a widow was ‘highly excellent’; and that the texts only prescribed fire in preference to other means of suicide (Ahmed 1976: 129–30; Ray 1985: 86–90). In 1818 and 1819, Rammohun published two dialogues in Bengali between an advocate and an opponent of the practice, each followed by an English translation; a third Bengali tract followed in 1829. He used the same arguments as Mrityunjay, and added another, more general. In his second dialogue, the advocate of concremation argues that women, being prone to pleasure, are unsuited to the life of chastity and pursuit of (spiritual) knowledge enjoined for the widow. Rammohun answered by defending the character of Hindu women, in the face of the oppression they suffer from men, and the obstacles hindering their intellectual development (Roy 1906: 350–63). In 1829, under the liberal Governor-General Lord Bentinck, concremation was outlawed. The conservative Hindu group led by Radhakanta Deb appealed against the new regulation; the matter went to London, and Rammohun was present when the appeal was dismissed by the Privy Council on 20 June 1832. Rammohun shared the prevailing British view that Indian society was in need of reform. Indeed, this view was shared in various ways by many of the bhadralok, who regarded reform as their mission, though they differed as to remedies and methods. He also accepted the need for foreign intervention. In a speech in 1829, he is reported to have advocated opening India to European settlement, on the grounds that ‘the greater our intercourse with European gentlemen, the greater will be our improvement in literary, social, and political affairs’ (Roy 1906: 917). He went on to praise the social effects of indigo plantations—a controversial point, since British indigo planters were accused of coercing peasants through debt bondage into a low-paid and unstable form of employment (Marshall 1987: 169). He had contemplated travelling to England almost as long as he had been in Calcutta (Killingley 1993: 11). By the time he sailed, in November 1830, he had gathered a great number of correspondents in England, as well as in other countries, and was anxious to meet them. Like his European friends in Calcutta, they were preponderantly Whigs or Radicals in politics, and Unitarians in religion. He continued to write petitions and publish tracts on the government of India, supported the 1832 Reform Act, and considered standing for parliament himself (Zastoupil 2010: 117–20, 144–5, 51–162).

Rammohun’s Religion Rammohun was well known for his religious views, though contemporaries were divided as to how to label them. Some early reports from Christian observers call him a Christian, or nearly so. The wife of an American missionary records meeting a man she calls ‘Ram-Mo-Hund’ at Serampore in 1812, describing him as a ‘native Christian’ (Ray 1976: 47n); this may well

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have been Rammohun. A Baptist account of 1816 says ‘He is at present a simple theist, admires Jesus Christ, but knows not his need of the atonement’; the writer seems to have in mind a pathway from Hindu idolatry to Baptist soteriology, on which Rammohun has yet some way to go. Some Muslims thought he was inclined towards Islam (Killingley 1993: 43). Sandford Arnot, who had been assistant editor of the Calcutta Journal, called him a ‘religious utilitarian’ in an obituary notice; later, Kishory Chand Mitter (1822–1873) called him a ‘religious Benthamite’ and a ‘Theo-philanthropist’ (Killingley 1993: 42). Some contemporaries called him a Deist (Killingley 1993: 111); at that time this was often a pejorative term, implying dangerous views associated with the French revolution. This diversity of views on Rammohun results not just from the observers’ defective knowledge, and in some cases wishful thinking, but from his own practice of engaging with each religious tradition on its own terms, and his use of different personae to address different sections of the public (Killingley 1993: 119–24; 2013: 34–42). His controversies with Hindu opponents, whether in Sanskrit, Bengali or English, quote constantly from Sanskrit authorities, ranging from Upanishads to Tantras, while those with Christian opponents quote the Bible, and sometimes Patristic sources and Jewish commentaries. His method was to use the sources that had authority for his opponents; not only as an argumentum ad hominem, but because he believed that truth was to be found in all scriptures, if properly interpreted. In 1820, Rammohun made his view of Christianity clear in a tract called The Precepts of Jesus: The Guide to Peace and Happiness. This was a compilation of sayings of Jesus, and some narrative passages, from the King James Bible. It takes the gospels in canonical order, beginning with the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5.1) and ending with the command to love one another (John 15.17). Rammohun, writing anonymously as he often did, explained in his introduction that the moral precepts in the New Testament are conducive to ‘improving the hearts and minds of men of different persuasions and degrees of understanding,’ while accounts of miracles would ‘carry little weight’ with Indians, being ‘much less wonderful than the fabricated tales handed down to the native of Asia’ (Rammohun 1906: 484). The selection does not omit miracles entirely, but it omits the birth stories, the crucifixion and the resurrection, and the introduction makes it clear that it is for its moral teachings that he values the Christian tradition. This was a deliberate provocation to the Serampore missionaries, and led to an exchange of publications in which Rammohun’s view that ‘a notion of the existence of a supreme superintending power, the Author and Preserver of this harmonious system . . . and a due estimation of that law which teaches that man should do unto others as he would wish to be done by, reconcile us to human nature, and tend to render our existence agreeable to ourselves and profitable to the rest of mankind’ (Rammohun 1906: 483) was confronted with the Baptist view that only the

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blood of Christ can redeem us from our innate depravity, and save us from the just wrath of God (Killingley 1993: 120, 138–43). Rammohun first set out his religious views in his Persian tract Tuhfat : al-Muwah: hidīn, printed in Murshidabad, the precolonial capital of Bengal, : in 1804–5. In it, he claimed that belief in God, based on observation of the benevolent design of the universe, was common to humankind, but was overlaid by the contradictory teachings of different traditions. He maintained this position thereafter, though he modified his attitude to religious traditions, stressing the truth they had in common, and objecting only to what he found morally objectionable, or inconsistent with the nature of God. He attacked Hindu polytheism, idolatry, and mythology, arguing that God was one only, and could not be identified with any material object, or with any particular being. On the same grounds, he attacked the Christian doctrines of the Trinity and the incarnation, allying himself with the Unitarians. On the other hand, he valued not only Jesus’s moral teachings but also the moral example set by missionaries, in addition to valuing the Hindu Advaita (‘non-dualist’) tradition, interpreting it in his own way (Killingley 1981; 1993: 89–100). In 1828, he gave institutional form to his beliefs by establishing the Brahmo Sabha, Brahmo Samaj, or Theistic Society.

RAMMOHUN ’ S L EGACY While Rammohun was involved in many of the activities that mark the Bengal renaissance—public discourse in Bengali and English, printing, education, political engagement with the government and the public, communication with the West, social reform—he was not alone. Others were similarly active, though not all in concert with him. Radhakanta Deb, his opponent on concremation, advocated female education, and made Sanskrit learning available in a new format by publishing the Śabdakalpadruma, an eight-volume encyclopedia with textual quotations on each topic, from 1815 to 1858. Radhakanta was also among the founders of the Hindu College (1817), a leading secular centre of English-medium education, run by a board of Indians and Europeans. Mrityunjay Vidyalankar, who ruled against concremation in 1817, defended idolatry against Rammohun’s criticism (Killingley 1986). By the time Rammohun left Calcutta, other agencies were at work in forming public opinion. A charismatic young teacher in the Hindu College, Henry Derozio (1809–31), led a group of students whose rationalism and flouting of Hindu norms led to his dismissal (he died of cholera eight months later). This group formed the nucleus of the movement known as ‘Young Bengal’ (Bose 1976: 69–91); its members denigrated Rammohun and his

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followers as ‘half-liberals’ (Ahmed 1976: 49). Among them, Krishna Mohan Banerjea came under the influence of Duff, became a Christian, and attacked Rammohun’s Vedanta as pantheistic and inauthentic. In 1838, they formed the Society for the Acquisition of General Knowledge (Chattopadhyay 1965). Another figure in the Bengal renaissance was Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar (1820–91), an alumnus of the Sanskrit College, whose establishment Rammohun had opposed (Hatcher 2014). There is some discontinuity between Rammohun and the ideas that flourished after he left Calcutta. His writings, so often directed to particular controversies, had less meaning than they had had for his contemporaries; and in 1853 his Upanishad translations were superseded by those of E. Röer, librarian of the Asiatic Society. The Brahmo Sabha fell into decline; in 1843, it was revived and largely reshaped by Debendranath Tagore (1817–1905), father of Rabindranath (Hatcher 2008). Debendranath, unlike Rammohun, wanted the Brahmo Samaj to have a code of rules, including renunciation of idolatry; and he wanted it to rest on Vedic textual authority, whereas Rammohun had used texts to corroborate the evidence of reason. After much inner struggle, Debendranath rejected Shankara’s Vedanta, which Rammohun had used, as incompatible with theism (Tagore 1914: 72–3, 199), implicitly accepting the accusation made by Duff, Banerjea, and other Christians, that Vedanta left no place for worship or for ethics. However, there are ways in which the Bengal renaissance, which was only beginning when Rammohun left in 1830, reflected his ideas and methods. He believed not only that Hindu society was morally decadent, but that this resulted from false belief, and that ‘the peculiar practice of Hindoo idolatry . . . more than any other pagan worship, destroys the texture of society’ (Rammohun 1906: 5). He also held that ‘the doctrines of the unity of God are real Hindooism, as that religion was practised by our ancestors’ (Rammohun 1906: 90). ‘Hinduism’ was still a new word, and Rammohun may be the first Hindu to use it. He set out to separate this real Hinduism from the decadent Hinduism of his contemporaries, as many later Hindu thinkers have done (Killingley 1993: 62–4). While his successors differed from him in their view of true Hinduism, they shared his belief that moral and social reform required the reform of religion, that texts must be interpreted in the light of reason, and that moral questions must be decided with regard to humanitarian criteria. Many of them shared his concern for the condition of women. It was Rammohun, too, who took the topic of Jesus out of the hands of the missionaries and into the realm of public discourse, where it remained. While some in nineteenth-century Bengal rejected Hinduism entirely, many shared Rammohun’s ideal of the ‘godly householder’ (brahmanis: t:ha gr: hastha): one who seeks salvation without renouncing the world (Killingley 1993: 99; Hatcher 2008: 25). His claim that one can be a Hindu in a modern international environment is characteristic of the Bengal renaissance.

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Ahmed, A. F. Salahuddin (1976). Social Ideas and Social Change in Bengal 1818–1835. Calcutta: Rddhi. : Anon. (1926). ‘The Buddhist Monastery at Ghoosery’, Bengal Past and Present, 26: 195–7. Bayly, C. A. (1988). Indian Society and the Makings of the British Empire. The New Cambridge History of India, II.1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Biswas, Dilip Kumar (1992) (ed.). The Correspondence of Raja Rammohun Roy, Compiled and Edited with Notes and Comments. Calcutta: Saraswat Library. Borthwick, Meredith (1984). The Changing Role of Women in Bengal, 1849–1905. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Bose, Nemai Sadhan (1976). Indian Awakening and Bengal. Calcutta: K. L. Mukhopadhyay. Carpenter, Mary (1866). The Last Days in England of the Rajah Rammohun Roy. London: E. T. Whitfield. Carson, Penelope (2012). The East India Company and Religion, 1698–1858. Woodbridge: Boydell. Chattopadhyay, Gautam (1965). Awakening in Bengal in Early Nineteenth Century: Selected Documents. Calcutta: Progressive Publishers. Clark, T. W. (1956). ‘The Languages of Calcutta, 1760–1840’, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 28: 453–74. Collet, Sophia Dobson [with additional material by D. K. Biswas and P. C. Ganguli] (1962). The Life and Letters of Raja Rammohun Roy. Calcutta: Sadharan Brahmo Samaj. Das, Sisir Kumar (1966). Early Bengali Prose: Carey to Vidyasagar. Calcutta: Bookland. Grégoire, H. (1819). ‘Notice sur la vie et les écrits de Rammohon-Roe’, Chronique religieuse, 3: 388–403. Guha, Ramachandra (2011) (ed.). Makers of Modern India. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Hatcher, Brian (2008). Bourgeois Hinduism: Or the Faith of the Modern Vedantists. New York: Oxford University Press. Hatcher, Brian (2014). Vidyasagar: The Life and After-Life of an Eminent Indian. New York: Routledge. Killingley, Dermot (1981). ‘Rammohun Roy on the Vedanta Sutras’, Religion, 11: 151–69. Killingley, Dermot (1986). ‘Rammohun Roy’s Controversies with Hindu Opponents’, in Peter Connolly (ed.), Perspectives on Indian Religion: Papers in Honour of Karel Werner. Delhi: Sri Satguru Publications. Killingley, Dermot (1993). Rammohun Roy in Hindu and Christian Tradition. Newcastle upon Tyne: Grevatt & Grevatt. Killingley, Dermot (2013). Polemic and Dialogue in Rammohun Roy. Vienna: Di Nobili Research Library. Laird, M. A. (1972). Missionaries and Education in Bengal 1793–1837. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

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Marshall, P. J. (1987). Bengal: The British Bridgehead: Eastern India 1740–1828. The New Cambridge History of India, II.2. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Ray, Ajit Kumar (1976). The Religious Ideas of Rammohun Roy: A Survey of his Writings on Religion Particularly in Persian, Sanskrit and Bengali. Delhi: Kanak Publications. Ray, Ajit Kumar (1985). Widows are not for Burning: Actions and Attitudes of the Christian Missionaries, the Native Hindus and Lord William Bentinck. Delhi: ABC Publishing House. Roy, Rammohun (1906). The English Works of Raja Ram Mohun Roy, ed. Jogendra Chunder Ghose and Eshan Chunder Bose. Allahabad: Panini Office. Sengupta, S., and S. Purkayastha (2016). ‘Of Famines and Females: The Politics of Laks: mī Bratakathās of Bengal’, Religions of South Asia, 10: 172–92. Sinha, Pradip (1978). Calcutta in Urban History. Calcutta: Firma KLM Private Ltd. Tagore, Debendranath (1914). Autobiography, trans. Satyendranath Tagore and Indira Devi. London: Macmillan. Zastoupil, Lynn (2010). Rammohun Roy and the Making of Victorian Britain. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

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3 Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay and Modern Hinduism Hans Harder

INTRODUCTION To have a chapter on Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay (1838–94) in a volume on modern Hinduism may need some clarification, since Bankimchandra, or Bankim in short, is first and foremost known as a Bengali novelist and intellectual, less as a religious personality.¹ After an attempt in English writing (Rajmohan’s Wife, 1864), he achieved a veritable breakthrough with his Bengali novel Durgeśˡnandinī (1865), often regarded as the first of its kind, and reigned supreme over the literary scene as the editor of the periodical : Bangadarśan, one of the top-ranking journals of Bengal in the nineteenth century. In his later life, however, roughly after 1880, Bankimchandra developed a deep interest in religious questions. The assessment of his religious ideas outside India was initiated, in a rather controversial fashion, by the Indologist Paul Hacker in the late 1950s and has since been reviewed time and again. Bankimchandra’s religious writings are indeed a rich storehouse of some important aspects of modern Hinduism, as we shall see. The story of Bankimchandra’s imprints on modern Hindu debates can be told in many different ways; it has aspects rooted in his biography and the micro-history of his immediate milieu, can be viewed in a continuum of unfolding religious (or rather meta-religious) discourse in colonial India, but is also significant in view of the universalizing concept of religion in the nineteenth century in general. In the following, attention will be paid to all of these aspects, but the biographical one will take precedence, since it leads

¹ I thank Amiya P. Sen and Johanna Hahn for their comments on a preliminary version of this chapter.

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smoothly into the theme and explains how this rationally minded literatus eventually became a religious thinker.² Hailing from a brahmanical landowning family in Naihati near Calcutta, Bankimchandra had imbibed some training in a tol, : a Sanskrit school, before entering the colonial schooling system. In Calcutta, the then undisputed hub of the British colonial presence in India, the debates between the so-called Orientalists and Anglicists regarding higher education had been decided in favour of the latter (Kopf 1979). The decisive intervention was Thomas Babington Macaulay’s (1800–59) Minute on Education of 1835, which recommended that English and not the local languages was to be given priority in the upper echelons of educational institutions. This work contains infamous chauvinistic statements of British cultural superiority and is often regarded as a dire colonialist imposition. But the institution of English education was also due to ‘pull factors’, as the foundation of Hindu College by Hindu dignitaries had shown in 1817 already (Sen 2008: 9). A further move was the foundation of Calcutta University, and in fact Bankimchandra was one of the first two students to pass their BA in 1858. This secured him a post in the Indian Civil Service and fast promotion to the then highest office Indian ‘natives’ were commonly admitted to, that of a Deputy Commissioner. Stationed in many different parts of the province of Bengal, which then encompassed parts of Orissa, Bihar, and Assam, he became a very able administrator. His career, however, stagnated and also suffered from some clashes with British colleagues and superiors. Frustrated with his work, he grew more and more conscious of the huge difference between British enlightenment philosophy and liberal, egalitarian thought, on the one hand, and the suppressive colonial regime, on the other. Rather than in his novels, it is in his satirical writings, Kamalākānter daptar (1875) and others, that we get a telling picture of the miserable state of the prevailing colonized Bengali mindset in his days, and a very accurate analysis of the discrepancy between lofty humanist ideas and actual colonial domination.³ Bankimchandra had already dealt with religious topics earlier in his life— for example, in his English article ‘On the Origin of Hindu Festivals’ (1869), where he argues that many Hindu festivals originated in agrarian cultural rituals, and Amiya P. Sen is right in stressing that here and in some other tracts, he engages with Hinduism in a sociological and anthropological way.⁴ But, on the whole, religion was only one concern among many until the early 1880s. It appears that he did not actively search for what became his main ² The present exposition draws, time and again, on Hans Harder (2001), particularly in the Introduction and Conclusion. ³ Kamalākānta is presented through an opium-eating, socially marginal character and has famously been labelled Bankim’s ‘secret autobiography’ by Sudipta Kaviraj (1995). ⁴ See the section entitled ‘The Anthropology of Religion’, which is a collection of six articles, in the anthology of Bankimchandra’s writings by Amiya P. Sen (2011).

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occupation in the last decade of his life.⁵ Rather, the theme found him in the shape of the so-called Hastie controversy. Revd William Hastie, an Anglican missionary in Calcutta, had started a series of polemical letters in the Statesman, beginning with his critique of the great Shobha Bazar śrāddha, a ceremony of ancestral worship in one of the wealthiest houses of the city, which was, characteristically for those days, celebrated with much pomp. In ensuing letters, the attack widened more and more into an informed but harsh diatribe against Hindu idolatry and the entirety of Hindu religious beliefs and practices. Feeling provoked beyond measure by these recriminations, Bankimchandra started responding to Hastie’s pamphlets by himself sending letters to the editor under the pseudonym of Ramchandra. One of the main allegations by Hastie was the lack of consistency in the Hindu religion, in answer to which and despite much counter-polemics Bankimchandra admitted that basic tenets had been distorted over the long centuries and advocated a selective handling of the Hindu tradition (cf. Hastie Controversy; see Chattopadhyaya 1969: 186–224). The controversy ebbed away after a few exchanges, but it succeeded in awakening Bankimchandra’s interest in repositioning Hinduism vis-à-vis Christianity and rationalism as a fundamental part of what in retrospect would best be labelled an Indian identity. Even the blueprint of his future intellectual endeavours appeared clearly from these exchanges: ‘Mr Hastie may turn round upon me here and say: “You strip Hinduism of its rites, its idolatry, its caste; what do you then leave it?”—I leave the kernel without the husk.’⁶ It can be argued that this impulse of separating the true from the false parts of tradition and thus isolating a valid essence of the faith that can stand the test of the times was nothing exceptional. Indeed, nineteenth-century Islamic reform movements such as the Tariqa-i Muhammadiya or the Faraizis had equally attempted to reinstall scriptural authority over what they regarded as acquired and often Hindu-derived ritual and usage (Ahmed 1981); Rammohun Roy’s reforms had posited the Vedānta as the true essence of Indian religious traditions, and Brahmo Samajists in Rammohun’s wake had to negotiate tradition with adaptations perpetually. In this sense, Bankimchandra is in a line with so many other colonized thinkers and reformers, facing the same basic questions: what were they to accept from the Western culture mediated by the colonizers? What should they retain from tradition—a term problematic in the singular, and largely produced through the colonial encounter, as we can say in hindsight? How were they to combine these two?

⁵ Cf. Sen (2008: 39): ‘what we know, however, is that the incident made Bankim Chandra more wary of Anglo-Protestantism, and strengthened his resolve to present before like-minded friends and companions, what he took to be “authentic” Hinduism.’ ⁶ Hastie Controversy, 217; emphasis in original. Cf. also Harder (2001: 10–15) for a similar depiction of the way Bankimchandra was drawn into debates about religion.

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What seems new in Bankimchandra’s claim is the clarity of his formulation of the problem and the programmatic character of his endeavour; the fact that he was the first to propose such a reform for ‘mainstream Hinduism’; and the self-conscious use of philological methods in its implementation. But, as may already have been adumbrated, one should not confound Bankimchandra’s speaking on behalf of this ‘mainstream’, traditional Hinduism with his unproblematic belonging to the same. His modern English-medium education, and his exposure to Utilitarianism and Positivism and also Indological literature, meant that he was speaking not out of, but rather about, a tradition he had somewhat awkwardly come to accept as his own. Thus it would not be mistaken to state that he ushers in a meta-religious discourse that was deeply entrenched in processes of colonial and proto-nationalist identity formation.⁷

MAJOR WRITINGS Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay was not a religious leader or organization builder, but his influence was mainly through texts. Therefore, even though the focus in the following will be on his basic ideas rather than on particular texts, some initial remarks on his more voluminous writings are in order. Bankimchandra’s religious writings consist of a number of smaller articles in both Bengali and English, a series of letters in English, and three book-length studies in Bengali. In a larger sense, some of his novels, particularly Ānandamath : (1884), also belong to this corpus, since, even though they are far from being systematic religious treatises, they did a lot to popularize some of his thoughts. Taken together, these works amount to several hundred pages. The three longer Bengali works that contain the bulk of his religious thinking are Dharmmatattva (‘essentials of dharma, 1886), Kr: s: nacaritra (‘life of Krishna’, : 1888) and Śrīmadbhagabad Gītā (serially 1886–8, in book form posthumously in 1902), his unfinished commentary on the Bhagavad Gītā. The first of these, Dharmmatattva,⁸ is written as a dialogue between a preceptor (guru) and a pupil (śisya). Grafted on the mostly oral genre of the : upadeśa (instruction), this was a common format in nineteenth-century advice literature, which had become a frequent ingredient in Bengali periodicals. Not so common was the constellation of the interlocutors: from the very beginning, the pupil reveals himself as a Western-educated youth familiar with the intellectual trends of the day, particularly Jeremy Bentham’s and John Stuart Mill’s Utilitarianism and Auguste Comte’s Positivism. The guru’s task is ⁷ This point is also made explicit by Saverio Marchignoli (2005), in his translation and study of Bankimchandra’s Dharmmajijñāsā. ⁸ For English translations, see Ghosh (1977) and Ray (2003).

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to bring a reinterpretation of Hindu dharma (law, righteousness, religion) home to his pupil, standing, of course, for the Western-educated middle class of nineteenth-century Bengal. It will not be unjust to argue, and not far-fetched given his status, that this mission came very close to what Bankimchandra himself intended when he set his mind to authoring this work. A reformed ethics for colonial Bengal with patriotism ranging very high, and a reconciliation of the dharma expounded in the Bhagavad Gītā and elsewhere with the humanist ethical ideas of the above-quoted European thinkers was the gist of this didactic dialogue. Kr: s: nacaritra is Bankimchandra’s attempt to distil a historical Krishna from : the disparaging layers of tradition.⁹ Inspired by similar efforts to discover the historical Christ,¹⁰ and in line with a whole range of historicizing moves across many religions in the modern age,¹¹ Bankimchandra borrows the methodology of textual criticism from contemporary philology and particularly Indology in order to distinguish between authentic historical information about Krishna, later interpolations in accordance with his authentic persona and his doctrine, and interpolations contradictory to his life and teachings. The project underlying this exercise is obviously the extrapolation of historical data from mythological sources so as to ‘translate’ Krishna as an ‘ideal man’ into modern standards of validity. What came under the knife of his dissecting procedure were all those parts of Krishna lore that contained supernatural elements—such as his killings of demons as a baby, his lifting of mount Govardhana, the teaming of snake Kāliya, and so on—as well as anything that could raise doubts about being obscene. Thus, the vastraharana : episode, in which Krishna stole the clothes of the gopīs and had them dance naked to get them back, also got dismissed as interpolated and incongruent with Krishna’s historical character and teachings. Basically, the whole of the Braj episodes had to go, and the Krishna of the Mahābhārata gets precedence over that of the Bhāgavatapurāna Particular weight is laid on : and the Harivamśa. : the Bhagavad Gītā: though not historical in any feasible sense, and despite the highly artificial and literary way in which it has been inserted into the plot of the Mahābhārata, the Gītā is portrayed as the repository par excellence of Krishna’s teachings compiled by posteriority and thus belongs to the second layer of interpolations in accordance with the historically authentic tradition. Such proceedings were, of course, doubtful in that the criteria for exclusion were ideologically predetermined by a widely shared set of rationalist and moralist attitudes. Moreover, notwithstanding blames of obscenity against the Krishna traditions in some quarters, the disqualification of the Braj legends

⁹ For English translation, see Bhattacharya (1991). ¹⁰ Notably John Robert Seeley’s Ecce homo (Seeley 1882). ¹¹ Shibli Numani’s biography of Muhammad is another famous example from South Asia.

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earned him disagreement, and the artificiality of his construction was criticized in a review by Rabindranath Tagore (Ṭ hākur 1978). The third major text to be discussed briefly is his Śrīmadbhagabadgītā. This fragmentary commentary breaks off in the fourth of the Gītā’s eighteen adhyāyas or chapters. Like the other writings outlined so far, this commentary targets the so-called śiksita sampradāy· or class of educated readers, with : education being disambiguated by Bankim himself in his foreword as Western education (Harder 2001: 19). The purpose is to furnish a commentary for modern times, rendering the words of Krishna in a modern and updated language. As in Kr: s: nacaritra, utterances of the text are judged according to : their compatibility with Krishna’s teachings as conceived by Bankimchandra; and, as in Dharmatattva, the emphasis is on principles of dharma and the alleged tolerance of Hinduism, which allows different kinds of worship. Textual criticism is represented in Bankimchandra’s conviction that religious messages are adapted to the epistemic settings of their times and thus need updating. So, even if Krishna’s dharma may in essence be timeless, its fixation by the author of the Gītā is necessarily tempered by the thinking and society of the time of its creation. Along with these three texts, one last very significant group of writings needs to be introduced before we move on to a survey of his ideas—namely, his Letters on Hinduism. Written to a Positivist friend of his, Jogendra Chandra Ghosh, probably in 1882 or shortly after,¹² with a view for them to be published later (which, however, happened only posthumously), this series of letters neatly summarizes some of Bankimchandra’s ideas about Hinduism and his basic ‘hermeneutical situation’;¹³ it vividly describes the state of siege in which Hinduism found itself with missionaries, Orientalists, and Bankimchandra’s no less merciful middle-class Bengali contemporaries. The first two of these letters deal with the difficulty of the very term Hinduism and thus they provide a perfect starting point for this survey of his religious ideas. There are indications that Bankimchandra developed personal devotion towards the end of his life, and a full-scale assessment of his personality would have to go beyond the meta-religious conceptualizations he put forth, probing into the interfaces between his faith and reasoning. Equally, a comprehensive overview of his religious thought would have to include his ideas regarding a historical anthropology of Hinduism.¹⁴ In the following, however, these aspects will be left aside, focusing instead on those topics that have a more direct bearing on the intellectual heritage and equipment of modern Hinduism. These comprise his attempts to define Hinduism; the interpretation of dharma ¹² I agree with Saverio Marchignoli’s estimation (2005: 17) that the Letters were written soon after the Hastie debate. ¹³ I borrow this term from Wilhelm Halbfass (1988), inspired by Hans-Georg Gadamer. ¹⁴ Cf. for both these topics Amiya P. Sen’s anthology (Sen 2011).

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as both equivalent and counter-concept to ‘religion’; and claiming inherent spirituality and tolerance as a distinctive feature of Hinduism in order to assert it vis-à-vis Orientalism, Christian missions, science, and contemporary Western philosophy. These topics are strongly interlinked but will for the sake of transparence be taken up one by one in the following.

WHAT IS HINDUISM? In general terms, one of the fundamental aspects of the global proliferation of the concept of religion is the extremely complex series of translations and semantic crossovers with competing or parallel terms in the respective religious environments to which it was transplanted. As an emerging comparative category, religion allowed claims of validity by various traditions to be formulated on a new scale. However, it was by no means clear what religion actually was, since the term itself carried a large set of different meanings.¹⁵ On the one hand, its use was received by many as indicating a particular kind of differentiation that spheres of social life had undergone in European societies, enabling a critique of such differentiation by evoking supposedly undifferentiated indigenous counter-concepts. On the other, both the innermost essence and the comprehensiveness or extension of religion were matters of interpretation, contestation, and debate. This allowed for different degrees of ‘thickness’ to coexist when particular religious traditions were delimited, and broad versions encompassing localized religious practice, religiously embedded customs, and popular beliefs integrated with overarching large-scale religious taxonomies could stand by the side of very austere versions of doctrine as religion proper. This problem of definition has already forced itself on Bankimchandra in the Hastie controversy when he retorts to the Reverend that much of what the latter finds worthy of denunciation in Hinduism is not actually a part of it but just custom. In his Letters on Hinduism, he goes more deeply into the topic, imagining as his reading public not so much British administrators and missionaries but English-educated Indians, whom he accuses of following the judgement of their masters apishly even when it comes to their own religion (Letters, 228). Bankim’s discussion of Hinduism hinges on the dual problem of coming to terms with religion and controlling the translational dynamics of dharma. We postpone the dharma part of the argument to the following section and concentrate on the English Letters and their tackling of religion first. ¹⁵ For a recent survey of the problems in defining religion, cf. Michael Bergunder (2011), who argues that religious studies have to this day not been able to give a feasible definition of the term.

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At the outset, after quoting some examples of the misrepresentation and blame that Hinduism is receiving in contemporary debates, Bankimchandra tries to disambiguate the term Hindu—a rather new term, as he is convinced: Search through the vast written literature of India, and you will not, except in modern writings where the Hindu has sought obsequiously to translate the phraseology of his conquerors, meet with any mention of such a thing as the Hindu religion. Search through all the vast records of pre-Mohamedan India, nowhere will you meet with even such a word as Hindu, let alone Hindu religion. Nay more. Search through the whole of that record, and nowhere will you ever meet with such a word as religion. The word Dharma, which is used in the modern vernaculars as its equivalent, was never used in pre-Mohamedan India in the same sense as religion. (Letters, 230)

This entry is not just notable for its rhetorical boldness and the fact that Bankimchandra was one of the first to address these issues so directly. It is also thematically significant, because it problematizes the three basic categories at the heart of the debate—namely, Hindu, religion, and dharma—in unpacking their often unquestioned semantic extension. Bankimchandra argues that not Hindu but Arya (ārya) was the term used for self-reference prior to the advent of Islamic rulers on the subcontinent; and the absence of religion as a category is then explained in a manoeuvre as full of wit as of doubtful legitimacy, which deserves another full quotation: The pre-Mohamedan Hindu called himself Arya, disdaining to include under the denomination the Indian whom he had conquered. For religion he had no name, because he never entertained any conception to which such a name would have been applicable. With other peoples, religion is only a part of life; there are things religious, and there are things lay and secular. To the Hindu, his whole life was religion. To the European, his relations to God and to the spiritual world are things sharply distinguished from his relations to man and to the temporal world. To the Hindu, his relations to God and his relations to man, his spiritual life and his temporal life are incapable of being so distinguished. They form one compact and harmonious whole, to separate which is to break the entire fabric. All life to him was religion, and religion never received a name from him, because it never had for him an existence apart from all that had received a name. (Letters, 230–1)

Whether this claim is true or not would necessitate a lengthy argument and need not detain us here. The point is that Bankimchandra’s description of this state of non-differentiation comes with a moral bonus in tacitly suggesting that such a holistic, ‘harmonious’ integration of religion is a very positive thing and should actually be the rule. Simultaneously, however, the same idea of embeddedness of the Hindu religion in society is what enables such harsh attacks by its critics, reading corrupted social practices like satī as a direct effluence of religious doctrine. This would, in one of Bankimchandra’s examples, be the same as if we were to judge the doctrine of Christianity by

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the crimes of the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre (Śrīmadbhagabadgītā, 762). Therefore, Bankimchandra immediately backpedals and calls for a slender version, calling Hinduism the principles of the faith and not their applications. He gives an adequate etymology of the term Hindu and adopts some of the historical differentiations (Vedic, Brahmanic) introduced by Indological scholars. Just a little further, however, he proposes a definition of religion as a belief that is the common basis of conduct and a standard for regulating human existence and subscribes to the dictum ‘the substance of religion is culture’, which he takes from Seeley (Letters, 237–8). In other words, he turns back to the potential of a broad concept of religion and, in extension, Hinduism. His watering-down of this passage serves as an opening to his ensuing discussion of mythology, fetishism, polytheism, and so on. What is important to note is the oscillation between broad and narrow conceptions of religion and Hindu religion. We can state generally that Bankimchandra uses a double strategy in his dealing with Hinduism, employing both its broad and its narrow meanings for his claims on behalf of Hinduism. This is partly indicative of the apologetic bias of his endeavour. In the Letters, on the one hand, he responds to certain strands of evolutionist thinking in his days by advocating a narrow notion of religion. Thus fetishism is discarded from the canon of Hindu practices as a non-Aryan relict. Polytheism, too, is explained as a historical stage, partly lingering on, but partly also a misnomer for what actually should be called pantheism: the idea of the one in the many, : as old as the Veda and Upanis: ads, preached by Śankarācārya, and compatible with science, or at least more so than monotheism (Letters, 267–8). The narrative template of this argument is the discourse of degeneration through the centuries, which was common currency among colonialists, Orientalists, and also Indian nationalists: pure ideas got gradually covered by a host of misconceptions, and the present-day reformers’ task was to dig them up and cleanse them from the dust that had accumulated. On the other hand, the broad definition of Hinduism, encompassing all those ‘layers of dust’, serves Bankimchandra to make a claim in its favour in terms of the concept of natural religion. His source is the particular understanding of the term developed in John Robert Seeley’s 1882 essay of the same name, apparently well received in Bengal at the time.¹⁶ Seeley opines against supernaturalism as a necessary ingredient of religion, which would support Bankimchandra’s narrow version; at the same time, he sees religion as coterminous with culture, a large set of beliefs and practices, and advocates that the basic feelings driving religion, such as love, awe, and so on, are felt not only for God, but also for other beings, and there is no reason why the higher forms

¹⁶ He states that both he and his addressee admire this author (Letters, 238).

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should drive out the lower forms (Letters, 265). This leads Bankimchandra to conclude: a religion which excludes nature-worship is an imperfect religion. Experience has shown that the absence of this element from a religion, as in Christianity and Mohammedanism, serves to develop narrowness and bigotry, and to harden the sterner virtues into cruelty and fanaticism. Hinduism alone contains within it all these elements of worship—Hinduism alone therefore is a perfect religion. (Letters, 265)

The coexistence of these broad and narrow versions of Hinduism in Bankimchandra’s œuvre—actually, as here in the Letters, within the span of a few pages—may seem inconsistent, but such judgements need to be suspended for now. Bankimchandra’s oscillation between the two needs to be understood as strategic, for both allow him to advance arguments in favour of Hinduism. The matter becomes more complicated when we leave the English medium of the Letters and look at Bankim’s discussion of dharma.

THE DHARMA CONUNDRUM In the first passage quoted from the Letters, dharma is posited as a term that is not coterminous with religion, but only recently established as its vernacular substitute. It is the extensive equivalence and the simultaneous difference between the two that repeatedly drives Bankimchandra’s arguments in Dharmmatattva, his Bhagavad Gītā commentary, and elsewhere. The most detailed discussion of the semantics of dharma is found in his essay Dharmmajijñāsā, ‘the dharma question’.¹⁷ Here, the guru—this is also a guru–śisya : conversation—gives altogether six distinct meanings for dharma. He starts with ‘religion’ as the current sense; by its side, he enlists ‘morality’, ‘virtue’, and ‘action prescribed by religion’. The fifth meaning is given as ‘property’ in the sense of inborn character trait (the magnet’s dharma is to attract iron), and the last one as ‘custom, usage’ (Marchignoli 2005: 51–3). The confusion between these different meanings is stated to be a great impediment to advancement. Thereupon, the dharma of the Vedic period and of the dharmaśāstras is identified not as religion but as codified morality. This enables a major step in Bankimchandra’s argument, the dissociation from one set of traditionally

¹⁷ Dharmmajijñāsā is partly quoted in an appendix to Dharmmatattva and itself quotes the second Letter on Hinduism; this is typical for Bankim’s religious writings, many of them authored at overlapping periods of time and hence time and again also heavily overlapping in content. These definitions are also discussed in a summary of Bankimchandra’s dealings with dharma in Brekke (2002: 30–2).

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received notions of the term and its move towards contemporary ideas regarding religion, as Marchignoli (2005: 37) lucidly observes. Activating another sense of dharma, that of property, allows Bankimchandra, in another chain of arguments, to enquire into the general, universal dharma of men, irrespective of the religion one happens to belong to. The well-known passage in chapter 3 of his Dharmmatattva runs as follows: : What is [that general dharma]? : That which is dharma for mankind—for all, whether they be Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims. : How can that be found? : It can be found by enquiring into the dharma of man. : Yes, that is the question. : The answer is easy. What is the dharma of a magnet? : Attraction of iron. : What is the dharma of fire? : Burning. : What is the dharma of water? : Wetting. : What is the dharma of trees? : Producing fruit, flowers, etc. : What is the dharma of man? : How to say it in one word? : Why not say humanity? (Dharmmatattva, 589–90) Having thus identified man’s dharma as humanity, Bankimchandra prepares dharma to incorporate principles of humanism as developed in German Idealism (Kant, Fichte) as well as in the Utilitarian and Positivist philosophy of John Stuart Mill and Auguste Comte (Marchignoli 2005: 68–71). Humanity can now be defined as the proper cultivation (anuśīlan) of one’s physical, mental, and emotional faculties (br: tti) in an equilibrated way (sāmañjasya), and the substance of Dharmmatattva is the elaboration of this principle for the various vectors of human existence, all the way from bodily functions and drives to the love of god and the nation. Moreover, Seeley’s idea of natural religion, repeatedly evoked by Bankim in the formula ‘the substance of religion is culture’,¹⁸ fits neatly into this construction and confirms the generalist appeal of his interpretation of dharma. This synthetic merger between received semantic layers of dharma in Sanskrit and Indian vernaculars and nineteenth-century ideas about humanity and universalized religion is quite noteworthy in itself. But Bankimchandra’s ¹⁸ Cf., however, the passage in Dharmmajijñāsā, where he goes into Seeley’s argument more thoroughly and shows that the statement is oversimplified and actually used by Seeley as a quotation of his opponents (Marchignoli 2005: 72–3).

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argument goes beyond it, and it is this additional move—both strategic and out of conviction, to my mind—which has earned him irritated reactions by Western scholars, particularly Paul Hacker. Bankimchandra is not content with declaring the synthesis his own invention, but projects this universalized dharma back into the Hindu tradition or, more precisely, into the dharma as he finds it in the Bhagavad Gītā, promulgated by Krishna as the ideal man. The notion of dharma in the Bhagavad Gītā, however, presents an obstacle in that it is as tightly harnessed to caste (varna) : as the notion in the Dharmaśāstras; in the second chapter of the Gītā, for instance, Krishna instructs Arjuna that the svadharma, ‘own dharma’, of a Ks: atriya, member of the warrior caste, is to fight under all circumstances. Bankimchandra, partly because he is himself interested in a liberal and universalist interpretation, and partly in a mocking mimicry of the reactions he alleges his ever so liberal contemporaries display, finds this unacceptable, and attributes it to the social circumstances of its context of composition. He thus separates svadharma from caste and subjects it instead to individual volition (Harder 2001: 186 ff.). It is no longer the inherited belonging to a caste that forces a person into norm-conforming behaviour, but the conscious decision as to which faculties to cultivate, which, through the nexus established with natural religion, is indeed dharma in a religious sense. The dharma that evolves from these interpretative moves, conducted in the name of disambiguation as the guru in Dharmmajijñāsā initially states, is no less complex than the polysemic entity Bankimchandra takes up from tradition at the start. It can accommodate the latest interpretations of religion and be shown to pre-date the latter; it can be set against religion as a more universal category, but also radically individualized. As we shall see in the following, such a flexibility of dharma came in handy for Bankimchandra’s strategic purposes in positing Hinduism anew, and simultaneously, far from constituting mere intellectual jugglery, probably did express a deep-seated concern about a fundamental difference.

TOLERANCE, SUPERIORITY, AND INCLUSIVISM The previous section shows how seminal the category of dharma is to Bankimchandra’s interpretation of the Hindu religion. Flexibility of such a central category may be taken to generate polyvalence, coexistence of different versions and interpretations, and plurality, whereas rigidity may be seen to require the use of force so as to cling to one meaning and to eradicate others. Bankimchandra’s declared aim in his religious writings was to win back the educated middle classes to the cause of Hinduism by proving that it was on a par with other world religions, or, even more, by showing that it was the most

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tolerant religion in the world and thus superior. Bankimchandra was not the first to claim such superiority; in 1872, the Brahmo leader Rajnarayan Basu had already delivered a famous speech with the title Hindudharmmer śres:thatā, ‘the excellence/superiority of Hinduism’ (Basu 1995: 418–73), stres: sing the worship of the formless brahman as the main criterion but also hinting at its liberality of not treating those who stick to inferior forms of worship as outcasts. Bankimchandra took up this blueprint, refocusing it on Krishna, and devised a set of criteria that had the flexibility of dharma and its broad semantics right at its centre. This accent on flexibility relies heavily on the Bhagavad Gītā, known in itself as an attempt to harmonize three different basic ways of religious striving—namely, the jñānamārga, karmamārga, and bhaktimārga (path of knowledge, action/sacrifice, and devotion, respectively). In Bhagavad Gītā 4.11, for instance, where Krishna proclaims: ‘I satisfy everybody in the way in which s/he worships me’,¹⁹ Bankimchandra finds the nucleus of a doctrine of toleration that, for him, comes to characterize Hinduism as a whole. He explains this line to mean that worship of the formless brahman, of the Lord of the world, of many deities, of ancestors, even of inanimate objects—all these are worship, and all are declared worthy of Krishna’s, the highest god’s, attention and remuneration. This is then generalized so as to apply not only to kinds of worship that occur in the fold of ‘Hinduism’, but to worship in general, irrespective of its place and practice in particular religions: If the significance of this śloka is understood, there are no more differences caused by dharma on earth; Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jainas, worshippers of the formless and the formed, worshippers of many gods, and of innate matter—all of them worship one god; all follow the path on which he is. The dharma proclaimed in this śloka is the world’s only non-sectarian dharma; the only dharma to be followed by all people. It is the genuine Hindu dharma, too. There is no other dharma as generous as the Hindu dharma . . . (Harder 2001: 146–7)

It is this generosity that comes to serve as the ultimate criterion on which Bankimchandra builds his repeated claim of Hinduism’s superiority. Statements such as this one recur in his religious writings. The new stress lies on the key notions of niskāma karman, action without desire, and bhakti, devotion to : a personal god, Krishna, which Bankimchandra develops from his reading of the Bhagavad Gītā and juxtaposes to Brahmo and neo-Vedānta teachings. The procedure we can detect in this encompassing gesture—formulating a meta-religious doctrine of tolerance in Hindu scriptures that is apt to include religions other than Hinduism under its umbrella, and then claiming the existence of such a doctrine within traditional Hinduism as a proof of its ¹⁹ ye yathā mām : prapadyante tāms : tathaiva bhajāmyaham. Literally the plural is used: ‘I satisfy them in whatever way they approach me.’

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universal excellence—skilfully combines narrow and broad versions of dharma. A meta-religious harmonization is used to dignify the broad, ‘thick’ diversity of actual practice and belief. In as far as the integration of other religions into this scheme is concerned, this procedure has been discussed in terms of ‘inclusivism’. Bankimchandra was not the inventor of inclusivism, since Rajnarayan Basu and others had advanced similar arguments before him, building on premodern precursors. But Hacker, who coined the term, is certainly right in seeing in Bankimchandra one of the first major exponents of this pattern of thought. In the academic arena of posteriority, Paul Hacker was to be Bankimchandra’s severest critic. Under the caption of neo-Hinduism, this professor at Bonn and Münster universities was perhaps the first Indologist, in the wake of Farquhar’s and Glasenapp’s rather generalist books on the topic, to undertake detailed critical studies of modern Hindu thought. Hacker, in a number of seminal essays between 1958 and 1971,²⁰ furnishes very sharp analyses of the way European concepts were and are integrated into Hindu religious idioms, and, like some Bengali critics of the second half of the twentieth century (e.g. Hāsān 1990: 129), explicitly names nationalism as the main driving force behind these developments. While many of Hacker’s observations—including his remarks on Bankimchandra’s reinterpretation of dharma—are quite accurate, the problem with his writings is their excessively polemic nature. Hacker perceived operations such as Bankimchandra’s as a kind of cultural treason and jugglery, condemning intellectual theft as much as the loss of traditional thought patterns and a sell-out to the West. Hacker’s harsh criticism must be read in the light of his own background as a Catholic monk; he remained caught up in the powerful field of interreligious polemics and thus was unable properly to contextualize Bankimchandra’s ideas, an assessment of which must be incomplete without a thorough historicization within the colonial environment in which they developed. Hacker’s failure is highly unfortunate, because the polemics considerably delayed a serious discussion, and, despite attempts—most notably by Halbfass—to put them into perspective, continue to trigger counter-polemics to the present.²¹ Interestingly, and undeservedly, the term ‘neo-Hinduism’ caused some of the discontent with Hacker among later critics. Philosopher Bimalkrishna Matilal (1994), for instance, blames Paul Hacker for foisting this ‘term without a content’ on certain modern religious movements in India); and Geoffrey Oddie (1991) stresses that the prefix neo- implies a lack of authenticity on ²⁰ Such as ‘Der Dharma-Begriff des Neuhinduismus’ (Hacker 1978: 580–608), where he most extensively deals with Bankimchandra’s ideas. Most of these essays are in German; for English versions, see Halbfass (1995). ²¹ Cf., e.g., the recent interventions by Vishwa Adluri and Joydeep Bagchee—e.g. their article ‘The Redemption of the Brahman: Garbe and German Interpreters of the Bhagavad Gītā’, in Cho, Kurlander and McGetchin (2014: 68–83).

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the part of modern Hinduism and should therefore not be used. Closer investigation, however, shows that Bengali versions of the term (naba/nabya hindu) are neutrally used by Bankimchandra himself repeatedly in the 1880s to differentiate between old and new approaches to the Hindu tradition,²² and, while the present author agrees with Oddie’s criticism of the term, it must be conceded that, on the level of the debate, neo-Hinduism is originally an emic rather than an etic category.

LEGACY As the discussion of Bankimchandra’s ideas to this point should have made clear, he was by no means a mediocre thinker, but someone who skilfully used all the intellectual resources at his disposition to explore a new, so far untrodden path for Hindu dharma. It is partly due to the strain of the colonial situation that strong desires at times interfered with his thinking and led to inconsistencies. Some of these are founded on a number of deep-seated oppositions that underlie his reasoning and at times surface quite bluntly in the shape of biases. One such bias is the idea, brought up first in the Hastie controversy and ever present thereafter, that cultural insiders—that is, Hindus—are better qualified to understand Hinduism than cultural outsiders— that is, non-Hindus/non-Indians. On a commonsensical level, this may make sense, but Bankimchandra tends to essentialize the difference—hence his project of turning the minds of educated Hindus back upon their religion and to challenge the Orientalist knowledge production as an autopsy in nature.²³ According to Saverio Marchignoli, this division between in- and outsider access introduced a new key to the debates, one that had been absent in Rammohun Ray’s time. It made the discussion about religion into a question of identity and alterity, one of fundamental difference, and marked a ‘loss of common ground between Europeans and Hindus’ (Marchignoli 2005: 30). The terrain, as a result, was further bifurcated into an internal meta-discourse on Hinduism and a mostly external academic discourse on these themes. Another basic premise, most clearly uttered in the conclusion of his novel Ānandamat:h but lingering in all his religious writings, was the opposition between ‘outer’ and ‘inner knowledge’.²⁴ The former was what India had to ²² nabya hindu byākhyākārerā (‘neo-Hindu commentators’) in Debˡtattva o hindudharmma, 791; nabya sampradāẏ in Dharmmajijñāsā (cf. Marchignoli 2005: 54), and ‘naba hindu sampradāẏ’ (in inverted commas) in the title of the article Ādi brahma samāj o ‘naba hindu sampradāẏ. ²³ The characterization of Orientalist scholarship as an autopsy is most famously found in the Bar: a bājār episode of Bankimchandra’s Kamalākānta. ²⁴ bahirbisaẏak-antarbi saẏak. Ānandamath, : : : 643.

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learn from scientifically advanced, but materialistic Europe, and the latter India’s introspective, natural spirituality. This construct was directly linked to the topics already discussed—the undifferentiated, pervasive state of dharma and the spirit of toleration he claimed to be an inherent property of Hinduism. This opposition, again, was probably much older than Bankimchandra, but got thoroughly exposed in his writings. Bankimchandra did not found a religious movement and did not manage to gather a following around his ideas of a historical Krishna or the positivist dharma of ‘l’humanité’. But the impact of these orientations is undeniable. Personalities of younger generations, such as Vivekananda and Aurobindo (cf., e.g., Aurobindo 1954), popularized the discursive patterns upon which Bankim’s ideas rested: self-assertion, superiority through tolerance, and inborn spirituality being the foremost. Certain thought patterns also gained currency in the political sphere; thus the motto ‘Unity in Diversity’ of the Nehru era can be read as a neat all-Indian, generalized application of Bankimchandra’s ‘broad’ Hindu dharma of inner spiritual unity and toleration of difference. In Bengal, Bankimchandra has a reputation for being a liberal mind, a rationalist, and a modernizer, but has also often been branded a communalist—for example, in the comment that his Bande mātaram hymn was coterminous with a Hindu nationalism that excluded Muslims and other religious communities.²⁵ These ambiguities will remain, just like the open-endedness of much of his religious thinking. But by pulling together the strands of thought available at his time, Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay certainly marks a major point in the evolution of modern Hinduism, foreshadowing many of the topics that would be of seminal importance in future debates.

REFERENCES Ahmed, Rafiuddin (1981). The Bengal Muslims, 1871–1906: A Quest for Identity. Delhi and New York: Oxford University Press. Aurobindo, Sri (1954). Bankim Chandra Chatterji. Pondicherry: Aurobindo Ashram. Basu, Rājˡnārāẏan: (1995). Nirbācita racanā samgraha. Kalˡkātā: De Buk St:or. : Bergunder, Michael (2011). ‘Was ist Religion? Kulturwissenschaftliche Überlegungen zum Gegenstand der Religionswissenschaft’, Zeitschrift für Religionswissenschaft, 19/1–2: 3–55. Bhattacharya, Pradip (1991). Krishna-Charitra. Classics of East Series. Calcutta: MP Birla Foundation. Brekke, Torkel (2002). Makers of Modern Indian Religion in the Late Nineteenth Century. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

²⁵ I have dealt with this particular question in more detail in an article (Harder 1996).

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: : Cat:t:opādhyāẏ, Bankimˡcandra (¹¹1990). Bankim racanābalī, vol. II, ed. Yogendra Candra Bāgal. Kalikātā: Sāhitya Samsad (BR II). : : : Cat:t:opādhyāẏ, Bankimˡcandra (¹⁴1994). Bankim racanābalī, vol. I, ed. Yogendra Candra Bāgal. Kalikātā: Sāhitya Samsad (BR I). : Chattopadhyaya, Bankim (1969). Bankim Rachanavali, vol. III, ed. J. C. Bagal. Calcutta: Sahitya Samsad (BR III). Ādi brahma samāj o ‘naba hindu sampradāẏ’, BR II, 913–19. Ānandamat:h, BR I, 581–644. Bar: a bājār in Kamalākānta, BR II, 75–9. Debˡtattva o hindudharmma, BR II, 776–822. Dharmmatattva, BR II, 584–679. Hastie Controversy, BR III, 186–224. BR II, 407–583. Kr: s: nacaritra, : Letters on Hinduism, BR III, 227–70. On the Origin of Hindu Festivals, BR III, 91–6. Śrīmadbhagabadgītā, BR II, 680–775. Cho, Joanne Miyang, Eric Kurlander, and Douglas T. McGetchin (2014) (eds). Transcultural Encounters between Germany and India: Kindred Spirits in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. London and New York: Routledge. Ghosh, Manomohan (1977). Essentials of Dharma. Calcutta: Sribhumi. Hacker, Paul (1978). ‘Der Dharma-Begriff des Neuhinduismus’, in Hacker, Kleine Schriften, ed. Lambert Schmithausen. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 580–608. Halbfass, Wilhelm (1988). India and Europe. An Essay in Philosophical Understanding. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. Halbfass, Wilhelm (1995). Philology and Confrontation: Paul Hacker on Traditional and Modern Vedanta. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. Harder, Hans (1996). ‘Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay (1838–94) – Begründer kommunalistischer Ideologien?’, in Christian Weiß et al. (ed.), Religion Macht Gewalt. Frankfurt/Main: IKO Verlag, 57–70. Harder, Hans (2001). Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay’s Śrīmadbhagabadgītā: Translation and Analysis. Delhi: Manohar. Hāsān, Badˡrul (1990). Uniś śatak: nabajāgaran: o bāmlā : upanyās. Kalˡkātā: Jagatmātā Pābˡliśārs. Kaviraj, Sudipta (1995). The Unhappy Consciousness: Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay and the Formation of Nationalist Discourse in India. Delhi: Oxford University Press. Kopf, David (1979). British Orientalism and the Bengal Renaissance: The Dynamics of Indian Modernization 1773–1835. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Marchignoli, Saverio (2005). Indagine sul dharma: Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay e il discorso sulla religione nell’India colonizzata. Bologna: Libreria Bonomo Editrice. Matilal, Bimalkrishna (1994). ‘Images of India’, in Bhabatosh Chatterjee (ed.), Bankimchandra Chatterjee: Essays in Perspective. New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi, 242–5. Oddie, G. A. (1991). Review of Arvind Sarma (ed.), South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies,  14/2 (December), 141–2. Ray, Apratim (2003). Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay’s Dharmatattva. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Seeley, John Robert (1882). Natural Religion. London: Macmillan.

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Sen, Amiya P. (2008). Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay: An Intellectual Biography. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Sen, Amiya P. (2011). Bankim’s Hinduism: An Anthology of Writings by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay. New Delhi: Permanent Black. Ṭ hākur, Rabīndranāth (1978). ‘Kr: s: nacaritra’, in Ādhunik sāhitya. Rabīndra racanābali, : vol. 4. Kalikātā: Biśvabhāratī, 367–77.

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4 Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī and ISKCON Ferdinando Sardella

INTRODUCTION Swami Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī¹ was a Gaudiya Vaishnava guru and preceptor of the school of Krishna Caitanya (1486–1534).² He was born in 1874 in Jagannath Puri in present-day Orissa as Bimala Prasad Dutta. In the course of his life he managed to build an influential religious institution, the Gaudiya Math and Mission, which strived to respond to the social, political, and religious challenges of India’s late-colonial period. Bhaktisiddhānta’s institution gradually reached an international platform and had centres in Rangoon, London, and Berlin. Later, through offshoots such as ISKCON (popularly known as the Hare Krishna movement) Bhaktisiddhānta’s movement spread to most parts of the world and is now a well-established part of the unfolding layers of modern and global Hinduism. Bhaktisiddhānta belonged to the educated Bengali middle class, the bhadralok, which initially emerged in order to assist the British colonial administration. The bhadralok was mostly comprised of Hindus, and, although it initially included only wealthy landlords, it eventually came to incorporate a well-educated mixed workforce. The members of this class became respectfully known as babus, a title given to those possessing fluency in English. These laymen claimed authority through their newly acquired influence, learning, and merit, and the more progressive among them came to challenge ancient Hindu customs such as caste, early marriage, and sati. Among most of the bhadralok contemporaries of Bhaktisiddhānta, the primary philosophical orientations were towards non-dualism and Advaita Vedānta, which had been theoretically adapted to a new ideology of revival

¹ Hereinafter referred to as Bhaktisiddhānta. ² Hereinafter referred to as Caitanya. The name ‘Caitanya’ is pronounced ‘Chaitanya’. ‘Gaudiya’ refers to a Vaishnava from geographically ‘greater’ Bengal.

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and reform of Hinduism by key personalities such as Rammohun Roy and Swami Vivekānanda. The bhadralok were in search of new religious and cultural identities that could incorporate to various degrees Western ideas in a way that was compatible with Hinduism. Caitanyaite Vaishnavism was generally regarded by progressive Bengalis as a less viable option, owing to its reputation as too traditional and otherworldly. Inaugurated in the sixteenth century, it is the tradition of bhakti that arose from the life and teachings of Caitanya and included approximately one-fifth to one-third of the Bengali population of the late nineteenth century.³ Bhaktisiddhānta spearheaded a religious movement that claimed to hark back to a seminal understanding of pre-colonial Indic thought. His ideas centred around Vedantic perennialism popular at the time, but, contrary to the mainstream monistic interpretations of the Bengali renaissance in the nineteenth century, they reflected the world view of the theistic Upanishads and the Bhāgavata Purāṇ a. Bhaktisiddhānta regarded the self, the ātman, as distinguished from the body and mind, and ontologically as a metaphysical person; he also viewed the personal loving relation between the perennial self and the divine couple Rādhā and Krishna as the basis of existence. The abovementioned personalist understanding is part of a shared Vaishnava world view popular among North Indian saguṇ a bhakti practitioners, and particularly among the educated mainstream, non-tantric Gaudiya Vaishnavas of Bengal, Vrindavan, and Eastern India. Bhaktisiddhānta dedicated his adult life to the propagation of Caitanyaite Vaishnavism. He did this primarily through the establishment of a pan-Indian religious institution, the publication of newspapers and journals in Indian languages and in English, the printing and distribution of classical and medieval texts, and the writing of new commentaries. Throughout his life he travelled widely about India, lecturing and initiating disciples, and won the esteem of both Indian and European figures.⁴ Through the work of the Gaudiya Math and the Gaudiya Mission (the names of the institution that he created), Bhaktisiddhānta’s voice gradually gained prominence in India. Nonetheless, after his death in 1937 his movement declined, owing to a crisis of succession that ended in a schism. Some thirty years later, however, a new series of events propelled his movement to worldwide attention and spread his perspective on the teachings of Caitanya throughout the world, making tens of thousands of non-Indian and Indian followers.

³ O’Connell (2013: 151). ⁴ See Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī, Shri Chaitanya’s Teachings, pts I and II, ed. Swami Bhakti Vilāsa Tirtha (Madras: Shree Gaudiya Math, 1989), 315–78.

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EARLY L IFE Bhaktisiddhānta was born on 6 February 1874 in Jagannath Puri on the southern shore of the Bay of Bengal.⁵ He was the seventh child of the Bengali Kedarnath Datta known as Bhaktivinoda (1838–1914) and his wife Bhagavati Devi. Bhaktivinoda named his son ‘Bimala Prasad’.⁶ Bhaktisiddhanta’s father was a deputy magistrate in the British administration and one of the key religious influences of his life. Bhaktivinoda was born in the village of Ula, today known as Birnagar.⁷ Bhaktivinoda’s parents, Ananda Chandra Datta and Jagat Mohini Mitra, were members of the influential kāyastha caste, which for generations had worked as scribes and writers in the royal courts of India, and were often known as wealthy landowners.⁸ In 1852, worsening financial circumstances forced Bhaktivinoda to move to the home of his maternal uncle in Calcutta, where he lived until 1858.⁹ From there he began to explore the urban world originally created by the East Indian Company, in search of education and employment, and entered the swelling ranks of the bhadralok. There he met the prominent educator and scholar Ishvar Chandra Vidyasagar (1820–91), under whose guidance he studied the history of India.¹⁰ In 1856, Kedarnath Datta began attending the Hindu School, where he befriended the two prominent brothers Satyendranath (1842–1923) and Gajendranath Tagore, as well as Keshub Chandra Sen (1838–84), the future reformer of the Brahmo Samaj.¹¹ Kedarnath showed a poem about Porus, the Paurava king who nobly fought against Alexander the Great, to the well-known Scottish educationalist Alexander Duff (1806–78). Duff appreciated the poem and took the boy under his wing, helping him to study the works of John Milton (1608–74). Kedarnath also made a study of the works of Thomas Babington Macauley (1800–59), ⁵ Unless otherwise mentioned, the following description is based on ‘Ācārya Carita’, a biographical article that appeared in the issue of Gauḍīya, 15/23–4 (16 January 1937), 9–40. The magazine was the official periodical of the Gaudiya Math. The issue appeared just a few days after Bhaktisiddhānta’s demise. An English translation of this and later biographical articles that appeared in the periodical Gauḍīya are found in Swami Bhakti S´rīrūpā Bhāgavata (ed.), Advent Centenary Souvenir of Shri Shrila Prabhupad 1874–1974 (Baghbazar, Calcutta: Gaudiya Mission, 1974), 1–37. ⁶ ‘Bimala Prasad’ and ‘Bhaktisiddhānta’ will hereafter indicate the same person at different stages of life. ⁷ The title ‘Bhaktivinoda’ is honorific and was bestowed upon Kedarnath Datta in 1886 in recognition of his learning and scholarly accomplishments. ⁸ In 1876, Kedarnath Datta wrote a genealogical work in Sanskrit verse, the Datta-vamśa: mālā. See also Marvin (1996: 55–8). Many Hindu revivalists and reformers like Swami Vivekānanda, as well as nationalists such as Subhas Chandra Bose, were born kāyasthas. For a general history of Bhaktivinoda’s kāyastha clan—Dutt or Datta are its alternative spellings—see Hopkins (1989). ⁹ Kedarnath Datta Bhaktivinoda, Svalikhita-jīvanī (Calcutta: Lalita Prasad Datta, 1916), 54. The uncle’s name was Kashiprasad Ghosh (1809–1873); he lived on Bidan street in Calcutta. ¹⁰ Bhaktivinoda, Svalikhita Jīvanī, 67. ¹¹ Bhaktivinoda, Svalikhita Jīvanī, 68.

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William Hazlit (1778–1830), and Thomas Carlyle (1795–1881).¹² In 1866, after passing the required examinations, he began as a Deputy Magistrate and Deputy Collector of the seventh grade, inaugurating an ascent to the higher ranks of colonial service under great physical and mental pressure.¹³ By the time of his retirement in 1894 he had been relocated twenty-five times, finishing his career as a Deputy Magistrate of second grade. Bimala Prasad began his education at an English school in Ranaghat, and in 1881 was transferred to the Oriental Seminary in Calcutta. In 1881, when he was a young student, Bhaktivinoda gave young Bimala prayer beads ( japa mālā) made of a sacred tulasī plant from Jagannath Puri. Bhaktivinoda founded in Calcutta in the same year the Viśva Vais: ṇ ava Sabhā (the World Vaishnava Association).¹⁴ Sisir Kumar Ghosh, the editor of the renowned English daily Amrita Bazar Patrika, and Bipin Bihari Goswami, a Brahman guru from Bhagnapara in the Nadia district, became active supporters, and frequently participated in the meetings of the association.¹⁵ Young Bimala also attended and through his father met many of the leading Vaishnavas of Bengal, as well as prominent figures among the bhadralok. In 1885, Bhaktivinoda founded a research centre, the Vaishnava Depository, with a library and an archive intended for the preservation of manuscripts and other resources for the study of the Caitanya tradition. The centre included a press that was used to publish and propagate the religious views of the Viśva Vais: ṇ ava Sabhā. One of the publications of the new press was the Sajjanatos: aṇ ī. The periodical contained news of Bhaktivinoda’s missionary activities and his devotional poetry as well as writings on Vaishnava history and theology. Although still a boy, Bimala Prasad was given the task of proofreading the magazine. Bimala Prasad passed the demanding entrance examination for the Sanskrit College and, apart from Sanskrit, he studied mathematics, Indian philosophy, and ancient history. Bhaktivinoda applied the managerial skills he had acquired through his civil service to a new institutional venture, and in October 1893 founded the Navadvīpadhāma Pracāriṇ ī Sabhā (Society for the Propagation of the Sacred Site of Nabadwip). The new society promoted a new birthplace of Caitanya in Mayapur, on the basis of Bhaktivinoda’s calculations and historical research, rather than the traditional site in Nabadwip promoted by the local Brahmans on the opposite shore of the Ganges.¹⁶ In 1891, at the age of 17, Bimal Prasad, now Siddhānta Sarasvatī—a title conferred on him in 1889 by his astronomy teachers—started his own tutorials in astronomy.¹⁷

¹² Bhaktivinoda, Svalikhita Jīvanī, 71. ¹³ Bhatia (2008: 187–8). ¹⁴ Marvin (1999: 97). ¹⁵ Sardella (2014: 195). ¹⁶ Sajjanatosaṇ : ī, 5/11 (1893), 201–7. ¹⁷ Swami Bhakti Vikāsa, S´rī Bhaktisiddhānta Vaibhava: The Grandeur and Glory of S´rīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭ hākura (Surat: Bhakti Vikas Trust, 2009), i. 13.

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In 1897, after leaving the Sanskrit College, he used his family home to establish the Sarasvata Chatuspathi, a school of astronomy that prepared students for examinations at the Sanskrit College. Meanwhile, in 1895 he accepted a position at the royal court of the Maharaja of Tripura as a historian and tutor.¹⁸ In the year 1900, at the age : of 26, Bhaktisiddhānta published the Bange Sāmājikatā (Social Structure in Bengal).¹⁹ The work marked his first analysis of the relation between religion and society, providing not only a historical account based on indigenous categories of knowledge, but also a partial critique of Western Indology and historiography. The period around the turn of the century marked a new stage in Bhaktisiddhānta’s religious development. He was initiated by a Vaishnava ascetic (bābājī) Gaura Kiśora dāsa, a well-known figure of Nabadwip, and acquainted himself with the more esoteric practices of the Gaudiya tradition.²⁰ Soon after, Bhaktisiddhānta abandoned his life as a privileged bhadralok and began to live as a celibate monk (brahmacārī). He dressed in simple white or green cloth, the latter being a symbol of the intimate practice of ragānūga bhakti, by which one worships Rādhā and Krishna in the mood separation (vipralambha). With his newfound freedom from social obligations, as well as the encouragement of his employer, the Maharaja of Tripura, Bimala Prasad, now Bhaktisiddhānta (‘the final aim of bhakti’)—a title that he received from his father—took the opportunity to carry out a pilgrimage to important Hindu sites. In Jagannath Puri, Bhaktisiddhānta discussed philosophy and religion with sādhus and pandits of various disciplic lines (sampradāya). Of particular interest was the : study of Advaita Vedānta, which he explored at the Math that S´ankara himself is said to have established. The head of the Math, Madhusūdana Tīrtha, guided him in his studies.²¹ While travelling, Bhaktisiddhānta went to great lengths to collect materials for a Vaishnava encyclopaedia. For him this was a vital project for a recovery of Vaishnava terminology, heritage, and theology.²² The encyclopedia was eventually begun with four volumes under the title Vais: ṇ ava mañjus:ā samāhr: ti (Basket of Collected Definitions of Vaishnavism), but it never reached completion.²³ In his pursuit of materials and study of Indian religion he travelled to South India and explored the customs and teachings of the Vaishnava disciplic

¹⁸ A brother of Bhaktisiddhānta would later serve as secretary of the Maharaja. ¹⁹ It is available at the Caitanya Research Centre in Kolkata, (accessed 19 January 2019). ²⁰ Paramānanda Brahmacārī, in Sundarānanda Vidyāvinoda (ed.), Sarasvatī Jayaśrī: Vaibhava Parva (Calcutta: S´rī Gaudiya Math, 1934), 154. ²¹ Swami Bhakti Vikāsa, S´rī Bhaktisiddhānta Vaibhava, vol. 1, p. 35. ²² Ananta Vāsudeva, in Sarasvatī Jayaśrī, 81–2. ²³ The four initial volumes were funded by the Maharaja of Kasimbazar.

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orders of succession (sampradāya), particularly those of Madhva in Karnataka and Rāmānuja in Tamil Nadu. During this period, Bhaktisiddhānta only sporadically visited Calcutta, which had been plunged into political turmoil by the clash between the Swadeshi (self-rule) movement and the British Raj.²⁴ In the rural areas, however, Bhaktisiddhānta faced a social structure that rarely questioned the ritual rights of hereditary brāhmaṇ as. In August 1911, a large meeting was arranged in Balighai Uddhavapur in the Midnapur district to discuss two issues: first, whether it was permissible for non-hereditary brāhmaṇ as such as Bhaktisiddhānta to worship Vishnu in the form of the sacred stone known as śālagrāma śilā; and, second, whether it was permissible for them to act as gurus and initiate members of higher castes. Bhaktivinoda requested Bhaktisiddhānta to represent him and deliver a speech. His argument at the event was that Vaishnava texts paid equal respect to hereditary brāhmaṇ as and to those who had acquired ritual privileges through the act of initiation and purificatory practices among established Vaishnava schools.²⁵ This was an important premise for his movement, which attempted to reach beyond the borders of Vaishnava society and open up its ranks and files to non-Hindus as well as Hindus from any class and caste. It was also an important statement for legitimating his own identity as a Vaishnava teacher, considering that as a Datta kāyastha he was regarded by most Bengali brāhmaṇ as as a (clean) śudra, and thus in principle deprived of ritual rights.²⁶ Bhaktivinoda passed away on 23 June 1914, and Gaura Kiśora on 16 November 1915. Distressed by these events, Bhaktisiddhānta withdrew in Nabadwip until he decided to accept the order of samnyāsa through self: initiation, adopting the name Swami Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī. Self-initiation was unorthodox, but he considered it a necessary step, since the samnyāsa : order was not in practice among Gaudiya Vaishnavas. He then set to devote his life to his father’s vision for a global Vaishnava mission, which Bhaktivinoda had formulated on several occasions.²⁷

THE GAUDIYA MATH AND M ISSION Shortly after the end of the First World War, Bhaktisiddhānta opened a centre in Calcutta, the Bhaktivinoda Āsana, dedicated to the practice and propagation of bhakti. The teachings of that centre were presented in a rational and ²⁴ See Sarkar (1973). ²⁵ Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī, Brāhmaṇ a o Vaisṇ siddhānta : ava: tāratamaya-visayaka : (Mayapur: S´rī Caitanya Math, 1934), 72. ²⁶ Sardella (2013: 85). ²⁷ See Ghosh (2014).

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intelligible fashion and were adjusted for an urban audience. The opening was reported in the English daily Amrita Bazar Patrika on 17 December 1918. On 5 February 1919, Bhaktisiddhānta took another major step by reviving one of Bhaktivinoda’s cherished projects—that is, the World Vaishnava Association, adding this time the word rāja, ‘royal’, which referred to the religious leadership of Caitanya, the religious master of the Gaudiyas. Following the structure of a traditional learned association (sabhā), the Viśva Vais: ṇ ava Rāja Sabhā was a forum for studying, publishing, and propagating Vaishnava literary works. The name of the association reflected the early universal vision of the six Goswamis of Vrindavan, who were close associates of Caitanya.²⁸ The vision of a global sabhā—a community—that transcended religious borders fitted well with the cosmopolitan world of Calcutta, where Bengalis lived side by side with British, Swedes,²⁹ Danish, Scots, Dutch, French, and Chinese. Unitarians and evangelical missionaries both in India and in England had already propagated a universal Christian religion, conceived as a pluralist, international brotherhood. Western esotericism, occultism, and the Theosophical Society had propagated the ideals of equality, honour, and respect for the entirety of humanity. Rammohun Roy and later the Brahmo Samaj had translated religious universalism into a struggle for justice, emancipation for women, and the rights of the underprivileged.³⁰ Vivekānanda had made service to humanity a key to his religious practice. Bhaktivinoda had been exposed to these powerful forms of universalism, but his inspiration had come more specifically from the Caitanyaite tradition itself, which contained its own version of egalitarianism, service to humanity, and universal love. The movement of Bhaktisiddhānta’s father had attracted some attention in the areas of pre-partition Bengal, where Caitanyaite Vaishnavism had a consistent basis among the lower castes, particularly in the rural areas.³¹ Up to his time, however, the teachings and practices of Caitanyaite Vaishnavism had barely become known outside the school’s original strongholds in Bengal, Orissa, and Vrindavan; and, after more than 400 years of existence, they had penetrated only to Eastern regions such as Assam, Manipur, and ²⁸ The word viśva can be translated in a general sense as ‘all’, ‘whole’, ‘entire’, but is often rendered as ‘universe’ or ‘world’ in compound words such as viśvātman (‘the Soul of the universe’); see Sharada Sugirtharajah (2003: 992–4). ²⁹ The Swedish Lutheran Missionary Johann Zachariah Kiernander (1710–99), for example, was invited by Lord Clive in 1758 to come to Calcutta, where in 1770 he built the oldest Protestant Church in the city, the Mission Church. ³⁰ Crawford (1987). ³¹ The 1931 census of India indicates, for example, that in greater Bengal the percentage of Vaishnavas among the total number of Hindus was 33% in the Dacca division, 7% in the Burdwan district near Nabadwip, but only 0.36% in Calcutta. These statistics may be misleading in some respects owing to the methodology adopted, but they provide some indication of the greater popularity of Caitanyaite Vaishnavism outside Calcutta in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; see Porter (1932: 220–1).

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Tripura. With the revival of the Viśva Vaisṇ : ava Rāja Sabhā, Bhaktisiddhānta intended to re-establish his father’s ‘universal church’.³² In 1920, he published a Sajjanatosaṇ : ī article that once again presented the aims of the association and made clear the direct link to the original association created shortly after Caitanya had departed from this world in 1534.³³ On 6 September 1920, Rādhā-Govinda deities were installed, and the centre formerly known as Bhaktivinoda Āsana officially was named ‘S´rī Gaudiya Math’. Bhaktisiddhānta’s monastic centres eventually came to be collectively known as the ‘Gaudiya Math’, while the missionary institution Viśva Vaisṇ : ava Rāja Sabhā became known as the ‘Gaudiya Mission’.³⁴ In 1923, Bhaktisiddhānta published the Bhāgavata Purāṇ a, the prime Sanskrit text for the Vaishnavas of India and for the mainstream Gaudiyas of Bengal. He printed it in Bengali script with commentaries by Madhva and Viśvanātha Cakravārtī Ṭ hākura, and one composed by himself. He then edited and published a commentary on the Caitanya Bhāgavata, a popular biography of Caitanya written in Bengali by Vr: ndāvana dāsa Ṭ hākura, which he published in Dacca in 1924. On 16 December 1924, he lectured at Benares Hindu University on ‘The Place of Vaishnavism in World Religion’. During this period, he increasingly came to view his movement as part of a greater panVaishnava community that encompassed Vaishnavas from both North and South India. In keeping with this view, he began publishing texts from other Vaishnava lines, and encouraged knowledge of founding gurus—that is, founders of established Vaishnava sampradāyas such as Madhva, Rāmānuja, Nimbārka, and Visṇ : usvāmī. This made his movement grounded in traditional Hindu spirituality, while he carefully maintained a strong footing in the modern urban milieu of Calcutta, with its influential institutions, printing presses, and intellectual life. Perhaps the earliest historical evidence of Bhaktisiddhānta’s commitment to a global missionary movement can be found in an account of a 1922 meeting with Abhay Caranaravinda De (1896–1977), who at the time was the manager of a chemical factory owned by one Dr Bose. De was a strong sympathizer of Gandhi and was politically involved with the Congress Party. One of his friends, Narendranath Mallik, persuaded him to attend one of Bhaktisiddhānta’s lectures in Calcutta. In De’s account of this incident, Bhaktisiddhānta requested the two visitors to spread Caitanya’s message to the West. De argued that, as long as India was dependent, few would listen to its message, but remarked that his argument was soundly defeated by Bhaktisiddhānta. After this encounter, De apparently abandoned his ³² Sajjanatosaṇ : ī, 21/8–9 (1920), 259–62. ³³ The date of Caitanya’s birth and demise is disputed, and there is no general consensus. Birth years are generally given as 1485 or 1486, and his demise as 1533 or 1534. ³⁴ Sambidananda (1935: ch. 13, p. 60).

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nationalistic efforts and in 1933 accepted initiation from Bhaktisiddhānta, who became formally his guru.³⁵ In 1966, he managed to fulfil his preceptor’s initial request—which Bhaktisiddhānta had often discussed with his closer disciples—by personally travelling to the United States and founding in New York the International Society for Krishna Consciousness using the name that he had received upon accepting the ascetic order of samnyāsa in 1959— : that is, Swami Abhay Caranaravinda Bhaktivedanta.³⁶

L O N D O N AND BE RLI N In April of 1933 three of Bhaktisiddhānta’s disciples departed overseas for Europe: senior samnyāsin Swami Bhakti Pradīpa Tīrtha, Swami Bhakti Hr: daya : Bon, and Sambidananda dāsa. The latter had been admitted to the graduate programme at the University of London to write a doctoral dissertation on the history of Vaishnavism. In April 1934, the Gaudiya Mission Society was registered in London.³⁷ Some of the members of the board that served at different times were Lord Zetland (at the time the Secretary of State for India in the British Cabinet, who served as president), Lord Lamington, Sir Edward Denison Ross (Director of the London School of Oriental Languages, who served as vice-chairman) and the Maharajas of Tripura, Darbhanga, and Burdwan. The council also included two prominent female members: Lady Stanley Jackson and Lady Carmichael of Skirling. Miss Kathlee Shaw placed her Sussex country house at the mission’s disposal for the holding of programmes and discussions; eventually it became a sub-branch of the centre in London. The Gaudiya Mission Society functioned according to British regulations, integrating both British and Indian individuals from respectable circles of political and cultural life, and with representatives from both genders. In many respects, it was the embodiment of Bhaktisiddhānta’s vision of a partnership between West and East. In December 1933, Swami Bon travelled from London to Germany to deliver a series of arranged lectures with the goodwill of the Minister of Propaganda in Adolf Hitler’s government—that is, Paul Joseph Goebbels (1897–1945). During his visit to Germany he established a centre in Berlin and had a fateful meeting with one Ernst Georg Schulze, a Ph.D. student of Comparative Religion at the University of Leipzig, who eventually became the

³⁵ See Valpey (2006). ³⁶ Swami Bhaktivedānta, lecture at Gorakhpur on 15 February 1971, Bhaktivedānta Vedabase 2016. ³⁷ The office of the Society was at 3 Gloucester House, Cornwall Gardens, London, SW7.

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only committed Western student of bhakti that Swami Bon was able to bring back to India. In his journal, Swami Bon noted that the reception he received in Germany rivalled that which he had experienced in London.³⁸ His had been the first encounter of a representative of Vaishnavism with Europe, and it appeared to have gone fairly well. If nothing else, Swami Bon’s time in Europe had shown that it was possible to meet individuals at the highest levels of political, religious, and cultural life, and that the British and German elite had shown some interest in Indic religions. And yet, while the mission in Britain would remain fairly stable, the situation in Germany would quickly deteriorate, despite the genuine goodwill of several well-wishers and friends. A critical article by the German scholar Theodor Steche appeared on 8 January 1936 in the book section of the official newspaper of the Nazi Party in Berlin, the Völkischer Beobachter (Popular Observer). The article, entitled ‘From Asian Cultures’ (‘Aus Asiatischen Kulturen’), provides an interesting example of the Nazi reaction to Swami Bon’s missionary efforts during the Third Reich. The article stated that the lack of a racial perspective in the writings of the Gaudiya Math and their universalism, which gave equal status to all human beings as spiritual parts of Krishna, could not have a place in Nazi Germany.

SCH IS M Bhaktisiddhānta passed away in Calcutta on 1 January 1937. The events immediately following Bhaktisiddhānta’s demise led to a schism and had a pivotal impact on the future course of the Gaudiya Math. One cause of the schism was that Bhaktisiddhānta had never registered the Gaudiya Math and Mission as a legal entity; thus it remained solely linked to his name and personal leadership, without the advantage of a formalized structure that could succeed him during the post-charismatic phase. This omission may have had its roots in Bhaktisiddhanta’s personal reservations about the institutionalization of bhakti and the challenges of modern organized religion. Years of legal battling ended in 1942 when the Calcutta Court appointed three members of the Gaudiya Math to act as fiduciaries relative to Bhaktisiddhānta’s properties. Prior to this, in 1940, one of the disputants, Ananta Vāsudeva, registered the Gaudiya Math as a non-profit organization called the Gaudiya Mission to prevent any one individual from privately

³⁸ Swami Bhakti Hr: daya Bon, Second Year of the Gaudiya Mission in Europe (Berlin: Gaudiya Mission, 1935), 11 ff.

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owning any part of the institution. The two contestants divided the assets between two institutions, the Gaudiya Mission led by Ananta Vāsudeva and the S´rī Caitanya Math led by Kuñjabihārī Vidyābhūsaṇ : a. The assets comprised more than sixty Gaudiya Maths in India, one in London, and various properties in Bengal and Jagannath Puri. The final partition of the Gaudiya Math occurred in 1947. In the process, however, the momentum created by Bhaktisiddhānta during the 1920s and 1930s had to a large degree been lost, and the reputation of the Gaudiya Math in India had greatly suffered. The schism, however, created favourable circumstances for a number of new institutional developments, as most senior disciples of Bhaktisiddhānta now left the mother institution and created new ashrams and temples of their own modelled according to Bhaktisiddhānta’s original Gaudiya Math and Mission. This new institutional pluralism allowed for new missionary approaches, some of which succeeded in establishing Bhaktisiddhānta’s movement outside India.

ISKCON The years after 1937 saw prominent disciples of Bhaktisiddhānta inaugurate new institutions such as the S´rī Caitanya Math in Mayapur founded by Swami Bhakti Vilāsa Tirtha, the Gaudiya Mission at the headquarters in Baghbazar in Calcutta registered by Ananta Vāsudeva, the S´rī Gopinātha Gaudiya Math founded by Swami B. P. Puri, as well as the S´rī Caitanya Saraswat Math founded by Swami B. R. S´rīdhara.³⁹ On 13 August 1965, Swami A. C. Bhaktivedanta set out by steamship for New York City from Bombay. Bhaktivedanta had been a lay businessman during the 1920s and 1930s, and thus had played only a marginal role in the development of the Gaudiya Math. When he arrived in New York, Bhaktivedanta was more or less alone and had no support from Bengal. He was 69 years old and had only a handful of loose contacts. After passing his first year without much tangible success, he settled into a small flat on New York’s Lower East Side and from there founded ISKCON in 1966, which he closely modelled on the male-dominated monastic structure of Bhaktisiddhānta’s Gaudiya Math in India, with the exception that he now welcomed women to actively participate side by side with the men. Gradually, young Americans—many of whom were Jews and Catholics with roots in the counterculture—took an interest in his teachings and became his first disciples. Some twelve years later, on 14 November 1977, Bhaktivedanta passed away in Vrindavan, India, at the age of 81, surrounded by disciples ³⁹ For a brief overview, see Swami Bhakti Prajnan Yati, Lord Sri Chaitanya and his Mission, vol. II (Sree Mayapur: Sri Chaitanya Math, 1998), 410–30.

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from all corners of the world. In the years between his arrival and his demise he had managed to build ISKCON into an institution comprising thousands of international members, establish Vaishnava temples in many of the world’s major cities, and publish numerous volumes of traditional Vaishnava texts in twenty-eight languages, tens of millions of which had been distributed throughout the world, for the first time making the names of Rādhā and Krishna in the chant ‘Hare Krishna’ household words in many parts of the world. Bhaktivedanta managed to achieve a level of international penetration outside India and beyond the Hindu diaspora that Bhaktisiddhānta and his father Bhaktivinoda had only dreamed about, and that was well outside the reach of nearly all the traditional Vaishnava communities of India. After Bhaktivedanta had passed away, the global movement that he had inaugurated continued to grow, despite a number of serious post-charismatic setbacks, and began to inspire others of Bhaktisiddhānta’s disciples and granddisciples. Today, ISKCON is only one of a number of international Caitanyaite Vaishnava institutions harking back to Bhaktisiddhanta’s guruship, perspective, and mode of presentation, albeit ISKCON is by far the largest and most well known.⁴⁰ Recently, there has been an attempt to develop closer internal cooperation among sister Gaudiya Math organizations, which has resulted in the formation of the World Vaishnava Association, an alliance of like-minded individuals across institutional borders that aims to create a shared platform for handling common interests both in India and abroad. Bhaktisiddhānta was reluctant to actively fight colonial rule and directly condemn British culture and policies. This appears to have sprung, in part, from a deep desire for East–West collaboration. This desire, which had characterized the generation of his father, was less in step with the sociopolitical sensibilities of his time, which were geared towards the struggle for independence. The Gaudiya Math gradually found its place among the middle class of Bengal, among educated Bengalis in India and Burma, and gained support from cultural and intellectual elites both in India and in Britain. In comparison, Bhaktivedanta—who as a youth had been a Gandhian—was far more straightforward in criticizing what he viewed as the growing materialism and godlessness of the West, although he also inherited from his teacher the vision of a spiritual brotherhood between India and the West.⁴¹ Nonetheless, he introduced Westerners to a form of Caitanyaite Vaishnavism that was ⁴⁰ For an overview of these institutions, see B. A. Paramadvaiti Swami, Our Family the Gaudiya Math: A Study of the Expansion of Gaudiya Vaisnavism and the Many Branches Developing around the Gaudiya Math (Vrindavan: Vrindavan Institute for Vaisnava Culture and Studies, 1999). ⁴¹ For details, see the six volumes biographical account S´rīla Prabhupāda-līlāmr: ta by Satsvarūpa dāsa Goswami, in Bhaktivedānta et al., Bhaktivedānta Vedabase 2016. Volume one deals with Bhaktivedanta’s upbringing and time in India up to 1965, while the following five volumes

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more culturally ‘Bengali’ in outward appearance, custom, and dress. This may partly be due to the fact that the generation of Bhaktivedanta had witnessed the achievement of independence from colonial rule and gained a fresh awareness of the cultural, religious, and philosophical heritage of India. Furthermore, Bhaktivedanta’s early American and European disciples encouraged him to shape his movement through urban and rural communities popular at the time among the youth, and he also presented his message in terms familiar to the counterculture, which led to greater antagonism with mainstream society compared with what had been the case with Bhaktisiddhānta’s movement. ISKCON, however, since 1966 has evolved in a variety of new trajectories and has become a highly diverse and dynamic institution, firmly in search of its roots and identity in the writings of Bhaktivinoda, Bhaktisiddhānta, and Bhaktivedanta. The current strength of the movement is also linked to a supportive laity among Hindus in India and the diaspora, as well as to the growth of the movement in countries such as Russia, Ukraine, Great Britain, and Australia. Thousands of middle-class Hindus have joined the ranks of ISKCON and its institutional ramifications both in India and abroad.⁴² Vast ISKCON temple complexes are today visible in cities such as Mumbai, New Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, and Kolkata. The global headquarters of ISKCON is located in Mayapur, near the birthplace of Caitanya, which has become an important place of pilgrimage in Eastern India for millions each year. From being regarded as a Western phenomenon, ISKCON has gained recognition among all levels of Hindu society. The vast support provided by Hindus in India and by the diaspora is one of the most important developments in ISKCON at the dawn of the twenty-first century.

RESEARCH OVERVIEW Bhaktisiddhānta has been sporadically mentioned in historical and sociological studies, usually in research related to the history of ISKCON and the genealogy of New Religious Movements.⁴³ Brian D. Marvin (1996), Jason Fuller (2004), Varuni Bhatia (2008), Abhishek Ghosh (2014), and Lucian provide a comprehensive overview of his mission to the West and other parts of the world. See also Valpey (2006: 81–114). ⁴² Following the example of the Gaudiya Math and Mission, ISKCON has offshoots such as VRINDA (Vrindavan Institute for Vaishnava Culture and Studies), which is likewise active in missionary activities worldwide. ⁴³ A selection of publications by Bhaktisiddhānta are found in Kolkata at the National Library : and the Bangiya Sāhitya Pariśada (see National Library of India 1951: 75, 159; Kesavan, Kulkarni, and Sahitya Akademi 1962: 60). A full collection of the works of Bhaktisiddhānta

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Wong (2014) have explored the life and thought of Bhaktisiddhānta’s father Bhaktivinoda, and covered the foundational ground upon which Bhaktisiddhānta’s ideas and work were built upon.⁴⁴ The earliest scholarly study that explores the life and work of Bhaktisiddhānta is a 1935 University of London doctoral dissertation entitled The History and Literature of the Gaudiya Vaisnavas and their Relation to Other Medieval Vaisnava Schools. It was authored by his disciple Sambidananda,⁴⁵ and was commissioned by Bhaktisiddhānta himself. Although this study contains little discussion of the broader socio-historical context, it provides a close biography of Bhaktisiddhānta and a brief history of the Gaudiya Math and Mission. A comprehensive monograph on the life and work of Bhaktisiddhānta has been published by the author of this chapter (Sardella 2013). From the 1960s onwards Swami A. C. Bhaktivedānta, the founder of ISKCON, made his preceptor Bhaktisiddhānta known in India and abroad through his own publications.⁴⁶ A number of studies have highlighted aspects of their interactions as well as their link to Bhaktivinoda. Arvind Sharma (1979) has suggested that Bhaktisiddhānta inspired Bhaktivedanta to print books by comparing the press to a big drum that could reach an audience far beyond the aural range of a musical instrument. Diana Eck (1979) has highlighted a key instruction that Bhaktisiddhānta gave to Bhaktivedanta— that is, to ‘bring the message of Kr: sṇ : a-bhakti to the English-speaking world’. In a study of ISKCON in India, Charles R. Brooks (1989) has suggested that Bhaktisiddhānta internalised the anti-caste attitude of his father Bhaktivinoda and ‘preached the paramount belief that status was not dependent on one’s birth, but upon the quality of one’s devotion to Kr: s: ṇ a’. Thomas J. Hopkins (1989: 36) has explored the caste, class roots, and family backgrounds of Bhaktivinoda, Bhaktisiddhānta, and Bhaktivedanta, concluding that the original founder of the Krishna Consciousness movement may well have been Bhaktivinoda. Guy Beck (1993) has argued that Bhaktisiddhānta emphasized sound meditation both as soft recitation ( japa) and loud public singing : (sankīrtana), following the example of his father. Richard Young (1981: 116, n. 18) has quoted Bhaktisiddhānta’s ethical critique of the theology of sin and publications by the Gaudiya Math during its first twenty years of existence are found at the Bhaktivedanta Research Centre, (accessed 21 January 2019). ⁴⁴ For a discussion of the significance and impact of the educated bhadralok, to which Bhaktivinoda belonged, see also Chatterjee (1993: 35–6). ⁴⁵ The thesis deals with the history of Vaishnavism from the medieval to the modern period. The thirteenth chapter, entitled ‘The Modern Movement’, provides a critical study of the lives and works of both Bhaktivinoda and Bhaktisiddhānta, as well as a brief study of the history of the Gaudiya Math. The table of content was published in Harmonist, 31/21 (1935), 496–8. ⁴⁶ For example, in a letter written to Acyutananda (14 August 1971), Swami Bhaktivedānta refers to Bhaktisiddhānta as follows: ‘whatever success we have had in preaching Lord Caitanya’s mission all over the world it is only due to his mercy’ (Swami Bhaktivedānta, Bhaktivedānta Vedabase 2003 (Sandy Ridge, NC: Bhaktivedānta Archives, 2002)).

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in Christianity. Tony Stewart and Edward Dimock (2000) have highlighted Bhaktisiddhānta’s efforts to reprint the most widely read biography of Caitanya, the Caitanya Caritāmr: ta (Kr: sṇ : adāsa, Stewart, and Dimock 2000: 66–8). Finn Madsen (1996, 2001) has analysed the social structure of ISKCON and the role played by Bhaktisiddhānta in shaping its initial understanding of the four varṇ a and the four āśrama.⁴⁷ Several authors have explored the history of ISKCON such as Fizzotti and Squarcini (2004), as well as ISKCON’s institutional crises and postcharismatic disruptions such as Bryant and Ekstrand (2004), Dwyer and Cole (2007), and Rochford (2007). The academic journal Social Compass (2000: 47/2) has dedicated an issue to the social development of ISKCON. Kimmo Ketola (2008) has researched how ISKCON members view their founding leader, Bhaktivedanta, affectionately called by his disciples with the honorific title ‘S´rila Prabhupāda’. Other important areas that have been explored are the process of Indianization and Inquisition within ISKCON, child abuse in the 1980s and 1990s, the status and treatment of women, and controversies regarding leadership (see Dwyer and Cole 2013), as well as the ethical challenges that are emerging in the wake of ISKCON’s fast-growing settlement at its global headquarters in Mayapur, West Bengal (Fahy 2015).

REFERENCES Primary Sources Amrita Bazar Patrika, daily, Calcutta, 1918 (English). Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī, Brāhmaṇ a o Vais: ṇ ava: tāratamaya-vis: ayaka siddhānta. Mayapur: S´rī Caitanya Math, 1934 (Bengali, Sanskrit). Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī, Shri Chaitanya’s Teachings, pts I and II, ed. Swami Bhakti Vilāsa Tirtha. Madras: Shree Gaudiya Math, 1989. Bhaktivinoda, Kedarnath Datta, Svalikhita-jīvanī, ed. Lalita Prasad Datta. Calcutta: Lalita Prasad Datta, 1916 (Bengali). Gauḍīya, weekly, Calcutta, 1922–37 (Bengali). Kr: s: ṇ adāsa, Kavirāja, Tony Kevin Stewart, and Edward C. Dimock, Caitanya Caritāmr: ta of Kr: s: ṇ adāsa Kavirāja. Cambridge, MA: Department. of Sanskrit and Indian Studies, Harvard University, 2000. Sajjanatos: aṇ ī, monthly, published by Bhaktivinoda from April 1879 in various places in Bengal, edited in Calcutta from 1914 by Bhaktisiddhānta (Bengali).

⁴⁷ The topic of varṇ āśrama in the Gaudiya Math is dealt with in particular detail in Madsen (1996). A discussion of Bhaktisiddhānta’s innovations in terms of negating hereditary varṇ a and the guru’s assessment of a disciple’s varṇ a is found in Madsen (2001: 164–78).

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Swami, A. C. Bhaktivedānta et al., Bhaktivedānta Vedabase 2016. Sandy Ridge NC: Bhaktivedānta Archives, 2016. Swami, B. A. Paramadvaiti. Our Family the Gaudiya Math: A Study of the Expansion of Gaudiya Vaisnavism and the Many Branches Developing around the Gaudiya Math. Vrindavan: Vrindavan Institute for Vaisnava Culture and Studies, 1999. Swami, Bhakti Hr: daya Bon, Second Year of the Gaudiya Mission in Europe. Berlin: Gaudiya Mission, 1935. Swami, Bhakti Prajnan Yati. Lord Sri Chaitanya and his Mission, vol. II. Sree Mayapur: Sri Chaitanya Math, 1998. Swami, Bhakti S´rīrūpā Bhāgavata (ed.), Advent Centenary Souvenir of Shri Shrila Prabhupad 1874–1974. Baghbazar, Calcutta: Gaudiya Mission, 1974. Swami, Bhakti Vikāsa, S´rī Bhaktisiddhānta Vaibhava: The Grandeur and Glory of S´rīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭ hākura, vols 1–3. Surat: Bhakti Vikas Trust, 2009. The Harmonist, Sree Sajjana-toshani, monthly and fortnightly periodical, Calcutta, 1927–36, ed. Bhaktisiddhānta (English). Vidyāvinoda, Sundarānanda (ed.), Sarasvatī Jayaśrī: Vaibhava Parva. Calcutta: S´rī Gaudiya Math, 1934 (Bengali). Völkischer Beobachter, daily, Berlin, January 1936 (German).

Secondary Sources Beck, Guy L. (1993). Sonic Theology: Hinduism and Sacred Sound. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press. Bhatia, Varuni (2008). ‘Devotional Traditions and National Culture: Recovering Gaudiya Vaishnavism in Colonial Bengal’, Ph.D. dissertation, Columbia University. Brooks, Charles R. (1989). The Hare Krishnas in India. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Bryant, Edwin F., and Maria L. Ekstrand (2004). The Hare Krishna Movement: The Postcharismatic Fate of a Religious Transplant. New York: Columbia University Press. Chatterjee, Partha (1993). The Nation and its Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial Histories. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Crawford, S. Cromwell (1987). Ram Mohan Roy: Social, Political, and Religious Reform in 19th Century India. New York: Paragon House. Dwyer, Graham, and Richard J. Cole (2007). The Hare Krishna Movement: Forty Years of Chant and Change. London: I. B. Tauris & Co. Dwyer, Graham, and Richard J. Cole (2013). Hare Krishna in the Modern World. London: Arktos. Eck, Diana (1979). ‘Kr: s: ṇ a Consciousness in Historical Perspective’, Back to Godhead, 14.10, Bhaktivedanta Vedabase 2016. Fahy, John (2015). ‘Becoming Vaishnava in an Ideal Vedic City’, Ph.D. dissertation, University of Cambridge. Fizzotti, Eugenio, and Federico Squarcini (2004). Hare Krishna. Salt Lake City: Signature Books in cooperation with CESNUR. Fuller, Jason (2004). ‘Religion, Class and Power: Bhaktivinoda Thakur and the Transformation of Religious Authority among the Gauḍīya Vais: ṇ avas in NineteenthCentury Bengal’, Ph.D. dissertation, University of Pennsylvania.

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Ghosh, Abhishek (2014). ‘Vais: ṇ avism and the West: A Study of Kedarnath Datta Bhaktivinod’s Encounter and Response, 1869–1909’, Ph.D. dissertation, University of Chicago, 2014. Hopkins, Thomas J. (1989). ‘The Social and Religious Background for Transmission of Gaudiya Vaisnavism to the West’, in David G. Bromley and Larry D. Shinn (eds), Krishna Consciousness in the West. Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press; London: Associated University Presses, 34–54. Kesavan, B. S., Vinayak Yashvant Kulkarni, and Sahitya Akademi (1962). The National Bibliography of Indian Literature, 1901–1953. New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi. Ketola, Kimmo (2008). The Founder of the Hare Krishnas as Seen by Devotees: A Cognitive Study of Religious Charisma. Leiden: Brill. Madsen, Finn (1996). ‘Tradition og fornyelse i Gaudiya Math’, MA dissertation, University of Copenhagen. Madsen, Finn (2001). ‘Social udvikling i Hare Krishnabevægelsen.’ Ph.D. dissertation, University of Copenhagen. Marvin, Brian D. (1996). ‘The Life and Thought of Kedarnath Datta Bhaktivinode: A Hindu Encounter with Modernity’, Ph.D. dissertation, University of Toronto. Marvin, Brian D. (Shukavak Dasa) (1999). Hindu Encounter with Modernity: Kedarnath Datta Bhaktivinoda, Vaishnava Theologian. Riverside, CA: Sanskrit Religions Institute. National Library of India (1951). Catalogue of Sanskrit, Pali and Prakrit Books. Calcutta. O’Connell, Joseph (2013). ‘Demographics of Caitanya Vaishnavas in Pre-Colonial and Colonial Bengal: Estimates of Gender, Caste, Geography’, in Ferdinando Sardella and Ruby Sain (eds), The Sociology of Religion in India: Past, Present and Future. New Delhi: Abhijeet Publications. Porter, A. E. (1932). Census of India 1931: Bengal and Sikkim, Imperial and Provincial Tables. Vol. 5, pt 2. Calcutta: Central Publications Branch. Rochford, E. Burke (2007). Hare Krishna Transformed. New York: New York University Press. Sambidananda Das (1935). ‘The History and Literature of the Gaudiya Vaisnavas and their Relation to Other Medieval Vaisnava Schools’, Ph.D. dissertation, University of London. Sardella, Ferdinando (2013). Modern Hindu Personalism: The History, Life, and Thought of Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. Sardella, Ferdinando (2014). ‘Colonial Bengal and Bhaktivinoda through the Lens of Bhaktisiddhanta’, Journal of Vaishnava Studies, 23/1: 189–204. Sarkar, Sumit (1973). The Swadeshi Movement in Bengal, 1903–1908. New Delhi: People’s Publishing House. Sharma, Arvind (1979). Thresholds in Hindu-Buddhist Studies. Calcutta: Minerva. Social Compass (2000). ‘The Dynamics and the Destiny of Indian Spirituality in the West’, 47/2 (June), 153–271. Sugirtharajah, Sharada (2003). Imagining Hinduism: A Postcolonial Perspective. London: Routledge.

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Valpey, Kenneth Russell (2006). Attending Krishna’s Image: Chaitanya Vaishnava Murti-Seva as Devotional Truth. New York: Routledge. Young, Richard Fox (1981). Resistant Hinduism: Sanskrit Sources on Anti-Christian Apologetics. Vienna: De Nobili Research Library. Wong, Lucian (2014). ‘Negotiating History in Colonial Bengal: Bhaktivinod’s : Kr: s: ṇ a-samhitā’, Journal of Hindu Studies, 7/3: 341–70.

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Part 2 Expressions and Locations of Modern Hinduism

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5 Mūrti, Idol, Art, and Commodity The Multiple Identities of Hindu Images Tanisha Ramachandran

One need only look around the streets of most Indian cities and see the roadside shrines, image-laden sweet shops, or dashboard-mounted deities to ascertain that the relationship between Hindus and their religious imagery is deeply intimate and important.¹ However, to represent Hindu imagery solely within this everyday devotional indigenous context would be to disregard the relationship’s complex nature. Further, Hindu religious images are not only seen by Hindus living on the Indian subcontinent. They have travelled, and been viewed, displayed, and discussed, by those not necessarily familiar with Hindu traditions, which has created a complex social history of interactions around Hindu imagery in India, Europe, and North America. Through an investigation of the production, deployment, and interpretation of Hindu images, beginning in the nineteenth century, and involving the interaction of non-Hindus and Hindus with the image in both the Indian context and its eventual travel to the United States and the United Kingdom, this chapter illustrates how the Hindu image takes on multiple meanings and functions. Through processes of sacralization, politicization, display, appropriation, commoditization, and protest at various points in history, the Hindu image has been signified and resignified by Hindus and non-Hindus alike. Hindu images serve a multitude of purposes—functioning simultaneously, interdependently, and independently in the religious, social, political, artistic, and commercial realms. While the image of the god/goddess plays numerous roles, this chapter focuses on the image as mūrti, idol (in a pejorative sense), political symbol, art, and commodity. It should be noted that these various conceptualizations do not necessarily negate one another but most often occur ¹ I am grateful to Leslie Orr and Richard Davis for comments on sections of this chapter and to Debbie Lunny and Erica Still for structural and editorial assistance. A version of this chapter was given as a talk at the Chautauqua Institution in July 2015.

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simultaneously. The multiple identities do not just occur organically; they are the product of political, social, religious, and/or economic struggles. In discussing the Hindu image as mūrti, idol, political symbol, art, and/or commodity, this chapter will also discuss how two technological mediums, the printing press in the nineteenth century and the digital revolution of the late twentieth century, played an important role in configuring the multiple identities of Hindu Gods.

THE IMAGE AS MŪR T I The concept of God in visual form, as an image or sculpture, in Hinduism is interpreted differently by various sects and treatises. In certain cases, the image is seen merely as a device or symbol to help devotees focus and concentrate all their attention on God. In Sanskrit, words such as pratikŗti and pratimā convey a similar meaning to the word ‘icon’, an object that is ‘worthy of veneration’. This definition suggests that the icon is not actually divine, but is a likeness to, or a symbol of, divinity. Diana Eck (1998: 45) likens the image in these forms as ‘a kind of yantra, literally “device”, for harnessing the eye and the mind so that the one-pointedness of thought [ekāgrata] which is fundamental to mediation can be maintained’. The mūrti, however, is more than a mere image or representation of the divine; it is a vessel in which to invoke the presence of God, or in some cases it is the image as God. In Sanskrit, it is defined as ‘anything which has definite shape and limits’, and as an ‘embodiment, incarnation, manifestation’. In this form the mūrti cannot be defined in terms of a likeness, symbol, or resemblance to the divine; it is the ‘deity itself taken form’ (Eck 1998: 38). In order for an image to become a mūrti, it must undergo a ritual transformation. The Hindu ritual of pratiṣtḥ ā, or installation and establishment of God, is a rite of consecration where the power of the deity is infused or invoked into the image, transforming it into mūrti or embodiment of the divine. It is described in Hindu ritual texts as an awakening or infusion of breath ( prāṇ a) into the image, and it is only after this rite has been performed that the image becomes suitable for worship. It is important to observe that discrepancies exist not only among various schools of Hinduism but also within the texts and practices of a single school or tradition. A study of images in Hinduism must acknowledge this, viewing these perspectives as fluid and shifting in practice and interpretation. Thus, even a specific image in a given historical moment will possess a range of possible meanings and significations depending upon its status in different ritual, religious, textual, and political contexts.

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One of the ways through which Hindus engage with divine images is through the act of darśan, which is ‘the most common and significant element of Hindu worship’ (Eck 1998: 1). Simply put, darśan is the interactive act of seeing and being seen by the god or goddess. The act of receiving or taking darśan is connected to an established Hindu philosophical tradition where sight is synonymous with knowledge and insight.² This mode of worship illustrates the importance of the image in Hindu traditions. Darśan is not confined to temple settings or home altars but can be taken in various settings and contexts. That this activity is not circumscribed to a predetermined location or time allows an openness to and accessibility of worship. However, this susceptibility also leads to misunderstandings by people unfamiliar with Hinduism, leading to another identity: the Hindu image as idol.

T H E IM A G E A S I D O L In its historical and contemporary usage, the word ‘idol’ is enmeshed in disparaging Christian, Jewish, and Islamic scriptural and historical contexts, perpetuating derisive associations when applied to non-Abrahamic faiths. The characterization of religious images as idols leads to the labelling of groups and/or individuals as idolaters in need of conversion to worship of the ‘correct’ God. As such, charges of idolatry serve multiple purposes depending on geographical, religious, and political contexts. The polemical designation of a practice as idolatry or of a people as idolaters is a strategy of domination where ‘heathens’ and ‘heathen practices’ are condemned and disqualified. This strategy requires that those practising ‘false religion’ be taught, managed, and controlled by a new regime seeking to replace the existing religious, political, and economic structures with their own. The case of India and Hinduism illustrates this point, as it reveals that not only religious but also the political and economic interests of colonial powers were at stake. British Protestant missionaries knew what they would encounter prior to setting foot in India. They possessed what Richard Davis (1997) terms a ‘dispensation’ for observing and perceiving Hindu images. Since travellers’ and earlier missionaries’ accounts had discussed the idolatry of the Hindus, they knew what to expect. These accounts, along with the Bible, provided a master narrative that functioned as a guide to recognize idolatrous practices.

² The Sanskrit word darśana is also translated as ‘philosophy’ and most often refers to a standard list of six systems of philosophy, the ṣaddarśanas.

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It was the Pauline literature in the New Testament that provided an instructional manual and lens through which to view peoples who practised idolatry. In Romans 1:18–32, Paul not only forbids the worship of graven images but also discusses the consequences of idolatry. The Protestant missionaries in nineteenth-century India knew the Bible and believed that those who forgot the one true God in favour of false images were plunged into the depths of base desire and immoral behaviour such as violence and lascivious sexuality. The idol quickly became a marker of immoral religious practices of non-Christians; it reaffirmed the boundary between the Christian self and the heathen other—in this case the Hindus. During the early nineteenth century, much information regarding the practices of this ‘primitive religion’ (Hinduism) was disseminated to England in the form of novels, letters to newspapers, pamphlets, and ‘first-hand’ missionary accounts. Hinduism was perceived as not simply morally deficient but truly deplorable, as represented by the numerous missionary accounts of idolatry, human sacrifice, and lascivious sexuality. Missionary narratives were fraught with disquisitions of detestable rituals and descriptions of vengeful, bloodthirsty, and libidinous deities. Through these characterizations we can trace an emergent trajectory of the social and moral perceptions of Hindu imagery in the Euro-American world. Although the physical removal of religious objects, as ‘souvenirs’, mementos, or gifts, had begun in much earlier trade encounters, it can be argued that the construction of notions about the significance of these divine images in the West springs primarily from the textual narrative disseminated by eighteenth- and nineteenth-century visitors, missionaries, Orientalists, and colonial administrators. Their accounts and testimonials formed an archive or repository that signified the mūrti as idol. At the forefront of the missionary narratives were examples of what were considered barbaric activities viewed as the direct result of idolatry. The main practices that the missionaries targeted were human sacrifice, satī or widow immolation, infanticide, and lascivious rituals. As idolatry was seen as the reason for all such ‘barbaric’ practices, it became the unifying principle that explained the perplexing heterogeneity of religion in the subcontinent. Missionary writing of the nineteenth century identified idolatry as the source of all the tribulations faced by Hinduism and India. The writings of William Ward, a British Baptist missionary, quickly came to be regarded as critical reading for missionaries trying to understand Hindus and their practices. In 1811, William Ward, a member of the Serampore trio,³ published An Account of the Writings, Religion, and Manners, of the Hindoos: Including ³ Serampore was a Danish colony, north of Calcutta. Since it was a Danish colony, the trio were allowed to minister and were not governed by the restrictions of the East India

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Translations from their Principal Works in Four Volumes, which quickly became a textbook for evangelical efforts of conversion and reform. Ward’s exposition on the customs, practices and manners of Hindus played a critical role in proclaiming the Hindu image as idol. At the crux, for Ward and other Protestant missionaries, was a system of idol worship viewed as the synecdoche for all contemporary Hindu practice and the consequent moral depravity of Hindus. According to the preface in the 1822 edition (p. xxxiii): There is another feature in this system of idolatry, which increases its pernicious effects on the public manners. The history of these gods is a highly coloured presentation of their wars, quarrels and licentious intrigues; which are held up in the images, recitations, songs, and dances at the public festivals.

For British administrators and missionaries, such perceived decadence justified the British presence in India. In their reasoning, India was in a state of decline, and it was the duty of the Englishman, the white man’s burden, to restore the country to a ‘civilized’ form. The idol, then, was representative of all of India’s perceived moral, political, and economic debasement. The colonial political and religious missions merged on this point, seeking to reform and enlighten Indians to the British monotheistic way of life—to rid India of its idols. Part of the British colonial project in India in the nineteenth century included collecting and classifying Indian objects with a view to producing knowledge of India. Through this system of categorization, value was assigned to certain objects, which determined what was to be taken from India and housed in English museums to be considered art, artefact, or souvenir (Cohn 1997: 302). Initially, Hindu images were found in only one type of museum— not as art, but rather as trophies of conversion, as in the case of the missionary museum housed in the London Missionary Society. Hindu religious images, in this manner, were ‘captured’ rather than collected in order to demonstrate the victory of Christianity over Hinduism. British missionaries had classified Hindu images as ‘idols’ emblematic of the immoral and denigrated state of India.⁴ This perspective, along with the fact that images as mūrtis or icons were used solely for liturgical purposes and not collected as works of art in the indigenous Hindu context, meant that they were not regarded as objects of aesthetic admiration either by the British or by Hindus. However, this changed in the early part of the twentieth century, owing in large part to the efforts of Ernest Binfield Havell. Company. The Serampore Trio, William Carey, Joshua Marshman, and William Ward, are renowned for numerous reasons in both the evangelical as well as the Orientalist fields, most notably for their translation of indigenous scriptures into English, as well as the Bible into Indian vernacular. ⁴ In The Predicament of Culture, James Clifford (1988) discusses how the ‘art-culture system’ developed within the context of colonialism and imperialism in the nineteenth century, and which objects were classified as art.

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TH E HIND U IM AGE AS ART The early twentieth century produced a small group of British art educators who would challenge the exclusivity of the category of fine art and produce resignifications of the images of Hinduism that differed from earlier missionary attitudes. Ernest Binfield Havell, associated with the South Kensington Museum, travelled to India in 1884 to gather information for the colonial government regarding the state of ‘art and industries’ and to become the Superintendent of the Madras School of Art (Banerji 2002: 41). In 1886, he became the Principal of the Calcutta Art School and was responsible for the Calcutta Art Gallery. Owing to illness, Havell had to return to England in 1906 and was eventually declared medically unfit for service in India. This did not deter Havell’s support for the Indian art school and his quest to establish new British art education policies in India. The British system of art administration and education policies were put into place to train Indians in European arts. The ‘taxonomic shift’ where the ‘idol’ became ‘art’ can be pinpointed to a lecture on ‘Arts Administration in India’ delivered by Havell to the Royal Society of Arts in London on 13 January 1910. Havell echoed the sentiments he had expressed in previously published writings and lectures regarding what he deemed the ‘prejudiced’ attitudes towards Indian art. He beseeched his audience to revisit the manner in which the government schools of art in India conducted their education policies, suggesting that they edify themselves in the culture and religion they sought to teach. Havell’s lecture highlights that a re-evaluation of British perceptions of traditional Indian art was essential for its status to be established as ‘high art’ in Europe (as well as in India). In response to Havell’s lecture, the Chairman of the Royal Society of the Arts, George Birdwood, author of Industrial Arts of India and adjudicator of aesthetic taste of all things Indian, commented, pointing to a photograph of a Buddha from Java, that ‘a boiled suet pudding would serve equally well as a symbol of passionless purity and serenity of soul’(quoted in Davis 1997: 177). This attitude was not surprising coming from Birdwood (1880: 125), who had written, in the introduction of his book Industrial Arts in India, that ‘the monstrous shapes of the Puranic deities are unsuitable for the higher forms of artistic representation; and this is possibly why sculpture and painting are unknown, as fine arts, in India’. If we keep these statements in mind, as well as the categorization of Hindu image as idol, Havell’s enterprise is all the more significant. The acceptance of the ‘idol’ as art was not simply a matter of aesthetic conversion. The Hindu idol was ‘ugly’ not simply because it was not aesthetically pleasing to British administrators and missionaries, but rather because it was perceived by British subjects as an object of Indian immorality, heathenism, and barbarism. Through Havell’s efforts, however, the interpretation of the Hindu

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image as allegorical became the route through which Hindu images gained admission into the realms of Western high art. Havell argued for the need to create a ‘new’ frame of reference that was derived from what he identified as ‘Indianness’, rather than one that referred to the canons of Western aesthetics.⁵ To appreciate Indian art, Havell (1968: 7) implored, was to see it as ‘essentially idealistic, mystic, symbolic, and transcendental’. The appropriate context for the interpretation of Hindu art, then, was the Hindu philosophical and religious tradition, not a Western, Christian aesthetic framework. Havell perceived an intrinsic spiritual quality in Hindu imagery, a living tradition once available to all strata of Hindu society. Contrasting Hindu art to Renaissance art, where the intention was to produce perfection in the material world, Havell argued that Hindu art sought to depict the immaterial, the transcendental. In his book Indian Sculpture and Painting, Havell (1968: 22) wrote: Hindu Philosophy thus clearly recognizes the impossibility of human art realising the form of God. It therefore creates the Indian painting and sculpture as a symbolic representation of those, milder, humanized, but still superhuman, divine appearances which mortal eyes can bear upon. A figure with three heads and four, six or eight arms seems to a European a barbaric conception, though it is not more physiologically impossible than the wings growing from the human scapula in the European representation of angel.

Two points are significant in this statement. First, Havell points out the problem of scrutinizing Hindu art from a European perspective that does not subject its own art to a similar critique. And, secondly, the Hindu image is, according to Havell, not the actual God but a symbol. Despite his ‘progressive’ approach, Havell does not stray far from earlier Orientalist assertions by holding up the Vedas as the key to interpreting the symbolism of the Hindu image. Further, while Havell is deeply invested in Indian art, he feels the burden of having to teach Indians about their own traditions. He renders India the land of the deeply spiritual, thus imposing a transcendental, not merely aesthetic, prerequisite for the Hindu image to be considered art. For Hindu art in a European context, Havell’s efforts not only opened the museum gates but also transformed the Hindu image into art and a suitable ⁵ Indianness, for Havell, came into being with the Vedic Aryans, whom he claims laid the foundation of Indian civilization. While this notion if Indianness is pervasive through most of his writings, it is unambiguously outlined in a discussion of the Gandharan Buddha, where he writes: ‘The Vedic thought which created Indian philosophy and religion runs through all Indian art, and when one strips off all the local, academic, sectarian, or racial trappings of the different Yogi images—Gandharan, Chinese, Japanese, Burmese, Jain, Buddhist, Saiva, and Vaisnava—they all merge finally into the archetype of the Divine Thinker of the Himalayas controlling the universe, the mental image which primeval tradition has fixed in the Indian mind, though it was only dimly apprehended by sculptors of Gandhara’ (Havell 1924: 78).

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representation of the divine. By equating Hinduism and Indianness, Havell’s work was consonant with aspects of Hindu nationalism in the early twentieth century.

THE I MAGE AS POLITICAL SYMBOL With the late-twentieth-century explosion of the digital revolution, it is difficult to imagine that any other piece of technology has had such a profound effect on the circulation of information. Yet, while this digital revolution altered the manner in which information is disseminated in terms of speed, replication, and global access, Partha Mitter (2002: 2) argues that the ‘digital revolution is only a staggeringly faster version of the process that began with invention of moveable type in China in the 11th century, followed by Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press in the 15th’. The availability of the printing technology in India during the colonial period changed the nature of information delivery. Initially used by the Christian missionaries to distribute the gospels, this technology paved the way for different societies to unite throughout India, sparking the impulse for the burgeoning Indian nationalist movement. This technology, along with the flourishing art movement, enabled Indians to reclaim their images and voice their rejection of British rule. As Partha Mitter (2002: 10) observes: ‘art of the visual image has often been the vehicle of such revolutions, deployed by great religions or powerful empires to communicate with and hold together large and often disparate populations, offering a clearly articulated ideology and cultural cohesion.’ Just as the printing of fiction, newspapers, and tracts in various Indian vernaculars opened numerous doors, the printing press rendered reproductions of the Hindu image accessible to people regardless of literacy levels, caste or economic situation. In the late nineteenth century, mechanically reproduced prints and narrative made their way on the newly constructed railway lines across the subcontinent. Chromolithographic imagery, produced via the printing press, proved to be a most useful medium for the imminent nationalist movement in the twentieth century, while greatly affecting Hindu devotional practices.⁶

⁶ While the printing of fiction, newspapers, and tracts in various Indian vernaculars opened numerous doors, the printing press rendered the image accessible. The genre of mass-produced images tends to be referred to as ‘calendar art’, owing to the fact that the images often appear on calendars distributed by businesses. They are also called ‘Bazaar art’, which refers not only to images appearing on calendars, but more broadly to prints called ‘framing pictures’ and those appearing for commercial functions such as advertising, movie posters, and packaging. Many art historians have situated the emergence of this genre as an outgrowth of the chromolithographic mass reproduction of works by British-influenced Indian painters such as Raja Ravi Varma,

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The emergence of lithographs changed the very nature of devotion by rendering the gods accessible in the home and not only in temples, making God’s presence accessible to previously excluded groups of people. Previously, for liturgical or devotional reasons, in order to ‘see’ God and receive darśan, a devotee would have to travel to various temples or pilgrimage sites. Even then, not all who could travel were permitted access to the temple space. While caste played an important role in this limitation of access (Dalits were not permitted to enter the temple precincts), economic status was also at issue, since one had to be able to afford the journey to the temple. The popularity and ubiquity of the chromolithographic image derived from its ability to respond to the spirit of bhakti or devotion. The life of the lithographic image illustrates the complex nature of Hindu images in terms of perceptions and usages from both a colonial and a Hindu perspective. Kajri Jain (2007: 97) writes that ‘nineteenth century lithographs occupied a liminal zone between “industrial” and “fine” art, between artisans and the gentry, between woodcuts and oil paintings, and, significantly, between devotional, political, and “cultural” or aesthetic “images”’. Another important facet of the printed image was its linkage to the anti-colonial movement, the secular nationalist movement, and eventually the Hindu nationalist movement. The twentieth century signalled the reclaiming and usage of images for the radical Indian nationalist and anti-colonial movements. Previous moderate nationalist movements who were willing to work within the confines of the colonial government were being displaced by more assertive groups who utilized much more aggressive tactics to achieve independence from the British. According to Peter Heehs (1998: 2, 3), the difference between the extremists and moderates was that the moderates were seeking self-government within the structure of the British Empire, whereas the extremists sought complete political autonomy through ‘the promotion of swadeshi⁷ and the boycott of British goods, and the formation of “national” institutions in the educational, judicial and other fields’. Hindu imagery and symbols became an inspiration for the Bengali revolutionaries. This is especially evident in the use of the Hindu goddess as a symbol for Indian nationalism. As Sandria Freitag (1996: 212) writes, the colonial government ‘labelled issues related to religion, kinship, and other forms of community identity as apolitical—as private, special interest, and domestic and therefore not requiring the attention of the state and its institutions’. Because of this categorization, the burgeoning Indian nationalist movement was initially able to use literature that glorified the violent nature of the goddess in accordance with pre-existing Hindu imagery, in order to create counterhegemonic which began being circulated as examples of fine art to be appreciated in the mid to late nineteenth century. ⁷ Swadeshi, which means self-sufficiency, was an economic and political strategy employed by Indian nationalists that involved the boycotting of British goods.

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symbols of resistance under the guise of religion.⁸ At first, the nationalist movement began to utilize the Hindu goddess as an allegory for the Indian nation. However, the goddess as mother came to be more than an allegorical image; she became the divine embodiment of the Indian nation and an object of veneration. This vision of the goddess first appears in the poem/ song ‘Bande Mataram’ by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee (1838–1894).⁹ The connection of the goddess and Indian nationalism in literature was paralleled by the emergence of visual representational forms of the goddess as nation in chromolithographic imagery and theatre (Pinney 2004: 124).¹⁰ In fact, among the British, concerns over chromolithographic images moved, in some cases, from anxiety over idolatry to worries of sedition against the British government. Herbert Hope Risely, the Director of Ethnography for India, stated in 1907: ‘we are overwhelmed with a mass of heterogeneous materials some misguided, some of it frankly seditious’ (cited in Pinney 2004: 120). In order to examine the chromolithographs for anti-British content, Risely sent his assistant B. A. Gupte to Calcutta. In a letter dated 11 December 1908, Gupte wrote to Risely stating: ‘of those I could collect last evening, I feel that the one printed for a cigarette manufacturer is the most effective and significant’ (cited in Pinney 2004: 121). The image Gupte referred to was a lithograph of the Goddess Kālī produced by the Calcutta Art Studio that had been in distribution since 1879 (Mitter 1994: 178). On the surface, it appeared to be a traditional image of the four-armed Kālī, garlanded with human heads standing upon her consort, Śiva. The writing around the image instructed Indians to buy Kālī cigarettes in order ‘to look after the interests of this country’s poor and humble workers’ (see Pinney 2004: 123). But the lack of caste markings on some of the heads strung in the garland, their white complexions, and moustaches led Gupte to conclude that the heads were European. He went on to note ‘the symbolical British lion couchant in the . . . N.W. corner, his fall in the N.E. corner and a decapitated red coated solider in the S.E. corner. The falling head near the toes of the prostrate husband leaves no doubt as to the intention of the designer’ (quoted in Pinney 2004: 120). Mitter (1994: plate xii caption) remarks, with reference to the same image, that there is a ‘hidden message in its colour symbolism of the black goddess

⁸ In some cases they created a deity to fulfil their mission, as we see in the case of Bhārat Mātā (Mother India). See Sumathi Ramaswamy (2010). ⁹ Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, a former official under the British, was said to have written ‘Bande Mataram’ in 1876 in reaction to the mandated singing of ‘God Save the Queen’. His novel Ānandamaţh was published in instalments beginning in 1881 in Baīgadarśan, a journal started by Bankim, and later appeared as a book. ¹⁰ The nation as goddess was first performed in the play Bhāratmātā (India Mother) by Kiran Chandra Bannerjee on 19 February 1873. The image of Bhāratmātā becomes of great significance in the later phases of the Indian nationalist movement.

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dominating a supine white skinned Siva’. Lithographs such as this one prompted Herbert Risely to draft the 1910 Press Act. The printing press had become an extremely important tool in disseminating ideas, whether through imagery or through narrative, especially for the more radical factions of the nationalist movement. Key figures such as Bipin Chandra Pal were emerging and utilizing this medium to spread the anti-colonial message. Bipin Chandra Pal, a professor and another key figure in early twentiethcentury Indian nationalism, saw the nationalist project as intimately linked to a spiritual endeavour. He wrote in The Spirit of Indian Nationalism that ‘nationalism was not a mere political sentiment, but sacred both in its origin and implications. In India nothing really is purely secular. The sacred and the secular are strangely blended together in every department of the comparatively primitive life and activities of the people’ (Pal 1910: 11). Bipin Chandra had also been heavily influenced by Bankim’s novel Ānandamaţh, and claimed that it had been the inspiration for the use of Hindu imagery in the nationalist movement: The so-called idolatry of Hinduism is also passing through a mighty transfiguration. The process started really with Bankim Chander Chatterjee, who interpreted the most popular of the Hindu Goddesses as symbolic of the different stages of national evolution . . . The interpretation of the old images of Gods and Goddesses has given new meaning to the present ceremonialism of the country and the people, while worshipping either Jagatdhatri or Kali or Durga, accost them with devotion and enthusiasm with the inspiring cry of ‘Bande Mataram’. All these are the popular objects of worship of the Indian Hindus, especially in Bengal. And the transfiguration of these symbols is at once the cause and the evidence of the depth of strength of the present movement. (Pal 1910: 36–7)

Bipin Chandra reinterpreted the significance of images—initially regarded as emblematic of Hindu backwardness and barbarity by the British protestant missionaries—in the light of the call for the nationalist movement to rise into action. Of the image of the Goddess Chinnamastā, Bipin Chandra suggested that, having been beheaded by the British, the goddess must drink her own blood in order to survive (Urban 2003: 97). The sanguine images of the goddesses were used not just to demonstrate the victimization of India and Indians by the British but also as a symbol for political agitation and a representation of a call to arms for Hindus against British colonialism. Hindu images were reclaimed as symbols under which to unite as well as objects to be defended against misunderstanding and erroneous suppositions. The image of the goddess, whether constructed discursively through fiction or depicted visually through chromolithography, invoked in revolutionary exhortations becomes a key symbol for the Indian nation and India as a nation, a source of strength rather than of shame. Initially used by the British

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in order to justify colonialism and occupation of India, for Indian nationalists Hindu images and symbols became ways of subverting the hegemonic discourse to serve the goals of Indian nationalism in the quest for self-rule.

THE I MAGE IN CYBER S PACE: MŪR T I , COMMODITY, S YMBOL Like the printing press, the Internet, to a greater degree, renders the Hindu image accessible to large segments of the population. See Scheifinger (Chapter 9, this volume) for more about Hinduism online. While, on the surface, this seems positive and innocuous, it also allows for unregulated use of the image. This section examines how the Hindu image in cyber space both allows for innovation in Hindu devotional practices but also facilitates the appropriation of the image for numerous purposes, including commodification, entertainment, and degradation. With the invention of the Internet and the ease of accessibility, the possibility of regulating the use and appearance of Hindu images to Hindu devotional contexts is practically non-existent. Since, as Heinz Scheifinger (2008: 247) suggests, ‘cyberspace is not only compatible with Hinduism, but is actually well suited to it’, the existence of Hindu devotional sites on the Internet is ubiquitous. Nowadays, in order to receive darśan, one need only type in a URL and left click the mouse. Through this action devotees are taken to the mūrti, or the mūrti is brought to them, regardless of where they are geographically located. Not only are the cyber devotees able to watch the morning pūjā, a ritual honouring God; they are also able to receive darśan at their convenience. In some instances, certain sites offer the possibility of conducting a virtual pūjā. Madhavi Mallapragada (2010: 111) identifies the proliferation of Hindu temple sites on the Internet as ‘desk top deity culture’ constituted through the practices of digital darśan, online rituals, and virtual Hinduism. The images to whom the ritual is conducted range from lithographs to photographs of actual mūrtis that reside in temples. While this raises numerous questions about sacred space and ritual, this chapter focuses on the identity of the cyber image. In some ways, the identity of the Hindu cyber image is determined in ways that are similar to how any Hindu image is classified. That is, context, location, ritual, and perception in terms of interpretation define what identity the Hindu image will perform. As we have seen previously, where the image resides, whether in a temple or home shrine, and what rituals are or have been performed help us to understand the identity of the image. This is true in the cyber world too. Location matters on the Internet, not only in terms of the geographical location from where the site broadcasts but also in terms of what

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website users are clicking on. Darśan is more likely to be taken from an image that appears on a website that is connected to a Hindu establishment, such as a temple, pilgrimage, or prayer centre. Images that appear on other sites, which might still be of Indian origin but use Hindu gods to draw people into the site, or as a marketing tool, do not evoke the same devotional sentiment and as such are not considered sacred. This further demonstrates how devotees navigate and categorize whether the cyber image is a mūrti or not based on the ritual possibility of the site and the devotional sentiment of the user. The act of taking darśan from the image solidifies the identity of the cyber Hindu image as mūrti. In her article ‘Cyber Forms, Worshipable Forms: Hindu Devotional Viewpoints on the Ontology of Cyber-Gods and Goddesses’, Nicole Karapanagiotis (2013: 59) argues ‘that many Hindu devotees do in fact understand cyber forms of God on the Internet to be full and ontologically real forms of God’. She demonstrates, through fieldwork she conducted with devotees in four Indian states, that cyber-forms of God are viewed in the same manner as utsava mūrtis or ‘festival images’. These images are brought out of the temple sanctum during festivals and processions in order to grant their devotees darśan. The cyber image functions in a similar manner by appearing on the devotees’ screen so that they may take darśan. Karapanagiotis outlines two views on whether cyber forms of Hindu images are mūrtis. In the first view, she delineates three ways in which devotees support the view that cyber forms are mūrtis: ‘cyber-mūrtis are material, and therefore they are, unproblematicaly, mūrtis; cyber-mūrtis are similar to textually listed materials out of which mūrtis are made, and therefore they are “mūrti-like enough” to be mūrtis; and it is bhāva, or devotional emotion/perception, that makes an image, form, etc., a mūrti, and not its materiality (or lack thereof)’ (Karapanagiotis 2013: 65). While the discussion of how materiality is defined in terms of pixels and hardware affects the categorization of the image, it is the evoking of bhāva that ultimately cements the identity of the image as a mūrti. This also complicates the idea of clear-cut parameters for when the cyber God, or any image of God for that matter, is considered a worshipable form as pratimā or mūrti. The evoking of emotion—whether through bhāva, as already noted, or through other emotions, such as outrage, hurt, and anger due to appropriation and misidentification, as will be discussed—goes a long way in determining the identity of the Hindu image. In a previous article, ‘A Call to Multiple Arms! Protesting the Commoditization of Hindu Imagery in Western Society’, I wrote about how the last three decades have seen a proliferation of goods such as toilet seats, shoes, and bikinis displaying Hindu divine imagery—objects that are deemed ritually impure in the Hindu system of purity and pollution (Ramachandran 2014). The protest of these products provides us with an opportunity to understand how Hindus in both the diaspora and India value and define divine images.

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In 1999, Sittin’ Pretty DeSigns, a Seattle web-based manufacturer, began selling toilet seats ($130) with images of Kali and Ganesh emblazoned on the lids. It is clear from the product description of the seats that the company had done some research on the gods, as the narrative accompanying the pictures of the seats referenced quasi-Hindu mythology. The product description of the Kali seat reads: ‘Kali is: “The Fierce Hindu Goddess who slays demons and liberates you from the constriction of your negative thoughts. She destroys all obstacles and frees you from the darkness of your fears.”’ The narrative accompanying the Ganesh seat reads: ‘Ganesha the Hindu elephant God removes all obstacles and destroys evil and provides you with protection on your journey’ (Das n.d. (a)). Massive protests were launched by various Hindu right(s) groups such as American Hindus Against Defamation (AHAD)—formed in 1997 by the American branch of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHPA) and self-described as ‘a Hindu Watch dog group dedicated to preserve the sanctity of Hindu symbols, icons, culture and customs’—and Hindu nationalist groups in India, such the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Shiv Sena, who saw the marketing of the toilet seats as hurtful and blatant evidence of prejudice against Hinduism (Hindu Universe 2005). RSS spokesman M. G. Vaidya said: ‘It has hurt Hindu feelings’, and Shiv Sena leader Bhagwan Goyal called the products an ‘attempt to denigrate and humiliate Hindus’ (Hindu Universe 2005). The demand for the withdrawal of the product was based on the premise that any image of a Hindu god or goddess was automatically, and by definition, sacred. According to AHAD convenor Ajay Shah: ‘Associating toilet seats with the icons and deities that are considered sacred and placed in temples and worshipped by a billion people is extremely insulting to say the very least. It is, in our opinion, an outrageously insensitive use of Hindu symbols’ (Das n.d. (a)). In the light of the shifting views of the Hindu image outlined in this chapter, I would contend that these recent protests indicate the ongoing, conflicting efforts by multiple groups to delineate the identity of the Hindu image. Further to complicate matters, on 12 June 2005, a thousand Hindus gathered in front of the French Embassy in London, chanting ‘Jai Shri Ram’ (victory to Lord Rama), to protest against the imaging of Lord Rama on shoes manufactured by the French company Minelli. Sheila Maharaja, the spokesperson for Hindu Human Rights (HHR), stated: ‘Bathed in the afternoon sun, Hindus from all walks of life joined us in a growing Hindu awakening to make it known that we will no longer stand for defamation of our sacred Lord Rama and the persecution of Hindus anywhere in the world’ (Lal 2005). Ramesh Kallidai, Secretary General for Hindu Forum of Britain (HFB), the largest umbrella organization representing British Hindus, commented: ‘The rally was a huge success and demonstrated the genuine concern

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Hindus in Britain and elsewhere have had about the misuse and abuse of Hindu icons’ (Lal 2005). After three and a half weeks and a series of protests, Minelli withdrew the Lord Rama shoes from the market. Unlike in previous campaigns, after the withdrawal of the Rama shoes from the market, HHR went a step further. In a statement issued prior to the organized protest, on 11 June 2005, HHR demanded to know what the shoe manufacturer Minelli planned on doing with the shoes they had withdrawn from sale, proclaiming: ‘As you probably do not know, Hindus consider it a great taboo to destroy images of divinity. Hence the way to dispose of these shoes adorned with our sacred images is of special interest to us and should be done with full Hindu rites’ (PRWeb 2005). This protest, ensuing commentary, and the perceived need for rituals of disposal establishes this image of Rama as divine for the protesters. This particular instance also highlights the connection between the ‘longdistance nationalism’ of the diaspora and Hindu nationalism in India (Jaffrelot, 2007). The chanting of ‘Jai Shri Ram’ by the protesters in front of the French embassy must be viewed in relation to the destruction of the Babri Masjid in 1992 by Hindu militants. At first glance it would appear that the chant referred solely to issues of degradation and defamation resulting from the placing of the image of Rama on shoes. However, since the image of Rama functions in Hindutva (Hinduness), a right-wing ideology extolling the supremacy of the Hindu religion and culture, as a warrior, hero, and a symbol of a unified Hindu identity, there was more at stake. For protesters, the depiction of Rama on shoes was not just offensive and ignorant; it galvanized Hindu fury over centuries of real and perceived domination and persecution. This example demonstrates how the Hindu image functions, simultaneously and contradictorily, as a commodity, mūrti, and political symbol.

CONC LUDING REMARKS Generally speaking, a study of religious imagery presents an opportunity to understand how particular societies value, understand, and regulate access and usage of their sacred imagery. If we posit that an image is an object to be interpreted and the act of interpretation is not a simple case of assigning meaning, especially in a cross-cultural situation, we become aware that the risk in not understanding what we are seeing becomes fuel for misuse, appropriation, xenophobia, and hatred (Hall 2003). The power of representation or the power to represent allows dominant groups, within or external to the tradition, to determine the parameters of how a religion or culture is characterized. This chapter has demonstrated that a discussion about Hindu image in the modern period requires more than a study of the actual material object.

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In The Lives of Indian Images, Richard Davis (1997) argues that the Hindu image is embodied by more than the god or figure it resembles, Rather, it is animated by its ritual status, placement, viewers’ perceptions, and mode of display. By examining the multiple incarnations of the Hindu image, in the modern period, as mūrti, idol, art, symbol, and commodity, this chapter has demonstrated how an investigation of the Hindu image consists of more than a study of the actual material object. The Hindu image is recognized as the incarnation of the god it resembles or embodies; however, the function it serves, how it is deployed, its technologies of production, and its ritual status determine its multiple identities.

REFERENCES Banerji, D. (2002). ‘The Orientalism of E. B. Havell’, Third Text, 16/1: 41–56. Birdwood, George C. M. (1880). The Industrial Arts of India. 2 vols. London: Chapman and Hall. Clifford, James (1988). The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth-Century Ethnography, Literature, and Art. Cambridge, MA, and London: Harvard University Press. Cohn, Bernard S. (1997). Colonialism and its Forms of Knowledge: The British in India. Delhi: Oxford University Press. Das, Subhamoy (n.d. (a)). ‘Toilet Seat Deities!: Part 3: Should Hindus Protest?’, (accessed 15 August 2005). Das, Subhamoy (n.d. (b)). ‘Toilet Seat Deities!: Van Dyke’s Apologia to the Hindu Community’, (accessed 15 August 2005). Davis, Richard H. (1997). The Lives of Indian Images. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Eck, Diana (1998). Darśan: Seeing the Divine Image in India. 3rd edn. New York: Columbia University Press. Freitag, Sandria B. (1996). ‘Contesting in Public: Colonial Legacies and Contemporary Communalism’, in David Ludden (ed.), Making India Hindu: Religion, Community, and the Politics of Democracy in India. Delhi: Oxford University Press. Hall, Stuart (2003). ‘The Work of Representation’, in Stuart Hall (ed.), Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices. London: Sage Publications. Havell, Ernest, B. (1924). The Himalayas in Indian Art. London: John Murray. Havell. Ernest B. (1968). The Art Heritage of India: Comprising Indian Sculpture and Painting and Ideals of Indian Art. Revised edition with noted by Pramod Chandra. Bombay: D. D. Taraporevala Sons & Co. Private Ltd. Heehs, Peter (1998). Nationalism, Terrorism, Communalism: Essays in Modern Indian History. Delhi: Oxford University Press. Hindu Universe (2005). ‘American Hindus against Defamation’, (accessed 15 August 2005). Jaffrelot, Christophe (2007). ‘The Sangh Parivar and the Hindu Diaspora in the West: What Kind of “Long Distance-Nationalism”?’, International Political Strategy, 1: 271–95.

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Jain, Kajri (2007). Gods in the Bazaar: The Economies of Indian Calendar Art. Durham, NC, and London: Duke University Press. Karapanagiotis, Nicole (2013). ‘Cyber Forms, Worshipable Forms: Hindu Devotional Viewpoints on the Ontology of Cyber-Gods and Goddesses’, International Journal of Hindu Studies, 17/1: 57–82. Lal, Rashmee Roshan (2005). ‘Rama Shoes Step out of Stores’, The Times of India.com, 6 June, (accessed 6 October 2007). Mallapragada, Madhavi (2010). ‘Desktop Deities: Hindu Temples, Online Cultures and the Politics of Remediation’, South Asian Popular Culture, 8/2: 109–21. Mitter, Partha (1994). Art and Nationalism in Colonial India 1850–1922. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Mitter, Partha (2002). ‘Mechanical Reproduction and the World of the Colonial Artist’, Contributions to Indian Sociology, 30/1–2: 1–32. Pal, Bipin Chandra (1910). The Spirit of Indian Nationalism. London: Hind Nationalist Agency. Pinney, Christopher (2004). ‘Photos of the Gods’: The Printed Image and Political Struggle in India. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. PRWeb (2005). ‘A Response to the Lord Rama Shoes Withdrawal—Hindu Human Rights (HHR) Press Release, 11 June, (accessed January 2019). Ramachandran, Tanisha (2014). ‘A Call to Multiple Arms! Protesting the Commoditization of Hindu Imagery in Western Society’, Material Religion: The Journal of Objects, Art and Belief, 10/1: 54–75. Ramaswamy, Sumathi (2010). The Goddess and the Nation: Mapping Mother India. Durham, NC, and London: Duke University Press. Scheifinger, Heinz (2008). ‘Hinduism and Cyberspace’, Religion, 3: 233–49. Urban, Hugh B. (2003). Tantra, Secrecy, Politics in the Study of Religion. Berkeley and Los Angeles, and London: University of California Press. Ward, William (1822). A View of the History, Literature, and Mythology of the Hindoos: Including a Minute Descriptions of Their Manners and Customs, and Translations From Their Principal Works. In Three Volumes. Port Washington, NY, and London: Kenkat Press.

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6 Indian Cinema and Modern Hinduism Gayatri Chatterjee

The aim of this chapter is to show how a large body of Indian films is closely linked to contemporary issues of Hindu religious reform movements, debates, and ideas. The social and religious movements forming in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, along with associated thoughts and ideas, had a great impact on Indian films in its early decades. Consequently, the films presented and analysed in this chapter are all circumscribed by contemporary political, cultural, and social debates. This chapter will present and analyse a range of Indian films from the early sound period to the present, with an emphasis on the years between 1930s to the 1960s. Many of the films of this period make use of allegorical narratives to mask their social critique in an effort to circumvent censorship. On the other hand, as per certain traditions, Chandidas (1932–4) and Bidyapati/Vidyapati (1937) demonstrate that heterosexual, romantic–erotic love might teach or lead one towards intense love for God. Devi (1960) shows a protagonist—flawed, angst-ridden—with a few of the characteristics of previous film heroes (like Devdas, 1935). It is a story of generational conflict, where modernity proves weak and loses out against a patriarchy in the grip of delusional superstitious beliefs (Nandy 2000). On the other hand, films such as Raja Rammohan Roy from 1965 and the 1962 film Bhagini Nivedita (Sister Nivedita) portray specific people central to Hindu reformism, and are intended to be instructive examples for the need of continued religious and social engagement. Often, films portray legendary Hindu myths and legends, critiquing Brahmanical dominance and discussing the question of Hinduism as either polytheistic or monotheistic. Sant Tukaram (1936) from Maharashtra also demonstrates a man’s deep love for his God, perceived both as with-form as well as formless. Regional films such as Sant Tukaram or the Tamil Vedala Ulagam (Demon Land, 1942) are notable for the way they represent marginal religious groups—races and castes. The centrality of the movement for Indian independence is both overtly and covertly depicted through films like Thyagbhoomi (1939).

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The foundational components of Hinduism and its relationship to questions of caste, class, the status of women, and changing norms of sexuality are all core issues of Indian cinema in this period. Following the independence of India in 1947, a large body of Indian films continue both to mirror and to critique the social realities of the country.

NEW S TORIES FOR NEW TIMES It must be noted that several of these films, rather than being uncompromising and categorical in their critique, often end in some kind of compromise. Often, a bigot has a sudden change of heart despite her strong convictions, or a woman is finally subsumed under patriarchal structures, or dies a tragic death. A rebellious protagonist walks towards the rising sun, signifying a new era after he has failed to change the community to which he belongs. Many might feel that the issues of social reform are diluted by such endings, and question how films with such ambiguous narratives could be taken seriously as social critique. The reasons behind why filmmakers and studio heads have resorted to such endings to their narratives are manifold. Often, financial concerns of broad, public appeal are prioritized, along with a need to forestall governmental censoring.¹ Films rarely portray what some might see as an ideal situation, in which an entire community turns liberal, discarding hoary customs and rituals. Indian audiences, it seems, like films that urge the viewer towards progress, yet an overall systemic change is usually neither envisaged nor accepted. The films discussed in this chapter reflect society’s need and desire for what the films seem to understand broadly as modernity. It is important to study these films today, despite political and cultural retractions at the end. In addition to the relative rarity of substantial critiques of the mindless following of tradition, Indian cinema has in recent years also seen a heightened focus on consumerism and the worshipping of money. Scenes of rituals and weddings showcasing obscene wealth are supposed to pull in audiences. Additionally, most of these films are marked by religious conservatism and hyper nationalism, arguably by-products of capitalism. And so the films discussed here are all from the earlier periods. Paul de Man (1981) asks: ‘Why is it that the furthest reaching truths about ourselves and the world have to be stated in such a lopsided, referentially ¹ There is long history of presenting political dissent through religious narratives. In the colonial period, several plays were banned, and playwrights and actors jailed. Filmmakers became cautious, especially after silent films like Dwarkadas Sampat’s Bhakt Vidur were banned (among other things, it showed the epic character Vidur as Mahatma Gandhi).

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indirect mode?’ Often in Indian cinema, an entire film could revolve around such an allegoric narrative for the simple reason that it is not easy to represent harsh realities and truths in mainstream popular films. The following section will analyse two examples of films with ambiguous and allegoric endings. Both set in the medieval period, these films form rich allegories of modern desires for equity and social justice through religious reform. The Calcutta-based New Theatres film studio made Chandidas (in Bangla in 1932 and in Hindi in 1934), and Bidyapati/Vidyapati from 1937 (title given in Bangla and Hindi respectively), on two medieval poets from Eastern India. Following the tremendous success of the Bengali version, the Hindi edition of Chandidas was made two years later. The two films were so popular that later, when making Vidyapati, the studio went in straight for ‘bilingual’ versions. All the versions had all-India releases and proved to be hugely popular, partially owing to the fact that various language groups were dispersed all over the country, giving these films a large audience. Because of this period’s nationalist spirit and the larger, pan-Indian cultural propensity to read works both in original languages and in translation, people from one language group regularly saw films made in other Indian languages, without subtitles. Chandidas (1408–unknown) and Vidyapati (1352–1448?) are mostly known for their poems. Taking advantage of this fact, the filmmakers created rather interesting scenarios. In Chandidas, the poet is accused of saying unorthodox things about the nature of God, and of advocating individuals’ right to worship. Although a Brahman priest, he supports a petition headed by the washerwoman Rami to open the temple doors to members of the lower castes. The upper-caste men of the village are agitated by his association with a lower-caste woman. It is said they are in love, and consequently he is asked to leave Rami alone and concentrate on his religious duties. Before returning to his duties, however, he must be cleansed by a purification ritual (in this context tantamount to an admission of ‘guilt’). The truth, however, is that the local zamindar (a merchant landlord) wants to punish the poet because Rami has not made herself sexually available to him. In the zamindar’s reasoning, if Chandidas is lowered in the eyes of the community, it would be easier to get the woman. The film now presents two events through parallel cutting. Chandidas sits for the penitence ritual, and the landlord’s goons chase Rami in order to abduct her for their master. Uncaring of her own situation, she is beside herself, thinking the poet is about to retract his belief in the human face of religion. To Rami, this would spell the spiritual fall of a man whom so many consider to be a harbinger of love for humanity and God. Battered and exhausted, Rami falls down on the steps in front of the temple and calls out: ‘Answer me, do you think you’re impure because of my touch?’ Her high-pitched voice reaches inside and jolts the poet out of his stupor.

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Chandidas leaves without completing the ritual. The film ends with Chandidas leaving the village, carrying the fainted woman in his arms and walking towards a luminous full moon. They cannot change this society but will form a new one elsewhere, the ending seems to suggest. The spiritual as well as romantic liaison between the Brahman poet Chandidas and the washerwoman Rami is a well-known legend, recounted and analysed in many different ways. The film draws upon traditional material in order to create a modern story of romantic love, so that tales of social issues would be entertaining for audiences. The message of the film seems to be that an ideal modern couple is both capable of protesting against unjust social and religious practices, and of leaving mainstream society in order to create something different.

E R O T I C L O V E : P R A C T I C E AND LI TE RARY TROP E Students of Indian cinema often ask why films on religious or social issues also tend to have a romantic plot, and why the narrative continuously seems to be interrupted by singing and dancing that are apparently irrelevant to the larger political and social issues of the film. Often they ask whether these films should either be analysed as tales of romance, or as grander narratives discussing the relationship between religion and society. Such questions obscure the intrinsic connection between these. A lot of these portrayals on film challenge the binary of sacred and secular love, and ultimately romance serves to illustrate social reform issues (Chatterjee 2008). Discussions about the interrelation between mortal and divine love were revived in the modern period through the growing popularity of Vaishnava Padavali² poets such as Vidyapati, Chandidas, Jaydev, and Govindadas. The resurgence and proliferation of this body of literature were aided by published anthologies and their central role in the teachings at Indian colleges. Many of the poems were increasingly used in school texts as well. Many films of this period draw upon both the secular and the religious sides of Padavali poetry. They imaginatively translate the widespread appreciation of these poems, as well as the associated practices through sequences and songs. In a superb example of this, we see the blind singer K. C. Dey in Chandidas sing an appeal to Krishna, who has been engaged the whole night in love-play with Rādhā: ‘The red of the lips [from the bettle-juice] has streaked the face [due to kissing], the eyes are closing in [due to lack of sleep]. ² The Vaishnava Padavali movement refers to a particular period in medieval Bengali literature particularly centred around the mythological union of Rādhā and Krishna. The movement was centred in Bengal but attained pan-Indian status by the end of the seventeenth century.

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Please turn around and look at me—let me see you to my fill!’ This is such an extraordinary celebration of the erotic, and yet all we see on screen is a blind man sitting still and singing. Despite it being Dey’s debut film, he is nevertheless able to hold the gaze of the audience as he sings. This is both due to the quality of his singing, and because of the special iconographic status of blind singers in the bhakti tradition. The scene is exhilarating for audiences as they experience the ensuing rasa or an essence and amalgamation of devotion and erotica. These films are of additional importance, both to Religious Studies as well as to Film Studies, as they invite fresh investigation and verbalization on the topic of darshan and the gaze.

WILFUL ANACHRONISMS AND OTHER ‘M IS T A K E S’ The more one watches these films, the more one finds different analytical strategies that work to enrich discourses on modernism and religious reform. As we have seen so far in these films, familiar narrative elements of popular religious culture are changed by introducing unfamiliar motifs. In fact, the poet saint Chandidas is not known to have struggled for the poor, yet the film turns him into a social activist. No hagiography has ever talked about a union with Rami, yet, arguably, the popularity of the film is a testimony to the audiences’ understanding that such modifications of popular narratives are necessary for the purpose of modernity and progress. For another example of this we analyse Vidyapati, a film about another medieval poet, revered among a wide range of audiences belonging to different linguistic groups in the states of Bihar (Mithila in particular), Bengal, and Orissa. Before we look at Vidyapati in its own right, it is interesting to note a possible link between this film and Chandidas. In Vidyapati, one sentence resonates through the film: ‘Above all else, Man is the Truth; beyond that (there is) none!’³ Originally a Chandidas verse, it was extremely popular in the nationalist period of the early twentieth century. Calling out, ‘O humanbrother, listen!’, the poet declares that matters related to God are of little importance compared to human concerns. Here, the use of a verse by one poet in a film about another poet could hardly have been a coincidence. Perhaps the filmmakers were unable to use it in Chandidas, where the poet was yet to learn the lessons of humanism. At the same time, it seems, they could not stay away from using a citation so important to contemporary conversations. It seems these films were meant to proclaim the liberal humanist stance of the New Theatres studio. ³ Sabaar upare maanush satto; tahar upare nai.

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When Vidyapati begins, Vidyapati is the court-poet of Mithila. The queen adores him. The king, however, suffers from several contradictory emotions: passionate love for the queen, love for the poet and his creations, devotion towards the family deity Vishnu, and finally suspicion that his wife’s love for the poet is more than mere admiration. The narrative also introduces a young woman, Anuradha, who loves the poet dearly. As the film progresses, we see the poet facing a sort of creative writer’s block, perhaps stemming from his confusion over the difference between kama and prema (sexual love and sublime transcendental love). If he does not resolve these seeming contradictions, he cannot write poetry on love. Ultimately, though, Vidyapati fully learns how to embody both human-love and god-love, realizing that all kinds of love must converge so that he can reach transcendental heights and create better poetry. This ending, however, is accompanied by two sacrifices: the royal couple’s suicidal death and Anuradha silencing her love for the poet. Vidyapati shows clearly the contemporary trend of showing protagonists not as ‘heroic’ in the expected way, but rather as flawed people on a spiritual journey. It is interesting to see how the makers of Vidyapati imagined a narrative about a famous writer of love poems needing to ‘learn’ how to love both Man and God.

T HE MO DE R N IN DIAN HE R O From the 1930s onwards, we see an increased focus on ‘gentle’ protagonists, averse to violent confrontations and often filled with anxious self-doubt. Some heroes are vagabond-like, good-for-nothing characters who are given to alcohol and other vices (Arora 1997). While critiquing such representations, Ashish Nandy (2000) refers to Devdas (1935), and calls the director of the film, P. C. Barua, ‘the originator of the terribly effeminate, maudlin, selfdestructive heroes’. Satyajit Ray’s film Devi (1960) portrays a modern man, weak and hesitant, ultimately crushed between a feudal past he does not want to belong to and, conversely, a modernity he cannot properly inhabit (Ghosh 1992: 168). Here I concentrate on the tragedy of the dissolution of the marriage of the young couple: the protagonist Umaprasad and his wife Dayamoyee. Lying in bed in the morning after a night of lovemaking, Umaprasad asks his new bride: ‘Are you a doll?’ The beautiful Dayamoyee is pliant, coy, and sweet, but also enigmatic. And, as the film unfolds, we get to see her character unfold, revealing her also to be intelligent and humorous. But, because of her father-in-law’s dream that she is an avatar of Kali, she is catapulted into the status of being ‘a deity’. When Umaprasad returns from Calcutta where he

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studies English in a college, Dayamoyee tries to tell him that her elevated status is not to her liking. Umaprasad, however, must first confront and question his father’s strange behaviour. Reciting from the Raghuvamsa ( family of Ram) by the poet Kalidas, the father aligns himself with the divine lineage of the avatar, maintaining that he is merely following a great religious tradition. The son is left helpless before such an argument; he returns to the city without forcefully putting an end to this farce. The ‘living goddess’ cannot save the only male child of the family from an illness and is immediately cast aside. Stripped of all previous adoration, and aghast at being held responsible for the death of a boy she loved very much, Dayamoyee begins to lose her mind. Umaprasad returns, prompting her to run away with him. On the way, however, she chances upon a bamboo structure that had, a few months ago, supported a Durga idol. Staring at it dazed, Dayamoyee asks: ‘What if I truly was a goddess?’ She has enjoyed the glory of being one; would she get an opportunity to transcend her social status in the city? Could modernity give her that and will her husband now cease to see her as a doll, she seems to ask. There are no answers to these questions, and Dayamoyee disappears into the mist.

BIO-PICS: S TRONG INDIVIDUALS Another category of religious films entails those that depict the lives of particular men and women who contributed towards the ushering-in of modern interpretations of Hinduism. Raja Rammohan Roy (Bangla, 1965), about the social reformer and proponent of the Bengali Renaissance of the same name, begins with a young Roy writing in Farsi. Distracted by hearing the strains of a well-known kirtan in his mind, ‘Madhava, I beseech you!’, he sees before him a beautiful terracotta temple. Soon after, the visual and audio tracks are replaced by those of a mosque and an Islamic song. Roy muses aloud, remarking on how similar both songs are in expressing their deep longing for God. He asks his teacher why conflicts exist if the goal of all religions is to find God. The latter muses that he himself is a selfish, poor Brahman who can only think of his own deliverance from the cycle of rebirth. Since Roy is able to think on behalf of the entire humanity, he would certainly find the answer on his own, the priest says. Symbolically freed of a teacher, the future reformer now proceeds towards his struggle against religious intolerance. His rich landowner father thunders at him for not attending the evening aarti at the family temple. Worse, he has discovered an essay in which Roy criticizes the Hindus for being idolatrous. Using words from Urdu, he argues that one should be not a but parast (idol worshipper) but a khudaparast (God worshipper). The father is aghast,

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thinking his son has embraced Islam. Roy explains he is merely using a word for God in a different language. If there is but one God, it hardly matters which language is used to address Him, he argues. Thus, the film presents a man who advocates the modernization of Hinduism by, among other things, also borrowing his justifications from Vedic texts: God is ekamevadwitiyam, ‘One, and without a second’. The film hereafter highlights Roy’s efforts towards the eradication of what he considers to be evil religious practices, presented through a series of tableaux: an infant is thrown into the sea in fulfilment of a ‘promise’ made to the sea; a recent widow is forced into sati. In the end, Roy leaves the family home to seek solutions to what he deems to be the inhuman aspects of religion. Despite being an engaging portrayal of Roy’s vision of a Hinduism cohabitating peacefully with Islam and different strains of secularism, the film still leaves out some important aspects of Roy’s contribution both as a scholar and as a personal example. While not showing how Roy’s understandings of monotheism came directly from his studies of the Quran, the film also neglects to highlight the religious differences between his parents. His mother was a Kali worshipper and his father a Vaishnavite, yet the film shows the mother following her husband’s faith. Roy’s young wife tells him she fully shares in his radical views on religion, yet the fact that he had three wives is omitted from the film. Controversial issues like his association with the missionary William Carey and the East India Company are downplayed, making way for a linear story of gradual spiritual realizations of the ‘father of modern Hinduism’ in India. We see many of the same themes resonating in the 1962 film Bhagini Nivedita (Sister Nivedita, Bangla), which portrays the life and example of Margaret Noble, a British social worker and disciple of Swami Vivekananda. The beginning of the film portrays Noble’s life in England and her strong desire for serving humanity. Depicting Noble’s consequent travel to India and her surrender to her chosen master Vivekananda and Ramakrishna’s wife Sarada, the film shows her transformation into a true nivedita (a woman in surrender). One morning, upon hearing the news of the untimely death of Swami Vivekananda, she goes and sits by his body laid out for darshan, beginning to fan the body until it is taken away for cremation. Nivedita consequently severs all formal ties with the Ramakrishna Mission and dedicates herself to the Indian freedom struggle. The rest of the film portrays how she follows the creed of her master in spreading consciousness about fighting the British Raj. She also dedicates herself to the betterment of Indian art, literature, and science. The story of biographical films on the lives of religious leaders and reformers often seems to take on regionally specific characteristics. Surprisingly, given the rich history of social reform in Maharashtra, films on social-religious leaders here are few and far between. A notable exception is Mahatma Phule, from 1954, by journalist and playwright P. K. Atre, on the life of the social

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reformer Jyotiba Phule. Atre’s debut film Brahmachari (The Celibate) from 1938 satirizes the ideology of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), one of India’s biggest Hindu nationalist organizations. British censorship resulted in the incarceration of many Marathi theatre personalities and the banning of plays because of their political overtones. Mindful of incurring financial loss, filmmakers often cautiously hid their political agenda. Audiences hailed any slight indication of protest, and cinematic bids for freedom. Some have speculated that this might be part of the reason why vrata films were made in the Maharashtra and Bombay studios, rather than bio-pics. Vrata is the Sanskrit word for the observance of a religious vow, acts of devotion, and religious austerity. The protagonists of this genre mostly draw inspiration from female gods beyond the pale of mainstream Hinduism, often coming into conflict with the gods and goddesses of the prevailing Hindu pantheon of gods. These films’ basic plot seems to be the protagonist’s initial vow to propitiate the goddess. They also suffer through breaking their vow and causing the goddess displeasure, and in the end the worshipping of her in a prescribed manner appeases the goddess, rendering the protagonist prosperous and happy. These films are mostly about the acquisition and maintenance of wealth and health. These also serve to help minor goddesses worshipped by poorer sections of society find upper-class acceptance. Jai Santoshi Ma from 1972 is considered a prime example of this genre, and has been studied extensively (Das, Lutgendorf, Dwyer). Another interesting example, Sati Ansuya, from 1956, begins by the hailing of Mother India, through a song with the refrain of ‘Bharat Mata ki jai’. The song claims that India is sustained by the sacrifice of women, who on the one hand often suffer socially, but can also take up swords, sacrificing themselves for the sake of religion. The song continues over some footage of Gandhi’s marches, claiming that the father of the country owes his success to the sacrifices made by his wife Kasturba Gandhi. In this way, the film seems to combine religion with nationalism. Another important category of religious films, the Mythological, is centred around ‘filming the gods’ (Dwyer 2006). An example, from the repertoire of Marathi films, follows, to exemplify how a devotional film could be sprinkled with elements of the mythological and integrate social reform issues.

A MULTIPLE DISCOURSE NARRATIVE FROM MAHARASHTRA In the western state of Maharashtra, many popular religious films have been based on various varkari sant poets. Modern intellectuals and social reformers

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in this region relaunched contemporary issues of religion and social reform through portrayals in the vernacular, of the works of medieval grass-root level social reformers (sants). One example of this is V Shantaram’s Dharmatma from 1935, about the Brahman Eknath, who fought against caste discrimination in the sixteenth century. The film Sant Tukaram from 1936 depicts the life of Tukaram, a prominent varkari saint affiliated with the bhakti movement in Maharashtra. The film is considered to be a classic in Indian cinema and was one of the first films to attain international recognition. Pointing to one of the central preoccupations of the founders of modern Hinduism, the film specifically discusses, as if, the relationship between space and devotion, that is the best place for a devotee to pray. Through the story of Tukaram, the film also relays contemporary discussions on the tension between polytheistic and monotheistic interpretations of Hinduism. The film seemed to ask: is the temple, with its strict caste rules, the only option for a devotee? One of the key tenets of the religious teachings of the nineteenth-century yogi and key figure of the Bengali Renaissance, Ramakrishna, was that one can pray anywhere—in one’s mind (mon), a forest (bon), or the corner of one’s room (kon). In a similar vein, Rabindranath Tagore addresses God in a poem: Where you are united in yoga with the world . . . my union with you [would take place] there . . . [You are] neither in a forest, nor in wilderness, nor within my mind; where you are intimate with everyone . . . there you belong to me. Where you spread out your arms towards everyone, there my prema grows for you.

The song reverberated across the country, and so did the discussion it generated—namely, that of the importance of individual worship over the primacy of institutionalized places of religion. The narrative of Sant Tukaram is structured around this query. It is widely reported that once Tukaram took to the path of active devotion, he was always to be found at the family temple along with his disciples. A contemporary female poet Bahinabai wrote: ‘Day-n-night, there was discursive singing [kirtan] in the Dehu temple’ (Abbott 1929: 30). But the film restrains from showing this. The film’s narrative begins with Tukaram sitting at one corner of the house chanting ‘Panduranga’. After this we see him going to the temple and being thrown out by the Brahman landlord Salomalo. This ‘eviction’ takes the devotee to a forested hill top, the Bhandara Hill, allegedly Tukaram’s favourite place for meditating upon God. Finding him there, his wife Jijai convinces him that he should find work and provide for his children. Thus, once again, the makers of the film depart from the hagiography; Tukram passes, not from being a householder salary-earner to a being a full-time devotee, but the other way around. And it is here in the fields that the populace joins in a collective celebration of god-love; it is here

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that we finally see the proselytising side of bhakti. In one, continuous shot we see them ‘rise’ and join in with Tukaram in his singing and dancing (Chatterjee 2008). Through this example, we see how the monotheistic views of the Vedānta makes its presence felt in Marathi films. Madhavi Kolhatkar thinks that, in spite of the widespread worship of Vitthala or the Puranic gods and goddesses in this region, ‘at the bottom, all believe in one formless God’. This way of thinking about God becomes particularly clear in Sant Tukaram through the song adi beeja ek,⁴ explaining polytheism as a by-product of monotheism: ‘In the beginning there is one seed that grows, turns into a tree that produces thousands of fruits and seeds.’ Later in the film, we see Tukaram defending his way of teaching religion before a village tribunal, drawing on popular contemporary explanations for idol worship. According to him, the worship of God in human form is secondary to the worship of a formless God (instead of it always coexisting with or being older than the idea of God in the abstract). Tukaram explains that some paths are easy to follow, some (yagna, yoga, reciting Sanskrit śloka) difficult. He tries to convince the assembly that he has propounded an easy way, singing songs in rural Marathi.⁵

TAMIL NADU: RELIGION AND P OLITICS Religious cinema and politics are very closely linked in the case of the southern state of Tamil Nadu. As a part of a larger Dravidian political movement, the films coming out of this state had a particular emphasis on Tamil language, stringent critiques of mainstream Brahmanical religion, and the revocation and recuperation of ‘small’ gods and ‘little traditions’.⁶ The film Parashakti from 1952 is central to a discussion of Tamil films and the issue of religious reform in Tamil Nadu. With its strong indictment of religious malpractice and social evils, the film was widely understood to be revolutionary at the time it was made. Some reformist films were very clearly linked to the nationalist movement. Thyagbhoomi from 1939 showed the Congress flag flying along with the rousing music of ‘Come let us serve the Nation’, led by singer D. K. Patammal. In one ⁴ The only song of the film that is not a part of the œuvre of the poet, but rather written by Shantaram Athawale of the Prabhat Film Company. ⁵ In his writing Tukaram explains both ways equally. Only if one took a tally would one see he wrote more poems that tally with the belief in God as nirgun than otherwise. ⁶ ‘Little traditions’ is here referred to as local or regional traditions, often contrasted by canonical Hinduism centred around Sanskrit, Vedic texts, and the primacy of Brahmanical interpretations of scripture.

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scene, the protagonist is depicted as Gandhi, sitting at a hand-operated spinning wheel. The film was adapted from a novel written by Tamil writer and nationalist Kalki. The book carrying the same title was banned by the British. The director of this film, Krishnaswami Subramanyam, had earlier made Sevasadanam (1938), an adaptation of the Premchand novel Bazaar-e-Husn, originally serialized in the popular journal Ananda Viketam. The film highlighted issues of domestic abuse and prostitution and advocated women’s liberation. However, for his debut film Balyogini from 1937, Subramanyam himself wrote the script depicting the plight of Brahman widows and the evils of caste (Bhaskaran, Pillai, and so on). Mythological films abound in Tamil cinema, interestingly combining talks of reform and critiques of Brahmanism with spectacle and mass-audience appeal. An important aspect of Tamil mythological films is its propensity for having ‘demons’ as protagonists, with the film Vedhala Ulagam (Demon Land ) from 1942 as a notable example. The film depicts the imprisonments of some mortals by demons (vethala), and how a mortal prince comes to rescue them. However, he falls in love with the demon princess, and together they carry out the task. The narrative might seem more that of a romance than of a religious theme. However, the film makes several references to Tamil Nadu’s Dravidian past, emphasizing its nationalist message through Subramania Bharathi and Papanasam Sivan’s poetic lyrics to the film’s songs.⁷ The history of Indian cinema has shown that the neat separation of India’s religious practices into regional specific traditions, and their consequent sectionalized influence on regional film industries is not always that clear cut. Themes have travelled, with many Tamil films being made in Calcutta and Bombay, and North Indian and Bengali texts occurring in South Indian films. An interesting example is Meera (1947), about Meera-bai, a Krishna devotee from Rajasthan. The film was made in Madras (now Chennai) in two languages, Tamil and Hindi, and thousands of Indians considered the songs of the Hindi version, most of them composed by Dilip Kumar Roy, as ‘real Meera-bai songs’. The studios in Madras continued to make Hindi films over the following decades, attesting to the constant blurring of the national and the regional in Indian cinema.

SUPPRESSION OF SEXUALITY AND RELIGION In contrast to the two New Theaters films cited earlier, many Indian films reveal tensions between sexuality and religion and they revolve around how ⁷ For Telugu cinema and the interrelationship of religion and politics therein, one could refer to the works of S. Srinivas (e.g. Srinivas 2013).

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sexuality is being held under tight control by certain castes and classes of people. Many films show how upper-caste widows are often completely denied all expressions and acts of sexuality, with a prominent example in Hindi being Diksha (1991), an adaptation of a U. R. Ananthamurthy novel by director Arun Kaul. In 1977, Girish Kasarvalli adapted the novel in the original language Kannada with the title Ghatashraddha (The Ritual). The widowed daughter of a revered religious teacher gets pregnant while her father is away. On his return, the father conducts the funerary rites of his living daughter, and she is excommunicated from the village. Disappointed by his conduct, two of his students leave him: his favourite student, a Brahman boy, and another youth who has to follow the school proceedings in secret because of his lower-caste background. The film is a telling example of Girish Kasarvalli’s insistent and creative perspectives on religion. Kasarvalli’s Naayi Neralu (Shadow of a Dog) from 2006, based on a novel by S. L. Bhyrappa with the same title, centres around similar themes. The young man Vishwa claims he is the dead son of a family living in a village in Karnataka. Vishwa claims he is the husband of the widow Venkatalakshmi, the chief protagonist of the film, and that he remembers every detail of his past life. The mother of the house sends for Vishwa and welcomes him into the family, encouraging Venkatalakshmi to change her attire from that which is appropriate for a widow to that of a happily married woman. Once she has realized what is available to her now that she is no longer burdened by the social conventions of being a widow, Venkatalakshmi sleeps with Vishwa and is caught. Shame and furore ensues. Vishwa is imprisoned for breaking the ‘trust’ of the family, and Venkatalakshmi later gives birth to a daughter. The film ends by her telling her older daughter she never once believed Vishwa was the reincarnation of her husband.

DOUBTS ABOUT RELIGIO N Strains of atheism have a long history in India. It will come as no surprise that the period of colonialism, ensuing wars and famines, communal riots, and the partition of India and Pakistan, as well as religious bigotry carried forth by the priests and the ruling classes, brought about new questions on religion and atheism. In such tumultuous times, the worship of God could reach hysterical levels, and, conversely, people might express doubts about the existence of God.

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Nastik (The Athiest) from 1954 by the satirist I. S. Johar begins with long scenes depicting partition. A voiceover informs us that the hero of the film has lost faith in God, having seen horrible atrocities, including the killing of his parents in the riots. He comes to the newly created India with his siblings, along with a stream of refugees. From there on, the film is a melodramatic saga of the protagonists’ many travails because of a local priest, whose malpractice and exploitation of the poor deepen the hero’s atheist persuasion. Finally, however, he regains his faith. Another film with the same title follows over four decades later. Nastik, from 1987, is about a man (played by Amitabh Bachchan) who turns into an atheist, arguing that God does nothing while his family members die horrible deaths. As we see him taking the law into his own hands, the film prefigures the vigilantism of protagonists played by Bachchan in his later films. However, he too, at the end of this film, regains his faith. In the decades following the 1960s, Indian films on the whole became more and more comfortable with popular notions and perceptions about Hinduism, rarely raising complex questions. For a continued academic discussion on the relationship between religion, social reform, and Indian cinema, however, much work is needed in the areas of religious studies, philosophy, sociology, art history, aesthetic theory, film studies, literary criticism, and history.

REFERENCES Abbott, Justine J. (1929). Bahina Bai: A Translation of Her Autobiography and Verses. Arora, Poonam (1997). ‘Devdas: India’s Emasculated Hero, Sado-Masochism and Colonialism’, Jouvert, Journal of Postcolonial Studies, 1/1. Baskaran, Theodore (1996). The Eye of the Serpent: An introduction to Tamil cinema. Chennai: East West Books. Chatterjee, Gayatri (2008). ‘How to Design a Course on Religion and Cinema in India’, in Greg Watkins (ed.), Teaching Religion and Film (American Academy of Religion Teaching Series). New York: Oxford University Press. De Man, Paul (1981). ‘Pascal’s Allegory of Persuasion’, in J. Stephen Greenblatt (ed.), Allegory and Representation. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. Dwyer, Rachel (2006). Filming the Gods: Religion and the Indian Cinema. London: Routledge. Ghosh, Bishnupriya (1992). ‘Satyajit Ray’s Devi: Constructing a Third –World Feminist Critique’, in Screen, 33/2 (summer): 165–73. Nandy, Ashish (2000). ‘Invitation to an Antique Death: The Journey of Pramathesh Barua as the Origin of the Terribly Effeminate, Maudlin, Self-Destructive Heroes of Indian Cinema’, in Rachel Dwyer and Christopher Pinny (eds), Pleasure and the

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Nation: The History, Politics and Consumption of Public Culture in India. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Pillai, Swarnavel Eswaren (2015). Madras Studios: Narrative, Genre, and Ideology in Tamil Cinema. New Delhi: Sage. Srinivas, S. V. (2013). Politics as Performance: A Social History of the Telugu Cinema. Ranikhet: Permanent Black.

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7 Hindu Pilgrimage and Modern Tourism Knut Aukland

I N T R O D U C TI O N In a government correspondence sent from Allahabad in 1868, a British administrator expressed the rather arrogant view that pilgrimage in India would soon die out ‘as it had in Medieval Europe’ when people become more educated and enlightened (Maclean 2008: 103). On the contrary, time has shown that Indian modernity in various ways has worked to the advantage of Hindu pilgrimage and allowed it to grow tremendously. Six decades after the first railway line was opened in South Asia in 1853, an official report noted that ‘railways have revolutionised pilgrim traffic’ (Kerr 2005: 312). In 1901, the first year a direct line was set up between Calcutta and Puri (an all-India pilgrimage site), 300,000 tickets were booked (Kerr 2005: 313). Attendance numbers at the cave shrine of Vaiṣno Devī near Jammu appear to have grown from a few thousand a year in the 1950s (Jacobsen 2009: 407) to over ten million in 2012.¹ As Diana Eck (2012: 443) recently pointed out, no place today can ‘match the extensiveness or intensity of pilgrimage travel in India’. The growing popularity of Hindu pilgrimage has been such that Hindu nationalist forces have found successful ways of using its symbols and idioms to rally support in popular and electoral politics (McKean 1996; Jaffrelot 2009). Scholars have pointed to a range of factors in this growth, including improved organization, transportation, and economy; growth in population, people with disposable income, and the middle classes; and dynamics of identity politics (Jacobsen 2009: 408; Shalini Singh 2009: 95). Finally, the growth of Hindu pilgrimage in modern India must be understood in relation to the rise and global spread of modern tourism. In fact, the scholarly interest in the pilgrimage–tourism nexus appears to be growing, and scholars have ¹ According to Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board’s statistics.

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already begun addressing the interplay between Hindu pilgrimage and tourism (Jacobsen 2009: 407–8; Shalini Singh 2009: ch. 4; Lochtefeld 2012; Rana P. B. Singh and Haigh 2015: 794–5). In the following I will provide an overview of the various ways in which Hindu pilgrimage has changed and adapted in response to modern tourism, organizing the chapter into four themes: pilgrimage priests, pilgrimage literature, pilgrim behaviour, and the state-led tourism development. First, though, we need some historical background and conceptual clarifications. The Hindu pilgrimage tradition (tīrthyātrā) finds an early expression in the Mahābhārata (Jacobsen 2012: 13–14).² In it we find descriptions of places of pilgrimage, benefits of going to these places with connected mythological narratives, what rituals to conduct where, and a general message that one can obtain great rewards for relatively little effort at these places. These elements appear to have become a template for later texts, notably the purānas, : where one finds that the gods complain that the power of pilgrimage places and rituals have made people forget them. Going back to the fourth century , the māhātmya or sthala-purāna : is the particular puranic genre that is devoted to describing the ‘greatness’ (māhātmya) of a particular place (sthala) of pilgrimage. The purānas : became the most important genre in spreading and popularizing Hindu pilgrimage, and puranic lore worked as promotional texts for various destinations, not unlike modern-day tourist advertisements (Jacobsen 2012: 51, 54, 95). Over time, this tradition has helped establish thousands of places and sites of pilgrimage, often connected to each other in intricate webs of meaning and association through both vernacular and Sanskrit narratives related to local and pan-Indian deities, creating an extraordinarily elaborate ‘sacred geography’ (Feldhaus 2003; Eck 2012). Alongside the establishment of this geography there is also a rich set of religious rituals and activities ranging from rites of passage to more customary exchanges between people, priests, and gods.³ In particular, funerary rites and the act of giving gifts (dāna) to pilgrimage priests became central features. Modern tourism is a much more recent creation, and points to the coming-together of a range of phenomena in mid-nineteenth-century Western Europe, which serves as a starting point for tourism as we know it today. Key among these were new means of transportation—in particular railways—and growing living standards that allowed for cheap mass transportation, and a growing formal tourism industry with travel agencies and other services supporting recreational travel. This is also the period in which travel guidebooks assumed the shape they have today (Mackenzie 2005: 21), indicating the development of a specific modern travel culture. This development has ² See Jacobsen (2012) for a history of Hindu pilgrimage and its ideology. ³ For an account of such rituals based on surveys conducted in the late 1960s, see Bhardwaj (2003).

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been referred to as mass tourism (Hall 2003: 44), travel capitalism (Böröcz 1992), and modern tourism (Verhoeven 2013). In the twentieth century, modern tourism would spread to become a global phenomenon, comprising one of the largest economies with significant social and cultural impact. Of particular importance was the growing involvement of the state in tourism promotion and development in the second half of the twentieth century. How can we relate these developments to the trajectories of Hindu pilgrimage in modern India? Much of the scholarly discussion on pilgrimage and tourism has tended to treat them as polar opposites or incompatible modes of travel (Stausberg 2011: 19–20). A particularly popular approach has been typological, trying to categorize travellers into different groups (Badone and Roseman 2004: 9–11; Timothy and Olsen 2006: 6–8; Collins-Kreiner 2010: 165). Rather than opting for an either–or approach—asking whether Hindus visiting pilgrimage sites have gone from being pilgrims to tourists or whether there has been a transition ‘from pilgrimage to package tourism’ (Gladstone 2005)—I suggest that Hindu pilgrimage has changed and adapted in relation to the forces of modern tourism. When assessing this process, I will treat Hindu pilgrimage and modern tourism as two identifiable spheres or assemblies of sociocultural activities that are pursued in specific social frameworks and sustained by various institutions.⁴ Increasingly, however, the activities of these two spheres have found ways of coexisting and overlapping, as their respective institutions have involved themselves in each other’s operations. Concrete examples of this could be Hindus combining visits to pilgrimage temples with holidaying at hill stations, travel agencies creating package tours to pilgrimage sites, and pilgrimage priests catering to international tourists. To explore these developments and the dynamic interplay between pilgrimage and tourism, I begin by exploring the trajectory of pilgrimage priests and pilgrimage literature in modern India. I then turn to ethnographic studies of modern pilgrimages and the changing attitudes of contemporary pilgrims, before turning to the impact of state-led tourism development.

PILGRIMAGE PRIESTS The community of Hindu priests and ritual specialists (Brahmans), alongside the texts they developed eulogizing the virtues of pilgrimage sites (māhātmyas), constitute the institutional backbone of the Hindu pilgrimage tradition. ⁴ I draw on Michael Stausberg (2011: 8) and his understanding of the relationship between religion and tourism.

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Historically, the rise and proliferation of pilgrimage sites and activity in the first millennium  can be related to the active propagation of Hindu priests and their competition for ritual income and support (Jacobsen 2012: 55, 64, 79, 85). As the community of Brahmans spread throughout the subcontinent, the establishment of pilgrimage sites offered an alternative means of income to the detriment of the Vedic tradition. Indeed, Brahmanical pilgrimage texts habitually compare the unmatched benefits of pilgrimage rituals to that of costly Vedic rituals. In the tīrthyātra tradition, the giving of gifts (dāna) would become the dominant mode of exchange, as pilgrims and powerful patrons were invited to give gifts to both priests and deities in exchange for welfare and religious goods. The māhātmyas promoting pilgrimage continuously emphasize the many rewards of giving dāna to Brahmans, rewards that included both this-worldly benefits and salvation (Jacobsen 2012: 79). The ritual exchange between pilgrimage priests and pilgrims had already become routinized by the eighteenth century in the so-called jajmānī system. In short, this refers to the inherited relationship between a pilgrimage priest (panḍ : ā or tīrth purohit⁵) and pilgrims from a specific area and/or a caste group.⁶ When a group of pilgrims arrived at a pilgrimage site, a specific pilgrimage priest would have the rights to perform rituals on their behalf. To prove to the pilgrims that he was their rightful priest, he would keep registers (bahis) detailing the visits of the pilgrim’s ancestors and relatives. Traditionally the priest would arrange for the pilgrims’ lodgings and officiate their ritual needs. In exchange for conducting rituals and guiding the pilgrims to key temples and bathing sites, he would receive gifts. Several scholars have observed key changes and what appears to be the slow deterioration of such jajmānī relations over the course of the twentieth century (Chaudhuri 1981: pp. vi–vii, 40–2, 60–1; Bhardwaj 2003: 209; Whitmore 2010: 67–8; Lochtefeld 2011: 243–4). In his ethnographic study of Haridwar, James Lochtefeld (2010: 125, 28) points to various reasons for the decline in jajmānī relations, such as a diminishing faith in the efficacy of rituals and the growth of Hindi as a lingua franca. Lochtefeld also points to tourism-related factors such as better transportation facilities, new forms of accommodation, and changing motives in travel indicating a shift from pilgrimage to vacation. Over time, pilgrims have also become more independent, with increased access to information from print media and guidebooks about how to travel and where to go. How have pilgrimage priests adapted to these tourism-related changes? The coming of railways and buses has had a deep impact on the trade of pilgrimage priests. Historical studies of Ayodhya (Veer 1989: 185–8, 250–9) and Banaras (Parry 1994: 97–109) point to an intensification of competition to ⁵ For an introduction to panḍ : ās/tīrth purohits, see Lochtefeld (2011). ⁶ See Veer (1989); Hawley (1992); Parry (1994); Lochtefeld (2010).

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catch new clients that at times led to mafia-like conditions. Railway stations became key sites where agents of pilgrimage priests would secure pilgrims (Veer 1989: 184; Parry 1994: 104; Maclean 2008: 144). In terms of ritual exchange, ease of access has meant that pilgrims can come and go in one day, or stay only one night before moving on. In short, ease of transportation has led to a growth in day visitors and a market of rapid turnover. This has affected ritual affairs and funerary rites. As early as the 1870s, the well-known Sanskritist Monier Williams noted a correlation between the pilgrims’ use of the railway and a sharp decrease in ghosts and associated lengthy rituals in Gaya (Bayly 1998: 150). Speedier travel and shorter visits also resulted in a speedier ritual treatment of the souls of departed relatives. A hundred years later, scholars have found that pilgrimage rituals elsewhere are in general decline or being conducted in increasingly abbreviated forms (Chaudhuri 1981: pp. vi, 88; Shinde 2008; Lochtefeld 2011: 243). Hotels and guesthouses are an important part of the tourism industry, and many pilgrims who can afford it prefer these alternatives to the traditional pilgrim lodgings or homes of pilgrimage priests (Bhardwaj 2003: 208, n. 16; Lochtefeld 2010: 243–4). In response to this development, a few wealthy pilgrimage priests in West Bengal’s Bakreshwar (Chaudhuri 1981: 70–2) and Haridwar (Lochtefeld 2010: 135, n. 36) have established their own guesthouses and hotels. In Pushkar in the 1980s, pilgrimage priests organized protests against the development of tourism with the slogan ‘Remove hotels, Save Pushkar’ (Joseph 2007: 213). The hotels became a focus point, because they serve alcohol and meat, and cater to international tourists often displaying offensive behaviour, while being located adjacent to the Pushkar lake, the ritual centre of the town. At the same time, Pushkar priests found a new type of clientele in international tourists, for whom they perform a modified version of pūjā in exchange for substantial fees, allowing them to take pictures, which is nominally not allowed (Joseph 2007: 210). Many priests have sold their rights to serve traditional clients and joined the tourism industry (Joseph 2007: 210). My own study of contemporary pilgrimage priests in Vrindavan (Aukland 2016) revealed that most priests have adapted to changing travel patterns by offering guided tours through which they inspire pilgrims to give gifts (dāna) in the form of cash. One such tour was vividly described by John Hawley (1992: 31–4) a few decades ago. Some of the priests I spoke to had business cards that listed them as ‘Ritual Priest, Guide’ or simply ‘international guide’. Moreover, priests establish connections with travel agencies, bus conductors, and taxi drivers to secure clients for their guided tours, which they frame as darśan yātrās in the prayers they make pilgrims repeat. Some have joined forces to set up small tour and travel offices that combine their priestly guide services with regular tourist services such as day-package tours and taxis. Interestingly, in places such as Haridwar and Rishikesh, similar guided tours

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are offered by regular tourist guides and travel agencies (Aukland 2015). Here gift giving has been changed to the retail of religious goods as the main means of transaction with pilgrims. Both cases indicate that guided tours have become an important format and sometimes the only arena for pilgrims to interact with a pilgrimage town before they move on to the next destination in their busy itineraries. Moreover, tourist guides have become part of the pilgrimage tradition. Speedier travel has for many Hindus moved the emphasis of Hindu pilgrimage away from lengthy rituals to guided tours of key temples and sites where perfunctory acts of worship constitute the main religious activity.

M ĀHĀTMYAS AND GUIDEBOOKS With the introduction of print technology, māhātmyas moved away from the hands of priests, and from the late nineteenth century were sold as massproduced, inexpensive pamphlets. This meant a great shift in audience, as they could now be sold in vernacular languages directly to pilgrims in the bazaar. As Lochtefeld (2010: 224–5) has pointed out, besides recounting mythological events and providing instructions in ritual matters, the early pamphlet māhātmya creatively responded to shifting attitudes and practices by, for instance, promoting ayurvedic dispensaries and colleges, or eliciting donations to help develop Haridwar’s civic amenities. Andrea Pinkney (2013) has analysed the development of modern māhātmyas from the 1950s to the 2000s for the highly popular Cār Dhām pilgrimage in the Himalayas. While remaining faithful to the Sanskrit māhātmya genre on many accounts (providing mythological narratives and ritual instructions, praising gods, and detailing the benefits of performing various rituals), the modern māhātmya further addresses current and practical affairs relevant to the contemporary pilgrim. Innovations include descriptions of places promoted for tourism purposes, tourist agency recommendations, and description of non-pilgrimage towns and their facilities (Pinkney 2013: 254–5). In short, modern māhātmyas combine classical conventions with those of the modern guidebook. Moreover, CDs and DVDs themed on pilgrimages have become popular souvenirs. One of the earliest guidebooks produced for India was John Murray’s A Handbook for India (1859). Indian elites would soon use such guides, and the first Indian vernacular guidebooks appeared around the turn of the twentieth century. In her study of these early Indian guidebooks, Aparajita Mukhopadhyay (2014) finds that they would follow the British convention while also drawing on mythology as a valid source of information. Together, these guidebooks introduced the concept of ‘sights worth visiting’, along with

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the European notion of understanding certain landscapes as picturesque. When I participated in the Cār Dhām pilgrimage in July 2012, one of the participants carried a guidebook entitled Spiritual India Handbook written by an American member of the International Society of Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) (Knapp 2009), used to plan a two-month pilgrimage itinerary. The second guidebook I saw in use was one produced by the tourism department of Uttarakhand overseeing the pilgrimage. My own analysis of various Cār Dhām guidebooks in Hindi and English reveals that pilgrims are invited to combine pilgrimage religiosity with sightseeing and non-religious tourist activities of various kinds (Aukland 2017). In contrast to the promotion of pilgrimages in other cultural contexts that have downplayed religious meanings in favour of cultural tourism appraisals (Reader 2014: 192–3), the departmental guidebooks continue to give instructions for rituals, describing mythological events and religious awards as real for the pilgrim or devotee (śraddhālu) (Aukland 2017: 294–5). Moreover, Cār Dhām is presented as a picturesque pilgrimage, as the guidebooks show a keen appreciation of nature’s beauty and point to scenic detours. To the extent that these guidebooks indicate current trends in Hindu pilgrimage, they reveal that Hindu pilgrimage is increasingly opening up to tourism activities and interests beyond religion. At the same time, this extension of interest does not seem directly to challenge the religious aspects of pilgrimage as such (Stausberg 2011: 64–6). Deity worship and sightseeing, homage and holiday, go hand in hand. To what extent does this resonate with studies of pilgrims and the way they conduct their pilgrimages?

PILGRIMS AND P ILGRIMAGES In the early 1980s, anthropologist Ann Gold (2002: 262–98) participated in a month-long pilgrimage by bus with a group of mostly elderly rural Rajasthanis. While the ‘Darshan Bus Tour’ was primarily aimed at pilgrimage sites in North India, it also included a range of other destinations such as Taj Mahal and the Red Fort in Agra, Buddhist temples and shrines in Bodhgaya, a zoo, a scenic waterfall, and the beach in Puri, which most later recalled as the highlight of the trip. An important motivation for going on the pilgrimage for the majority of the participants was to perform funerary rituals to secure the release of the spirits of dead relatives. At the same time, there were also those who claimed that they went simply for the sake of travelling (ghūmne ke lie). Lochtefeld (2010: 195–202) participated in a twelve-day pilgrimage by bus through the Himalayan Cār Dhām circuit in 1990. The pilgrimage was a package tour organised by the public tourism corporation, and the group

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consisted largely of educated professionals from Delhi and Kolkata. As was the case in Gold’s study, Lochtefeld found that participants viewed the trip in different ways. Many had signed up for a vacation and had chosen this package tour to escape the summer heat of the plains, whereas others were eager to engage with pilgrimage priests, and took every opportunity to visit temples en route. Most participants, however, fell somewhere between these two positions. This appears to go against Diana Eck’s argument that there is a crucial difference between tourism and pilgrimage as two kinds of travel: ‘Tourism takes us to “see the sights”, but pilgrimage takes us for darshans, the “beholding” of a sacred image or a sacred place’ (Eck 2012: 443). In modern India it is becoming increasingly difficult to make such clear-cut divisions, as popular itineraries promoted by the travel industry aim precisely to combine these two activities. The findings of Gold and Lochtefeld point to the increasingly blurred distinctions between pilgrimage and leisure vacation in relation to Hindu pilgrimage, a trend also found in other pilgrimage traditions around the world (Stausberg 2011: 64–8). Contemporary travel in India frequently involves multi-purpose trips, where travellers combine pilgrimage with tourist activities and destinations. Pilgrimage sites are often visited on family vacations and, while the elderly members tend to be more interested in temples and deities, the younger members are more enticed by other aspects of the journey (Rana P. B. Singh 2002: 158). In the words of Jacobsen (2009: 408), the ‘pilgrim combines pilgrimage with tourism, and the tourist combines tourism with pilgrimage’. Several scholars have found Hindus at pilgrimage sites reporting that they have come for non-religious purposes (Chaudhuri 1981: 54–7; A. P. Singh 1989: 234, 44). With an interesting choice of words, Surinder Bhardwaj (2003: 154) pointed out in relation to his survey study from the late 1960s that some pilgrims ‘preferred to call themselves “tourists” or “visitors”’. Some scholars, such as geographer Kiran Shinde (2008), employ the term ‘religious tourism’ to refer to this kind of travel that takes place at the intersection of leisure holiday and more traditional pilgrimage. Typical traits of this kind of travel include the importance of commercially organised package tours and limited engagement in rituals. In 2005, Shinde (2008) participated in a week-long pilgrimage tour in the Braj area that included 150 cars and 10 buses. Participants were vocal about their demands for comfort, and, rather than visiting one site after another, following a circular route, the vehicles would daily return to the base camp in Vrindavan. On the one hand, travel agencies have become important service providers for multi-purpose trips, while religious actors with an entrepreneurial bent have developed new kinds of products to cater to the modern ‘religious tourists’ (Shinde 2010). The demand for entertainment at pilgrimage sites is certainly not a new phenomenon in India. What is new, however, is the involvement of the

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tourism industry in providing new forms of entertainment services. In Haridwar and Rishikesh one can find billboards advertising water parks in the vicinity, and the more adventures pilgrims go rafting on the Ganges (Rao and Suresh 2001: 215). Since the 1990s, luxury hotels and high-class restaurants have sprung up in and around Haridwar (Lochtefeld 2010: 211–13). Moreover, temple spaces and accommodations fuse entertainment technology and the format of tourist attractions with religious and mythological themes. In Haridwar, Lochtefeld (2010: 18) found that contemporary visitors are attracted to recently built ashrams and temples that feature entertaining religious tableaus (dharmik jhankiya) that are mechanical and electrified. As in other sites, cable cars transported pilgrims to mountain shrines. The creation of religious theme parks is the most recent manifestation of this development. The most famous example is the Akshardham temple, which has become a key tourist attraction in New Delhi. Here a range of entertainment media present religious teachings through the use of a cinema, dioramas with lifesize robotronic figures, and a boat ride (Jain 2009). Similar constructions are found at various pilgrimage sites, including Vrindavan, where ISKCON is in the process of creating the Chandrodaya temple referred to by them as an ‘Upcoming Tourist Attraction’.⁷ The temple will feature theme parks based on the mythology of Krishna and also aims to become the tallest temple in the world. Several scholars have noted how these kinds of creations alongside the growing demand for comfort in Hindu pilgrimage is linked to the rise of the Indian middle class and its preferences (Gladstone 2005; Srivastava 2009; Brosius 2010; Lochtefeld 2010: 211).

STATE-LED TOURISM DEVELOPMENT Lochtefeld (2010: 211–12) has pointed to the central and state governments as the most significant force behind the tourism development reshaping Haridwar. Public tourism agencies provide funding for tourism development projects and infrastructure, give tax cuts for the tourism industry, promote private–public collaboration, locate land for private investors, provide public loans to create cable cars to mountain goddesses, set up special pilgrimage trains, develop promotional campaigns and disseminate information through print and electronic media, and provide tourism services such as package tours and guesthouses through commercial enterprises. The Indian government’s interest in tourism development has grown considerably since the creation of the tourism ministry in 1958 and later regional ⁷ According to the Vrindavan Chandrodaya Mandir.

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tourism departments. While the central government traditionally focused its efforts on international tourism, regional departments and public tourism development in general have increasingly turned their attention to domestic tourism. According to Amitabh Kant (2009: preface), the creator of the ‘Incredible India’ campaign, tourism policies underwent a paradigm shift in 2002–8 as the central government increasingly considered tourism a productive vehicle to create jobs and development. Domestic tourism was now recognized as a major driver for tourism growth with the ‘need to highlight domestic products like pilgrim circuits, heritage sites and monuments in able to fully tap the potential of domestic tourism’ (Kant 2009: 6, 110). The success of the mentioned Cār Dhām pilgrimage is intimately related to the public tourism authorities turning it into a circuit. In Hinduism, Cār Dhām—literally ‘the four divine abodes’—has traditionally been associated with a set of famous pilgrimage sites located at the cardinal points of India: Badrinath (north), Puri (east), Dwarka (west), and Rameshwaram (south). This concept of tying together four pilgrimage sites has been replicated in regional pilgrimages all over India, a well-known phenomenon in Hindu pilgrimage (Feldhaus 2003; Eck 2012: 29–31). By the 1950s one such regional Cār Dhām had become part of popular religious imagination in the Himalayas, referring to Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath, and Badrinath (Pinkney 2013: 237). In the mid-1970s, the governmental corporation active in the area—the Garhwal Region Development Corporation—saw in Cār Dhām a readymade concept that could be turned into a tourism circuit. Under the leadership of tourism developer Kedar Foniya, a package tour was created and promoted, with instant success.⁸ In the decades since, the circuit has been a target for public funding and constant upgrade, while private travel agencies have become increasingly involved as the pilgrimage became ‘established as the pre-eminent Himalayan Hindu pilgrimage circuit’ (Pinkney 2013: 244). There are several signs that the central government is becoming increasingly involved in pilgrimage. After the election of a new government in 2014, led by the Hindu nationalist party BJP, the Ministry of Tourism launched two major schemes entitled Swadesh Darshan: Integrated Development of ThemeBased Circuits and PRASAD: National Mission on Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Augmentation Drive. The former includes the creation of ‘The Krishna Circuit’, which aims at developing the Braj region, which includes a range of pilgrimage sites tied to the mythology of Krishna. The latter scheme points out that the ‘growth of domestic tourism largely depends on pilgrimage tourism’ and aims at ‘paving the way for development and promotion of religious tourism in India’ with the mission of enriching the ‘religious/spiritual ⁸ For more on this development, see Aukland (2017).

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tourist experience’.⁹ Interestingly, the acronym of this scheme (PRASAD) refers to blessed substances that form a key part of Hindu rituals (prasād). These developments point to a crucial political dimension of public tourism development and Hindu pilgrimage. In the words of Meera Nanda (2011: 109), the ‘seemingly innocent and perfectly secular agenda of promoting tourism has become a channel for pumping taxpayers’ money into promoting temples, ashrams, and pilgrimage spots’. In Nanda’s analysis, state patronage of Hindu pilgrimage is part of a larger process where neo-liberal economic policies work to the advantage of Hindu gods and Hindu nationalism. Other scholars have similarly pointed out connections between pilgrimage and Hindu nationalism, with its associated aggression (Jaffrelot 2009; Lochtefeld 2010: 216 ff.; Rana P. B. Singh 2011). These kinds of relationships have taken on a special urgency in the case of the Amarnāth shrine located in Kashmir. Here, the state has played an active role in its development, at times framing the pilgrimage as a patriotic act and using it to promote nationalism (Navlakha 2006, 2008). While the shrine board’s treatment of locals and attempt at securing land have been met with widespread public protest, there has also been one incident of pilgrims being targeted by militants in the area. One of the most dramatic state interventions in Hindu pilgrimage in recent decades took place at another cave shrine in Jammu and Kashmir. Until 1988, the Vaiṣno Devī shrine had been managed by hereditary priest families and their trust (Foster and Stoddard 2010). Unhappy with the arrangement, Governor Jagmohan Malhotra passed an act to secure a new shrine board under the leadership of Anil Goswami (Goswami 1998). Goswami had started his career as a bureaucrat in the tourism department of Jammu and Kashmir. On the false pretence that the President of India was soon to visit, he led a large group of policemen up to the shrine without arousing suspicion. At midnight, when the new act was passed, he declared the state’s takeover and evicted uncooperative priests. As the first CEO of the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board, Goswami then began the professional development of the shrine. From 1986 to 2012, the number of visitors rose from 1.4 million to over ten million.¹⁰ The management of the Vaiṣno Devī shrine has been hailed as a model for other sites. The shrine board has won awards for the ‘Best Managed Religious Destination’,¹¹ and a master plan for the Himalayan Cār Dhām created in

⁹ (accessed 7 January 2019). ¹⁰ (accessed 7 January 2011). For more on Vaiśno : Devī, see Rohe (2001); Foster and Stoddard (2010); Chauhan (2011). ¹¹ See ‘Vaishno Devi Shrine “Best Managed Religious Destination” Award’, Tribune, 30 October 2015.

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2003 suggests following its example.¹² The process in which a temple or shrine becomes targeted for development and upgrade by a tourism department and its professional bureaucrats will inevitably affect the religious activities and profile of the site. Kiran Shinde (2011) has highlighted the difference between a more traditional set of mediators in the shape of hereditary pilgrimage priests, and the modern temple trust, in a comparative study of Shirdi and Tuljapur. In a study of tourism development in Himachal Pradesh, it was found that ritual activities around the goddess shrine of Haḍimbā underwent a range of changes in relation to public tourism development (Elmore 2005: 376–85, 428–9). In official tourism discourse and promotion, all ‘demonic’ associations have been removed, animal sacrifice has been banned, and common religious practices of the area, such as ritual possession and deity processions, are disappearing. In Vaiṣno Devī, too, there are several signs that management of the shrine goes beyond practical matters and into the realm of worship. The popular practice of worshipping virgin girls (kanya pūjā) on the streets has been curbed (Chauhan 2011: 118), the number of god images in the shrine reduced, flower offerings are kept to a minimum, and the shrine board has a monopoly on selling offerings from designated counters in an effort to reduce ritual waste. Cleanliness and sanitation have been key concerns in the new management of the shrine. There are also attempts to discipline pilgrims’ religious expressions and develop a ‘respectable’ code of religious etiquette, as signs inside the cave instruct pilgrims to ‘Please only chant religious slogans [jaykār] in your heart’ and ‘Please do not tie sacred red thread [mouli] on the railings’ (referring to a popular practice).

S U MM ARY Indian modernity has stimulated Hindu pilgrimage in a variety of ways, and the forces of modern tourism have helped it grow in popularity—so much so that environmental issues and questions of ecological sustainability are becoming growing concerns (Shinde 2009). This growth, however, has not worked in favour of the pilgrimage priests who have been key providers in the history of Hindu pilgrimage. The tourism industry has introduced new actors and forms such as travel agencies, hotels, tourist guides, modern māhātmyas, and guidebooks, which to some extent have taken over their services. A range of factors, including increased mobility, has led to a decrease in the demand for traditional ritual services. As pilgrims spend less time at one particular site, ¹² ‘Master Plan for Development of Tourist Facilities en route to Char Dham’, Tata Consultancy Services. Soft copy received from the Department of Tourism in Dehradun.

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one strategy has been to offer guided tours that are filled with religious significance. In the face of these changes, some priests have adapted by collaborating with tourist agencies and drivers, joining the tourism trade and catering to foreign tourists. The māhātmya genre has adapted by combining traditional religious elements with up-to-date information about travel logistics and tourist amenities. Alongside pilgrimage guidebooks, which represent a new genre in Hindu pilgrimage, modern māhātmyas invite their readership to combine pilgrimage religiosity with other non-religious pursuits, opening up opportunities for the combination of leisure and devotion. This modern pilgrimage literature indicates that the opening-up of Hindu pilgrimage to include other tourist activities and destinations has not led to a secularization of pilgrimage travel, or a toning-down of religious communication, as has been found in other pilgrimage traditions (Reader 2014: 192–3). Ethnographic studies support this conclusion, indicating that popular pilgrimage itineraries typically combine pilgrimage sites with other destinations (Aukland 2018). Moreover, participants in these itineraries often treat their journeys as multi-purpose trips. In this way, they might seek out both religiosity and comfort, worship and entertainment. This can be obtained through itineraries that include a visit to Haridwar and a water park nearby, or they can be found within modern temple complexes that combine the format of a theme park with religious content. The creation of religious theme parks indicates the ability of Hindu pilgrimage sites to adapt to multi-purpose trips by offering their visitors entertainment and religion side-by-side and in combination. Finally, modern tourism has made the Indian state a key player in shaping the operation of Hindu pilgrimage under the banner of tourism development. By both providing substantial funds and paving the way for private investors, state-led tourism development shapes the flow of pilgrims by creating pilgrimage circuits that help boost the popularity of certain sites. Such circuits are heavily promoted and turned into package tours by the travel industry. When looking at specific shrines and temples, tourism development not only helps attract more visitors, but also affects religious affairs. Professional management forms shape the content of ritual services and pilgrimage religiosity by emphasizing a code of religious etiquette favoured by tourism bureaucrats and their visions for a successful ‘religious tourism destination’.

REFERENCES Aukland, K. (2015). ‘Retailing Religion: Guided Tours and Guide Narratives in Hindu Pilgrimage’, Tourist Studies, 16/3: 237–257. Aukland, K. (2016). ‘Krishna’s Curse in the Age of Global Tourism: Pilgrimage Priests and their Trade’, Modern Asian Studies, 60/6: 1932–65.

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Aukland, K. (2017). ‘Pilgrimage Expansion through Tourism in Contemporary India: The Development and Promotion of a Hindu Pilgrimage Circuit’, Journal of Contemporary Religion, 32/2: 283–98. Aukland, K. (2018). ‘Repackaging India’s Sacred Geography: Travel Agencies and Pilgrimage-Related Travel’, Numen, 65/2–3: 289–318. Badone, Ellen, and Sharon R. Roseman (2004). ‘Approaches to the Anthropology of Pilgrimage and Tourism’, in Ellen Badone and Sharon R. Roseman (eds), Intersecting Journeys: The Anthropology of Pilgrimage and Tourism. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1–23. Bayly, Christopher A. (1998). Origins of Nationality in South Asia: Patriotism and Ethical Government in the Making of Modern India. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Bhardwaj, Surinder Mohan (2003). Hindu Places of Pilgrimage in India: A Study in Cultural Geography. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharial Publishers. Böröcz, J. (1992). ‘Travel-Capitalism: The Structure of Europe and the Advent of the Tourist’, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 34/4: 708–41. Brosius, Christiane (2010). India’s Middle Class: New Forms of Urban Leisure, Consumption and Prosperity. New Delhi: Routledge. Chaudhuri, Buddhadeb (1981). The Bakreshwar Temple: A Study on Continuity and Change. New Delhi: Inter-India Publications. Chauhan, Abha (2011). ‘Sacred Landscape and Pilgrimage: A Study of Mata Vaishno Devi’, in Rana P. B. Singh (ed.), Holy Places & Pilgrimages: Essays on India. New Delhi: Shubhi Publications, 103–28. Collins-Kreiner, N. (2010). ‘The Geography of Pilgrimage and Tourism: Transformations and Implications for Applied Geography’, Applied Geography, 30/1: 153–64. Eck, Diana L. (2012). India: A Sacred Geography. New York: Harmony Books. Elmore, Mark (2005). ‘States of Religion: Postcolonialism, Power, and the Formation of Himachal Pradesh’. Doctoral thesis, University of California Santa Barbara. Feldhaus, Anne (2003). Connected Places: Region, Pilgrimage, and Geographical Imagination in India. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Foster, Georgana, and Robert Stoddard (2010). ‘Vaishno Devi, the Most Famous Goddess Shrine in the Siwaliks’, in Rana P. B. Singh (ed.), Sacred Geography of Goddesses in South Asia. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 109–24. Gladstone, David L. (2005). From Pilgrimage to Package Tour: Travel and Tourism in the Third World. New York: Routledge. Gold, Ann Grodzins (2002). Fruitful Journeys: The Ways of Rajasthani Pilgrims. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. Goswami, Anil (1998). Vaishno Devi: The Shrine. Katra: Shri Vaishno Devi Shrine Board. Hall, C. Michael (2003). Introduction to Tourism: Dimensions, and Issues. French Forest: Hospitality Press. Hawley, John Stratton (in association with Goswami Shrivatsa) (1992). At Play with Krishna: Pilgrimage Dramas from Brindavan. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. Jacobsen, Knut A. (2009). ‘Tīrtha and Tīrthayātrā: Salvific Space and Pilgrimage’, in Knut A. Jacobsen (ed.), Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism: Regions, Pilgrimage, Deities. Leiden: Brill, 381–410.

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Jacobsen, Knut A. (2012). Pilgrimage in the Hindu Tradition: Salvific Space. London: Routledge. Jaffrelot, C. (2009). ‘The Hindu Nationalist Reinterpretation of Pilgrimage in India: The Limits of Yatra Politics’, Nations and Nationalism, 15/1: 1–19. Jain, Jyotindra (2009). ‘Curating Culture, Curating Territory: Religio-Political Mobility in India’, in Gayatri Sinha (ed.), Art and Visual Culture in India 1857–2007. Mumbai: Marg Publications, 219–35. Joseph, Christina A. (2007). ‘Hindu Nationalism, Community Rhetoric and the Impact of Tourism: The “Divine Dilemma” of Pushkar’, in Carol E. Henderson and Maxine Weisgrau (eds), Raj Rhapsodies: Tourism, Heritage and the Seduction of History. Aldershot: Ashgate, 203–19. Kant, Amitabh (2009). Branding India: An Incredible Story. Noida: HarperCollins Publishers. Kerr, Ian J. (2005). ‘Reworking a Popular Religious Practice: The Effects of Railways on Pilgrimage in the 19th and 20th Century South Asia’, in Ian J. Kerr (ed.), Railways in Modern India. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 304–27. Knapp, Stephen (2009). Spiritual India Handbook: A Guide to Temples, Holy Sites, Festivals and Traditions. Mumbai: Jaico Publishing House. Lochtefeld, James G. (2010). God’s Gateway: Identity and Meaning in a Hindu Pilgrimage Place. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. Lochtefeld, James G. (2011). ‘Panḍ : ās’, in Knut A. Jacobsen (ed.), Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism: Society, Religious Specialists, Religious Traditions, Philosophy. Leiden: Brill, 240–4. Lochtefeld, James G. (2012). ‘Tourism’, in Knut A. Jacobsen (ed.), Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism: Historical Perspective; Poets, Teachers, and Saints; Relation to other Religions and Traditions; Hinduism and Contemporary Issues. Leiden: Brill, 768–75. Mackenzie, John M. (2005). ‘Empires of Travel: British Guide Books and Cultural Imperialism in the 19th and 20th Centuries’, in Hohn K. Walton (ed.), Histories of Tourism: Representation, Identity and Conflict. Clevedon: Channel View Publications, 19–38. Mckean, Lise (1996). Divine Enterprise: Gurus and the Hindu Nationalist Movement. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Maclean, Kama (2008). Pilgrimage and Power: The Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, 1765–1954. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Mukhopadhyay, A. (2014). ‘Colonised Gaze? Guidebooks and Journeying in Colonial India’, South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, 37/4: 656–69. Nanda, Meera (2011). The God Market: How Globalization Is Making India More Hindu. New York: Monthly Review Press. Navlakha, Gautam (2006). ‘Pilgrim’s Progress Causes Regression’, Economic and Political Weekly, 42/27–8: 2975–7. Navlakha, Gautam (2008). ‘State Cultivation of the Amarnath Yatra’, Economic and Political Weekly, 43/30: 17–18. Parry, Jonathan P. (1994). Death in Banaras. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Pinkney, A. M. (2013). ‘An Ever-Present History in the Land of the Gods: Modern Mahatmya Writing on Uttarakhand’, International Journal of Hindu Studies, 17/3: 231–62.

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Rao, Nine, and K. T. Suresh (2001). ‘Domestic Tourism in India’, in Krishna B. Ghimire (ed.), The Native Tourist: Mass Tourism within Developing Countries. London: Earthscan, 198–228. Reader, Ian (2014). Pilgrimage in the Marketplace. New York: Routledge. Rohe, Mark (2001). ‘Ambiguous and Definitive, the Greatness of Goddess Vaishno Devi’, in Tracy Pintchman (ed.), Seeking Mahadevi: Constructing the Identities of the Hindu Great Goddess. Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 55–76. Shinde, Kiran A. (2008). ‘Religious Tourism: Exploring a New Form of Sacred Journey in North India’, in Janet Cochrane (ed.), Asian Tourism: Growth and Change. Amsterdam, Boston, and London: Elsevier, 245–57. Shinde, Kiran A. (2009). Environmental Governance for Religious Tourism in Pilgrim Towns: Case Studies from India: Vrindavan and Tirumala-Tirupati. LAP Lambert Academic Publishing. Shinde, Kiran A. (2010). ‘Entrepreneurship and Indigenous Entrepreneurs in Religious Tourism in India’, International Journal of Tourism Research, 12: 523–35. Shinde, Kiran A. (2011). ‘Placing Communitas: Spatiality and Ritual Performances in Indian Religious Tourism’, Tourism: An International Interdisciplinary Journal, 59/3: 335–52. Singh, Arun P. (1989). Himalayan Environment and Tourism: Development and Potential. Allahabad: Chugh Publications. Singh, Rana P. B. (2002). Towards the Pilgrimage Archetype: The Pancakrosi Yatra of Banaras. Varanasi: Indica. Singh, Rana P. B. (2011). ‘Politics and Pilgrimage in North India: Varanasi between Communitas and Contestation’, Tourism Review, 59/3: 287–304. Singh, Rana P. B., and Martin J. Haigh (2015). ‘Hindu Pilgrimage: The Contemporary Scene’, in Stanley D. Brunn (ed.), The Changing World Religion Map, CWRM: Sacred Places, Identities, Practices and Politics. Dordrecht and New York: Springer Science + Business Media B.V., 783–802. Singh, Shalini (2009). Domestic Tourism in Asia: Diversity and Divergence. London: Earthscan. Srivastava, Sanjay (2009). ‘Urban Spaces, Disney-Divinity and Moral Middle Classes in Delhi’, Economic and Political Weekly, 44/27–8: 338–45. Stausberg, Michael (2011). Religion and Tourism: Crossroads, Destinations, and Encounters. Abingdon: Routledge. Timothy, Dallen, and Daniel Olsen (2006). Tourism, Religion and Spiritual Journeys. London and New York: Routledge. Veer, Peter van der (1989). Gods on Earth: The Management of Religious Experience and Identity in a North Indian Pilgrimage Centre. London: Athlone Press. Verhoeven, G. (2013). ‘Foreshadowing Tourism: Looking for Modern and Obsolete Features—or Some Missing Link—in Early Modern Travel Behavior (1675–1750)’, Annals of Tourism Research, 42: 262–83. Whitmore, Luke (2010). ‘In Pursuit of Maheshvara: Understanding Kedarnath as Place and as Tirtha’. Doctoral thesis, Emory University.

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8 Hinduism and New Age Patrimonial Oneness and Religious Cosmopolitanism Kathinka Frøystad

At first sight, the notion of New Age Hinduism would seem like a misnomer. After all, many of the ideas that came to characterize the New Age movement as it developed in the West—ideas such as enlightenment, reincarnation, energy ‘balancing’, monist notions of a ‘God within’, meditation, postural yoga, and so on—were introduced to the Euro-American world by the Theosophical Society. Its founders, Madame Blavatsky and Henry Olcott, had become influenced by various strands of Hinduism and Buddhism during their stay in India, Tibet, and erstwhile Ceylon in the late 1880s. Following this, Hinduism should really be seen as one of the mothers of the New Age movement. But global influences are not necessarily uni-directional, and, with the accelerated transnational migration, global travel, and mass communication of the early 1990s, Western New Age impulses increasingly began to find their way back to India, where they encountered a society in rapid transition. The outcome was a new spiritual trend that here will be labelled New Age Hinduism. This chapter opens with an overview of this trend and its fuzzy contours, moves on to examine the background for its rapid growth at this particular moment in history, and concludes by discussing one of the specific characteristics that New Age spirituality came to acquire on Indian soil—namely the peculiar combination of class stratification and religious cosmopolitanism.

GROWTH AND F UZZY CONTOURS One of the first people to note that a marked religious change was underway was the India Today journalist Parveen Chopra. In July 1993, when most

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journalists and scholars were preoccupied with the Hindu–Muslim riots that had taken place six months earlier, the extension of preferential treatment to the Other Backward Classes, and the deregulation of India’s economy, Chopra wrote an article entitled ‘The Gurus for the ’90s’ (1993), where he notes with some puzzlement a remarkable growth in charismatic guru movements. Compared to the 1970s, when India had only a few high-profile gurus, there were now ‘scores’ of crowd-pulling gurus (Chopra 1993: 50). Chopra also notes a striking proportion of female gurus, ‘well-heeled’ followers, and a growing lack of embarrassment about being attached to a guru. One year later, Chopra reported a parallel development: the rise in what he terms ‘personal growth therapies’, most of which had been imported from the USA (Chopra 1994). In Delhi and Mumbai, courses had already been offered in Transactional Analysis, the Empowerment Programme, Sensitivity Training, the Silva Method, The Forum (formerly The Existentialist Forum), Past Life Therapy, and, not least, the Japan-originated Reiki Healing, which became particularly widespread. By 1994, Chopra estimated, around 100,000 people had enrolled in such courses annually in Mumbai alone. Two years later, Wadhwa and Rajesh (1996) document a steady continuation of these developments. The secular self-development techniques had now come to include Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) courses in South Delhi, self-hypnosis courses in Calcutta, Delhi, and Madurai, and corporate stress reduction workshops arranged by The Learning Curve. Interestingly, they also point to a growing demand for spiritual self-development techniques and the growing appropriation of therapeutic techniques in the guru movements that had begun to mushroom. Their examples include the growing interest in the yoga nidrā cassettes produced by the Bihar School of Yoga to help people relax their bodies, limb by limb, to achieve mental and emotional relaxation. They also include the growing crowds outside the Pranic Healing Centre in the Aurobindo Ashram in New Delhi, which people approached in search of relief for mental and physical ailments alike. And, most importantly, they include the ascent of the ‘New Age guru’ Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in Bangalore and the Art of Living courses he designed to help people enhance their life quality and improve relationships by the help of a combination of breathing techniques, physical exercises, and mental control taught under the name of Sudharshan Kriya. What these early documentations pinpoint is thus the growing demand for self-development techniques in the early 1990s followed by a gradual appropriation or Hinduized reinvention of such techniques within the spiritual field. Whether this development is analysed as a self-developmentalization of Hinduism, or conversely as Hinduization of selfdevelopment, the result became a spiritual field where the emphasis on salvific mokṣa (release from rebirth) increasingly merged with, or was overshadowed by, an emphasis on happiness and success in this life—particularly by reducing stress, easing tension, healing relationships, improving concentration, and

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attracting monetary wealth. While the first generation of New Age Hindus (if that is the appropriate term) were so few that they tended to run into one another ‘at every meditation course and personal growth workshop’ (participant quoted in Chopra 1996), the field was soon to burgeon. The rest is history, as they say. Chopra resigned his job in India Today to launch a spiritual magazine named Life Positive in 1996. This became India’s first generic spiritual magazine, the inaugural issue of which sported The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the New Age on the cover, which suggests an affinity not only with the Western New Age label but also with Douglas Adams’s popular science-fiction book series. In the years that followed, new guru movements kept cropping up. Additional self-development techniques were imported, invented, and ‘rediscovered’, many of which were advertised with a scientific vocabulary that had strong appeal with the educated middle classes. No less than six spiritual TV channels were launched in which religious movements with sufficient financial backing could buy airtime, a development enabled by the termination of the broadcasting monopoly in 1990 (James 2010). In this way, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Baba Ramdev (formerly Swami Ramdev), and Swami Kriyananda Giri (a disciple of the legendary Paramahansa Yogananda) rapidly became household names and came to attract followers by the thousands. Overworked computer engineers and other fatigued moderns signed up for meditation classes; upper-class housewives became Reiki masters, hosted Buddhist chanting circles, and learned yoga postures (āsanas) to reconnect with their Hindu heritage while controlling their weight; Western spiritual teachers increasingly travelled to India to disseminate their teachings to a rapidly expanding population segment of English-speakers; inspirational and spiritual literature was imported from the USA and sold in upmarket bookstores, or reprinted in inexpensive Indian editions and sold at street-corner bookshops. Additional generic spiritual magazines popped up alongside Life Positive, which in turn launched a Hindi edition in addition to its English original. By the mid-2000s the development had escalated so rapidly that, whenever one turned one’s head in an upscale bookstore or announcement section of an English-language newspaper, one encountered advertisements for chanting sessions (satsangs), introductory lectures, weekend retreats, and selfdevelopment classes that claimed to improve communication with God, still minds, reduce stress, enhance concentration, boost health, slim the body, attract wealth, or transform difficult personal relationships. Within only ten or fifteen years, the result had become a full-fledged spiritual field in the sense of John Burdick (1993: 7–9): a complex poly-spiritual field with so many overlapping discourses and practices that it would have been hard to say where one ended and the next one began had it not been for the different organizations involved. Meanwhile scholars were now waking up to the sea change that was occurring. Though none to my knowledge took interest in the secular selfdevelopment techniques with which the New Age wave began, several ventured

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out to study the guru movements that came to dominate the scene. Warrier (2005) analyses the Mata Amritanandamayi movement, which centres around a female guru (1953–) renowned for transforming her followers’ hearts and setting them on a path to self-development by a motherly hug. Waghorne (2014) and Sarbacker (2014) describe the roles of Jaggi Vasudev (1957–), Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (1956–), and Swami Ramdev (1965–) in popularizing modern postural yoga among Indians, which they arguably did far more successfully than their South Indian predecessors B. K. S. Iyengar (1918–2014) and Sri Pattabhi Jois (1915–2009), who had primarily attracted Western adepts. Jacobs’s study (2015) of the Art of Living Foundation is particularly interesting, given its book-length analysis of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s ascent as a global guru specializing in therapeutic devotion. My own contributions include a study of the ‘return globalization’ of Kriya Yoga to India when one of Yogananda’s American disciples established an ashram in India and bought airtime on the Aastha TV channel (Frøystad 2009) as well as reflections on some of the traits that emerged across many of the movements at the time (Frøystad 2011a, b, 2012). All in all, we thus have a fairly sound—albeit irrefutably partial— empirical foundation from which it is possible to discern the contours of New Age Hinduism as an overall trend. Before proceeding I need to make two crucial qualifications. First, the ascent of gurus with primary following among urban middle-class professionals struggling to combine the new demands of modern living with the devotional spirit of earlier generations was not entirely new. Juergensmeyer (1991) shows that the Radhasoami movement headquartered in Agra represented an early example. In the same vein, Urban (2003, 2015) holds the popularity of the previous generation of gurus—exemplified by Sathya Sai Baba (1926–2011) of Puttaparthi, and Osho (also known as Shri Rajneesh, 1931–90)—to be at least partly attributable to the beginning of a transition to modern lifestyles and capitalist consumerism (but see S. Srinivas 2008 and T. Srinivas 2010 for alternative analyses, as far as Sathya Sai Baba is concerned). Narayan’s captivating study (1989) of her family guru’s storytelling of the mid-1980s points in a similar direction. The trend discussed in this chapter thus represents a boom rather than an abrupt beginning. Secondly, the transition from material austerity to present-day consumerism among urban middle-class Hindus has also influenced Hindu traditions in ways that fall well outside the ascent of a ‘New Age Hinduism’. Of particular note is the massive channelling of wealth from private fortunes to religious institutions, as McKean (1996) exemplifies from the pilgrim town of Haridwar, and Brosius (2010) demonstrates from the sprawling Akshardham complex in Noida, east of Delhi. Summarizing these developments, Nanda (2009) worries that globalization boosts Hinduism to such an extent that it threatens India’s secular make-up. As Hindu rituals become more public and ostentatious, politicians seek religious authority more openly, and the

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state increasingly relies on religious institutions for public–private partnerships, Nanda considers the future for religious minorities to be uncertain. Intriguing as these questions may be, they clearly fall outside the rise of New Age Hinduism, to which we now return by reflecting on its fuzzy contours and the suitability of such a label. The proliferation of spiritual movements and self-development techniques in the 1990s and 2000s comprise too diverse a trend to fit any single label. Given the secular origin of its initial growth therapies, the East Asian roots of those that followed (Reiki healing, Soka Gakkai chanting), and its eclectic ritual repertoire (which I exemplify later), it is by no means entirely ‘Hindu’. And, given its many references to deep-rooted cosmological elements and the lack of importance given to the coming of a New Age (except in the Oneness movement of Kalki Bhagavan and Amma as well as a few other movements), it is not strictly ‘New Age’ either. Though part of the labelling problem would be solved by resorting to the ‘spirituality’ label (as in Heelas and Woodhead 2005) or even ‘new spirituality’ (as in Gooptu 2015), its secular strands would remain excluded. The same would occur if we tried our luck with ‘new religious movements’, which has the additional problem of being more suitable for singular movements than for a generic trend. In terms of analysis, a more viable solution is thus to treat it in terms of ‘family resemblances’. Wittgenstein launched this term to capture how elements can be positioned in the same category despite their lack of common traits; similarly, New Age Hinduism (for want of a better term) comprises a plethora of movements, techniques, and spiritual influences that are related by ‘complicated network[s] of similarities overlapping and criss-crossing: sometimes overall similarities, sometimes similarities of detail’ (Wittgenstein 1968: 32e). In our case, the family resemblances include the emphasis on silencing the mind, regulating bodily energies conceptualized either as prāna : (life breath), qi, or as ‘energy’, healing relationships by thinking differently about them, boosting concentration and stamina, enhancing prosperity and wealth, and, not least, experiencing the love of God, whether conceptualized as external or internal to the self. While only a few of the movements that began to mushroom in the 1990s possessed all these traits at once, most had several, thus justifying their treatment as a generic trend producing a burgeoning spiritual ‘field’. The field model is a heuristic derivate of Bourdieu’s analysis (1993) of social fields, such as the literary field in France. Applied to the rise of new religious trends, this has at least two different uses, the first being visualization of clusters and outliers. To follow this procedure, the first step would be to sketch a field spanned out between three or more ‘poles’ believed to capture crucial tenets of the movements involved. One possibility could be to draw on the labels discussed in the previous paragraph, but a more context-sensitive procedure would be to make use of ordering concepts that circulated in the field itself. Judging from my field observations from New Delhi in 2003–5,

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the ‘mind body spirit’ slogan of Life Positive would be particularly suitable, especially if extended with a fourth pole of ‘wealth’. The second step would then be to plot each movement or organization into this four-pole field. The result would be a visualization of the density of movements that put their prime emphasis on the mind (say, by emptying it, silencing it, enhancing its concentration, ‘reprogramming’ it, or hypnotizing it), those that involved the whole body (by yoga postures, vegetarianism, naturopathy, or ‘cosmic’ dancing, for instance), those that primarily emphasized the spiritual realm (say, by awakening the Kundalini or cultivating the feeling (bhāv) of divine presence), and those that were thinly veiled techniques for wealth enhancement, such as Money Mantra courses, sale of Feng Shui coins, or collective pūjā (worship) ceremonies to Kubera, the formerly semi-demonic Lord of Wealth in the Hindu pantheon. To undertake such an exercise in practice would have required empirical data of a comprehensiveness that far supersedes the accumulated scholarship on these matters so far, but the possibility is nevertheless mentioned, since it underlines the heterogeneity of the spiritual trend discussed in this chapter. The other way in which the field model is usefully applicable to the study of new religious trends is to follow Burdick (1993) in conceptualizing the local spiritual scene as a dynamic field consisting of movements and organizations that either attract or repel people as they emerge. The strength of this model is that it includes people, something that enables us to examine the attractions these movements had for them, which in turn throws light on why these movements began to mushroom so strongly in the given period. Wallace’s perspective (2003) on revitalization movements is helpful in this regard, despite being slightly dated. According to Wallace, such movements are typically prompted by a profound external transformation (for instance, political, economic, military, or climatic) that causes unease among the members of the society. When the unease becomes too profound to be calmed by the existing repertoire of soothing explanations and techniques, some members will begin to experiment by developing new ones. If these gain a following, new movements will arise, some of which will grow and institutionalize, the rest fading away to disappear forever. The 1990s and early 2000s were indeed characterized by an extensive spiritual experimentation in India, and the unease that set this experimentation in motion forms the main point of departure for the next section.

ATTRACTIONS This section examines three of the attractions that New Age Hinduism offered to those who approached it in the 1990s and 2000s: its help in negotiating a

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modern selfhood, its assistance in cultivating the traits required to adjust to an increasingly competitive and insecure employment sector, and its novel forms of leisure and sociality. I begin with selfhood. Something that struck Warrier (2005) forcefully when doing fieldwork in the Mata Amritanandamayi movement in Kerala was the way in which the Mata, or Amma (both meaning ‘mother’), helped her followers to balance the excesses of modern living with a life attuned to god, the family, and inner calmness. Some had struggled with a fierce temperament, others with shopping compulsions, yet others with insomnia, self-obsession, or its opposite, low self-esteem. Whether they approached Amma on their own initiative or because of gentle nudges from others, Amma’s first motherly embrace made many people surrender and cry like children. These hugs, for which Amma is famous, then set them on the path of a profound self-transformation. As their spiritual practices stabilized, their preferences gradually changed. Little by little shopping became less important; a daily half-hour spent watching TV was exchanged for meditation; the bickering of an ailing mother-in-law became more understandable; and so on. A central attraction of Amma and her generation of gurus was that they expected neither renunciation nor complete rejection of modern lifestyles. Amma rather alleviated suffering by helping her followers to restore the balance, thus giving her followers purpose and direction without making them turn their backs on the changes set in motion by the deregulation of India’s economy. The quest for selftransformation motivated by unease documented by Warrier resonates strongly with the observations I made in New Delhi in the same period. My only qualification is that many of the seekers I met in the capital, especially the men, were particularly preoccupied with transforming themselves in ways that could benefit their careers. Sennett’s book The Corrosion of Character (1998) is helpful for teasing out the employment-related unease that marked the beginning of India’s neoliberal era. Basing his work on observations from the USA, Sennett notes that, whereas the Fordist regime had provided stable employment, seniority-based promotion, fixed working hours, trade-union solidarity, linear careers, and detailed work descriptions, the post-Fordist regime of the neo-liberal era is characterized by short-term employment, longer working hours, hostility to trade unions, strong competition between colleagues or small teams, unpredictable careers, and vague work descriptions. With India’s gradual transition from Nehruvian socialism to a neo-liberal economy, from state ownership to corporate ownership, and from Fordist to post-Fordist production, India began to undergo a similar transition. Consequently, the predictability and collegiality that had characterized workplaces such as the state-owned Bhilai steel plant (cf. Parry 1999) gave way to a private employment sector with higher salaries but less predictability, fiercer competition, privatizsed social benefits, and work requirements specified in terms of quantifiable targets

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rather than tasks, as epitomized by Cross’s study of the Special Economic Zone in Vishakapatnam, Andhra Pradesh (2014). The result was an anxious workforce that never knew how good was good enough, how long they could keep their jobs, what it took to make their superiors sufficiently happy, and whether their incomes would suffice to meet rising expenses (see GangulyScrase and Scrase 2008 for the latter point). For upper-caste Hindus, this transition was intensified by the extension of preferential treatment in government employment to Other Backward Classes in 1993, which reduced the proportion of government vacancies eligible for upper-caste Hindus to just above 50 per cent. Within a timespan of just a few years, the desirability and achievability of a government career were drastically reduced for sons of upper-caste families with white-collar background. Whereas their fathers had typically aspired for secure careers within one of the prestigious government institutions, their sons typically aimed for a career in one of the new multinational companies that had begun to mushroom in this period. The ambition of doing well in an employment sector in which the rules of the game were changing day by day made it incumbent to mould oneself to adjust to the new rules. In this way, India’s economic liberalization also promoted a conceptualization of selfhood as adjustable, as described in studies of what Rose terms psychologization and therapeutization of the self in the West (see, e.g., Rose 1989; Hankiss 2006; Illouz 2008). Given the scarcity of role models to consult, the result was a soaring demand for selfdevelopment techniques, whether secular or spiritual, that could facilitate entry, success, or at least survival within the corporate sector and its preparatory educational programmes. Stress reduction was a particularly sought-after component. A senior representative of the Ananda Sangha movement volunteered that stress reduction had turned out to be the most effective way of marketing its meditation courses to Delhiites with little prior interest in devotional practices. Though many attendees certainly had additional reasons to turn up, they soon came to appreciate the effect of stress reduction. Take the case of ‘Ranjan’ (quotation marks around a given name indicating a pseudonym), an upper-caste Hindu in his mid-40s who was pulled along to an Ananda Sangha introductory course in Kriya Yoga by his wife, who had recognized Yogananda’s iconic face from a course advertisement in The Times of India. Having practised Soka Gakkai-style Buddhist group chanting for some years, she was now ready to move on. Employed by a company that sold and distributed printers, Ranjan complained about long working hours and limited leisure time, though he was satisfied with his placement and salary. As the course proceeded, Ranjan came to appreciate meditation far more than he had expected. Not only did he claim to experience moments of profound bliss; meditation also helped him dissolve work-related tension, so that he no longer wasted his scarce leisure hours worrying about work. When I met him again at a retreat five years later, he

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added that regular meditation had really helped him carve out a protected time slot in which work-related issues could not reach him. To illustrate his point, he showed me his cell phone, where eighty missed calls were waiting— and would have to wait until the end of the retreat, he claimed. Beyond selfdevelopment, perhaps, was the common conviction that spiritual devotion helped open career-related doors. By attuning oneself to the masters and gurus, pleasing the deities, clearing prānik : blockages, burning bad karma, and so on, opportunities would open, and celestial flows of wealth shower down. While this tendency was most explicit in the Money mantra courses and the Lakshmi or Kubera pūjā classes (several of which were arranged on demand), the notion of career-related door-opening was also present in guru movements. When I last met Ranjan, he claimed to have unexpectedly received a new job offer with an ‘outrageously high’ salary, something he attributed to the power of his masters and his meditational regularity during the five years that had passed since I first met him. Although his initial motive for approaching New Age Hinduism primarily had been to please his wife, he soon came to appreciate its career-related benefits, many of which had arisen from the unease over what Sennett conceptualizes as the unlimiting effect of work flexibility. Ranjan and his wife’s engagement with Ananda Sangha is also partly attributable to the third attraction I want to emphasize here, which concerns the emergence of New Age activities as a new mode of leisure and sociality. As migrants to Delhi from a southern state, Ranjan and his wife had no relatives in the city, and, since Ranjan was her second husband in a community that still condemned remarriage, their social circle had been excruciatingly limited before becoming involved with New Age spirituality. To recent migrants and others suffering from social isolation, New Age classes, satsangs, and retreats also made it possible to meet likeminded people and experience togetherness with others besides colleagues and neighbours. The case of 28-year-old ‘Varun’ is even more illustrative. Having moved from Calcutta to Pune and onward to Mumbai as a child and young man, Varun had relocated to Delhi to establish his own company two years before I met him. Still unmarried and with few friends in Delhi, Varun initially threw himself into clubbing, which he soon rejected as superficial. Next he approached the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) temple, which he had frequented in Mumbai, only to conclude that it was too far away from his apartment. A friend then recommended a ten-day course in Vipassana meditation, which Varun rejected as being too taxing. Shortly afterwards he spotted an advert for a Kriya Yoga retreat in Gurgaon, which is where I met him. At the end of this retreat he volunteered that he had ‘never felt so happy’ and ‘so connected to other people’ since he had moved to Delhi. To Delhi’s many white-collar work migrants, New Age Hinduism acquired a particularly strong appeal.

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For middle-aged housewives of upper-caste background, New Age Hinduism afforded the alternative attraction of providing a social space that could be visited without compromising their respectability. True, by the 2000s the notion that a family’s social status relies on the homeliness and restricted outdoor movement of its women was rapidly weakening in cities like Delhi. Nevertheless, many middle-aged housewives were still expected to conform to this ideal. For these women, the ascent of New Age classes, satsangs, and retreats offered a welcome respite from the tedium of the home, particularly if their husbands spent long days at work. I met numerous women in this situation, a typical case being ‘Anjali’, whom I met at a 2004 weekend Wesak festival arranged by the Maitreey Preksha Seva Mission (then spelled Maitreya), a minor movement inspired by the ‘I AM’ movement founded in the USA in the 1930s as an offshoot of Theosophy. A mother of three in her mid-40s, Anjali had started her spiritual sojourn by learning Reiki to muster the courage to speak up against her sisters-in-law and mother-in-law when needed. As the youngest daughter-in-law of a joint family, married at only 16, Anjali had constantly been told that ‘you don’t know anything’, had rarely been allowed to leave the house on her own, had always had to wear saris, and had received limited support from her husband in familial disputes over individual freedom. For Anjali, Reiki became the first step towards gentle assertiveness. Next she moved on to Fensghui, which she found interesting but of limited use. So when a distant acquaintance launched an Indian variety of the ‘I AM’ movement, Anjali immediately became one of its regulars. Though she often struggled with her husband to attend its meetings, she occasionally succeeded in persuading him to join her, sometimes accompanied by their youngest child. On such occasions Anjali beamed, dashing around to talk to each and every one during the breaks, clearly enjoying her liberty, while her husband and daughter stood sullenly in a corner and looked completely out of place. For numerous middle-class housewives such as Anjali, New Age Hindu activities thus offered a novel mode of leisure that provided temporary relief from homely restraints without putting their respectability at risk. The next section takes a closer look at the class-stratified organization that enabled this sense of respectability and togetherness.

MIDDLE-CLASS COCOONS AN D PATRIMONIAL ONENESS In contrast to regular temple worship in which people approach a shrine to meet the eye of the deity (darshan) and do pūjā (worship) before they leave again, New Age activities were organized in terms of chanting sessions, courses, classes, and retreats. Consequently, devotees spent far more time side

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by side in New Age Hinduism than in most other modes of Hindu devotion except for pilgrimage and ashram life. As we have seen, this was clearly an attraction for people wanting to expand their social horizons. Yet the attraction would have been significantly reduced had the mode of organization not ensured a certain homogeneity of class. This section examines the organizational production of class homogeneity, examines whether it was accidental or deliberate, and contrasts the resultant stratification with the emphasis on human oneness, selfless service (sevā), and philanthropy within the New Age Hindu field. The outcome is what suggestively I term ‘patrimonial oneness’ to accentuate the friction that arose when New Age notions of human unity were appropriated by a deeply hierarchical society. In principle, all the New Age Hindu courses, satsangs, and retreats were open to anyone who wished to attend. Yet, in practice, the field took shape as a middle-class cocoon that developed alongside the upscale suburbs (van Wessel 2001), gated communities (Waldrop 2007; Brosius 2010: ch. 3; Srivastava 2012), shopping malls (Voyce 2007; Srivastava 2014), barista cafés (Burke 2010; McGuire 2011), and other semi-private urban spaces that were out of bounds for people without a middle-class budget and appearance. Much of the explanation lies in the use of upscale venues and entrance fees, often in combination with English. As for venues, the Ananda Sangha had opted for an enormous bungalow in Gurgaon as entry point for its activities in India; Acem (a secular Norwegian offshoot of Transcendental Meditation) held many of its classes in the renowned Habitat Centre in New Delhi; and the Maitreey Preksha Seva Mission held its Wesak festival in an elegant auditorium in Noida. In the early 2000s, the sprawling bungalow of Mrs Indu Jain, then chairwoman of The Times Group, in Lutyen’s Delhi was generously also made available to spiritual organizations in search of inexpensive but reputable venues. In all these localities, pedestrians are so rare that anyone approaching them in ways other than by car would stand out. Entrance was furthermore overlooked by uniformed gatekeepers, and, to enter the Jain bungalow (then run by the Times Foundation), one also had to register one’s name, address, and phone number, which required decent writing skills. Though I never saw gatekeepers turn anybody away, their mere presence ensured that the only working-class people inside these compounds were cleaners, gardeners, and other service staff. Even satsangs arranged in half-open tents (pandals) had gatekeepers that : discreetly marked them out as an ‘inside’ (cf. Chakrabarty 1991) out of bounds for the non-middle class. Entrance fees reinforced the class closure further. While satsangs, prayer meetings, and introductory talks tended to be free, classes, weekend workshops, and retreats were not. In the movements I followed in the mid-2000s, introductory classes ranged from 500 to 1,500 rupees (£6–£18) for four classes, once a week. Though this did little more than cover room rental,

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handouts, and administrative costs, such amounts were still beyond the means of people outside the white-collar professions. Consider the stark economic differences: despite the average salary being higher in Delhi than anywhere else in the country, the median per capita annual income in urban Delhi was still as low as 15,000 rupees in this period (Desai et al. 2010), which means that half of the population would have had to spend between a third and a whole month’s salary to attend a single course. Only a few movements—Art of Living being a case in point—attempted to target poorer sections, but, if so, it was generally done in terms of separate courses rather than mixing the clientele, at least in New Delhi. An additional feature that gave New Age Hinduism the shape of middleclass cocoons was the frequent use of English as an on-stage language. Anglicization was by no means restricted to movements spearheaded by foreigners, such as Ananda Sangha and Acem. English was also common in a number of movements spearheaded by instructors who had Hindi as their mother tongue. Why English? In her study of the Indian middle class, Fernandes (2006: 69) notes that English is not merely a skill but ‘constitutive of the identity of this group’. Within religious domains, Anglicization was moreover connected to the expectation that spiritual talks in Hindi should ideally be given in pure (śuddh) Hindi, which only few people mastered in a city with such a high proportion of work migrants as Delhi (cf. Frøystad 2012). Despite the loss of terminological precision, English was thus a more practical alternative, something that ‘homogenized’ the attendees further. The ticklish question is, however, whether these organizational features were rooted in a conscious desire to restrict participation to the middle class. For the attendees, the organizational features described earlier in this section were simply an appreciated modus operandi. During my fieldwork I nevertheless came across three ways of justifying their cocooning effect. One was the ambition to facilitate the formation of horizontal ties that stimulated the sense of togetherness experienced by Ranjan, Varun, and Anjali. In the guru tradition, such ties are known as gurubhāī (guru brother) and gurubahin (guru sister) relations. Spiritual instructors were well aware of their importance in making people feel at home, and, since middle-class Hindus of uppercaste backgrounds tend to feel uncomfortable with many representatives of lower social strata around (Frøystad 2005, 2006), this required a certain commonalty of class. A more common justification made its point of departure in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs from the 1950s. According to Maslow (1970: 46), the need for self-actualization, which encompasses the desire to develop the potential to make music, write, or in other ways ‘become everything that one is capable of becoming’, will arise only when all other human needs are met. Though Maslow’s needs model has long been academically discredited, it often cropped up in inspirational texts such as Life Positive articles and

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The Speaking Tree column in The Times of India (later a separate magazine and web forum). Its subtext was clear: Maslow’s hierarchy of needs ‘proved’ that it would be futile to seek spiritual self-realization alongside people who worried about food and shelter. The third justification I encountered concerned caste. Since it would be both indecorous and illegal to defend caste out loud at the turn of the millennium, caste justifications were rare. But they did occur, and one such occasion was a talk by Swami Kriyananda, the American founder of Ananda Sangha. Commenting on the homogeneous class background of the audience, he reasoned that, though caste is a curse, it can also be a blessing if one understands its true meaning, which is that ‘everyone has to grow to his own level’: when the ātmā (individual self) acquires a human form, it first becomes an untouchable, second a Shudra, third a Vaishya, fourth a Kshatriya, fifth a Brahman, and finally a sanyāsin (renouncer), the implication being that it would be futile to expect the lowest castes to be receptive to spiritual teachings of the kind he offered. Later on I heard similar views in Haridwar, where the founder of a New Age ashram specified that each ātmā must pass through 84 lākh (8,400,000) incarnations, its movement from lower to higher castes in the human stage resembling a school with various stages and levels, a view that bears a strong echo from the early twentieth-century synthetization of Hinduism to protect it from colonial and Christian influences (see especially Board of Trustees 1903). That said, references to caste are extremely scarce among New Age Hindus, who seem to strive hard to overcome potential residual inhibitions and improve the lives of the marginalized. The commitment to charity and social work has deep roots within as well as beyond Hinduism, and many of the spiritual movements that emerged around the turn of the millennium were strongly committed to these ideals. This was nowhere as evident as in the Art of Living movement, whose extensive philanthropic activities are discussed by Jacobs (2015) and Gooptu (2015). At the time of my fieldwork, its Delhi varieties also included numerous activities targeted at the inmates of Tihar Jail, including classes in Sudharshan Kriya that extended Kiran Bedi’s pioneering introduction of Vipassana meditation in this notorious prison. To prevent an overemphasis on the Art of Living in the scholarship of New Age Hindiusm, I proceed by returning to the more modestly sized Maitreey Preksha Seva Mission. Though originating as a spiritual movement, this movement demonstrated its emphasis on philanthropy in its inclusion of sevā (voluntary work) in its name and its use of Mānav sevā is Mādhav sevā (service to man is service to God in the form of Lord Krishna) as a motto. The booklets handed out during the Wesak festival mentioned in the previous section contained detailed documentation of the previous year’s blood donation camps, blanket distribution among poor street-dwellers, and distribution of bandages and medical equipment in a lepers’ colony. Scholars have spent

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decades discussing whether religiously motivated sevā, charity, and philanthropy are altruistic, selfish, or both (see, e.g., Raheja 1988; Parry 1989; Copeman 2009; Bornstein 2012 for seminal contributions), a question that is no less complex in New Age Hinduism. While Jacobs underlines the genuine altruism of Art of Living-initiated philanthropy, the Maitreey Preksha Seva Mission was unusually explicit in its karma-based motivation: ‘The only way to rapidly clear karma and at the same time not incur more karma is by service. Make up your mind to work for the whole world, to help all brothers and sisters, help all creations of God’ (Anon. 2004). The extensive documentation of philanthropic activities in published and online material intended for potential newcomers furthermore suggests the emergence of philanthropy as a marketing strategy that, besides producing an image of social responsibility and spiritual virtue, counteracted potential speculation that the guru was amassing riches, just as Osho is said to have had done. Gooptu (2015) makes the additional point that spiritual philanthropy masks oppressive social structures and discourages political involvement, particularly if it is tantamount to empowering the poor by teaching them spiritual self-development. Combined with the class-homogenizing modes of organization, spiritual philanthropy clearly perpetuated the patrimonial relations that the Indian middle classes have had to poorer social sections ever since scholars began to look into them. Philanthropy and sevā were thus promoted as oneness, despite reproducing patrimony. Interestingly, religious boundaries were more easily crossed than boundaries of class, as I argue in the next section.

R E L I G I O U S CO S M OP OLI TANI S M Given the tendency for inclusivism in Hindu traditions (cf. Halbfass 1988) and the religious eclecticism of New Age spirituality worldwide, the lack of concern for religious purity in New Age Hinduism was almost a given. Not only did followers move freely between different gurus, between Hinduand Buddhism-inspired ritual activities, and between dualist deity worship and monist cultivation of the god within; even the movements could incorporate elements from several world religions. To be sure, they generally had more elements from modernized Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity than from the others. Even so, the way in which their leaders could seamlessly switch between different religious traditions leaves little doubt that large sections of New Age Hinduism were self-consciously cosmopolitan in terms of religion. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (2002) was, for instance, quick in emphasizing the common grounds of Hinduism and Islam after the Gujarat riots, and a few years later I heard him give a lengthy explanation of the meaning of the Japjī Sāhib, the introductory prayer of the holy book of the Sikhs, dressed in full

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Khalsa attire. References to Jesus, Kabir, the famous fifteenth-century syncretic mystic, were heard almost throughout the spiritual field. Yet the movement that brought out its religious cosmopolitanism most clearly was—again—the Maitreey Preksha Seva Mission. The central tenet of this movement is its belief in Ascended Masters, which include Jesus, El Morya, and a number of additional characters said to have transcended the cycle of reincarnation and who can be invoked for protection and guidance. Whereas the American branch of the movement typically invoked the ‘Christ light’, its Indian counterpart emphasized the coming of Maitreey, the future Buddha. Yet its openness went far beyond global adjustments. Take the following ritual sequence in which the movement’s secretary instructed the participants to invoke the masters: Sit down and collect yourself. We will call the presence of many, many beautiful souls who will heal us and give us the solace we need in our present-day lives. We will now chant some names. You will be familiar with some of the names, but not with all. If you don’t feel comfortable with these names, just be silent. Chant the names which your religion allows you to . . . Repeat after me as loudly as you can: Father Mother God . . .

A long invocation followed. The participants repeated everything they were told, evidently not having problems with a single name. Then followed an invocation of the archangels, including Gabriel, Raphael, and Uriel. Next they called upon Ganesha, Rama, Krishna, Mohammad, Jesus, Zoroaster, Buddha, Guru Nanak, and others, before the session ended as follows, each line being repeated three times: Om śri ganeśaya namah [Sanskrit invocation to Lord Ganesha] : Bismillah ir-rahmān ir-rahīm [Arabic invocation to Allah, the gracious and compassionate] In the name of Lord Jesus Christ Buddham śaranam gachchāmi [Pali prayer meaning ‘I go to the Buddha for : refuge’] Ehyeh asher ehyeh [Hebrew for ‘I will be what I will be’, from the Old Testament, Exodus 3:14] Kadosh kadosh kadosh [Hebrew for ‘Holy holy holy’, from the Old Testament, Isaiah 6:3] Adonai tz’vaot [the Lord of Hosts, continuation of Isaiah 6:3] Yod he vav he [YHWH, the innefable name of God, Yahweh, in Judaism] Om śanti [Peace, Sanskrit/Hindi]¹

¹ With thanks to Dr Rachel Lehr for invaluable help with identifying the Hebrew elements of this invocation.

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Within a single ritual session, the participants thus swept across most world religions in one go, and I have not even mentioned the movement’s incorporation of Hawaiian Huna prayers and its sale of Feng Shui money bags during the breaks. Though the mode of inclusion certainly expressed the principle of Ascended Masters better than the traditions from which it borrowed, it suggests a self-conscious ambition to overcome conventional religious boundaries. This ambition was explicit in its mission statement, which in 2011 read that the main goal was to ‘spread the true wisdom of Light, the “Brahma Gyan”, that which unifies all religion [sic] and nations’, and to create ‘a unifying faith of integration’ (Maitreey Preksha Seva Mission n.d.). While this movement represents an extreme case, similar tendencies were noticeable in many of the movements that emerged on the spiritual scene at the turn of the millennium. Combining different religious traditions without hierarchizing their elements is of course a utopian exercise, so in practice even the most self-conscious religious cosmopolitanism did perhaps boil down to advanced inclusivism and ostentatious eclecticism. Nonetheless, it did make it somewhat easier to attract followers of different religious identities. Turbaned Sikhs were often to be seen in predominately Hindu guru movements, and I often met interreligious couples who claimed to be ‘spiritual but not religious’ (see Heelas and Woodhead 2005 for a fuller analysis of such statements), and who seemed to be looking for a common spiritual ground to counterbalance familial divisiveness. Christians and Muslims were, however, most likely to drift towards secular self-development techniques, which helps explain the popularity of secularized meditation. Thus in practice, despite a certain multi-religious following, an overwhelming majority of the seekers who populated the spiritual field in Delhi and elsewhere turned out to be upper-caste Hindus. In this sense, one could argue that, even though the spiritual field that grew forth at the turn of the millennium was too fuzzy properly to suit the designation of ‘New Age Hinduism’, it was nonetheless dominated by New Age Hindus. The involvement of upper-caste Hindus in such an eclectic spiritual field is particularly interesting in the light of the Hindu nationalist wave of the early 1990s, the ideology of which implied a militant demarcation of Hinduism against Islam and Christianity. It would be an exaggeration to analyse the turn to spirituality as an implicit resistance against the exclusivist tendencies of political Hinduism. Yet it is plausible that the religious cosmopolitanism of New Age Hinduism somehow made it come across as a ‘truer’ Hinduism, one that nurtured rather than strangulated inclusivist tendencies by resonating with the modern imagination of Hinduism as the mother of all religions, including the Abrahamical ones (as discussed in Frøystad 2016, forthcoming). If so, we may add yet another attraction to help explain the rise of New Age Hinduism, one that may slightly reduce Nanda’s pessimism about India’s secular future, since it reanimates some of its celebrated composite culture.

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In contrast to the way cultivation of human oneness was negated by its organizational features, the cultivation of religious oneness seemed easier to accomplish, though this too had its limits.

CONC LUDING REMARKS It is challenging to analyse a religious trend as broad as the one I have hesitatingly labelled New Age Hinduism. Rather than limiting the analysis to movements that are strictly ‘Hindu’, this chapter has followed scholars of Western New Age spirituality in describing the contours and growth of a rather wide-ranging Indian trend that comprises as many internal differences as family resemblances. The most characteristic feature is perhaps the growing demand for self-development techniques and their subsequent appropriation in guru movements and other spiritual organizations, which in turn necessitated a mode of organization that promoted regular attendance and thus resulted in generating middle-class cocoons. Except for the most secular section of the New Age field in India, another common feature is its religious cosmopolitanism, which this chapter has analysed as a conscious effort to transcend religious boundaries, however impossible this may be in practice. Rather than detailing the content of the teachings and their continuities and ruptures with earlier Hindu traditions, this chapter pursued an anthropological mode of enquiry by asking why New Age Hindu movements began to proliferate so strongly in the 1990s rather than earlier or later. The reason, it was argued, is that the profound transformations that India’s economy, work sector, and society at large began to undergo at the time created a demand for spiritualized self-development techniques that facilitated adjustment to these changes. The test of this argument will be the extent to which the New Age Hindu field stabilizes as people grow accustomed to these transformations, which seems to be the case when this volume goes to press. Discussing how religious change articulates with other transformations does not necessarily imply an unwitting reflection of Marxist-inspired models that analyse religious change as driven by economic or societal change. I am acutely aware that the arguments made in the preceding pages could be misinterpreted as a unidirectional causal argument of this kind. Unfortunately, investigations into the ‘why now’ question of any given phenomenon are particularly prone to such misinterpretations, even if they rely on analytical perspectives as different as psychology-inspired social theory. Had the task at hand been something other than accounting for New Age Hinduism, it would have been equally interesting to reverse the equation by examining the role of the extensive flexibility and heterogeneity of the Hindu tradition in facilitating the Hindu-dominated middle classes’ exceptionally rapid transition to

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consumer capitalism and neo-liberal work regimes. Examining the validity of this argument must, however, await another occasion.

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Religious Intersubjectivity. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 279–304. Frøystad, Kathinka (2011a). ‘From Analogies to Narrative Entanglement: Invoking Scientific Authority in Indian New Age Spirituality’, in James Lewis and Olav Hammer (eds), Religion and the Authority of Science. Leiden: Brill, 41–66. Frøystad, Kathinka (2011b). ‘Roping Outsiders In: Invoking Science in Contemporary Spiritual Movements in India’, Nova Religio, 14/4: 77–98. Frøystad, Kathinka (2012). ‘The Mediated Guru: Simplicity, Instantaneity and Change in Middle-Class Religious Seeking’, in Aya Ikegame and Jacob Copeman (eds), The Guru in South Asia: New Interdisciplinary Perspectives. London: Routledge, 181–201. Frøystad, Kathinka (2016). ‘Alter-Politics Reconsidered: From Different Worlds to Osmotic Worlding’, in Bjørn Enge Bertelsen and Synnøve Bendixsen (eds), Critical Anthropological Engagements in Human Alterity and Difference. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Frøystad, Kathinka (forthcoming). ‘Affective Digital Images: Shiva in the Kaaba and the Smartphone Revolution’, in Paul Rollier, Kathinka Frøystad, and Arild Engelsen Ruud (eds), Outrage: The Rise of Religious Offence in South Asia. London: UCL Press. Ganguly-Scrase, Ruchira, and Timothy J. Scrase, Globalisation and the Middle Classes in India. London: Routledge. Gooptu, Nandini (2015). ‘New Spirituality, Politics of Self-Empowerment, Citizenship, and Democracy in Contemporary India’, Modern Asian Studies, 50/3: 934–74. Halbfass, Wilhelm (1988). ‘ “Inclusivism” and “Tolerance” in the Encounter between India and the West’, in Wilhelm Halbfass (ed.), India and Europe: An Essay in Understanding. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 403–18. Hankiss, Elmér (2006). The Toothpaste of Immortality: Self-Construction in the Consumer Age. Washington: Woodrow Wilson Center Press. Heelas, Paul, and Linda Woodhead (2005). The Spiritual Revolution: Why Religion is Giving Way to Spirituality. Oxford: Blackwell. Illouz, Eva (2008). Saving the Modern Soul: Therapy, Emotions, and the Culture of Self-Help. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. Jacobs, Stephen (2015). The Art of Living Foundation: Spirituality and Well-Being in the Global Context. London: Ashgate. James, Jonathan D. (2010). McDonaldisation, Masala McGospel and Om Economics: Televangelism in Contemporary India. London: Sage Publications. Juergensmeyer, Mark (1991). Radhasoami Reality: The Logic of a Modern Faith. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Maitreey Preksha Seva Mission (n.d.) ‘About Maitreey’, (accessed 10 January 2011). Maslow, Abraham (1970). Motivation and Personality. New York: Harper & Row Publishers. McGuire, Meredith Lindsay (2011). ‘ “How to Sit, how to Stand”: Bodily Practice and the New Urban Middle Class’, in Clark-Decès (ed.), A Companion to the Anthropology of India. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 117–36. McKean, Lise (1996). Divine Enterprise: Gurus and the Hindu Nationalist Movement. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

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Nanda, Meera (2009). The God Market: How Globalization is Making India More Hindu. Delhi: Random House India. Narayan, Kirin (1989). Storytellers, Saints, and Scoundrels. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. Parry, Jonathan (1989). ‘On the Moral Perils of Exchange’, in Jonathan Parry and Maurice Bloch (eds), Money and the Morality of Exchange. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 64–93. Parry, Jonathan (1999). ‘Lords of Labour: Working and Shirking in Bhilai’, Contributions to Indian Sociology, 33/1–2: 107–40. Raheja, Gloria Goodwin (1988). The Poison in the Gift: Ritual, Prestation and the Dominant Caste in a North Indian Village. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Rose, Nikolas (1989). Governing the Soul: The Shaping of the Private Self. London: Free Association Books. Sarbacker, Stuart Ray (2014). ‘Swami Ramdev: Modern Yoga Revolutionary’, in Mark Singleton and Ellen Goldberg (eds), Gurus of Modern Yoga. New York: Oxford University Press, 351–71. Sennett, Richard (1998). The Corrosion of Character: The Personal Consequences of Work in the New Capitalism. New York: W. W. Norton and Company. Shankar, Sri Sri Ravi (2002). Hinduism & Islam: The Common Thread. Santa Barbara, CA: Art of Living Foundation. Srinivas, Smriti (2008). In the Presence of Sai Baba: Body, City, and Memory in a Global Religious Context. Leiden: Brill. Srinivas, Tulasi (2010). Winged Faith: Rethinking Globalization and Religious Pluralism through the Sathya Sai Movement. New York: Columbia University Press. Srivastava, Sanjay (2012). ‘National Identity, Bedrooms and Kitchens: Gated Communities and New Narratives of Space in India” ’, in Rachel Heiman, Carla Freeman, and Mark Liechty (eds), The Global Middle Classes: Theorizing through Ethnography. Santa Fe, NM: SAR Press, 57–84. Srivastava, Sanjay (2014). Entangled Urbanism: Slum, Gated Community and Shopping Mall in Delhi and Gurgaon. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Urban, Hugh B. (2003). ‘Avatar for Our Age: Sathya Sai Baba and the Cultural Contradictions of Late Capitalism’, Religion, 33/1: 73–93. Urban, Hugh B. (2015). Zorba, the Buddha: Sex, Spirituality, and Capitalism in the Global Osho Movement. Oakland, CA: University of California Press. van Wessel, Margit (2001). ‘The Indian Middle Class and Residential Space: The Suburb as the Abode of the “Educated” ’, Etnofoor, 14/1: 75–85. Voyce, Malcolm (2007). ‘Shopping Malls in India’, Economic and Political Weekly, 42/22: 2055–62. Wadhwa, Soma, and Y. P. Rajesh (1996). ‘Mind Materialism’, Outlook, 30 October, (accessed 9 February 2016). Waghorne, Joanne Punzo (2014). ‘Engineering an Artful Practice: On Jaggi Vasudev’s Isha Yoga and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living’, in Mark Singleton and Ellen Goldberg (eds), Gurus of Modern Yoga. New York: Oxford University Press, 283–307. Waldrop, Anne (2007). ‘Gating and Class Relations: The Case of a New Delhi “Colony” ’, City & Society, 16/2: 93–116.

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9 Online Hinduism Heinz Scheifinger

INTRODUCTION In addition to providing a brief history of Hinduism online, the purpose of this chapter is to highlight and to discuss selected aspects of the intersection of Hinduism and the Internet that are of key significance. This consideration of important aspects of ‘online Hinduism’ is an especially worthwhile undertaking because online developments are not separate from the wider Hindu tradition of which they form a part. Instead, there is interplay between the online and the offline. I will demonstrate that online Hinduism can have an impact on Hindu temples, and that it can affect how Hinduism is practised. In turn, trends within Hinduism influence online Hinduism. Indeed, I will further point out that online Hinduism and the wider Hindu tradition are so closely linked that it often makes little sense to conceptualize the ‘online’ and the ‘offline’ as separate realms. In short, online Hinduism is an integral part of contemporary Hinduism and hence it deserves serious consideration.

Hinduism and ‘Core Concepts’ It is recognized in this chapter that there is not a homogenous religion that can be termed ‘Hinduism’ (see Sontheimer and Kulke 1997), and this is discussed in some detail in the editor’s Introduction. Despite this, the term will be retained, as it can still be profitably used to refer to various diverse traditions. This is because there are core concepts that criss-cross and overlap between these traditions (Eichinger Ferro-Luzzi 1997). For example, although different traditions may not share a certain common concept, they may share others and will therefore be linked in this way. Furthermore, even diverse groups that do not directly share common concepts can still be linked through a ‘web’ of

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criss-crossing concepts, and this gives coherence to the diversity of traditions and allows them to be encompassed by the term ‘Hinduism’. What constitutes a core concept within Hinduism is somewhat arbitrary, but Eichinger Ferro-Luzzi (1997: 301) suggests that frequency is important. Darśan (a grace-bestowing visual exchange between an image of a deity and a devotee) and pūjā (worship that incorporates darśan and involves offerings to a deity) can safely be said to be core Hindu concepts. This is because these practices (which are also bound up with other core concepts such as reverence for certain gods and goddesses) are integral to many of the various traditions that are commonly referred to as Hindu, and they are practised regularly by millions of devotees. So, for example, the Meher Baba movement—which may appear to be quite different from other groups that are easily recognizable as being Hindu—can be regarded as being a part of Hinduism because the practice of darśan is one of its important features (see Needleman 2009: 92). Indeed, the example of the Meher Baba movement shows the strength of Eichinger Ferro-Luzzi’s approach (1997), as it allows us empirically to question universalistic claims that may be made by religious movements. An issue regarding this is that it can lead us to label movements in a way of which their members may disapprove—but this is something that may be necessary as part of a rigorous academic analysis. As a result of the fact that pūjā and darśan are core features of Hinduism, it is important to consider their online forms. Although I will also discuss (two different types of) online darśan in this chapter, I will mainly focus on online pūjā. This is for two main reasons. First, one of the two types of online pūjā that I distinguish incorporates one of the two types of online darśan. Thus, much of what can be said about a certain type of online pūjā also applies to a common type of online darśan. Secondly, I wish to focus upon online pūjā because the other type of online pūjā that does not incorporate online darśan demonstrates that even aspects of online Hinduism that do not involve the actual practising of religion can have a major impact upon Hinduism.

A Historical Approach Before the presentation of a brief history of online Hinduism and the subsequent consideration of online pūjā, it is important to make two related points. First, it is certainly the case that, in order effectively to consider the mediation of religion through contemporary digital forms, we need to have extensive knowledge of the religious tradition or traditions that constitute the focus of research (see Campbell and Altenhofen 2016: 2). Otherwise, it is not possible to identify any changes that are occurring—not to mention the extent and nature of any changes. This is a point made by Xenia Zeiler (2014), who, in a study that takes into account the mediation of a Hindu goddess via DVD,

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emphasizes that it is also necessary to consider traditional texts that mention this goddess. In addition, it also needs to be recognized that, like every other religious tradition, throughout history Hinduism has always been mediated, and this has brought about successive changes in the way that it has been understood and practised. This suggests that a historical approach associated with the mediatization paradigm (see, e.g., Livingstone and Lunt 2014), which emphasizes the need to appreciate that religions have always been mediated and that therefore we also need to be aware of changes wrought by earlier media, is necessary. In other words, in order effectively to analyse online Hinduism, it is essential to recognize that there is not a pristine/unchanging religious tradition that is then undergoing change as a result of its mediation via contemporary digital forms such as the Internet. Instead, it is important to consider the mediation of Hinduism online in a historical context. In this chapter this approach is shown to be valuable, because it alerts us to the fact that some aspects of online Hinduism are not revolutionary. It is important to emphasize, though, that such aspects are not necessarily insignificant. On the contrary, it will be seen that they may give rise to important implications within Hinduism.

HINDUISM AND THE INTERNET: A BRIEF HISTORY The short history of the intersection of Hinduism and the Internet that follows will not be exhaustive. Instead, I will simply highlight those milestones and features that are of special interest and significance, and add brief comment regarding developments where appropriate. The exception to this will be a longer discussion regarding online cremation—the final important development that I shall highlight in my necessarily selective history of online Hinduism. This approach to the history of online Hinduism is profitable, because it affords me the space later to discuss in greater depth the core Hindu concept of pūjā in regard to the Internet. As in the case of other religious traditions, Hinduism has had an online presence since the early days of the Internet. For example, even before the invention of the World Wide Web (hereafter WWW) in 1991, which allowed websites to be directly linked to each other (see, e.g., Castells 2002: 15), Hinduism had a presence online. Christopher Helland (2007: 963) informs us that, as far back as 1985, Hindus in the diaspora were discussing Hinduism online via the Usenet newsgroup net.nlang.india, and that such discussion was further being carried out through the later Internet newsgroups alt.hindu and soc.religion.hindu, which focused specifically upon Hinduism. Use of the Internet by Hindus in the diaspora for different purposes associated with

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their religious lives has continued to be an important aspect and driver of online Hinduism (see, e.g., Kurien 2007; Bachrach 2014; Scheifinger 2014). In other words, there is a close relationship between diasporic Hindus and online Hinduism. The first commercial browser for the Internet was released in 1995, and this allowed the already extant WWW to be traversed with ease and meant that ‘for most people, for business, and for society at large, the Internet was born’ (Castells 2002: 17). By that same year, the aforementioned Meher Baba movement, and the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), were examples of Hindu organizations that already had websites (see Bainbridge 1997: 150–1). The claim, though, for the first Hindu organization to have a website comes from the Saiva Siddhanta Church (SSC)—a Hindu fellowship with roots in Sri Lanka headquartered in Hawaii. An SSC monk, Acharya Arumugaswami (2009), relates that the SSC’s founder ‘saw the power of the Internet early on’, and that this resulted in the SSC making steps towards an online presence in 1994. The SSC’s websites (himalayanacademy. com and hinduismtoday.com) have become a prominent feature of online Hinduism, have diasporic Hindus as a major part of their target audience, and constitute an extension of earlier strategies aimed at increasing the SSC’s influence within Hinduism. In addition to Hindu religious organizations establishing websites, Hindu temples also established an online presence before the turn of the twenty-first century. This was the case regarding temples both in the diaspora and in India. For example, regarding the latter category, Mumbai’s Siddhivinayak temple set up its website (siddhivinayak.org) in 1998—which means that it is likely that it was the first Indian Hindu temple to have one. That year, the amount of Internet users in India was only about 0.1 per cent of the population (IWS 2016), and, along with the actual facilities offered on siddhivinayak.org, this suggests that Hindus in the diaspora formed a significant part of the website’s intended audience. Now that the Internet penetration rate in India is at a figure higher than one-third of its huge population (IWS 2016), we can naturally expect that, as in the case of secular institutions, it will be commonplace for religious institutions and places of worship (of whatever faith) in India to have an online presence. Consequently, in some respects online Hinduism is becoming ordinary—the very ordinariness of which makes it a crucial component of contemporary Hinduism. Although early websites concerning Hinduism did not typically offer the opportunity actually to partake in any form of Hindu practice, there were noteworthy exceptions. For example, the aforementioned website of the Siddhivinayak temple offered live footage via a webcam from the temple’s inner sanctum showing pūjāri attending to the Ganeśa mūrti there. This : facility—still available now at siddhivinayak.org—allows for devotees to access the deity and partake in darśan without attending the temple. This constitutes

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a unique development within Hinduism and is particularly beneficial to those Hindus in the diaspora who feel affinity with the Siddhivinayak temple and/or are especially attracted to worship of the temple’s Ganeśa mūrti. : A webcam facility that allows anybody with an Internet connection a form of access to deities residing in temples is especially significant, because, for some people, at some Hindu temples, access to the deity is not straightforward or is even impossible. For example, in July 2015 I was with a Malaysian Hindu of Sri Lankan Tamil background who was steadfastly refused access to one of the Hindu temples in the celebrated Pashupatinath complex in Nepal because, she was told, it was for Hindus from Nepal and India only. Issues regarding access are more commonly associated with Hindus that are not of an ethnic Indian background, and this heterogeneous category of Hindus is, for example, famously still excluded from Puri’s Jagannath temple. In addition, in cases where temple access is not restricted, attendees who are not of an ethnic Indian background will sometimes find that, even in the USA, ‘there are multiple ways that they can be made to feel very unwelcome’ (Waghorne 2004: 64). In overcoming these access issues, online darśan via a webcam has the potential to contribute to the universalization of Hinduism (see Scheifinger 2010a). In the same year that the Siddhivinayak temple introduced its website, the Durgā Pūjā festival in Calcutta was broadcast online, and this also allowed for darśan, and the 2001 Kumbha-mela in Allahabad was also broadcast through the Internet (Beckerlegge 2001: 229, 231). These online broadcasts of festivals are certainly noteworthy events in the history of online Hinduism and are significant because they meant that live footage that allowed for darśan was able to be easily viewed around the world by those with an Internet connection. However, unlike online darśan facilitated by a webcam, this type of online darśan is not fundamentally different from that which was previously available as a result of transmission of festivals via television. Hence, online broadcasts of Hindu festivals have no special implications. In contrast, the final milestone in the history of online Hinduism that I shall highlight—that of the introduction of online cremation—is of special significance. Because of its special significance, and because of the fact that it explicates the value of a theoretical approach to understanding online religion, it is worth discussing online cremation in some detail before I turn my attention to online pūjā.

O N L I N E CR E M A T I O N On 14 June 2003, the Shree Saraswati Muktidham Trust, which administers a Hindu cremation ground in Sidhpur, Gujarat, began to offer a webcam facility on its website (muktidham.org), which allowed for cremations to be viewed online (see V. Rao 2003). However, although this development attracted

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publicity, the facility has not been commonly available, as it is activated only on the orders of the family members of the deceased. Nevertheless, the offering of the webcam facility is a unique online development, because, traditionally, even taking photographs of Hindu cremations is taboo. The relationship between online Hinduism and Hindus in the diaspora that has already been mentioned is explicated in the case of the website of the Shree Saraswati Muktidham Trust, as it is emphasized that the cremation webcam facility is highly beneficial to Hindus in the diaspora. For example, in addition to garnering the positive views of a Hindu residing in Atlanta, USA, who was able to view online the cremation of a family member at Sidhpur, a 2006 webindia123 news report included the opinion of the Chairman of the Saraswati Muktidham Trust that: The facility has come as a boon for the NRIs [non-resident Indians] settled abroad in the UK, the USA, Canada, Europe and other places in the world, who cannot come down to India at a short notice. They can now at least see their family on the monitor screens. (cited in Anon. 2006)

Online Cremation and Religious-Social Shaping of Technology The case of the Shree Saraswati Muktidham Trust offers a robust challenge to a technological determinist approach to online religion. First, although a webcam facility obviously exists independently of it, it is the Shree Saraswati Muktidham Trust that had the idea to employ the technology in the way that it does. Secondly, in stating that permission needs to be granted from the deceased’s family prior to a webcast of a cremation, the Trust also determines the conditions under which the service is made available. This is congruent with Heidi Campbell’s Religious-Social Shaping of Technology (R-SST) approach (2010), in which it is recognized that there is a dialectical process occurring wherein digital media are both shaping religious practice and being shaped by it. Integral to this approach, then, is that religious groups utilize the opportunities afforded by new technologies such as the Internet on their own terms. These terms are strongly influenced by (among other factors) a religious group’s core beliefs (see Campbell 2010: 60–1). Bearing this in mind, we can appreciate that issues surrounding being able to view a live Hindu cremation online are particularly interesting. This is because, although the Shree Saraswati Muktidham Trust is clearly shaping the way in which Internet technology is being utilized, the way that this is being done is contrary to the aforementioned widespread view within Hinduism that even photography of cremations is prohibited. However, the trust’s decision to utilize the capabilities of the Internet in a manner that challenges previously held notions of what is acceptable within Hinduism fits in with the fact that

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the trust is progressive—a characteristic that is clearly evidenced through its general modus operandi and the facilities that it offers at Sidhpur (see, e.g., V. Rao 2003; Anon 2006). It is relevant to note at this juncture that, in addition to the case of the Shree Saraswati Muktidham Trust, there are also other instances of ideas emanating from Hindu organizations concerning the shaping of the use of the technology of the Internet. This can be seen regarding the type of online darśan already mentioned. For example, even though it is possible for deities residing in Hindu temples to be made available for worship via a webcam twenty-four hours a day, a guardian of temple deities informed me that they should still be unavailable to viewers online during the set periods throughout the day when the deities are required to be kept out of sight at the temple (Scheifinger 2006: 232–3). In this case, the Internet is lauded for being able to make Hindu deities accessible to all worldwide. However, as a result of the belief that the deities need to be rested, the exercising of certain capabilities of the Internet is not desired. This shaping of the use of the Internet is demonstrated in the case of the website of the ISKCON Bangalore temple (iskconbangalore.org). Live darśan is offered on the website, but, during the deities’ rest periods, a visitor who wishes to avail him or herself of the online darśan facility can see only the curtains or door that keeps the various deities out of sight. Such a restriction is also in place at the Siddhivinayak temple. These examples, in which traditional religious beliefs are retained despite the capabilities of the Internet—something that subsequently shapes ideas regarding the way that the technology is employed— stand in contrast to the case of the Shree Saraswati Muktidham Trust. As we have seen, in that case, although usage is also on the organization’s own terms, a new capability afforded by the Internet is employed that challenges a traditionally held view within Hinduism.

PŪJĀ When referring to pūjā facilitated by the Internet, it is important to distinguish between the ordering of pūjā online (a service available on, for example, epuja.co.in), and virtual pūjā that is actually conducted via the Internet (possible through, for example, spiritualpuja.com). In the former case, the Internet is used as a tool in order to request—usually for payment—that pūjā be carried out on one’s behalf at a physical temple. Offerings used in pūjā are then commonly sent to the customer following the completion of the requested ritual. In the latter case, there will be a picture of a deity on the screen and attendant icons that represent offerings (such as flowers and incense) that are commonly used in pūjā. By gazing at the image of the deity and clicking on the

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icons that result in, for example, simulated flowers being scattered over the image of the deity on the screen, one performs virtual pūjā (at no financial cost). Despite the fact that the two types of pūjā facilitated by the Internet are fundamentally different in nature (and, consequently, have different implications for Hinduism), confusingly they are both commonly referred to using the term ‘online pūjā’. Indeed, websites that offer one type or the other use the same term. Strictly speaking, the term ‘online pūjā’ adequately applies only to the latter type of pūjā. This is because, out of the two types, it is the only one that is actually being performed online. Related to this, if we reserve the term for the second type of pūjā, it is congruent with a useful distinction, originally proposed by Helland (2000) in the early days of the study of religion and the Internet, between ‘religion online’ and ‘online religion’. The former category became associated with manifestations of religion online that did not involve the actual practising of religion such as the provision of information, while the latter involved the practising of religion online. Owing to the fact that the two forms are not always cut and dried (something recognized by Helland (2005: 5)), and because of the argument that contemporary digital media are inherently participatory in nature (see, e.g., Connelly 2015), the value of retaining such a distinction has been questioned. Despite this, it can be seen in the case of the two fundamentally different types of pūjā mentioned here that such a distinction does retain heuristic value. However, while this is the case, the very fact that websites that offer the facility to order a pūjā use the term ‘online pūjā’ to refer to their services means that such a designation has accrued common currency to the extent that it would be unhelpful to reject its use. Nevertheless, in an academic discussion of online pūjā, it is still necessary to differentiate between the two forms. One way in which this can be done while retaining the term as popularly used to refer to the former type of pūjā is to refer to pūjā ordered online as ‘online pūjā’, and to refer to pūjā that is carried out by way of clicking icons on a screen as ‘virtual online pūjā’.

Online Pūjā or the Ordering of Pūjā Online At the outset of this part of the discussion it is important to note that ordering pūjā via a website to be carried out on one’s behalf at a physical Hindu temple is not fundamentally different from writing to or telephoning a temple requesting this service—something that was possible before the existence of websites that offer a pūjā ordering facility. As in the case of the broadcasting of major Hindu festivals online already mentioned, this appreciation that some aspects of online Hinduism are not particularly special may well be missed if we do not consider the intersection of Hinduism and earlier technological

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developments. In turn, this can lead to claims regarding the role of the Internet and aspects of online Hinduism that seem exaggerated. For example, because it was previously possible to order pūjā to be carried out on one’s behalf at a Hindu temple, I would disagree with the claim that ordering pūjā online constitutes ‘a unique online experience’ (Helland 2007: 971). It is certainly noteworthy, though, that, when the service is offered via websites, there is clearly a far higher level of convenience. With an Internet connection, one is easily able to order pūjā online from anywhere in the world. Additionally, between them, the various pūjā ordering websites offer a large selection of temples—for example, the website saranam.com alone covers more than sixty temples. This website is perhaps the most prominent out of those offering a pūjā ordering service. Those behind the website claim that it was the world’s first (it dates from 2000), and it still has a very strong online presence (for example, it was first in the rankings when a Google search was conducted on 28 November 2016 using the search term ‘online puja’). Referring to this website, Helland (2007: 971, 970) reports that there are ‘overwhelming numbers of people using the site’ and that ‘thousands of people use the service on a regular basis’. The fact that, since the introduction of the facility online, and in tandem with increased access to the Internet, pūjā can now be ordered to be carried out at Hindu temples on a scale that is far greater than was previously the case is significant in itself. However, there is an additional factor that means that online pūjā ordering has special implications. This factor is who it is that is offering the service. For example, although some temples offer the service through their websites, websites such as saranam.com that specialize in a pūjā ordering service (and that may also offer other related services and products) are commercial enterprises unconnected to temples. In the latter case, then, pūjā fees may bypass the temple administration. Indeed, my research at the Tarakhnath temple at Tarakeswar, West Bengal, revealed that the administration there was not even aware that there was a commercial website facilitating the carrying-out of rituals on behalf of devotees at its temple. In addition to taking into account whether a pūjā ordering facility is offered by those unconnected to temples or if it is offered by the temple administration (or both), the particular circumstances at individual temples also need to be considered in an analysis of the impact of online pūjā ordering. The situation at Hindu temples regarding who receives money for ritual services differs from temple to temple, and the relationship between the pūjāri or priests who actually carry out rituals, and the temple administration, also varies. So, for example, at one temple, pūjāri may receive both a salary and dakṣinā (payment for services provided by devotees), while at another they may be solely reliant upon dakṣinā. At some temples the relationship between the two groups is amicable, while at others this is not the case. These differences mean that the effects of online pūjā ordering that interferes with

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the traditional distribution of money received from devotees will not be uniform across Hindu temples. The particular circumstances at temples, then, mean that the implications of online pūjā ordering will vary, and hence a universal explanation of the impact of this online development cannot be reached. However, there is a general conclusion regarding online pūjā ordering that can be drawn. This is that it constitutes an important ingredient in the sometimes already complex relationship that exists at Hindu temples between various stakeholders such as pūjāri and the administration (see Scheifinger 2010b). It is also important to note that, while online pūjā ordering does not constitute a modification of an actual religious practice because worship is still being carried out at a temple, it still has the potential to engender a change in a devotee’s religious life. This would be the case if a devotee was to use the service as a replacement for attendance at a temple.

Virtual Online Pūjā Turning now to virtual online pūjā, it is clear that the use of icons on the screen during its performance constitutes a modification of Hindu religious practice. However, for a number of reasons, performing virtual online pūjā is not as radical as it may at first seem. First, the offerings in pūjā are already symbolic, and it is this symbolic nature that allows for changes to be made in ‘offline’ pūjā. For example, blood sacrifices have been commonly replaced with other kinds of offerings (see, e.g., Klostermaier 1998: 116). Therefore, to replace an offering of real flowers with virtual flowers is not a particularly revolutionary step. Another form of substitution exemplifies the symbolic nature of offerings and further suggests that the replacing of real flowers with virtual flowers is not something that is radical. This is the substitution found in what is known as manasa pūjā, in which physical offerings are replaced with mental offerings in the mind and the image of the deity is also imagined (see, e.g., David Smith 2003: 144). The fact that, if done properly, manasa pūjā is considered to be very effective (see Krishnananda 1994: 160) further suggests that virtual online pūjā that does not require physical offerings is not fundamentally different from pūjā that does utilize them. Secondly, a virtual online pūjā might initially appear to constitute a significant modification of a more traditional pūjā owing to the fact that it is quite simple and can be conducted very quickly. However, the omnipraxy within devotional Hinduism means that a pūjā can be both modified and abbreviated by individual devotees, and so, again, this feature of a virtual online pūjā is not as revolutionary as it might at first seem. Thirdly, unlike in the case of online darśan facilitated by a webcam, already briefly discussed, the type of online darśan that forms a part of a virtual online

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pūjā is also not particularly special. This is because, in this case, there is nothing about the fact that the image of the deity is accessed via the Internet and appears on a screen that makes it fundamentally different in nature from images that it was previously possible to purchase cheaply as a result of colour printing technology. This again underscores the point that, in a consideration of online religion, developments need to be situated in historical context. In this case, we can see that, although access to images of deities may be increased because of their wide availability online, images of Hindu deities that form a part of virtual online pūjā do not give rise to any special implications over and above those associated with this earlier technology. Thus, in considering this aspect of virtual online pūjā, we can profitably look to the work of H. Daniel Smith (1995: 37), who has written about how colour printing technology resulted in images of deities becoming widely available to an extent that was not previously possible and that this contributed to omnipraxy in worship.

Virtual Online Pūjā and Māyā In short, then, although virtual online pūjā constitutes a modification of ‘offline’ worship, when a devotee performs such a pūjā, it is not fundamentally different from conducting worship at home in front of a printed image of a deity using physical props. However, despite this, a consideration of virtual online pūjā in the light of the concept of māyā shows that it is still valuable to take it into account in a survey of online Hinduism. In his study of religious rituals online, Stephen Jacobs (2007: 1104) explains that ‘some forms of Hinduism suggest that we misperceive the true nature of the world. The physical world that we perceive through our senses is māyā—an illusion— and if we can overcome this illusion, we will realize that there is nothing other than God.’ Following this, it is then revealed that such a view is held by the designer of a virtual online pūjā website, who tells Jacobs (2007: 1104) that, in his opinion, ‘it is equally possible to overcome “this illusion” in online spaces as in offline spaces’. The informant then elaborates upon this when he claims: ‘The world is the Lord’s māyā —play. Hindu saints and scholars preach that this world is an illusion and that once this mind can overcome this illusion, true realization and union with God . . . can occur. Hindus use any form of worship available . . . Why not, then, use the Internet as another venue of worship?’ (cited in Jacobs 2007: 1113). In presenting this, Jacobs (2007: 1104) seeks to demonstrate that a certain philosophical viewpoint within Hinduism leads to the conclusion that ‘online experience is as real (or more accurately, as unreal) as offline experience [because] it is all māyā’. Hence, ‘the performance of virtual pūjā might be conceived to be as valid as the performance of “real world” pūjā’ (Jacobs 2007: 1113).

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This is interesting in itself. However, if such an understanding is reflected upon further, reasons for my assertion that it is important not to neglect virtual online pūjā are revealed. For example, while Jacobs presents a view regarding virtual online pūjā held by only a single informant—and one who may have a vested interest in promulgating such a view—it again demonstrates that Internet use is shaped according to (among other factors) religious beliefs. In this case, cyberspace is framed as being a suitable venue in which to carry out worship through recourse to the notion of māyā. Moreover, if the view regarding virtual online pūjā and māyā is taken into account in the light of a trend within contemporary Hinduism, the fact that a consideration of virtual online pūjā is valuable is further elucidated. As is clear, Jacobs’s informant refers to the concept of māyā in order to legitimize online worship. Māyā is a key component of the philosophy of : Advaita Vedānta propounded by Śankarācārya (see, e.g., Rangaswami 2012: 84–6), which led to the resurgence of Hinduism in ninth-century  India and which would ultimately give rise to an overarching Hindu identity (S. Rao 2003: 5–6). However, it is crucial to note that the notion of māyā as taught by : Śankarācārya is largely absent from a broad dominant form of contemporary Hinduism sometimes referred to as ‘Neo-Vedānta’ (see, e.g., Hatcher 2007). This form of Hinduism (which is not homogenous and instead encapsulates a number of expressions of Hinduism that share common themes) is extremely influential to the extent that it is often equated with a generalized Hinduism (Saha 2007: 489–90). Neo-Vedāntic Hinduism is largely subscribed to by middle-class Hindus in India and by Hindus in the diaspora (Hatcher 2007: 300–2; see also 318). These Hindus typically display little interest in the renunciation that is commonly regarded as being necessary to overcome the illusion of māyā and, instead, are attracted to the Neo-Vedāntic concern with success and the betterment of physical and mental health (see Saha 2007: 490). A good example of this can be found in the teaching of Swami Dayananda Saraswati (1930–2015), which aims to address practical problems and help people improve their individual lives (Fuller and Harriss 2012: 301–5). This is something that ‘chimes with the perceived needs of a globalized, upper middle class of Hindus living both in India and overseas’ (Fuller and Harriss 2012: 318–19). I have already indicated in this chapter that Hindus in the diaspora play a key role in the relationship between Hinduism and the Internet. This, combined with the fact that they often subscribe to Neo-Vedāntic Hinduism, and that the concept of māyā can be conveniently appropriated in order to frame the Internet as being suitable for facilitating worship, throws up an intriguing possibility. This is that, in the future, as Internet use becomes further integrated into people’s lives, we might see the re-emergence of a conception of

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: māyā that is close to that propounded by Śankarācārya, and this would constitute a modification of a dominant form of Hinduism. On the other hand, the expression of a relationship between virtual online pūjā and māyā might be reflective of a key characteristic of Neo-Vedānta. For example, Jacobs (2010: 54) points out that, within Neo-Vedāntic Hinduism (which he terms Modern Sanātanism), the concept of Advaita Vedānta ‘plays[s] an important symbolic, rather than actual role’. This can explain how the aforementioned ideas regarding the betterment of the individual that appear far removed from Advaita Vedānta are able to become a central feature of this influential form of Hinduism. Similarly, the concept of māyā when drawn upon in expressing a view regarding virtual online pūjā may also be symbolic, and hence its use in this way does not herald any possible changes within Neo-Vedāntic Hinduism. Whether the relationship between virtual online pūjā and māyā articulated by Jacobs’s informant is suggestive of a possible modification of a dominant form of contemporary Hinduism, or is reflective of it, is open to speculation. What is clear, though, from the discussion of just a single view, is that it is important not to neglect virtual online pūjā in a consideration of online Hinduism, even though such worship is not fundamentally different from pre-Internet forms of pūjā. The discussion has shown that virtual online pūjā is bound up with trends within the wider Hindu tradition, and thus virtual online pūjā provides a good example of the relevance of online Hinduism to the study of contemporary Hinduism in general.

CONCLUSIO N In this chapter, some key features of online Hinduism have been highlighted and discussed. I have also shown that it is essential to consider online developments in relation to earlier technological developments that have impacted upon Hinduism. Such a consideration can indicate that some aspects of online Hinduism are not fundamentally different from developments that arose as a result of previous forms of new technology. However, as I have demonstrated in the case of online pūjā ordering, this does not mean to say that such aspects are necessarily insignificant. In addition, I have shown that taking into account earlier technology can also alert us to those online developments that are entirely new and hence of special significance to the Hindu tradition—such as the facility to obtain darśan of deities residing in temples’ inner sanctums via a webcam. I have also asserted in this chapter that online Hinduism should not be studied in isolation from Hinduism in general. This is the case not simply because online developments are impacting upon traditional ‘offline’ practices

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and other aspects of Hinduism. Instead, a close dialectical relationship between the ‘online’ and the ‘offline’ exists. In fact, in many contexts, an understanding that the ‘online’ and the ‘offline’ are inextricably related does not go far enough. In other words, to envisage two separate realms—no matter how closely intertwined—is insufficient. Instead, the indivisibility of the ‘online’ and the ‘offline’ needs to be explicitly recognized. For example, a prominent feature of online Hinduism is the promotion and discussion of ideas associated with Hindutva—often by diasporic Hindus in the USA (see Kurien 2007). However, Hindutva discourse online is part of a wider trend within Hinduism, and it makes little sense to differentiate it from Hindutva discourse in general. The breaking-down of the boundary between the online and the offline is occurring as a result of the fact that the Internet is becoming an ordinary part of everyday life. This is the case not simply because access to the Internet is increasing. Instead, the nature of Internet use is also changing as a result of developments in digital technology, which have resulted in digital media becoming participatory and embedded in many people’s lives (see, e.g., Campbell 2011). For example, the combination of heightened Internet connectivity, the participatory nature of Web 2.0 and Web 3.0, and the use of smartphones mean that many people do not now speak of ‘going online’. Indeed, if digital media are integrated into one’s life, then it would be absurd to say this. In such cases, Hindu worship facilitated by the Internet is not ‘online worship’; it is simply ‘worship’. Similarly, debates within Hinduism that are occurring online are not ‘online debates’. Instead, they are simply debates within Hinduism. In other words, the study of online Hinduism is the study of contemporary Hinduism. Online Hinduism is Hinduism.

REFERENCES Anon. (2000). ‘God’s Only a Click Away’, India Today, (accessed 15 October 2004). Anon. (2006). ‘Live Telecast of Last Rites at a Gujarat Crematorium’, webindia 123, (accessed 19 November 2016). Arumugaswami, Acharya (2009). ‘About the Hinduism Today Website’, HinduismTodayVideos, (accessed 12 November 2016). Bachrach, Emilia (2014). ‘Is Guruji Online? Internet Advice Forums and Transnational Encounters in a Vaishnav Sectarian Community’, in Ajaya K. Sahoo and Johannes G. Kruijf (eds), Indian Transnationalism Online: New Perspectives on Diaspora. Farnham: Ashgate, 163–76. Bainbridge, William Sims (1997). The Sociology of Religious Movements. London: Routledge.

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Beckerlegge, Gwilym (2001). ‘Computer-Mediated Religion: Religion on the Internet at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century’, in Gwilym Beckerlegge (ed.), From Sacred Text to Internet. Milton Keynes: Open University, 219–64. Campbell, Heidi (2010). When Religion Meets New Media. Abingdon and New York: Routledge. Campbell, Heidi (2011). ‘Internet and Religion’, in Mia Consalvo and Charles Ess (eds), The Handbook of Internet Studies. Chichester: John Wiley and Sons Ltd, 232–50. Campbell, Heidi A., and Brian Altenhofen (2016). ‘Digitizing Research in the Sociology of Religion’, in Sariya Cheruvallil-Contractor and Suha Shakkour (eds), Digital Methodologies in the Sociology of Religion. London and New York: Bloomsbury, 1–12. Castells, Manuel (2002). The Internet Galaxy: Reflections on the Internet, Business, and Society. New York: Oxford University Press. Connelly, Louise (2015). ‘Toward a Typology and Mapping of the Buddhist Cyberspace’, in Gregory Price Grieve and Daniel Veidlinger (eds), Buddhism, the Internet, and Digital Media: The Pixel in the Lotus. New York and Abingdon: Routledge, 58–75. Eichinger Ferro-Luzzi, Gabriella (1997). ‘The Polythetic-prototype Approach to Hinduism’, in Sontheimer and Kulke (1997), 294–304. Fuller, Christopher J., and John Harriss (2012). ‘Globalizing Hinduism: A “Traditional” Guru and Modern Businessmen in Chennai’, in Ajaya Kumar Sahoo, Michiel Baas, and Thomas Faist (eds), Indian Diaspora and Transnationalism. Jaipur: Rawat Publications, 297–324. Hatcher, Brian A. (2007). ‘Bourgeois Vedānta: The Colonial Roots of Middle-Class Hinduism’, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 75/2: 298–323. Helland, Christopher (2000). ‘Online-Religion/Religion-Online and Virtual Communitas’, in Jeffrey K. Hadden and Douglas E. Cowan (eds), Religion on the Internet: Research Prospects and Promises. New York: Jai, 205–23. Helland, Christopher (2005). ‘Online Religion as Lived Religion—Methodological Issues in the Study of Religious Participation on the Internet’, Online—Heidelberg Journal of Religions on the Internet, 1/1: 1–16. Helland, Christopher (2007). ‘Diaspora on the Electronic Frontier: Developing Virtual Connections with Sacred Homelands’, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 12/3: 956–76. IWS (2016). ‘India – Internet Usage Stats and Telecommunications Market Report’, Internet World Stats—Usage and Population Statistics, (accessed 14 November 2016). Jacobs, Stephen (2007). ‘Virtually Sacred: The Performance of Asynchronous CyberRituals in Online Spaces’, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 12/3: 1103–21. Jacobs, Stephen (2010). Hinduism Today. London and New York: Continuum. Klostermaier, Klaus K. (1998). A Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism. Oxford: Oneworld. Krishnananda, Swami (1994). A Short History of Religious and Philosophic Thought in India. Shivanandanagar: Divine Life Society.

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Kurien, Prema A. (2007). A Place at the Multicultural Table: The Development of an American Hinduism. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. Livingstone, Sonia, and Peter Lunt (2014). ‘Mediatization: An Emerging Paradigm for Media and Communication Research?’, in Knut Lundby (ed.), Mediatization of Communication. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton, 703–23. Needleman, Jacob (2009). The New Religions. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin. : Rangaswami, Sudhakshina (2012). The Roots of Vedānta: Selections from Śankara’s Writings. New Delhi: Penguin Books. Rao, Sridevi (2003). Adi Shankaracharya: The Voice of Vedanta. New Delhi: Rupa and Co. Rao, Vidya, S. (2003). ‘Watch Last Rites Online’, rediff.com, (accessed 19 November 2016). Saha, Shandip (2007). ‘Hinduism, Gurus, and Globalization’, in Peter Beyer and Lori Beaman (eds), Religion, Globalization, and Culture. Boston: Brill Academic Publishers, 485–502. Scheifinger, Heinz (2006). ‘Hinduism and the Internet—A Sociological Study’. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, Department of Sociology, University of Warwick, UK. Scheifinger, Heinz (2010a). ‘Om-line Hinduism: World Wide Gods on the Web’, Australian Religion Studies Review, 23/3: 325–45. Scheifinger, Heinz (2010b). ‘Internet Threats to Hindu Authority: Puja Ordering Websites and the Kalighat Temple’, Asian Journal of Social Science, 38/4: 636–56. Scheifinger, H. (2014). ‘Online Connections, Online Yatras: The Role of the Internet in the Creation and Maintenance of Links between Advaita Vedanta Gurus in India and their Devotees in the Diaspora’, in Ajaya K. Sahoo and Johannes G. de Kruijf (eds), Indian Transnationalism Online: New Perspectives on Diaspora. Farnham: Ashgate, 103–19. Smith, David (2003). Hinduism and Modernity. Oxford: Blackwell. Smith, H. Daniel (1995). ‘Impact of “God Posters” on Hindus and their Devotional Traditions’, in Lawrence A. Babb and Susan S. Wadley (eds), Media and the Transformation of Religion in South Asia. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 24–50. Sontheimer, Günther-Dietz, and Hermann Kulke (1997) (eds). Hinduism Reconsidered. New Delhi: Manohar. Waghorne, Joanne Punzo (2004). Diaspora of the Gods: Modern Hindu Temples in an Urban Middle-Class World. New York: Oxford University Press. Zeiler, Xenia (2014). ‘Ethno-Indology Expanded—Researching Mediatized Religions in South Asia’, in István Keul (ed.), Banāras Revisited—Scholarly Pilgrimages to the City of Light. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 173–90. Cited Websites All last accessed 28 November 2016 (except www.muktidham.org—last accessed 4 November 2005). epuja.co.in—epuja.co.in himalayanacademy.com—www.himalayanacademy.com hinduismtoday.com—www.hinduismtoday.com

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ISKCON Bangalore—www.iskconbangalore.org ISKCON Bangalore live darśan—www.iskconbangalore.org/live-darshan/#watch saranam.com—www.saranam.com Shree Saraswati Muktidham Trust—www.muktidham.org Siddhivinayak temple—www.siddhivinayak.org Siddhivinayak temple live darśan—siddhivinayak.org/virtual_darshan.asp spiritualpuja.com—www.spiritualpuja.com

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10 Modern Hindu Diaspora(s) Vineeta Sinha

UNPACKING TERMS AND CONCEPTS All the words in the title of this chapter have been contested. Yet they continue to have currency in academic and lay discussions. There is little consensus over the conceptual boundaries of the term ‘diaspora’. Neither is there agreement about extrapolating its meanings from the experience of the Jewish community, to encapsulate those of ‘other’ migrating and displaced groups (Parekh 1991; Safran 1991; Clifford 1994; Baumann 1995; Hinnells 1997). However, several related developments merit notice: one, the word ‘diaspora’ has travelled beyond academic shores, strategically appropriated and assigned meanings, by members of migrant communities themselves and by governments. The view that ‘Hinduism’ denotes a unified, coherent religious tradition has been resolutely criticized. Neither does the label ‘Hindu’ connote a singular religious identity. However, in an ironic twist, the easy adoption of these terms by practitioners themselves as markers of religious identity has legitimized and normalized them as meaningful categories. These maxims hold for the Indian subcontinent as much as for diasporic communities that have sojourned to other locales. In the latter, migrating Hindu clusters continue to practise ‘inherited’ forms of Hindu religiosity but in innovative modes in new sociocultural and political terrains. I join numerous others (Baumann 1995, 1998, 2001; Cohen 1997; Hinnells 1997; Williams 1998; Vertovec 2000; Rukmani 2001)¹ in suggesting that it is productive to invoke the descriptor ‘Hindu diaspora’ to theorize expressions of religiosity amongst Hindus overseas. It is, however, instructive to ask who has been included in the expression ‘Hindu diaspora’. ¹ The term has also been extended to refer to South Asian diasporas (Jacobsen and Kumar 2004; Jacobsen 2008). More recent debates in the field have proposed the alternative descriptor ‘neo-diaspora’ to speak of the formation of a complex South Asian transnational presence globally (Koshy and Radhakrishnan 2008).

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In the regnant literature, the description ‘Hindu diaspora’ typically alludes to the presence of individuals and communities originating from ‘India’ (but now located outside ‘Indian’ territories—in some cases for seven or eight generations), performing rituals and festivals drawn from the broad and diverse canvas of Hinduism. In these accounts, the reference to ‘India’ suggests either ‘British India’—a colonial administrative entity—or a ‘post-1947 India’, the rather more restrictive territorial geopolitical space of the Indian nation state. With some critical exceptions (Baumann 2001; Wilke 2004; Jacobsen 2008, 2009; Whitaker 2015), a review of the ‘Hindu diaspora’ scholarship reveals that the discourse has been narrowly India-centric. As such, the global displacements of Hindu communities from other nation states within the subcontinent (post-independence)—such as Sri Lanka² and Nepal³—have not been dealt with distinctly. I argue that it is fruitful to speak of Hindu diasporic communities in the plural rather than assume a monolithic community as well as to theorize the multiplicities and variations within. The distinct experiences of Nepalese and the Sri Lankan Tamil Hindus in the diaspora (Maunaguru and Spencer 2012; Jones 2013, 2015) need to be emplaced empirically and conceptually into discussions of ‘Hindu diaspora’ rather than treated as a subset of the dominant Indian Hindu diasporic narrative. Speaking for the moment of the Indian case, scholars date the seventh century  as an early date of emigration from Indian shores to East Africa and the Far East through the initiatives of early traders, merchants, religious, and other specialists and adventurers who moved into these areas voluntarily. Others add that the movement of ‘free’ Indians continued between the fifteenth and nineteenth centuries into European colonial outposts as people searched for better opportunities through trade and employment in small businesses. It is obvious that the conditions that favoured and facilitated contact and interaction between parts of India and South-East Asia—for example, in the tenth century —are dramatically different from those that have led to an Indian presence globally since the early decades of the nineteenth century with the forced movement of Indians, as indentured labour to serve the needs of European colonial economies—British, Spanish, Portuguese, and Dutch. If we turn to the Sri Lankan case, significant numbers

² Given space constraints, I am here unable to undertake the comprehensive work I am proposing. For now, I do reference a sample of works about Sri Lankan Tamil Hindu diasporic communities and argue strongly for moving away from an India-centrism in discussions of global Hindu diasporas. I am grateful to Dr Sidharthan Maunaguru, South Asian Studies Programme, National University of Singapore, for directing me to the burgeoning literature about complex and dynamic religious life of the Sri Lankan Hindu diasporic communities. ³ Outside India, Nepal and Sri Lanka have a deep historical affiliation to Hinduism and Hindu communities. Their diasporas have also travelled globally, carrying elements of Hinduism and implanted these beyond their ‘homes’.

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migrated, for example, to British Malaya and Mauritius during the colonial period and were employed in the civil services. More recent displacements as a direct result of civil conflict, post-1983, have seen Tamil Hindus from Sri Lanka dispersed globally. They have made new homes in Canada, Australia, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, Denmark, Netherlands, the UK, Germany and France. The allusion to ‘modern’ Hindu diaspora in this chapter takes the nineteenth century as a starting point for mapping ‘modern’ Hindu diasporas and moves the narrative into the contemporary moment.

DISPLACEMENTS: PRODUCING HINDU DIASPORA(S) The presence of Hindu communities overseas—in both the colonial and the postcolonial moments—is marked by complex historical circumstances. Distinctions between ‘older’ and ‘newer’ strands within these communities even within the modern period would be helpful, as would be those between settled communities and transient ones. Upon the abolition of slavery in the British Empire in the 1830s, the export of contract labour began to British Guiana, Trinidad, Surinam, South Africa, Fiji, Mauritius, La Reunion, Burma, Malaya, and Sri Lanka. This was accompanied also by smaller numbers of ‘free’ or ‘passage’ emigration, which refers to those who travelled voluntarily as paying passengers. During the period of indenture labour, between 1834 and 1920, a total of 1,077,000 government-sponsored emigrants arrived in Guyana, Trinidad, Surinam, Mauritius, Fiji, and South Africa (Jain 1993). Emigrants were recruited from the Bengal, Calcutta, and Bombay Presidencies, including such places as Chota Nagpur, Bihar, Eastern UP, the Tamil-speaking areas of Trichinopoly, Madura, Ramnad, Salem, and Tanjore (Sandhu 1969), the Telugu-speaking areas of Vizagapatnam and Ganjarn as well as from Ahmedabad district. The largest numbers left Indian shores from the Calcutta Presidency, followed by Madras. According to Calcutta emigration reports (Jain 1993), the ratio of Hindus to Muslims among the departing group was 86:14—reflecting the ratio of these communities is India. Large-scale movement of Indians as indentured labour to colonial sugar plantations started with the first batches arriving in 1834 in Mauritius, followed by British Guyana in 1838, Trinidad in 1845, and Dutch Guyana (Surinam) in 1873 (van der Veer and Vertovec 1991). Similar groups were taken to the Fiji Islands between 1879 and 1916, East Africa, and the French island of La Reunion. The system of migration theoretically allowed for the possibility of return to India after a period of service, but, in reality, many in fact stayed on, with few returnees. This was part of a larger global colonial effort to secure indentured Indian labour to fulfil the labor demand created by European commercial ventures. It is estimated that between 1830 and 1917,

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2.5 million Indians were placed around the world as indentured labour, of which possibly only a quarter returned to India (van der Veer and Vertovec 1991: 150). For example, in terms of religious affiliation, the majority of the Indians who migrated to Malaya were of a ‘Hindu’ background, who formed about 80 per cent of this group, others being Sikhs, Muslims, and Christians (Sandhu 1969: 161). Along broad religious lines, about 84 per cent of the Indian labour that went to the Caribbean were ‘Hindu’, among whom members of the Brahman caste were present in smaller numbers (11–15 per cent), but the peasants and lower-caste communities constituted the bulk of the community. In the Caribbean, the Brahman migrants became essential to sustaining and directing the religious life of the community. This was markedly different from the Malayan situation, where no Brahmins worked on the plantations, but it was the non-Brahman caste groupings and Adi-Dravida (Untouchable) groups from Tamilnadu who made up the bulk of the Indians who were moved. Since many of the migrants stayed on in these places, thriving Hindu communities are present there today: 34 per cent in Guyana, 25 per cent in Trinidad and Surinam (Sandhu 1969: 150), 11 per cent in Fiji, almost 50 per cent in Mauritius, and about 5 per cent in Singapore. The twentieth century, since the Second World War, has seen the movement of Indians to developed, industrialized countries in Europe, North America, Australia, and New Zealand, in response to the demand for skilled, professional labour in these expanding economies as well as a reaction to the relaxation of immigration laws. Over time, as migrants settled in their new locations and raised families, they had access to different kinds of social and cultural capital in addition to being well placed financially to mobilize members of the community, form cultural and religious organizations, and found places of worship. The case of ‘twice migrants’ also warrants notice. This refers to communities who experienced double displacement: first, the move from India to places beyond and then, from the latter, moving a second time to greener pastures, to escape political persecutions. Hence the movement of Indians out of East Africa, Uganda, Kenya, Fiji, and Surinam, and into the USA, Canada, Britain, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, and so on. Many of these migrant populations of the mid-nineteenth century and the postSecond World War era have by now acquired citizenship and settled in their receiving countries. In the 1970s, Hindus in North America and Europe were joined by their counterparts from the Caribbean, Fiji, Mauritius, Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania—the ‘twice migrants’ who came armed with the experience of creating a space in a foreign land for reproducing their religious and cultural traditions, having already done once it elsewhere. In contrast, the largely male Indian labour population that has been drawn to the oil-rich states and the Gulf countries since the 1970s continues to be secured on ‘contract’ terms strictly for employment and does not come with the option

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of permanent settlement in host countries. This also applies to the male, Indian construction workforce and the female domestic labour force now found in large numbers in such places as Malaysia and Singapore. According to census figures, the size of the Hindu community in Sri Lanka in absolute terms declined sharply between 1983 and 2011. The figures for 1981 list 15.48 per cent of the population as Hindu, compared with 12.58 per cent in 2011. It is estimated that about 800,000 to 1 million members of the Tamil Hindu population, largely concentrated in the Northern, Eastern, and Central Provinces of Sri Lanka, were scattered globally after July 1983. The Sri Lankan civil war and the armed conflict between the LTTE and the government led to these displacements. The diasporic communities have worked to build a sense of community and solidarity in their ‘new’ homes and have developed a sense of normality there. Most recently, the movement of professional Indians (both directly from the Indian subcontinent as well as via the USA and the UK) to parts of South-East Asia continues. In addition, even today, SouthEast Asian countries continue to import South Asian labour to serve their economic needs. These most recent arrivals, albeit as transient communities, have nonetheless reconfigured the religious landscapes in their host countries, producing a sedimented religious tapestry. Given this complex history of emigration, the form and style of Hindu religiosity practised overseas defies simplistic categorization. In both the ‘classical’ and the contemporary moments, these clusters have been defined by a strong sense of pluralism as well as ethno-linguistic differences and regional variations—manifested in practice in a broad spectrum of Hindu rituals and ideologies. It would hardly be surprising to find differences between expressions of Hinduism ‘back home’ and those in the diaspora. Yet, overlaps with the homeland would not be surprising either. Both continuities with ‘tradition’, as well as breaks from it in the form of innovations, can be identified for Hindu traditions now flourishing outside India, some for almost 180 years. These observations underscore the complex historical conditions that have led to the presence of these ‘Hindu’ clusters away from ‘home.’ In these complex moves, which have occurred over different timeframes, specific elements of ‘Hinduism’ have travelled overseas. In the Indian case, regional and linguistic differences have often remained significant in the Diaspora, as Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati, Uttar Pradeshi, and Hindu–Punjabi groups mark their distinct identity while forming cultural associations and instituting places of worship along communal lines. For the Sri Lankan Tamil Hindu community too, variations of Hinduism have travelled outward from Jaffna, Batticaloa, and the Central provinces; a combination of folk Hinduism and the veneration of village deities and festivals with the more elite and philosophical roots of Saiva Siddhanta precepts is registered in overseas manifestations.

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CONTOURS OF DIASPORA HINDUISM(S) Speaking of Hindu diasporic communities in the plural avoids homogenized and essentialized renderings of diverse manifestations and narratives of lived religiosity. The strong presence of a theistic tradition, the predominance of bhakti (devotion), the practice of folk Hinduism, the veneration of village deities, together with an array of India-based, reform and religious movements, from Arya Samaj and Ramakrishna Mission, to movements centred around ISKCON, Radhasoamis, Sai Baba, Baba Ramdev, Shri Shri Ravi Shankar, and the Swamynarayans, coexist under the rubric of ‘Diaspora Hinduism’. Elements of Sanskritic and ‘non-Sanskritic Hinduism’⁴ have travelled with clusters of Hindus and been sustained through a variety of initiatives in conditions markedly different from ‘home’. Through these efforts, components of oral traditions and practices conspicuous at the local, regional levels, including the role of household and cult deities, have by now been institutionalized in places such as Fiji, Mauritius, Trinidad, Singapore, and Malaysia, together with aspects of a ‘Great tradition’ of ‘Sanskritic/brāhmanik : Hinduism’. Festivals from the Agamic and folk Hindu traditions—Navrātrī, Kr: ṣna : Jayantī, śivarātrī, Thai Ponggal, Holī, Duśeharā, Durgā pūjā, Rām Navamī, and Vinayagar Chaturthi—continue to be customarily celebrated in diasporic locations. Their enactment requires a compendium of materials, goods, and ritual specialists. In some places the ritual domain is directed and controlled by groups of migrating Brahmans, whereas, in others, non-Brahman ritual specialists and laypersons were and are in charge. Every day ceremonies and seasonal festivals (associated with ethno-linguistic South and North Indian communities and different varieties of Sri Lankan Tamil Hinduism) persist firmly in new locales. Despite substantive shifts and contestations in the constitution of Hinduism in diasporic regions, the ritual complex surrounding the veneration of local, household, and village deities, a strong feature of folk Hinduism, is one stable element that has continued and in some places even been revitalized (Sinha 2005). The village deities—grāmdevatā (male and female), which were firmly placed and literally grounded in the religious landscape of newly adopted homelands, with shrines and temples built for them—draw devotion and are seen to be efficacious. Some of the village deities (such as Muneeswaran and Kaliamman) have grown even ‘bigger’ and have been moved into Agamic temples, experiencing an upward social mobility that parallels the improved socio-economic status of their devotees (Sinha 2005). Additionally, worship within the home at the family altar remains the core

⁴ This is also characterized as ‘folk’ and ‘popular’ forms of Hindu religiosity and associated with rural-based lower-caste groups and communities in the Indian context.

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of Hindu religiosity in the diaspora, a trend that demonstrates well the materiality of Hindu ritual and practice.

ORGANIZING SACRED SPACE: P RIVATE AND P UBLIC The popularity of devotional and theistic Hinduism, seen in the persistence of domestic worship, growth of Hindu temples, and increasing visibility of the public performance of festivals and processions, has marked the life of overseas Hindu communities. At the level of everyday life, Hindu communities in the diaspora house their deities in explicitly circumscribed public and private spaces, and these may be simple or ostentatious, formally or informally organized. The demarcation of ‘sacred’ space in the public sphere is reflected in the founding of ‘temples’ and ‘shrines’. This started with Indian cultural centres with a strong Hindu bent, after which temple societies were formed. These eventually culminated in the building of Hindu temples, many of which were ecumenical in character—bringing together, under one roof, deities and rituals from separate (and sometimes conflicting) strands of Hinduism. Today, Hindu elements are firmly etched in the diasporic landscape, perhaps most conspicuously in the towering gateways and colourful domes of Hindu temples such as the Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in London, the Vishnu Mandir in Toronto, the Sri Venkateswar temple in Pittsburgh, the Kasi Visvanatha Temple in Flint, the Arulmigu Tirumuruga_ n Temple in Montreal, the Madurai Minkashi Temple in Houston, and the Sri Kamadchi Ampal temple in Hamm, Germany—institutions that have achieved a prominence not unlike their wellknown Indian counterparts. These Hindu temples are markers of identity (Trouillet 2012) and much more than places of worship, serving also as community spaces with an expanded set of functions. They are found in major urban centres in North America (Linda 2001; Waghorne 2006), the United Kingdom (Knott 1986, 1991; Vertovec 1992), Germany (Baumann 2001; Luchesi 2004; Wilke 2004), the Netherlands (van der Burg 1993), Australia (Bilimoria 1997), Indonesia (Howe 2001), and Malaysia (Lee 1982, 1989; Ramanathan 1993; Kent 2000, 2005; Yeoh 2001, 2006; Wilford 2006). The focus on prayer altars and family shrines is critical for mapping expressions of devotional Hinduism at the level of everyday life within the domestic realm, an area that has received far less scholarly attention in comparison to studies that focus on expressions of organized, institutionalized, and formal Hindu religiosity in the public domain. In the domestic realm, such sites are recognized in ‘family shrines’ through the establishment of a mandapam or ‘altar’, which, space permitting, may be situated within a separate pūjā room in the home. Altars are revered spaces within the broader secular context of the household, through relationships that are established

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with an assortment of objects, materials, and insignia located therein and which signify and radiate complex notions of piety. These sacred sites enable the sustenance and reproduction of individual and familial devotional ritual practice within the home. This trend has been observed strongly in diasporic locations, especially given the limited possibilities for organization of sacred space in public domains. Worship within the home is today a legitimate strand within theistic and devotional Hinduism, with the family shrine approached as the spiritual core of family life. Discussions of ‘domestic Hinduism’ have inevitably highlighted the presence of family shrines in Hindu homes, which have been reported both in India (Hancock 1999) and among Hindu families in the Caribbean (Khan 2003), in the United States (Fenton 1988; Lee-Ellen 2003; Mazumdar and Mazumdar 2003), in the UK (Knott 1986; Vertovec 1996; Hall 2003: 58), in Malaysia (Mearns 1995), and in Singapore (Chua 1988; Nadarajan 1990). Within Hindu households, it is typical to have a designated space demarcated and set apart as ‘sacred’ from other secular, profane spaces. Some typical patterns can be discerned among these empirical instances, but the forms family shrines assume in practice display enormous variation. Norms for designing and building family shrines are not codified, and certainly no textual prescriptions appear to guide their construction in practice. They range from fairly simple, unadorned shelves, to cabinet-like altars, to separate dedicated pūjā rooms. Typically, for the latter two, the structural form altars take within the home mimics/imitates some architectural feature or detail of the temple itself—for example, the carvings of gods and goddesses on doors, the bells on the doors, and so on. Some of these altars are ‘self-made’, especially when the expertise for their construction is not available or when ready-made options do not exist. In other cases, individuals have chosen to make their own altars because of their desire to create something unique and individualized. Theoretically, there are clear notions about which specific spaces in the home are appropriate to place divinity, to avoid defilement and pollution (Mazumdar and Mazumdar 2003: 147). The designated space must be shielded from a host of profane activities that necessarily have to be performed in homes. As such, altars are not located near bathrooms, kitchen sinks, bedrooms, utililty areas, rubbish bins, or in a part of the house where human traffic is heavy (for example, along corridors or in the middle of a living or dining room), but are tucked away in the corner of rooms or in neutral living spaces—such as the study or family room. However, it is important to recognize that many of these norms and given prescriptions are translated into practice with difficulty and at times are impossible to fulfil. Ethnographic work in different sociocultural contexts (Chua 1988; Mazumdar and Mazumdar 2003) reveals that a variety of adaptations, adjustments, and compromises are often the order of the day in the face of

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practical constraints, as principles of ritual purity and pollution cannot always be maintained to the letter. The home is only one location where altars are found in diasporic locations. In Singapore, Malaysia, and London, altars are visible in several other sites, including offices, restaurants, jewellery stores (even in shops selling gold jewellery, owned and operated by ethnic Chinese in Singapore), textile shops, and grocery stores. The underlying logic is that divine presence should pervade all landscapes inhabited by humans and should be accessible to humans rather than ‘locked up’ in temples. Several reasons are articulated for this practice: establishing divinity in the midst of profane activities serves as a reminder of god’s existence, and this awareness keeps one’s consciousness focused on devotion and piety. The altar as a symbolic orientation to divinity ensures that devotees derive benefit from divine presence in the form of blessings, protection, and grace. As sacred sites, altars connect this world to the next, but they are not ontologically set apart from other spaces and thus not deemed to be sacred for all time. Within an immanent Hindu tradition, altars signal powerfully that divinity is accessible as a material presence within the human world and an analytic recognition that the representation of the divine in a variety of material forms is neither prohibited nor problematic in Hinduism.

ENERGIZED FOLK HINDU DOMAINS: SYNCRETISM AT WORK Substantively, the domain of ‘popular/folk Hinduism’ is a complex mixture of elements, drawn from diverse local religious traditions, including elements from ‘Hinduism’ defined broadly. By no means do its empirical boundaries replicate or even approximate what is understood as folk Hinduism ‘back home’ in India. This attachment to a village-based Hindu tradition and the scope within it towards syncretism demonstrates both the persistence of received tradition as well as innovation among overseas Hindus. A striking feature of everyday Hinduism among diasporic Hindu communities is its hybrid nature, which draws from within the vast Hindu tradition but also extends well beyond to include non-Hindu facets. To start with, one sees what the orthodox Hindu quarters would consider ‘indiscriminate borrowing’ from all strands of Hinduism, without any concern for recognizing and maintaining boundaries and almost to the point of being irreverent. The truly hybrid nature of ‘Hinduism’ is visible in the co-presence in shrines, temples, and home altars of Vaiṣnvait, śaivāit, and śakti dimensions of Hinduism (for : instance, in having Hanumān, Rām, Murukan, Mariamman, Periyachee, Bhagvati, and Kālī together) and the Brahmanic and non-Brahmanic elements

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(in the coexistence of Muneeswaran, Sanggali Karuppan, and Madurai Veeran with Murukan, Ganeś, : and Viṣnu) : and the co-location of Brahmin and nonBrahman religious specialists. The presence of ‘non-Hindu’ deities, whether in domestic spaces or in public, is hardly new for Singapore and Malaysia, having been documented since the 1970s. The confluence of folk elements from Taoism and Hinduism enables rethinking of essentialized and homogenized racial/ethnic and religious differences. Ethnographic data from Singapore strongly suggest there is little to choose between religious ‘Taoism’ and ‘Hinduism’ as practised in Singapore and Malaysia, if one removes the distinguishing lens of racial identity. This clearly accounts for the ease and familiarity with which members of both communities easily and without dissonance participate in each other’s ritual domain. In many diasporic spaces, ‘popular Hinduism’ is defined by strong religious syncretism and hybridity. This entails a free and liberal use of deities, symbols, and ritual practices associated with ‘other’ religious traditions. In Singapore and Malaysia, this takes the form of liaisons with a variety of religious/folk Taoism (Sinha 1997, 2003, 2008, 2009), whereas in Trinidad convergences have occurred across Shango, Spiritual Baptist, and Kālī Mai traditions (Vertovec 1991). In Singapore and the Malaysian cities of Kuala Lumpur and Penang, popular Hinduism is striking for its robust and resilient religious syncretism. The turn to a variety of folk Taoism and Chinese religion is striking here. Both the domestic Hindu domain and non-Agamic public spaces reveal the strong presence of deities and other religious paraphernalia from religious Taoism. Additionally, one sees in Hindu temples, religious altars typically recognized as part of a ‘Chinese temple’, ritual objects such as tall joss sticks, large and small Chinese-style urns, floating oil candles, oranges, wooden pieces to make fourdigit numbers for seeking guidance from the deities, together with deities from the vast Hindu pantheon and Hindu paraphernalia. For example, paying reverence to Roman Catholic saints and attending the Novena service, according respect to Chinese deities such as Kuan Yin and Tua Peh Kong, frequenting tombs of Muslim saints, celebrating Vesak Day (viewed here as a Chinese Buddhist festival), and putting up a Christmas tree at home, all appear to constitute legitimate behavioural patterns for local Hindus. Often the presence of keramat(s) (graves of Muslim saints) and the Datuk God complete the ‘mixed’ religious scene. The prominent presence of ethnic Chinese in these spaces, both as founders and as devotees, is also hard to miss; and these numbers appear to be on the rise. Additionally, Indian Hindus who are attracted to the domain of popular Hinduism are also active participants in the realm of Agamic temple-based Hinduism and Hindu reform movements, not seeing these as mutually exclusive religious domains and certainly considering themselves ‘Hindu’. A majority of individuals who today participate in

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folk Hindu domains are of non-Brahmin, Tamil background. Given the multiethnicity and multi-religiosity that define Singaporean and Malaysian societies, it is hardly surprising that the folk Hindu field is marked by active presence and support from non-Tamil Indians (north and south) as well as from members of the Chinese (often Taoist or traditional Chinese religionist) community. Paul Younger’s book Playing Host to a Deity (2002: 3) is devoted to a documentation of a phenomenon he calls ‘festival religion’, a domain that in his assessment has been somewhat neglected by scholars. In practice this is in fact a space that has been crucial for the sustenance of devotional, theistic Hinduism. My data from Singaporean and Malaysian Hindu domains support Younger’s observations about the centrality of festivals and rituals associated with them in the everyday life of Hindus. Neither are these recent events, having been observed in the named regions since the early decades of the nineteenth century, both in public and within homes. Festivals such as Tai pucam, Timiti, and Curuuk Pūjā have attracted both popular and scholarly attention, but we have strong evidence of the incidence of other calendrical festivals as well. A glimpse into the impressive range of ‘things’, services and ritual expertise that are needed to sustain festival Hinduism and determine how they are secured in diasporic locations, would be crucial for reflections on the materiality of theistic Hindu religiosity. Not only does the realm of folk Hinduism persist, but it does so in an energetic mode through the efforts of fifth- and sixth-generation Singaporean and Malaysian Hindus and first- and second-generation Sri Lankan Tamil Hindus in Toronto, London, and Paris. In the gravitation towards rituals by these Hindus, festivals and deities from ‘back home’ and the appeal of the ‘old ways’, the practices of ‘ancestors’, and the attachment to regional variants of deities and rituals are foregrounded, especially those that have been threatened with, or have been marginalized and forgotten through, modernist, reformist efforts. ‘Festival Hinduism’ is conspicuous literally and regularly on the streets of urban Singapore, Paris, London, Hamm, Toronto, Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh, and Malacca—in the grand Tai pucam and Timiti processions, which see participation across ethnic, religious, class, and caste lines and are often conducted under the ritual direction of Brahman religious specialists, located in Agamic temples. This requires a negotiation of the dense urban domain and the cooperation of non-Hindu groups and bureaucratic authorities, but also reconfigures the built environment of cities (Luchesi 2004; Jacobsen 2008; Maunaguru and Spencer 2012; Maunaguru 2015). Ethnographic vignettes support the reading of contemporary, cosmopolitan cities as vibrant centres of religious experimentation and innovation. For overseas Hindu communities, the urban has become a space for expressions of piety and devotion, the city itself is infused with shades of sacrality, and its inhabitants make ‘meaningful places out of contingent spaces’ (Orsi 1999: 44). The evidence suggests that

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Hindus in diasporic locales negotiate the constraints of urban, cosmopolitan, multi-religious, non-Hindu environments by appropriating spaces for expressing devotion. A vast majority of Hindu temples in the diaspora are built in the Northern or Southern Indian style, constructed and consecrated according to prescriptions outlined in the Agamas, and are served by a retinue of trained ritual specialists (Brahmins and pandarams) from India or Sri Lanka. The Hindu landscape is also marked with what Lee (1993) has called ‘shack temples’ in the Malaysian context and Sinha (2005) has denoted ‘jungle temples’ in Singapore—which are deemed ‘unauthorized structures’, lacking registration and often occupying state or private land illegally. In comparison to the formal building of Agamic temples and the enactment of rituals in accordance with textual prescriptions, the wayside, outdoor shrines are not only not formally organized and built, but also practise a ritual complex that is not bounded by/guided by any scripture or led by Brahman religious functionaries. In these syncretic sites are placed a range of guardian spirits drawn from the pantheon of deities from rural South India, deities from the Sanskritic and Taoist pantheons, as well as representations from Roman Catholicism and graves of Sufi saints. This variant of local Hinduism is inclusive and demonstrates a capacity to incorporate non-Hindu elements from its diasporic location. However, not all local Hindus either favour or reproduce folk Hindu ritual complex. Many are in fact critical, still favouring a version of Hinduism that is more textual, scripture based, and Agamic.

CONTESTATIONS AND REFORMIST IMPULSES Vertovec (2000) has noted divergent conceptions of Hinduism in the diaspora as well as the contestations between its ‘Official’ and ‘Popular’ versions. Despite the noted family resemblances with Hinduism ‘back home’, local expressions ‘Hinduism’ must be viewed as the outcome of specific structural factors operating in diasporic contexts. Out of necessity, one has to speak of the making of Singaporean, Canadian, French, and Malaysian varieties of Hinduism, processes that reflect multi-religiosity within the communities, diverse views, and contestations over what constitutes ‘proper’ Hinduism. While not adopting Vertovec’s dichotomy (1994) of ‘Official Hinduism’ and ‘Popular Hinduism’ uncritically, this schema is useful for analysing elite and lay constructions of ‘Hinduism’ and the interactions between them. For example, the idea of reform in Hindu domains is not new for Singapore and Malaysia. The evidence of reformist discourse and efforts can be traced to at least the 1920s British Malaya. Through the 1930s–1960s, there was an express desire to ‘cleanse’ Hinduism of backward, primitive, barbaric, superstitious

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thinking and practices and to institute a rational, modern approach to religiosity. In the 1970s, efforts to modify and repackage a version of Hinduism relevant for modern citizens of newly emergent nation states led to religious codification and erasure of diversity, in the selection of some elements as appropriate and the rejection of others. Interestingly, the need to reform and reconfigure Hinduism persists in Singapore and Malaysia. The desire to produce the ‘right’ image of Hinduism has consistently been elite-driven. In the present, it involves energies of local Hindu leadership and bureaucratic and administrative elites, who for various reasons have an interest in regulating religion. For the former, strong shades of middle-class reformist tendencies and a concern with drawing boundaries and circumscribing what constitutes ‘real’ Hinduism are evident. However, apart from the input of the local religious and administrative leadership, this construction cannot be sustained without the strong support of lay Hindus, who either act upon this interpretation or choose to ignore it. In some places the ritual domain of ‘Official Hinduism’ was directed and controlled by groups of migrating Brahmins, whereas, in others, non-Brahmin ritual specialists and laypersons were in charge. At the turn of the twentieth century, the Arya Samaj sent missionaries overseas to bring Hindus back to the ‘path’. While it was based on monotheistic Vedic precepts, and preached egalitarianism, it rejected the orthodoxy and ritualism of the Brāhmanikal : tradition and called for fundamental social reform. This struck at the very foundation of the sort of Hinduism practised among overseas Hindu communities in the Caribbean and challenged the authority of the Brahmins and their brand of orthopraxy. Here the Arya Samaj was successful in winning a significant number of converts from the upwardly mobile and educated sectors. Their success propelled the previously fragmented community of Brahmin religious specialists to collaborate, organize, formalize, and fend off the challenge by packaging a more conventional Hindu religious tradition called ‘Sanatan Dharm’ (the eternal religion) expressing a desire for self-preservation. The latter cluster eventually won over large numbers of Hindus, leaving the Arya Samajis in the minority. Constructions of Hinduism continue to be experimented with, but contestations between its ‘Official’ and ‘Popular’ versions (Vertovec 1994, 2000) persist. The former tend to be elite driven, while the latter concerns lay Hindus and everyday forms of religiosity. In addition to the presence of theistic and devotional elements and folk Hindu practices, a range of ‘India-derived’ reform movements can also be found among overseas Indian communities. The ‘Arya Samaj’ was founded in India by Swami Dayananda Saraswati in 1875. At the turn of the twentieth century, this group started its missionary activities among overseas Hindu communities. Today the Arya Samaj continues in the Caribbean, Singapore, and Malaysia, but its religious role has been marginalized, and it is redefining itself as a social and cultural centre, concerned with religious education and

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other charitable activities. Other India-based reform movements started to appear outside the subcontinent in the 1960s and 1970s. During this period, a number of movements led by living gurus made their mark overseas. These included the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), Sathya Sai Baba movement, Radhasoami Satsang, BK Raja Yoga Centre, Eckankar Satsang, Sri Ramakrishna Mission, Sri Aurobindo Society, Transcendental Mission, Divine Light Mission, Shirdi Sai Baba Sansthan, and so on. These groups travelled especially to North America and found converts first among non-Indians (Coney 2000). Eventually some overseas Indians were also attracted to the philosophies, which enjoyed widespread and increased popularity with the latter through the 1970s and 1980s. The novelty and initial excitement of being self-consciously radical and different from ‘institutionalized religions’ has gradually settled somewhat. Some of these groups have dwindled in size and popularity, some have been embroiled in controversies and legal entanglements. Others, more resilient, have become well established and continue to attract newer members from among Indians and non-Indians alike, as has been the case with the Sai movement in Malaysia (Kent 2000) and Singapore, which for example has fourteen centres across the island, all of which are well supported, including by Chinese members, to the extent that Sai Baba bhajans in Mandarin have been created. While the Arya Samaj was successful in the Caribbean, it has drawn less support in places like Singapore and Malaysia, largely because of the predominance of South Indian, Tamil-speaking communities therein. In Singapore, the movement continues to exist, but its religious and spiritual ‘work’ is marginal to the various educational, cultural, and social service-related functions it is increasingly performing. ISKCON also continues to find a presence in South-East Asia, although it has been ‘deregistered’ in places like Indonesia (Howe 2001) and Singapore (Sinha 1985). Thus, while lacking an organizational basis for legitimate existence, the group attracts individual members who find ways of reproducing their spirituality more informally. Members of Sindhi and Hindu–Punjabi communities support satsang-based, meditation groups (such as the Radhasoamis, Sadhu Vaswani) in the UK, North America, and Sousth-East Asia. Sindhis also participate freely in the religious life of the Sikh community, often providing funding and other resources for building and sustaining gurudvārās. In Singapore and Malyasia, for example, members of the Sindhi community frequent gurudvārās on Sunday and sometimes hold weddings here. Hinduism has a robust and vibrant presence in Singapore and Malaysia, manifested in theistic devotional practices in the home and in temples; public festivals, new Indian religious movements, and local innovations have added to the diversity and produce a complex Hindu landscape. Interestingly, the shape of authorized ‘Hinduism’ in Singapore is not entirely textual and scripture based, but is a fusion of disparate strands—including Agamic and

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folk Hindu elements. Yet, driven by bureaucratic, reformist, and modernist agendas, official prescriptions continue to select and declare some rituals and festivals as ‘Hindu’ and deny others this status. To many Hindus, this selection process appears random and ad hoc, lacking any religious backing, and is seen as motivated by administrative and political concerns. Therefore, tensions between ‘Popular’ and ‘Official’ Hinduism are to be expected and surface periodically. While the two domains as constructions are distinct and separate, in practice they are brought into close and uncomfortable contact through the ritual behaviour of those individuals whose interpretation of Hinduism is more inclusive rather than circumscribed. Despite efforts to organize, codify, and delimit the Hindu realm, religious syncretism continues to be the norm. Not only are elements from within different Hindu strands incorporated, but easy borrowings from ‘non-Hindu’ religious traditions occur routinely. This ‘mixing and matching’ produces a hybridization that enables diverse (and sometimes contradictory) components of ritual behaviour and thinking to coexist. What is most remarkable is that what may be officially considered transgressive, deviant, and illegitimate is viewed as commonplace and normal from the perspective of ordinary practitioners. In the realm of religious practice, ethnic and religious labels mean little for those who are more concerned with ‘doing’ religion than worrying about embracing labels such as ‘Hindu’ or ‘Taoist’.

A BRIEF ENDING NOTE The body of work on Hinduism(s) in diasporic locations is too large to be elaborated comprehensively here. We know of the surge in temple-building in the USA (Prentiss 1999; Waghorne 1999, 2006; Linda 2001; Dempsey 2006) and Germany (Baumann 2001; Luchesi 2004; Wilke 2004), the observance of festivals in South Africa and Malaysia (Younger 2002; Yeoh 2012), the performance of daily rituals in sustaining domestic Hinduism (Michaelson 1987; Mazumdar and Mazumdar 1994, 1999), and the enactment of public processions (Wilke 2004; Jacobsen 2008) in Europe. However, despite the tremendous energy within this field and the burgeoning literature⁵ it has produced some gaps remain: for example, the intersections of everyday religious life with processes of commodification and commercialization have yet to be explored overtly and comprehensively. Analyses of visual Hindu culture and material religion that are available for India, including the incorporation of Hindu ⁵ For a selection of works on religions in diasporic locations, with specific reference to Hinduism, see Ellen (1985); Fenton (1988); Jha (1989); Diesel (1990, 1998); Khan (1994); Kelly (1995, 1998); Jayawardena (1996); Ghasarian (1997); Kurien (1997); Coward et al. (2000); Rukmani (2001); Younger (2002); Gupta (2003); Jacobsen and Kumar (2004); Waghorne (2006).

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symbols and artefacts into the world of global capitalism and consumer culture, are not as readily available in studies of diaspora Hinduism. Similarly, the interplay of religion and commerce, and material religion, including in accounts of Hinduism, have remained marginal concerns. Scrutinizing how a collectivity ‘makes home’ in a diasporic location is an exciting endeavour. Invocations of ‘Hindu diaspora’ sharply foreground the issue of what ‘homeland’ means to its migrating clusters. Hinduism is tied to, and historically embedded in, the geographical and sociocultural space known as ‘India’. Migrating Indian Hindus maintain their orientation to India as the birthplace of Hinduism and consider this to be crucial in all matters pertaining to this religious tradition. But would this also apply to the Nepalese and Sri Lankan Hindus overseas? ‘Home’ for the latter would trigger more convoluted imaginings even if India was acknowledged to be the home of Hinduism. In fact, for about 100,000 Tamil Hindus who left in the aftermath of civil war in Sri Lanka, India would be defined as a diasporic location. Hinduism’s association with India geographically and mythologically remains firm. Hindus in the diaspora do maintain symbolic, cultural, linguistic, familial, business, and spiritual contact with ‘home’—whether this be India, Nepal, or Sri Lanka— even if the ‘eventual return’ to homeland is neither desired nor realistic. The orientation to home is manifested especially in the importation of temple craftsmen, religious specialists, and ritual equipment for worship that are deemed necessary for a ‘proper’ functioning of temples and thus the sustenance of ritual and ceremonial life in the diaspora. These trans-global overseas Hindu communities are necessarily embedded within given discrete boundaries of nation states, but their sense of connectivity with sentiments, solidarities, and ideologies—including religious—are by no means confined within these frames. But there are also indications of indigenous innovation within the disaporic Hindu realms, especially in concert with non-Hindu cultural and religious traditions. Hindu communities overseas have constituted themselves in ways that have allowed them to sustain vibrant and energetic manifestations of community life. A delicate balancing act of sorts is at work when features of an inherited tradition are honed innovatively, even as completely novel cultural formulations are imagined and enacted in new sociocultural and political terrains. A rich body of ethnographic work supports reading diasporic spaces as sites where Hindu traditions are innovated and re-created, through an array of everyday practices.

REFERENCES Baumann, M. (1995). ‘Conceptualizing Diaspora: The Preservation of Religious Identity in Foreign Parts, Exemplified by Hindu Communities outside India’, Temenos, 31: 19–35.

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Jacobsen, Knut A. (2009). ‘Establishing Tamil Ritual Space: A Comparative Analysis of the Ritualisation of the Traditions of the Tamil Hindus and the Tamil Roman Catholics in Norway’, Journal of Religion in Europe, 2/2: 180–98. Jacobsen, K., and P. P. Kumar (2004) (eds). South Asians in the Diaspora: Histories and Religious Traditions. Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers. Jain, Prakash C. (1993). ‘Five Patterns of Indian Emigration’, in Jagat K. Motwani et al. (eds), Global Indian Diaspora: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. New York: Global. Jayawardena, C. (1996). ‘Religious Belief and Social Change: Aspects of the Development of Hinduism in British Guiana’, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 8: 211–40. Jha, J. C. (1989). ‘Hinduism in Trinidad’, in F. Birbalsingh (ed.), Indenture and Exile: The Indo-Caribbean Experience. Toronto: TSAR, 225–33. Jones, Demelza (2013). ‘Diversity and Diaspora: Everyday Identifications of Tamil Migrants in the UK’. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Bristol. Jones, Demelza (2015). Being Tamil, Being Hindu: Tamil Migrants’ Negotiations of the Absence of Tamil Hindu Spaces in the West Midlands and South West of England’, Religion, 46/4: 53–74. Kelly, J. D. (1995). ‘Bhakti and Postcolonial Politics: Hindu Missions to Fiji’, in P. van der Veer (ed.), Nation and Migration: The Politics of Space in the South Asian Diaspora. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 43–72. Kelly, J. D. (1998). ‘From Holi to Diwali in Fiji: An Essay on Ritual and History’, Man, 23: 40–55. Kent, A. (2000). ‘Creating Divine Unity: Chinese Recruitment in the Sathya Sai Baba Movement of Malaysia’, Journal of Contemporary Religion, 15/1: 5–27. Kent, A. (2005). Divinity and Diversity: A Hindu Revitalisation Movement in Malaysia. Copenhagen: NIAS Press. Khan, A. (1994). ‘Juthha in Trinidad: Food, Pollution and Hierarchy in a Caribbean Diaspora Community’, American Ethnologist, 21: 245–69. Khan, A. (2003). ‘Diaspora Caribbean’, in M. A. Mills, P. J. Claus, and S. Diamond (eds), South Asian Folklore: An Encyclopedia. Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. New York: Routledge, 151. Knott, K. (1986). ‘Hinduism in Leeds’. Unublished monograph, Department of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Leeds. Knott, K. (1991). ‘Bound to Change? The Religions of South Asians in Britain’, in S. Vertovec (ed.), Aspects of South Indian Diaspora. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 86–111. Koshy, S., and R. Radhakrishnan (2008) (eds). Transnational South Asians: The Making of a New-Disapora. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Kurien, P. (1997). ‘Constructing “Indianness” in the United States and India: The Role of Hindu and Muslim Immigrants’, (accessed January 2019). Lee, Raymond (1982). ‘Sai Baba, Salvation and Syncretism: Religious Change in a Hindu Movement in Urban Malaysia’, Contributions to Indian Sociology, 16: 125–40. Lee, Raymond (1989). ‘Taipucam in Malaysia: Ecstasy and Identity in a Tamil Hindu Festival’, Contributions to Indian Sociology, 23/2: 317–37.

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Lee, Raymond L. M. (1993). ‘The Globalization of Religious Markets: International Innovations, Malaysian Consumption’, SOJOURN, 8/1: 35–61. Lee-Ellen, M. (2003). ‘Diaspora, North America’, in M. A. Mills, P. J. Claus, and S. Diamond (eds), South Asian Folklore: An Encyclopedia. Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. New York: Routledge, 156. Linda, M. (2001). ‘Constructing Identity: Hindu Temple Production in the United States’, in T. S. Rukmani (ed.), Hindu Diasporas: Global Perspectives. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers, 387–96. Luchesi, B. (2004). ‘Leaving Invisibility: The Establishment of Hindu Tamil Religiosity in German Public Space’, New Kolam, 9–10. Maunaguru, Sidharthan (2015). ‘Amman as Social Auditor: Financial Misconduct vs Charitable Giving by the Tamil Sri Lankas in UK’, Contribution to Indian Sociology, 49/4: 369–88. Maunaguru, Sidharthan, and Jonathan Spencer (2012). ‘Tigers, Temples and the Remaking of Tamil Society: Report from the Field’, Religion and Society, 3/1: 163–84. Mazumdar, S., and S. Mazumdar (1994). ‘Of Gods and Homes: Sacred Space in the Hindu House’, Environments, 22/2:41–9. Mazumdar, S., and S. Mazumdar (2003). ‘Creating the Sacred: Altars in the Hindu American Home’, in J. N. Iwamura and P. Spickard (eds), Revealing the Sacred in Asian and Pacific America. New York and London: Routledge, 143–57. Mearns, David (1995). Shiva’s Other Children: Religion and Social Identity amongst Overseas Indians. New Delhi and Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Michaelson, M. (1987). ‘Domestic Hinduism in a Gujarati Trading Caste’, in R. Burghart (ed.), Hinduism in Great Britain. London: Tavistock, 32–49. Nadarajan, G. (1990). ‘Hinduism in the Domestic Setting’. Unpublished Academic exercise, Department of Sociology, National University of Singapore. Orsi, Robert (1999) (eds). Gods of the City: Religion and the American Urban Landscape. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Parekh, B. (1993). ‘Some Reflections on the Hindu Diaspora’, Journal of Contemporary Thought, 3: 105–51. Prentiss, Karen Pechilis (1999). The Embodiment of Bhakti. New York: Oxford University Press. Ramanathan, K. (1993). ‘The Hindu Diaspora in Malaysia’, in T. S. Rukmani (ed.), Hindu Diaspora Global Perspectives. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers, 81–122. Rukmani, T. S. (2001) (ed.). Hindu Diaspora: Global Perspectives. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers. Safran, W. (1991). ‘Diasporas in Modern Societies: Myths of Homeland and Return’, Diaspora, 1: 83–99. Sandhu, K. S. (1969). Indians in Malaya. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Sinha, Vineeta (1985). Modern Religious Movements: Religious and Counter-Religious. Academic Exercise, Department of Sociology, National University of Singapore. Sinha, Vineeta (1997). ‘Unpacking the Labels “Hindu” & “Hinduism” in Singapore’, Southeast Asian Journal of Social Science, 25/2: 139–60. Sinha, Vineeta (2003). ‘Merging “Different” Sacred Spaces: Enabling Religious Encounters through Pragmatic Utilization of Space?’, Contributions to Indian Sociology,  37/3: 459–94.

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Sinha, Vineeta (2005). A New God in the Diaspora? Muneeswaran Worship in Contemporary Singapore. Singapore: NUS Press and NIAS. Sinha, Vineeta (2006). ‘Constructing and Contesting “Singaporean Hinduism” ’, in Lian Kwen Fee (ed.), Ethnic Identities in Southeast Asia, Social Sciences in Asia. Monograph Series. Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers, 145–68. Sinha, Vineeta (2008). ‘ “Hinduism” and “Taoism” in Singapore: Seeing Points of Convergence’, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 39/1: 123–47. Sinha, Vineeta (2009). Mixing and Matching: The Shape of Everyday Hindu Religiosity’, Asian Journal of Social Science, 37/1: 83–106. Trouillet, Pierre-Yves (2012). ‘Overseas Temples and Tamil Migratory Space’, South Asian Multidisciplinary Academic Journal. Special issue ‘Revisiting Space and Place: South Asian Migrations in Perspective’, ed. Tristan Bruslé and Aurélie Varrel, issue 6, (accessed 10 March 2016). van der Burg, C. J. G. (1993). ‘Surinam Hinduism in the Netherlands and Social Change’, in R. Barot (ed.), Religion and Ethnicity: Minorities and Social Change in the Metropolis. Kampen, the Netherlands: Kok Pharos Publishing House, 138–55. van der Veer, P., and S. Vertovec (1991). ‘Brahmanism Abroad: On Caribbean Hinduism as an Ethnic Religion’, Ethnology, 30: 149–66. Vertovec, S. (1991). ‘Inventing Religious Tradition: Yagnas and Hindu Renewal in Trinidad’, in A. Geertz and J. S. Jensen (eds), Religion, Tradition and Renewal. Aarhus: Universities forlag, 75–95. Vertovec, S. (1992). ‘Community and Congregation in London Hindu Temples: Divergent Trends’, New Community, 18: 251–64. Vertovec, S. (1994). “ ‘Official’ and ‘Popular’ Hinduism in Diaspora: Historical and Contemporary Trends in Surinam, Trinidad and Guyana’, Contributions to Indian Sociology,  28/1: 123–47. Vertovec, S. (1996). ‘On the Reproduction and Representation of Hinduism in Britain’, in T. Ranger, Y. Samad, and O. Stewart (eds), Culture, Identity and Politics: Asians and Afro-Caribbean’s in Britain. Aldershot: Avebury, 77–89. Vertovec, S. (2000). The Hindu Diaspora: Comparative Patterns. London and New York: Routledge. Waghorne, Joanne Punzo (1999). ‘The Diaspora of the Gods: Hindu Temples in the New World System, 1640–1800’, Journal of Asian Studies, 58/3: 648–86. Waghorne, J. (2006). Diaspora of the Gods: Modern Hindu Temples in an Urban Middle-Class World. New York: Oxford University Press. Whitaker, Mark (2015). ‘Temples in Diaspora: From Moral Landscapes to Therapeutic Religiosity and the Construction of Consilience in Tamil Toronto’, in Stanley D. Brunn (ed.), The Changing World Religion Map: Sacred Places, Identities, Practices and Politics. Lexington, KY: Springer. Wilford, Andrew (2006). ‘The Locus of the Goddess’s Power: Tamils and the Ethnic Uncanny’, in Brij Maharaj (ed.), Sociology of Diaspora. New Delhi: Rawat Publications. Wilke, Annette (2004). ‘The Goddess Kamaksi in Hamm-Uentrop (Westphalia, Germany)’, New Kolam, 9–10. Williams, R. B. (1998). ‘Training Religious Specialists for a Transnational Hinduism: A Swaminarayan Hindu Training Center’, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 66: 841–62.

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Yeoh, Seng Guan (2001). ‘Producing Locality: Space, Houses and Public Culture in a Hindu Festival in Malaysia’, Contributions to Indian Sociology, 35/1:33–64. Yeoh, Seng Guan (2006). ‘Religious Pluralism, Kinship and Gender in a Pilgrimage Shrine: The Roman Catholic Feast of St Anne in Bukit Mertajam, Malaysia’, Material Religion, 2/1: 4–37. Yeoh, Seng Guan (2012). ‘Holy Water and Material Religion at a Pilgrimage Shrine in Malaysia’, in Julius Bautista (ed.), The Spirit of Things: Materiality in an Age of Religious Diversity in Southeast Asia. Ithaca: Cornell Southeast Asia Program. Younger, Paul (2002). Playing Host to Deity: Festival Religion in the South Indian Tradition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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Part 3 Politics, Ethics, and Law

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11 The History of Hindu Nationalism in India Manjari Katju

I N T R O D U C TI O N ‘Hindu nationalism’, and the politics associated with it, originated in colonial India and developed on a trajectory that in many ways ran parallel to and was distinct from the secular anti-colonial nationalism at the core of India’s freedom struggle. Hindu nationalism, centred around the belief of an organic Hindu unity, is community oriented, urban-centric and dominated by people from the middle class, besides containing socially conservative proclivities. This chapter looks at the growth of the Hindu nationalist ideology in India through the work of political parties and organizations committed to advocating its message. Advocates of Hindu nationalism project it as a culturally unifying force with a distinct history (Katju 2005: 178). The ideology and its organizations consolidate their campaigns around what they see as ‘Hindu interests’, often framed distinctly in opposition to ‘Muslim interests’, and are not covert about their anti-Muslim bias (Katju 2005: 178–9). Often, Hindu nationalism’s anti-Muslim stance stands out more than its sense of Hindu distinctness. Its sectarian streak soon grew, increasingly employing a language of communal antagonism. After independence, and the partition of the Indian subcontinent into the independent nation states of India and Pakistan, Hindu nationalist politics in India mellowed. M. K. Gandhi’s assassination by a Hindu nationalist drove this politics out of visibility. Though without much public support, its advocates continued to work for Hindu cultural nationalism. The movement also continued its vehement opposition to the particular secular nationalism that came to be the basis of India’s constitutional democracy.

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AKHIL BHARATIYA HINDU M AHASABHA The origins of an organized Hindu nationalism can be traced to North India, where an All India Hindu Sabha emerged in 1915, taking upon itself the task of safeguarding the interests of the Hindu community. A grouping of provinciallevel Hindu sabhas (‘assemblies’), it built its political campaigns around a distinctly anti-Muslim, rather than an anti-colonial, programme (Bapu 2013: 2). The provincial sabhas, mainly in Punjab, focused on building and safeguarding the economic and political interests of Hindus, with their loyalty to the British government intact (Bhatt 2001: 56). Political patronage, jobs, and educational concessions were the major focus of the early Hindu nationalists—often urban, upper-caste and middle-class Hindu men, who felt their privileges slipping away. The fear that the number of Hindus would diminish in the presence of two proselytizing religions, Islam and Christianity, was particularly strong among the educated elite in Punjab and Bengal—Indian states that had witnessed an increase in the number of Muslims in the beginning of the twentieth century (Jones 1991: 240). The main objectives of the sabha in 1915 were manifold, but mainly centred around Hindu unity. For the sabha, this meant the education of Hindus and improving the conditions of all classes within the Hindu fold, working towards protecting and promoting Hindu interests whether social, political, or religious, and finally towards ensuring ‘good feelings’ between Hindus and other communities in India (Bhatt 2001: 60). These objectives had to be worked upon in loyal cooperation with the government (Bhatt 2001: 60). In the United Provinces (a province corresponding roughly to the present-day Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand), the establishment of the Hindu Sabha (in 1915, along with an all-India body) brought together ‘the commercial, landowning magnates and the more successful professional and service classes of the larger cities and district towns’ (Gordon 1975: 156). These were also the sections that dominated the local and provincial governments (Gordon 1975: 156). The Hindu Sabha leaders felt that the Indian National Congress was not adequately advocating the interests of Hindus. In their opinion, the interests of the Hindus were threatened by the consolidation of Muslim interests, manifest among other things in the granting of separate electorates to the Muslim community through the Morley Minto political reforms of 1909. In 1921, the Hindu Sabha changed its name to Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha (henceforth referred to as the Hindu Mahasabha), and its loyal cooperation with the British government was replaced by the aim of moving towards a united and self-governed Indian nation state (Jones 1991: 245–6; Bhatt 2001: 60). However, as an organization it could not boast of much political or social strength, with its presence feeble and scattered (Gordon 1975: 150). Although aspiring to be an organization with a national

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presence, it was in its initial years mainly an organization linking Hindu movements in Punjab and United Provinces (Gordon 1975: 150). Within the national movement, those mainly opposed to absolute non-cooperation with the British government, such as Lajpat Rai, Madan Mohan Malaviya, and B. S. Moonje came to be strong advocates of an emerging Hindu nationalist position (Bhatt 2001: 70) They all went on to become leaders of the Hindu Mahasabha. Since they were simultaneously part of the Congress and the Hindu Mahasabha, arguably, the former got some of its right-wing bent from them in the early part of the twentieth century. The combination of the Moplah rebellion¹ where an agitation against British rule in Malabar in 1921 that turned into violence between Hindus and Muslims and the suspension of non-cooperation and subsequent communal riots of 1921–3, propelled the Hindu Mahasabha into the anti-colonial political mainstream (Gordon 1975: 148; Jones 1991: 246). Prominent leaders, like Swami Shraddhanand, left the Congress and joined the Hindu Mahasabha. An Arya Samaj² member, Shraddhanand was a strong advocate of shuddhikaran (purification rites for induction into the Hindu religion), sangathan (the organizing of Hindus into a united brotherhood), and gurukul teaching (a traditional form of teaching organized around a local teacher). In 1923, when the Benares session of the Hindu Mahasabha was held, shuddhi and sangathan came to be the major aims of the organization. Communal riots and rising religious tensions radicalized the Hindu Mahasabha, placing leaders such as Lala Lajpat Rai and Madan Mohan Malaviya, people who had not broken with the Congress, in an awkward position. They would have liked the Congress to go the Hindu way, rather than breaking with it completely. For them, Indian nationalism with a strong Hindu flavour was more desirable than a separate and detached Hindu nationalism. During the second half of the 1920s, especially under the leadership of B. S. Moonje, this ambiguity was muted, and the Hindu Mahasabha decided to chart a more independent course. Hindu nationalism started to move on a path that directly opposed, and moved away from, the Congress Party. Its political streak was increasingly becoming more assertive. In 1934, Congress for its part banned entry to the party of those opposed to secular nationalism. Effectively, then, members of the Muslim League, the Hindu Mahasabha, and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) were now banned from Congress membership. As secular nationalism intensified its struggle against the British government, both Hindu-centric politics and Muslim politics moved from being

¹ A violent outburst of the oppressed peasantry against exploitative conditions. ² An organization started in 1875 by Dayananda Saraswati (1824–83) for Hindu religious reform. While it unequivocally criticized many Hindu customary practices, it strongly espoused the superiority of Vedic Hinduism over other religious faiths of Islam and Christianity

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interest oriented to being more ideologically oriented. Both charted a sectarian course, increasingly consolidating the belief that Hindus and Muslims constituted two distinct nations in India.

SAVARKAR AND HINDUTVA With V. D. Savarkar, who became its president in 1937, the Hindu Mahasabha continued its ideological fine-tuning, developing more sophisticated ideas of who was to be considered a Hindu- increasingly setting the criteria for Hindu nationhood in India. His leadership gave the Hindu Mahasabha a definite political orientation. His theorizing of cultural nationalism, or Hindutva (‘Hinduness’), became the foundation of Hindu right-wing ideology in independent India. Savarkar saw Hindus as tied together by a bond of blood, a common descent, and a distinct history that made them a distinct race. This race, according to Savarkar, had a well-defined culture and civilization, called sanskriti. In their struggles against the ‘Mohammedan’ invaders, the Hindus ‘were welded into a nation to an extent unknown in our history’ (Savarkar 2003: 44–5). According to Savarkar (2003: 45): ‘Sanatanists, Satnamis, Sikhs, Aryas, Anaryas, Marathas and Madrasis, Brahmans and Panchamas—all suffered as Hindus and triumphed as Hindus. Both friends and foes contributed equally to enable the words Hindu and Hindusthan to supersede all other designations of our land and our people.’ Muslims and Christians did not belong to Savarkar’s idea of the Indian nation. In Savarkar’s view, even if the Muslims and Christians were new converts who had not forgotten that ‘they inherit Hindu blood in their veins’, they could not be called Hindus because we Hindus are bound together not only by the tie of the love we bear to a common fatherland and by the common blood that courses through our veins and keeps our hearts throbbing and our affections warm, but also by the tie of the common homage we pay to our great civilization—our Hindu culture, which could not be better rendered than by the word Sanskriti. (Savarkar 2003: 91–2)

For Savarkar, Indian Muslims and Christians regarded other geographical regions as their sacred land, and other civilizations as their cultural heritage. This made them distinctly not Hindus. For him, the Hindu national distinctness had to be politicized and militarized in the face of the threat posed by Indian Muslims. This national distinctness was religiously defined, not dissimilar to how the Muslim League conversely emphasized a religiously defined people as well as a religiously defined state (Jones 1991: 259). Under Savarkar, the Hindu Mahasabha focused increasingly on the position of Hindus in princely states with Muslim rulers, and the state of Hyderabad in particular. In 1938, at its Nagpur session, the Hindu Mahasabha founded the

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‘Nizam Civil Resistance Movement’, with centres at Poona, Nagpur, and Akola (Jones 1991: 260). Hindu militancy, national honour, the struggle against British colonialism and antagonism against Indian Muslims were some themes that were associated with Savarkar’s life and thought (Bhatt 2001: 79; Sharma 2003: 125). He remained president of the Hindu Mahasabha till 1944, when his place was taken up by Dr Syama Prasad Mookerji, who later formed the political party Bharatiya Jana Sangh (the precursor to the Hindu nationalist party, Bharatiya Janata Party). The Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha never became the formidable political force it aspired to be and had negligible influence in the ensuing negotiations for Indian independence. It further lost substantial credibility following the assassination of M. K. Gandhi, to which it was linked. The organization was banned after the assassination, and, despite contesting the first three parliamentary elections in independent India after its ban was lifted, it failed to make a mark on Indian postcolonial politics. Where it did remain influential was at the level of ideas, with Hindutva becoming a galvanizing and politically significant idea in the years after Indian independence.

THE RASHTRIYA SWAYAMSEVAK SANGH The most significant organization advocating Hindu nationhood was the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Though banned for a short while after Gandhi’s assassination, it branched into several fronts in subsequent years, disseminating Hindu nationalist beliefs among different sectional interests. The RSS is often understood as the ‘largest and most influential organization committed to Hindu revivalism’ (Andersen and Damle 1987: 1). It has also been viewed as an organization ‘espousing its political agenda of Hindu Rashtra under the guise of the cultural’ (Kanungo 2003: 28). The RSS, a volunteer organization consisting of Hindu men devoted to ‘character-building’, was founded in 1925. This character-building of Hindu male volunteers was geared towards consolidating a self-conscious Hindu political identity, to be cemented as Hindu nationhood. The founders of the organization felt that Only Hindus could free Hindusthan and they alone could save Hindu culture. Only Hindu strength could save the country. There was no escape from the logic of facts. Hindu youth had to be organised on the basis of personal character and absolute love of the motherland. There was no other way. The agony of the great soul (K. B. Hedgewar) expressed itself in the formation of Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh. (Goyal 1979: 58)

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The RSS emerged out of a strong reaction to increasing political consciousness among Muslims, differences with Gandhi over the question of unity among various religious communities, and the deployment of non-violence as a political tactic (Goyal 1979: 57; Andersen and Damle 1987: 32). Leaders of the Hindu Mahasabha helped set up the organization, which kept itself aloof from the non-cooperation movement and the anti-colonial satyagrahas, commencing from the 1920s (Goyal 1979: 59; Bhatt 2001: 115). The RSS, as we know it today, took shape especially under its second sarsanghchalak (‘chief leader’), M. S. Golwalkar. Taking over the reins in 1940, Golwalkar preferred a clandestine approach, working to shield the workings of the organization from public view. He felt that with the passage of time ‘consciousness of the one Hindu Nationhood became musty and the [Hindu] race became vulnerable to attacks from outside’ (Golwalkar 1939: 9–10). Also, ‘over-individualization’ led to subordination of the Nation (Golwalkar 1939: 10). Golwalkar insisted that the Hindus were in a state of war and had to fight for their freedom. The nature of this war was both religious and cultural. In 1939, Golwalkar (1939: 12) wrote: ‘Ever since that evil day, when Moslems first landed in Hindusthan, right up to the present moment the Hindu Nation has been gallantly fighting on to shake off the despoilers…the war goes on and has not been decided yet.’ For him, the Hindus were engaged in a ‘triangular fight’—that is, with the Muslims, on the one hand, and Britain, on the other (Golwalkar 1939: 14). He wrote: ‘In our self-deception, we go on seceding more and more, in hopes of “Nationalising” the foreigners and succeed merely in increasing their all-devouring appetite’ (Golwalkar 1939: 14). About the primary focus of the freedom struggle he said: ‘we have almost completely lost sight of our true Hindu Nationhood, in our wild goose chase after the phantasm [sic] of founding a “really” democratic “State” in the country’ (Golwalkar 1939: 14). Golwalkar viewed the Congress intelligentsia as ‘deculturised’ and ‘denationalized’—those Hindus who enslaved themselves to the English (Golwalkar 1939: 61). After independence, he wrote that swaraj (‘self-rule’), which was attained in 1947, was predicated on the idea of Hindu–Muslim unity, something he deemed to be ‘the greatest treason on our society’, with the result of Hindus being ‘defeated at the hands of Muslims in 1947’ (Golwalkar 1966: 152). With Golwalkar as its chief ideologue, the RSS worked towards the goal of Hindu nationhood. The ‘basic simplicity of its message’, which avoids complexities and debate, added to the RSS’s mass appeal (Basu et al. 1993: 36). Though it did not become a political party, it was not devoid of political ambition (Kanungo 2003: 21). Its political opinion is frequently voiced through its publications, and many of its swayamsevaks and pracharaks became political leaders as members of the political party Bharatiya Janata Party. Apart from a specific uniform, its own constitution and an RSS flag, the

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institutional core of the RSS is also the daily shakha, which its volunteers are supposed to attend. The shakhas are the smallest unit of the RSS organizational structure, designed as a fraternal gathering of Hindu men. Though the shakha is conducted openly each morning, the code of conduct for the members is to keep away from public scrutiny. The number of shakhas, according to RSS sources, has grown significantly over the years. Between 1931 and 1933, the number of shakhas grew from 60 to 125 units (Andersen and Damle 1987: 38). In 1939 there was 500 shakhas in India, with the latest estimates indicating a total of 51,335 daily shakhas (Andersen and Damle 1987: 38; Mukherji 2015). The RSS, which has also been referred to as ‘fascist’ by some (e.g. Noorani 2000: 2), was banned by the government three times. The first ban came in 1948, when M. K. Gandhi was assassinated, and the RSS came under suspicion of being behind the act. Although it became the target of public outrage, the alleged link between the assassin and the RSS could not be proved in court, and the ban was lifted in 1949. The second ban came during the Emergency of 1975, when it was banned by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, along with other oppositional organizations and groups. The third ban came in 1992, when the Babri mosque was demolished by Hindu nationalist mobs, in what seemed to be an orchestrated action. The RSS was banned, along with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Bajrang Dal, as they were seen to be responsible for the demolition. The ban was, however, lifted by a tribunal after a few months, ruling that the charges against the RSS were not sufficiently substantiated.

THE BHARATIYA JANATA PARTY In postcolonial India, the political energies that supported Hindu nationalism were increasingly channelled through the political party Bharatiya Jana Sangh. Founded in 1951, the party renamed itself the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 1980. Under the RSS umbrella, the party grew politically as the political front of the RSS. The Bharatiya Jana Sangh was founded by Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee, former president of the Hindu Mahasabha. Based on the ideology of Hindu nationalism and opposition to inclusive secular nationalism, the party showcased its vision to build India on a different foundation from the Congress and Socialists. It emphasized Hindu values, as opposed to Marxism, socialism, and liberal ideals, as the basis for developing India (Malik and Singh 1994: 29). Dr Mookerjee felt that the Congress under Nehru was appeasing Pakistan and the Muslims in India, and not doing enough for Hindu interests (Malik and Singh 1994: 30; Nag 2014: 6).

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The Jana Sangh took up ‘integral humanism’ as the foundation for its political work. This was an idea propounded by Deendayal Upadhyaya, one of the main RSS cadres of the party at the time of its formation. Integral humanism underlined Bharatiya (meaning Hindu) culture and values as the basis for national development and drew on Gandhian ideas of self-reliance as a way to distance itself from dependence on Western ideas not rooted in Indian soil. It emphasized a strong adherence to ‘national identity’ (primarily understood as Hindu). Upadhyaya felt that in independent India Westernization had become synonymous with progress, and the Western social, economic, and political doctrines had become standards to be emulated. He urged that thoughtless imitation of the West should be scrupulously avoided. The BJP was built on these ideas, claiming to be the upholder of Bharatiya values. After Mookerjee’s death in 1953, the party, inspired by the RSS’s organizational structure, increasingly favoured a more disciplined and centrally controlled way of working. Indeed, the party soon came under the full control of the RSS (Graham 1993: 41; Nag 2014: 7). It projected itself as a party protecting what the Congress was destroying—that is, Hinduism, depicting the secular-oriented Congress as an ‘irreligious party’ in elections (Graham 1993: 249). It relied on Muslims as a reference point in order to define its Hindu identity, and the Congress to define its political persona. The Jana Sangh remained ‘an untouchable of Indian politics’ (Malik and Singh 1994: 31) until the 1967 elections. The ‘Hindu vote’ had until then gone overwhelmingly to Congress. With the 1967 election, however, things changed, and Jana Sangh became part of coalition governments in many North Indian states. With the majority of the party leadership coming from the Hindi belt, and the party’s increased focus on the promotion of Hindi, it came to have a particularly North Indian leaning, not really becoming popular in South India. At the national level, its first chance came in 1977, when it merged with other parties to form a united anti-Congress/anti-Indira Gandhi party called Janata Party. The Janata Party won the 1977 elections after the Emergency had been lifted, and the Jana Sangh formed the largest component within the Janata Party. Personal and ideological differences led to the break-up of the party in 1980, and the consequent fall of its government. One of the major causes for the break-up was that the Jana Sangh members within the coalition were seen to be maintaining ties with the RSS. To distance itself from the controversies, the Bharatiya Jana Sangh resurrected itself as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 1980. The BJP has always maintained that secularism and tolerance were intrinsic to Hindu culture and society, and hence had no legitimate role as constitutional values for the nation. The BJP sees these as nothing but acts of minority appeasement and believes that India should be a Hindu rashtra (‘nation’). In 1986, L. K. Advani, member of the RSS and a well-known Hindu ideologue, became the president of the BJP. This change of leadership led to

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an even more pronounced break with Gandhian socialism, putting the party on a more focused Hindu nationalist path, which rejuvenated the party rank and file (Malik and Singh 1994: 76). Advani focused unambiguously on issues such as cow slaughter, the destruction of Hindu temples in Jammu and Kashmir, and secularism as minority appeasement, bringing Hindu resentment against Muslims to the forefront (Malik and Singh 1994: 76). Under Advani, the BJP projected itself more assertively as a Hindu party and built its campaign for the 1991 parliamentary elections around the platform of constructing a Ram temple in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh. It also campaigned against rival political parties by branding them as pseudo-secular, unduly appeasing Muslims. In an impressive performance, the party won 120 parliamentary seats in the 1991 elections, from which there was no looking back. Despite its electoral success, though, it became clear that its electoral appeal was limited both by its weak position in South India, as well as by its identification as a middle-class, upper-caste party. It made attempts to rectify this by forming alliances with regional parties such as the TDP and AIADMK in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, and by intensifying its emphasis on the Hindu– Muslim and Hindu–Christian fault lines in South Indian states. The party also took recourse to ‘social engineering’, by upholding positive discrimination and extending membership and candidature to lower castes (Jaffrelot 1999: 68). On economic policy it increasingly took pro-liberalization positions, bringing it into tensions with the outright swadeshi, or the more ‘indigenous’ economic stance of the RSS (Hansen 1999: 299–300). It had to tread strategically so as not to upset the economic nationalism of many Hindu nationalists. In 1999, the BJP came to power heading a coalition government called the National Democratic Alliance, which lasted its full five-year term. During this time, the party kept itself away from core Hindutva issues such as the construction of a Ram temple at Ayodhya, and a Uniform Civil Code that did not differentiate for religious minorities (Bharatiya Janata Party 2016). Its 2004, a Vision Document, produced on the eve of the 2004 parliamentary elections, reiterated the party’s commitment to Integral Humanism, cultural nationalism, and also, a Ram temple in Ayodhya (Bharatiya Janata Party 2004). The document stated: ‘We believe that Cultural Nationalism—for which Indianness, Bharatiyata and Hindutva are synonyms—is the basis of our national identity’ (Bharatiya Janata Party 2004). It reaffirmed its commitment to the construction of a Ram temple at Ayodhya. The document declared: ‘As Maryada Purushottam, Ram is an inspiring cultural symbol of India. His birthplace in Ayodhya is also associated with the religious sentiments of crores of Hindus’ (Bharatiya Janata Party 2004). Though it lost the 2004 and 2009 elections, the BJP had become a party to reckon with. The expanded social base of the BJP enabled it to place itself as a national alternative to the Congress. It became a party that brought together right-wing opposition to the Congress. Its election manifesto of 2014 was

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Sabka saath sabka vikas (meaning ‘collective effort, inclusive growth’), with the focal point of the campaign being development (Bharatiya Janata Party 2014). In addition, the BJP reiterated a Hindutva programme of the resurrection of the Ram temple in Ayodhya, cow protection, and a Uniform Civil Code. The BJP won the 2014 parliamentary elections and formed a government with 282 seats and a vote share of 31 per cent—the lowest vote share in an absolute majority government at the centre ever. With this victory, Hindu nationalism came to the helm of state power, and the BJP’s victory was welcomed by the owners of industry, development enthusiasts, the younger voters, and the middle class. The elections also revealed that the party was able to expand its support base among Dalits and Other Backward Castes.

TH E VISHWA HINDU PARISHAD There was a growing fear within the RSS, during the early years of the republic, that the neglected sections of Hindu society were being made a target for proselytization by Christian and Muslim missionaries (RSS 1985: 45–6). These included tribals, Dalits, and people living overseas and in border areas. Further, there was the consistent concern that upper-caste Hindus had been refusing to take non-Hindus into the Hindu fold. The RSS felt that to rectify this steps had to be taken and thus the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) was formed in 1964, under the RSS umbrella. The VHP’s main task was primarily to work among groups considered to be at the margins of Hindu society. Its task was to strengthen a sense of Hindu identity among these groups, making them resistant to what were seen as three alien ideologies: Christianity, Islam, and communism (Katju 2010). In the first two decades of its formation, the VHP followed its original charter of opposing the work of Christian missionaries in India and involving itself in the Hinduization of the Hindu diaspora living overseas. It made the vishwa—the entire world—its working terrain and aimed to drive home the point that groups at the margins of Hindu society were first and foremost ‘Hindu’. Overseas, it has mainly been involved in generating a sense of belonging and unity among Hindus, making them conscious of their ‘distinct’ religious identity and making Hindu children aware of Hinduism through textbooks and religious gatherings. It organizes get-togethers, sports meetings, and festival celebrations for the Hindu community to make it ‘conscious’ of its collective identity, and thereby cement it further. In the mid-1980s it turned its focus more on the Ayodhya Ram temple issue in India, contributing to bringing Hindu communalism onto the centre stage of Indian politics. Its work is ‘more directly agitational’ (Basu et al. 1993: 67).

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Initially, the VHP drew support mainly from the Hindu conservatives within the urban middle class. It also found sympathy among the right-wing and socially conservative elements of the national leadership. Later its base expanded beyond the middle class to include sections from the working classes and the lower castes. The VHP played a key role in successfully transforming Hindutva from a theoretical formulation to a mass movement in the late 1980s and 1990s. Its efforts at mass mobilizations, riding on a religious divide, saw a popular involvement in Hindutva campaigns. This mass involvement transformed the verbal idea into an actively followed movement, which also reflected the popular mood of dissatisfaction with the Indian state. Some of the issues that the VHP has taken up to advance the cause of Hindu nationhood are the Ramjanmabhoomi, Krishnajanmabhoomi, abrogation of Article 370 from the constitution, conversion, and so on. The VHP has taken upon itself to lead campaigns to ‘liberate’ Ramjanmabhoomi and some other temples from the ‘clutches’ of Muslims and to ‘reclaim’ them and consolidate Hindu religious presence there. In 1992, mobs mobilized by Hindu right-wing groups including the VHP and BJP congregated at Ayodhya, and the Babri mosque was razed to the ground in what seemed like a planned operation that lasted a few hours on 6 December. This resulted in communal riots across the country between the Hindus and Muslims. The VHP has, especially during election years, worked at mobilizing support for this cause and has sought support for the BJP in elections. It floated youth organizations—namely, the Bajrang Dal and Durga Vahini—to mobilize support for the Ram temple agitations. For instance, major attempts to regenerate a movement around it were undertaken in 2013 and 2018 just before the assembly elections in the states of Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, and Rajasthan. Another issue for which the VHP has campaigned with great gusto is the curbing of immigration from Bangladesh (a Muslim-majority country). In its view, immigration from Bangladesh is akin to ‘infiltration’ and poses a threat to the identity and economic security of India. The VHP also advocates the revocation of Article 370 of the Constitution of India, which grants special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The Article was drafted by Sheikh Abdullah, the prime minister of Jammu and Kashmir, in 1947, and has been in place ever since. This special status has caused much heartache among Hindutva advocates. The VHP sees the special status given to Kashmir as a way of pandering to the Indian Muslim community, and regards it as a de facto encouragement for Kashmiri separatists. The VHP has in the last two decades put in a substantial effort to ‘reconvert’ Muslims and Christians to Hinduism, a practice they call ghar wapsi (‘returning home’). Seeing attempts to propagate Islam and Christianity as attempts to de-Hinduize India, the VHP argues for a ban on these religions’ right to proselytize. The VHP, along with the rest of the RSS, has been devoting attention to welfare work in urban as well as tribal and other remote settings.

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This micro-level focus is a feature of the initial programme of the VHP, where more ideology-oriented Hindutva campaigns run alongside more communitybased work. Such two-pronged efforts are supposed to establish and maintain a social presence, especially in areas where Christian missionaries are also working. Thus, the VHP is engaged in running health centres, schools, student hostels, and cow shelters, as well as being focused on relief work during natural catastrophes.

CONCLUSIO N Over the years, the BJP has gathered political strength, and in 2014 it won an absolute majority in India’s parliamentary elections. With this victory, Hindu nationalism, also known as Hindutva, was able to gain state power in India in an unprecedented manner. Hindu nationalism was a middle-class upper caste phenomenon from the beginning, yet it gradually gathered support also among the marginal castes. Its influence is no longer limited just to towns and cities, and its message is now spreading in rural areas too, adding to its electoral strength. Hindu nationalism, like all ethno-nationalisms, demands a strong sense of individual loyalty to the nation, a fundamental commitment to Hindu religious icons, and an affirmation of the imagined history of the Hindu nation. Now at the centre of political power in India, the movement seeks to expand and institutionalize its religious, ideological, and political vision.

R E F E RE NC E S Andersen, Walter K., and Shridhar D. Damle (1987). The Brotherhood in Saffron: The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Hindu Revivalism. New Delhi: Vistaar Publications. Bapu, Prabhu (2013). Hindu Mahasabha in Colonial North India, 1915–1930: Constructing Nation and History. Abingdon and New York: Routledge. Basu, Tapan, Pradip Datta, Sumit Sarkar, Tanika Sarkar, and Sambuddha Sen (1993). Khaki Shorts and Saffron Flags: A Critique of the Hindu Right. Hyderabad: Orient Longman. Bharatiya Janata Party (2004). Vision Document, (accessed 13 January 2019). Bharatiya Janata Party (2014). 2014 Manifesto, Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat: Sabka saath sabka vikas, , (accessed 29 February 2014). Bharatiya Janata Party (2016). Previous Manifestos, (accessed 29 February 2016).

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Bhatt, Chetan (2001). Hindu Nationalism: Origins, Ideologies and Modern Myths. Oxford and New York: Berg. Golwalkar, M. S. (1939). We or Our Nationhood Defined. Nagpur: Bharat Publications. Golwalkar, M. S. (1966). A Bunch of Thoughts. Bangalore: Vikrama Prakashan. Gordon, R. (1975). ‘The Hindu Mahasabha and the Indian National Congress, 1915 to 1926’, Modern Asian Studies, 9/2: 145–203. Goyal, D. R. (1979). Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh. New Delhi: Radha Krishna Prakashan. Graham, Bruce (1993). Hindu Nationalism and Indian Politics: The Origins and Development of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh. Cambridge and New Delhi: Cambridge University Press. Hansen, T. B. (1999). ‘The Ethics of Hindutva and the Spirit of Capitalism’, in Thomas Blom Hansen and Christophe Jaffrelot (eds), The BJP and the Compulsions of Politics in India. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 291–314. Jaffrelot, C. (1999). ‘The Sangh Parivar between Sanskritization and Social Engineering’, in Thomas Blom Hansen and Christophe Jaffrelot (eds), The BJP and the Compulsions of Politics in India. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 22–71. Jones, K. W. (1991). ‘Politcized Hinduism: The Ideology and Program of the Hindu Mahasabha’, in Robert D. Baird (ed.), Religion in Modern India. New Delhi: Manohar, 239–72. Kanungo, Pralay (2003). RSS’s Tryst with Politics: From Hedgewar to Sudarshan. Delhi: Manohar. Katju, Manjari (2005). ‘Mobilisation for Hindutva’, in Ram Puniyani (ed.), Religion, Power and Violence: Expression of Politics in Contemporary Times. New Delhi: Sage Publications, 176–90. Katju, Manjari (2010). Vishva Hindu Parishad and Indian Politics. Hyderabad: Orient Blackswan. 1st edn 2003. Malik, Yogendra K., and V. B. Singh (1994). Hindu Nationalists in India: The Rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party. New Delhi: Vistaar. Mukherji, Anahita (2015). ‘RSS is on a Roll: Number of Shakhas up 61% in 5 Years’, The Times of India, 16 August, (accessed 4 April 2016). Nag, Kingshuk (2014). The Saffron Tide: The Rise of the BJP. New Delhi: Rainlight/ Rupa. Noorani, A. G. (2000). The RSS and the BJP: A Division of Labour. New Delhi: Leftword Books. RSS (1985). RSS: Spearheading National Renaissance. Bangalore: Prakashan Vibhag. Savarkar, V. D. (2003). Hindutva. New Delhi: Hindi Sahitya Sadan. 1st edn 1923. Sharma, Jyotirmaya (2003). Hinduva: Exploring the Idea of Hindu Nationalism. New Delhi: Penguin-Viking.

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12 Caste and Contemporary Hindu Society Community, Politics, and Work Divya Vaid and Ankur Datta

The value of a man was reduced to his immediate identity and nearest possibility. To a vote. To a number. To a thing. Never was a man treated as a mind. As a glorious thing made up of stardust. In every field, in studies, in streets, in politics, and in dying and living.

These words were written by an Indian Ph.D. student by the name of Rohith Vemula, before he committed suicide on 17 January 2016. Rohith Vemula was a ‘lower-caste’ Dalit student who campaigned with a group called the Ambedkar Students’ Association (ASA). His group had been involved in a series of altercations with the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which formed the Indian government in 2014. The impact of this conflict between student groups began to spread when ministers in New Delhi applied pressure on the authorities of the Hyderabad Central University, where Rohith was a student, to suspend several members of the ASA. The suspension forced students like Rohith to leave university hostels and suffer the denial of scholarships. Rohith’s suicide is seen as a culmination of these actions. While Rohith’s suicide note urged readers to move on with their lives and not to blame anyone, his death sparked protests across university campuses and intense discussions across India with regards to discrimination faced by Dalits and the continued prevalence of discrimination on the basis of caste. Rohith’s suicide was depicted as not merely an individual act but as the result of violence that was deeply ingrained in the social structure of Hindu society in India and that manifests itself time and again, from attacks by upper castes on Dalit families in rural India, to protests organized by groups demanding state-sanctioned benefits on the basis of caste identity.

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The debates sparked by the suicide indicate that caste has clearly remained a significant feature of contemporary Indian and Hindu societies. This chapter will engage with caste as a feature of contemporary Hinduism and Hindu societies, with a focus on contemporary India. It will begin with a discussion of the imagination of caste as an organizing principle of Hindu societies and then proceed to review caste as a way of understanding communities as nearly discrete entities, while acknowledging that caste exists beyond Hindu societies. The chapter will then proceed to engage with how caste has been transformed by modern economic and political changes and its relationship with other categories of social stratification and inequality.

APPROACHING CASTE AS A C ATEGORY In an essay published in the 1950s, the anthropologist M. N. Srinivas (1957: 548) wrote: ‘Caste is so tacitly and so completely accepted by all, including those who are most vocal in condemning it, that it is everywhere the unit of social action.’ Srinivas’s assertion, made in the context of early independent India, expresses an approach whereby any study of Indian and Hindu societies implies the existence of caste, as both an object of study and the context for everyday political, social, and economic life. In other words, caste constitutes a gatekeeping concept of sorts (Appadurai 1986: 357), for understanding a region like India and Hindus as a people. However, Andre Beteille (1992: 13) argues that the logic of caste has caused scholars to ignore other critical social processes and consequently misrepresent contemporary Indian society. How do we then begin an engagement with caste? A discussion of caste can begin with a discussion of Hinduism as a sociological phenomenon in the making. One text that stands out is The Structure of Hindu Society by Nirmal Kumar Bose, an anthropologist and an anti-colonial activist. Bose’s text was first published in Bengali in 1949 and offers an intriguing engagement with Hindu society. The book begins with a long poem about the Vaishnava saint Caitanya, who embarks on a journey to find a place appropriate for a world renouncer and where Krishna, the avatar or incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu, could be found. During his travels when he leaves his home, Caitanya wanders through forests that reminded him of Vrindavan, the place where Lord Krishna spent his childhood, and encounters different people such as Brahmans, Bhils, and Sudras (Bose 1975: 27). Bose adopts the idiosyncratic approach of Caitanya’s journey and builds upon episodes from his fieldwork with different tribal communities such as the Juang and the Munda. He was especially intrigued by communities like the Munda, who observed practices that drew on ‘brahmanical customs and modes of behaviour’ alongside the worship of village deities

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(Bose 1975: 58). While much of Bose’s work focused on the relationship between caste Hindu and tribal societies, what is also evident is the presence of caste as the principle basis for sociality in modern sociological engagements with Hindu society. Hinduism and caste in this sense are marked by the relationship and tension between the ‘brahmanic’ (seemingly universal and pan-Hindu), with ‘local’ practices and belief, drawing on an approach reminiscent of great and little traditions (e.g. Singer 1972). The tension from castebased hierarchies can be seen at the cosmological level in different ways. One could look at the Purusha Sukta, the verses from Rig Veda that describe primeval man and where caste is mapped onto the human body, with the head representing Brahmans, the arms representing the Kashatriyas or warriors, the middle of the body representing Vaishyas and the feet representing the Shudras (O’Flaherty 1981: 29–32; see also Fuller 1992: 12). On the other hand, caste features in other ways, as seen in studies from South India, where Sanskritic Deities occupy a higher position in relation to lower-form deities worshipped by lower castes (Fuller 1988). This tension persists in more recent scholarship as well. For instance, in an essay on the sociology of Hinduism written by T. N. Madan (2011), caste is not the centre of focus, and yet the essay cannot avoid speaking of a sociology of Hinduism without acknowledging M. N. Srinivas’s concept of Sanskritization, which we shall discuss later. Hence, can Hinduism be imagined at all without caste? The word ‘caste’ is originally a Portuguese term referring to race (Jodhka 2012: 2), which in the early sixteenth century was a concept that interestingly spoke of stock, family, and even religious communities (Dharampal-Frick and Sitharaman 2015: 37). However, there have been significant discussions on the corresponding categories among Hindu societies. According to Beteille (1991: 15), classical literature referred to varna, while, in contemporary politics, jati corresponds to caste. As different authors have pointed out, varna originally referred to colour in the Rig Veda, but eventually came to refer to the basic division of Hindu society—Brahmana (priest/scholar), Kashatriya (ruler and soldier), Vaishya (merchant), and Shudra (peasant, labour) (Srinivas 2009: 167). According to Thomas Trautmann (1964: 198), this scheme at first rendered varna as more akin to ‘class’ given the economic nature of the groups. Yet this emphasis ignored the sacred dimensions of caste, and hence it might be more useful to see caste as ‘order’ or ‘estate’ (Trautmann 1964: 198). While caste as varna is a system marked by hierarchy and status inequality, Srinivas (2009: 168, 169) had also pointed out that not every group falls neatly in the four varnas and that the position occupied by each caste in the hierarchy varies in different local contexts. According to Beteille (1991: 17), Srinivas’s discussion came out of an ‘impatience’ with text-based approaches or the ‘book view’ of Hindu societies and the eventual shift to a field-based view through which caste could be seen as a lived social reality. Consequently,

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caste became associated more with the notion of jati, which in turn refers to ideas of community or samaja. As Chris Fuller (1992: 13–14) points out, the varna model is an ideal model and in practice will differ in some ways from caste, which reflects larger engagements between Hinduism in terms of its texts and popular Hinduism in terms of everyday beliefs and practices. McKim Marriott provides an interesting complication in the meaning of varna and jati. For Marriott, varna or jati do not directly correspond to caste or vice versa. Yet, while jati refers to ‘community’, varna and jati also refer to svadharma or styles of life, prakrti or natural substances and kinds of action or karma (Marriott 2005: 357). Consequently, caste is intrinsically tied to notions of community and how social diversity is managed. While caste may no longer delineate strict occupation groups, there is a sense of distinctiveness between castes. Marriott’s discussion (2005: 366, 367) of varna and jati draw on Vedic logics and poses an interesting breakdown of caste into substance such as air, earth, and water, and humours such as fire, bile, attachment, and passion. Hence, caste as jati becomes a way of marking out community, almost like ethnicity. While caste is developed in terms of hierarchy and division of labour, relations between different castes can be mediated in other ways. Marriott’s own ethnographic work (2010) is best seen in a now classic essay on the Hindu festival of Holi. This essay is often treated as an attempt to cover an event that is seemingly incomprehensible to the Western gaze, especially in terms of the chaotic celebrations that take place. Marriott was especially intrigued by how marginal residents of the village such as women and lower castes would mock upper caste men during Holi while remaining subservient the rest of the year. For Marriott, the explanation of this aberration and violation of gender and caste norms was tied to the logic of inversion as a part of Hindu cosmology, which also permitted the maintenance of an unequal system by letting the marginalized express their frustration on occasion. This essay remains an interesting exercise of locating caste in relation to a larger Hindu cosmology. However, as we shall see in the following sections, the discussion of caste appears to have gone beyond Vedic logic or cosmologies.

COLONIA L CONSTRUCTIONS Caste as a modern formation was largely shaped in the period of British colonial rule in India. European colonialism in its different forms involved a close relationship between knowledge, power, and governance, which has been discussed extensively by a range of scholars and critics of Orientalism (e.g. Inden 1990; Cohn 1996). According to David Ludden (1993: 253–63), the colonial knowledge project in India begins with the East India Company.

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In order to administer territory and manage political patronage, and commercial and military operations, data and information were required, whether it was about population statistics and types, law, customs, and practices, or land use. The conquest, colonization, and governance of India involved the development of a regime of knowledge about Indian society (see Cohn 1996). Consequently, the understanding and knowledge of caste in its modern form emerge in the colonial period (Dirks 2001). The official approach to caste was especially apparent in the mid-nineteenth century when the British followed a ‘statistical’ approach. As Bernard Cohn (1987: 154) points out, caste became a ‘thing’ that could be identified and whose attributes could be listed, which takes us back to Marriot’s discussion of caste as implying specific and discernible qualities. The census was an especially important instrument in producing an objectified and static approach to different Indian communities and castes, not only for colonial administrators but also later for the colonized themselves (Cohn 1987: 232–50). The emphasis on discrete categories of people could have an impact in other ways, often indicating the power of numbers and population. This became an issue with regards to the Jains, as many would report their ‘worldly identity’ as Hindu, as the census demanded clear-cut religious identities. Consequently, as Brekke (2002: 131–2) shows, during the census of 1881–1901, the proportion of Jains in relation to the total population diminished, which resulted in fears of extinction among the community. The emphasis on numbers would also take a pathological turn with the emergence of Hindu nationalist movements, especially in the work of the ideologue U. N. Mukhopadhyay, who argued in 1921 that Hindus had become a ‘dying race’ owing to alleged conversions of Hindus to other religions (Datta 1999). Other points of reference that pre-dated the arrival of colonialism also mattered. While the census itself may have developed as an instrument of the colonial state, Peabody (2001) points out that it drew upon enumeration projects of precolonial states in North India. One of the starting points of any project that involves some element of anthropology includes an interest in language, whereby Sanskritic texts became an especially important source of knowledge. In an interesting study of early colonial knowledge about India, Rosane Rocher (1993: 220) points out that orientalist knowledge is not a single ossified entity but rather one that emerged over time from the late eighteenth century with the initial rise and then gradual decline of the East India Company and whose proponents demonstrated fairly diverse motivations. Rocher (1993: 222–32) goes on to discuss how interest in Hindu texts emerged first in the late eighteenth century out of a combination of relative sympathy expressed by administrators for Hindus rather than Muslims, and then as a search for a ‘pristine’ or pure Hinduism, which was novel for Europeans. This process has been observed in other studies as well. For instance, Kabir (2009) reveals how European writers framed the Kashmir valley as essentially

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Hindu and as sullied by the presence of non-Hindus, who constitute the majority of the population in Kashmir. Consequently, the colonial intervention into caste drew heavily on a book view, looking to texts such as Manusmriti. This resulted in a ‘canonisation of brahminical scriptural lore, amenable to colonial policies’, ossifying the varna system as a guide to govern diverse populations (Dharampal-Frick and Sitharaman 2015: 38). The theme of racial politics also plays into caste. As authors such as Mrinalini Sinha (1995) have discussed, the British colonial state promoted the image of the European as masculine and hence superior to the colonized groups such as Bengalis, who were in contrast ‘effeminate’. On the other hand, other communities during British colonial rule were identified as ‘martial’ races and consequently found a niche in sectors such as the army (see Bates 1995; Mazumder 2003; Brekke 2017). While the martial races were not merely limited to Hindus and included Muslims and Sikhs, they suggest how colonial race theories map quite well on to theories of varna, especially in emphasizing essentialized identities. The colonial state had also framed particular communities, especially nomadic tribes, and other groups as inherently ‘criminal’ through instruments such as the Criminal Tribes Act. While this act aimed to manage and administer nomadic groups and to fix them in place, which had been a concern of colonial administration in South Asia (see Spencer 2003), the listing of criminal communities drew on an ‘understanding’ of lower castes and tribes in relation to a theory of Indian society held by colonial officials (Radhakrishnan 2000; Kumar 2004). Consequently, caste was constructed as a timeless foundation for Hindu, and, for that matter, for Indian societies. Thus, there emerged a growing sense of modern caste as a colonial construction. This is evident in the work of Nicholas Dirks (2001: 5), for whom caste emerged in the encounter between India and the Western colonial rule as a ‘single term capable of expressing, organising and above all “systematising” India’s diverse forms of social identity, community and organisation’. Consequently, this had a tremendous effect by first equating caste with civil society in India and then by becoming a primary problematic in anthropological, sociological, and historical engagements with India (Dirks 1988: 3). Recent research into the emergence of anthropology in colonial India, however, complicates the relationship between knowledge and administration. As Fuller (2016) discusses in the work of two colonial administrators, Denzil Ibbetson and Herbert Risley, whose studies in the late nineteenth century have been significant for the early anthropology of caste, it has been found that policymaking drew far less on colonial scholarship than believed. Rather, colonial policy drew on acknowledging groups such as Muslims, the emerging educated middle class, and agrarian ‘classes’. In the light of recent work, how do we then situate the discussion of caste as a historical formation, as an idea and as a sociological phenomenon?

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TOWARDS A SOCIOLOGY OF CASTE The framing of caste as a sociological phenomenon truly takes shape through the work of two scholars—Célestin Bouglé and G. S. Ghurye. Bouglé (1971: 31), a French philosopher and collaborator of Emile Durkheim, drew heavily on classical Sanskrit texts, drawing comparisons between Hindu castes as occupation groups and guilds as the closest corresponding social unit from a European perspective. Bouglé was interested in getting to the roots of caste, though, like many other European Indologists, he never carried out fieldwork in India. In spite of this, Bouglé’s contribution (1971: 9) to caste studies has been significant, as it outlines three features that define the caste system: hereditary specialization, hierarchy, and mutual repulsion. Alongside Bouglé’s formulation of caste is the contribution of G. S. Ghurye. Influenced by the anthropology of W. H. R. Rivers and A. C. Haddon, Ghurye’s contribution to Indian sociology has been immense, especially with regards to the study of caste and tribes and in urban studies. Ghurye’s work on caste (1932: 1–31) has been especially significant in providing a framework or a list of features: (1) segmental division of society, (2) hierarchy, (3) restrictions on social intercourse, (4) civil and religious disabilities and privileges, (5) restricted choice of occupation, and (6) restrictions on marriage. The limitations of their work now seem obvious, such as the fact that, while castes are occupation groups, they are not necessarily limited to those occupations alone, as evidenced in Brahman farmers or soldiers who are not Kshatriyas. However, caste is clearly a form of social inequality, with different castes exhibiting, vying for, and affected by different levels of power in relation to each other. While some castes have more power over others, and while there are rules of intercourse, they are in social relationships of mutual dependence with each other. To some extent, Bouglé overemphasizes the role of the Brahman as the highest caste, though he also makes his moral criticism of Brahmanism clear: The roots of caste would surely be found in the souls of Brahmans . . . The Hindu population was only fragmented, specialised and hierarchized in order to allow Brahmanism to exploit it . . . Brahmanism is the sun of India. It gave birth to the different bodies in the system which perform their evolutions around it; it is their origin and their end. (Bouglé 1971: 29)

The conventional scheme has been problematized in different ways, especially in terms of the traditional approach based on varna. Research from mobility studies, which will be discussed later in this chapter, confounds assumptions about the make-up of contemporary hierarchies. Similarly, studies among Tamils in Eastern Sri Lanka also do not follow the typical varna scheme, as there is a marked absence of Brahmans. Consequently, caste in this case is

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shaped by secular ideologies of kingly honour, matrilineal law, and also in relation to non-Hindus such as Muslims (see McGilvray 1982). Nevertheless, the scheme of caste as worked out by Ghurye and Bouglé had a foundational influence on caste studies. In the next section, we shall look at the works of Louis Dumont and M. N. Srinivas, and how their engagement further shaped the agenda for the study of caste.

STRUCTURE AND PROCESSES: DUMONT AND S RINIVAS Louis Dumont, a French anthropologist who was deeply influenced by Bouglé, had for some time established the benchmark of caste studies. Even today, a course on caste pays some attention to Dumont’s book Homo Hierarchicus. Dumont’s work is situated in structuralist anthropology, which looks at the relationship of social structure and the internal logic of a given culture. Structuralists find meaning by understanding ‘how things fit together and not from understanding things in isolation’ (Barnard 2000: 120). For Dumont (1970: 47–53), caste as social structure is hierarchical, which means it is undercut by binaries or the fundamental opposition of ‘pure’ and ‘impure’. The binary of pure and impure consequently mediates relationships of hierarchy, especially in term of interactions between different castes. Consequently, the two fields Dumont pays significant attention to are food and commensality, and marriage, where caste hierarchies and the logic of purity/impurity are most clearly played out. Dumont’s work throughout his academic career represented a preoccupation with comparisons between Europe and the non-European world. His work on European societies engages with individualism and equality of men and women as emerging out of, and integral to, Western Europe (see Dumont 1986), whereas non-Western societies exemplified by Hindus and Indians are caught in hierarchy and a collective orientation of persons. While Dumont’s work may have set the agenda for a generation of students of Indian societies, much of his work has been criticized in different ways, often on the seeming exaggeration of hierarchy versus democratic individualism (Beteille 2006) and on whether his theory has been supported adequately by the facts (Khare 2006). Alan Macfarlane (1993: 15–16) provides an especially stringent critique on the essential binary Dumont draws upon, because it risks an essentialized image of Western European and Indian societies and because it presumes an essential link between individualism and equality. For Dumont (1970: 36, 66), caste through hierarchy is a unified ideology whereby elements of the whole are related to the whole. For Gupta (2006: 129), it might be better to see caste

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as many ideologies, of which Brahmanical ideology is just one among others. The multiplicity of ideologies of caste consequently offers a chance to approach caste, as Partha Chatterjee (1993: 180) points out, not as ‘a selfconscious unity of subject and object’ but in the relations of domination and subordination. Part of the problem may lie in Dumont’s privileging of Sanskrit texts and the separation he makes of status and actual power (Visweswaran 2011: 108–9). Furthermore, the contemporary politics of caste has overtaken Dumont’s theory. Hence from Dumont and his critics we see a framework to approach caste not only in forms of sociality but also taking into consideration power and its victims. While Dumont provided a structural model for caste, the work of Srinivas has also been critical. Srinivas was a social anthropologist who was a proponent of the field view approach, based on data collected from direct fieldwork and participant observation with a selected community. While this is taken for granted by anthropologists, the purpose of such an approach is to observe caste as part of lived realities. While caste has always been treated, on the one hand, as a stable form of stratification marked by difference, on the other hand there has also been a growing awareness of mobility within the caste groups in contemporary India. One of Srinivas’s most significant contributions has been the concept of sanskritization, which he defines as the process by which a ‘low’ Hindu caste, or tribal or other group, changes its customs, ritual, ideology and way of life in the direction of a high, and frequently, ‘twice-born’ caste. Sanskritisation is generally accompanied by, and often results in, upward mobility for the caste in question; but mobility may also occur without Sanskritisation and vice versa. However, [it] results only in positional changes in the system and does not lead to any structural change. (Srinivas 1977: 6)

What is critical to Srinivas’s discussion is that it is not necessarily the Brahman who is imitated but rather it is the higher caste in an area, whoever that may be. However, imitation or mimesis in its myriad forms, whether in objects, practices, or rituals, always takes place in relationships mediated by power, though a ‘copy’ may affect the original in turn (Taussig 1993: 47). Srinivas himself observed situations when lower castes attempting to observe uppercaste practices were subjected to censure and punishment from upper castes initially. However, to sanskritize successfully calls upon more pragmatic measures, which include the changing socio-economic and political context. Groups that have been able to sanskritize tend to have a significant population, and other sources of power. The concern rather is if all groups are able to change their status in relation to other groups through sanskritization (Beteille 1991: 160), and whether it applies for the most marginal of castes any more. Kalpana Kannabiran (2009: 38–9) complicates the reading further, pointing out that Srinivas’s discussion reflects a sense of positive aspiration and elides a reading of untouchability and violence that affects castes.

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While sanskritization as a concept has a complex history (see Charsley 1998), it leads into another contribution of Srinivas’s, which is the notion of the dominant caste. As Srinivas points out there are different dimensions of dominance, which may be distributed across different castes. A caste may be ritually high but economically poor or vice versa (Srinivas 1959: 2). What made caste an interesting feature of life in the village where Srinivas did fieldwork is that the peasants occupied a lower position in the Hindu caste hierarchy compared to Brahmans and Lingayats. However, they dominated both in numbers and landownership and hence came to dominate village life. What complicated this picture was that, even though the peasants occupied a lower ritual rank, they oppressed the ‘untouchables’ in the village (Srinivas 1959: 4). The dominant caste thesis has consequently been influential in later scholarship, especially in understanding how the politics of class plays out in local and regional contexts. However, it also highlights a need to look at the practice of caste-based identities, which clearly subvert the varna/jati approach associated with Sanskrit texts to some extent.

THE S UBSTANTIA LIZATION OF CASTE While caste invokes a system of difference in relation to each other, it also connotes a sense of distinctiveness, almost like classes, ethnic groups, or even races. While authors like Ghurye have discussed class in relation to race, there have been recent engagements where caste is explored in comparison with race, especially with regards to race relations in the United States (Fuller 2011; Still 2015). The relationship between caste and ethnic or communal difference is also discussed in scholarship from South Asia, whether we are looking at caste relations in Nepal, where language, territory, and ethnicity play a role (Gellner 1986; Basnet 2015, 2016), or in Sri Lanka, where caste-based relations have been refracted through Sinhala nationalist politics (Samuels 2007; Silva 2016). If a return may be permitted to Kashmir, T. N. Madan’s discussion (1994) of communal relations and Kashmiri Pandits and Kashmiri Muslims invokes a complex relationship based on difference that is premised on faith-based identity and yet where interactions with regards to food, commensality, and in other spaces such as funerals (where Muslims served as funeral attendants at Hindu cremation grounds) followed the logic of both caste and religious difference. The discussion of caste is further complicated by its presence among other religions in India. Caste has been observed in studies of Muslims (Fanselow 1996), Sikhs (Judge 2014), and Christians (Mosse 2012). While it is beyond the scope of this chapter to discuss caste among other religions, recent work on Dalit conversion to Christianity has raised interest in how marginalized castes are treated, even if they ostensibly leave the fold of Hindu society (see Roberts 2016).

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One of the effects of colonialism in India was the transformation of traditional institutions. The erosion of the traditional was a trope that could be found in studies of early postcolonial societies, where industrialization and modernization would result in the emergence of new forms of solidarities and the decline of older forms of social relationships such as ethnic affiliations and caste (see Geertz 1973: 234–40). However, modernization in India has been caught in a different dynamic, with a simultaneous move to economic and political development alongside the management, but not the complete effacement, of traditional institutions and practices (Singh 2012: 151–2). In some areas, economic change led to greater integration of rural societies and enabled some lower caste groups to renegotiate a higher status in relation to other caste groups, as seen in southern and eastern India (Bailey 1957; Epstein 1962). As Lloyd Rudolph (1965: 983–4) observed in the case of Vaniyars in Tamil Nadu, democratic politics, while facilitating changes in status and power, involved a long and arduous process of work, conflict, and accommodation. While contemporary commentators have revisited some of these issues, scholars like Rudolph were curious about the continued persistence of caste, especially in the context of the Indian state, which instituted policies of affirmative action. Rudolph was especially intrigued by how caste groups would unite through caste associations to meet political ends. How is caste to be approached when the narrative of its seeming decline in the face of modernization seemed to have been disproved in the 1960s? As Balmurli Natrajan (2012a: 55) observes, while there appears to be a decline in the observance of rituals pertaining to caste, accompanied by popular critiques of the caste system, caste identities are nevertheless invoked in public rather openly. In other words, there is a ‘culturalisation of caste’ (Natrajan 2012b). If we return to Bouglé’s discussion, the dimensions of caste were identified in terms of repulsion, occupation, and hierarchy. Adrian Mayer, whose studies on caste in a central Indian village in the 1950s followed Bouglé’s approach, in a later revisit in the 1990s noticed significant changes. While endogamy was still strictly observed, people of all castes could sit and eat together in public, which seemed to suggest the decline of caste hierarchy. However, other differences between castes become critical. This approach begins with Dumont’s assertion (1970: 222) of substantialization, whereby a system of interdependence gives way to self-sufficient distinct blocks. Where are differences to be found then? Authors such as Mayer and Parry notice that sites of discerning differences follow practices such as khan-peen (‘dietary habits’) and rehen-sehen (‘lifestyle’) (Parry 2007: 484). Parry (2007: 485) suggests that some aspects of the subtantialization debate are complicated by the fact that issues of lifestyle are points of intra-caste difference. This is demonstrated very clearly in Natrajan’s work among the Kumhars, a community of potters in Chattisgarh. Natrajan pays special attention to the politics involved in Kumhar associations and the rift between

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Jhariya Kumhars, who continued to practise pottery, and the leaders of the association, who have ceased working as potters. However, the fundamental difference between different Kumhars is maintained through the principle of roti-beti-len-den—that is, the exchange of ‘bread and daughters’, which refers to commensality and marriage, two fields where caste rules are often best experienced (Natrajan 2005: 235).The attention to intra-caste differences between leaders of the association and the Jhariya Kumhars also raises interesting ways of looking at caste, especially when the latter challenge the former about their caste identity (Natrajan 2005: 238).

C ASTE P OLITICS, VIOLENCE, AND ASSERTION The transformation of castes into discrete communities has been especially significant in the field of politics and violence. As Dipankar Gupta (2005: 411–12) points out, caste identity is seen to prevail over the caste system per se, as hierarchical competition has always characterized inter-caste group relations. Contemporary politics in India, for instance, attests to this in different ways. Luccia Michelutti’s work (2008) on the Yadavs of northern India shows how caste identity is important for political mobilization. Even conflict that appears to be between different faith communities can have a caste dimension. Veena Das’s work (1990) on the 1984 pogroms against Sikhs in New Delhi following the assassination of Indira Gandhi may have drawn on larger narratives of nationalism. However, this study, in a low-income area inhabited by lower caste Sikligar Sikhs who were attacked by neighbouring lower caste Hindus, was brought about by mobility envy towards the Sikhs who had improved their socio-economic conditions through foreign remittances and labour migration to the Gulf. How is caste to be approached in situations where marginal communities attack each other, especially when it begins to connect with other forms of community and politics? Violence related to caste has been documented historically in colonial and postcolonial India, especially around the figure of the Dalit. Numerous studies have explored Dalit experiences of violence and domination from the colonial to the contemporary, looking at violence as exclusion from resources at a local level to actual incidents of violence directed against lower castes by upper and/or dominant castes (Teltumbde 2007; Kunnath 2009; Mohan 2015).Violence directed towards Dalits has been an endemic feature of contemporary life in India and with regards to Hindu societies across South Asia, which takes place despite the constitutional framing of caste with its accompanying safeguard. It is here that the contribution of Dr B. R. Ambedkar becomes critical. Born to a Mahar family, Ambedkar has been critical to the emergence of a modern

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Dalit politics and critique of caste that is political and academic. Ambedkar’s formal importance to the Indian state is essentially tied to his position as the architect of the Indian constitution. While closely associated with the idea of a modern, rational state, Ambedkar’s relationship with Indian nationalist politics, whether it was with the Left, the anti-colonial Indian National Congress, or the Hindu nationalist right, has always been controversial. One of Ambedkar’s most prominent texts is Annihilation of Caste. This essay was originally written as a lecture to be given in 1936 at a conference organized by the Jat-Pat-Todak Mandal (caste-breaking association), a reformist group, in Lahore. The lecture was, however, cancelled by the Mandal as it included a critique of Hinduism that might have offended members and perhaps the larger public. Ambedkar eventually published the lecture, which calls for the end of caste. While his lecture is focused on Hindu society at large, he also addresses different prominent groups, such as the Socialists, Hindu reformist groups such as the Arya Samaj, and other liberals critical of acts of discrimination and violence against Dalits. This was a time of intense political struggle in colonial India, where parties such as the Indian National Congress (INC) were concerned with framing a larger Indian nation that would overcome difference. An engagement with caste that seemingly emphasized the recognition of difference threatens such a project. However, caste was for Ambedkar the fundamental problem, and that social reform was critical: That, the social order prevalent in India is a matter which a Socialist must deal with, that unless he does so he cannot achieve his revolution and that if he does achieve it as a result of good fortune, he will have to grapple with it if he wishes to realize his ideal . . . This is only another way of saying that, turn in any direction you like, caste is the monster that crosses your path. You cannot have political reform, you cannot have economic reform, unless you kill this monster. (Ambedkar 2013: 36)

What makes this polemic especially interesting is that the way Ambedkar breaks down caste is accompanied by a sustained critique of Hinduism as a religion. For Ambedkar (2013: 40–8), Hinduism depended far too much on the shastras, which permitted discrimination on the basis of caste, and, by emphasizing hierarchical difference, caste prevented the formation of Hindus as a united society. Groups like the Arya Samaj and other reformists were especially criticized, as they did not do away with caste or ideas of purity. Caste is to be abolished and hence any politics that does not address this is flawed. It is this point that has set the Ambedkarite project at odds in some ways with the Indian nationalist project. While Gandhi himself argued against caste discrimination, he was critical of Ambedkar’s emphasis on caste as foundational to Hinduism. To Gandhi (2013: 82–5), Ambedkar’s critique of Hinduism as an ‘anti-social’ religion unable to unite different groups was based on a selective reading of Hindu

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scriptures. The divide between Gandhi and Ambedkar when it comes to matters of caste, according to D. R. Nagaraj, is a matter of ontological difference—that is, both figures arrived at an understanding of caste from different political locations. Acknowledging that Gandhi’s role was vital in bringing caste into mainstream conversation from the 1930s, Nagaraj locates Gandhi’s politics in a theory of purifying the Hindu self. Acts such as temple entries and Gandhi’s fast of 1933 were moments that brought the ‘Harijans’ or children of God, as Gandhi referred to Dalits, centre stage. However, when Nagaraj discusses the politics of Gandhians, there is a strong sense of some misunderstanding of the Dalits even among Gandhian critics of caste. The fundamental problem between Gandhi and Ambedkar goes beyond the framing of caste as either a spiritual or a social reform problem, whereby wellmeaning Gandhians spoke on behalf of Dalits, denying them their agency. Rather, as Nagaraj (2010: 52–5) reveals, the divide between Ambedkarite and Gandhian perspectives is influenced by the persistent political and socioeconomic inequality between caste Hindus and Dalits, whereby the Dalit voice remains unheard and presented only through the reformed Hindu. The relationship between Ambedkar and different nationalist groups, from the left to the right wing of the political spectrum, has also been fraught. As Gopal Guru wrote in response to critics of Ambedkar: The so-called nationalists refused to speak in the language of reciprocal recognition of an autonomous political identity of the Dalits which perhaps would have attracted Ambedkar and Dalits to join the nationalist forces. Instead, these nationalists chose to speak in rather vague and abstract and at times arrogant terms which naturally made a person from the margins, like Ambedkar and the Dalits indifferent and often sceptical about the nationalist narrative. (Guru 1998: 157)

The impact of Ambedkar has been felt in everyday politics and intellectual engagement on caste. The Dalit as a figure has been critical to questioning caste in relation to new frameworks that seek to attend to the everyday, such as an attention to humiliation (Guru 2009). Writing in the aftermath of the massacre of Dalits in the village of Khairlanji in western India in 2006, Jaoul describes the forms of continued marginalization experienced by Dalits at the hands of dominant castes in the region such as Kunbis. Jaoul (2008) locates the massacre in an environment where Kunbis had the support of the local police, which resulted in their impunity from any legal action. Dalit politics can be seen in the work of the Bahujan Samaj Party, one of the most prominent parties in the Indian political mainstream. Dalit politics can take other forms as well, seemingly more mundane and localized. Gorringe (2016), for instance, writes about the customary role Dalits had in rural Tamil Nadu to play the drum on special occasions. The drum is regarded by some as symbolic of their subordination to upper castes, while other Dalit activists appropriated the

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drum as a symbol representing their history of marginalization and hence a symbol to challenge the upper castes. While violence experienced by marginalized castes in violation of constitutional safeguards remains a critical issue, the Dalit question indicates the continued political significance of caste. What complicates the discussion is the expression of caste as well. Social movements in the first half of the twentieth century configured anti-caste politics in terms of an opposition between Brahman and non-Brahman (e.g. Pandian 2007; A. Rao 2009). This has become an engagement with ‘Brahmanical’ ideology and values and its opposition. The role of the state in shaping understandings of caste becomes important, especially in framing categories of caste. These categories shape an understanding ostensibly of the two poles of the caste hierarchy, with the Schedule of Castes and Schedule of Tribes (SC/ST) at one end and the ‘General Category’, which covers all upper castes, at the other. The SC/ST is effectively a list of castes who are designated as recipients of protection from the state, though this term has also entered common parlance across India. Nevertheless, one important element in the contemporary narrative of caste thus emerges from those ostensibly located between the two polarities in the caste hierarchy. Scholars like Anupama Rao (2009), writing in the context of early modern and colonial Western India, show groups such as the Marathas and Ati-Shudras formed recognizable communities in the face of changing regional power dynamics and the consolidation of British colonial power. Yet the presence of groups not Brahman and yet not Dalit have come to constitute a field of debate in postcolonial India, especially in the form of the Other Backward Classes or OBCs. According to Galanter, the framing of particular groups as backward has been difficult, as the term ‘backward’ has never been clearly defined. While the OBC grouping is ostensibly about classes, caste has become its organizing principle. While castes and communal factors were critical to listing backward classes, the listing of backward classes varied from region to region and state to state (Galanter 1978: 1820). Some states, like Kerala, draw on income, and others, like Jammu and Kashmir, list OBCs according to region and occupation. Furthermore, to be listed in a category especially after Indian independence raises the problem of stigma. As Parry (1970) pointed out in ‘The Koli Dilemma’, to have a society listed as SC/ST or OBC permits access to some form of state welfare and benefits from affirmative action, yet it also means the acceptance of a low ritual status. This has gradually changed, with much of the discussion now focused mainly on rights and relations with the state. As Galanter (1984) argues, compensatory discrimination operates on a paradox. To alleviate historic inequality based on caste, affirmative action allows for special benefits to be accorded to SC/ST and OBCs, which seemingly goes against the idea of equal treatment for all citizens (1986: 77). While Galanter (1986: 78–82) suggests that policies such as reservations have enabled some redistribution, they have also been criticized for using caste

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as a fundamental principle, thereby not covering others who may seem to be in need of assistance, such as poorer upper castes. In 1978, the Government of India brought together a commission headed by B. P. Mandal to develop policy in consonance with article 340 of the Indian constitution for the upliftment of backward classes. The Mandal Commission eventually presented its report in 1980, recommending listing OBCs according to eleven criteria of socio-economic deprivation and introducing 27 per cent reservations in addition to the 22.5 per cent already in operation for SC/ST. The report lay dormant until 1989, when it was brought back into the public eye by the then prime minister of India, V. P. Singh. The report of the Mandal Commission resulted in large violent protests, resulting in the fall of the V. P. Singh-led government. Much of the criticism of the commission and its recommendations embody the paradox Galanter raises, with protests arguing that reservations go against the spirit of equality, and also that the report does not criticize the so-called creamy layer of lower caste elites who reap the benefits and, finally, that it does not address the needs of poor upper castes. Supporters for affirmative action point out that reservations aim to correct historical inequalities, arguing that upper castes enjoy a historical inheritance that groups like Dalits have lacked (Radhakrishnan 1982). As Omvedt (1990: 2196) argues against those who criticize the Mandal Commission, the protests cause a misreading of reservations, as reservations can only end caste monopoly of organized sector jobs and not end poverty. More recent studies also indicate that groups like Dalits continue to suffer limited upward mobility, while most upper castes are somewhat protected from downward mobility (Vaid 2012), while another study indicates that SC/ST and OBCs suffer similar levels of socio-economic marginalization (Gang, Sen, and Yun 2011). While the questions of OBCs and reservations remain controversial in the light of political action by Gujjars and Jats, which will be discussed later on, the Mandal Commission forced a recognition of the significance of caste identity and a debate on how caste is to be defined (Shah 1991). The debates regarding OBCs also indicate the importance of caste in the political and occupational domains, whereas the importance of ritual domain is diminishing.

WORK, L ABOUR AN D NEW DIMENSIONS OF CASTE So far this chapter has attempted a survey of caste in relation to understandings of Hindu societies, and its emergence as a key marker of social relations and as a form of political community, paying attention to anti-caste and Dalit politics. In this final section, we shall engage with how caste is refracted and transformed through work and labour and in relation to other markers of social stratification—namely, class.

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Among the constitutional safeguards to prevent caste discrimination in India is a policy of affirmative action. Affirmative action in India comprises legal safeguards against discrimination and violence on the basis of caste identity as well as ‘reservations’ or quotas in government jobs and educational institutions to ensure equality of access to all citizens, including marginalized groups comprising SC/STs and OBCs. Reservations in jobs and higher education have been particularly controversial, as they have their supporters, as well as detractors, who argue that affirmative action denies equal opportunity to all. While there is much that can be discussed for which we lack space in this chapter, the politics of reservations raises some interesting concerns that remind one of the politics of recognition in multicultural societies. The politics of recognition—social, economic, and political—is fundamentally about recognizing the presence of a group with ‘respect’ and acknowledgement of their specific histories (Taylor 1994). Conflicts over reservations bring up the politics of recognition in interesting ways. Among Dalits, reservations constitute a form of acknowledgement of their historic marginalization. However, as Nagaraj (2010) points out, advancement through affirmative action has also resulted in an ethical debate among Dalits as to whether those who have benefited from reservations seek to forget their past or work for the advancement of other marginalized peoples. On the other hand, reservations for SC/STs are criticized on a politics of victimhood, as they are allegedly appropriated by a ‘creamy layer’ of the SC/ST and denied to socio-economically marginal people who may belong to other castes. There is no doubt that there are members of upper castes who may face socio-economic and other disadvantages or who may have lost political power because of reservations. Recent scholarship in mobility studies, however, points out that reality complicates popular discourse. An example of this can be seen in Vaid’s work. Vaid begins by addressing expectations of modernization whereby traditional formations such as caste will decline, following improved socio-economic and political conditions in India. Her engagement with national data reveals that high castes continue to predominate in landownership, stable white-collar professions, and businesses, and face low levels of downward mobility, while SC/STs predominate in low-skilled labour, where they face low levels of upward mobility. The scene in the middle castes, however, is much more ambiguous (Vaid 2012: 398–402). In this case, how do we approach critiques of affirmative action policies in India and elsewhere based on caste? While caste is tied to an economic division of labour, many castes do not practise their hereditary occupations. In some cases, particular occupations have been left behind in a bid to leave behind low status. This has been seen not only with different lower castes but also among Brahmans who follow secular professions, as the traditional profession of priests is seen to be of lower status in relation to other upper castes, and even polluting (Parry 1980).

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In some cases, other decisions may prevail. The Konchukorve, a former denotified tribe, use their work in garbage disposal in the Mumbai Municipal Corporation, despite the low status of this work, to allow them to be a part of the state machinery and then participate in informal economic networks (Shinde 2011). Nevertheless, seeking upward mobility for lower castes has been difficult. Much of the criticism directed towards affirmative action pertains to employment in the public sector, whereas the private sector has no obligations. The private sector in India had opposed a suggestion from the Indian government to extend reservations, as it supports ‘meritocracy’. However, a number of studies complicate this picture and show that, while private-sector recruitment values qualifications and merit, one of the key points recruiters considered was ‘family background’. Consequently, this disadvantaged applicants from lower castes and minorities, such as Muslims, whereas it privileged middle-class and upper caste applicants (Jodhka and Newman 2009). Others have often shown that lower caste entrepreneurs or educated members of the lower castes seeking white-collar professions often hide their caste identity at work (Jodhka 2008; Naudet 2008). The contemporary engagement with the world of labour and economy in relation to caste has opened up the possibilities of the intersection of caste with other categories of hierarchy and stratification such as class and race. Since the advent of liberal economic reforms in the early 1990s, there has been a great deal of discussion on the emergence of a new Indian middle class that has seen changes in aspirations, consumption patterns, and world views (Fernandes and Heller 2006; Donner 2008). Much of this work has also focused on urban areas, where there has been a process of demarcating space between the well-to-do and the poor (see Srivastava 2014). The connections between class and caste have often been difficult to sort out. Politically there was an expectation that traditional caste would give away to modern class. However, as research from West Bengal (a state that has been marked by a long history of left-wing politics) suggests, caste still mattered in practice in interactions between different groups, with the so-called working class constituted by large sections of Namasudras, while the secular bhadralok middle class remains overwhelmingly upper caste and Hindu (Ghosh 1979, 2001). As Beteille (1991: 161) observes, the urban middle class in India operates in a ‘truncated system’, whereby caste is disparaged in public and affirmed in private. Historians of the Indian Left have observed the difficulties that have been faced by activists whose appeal among marginalized castes would often be limited by the fact that they emphasized class solidarities at the expense of recognizing caste-specific histories of suffering (Basu 2016; Y. C. Rao 2016). A range of scholarship from the 1990s onwards has shown a close relation between caste and class. Class becomes a way of speaking of caste whereby the

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upper castes have a larger share in the middle and upper classes in India, in comparison to lower castes and minorities who form a larger proportion of lower classes (Fuller 1999; Vaid 2012, 2014). Caste and class have often been treated as discrete and distinct categories. However, according to Mukherjee (1999: 1761), ‘caste in class depicts the reality, and not caste per se or caste and class’. Or, as Fuller (1996: 17) suggests, caste often provides a vocabulary for class. The complex interaction between caste and class can be seen in cases from both ends of the caste spectrum. One study that reveals a complex engagement with caste is by Chris Fuller and Haripriya Narasimhan (2014), who look at the Vatimma Brahmans of Tamil Nadu. Fuller and Narasimhan pay special attention to Vatimma Brahmans who work in the Information Technology industry, which has over the years become one of the most significant symbols of economic growth and modernization in India. Their study explores a range of issues that have been of interest to scholars exploring social change, work, and the middle class. However, what also makes the Brahmans of Tamil Nadu interesting is their location in the context of caste. Politics in twentiethcentury Tamil Nadu has largely been defined by caste. The movement of the reformer E. V. Ramaswamy Naicker ‘Periyar’ brought to Tamil politics a consciousness with regards to caste-based inequality and especially in situating anti-caste politics against the figure of the Brahman (see Barnett 1976). The Brahman came to represent caste ideology and practices, constituting at one time a minority of the population and yet dominating landholdings and jobs in the bureaucracy and sanctioning ritual hierarchy. While contemporary studies emphasize the seeming political eclipse of the Brahmans, with other castes dominating Tamil politics, Fuller and Narasimhan (2008: 182–7) trace the process of migration of the Brahmans to urban spaces in southern India and elsewhere and their move first into government and then into the private sector high-skilled white-collar professions. The Tamil Brahmans are thus a caste that also became a successful modern middle class participating in a globalized world. What is interesting is that a similar process has been observed among other upper caste groups who had acquired certain forms of capital such as education, which gave them an advantage over other castes in the colonial period (Conlon 1977; Leonard 1978). Middle-class life came to be associated with and defined in overt and subtle ways by upper castes. As mentioned earlier, while some studies have shown comparatively limited socio-economic mobility for lower castes, others explore the lives of upwardly mobile Dalits. Pandey (2008) points out that the upwardly mobile subaltern is often faced with the dilemma of having to be a part of the mainstream as well as having to speak for fellow subalterns. This is evidenced in a study by Jodhka and Sarari, who follow intergenerational mobility among educated Dalit activists. While their informants situated themselves in the middle classes,

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many of them reported the ambivalence with which they treated the Dalit label, at times hiding it in public or at other times proclaiming their Dalit identity with pride and helping other Dalits in need (Jodhka and Sirari 2012: 9, 12, 20; Still 2014). The changing socio-economic fortunes of Dalits and other marginalized castes suggest the further complexity of the caste question. Judith Heyer’s study of the textile hub of Tirupur in southern India saw the withdrawal of Dalit women from the workforce to become housewives as family incomes increased. Many of these women were involved in low-paid and demanding forms of work, and the ability of families to afford their withdrawal from the workforce hence meant that they had achieved a higher status (Heyer 2014: 231). However, many lower castes still face difficulties in achieving socio-economic mobility. The field of work and occupation, which has been a critical component of caste, remains important, even if ritual matters have declined. Rather, work and occupations provide sites where different castes can present their claims of entitlements and precarity. The claims of precarity experienced by different castes have been complicated in recent years by agitations in India carried out by groups such as Jats, Gujjars, and more recently Patels, who also demand a share in reservations on work and education. Groups like Gujjars, typically associated with pastoral agricultural work, inhabit an interesting location, as they may be marginal in some regions, such as Jammu and Kashmir, but dominant elsewhere, in states such as Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. In 2008, in the Indian state of Rajasthan, Gujjars demanded that they be removed from the OBC category and be given Scheduled Tribe status. These protests involved blocking sections of major highways leading to the national capital of New Delhi, which led to clashes with the police. The demands for reservations expressed since 2010 by other groups such as Jats, Patels, and Maratha-Kunbis in Western India have also seemed bewildering, as these groups have enjoyed numerical, political, and economic dominance in relation to other castes. However, one study argues that, owing to a shrinking economic base in the agricultural sector, many Jats in northern India are looking to other avenues such as employment in state sectors, and hence agitation for reservations is seen as a solution to impending economic difficulties (Singh 2011: 21). Similarly, Deshpande locates the demands of the Kunbi-Marathas in the reservation scheme in a similar economic field. Initially many dominant castes avoided reservations as they applied only to employment in the state sector, whereas local and regional power and status were determined by landownership and the agricultural sector. However, the collapse of the Maharashtrian sugar industry in the 1990s, which was dominated by Marathas, began to make work in the state sector attractive (Deshpande 2004: 1448). Another aspect of agitations by dominant castes for reservations may come out of perceived fears. Research from northern India shows that the Jats remain dominant in a shrinking agrarian sector and everyday political life, often

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forcing Dalits who have achieved some form of representation in local village councils such as Panchayats to yield to Jat interests, often with the assistance of political parties (see Jeffrey 2001). Despite constitutional safeguards and access to education through quotas and some scholarships, many Dalit parents may often be unable to afford the purchase of equipment and paraphernalia for schooling and higher education, which are not covered in affirmative action policies. However, as Chowdhry (2009: 446) argues in the case of the North Indian state of Haryana, there is an overwhelming fear of Dalits among Jats, as the emergence of the minority of Dalits who have benefited from reservations is seen as competition, especially by the lower segment of Jats (2009: 446). While it is beyond the purview of this chapter for further discussion, they indicate how issues of work, labour, and political economy have become important with reference to caste and offer sites for future research.

CONCLUSIO N This chapter has attempted to explore caste in relation to contemporary Hinduism. Caste is a form of social inequality and logic for social relationships between different groups who make up Hindu societies. Much of the existing scholarship and popular understanding regarding castes suggests that it has become integral to how Hindu societies are understood and how Hinduism is imagined. The chapter first considers caste in relation to Sanskritic concepts of varna and jati and then its emergence in its modern form in the colonial period in Indian history. The chapter then proceeds to consider how caste has persisted increasingly as community, almost operating as different cultures or ethnic groups. The chapter also covers some of the major sociological approaches to caste, which have been, and remain, influential in our understandings of caste. Following this, the discussion moves on to the political engagement with caste, paying attention to the role of Ambedkar and the emergence of Dalit politics. Finally, the chapter reviews research on the transformation of caste in the face of contemporary socio-economic change. Caste is a deeply emotive issue, and there is much more that could be discussed further, such as its existence in other faith communities and the possibility of comparison with race and racial discrimination as seen in different parts of the world. However, the framing of caste as axiomatic to Hinduism is largely agreed upon in scholarship and public discourse and herein remains one difficulty. The construction of modern caste from the colonial period was accompanied by the framing of Hinduism as a modern religion itself, constantly subject to debate and change. Caste begins from a discussion of Hinduism, especially when we look at notions of varna and jati.

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However, much of the current discussion of caste, especially with regards to contemporary Indian politics and state policy, seems now to take place independently of Hinduism at large. While Ambedkar’s critique of caste was also a critique of Hinduism, studies of caste in relation to politics, and especially in relation to socio-economic changes in contemporary India, have left behind conceptual engagements with Hinduism to some extent. This is surprising, as some studies have shown that Hindu nationalist politics often draws upon icons and forms that purport to be pan-Hindu and yet privilege upper or dominant caste cultural forms. This emerges in various forms, ranging from Maratha politics in Western India, mobilization around the Hindu epic the Ramayan, and the destruction of the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya (see Hansen 1999). This is based on a reading of Hinduism not only as a religion but as a political formation. Another major theme discussed in this chapter has been with regards to the contributions of Dr Ambedkar. The writings of Dr Ambedkar have clearly inspired a vast range of writing on Dalit questions, which represent the assertive Dalit perspectives on caste. It will be interesting to see how contemporary discussions of caste can therefore facilitate a rethinking of Hinduism, as Ambedkar had attempted several decades ago, and how contemporary studies of Hinduism can help us revisit caste. It will also be interesting to see how this field evolves and influences broader research and engagement on caste issues. Apart from Dalits, the case of the OBCs remains a fertile field of future research, given that the protests since 2010 by different OBC groups continue to take place. The OBCs, given the continued ambiguity with regards to discussions concerning who is and is not regarded to be backward, are complicating public discussions of caste in India. On the whole, given the engagement of many scholars and commentators on the interaction between caste and class, especially provoked by the world of work, labour, and capital, to which this chapter gives special attention, we are perhaps looking at how caste studies may leave Hinduism studies behind even further. While just touched upon in this chapter, it will also be of importance to see how discussions of caste take place in Muslim, Sikh, and Christian societies, and how they may not only speak of an interaction between these faiths and Hinduism, but also how they may push the discussion on caste as a formation of social stratification further.

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Shinde, Pradeep (2011). ‘Kunchikorve Worlds of Work’. Ph.D. thesis, London School of Economics, Department of Anthropology. Silva, Tudor (2016). ‘Towards a Comparative Sociology of Caste in South Asia: Lessons from Selected Research in India and Sri Lanka’. Paper Presented at a Conference on Sociology and Social Anthropology in/of South Asia, South Asian University, New Delhi, 12 March. Singer, Milton (1972). When a Great Tradition Modernizes: An Anthropological Approach to Indian Civilization. New York: Praeger Publications. Singh, Ajit Kumar (2011). ‘White Jat Reservations?’, Economic and Political Weekly, 46/17: 20–2. Singh, Yogendra (2012). ‘Modernisation and its Contradictions: Contemporary Social Change in India’, Polish Sociological Review, 178: 151–66. Sinha, Mrinalini (1995). Colonial Masculinity: The ‘Manly Englishman’ and the ‘Effeminate Bengali’ in the Late Nineteenth Century. Manchester: Manchester University Press. Spencer, Jonathan (2003). ‘A Nation ‘Living in Different Places’: Notes on the Impossible Work of Purification in Sri Lanka’, Contributions to Indian Sociology, 37/1–2: 1–23. Srinivas, M. N. (1957). ‘Caste in Modern India’, Journal of Asian Studies, 16/4: 529–48. Srinivas, M. N. (1959). ‘The Dominant Caste in Rampura’, American Anthropologist, NS 61/1:1–16. Srinivas, M. N. (1977). Social Change in Modern India. Hyderabad: Orient Longman. Srinivas, M. N. (2009). ‘Varna and Caste’, in The Oxford India Srinivas. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 166–72. Srivastava, Sanjay (2014). Entangled Spaces: Slum, Gated Community and Shopping Mall in Delhi and Gurgaon. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Still, Clarinda (2014). Dalit Women: Honour and Patriarchy in South India. New Delhi: Social Science Press. Still, Clarinda (2015). ‘Comparing Race and Caste’ (a discussion of A History of Prejudice: Race, Caste, and Difference in India and the United States by Gyanendra Pandey), Anthropology of this Century, 12 (January), (accessed 25 January 2019). Taussig, Michael (1993). Mimesis and Alterity: A Particular History of the Sense. New York: Routledge. Taylor, Charles (1994). Multiculturalism and the Politics of Recognition. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Trautmann, Thomas (1964). ‘On the Translation of the Term Varna’, Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, 7/2: 196–201. Teltumbde, Anand (2007). ‘Khairlanji and its Aftermath: Exploding Some Myths’, Economic and Political Weekly, 42/12: 1019–25. Vaid, Divya (2012). ‘The Caste–Class Association in India: An Empirical Analysis’, Asian Survey, 52/2: 395–422. Vaid, Divya (2014). ‘Caste in Contemporary India: Flexibility and Persistence’, Annual Review of Sociology, 40: 391–410. Visweswaran, Kamala (2011). Un/Common Cultures: Racism and the Re-articulation of Cultural Difference. New Delhi: Navayana.

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13 Hindu Law in Modern Times How Hindu Law Continues in Modern India Werner Menski

INTRODUCTION: NORMATIVE PLURALITY IN CHANGING TIMES This chapter’s examination of changes in modern Hindu law through the impact of state law emphasizes the increasingly complex continuity of this relationship (Williams 2006). It theorizes the key hypothesis that there is no one-directional law-centric development or impact, rather increasingly complex net-like interactions. Since law has no absolute control, academic analyses that presume dominant authority for law and an increasingly irrelevant influence of religion and culture seem deeply misguided, especially in today’s postmodern age. As in law, latent fears of disorder and chaos seem widespread and prominent among Hindus (Naipaul 2011: 15). This is reflected in old Hindu notions of kaliyuga, a term for the present age of confusion and chaos.¹ Close interconnections between society, politics, law and religion make many Hindus feel the need to remain somehow linked to ‘religion’ as a back-up insurance mechanism. Hinduism as a family of culturally similar traditions is marked by unity-indiversity (Lipner 1998: 6). It is ‘not a homogenous religion at all, but is rather a potpourri of religions, doctrines and attitudes towards life, rites and cults, moral and social norms’ (Michaels 2004: 3). While law and religion exist in perennial tension, the huge banyan tree of Hinduism (Lipner 1998: 5) cannot be cut down by legal intervention and will always grow new shoots ¹ A pertinent example of such chaos concerns the contested caste status of Shivaji, a major Hindu ruler (Bayly 1999: 59). On caste, see Tharoor (2000: 103–11).

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in response to regulatory efforts. Hinduism and Hindu religion, undoubtedly, are themselves highly contested and internally diverse entities, with numerous meeting points and large overlaps with law, not least in the realm of ‘Hindu law’ (Menski 2003). Many aspects of Hindu law are secular rather than religious, hence making it a conceptual mistake to treat everything ‘Hindu’ as religious. Debates about the extent to which this ‘Hindu law’ is actually still ‘Hindu’ (Derrett 1957: 27), if indeed there ever was something that one can label ‘Hindu’ (Michaels 2004: 12), raise further questions. While earlier colonial interventions often misunderstood and misrepresented ‘Hindu law’ (Derrett 1968; Menski 2014c), with the early effects of this mainly felt in Bengal (Sarkar 2001) and Southern India (Oddie 2006), the current scenario of Hindu law as the major personal law of India (Menski 2001, 2003) constitutes a formal, albeit deeply multifaceted, reality. Additionally, Hindu concepts have continued to influence how modern and postmodern Indian laws are being produced and managed by the state. This becomes more evident when a nationalist Hindu government, whether at the centre or in one of the numerous states of India, is in charge of lawmaking. Given the plural demographic realities of modern India, however, ongoing processes of lawmaking and use of the formal legal system cannot be a straightforward process of ‘hinduization’, or the imposition of Hindutva (a fundamentalist form of Brahmanical Hindu nationalist consciousness) (Singh 2005). In fact, India is simply not allowed to turn into a Hindu state (Hindu rashtra), by order of its secular Constitution of 1950. The complex relationship between law and religion examined here discloses highly contested and diversified responses, especially in terms of understanding ‘Hindu’ and ‘Hinduism’ (Michaels 2004: 3) and of understanding the role of law as a tool of governance in a highly pluralist society. In the global North, we have for decades been struggling to handle the increasing presence of nonWestern cultures and normative systems, including ‘Oriental’ religions. We often forget that, in the Indian subcontinent, pluralist management of diversity of religions and laws has been a constant necessity for several millenniums (Menski 2010). In such plural contexts, sophisticated legal management and day-to-day lawyering, even in constitutional law, is increasingly theorized as a pluralist construct (Menski 2003; Amirante 2014) and it does not matter whether we talk of legal pluralism or normative plurality (Menski 2014a, b, d). With well over 1.2 billion people living in India now, multiple deficiencies in handling such a huge legal system according to rational criteria and efficient bureaucratic standards are inevitable, for this is not a place that could be run like Singapore or Switzerland. Securing justice in India is, inevitably, a neverendingly huge challenge (Sen 2009).

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CONNECTIONS OF PAST, P RESENT, AND FUTURE Given such challenges in state-centric regulation, unsurprisingly Indian law and India’s handling of Hindu law continue also in the twenty-first century to rely on various ancient principles of self-controlled ordering, and there is a marked continuity (Williams 2006). Modern India, the world’s largest democracy, remains influenced by Hinduism, yet is also committed in a concerted national effort to develop a cultural-specific legal system not found anywhere else on the globe. Understanding the lived realities of India’s ‘rule of law’ requires awareness of the history and doctrines of Hinduism (Lipner 1998: xv). Given law’s close connection with identity, it is difficult to separate Hindu law from ‘religion’ and ‘culture’ (Menski 2012). A more appropriate methodology, reflected also in practice, involves complex amalgamations, at all levels and in many different contexts. Easily and superficially politicized, lawmaking in twenty-first century India is not merely a matter of Hindu nationalist discourses, but affects the plural, composite identity of the whole nation, increasingly also in a global context. In addition, every Hindu community and family, and every individual for him or herself, is inevitably connected to and enmeshed in this complex superstructure. Thus, however ‘progressive’ a commentator may claim to be, simple denials of the capacity of Hindus, as bearers of Hindu law and culture, to act as rightsconscious agents of modernization reflect bitterly contested scholarly politics, as well as efforts to silence pluralist analysis (see Williams 2006: 38–42). Apart from arguments about Hinduism as a false religion (see Shah 2015: 4) and ‘monster tradition’ (Oddie 2006: 46), those asserting the inherent political incorrectness and modern irrelevance of Hinduism and Hindu law conveniently forget that modern, secular traditions are rooted in specific Westerndominated local, cultural, and religious moments and traditions, which allows space for the coexistence of religion and secularity. Thus, expecting Hindus or Hindu-dominated India to shed the social and cultural elements that form the fabric of various hybrid Indic cultures effectively asks several hundred million people to disown their identity. This antagonizes many Indians and generates defensiveness (Sarkar 2001: 36). Conversely, supposedly universal idioms of modernity are deeply mistrusted in India as hidden claims of Western superiority, even while many Indians appear to copy elements of modernity. In India, as elsewhere, upperclass elites dominate the production of published knowledge (Sarkar 2001: 53). Yet this does not mean that Hinduism and Hindu law could just be extinguished by modernist reforms because elite voices occupy the public space and shout the loudest. Indeed, ‘the Western “secular solution” may not provide the sole answer to the problem of intolerance’ (see Parashar and Dhanda 2008: 26).

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The argument that Hindu textual and social traditions can be reinterpreted from within, in turn, is treated as unrealistic by those presenting Hindu law as frightful fragments of horrible ‘traditions’ connected to sacerdotal violence (Shah 2015), and/or built on textual codes like some Napoleonic construct (Menski 2003: 8). The central Hindu concept of righteousness (dharma), idealistically expecting that everyone should be doing the right thing at any moment in life, is not trusted as a sufficient safeguard (Parashar 1992; Parashar and Dhanda 2008). Following India’s independence in 1947, Britain’s leading expert of Hindu law at that time (Derrett 1957: v) noted with mixed feelings how fresh Indian ambitions of codified lawmaking were claiming to lead the nation to a Garden of Eden. Soon, though, it was realized that something as complex as Hindu personal law could not simply be abolished by statute or pressed into a comprehensive code. In fact, the deliberately fragmented nature of Hindu law as a people’s law in India protects cultural and religious pluralism. Self-controlled ordering remains an integral part of the lived experience of most Indians, and multilocational justice is prominent (Solanki 2011: 60). The next section, after further cautious remarks about the limits of lawmaking in relation to ‘religious’ laws, examines efforts during the colonial period to regulate Hindu law and highlights their restrained, often strange, and distorting effects. The focus then shifts to examining how postcolonial Indian law has dealt with Hindu law through various legal reforms. Throughout we see that exclusive focus on legal formalities does not capture the entire picture of the continued vitality of Hindu personal law in India.

BRITISH COLONIAL ADMINISTRATION OF HINDU L AW

The Limits of Law Widespread assumptions that fundamental legal changes were brought about in Hindu law under colonial rule seem quite exaggerated. Uncritically assuming that ‘law’ has the power to change society overnight, such writing reflects strong presuppositions about the inherent moral and political superiority of colonial systems. The reality was more a partial transformation (Sarkar 2001: 23–4), and recent fieldwork-based studies (Solanki 2011) suggest that much of Hindu law in India remains based on internal self-regulation. The formal legal system as an educational tool may at best influence people’s value systems but can also strengthen reactionary conservative trends. While new official laws may indeed be imposed overnight, such legal provisions, like promises of

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complete justice, remain merely a desired outcome, an ‘ought’ rather than an ‘is’. Many commentators on legal developments, for a variety of reasons, forget to mention this rather critical distinction. The current Indian Constitution of 1950, amended from time to time, quietly makes good use of this discrepancy by promising, immediately in the preamble, ‘justice, social, economic and political’, displaying acute awareness that this classic legal ‘ought’ remains unfulfilled for hundreds of millions. While the same can be said about most of the Fundamental Rights guaranteed in Part III, many provisions of the same Constitution, specifically the Directive Principles of State Policy in Part IV, openly acknowledge the unfulfilled agenda of the state’s legal system. Most clearly, Article 38 directs the state to secure a social order for the promotion of people’s welfare and provides the following in subsection (1): ‘The State shall strive to promote the welfare of the people by securing and protecting as effectively as it may a social order in which justice, social, economic and political, shall inform all the institutions of the national life’ (emphasis added). This explicit cross reference to the ideals of the Preamble is highly significant. Even more indicative of these subtle Indian regulatory methods is the highlighted admission that the state may never be fully effective in securing such grand promises. One may call this legal realism. However, many academic critics take such deficiencies in implementation as proof of the state’s systematic failure to fulfil its promises, reflecting inflated expectations of the reformative power of state law. To take only the most pertinent example, modernist lobbyists have expressed strong convictions that abolishing Hindu law and the entire personal law system in India would be conducive to achieving better justice and communal harmony. Since the state does not act, however, such commentators voice damning criticism (Dhagamwar 1989; Parashar 1992). But how would one ascertain whether the people of India, who seem deeply divided over such issues, actually want such a reform? Parliament clearly did not act according to the wishes of elitist writers. Even frequent calls by senior judges for the introduction of a Uniform Civil Code, itself a Directive Principle of State Policy under Article 44 of the Constitution, have not had the desired effect. In such a chaotic, contradictory situation, how does one assess the performance of the Indian legal system and the impact of state law on Hinduism and Hindu law?

Legal Regulation in the Colonial Period Despite essential continuities (Williams 2006: 5), legal regulation during the colonial period should be analysed in a rather different light from today’s legal reform efforts. Colonialism was not designed in a democratic framework to achieve justice and express and implement the people’s will. A tool of

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colonial subjugation under a racially arrogant and discriminatory state (Sarkar 2001: 5), colonial law was imposed on a largely illiterate and ignorant population. Additionally, especially in the personal law sphere, the peripheral nature of colonial legal influences becomes evident quickly. Parts of what is today India was brought under direct colonial rule between 1600–1858 and 1947. Thus, the British made laws only for territories under direct rule. British India remained a fragmented patchwork and never became one solid legal entity. Implementation was further limited because the colonial rulers and their staff were a tiny minority, and the focus on property and profit as a central concern of colonialism cannot be overlooked (Baxi 1986: 22). While Hindu religion and culture were an immediate target for reform, informal local dispute settlement methods would remain untouched. Colonial intervention thus did not replace or even displace Hindu law, as Galanter (1972) has so prominently claimed. It merely introduced some new formal elements and methods, particularly legal procedures (Menski 2003: 156–85). This partial (in every sense of the word) and fragmented approach may have marginalized Hindu law further, while people’s resistance and local diversifications rendered it largely invisible to the colonial gaze, turning it still more evidently into what the Japanese theorist Masaji Chiba called ‘unofficial law’ (Menski 2006: 124–5). Baxi (1986: 42) argues that British lawmaking, following Bentham’s utilitarian approach, was also perceived as an instrument of planned social change. Sarkar (2001: 70) notes that there ‘had been, from the early decades of the nineteenth century, a number of proposed legal changes pertaining to the Hindu conjugal order’. The wording is significant, as the slow pace and piecemeal nature of legal intervention in personal laws, theorized by Williams (2006: 9) as a policy of non-interference, strongly reflects the wariness of the colonial power to intrude in sensitive areas of group morality. While early British involvement sought to preserve and respect this ‘religious’ Hindu element, Dhagamwar (1992: 71) explicitly notes that colonial administrators like Macaulay treated Hinduism as absurd and backward, envisaging its abandonment after contact with Western civilization. Procedural changes, especially the preference for legal certainty and precedent (stare decisis), conceptually and practically contradicted the fluidity of śāstric and customary sources. This contrast could be strategically exploited and encouraged speculative devious litigation, creating a ‘lawyers’ paradise’ (Sarkar 2001: 9) and a fairly rigid case-law system, known as Anglo-Hindu law. Intimately linked to mental processes of the colonialization of minds (Nandy 1983: xi), this introduced some significant formal changes. Starting from a peripheral position, early British traders in the subcontinent had to fit themselves into existing local legal structures, rather than creating and influencing laws from the outset. The early administrators of the East India Company, trading under the Royal Charter of 1600, were not trained lawyers and focused on commercial gain. The political centre was penetrated

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only in 1858, when Mughal rule was superseded by British sovereignty. Subsequently, the resulting amalgam became a complex hybrid of local laws and colonial inputs known as Anglo-Indian laws and Anglo-Hindu law. The widespread assumption, still strong today, that Indian law is merely English law, and that the British simply gave Indians their law, as though there had been a legal void before, is a myth (Menski 2003). Legal textbook authors, even today, often perpetuate such myths, reflecting inadequate education systems in Europe and India. Once they started trading in India, the British had to provide legal mechanisms for settling increasingly complex civil and criminal law matters that could not completely disregard local laws. While application of local laws to British personnel was considered deeply inappropriate (Jain 1966: 2–14), it often became inevitable. Derrett (1968: 231) indicated that the East India Company found a flourishing tradition of śāstric Hindu learning in Eastern India. By that time, earlier patterns had already been set in Western India, where the strategic decision to respect local religions and customs became part of the survival strategies of an insecure company severely challenged by rival colonial powers. Early British administrators realized that applying English law to Indians would create chaos (Derrett 1968: 276). While judicial patterns in the presidency towns became a formal replica of English structures, in the rural hinterlands, in the so-called mofussil or mufassil, ‘the preponderant population was Indian, and the British administrators, Warren Hastings in particular, very well realised that it would not work if an alien system was foisted on them’ (Jain 1966: 4). After the East India Company had obtained the local authority (Diwani) rights over some parts of Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa from 1765 onwards and still under Mughal sovereignty, they urgently had to develop suitable methods of judicial administration. In 1772, Warren Hastings, then Governor-General of Bengal, issued his famous regulation, including provisions to the effect that ‘in all suits regarding inheritance, marriage, caste and other religious usages and institutions, the laws of the Koran with respect to the Mahomedans, and those of the Shasters with respect to the Gentoos, shall be invariably adhered to’. This effectively stopped the British from introducing English law, so that family law and religious matters, with succession added in 1781, became the exclusive domain of personal laws. However, this declaration also gave notice that the British intended to exert more direct control over the perceived ‘secular’ sphere, starting with criminal law as a priority area in public law. This separation of public law from the influence of religion, whether Hindu, Muslim, or Christian, led eventually to formal secularization of large areas of legal administration, the so-called general law or Anglo-Indian law, which is not our concern here. At that time, codification was considered essential for good administration (Banerjee 1984: 167). However, Banerjee’s claim (1984: 182) that ‘it was decided that India was to be governed under English law’ is a misleading overstatement.

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CONSTRUCTING ‘BOGUS ’ ANGLO-HINDU L AW Legislative intervention and codification were not restricted to the ‘unlisted subjects’, however. In derogation of Warren Hastings’s declaration of 1772, from the Sati Regulation of 1829 and the Caste Disabilities Removal Act of 1850 onwards, the British began interfering in Hindu law to combat grave abuses within Hindu society. Widow burning (sati) in Bengal as ‘one of the most ghastly and inhuman customs of “the Hindu system”’ (Oddie 2006: 213) received most prominence. British prevarications in outlawing this practice were criticized by missionary societies (Oddie 2006: 211–14). Hindu reformers like Rammohun Roy became active, so that ‘as a result Hinduism would never be the same again’ (Lipner 1998: 64). Yet vigorous Indian opposition to planned amendments of the Indian Penal Code of 1860 at the end of the nineteenth century slowed down British legislative zeal. Objections arose specifically against British efforts to stipulate higher minimum ages for marriage and its consummation (Sarkar 2001; Menski 2003). Thereafter, only some selected reforms were introduced, often under pressure from Western-educated Indian opinion-makers. Major relevant Acts are the Child Marriage Restraint Act of 1929 and the Hindu Women’s Right to Property Act of 1937. The British as legal administrators of Hindu law certainly required more knowledge about ‘traditional’ Hindu law. While many early British administrators rejected this approach, Warren Hastings through his regulation of 1772 put Hindu law on an equal footing with Islamic law. Practical demands of dispute settlement meant Hindu law could not be ignored. Some British personnel appeared ‘sincerely anxious’ (Derrett 1968: 274) to understand these native laws, yet proceeded on the partly false assumption that Hindu law was found in śāstric texts and that textual experts were holding the keys to the legal authority hidden in them. Early British attempts to understand Hindu law from within involved using native scholars as experts (Derrett 1968: 225). The 1772 scheme entangled these Hindu pandits or śāstrīs in new roles, which neither they nor their employers fully understood. From 1780 onwards until 1864, indigenous experts were consulted on so-called listed subjects (Derrett 1968: 232–3), as Hastings had accepted Hindu arguments that certain areas of the law were subject to religious norms and Hindu pandits should remain an authority on those topics. This policy was increasingly appreciated as a device to ensure stability of the British government in India (Jain 1990: 580). It appears that English judges sought to elicit responses about ‘law’, while the Hindu experts answered in terms of dharma, a classic case of failed crosscultural communication (Menski 2014c). This leads to exaggerated scholarly claims that, as personal laws were now made identical to religious norms, this resulted in a monolithic reconstruction of Hindu tradition (Sarkar 2001: 71).

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Such arguments overlook that this communication was happening only in formal contexts. Over time, situation-specific Hindu solutions would be reconstructed as binding precedents, a trend promoted by the Supreme Court at Calcutta. The emerging formal structure, completely unlike Hindu law, developed on a case-by-case basis, remained initially context sensitive, and prevailed especially at the district level (Derrett 1968: 235–6). Yet, once formal insistence on precedent imposed itself more firmly, this ‘gradually brought into the administration of Hindu law an entirely new feature, highly embarrassing to the pandits’ (Derrett 1968: 237). As the gap between official Hindu law and the living Hindu law grew, internal Hindu processes of ascertaining dharma became irrelevant to colonial administrators, who now followed their own procedural models and value systems in formally reconstructing Hindu law. Yet, to reiterate, this happened only within the official realm of Anglo-Hindu law. Until 1864, the judges took help from indigenous experts, especially in the mufassil (Jain 1990: 581). Treating the experts as religious rather than legal authorities (Derrett 1968: 234–5), the British judges thus played a sympathetic part in the revival of Hindu learning and even, for some time, furthered the production of Hindu law treatises (Menski 2003: 168–75). When this process was aborted, the dharmaśāstra as a living and responsible science suffered ‘death-sickness’ (Derrett 1968: 250), for no translation of any smriti, even the Manusmriti, could enable the courts to administer Hindu law. The desperate search for certainty, trying to collect bricks for the altar of precedent, meant that the British and their Indian followers no longer wanted to know that traditional Hindu law had operated differently. Case law as the new source of Hindu law went fundamentally against the most elementary Hindu principle of justice, consideration of specific facts, and circumstances in every case. The next step of reconstruction was that fragments of two twelfth-century Sanskrit texts on property and succession, the Dāyabhāga and the Mitāksarā, were built into this system of precedents, although in later years obvious mistakes were discovered (Derrett 1968: 301). This grounded the eventual view in the Privy Council that, with regard to property law and succession, there were really only two schools of Hindu law. This mistaken perception (Cohn 1997: 74) is still reflected today in standard Hindu law textbooks. Hindu law was now what the British judges declared it to be, an artificial new construct, a gross caricature of traditional Hindu law, neither English nor śāstric (Derrett 1968: 274), a bogus system and a ‘hybrid monstrosity’ without parallel in the world (Derrett 1968: 298). Anglo-Hindu law now developed its own momentum as the new formal source of Hindu law, while the process of restating Hindu law through textual exegesis was abandoned. Derrett (1968: 227–8) indicates that the British ability to administer justice and particularly to inflict punishment impressed many Indian observers. The consequent attraction of litigation as a means of harassing enemies (Derrett 1968: 232)

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confirms the usefulness of this Anglo-Hindu law for colonial subjugation. The gap between law and society became much wider than under traditional Hindu law. Simultaneously, British attempts to respect Hindu customs aimed to bridge this growing gulf between formal law and local practice. The Privy Council held, in the much-cited case of Collector of Madura v. Moottoo Ramalinga (1868) 12 MIA 397, that, ‘under the Hindu system of law, clear proof of usage will outweigh the written text of the law’. However, it was made virtually impossible for litigants to satisfy the high standards of proof to establish custom (Desai 1998: 65–8). While rhetorically the importance of customary law was recognized and even administratively regulated in some places, fullscale recognition of Hindu customs was not considered viable. Notably, this problem persists in administering Hindu law today, causing serious confusions if judges are not alert to social reality (Menski 2001, 2003).

THE PERCEIVED POSTCOLONIAL NEED FOR F URTHER CODIFICATION OF HINDU LAW Cohn (1997: 21) has argued that the British Raj converted Indian forms of knowledge into European objects to achieve their agenda of control. His analysis identifies that the process of publishing authoritative decisions in English ‘had completely transformed “Hindu law” into a form of English case law’ (Cohn 1997: 75). However, this did not thereby become English law. It remained Hindu personal law and was also not the only Hindu law that existed. After Indian independence in 1947, this formal colonial construct was perceived as problematic. It seemed best to attempt further reforms of Hindu law through codification, raising fresh questions over the role of Hindu religion and culture in relation to law. Desai (1998: 66) argued that ‘the only remedy was comprehensive legislation in the form of a uniform code’, which was understood either as unification of Hindu law or as abolition of the personal law system altogether. While ‘the great chasm between custom and law remained’ (Derrett 1968: 305), formally unrecognized customs did not cease to exist in social reality. Despite acknowledgements that local customs were important in Hindu law and that Anglo-Hindu law covered Hindu law only partially (Derrett 1968: 320), Indian lawyers remained ignorant of Hindu customary law (Kishwar 1994: 2160), leaving it to anthropologists and others, while calls for reforms of the ‘traditional law’ rose to a chorus during the 1940s and then again in the 1970s. Baxi (1986: 20) has lamented that almost all Indian books on legal history present a narrow account of legal

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institutions, devoid of social analysis. Until recently, studies of the sociocultural and religious dimensions of Indian laws were rare (Baird 1993). If we turn to the law itself, in 1947 three types of Hindu law shared the same social field in independent India—namely, the ‘old’ Sanskrit-based Hindu law with its emphasis on sadācāra and the rita/dharma complex, the colonial Anglo-Hindu law created and applied by the courts, now known as ‘traditional’ Hindu law, and innumerable local forms of customary Hindu law. The latter were the dominant phenomenon in practice, as only 5 per cent of cases reach the High Courts (Solanki 2011: 32). The extremely diverse scenario, given that ‘the private law of the Hindus is one of the most complicated in the world’ (Derrett 1957: 3), confirms that Hindu law was neither completely displaced nor abolished or disfigured beyond recognition. Many millions of Hindus would not even want direct contact with the state and its law-making apparatus (Derrett 1968: 223). More recently, Williams (2006: 8) has blamed personal laws for generating ethnic conflict, overstates the extent of codification of Muslim personal law (Williams 2006: 11, 17), but notes correctly that Hindu opinion was and is severely divided on codifying reforms (Williams 2006: 17–18). Earlier, Derrett (1968: 304–5) noted that, with a few outstanding exceptions, ‘Hindu judges have been undistinguished for learning in dharmaśāstra’ and observed that śāstric training and busy legal practice are fundamentally incompatible. A judge who might display such learning in today’s secular environment would face vigorous challenges as an adherent of Hindu nationalist trends (Hindutva). One major reason for such ideological battles is the lack of scholarly appreciation about the close relationship of law and religion and the related scholarly inability (see Williams 2006: 38–42) to appreciate postmodern intricacies of legal pluralism theorizing. That differentiation of positive law and religious or moral obligation is insignificant and even irrelevant in relation to the rita/dharma complex, as the fact that the smritis are not codes of law (Kishwar 1994: 2148) should be clear. It means that distinguishing the religious and the secular did not always make sense, and ‘indeed, for many Indian people it does not pertain even today’ (Baird 1993: 3). Statecentric lawyers, however, have overlooked this. Modernist perceptions were vigorously propounded by Dr Ambedkar, who wanted to de-hinduize Hindu law. Pointless agonizing over whether or not the śāstric texts are positive law, however, cannot bypass the fact that the ancient Hindus had law, whose ‘legal postulates (Menski 2006: 125) remain relevant today as identity markers. While the Hindu legal system was not built on state-centric structures, it was erroneously declared a ‘religious’ law when it is actually a culture-specific natural law, based on ethics that can be as much religious as secular (Menski 2003). Because of a failure to see this clearly, Indian legal debates have, as noted, seriously overlooked that much of Hindu law was and is based on custom, a predominantly secular, sociocultural law.

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Unwary readers opening any ‘leading’ Hindu law textbook today are therefore often seriously misguided about basic elements of traditional Hindu law and its manifestations. It remains important to correct such confused perceptions. For example, statements that the Hindu ruler constitutes the final arbiter in dispute settlement do not actually mean that the Hindu ruler was a kind of Napoleon, but merely restate ancient verses that portray him as the final arbiter in disputes. Such a ruler is then not the source of Hindu law itself, merely an interpretative agent. Since most legal disputes among Hindus never reach a higher formal forum, many of the sources of Hindu law, even today, in effect remain located in society’s value systems, not state-centric legal structures. Unless India’s current textbooks on Hindu law are rewritten properly to reflect social realities and legal pluralism, future generations of Indian lawyers will continue to be confused about the role of ‘religion’ and of the vernacular elements in Hindu law.

POSTCOLONIAL INDIAN LAWMAKING: INCOMPLETE REFORMS In the post-Independence period, neither the Sanskritic nor the non-élite elements of Hindu law received prominent attention. Both were targets of reformist disdain and were destined for further marginalization. Yet this does not mean that these traditional elements have ceased to exist. The banyan tree of postcolonial Hindu law silently grew some fresh shoots, while the official agenda of modern postcolonial Hindu law reform privileged modernization, codification, and unification as key elements of progressive Indian legal development (Menski 2003: 185). When earlier reformative efforts focused on social amelioration, regarding the age of consent in the 1890s and later the Child Marriage Restraint Act of 1929, fears of excessive colonial intervention had suggested caution. Following Indian Independence, ‘the codification and reform of the Hindu personal law was hailed as the symbol of the new government’s supposed commitment to the principles of gender equality and non-discrimination enshrined in the constitution’ (Kishwar 1994: 2145). Two camps of reformers emerged, those wanting a comprehensive civil code and ‘those who are content temporarily with a Hindu Code’ (Derrett 1957: 31). Dr Ambedkar led an aggressive modernist reform movement, combined with anti-Hindu rhetoric, which caused public indignation (Derrett 1957: 68). In fact, ‘Dr Ambedkar came to grief largely because he proclaimed a little too loudly . . . that the “Hindu Code Bill” was going to break the pride and power of the high-caste Hindus’ (Derrett 1957: 37).

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As a result, the original ambitious plan of a comprehensive Hindu Code in the late 1940s had to be dropped. It is deeply misleading, then, to name the four Hindu law statutes of the 1950s, starting with the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955, as the Hindu Code (but see Williams 2006: 18, 97). Rather, these four Acts became fragmentary, piecemeal additions to a growing armoury of state law that skilfully built traditional Hindu concepts and customs into state law (Kishwar 1994). This was further evidence of Verstaatlichung of dharma, but not its complete removal or suppression. For example, even today the major criterion for legal validity of a Hindu marriage in India is not its formal registration by the state, but whether appropriate rituals and ceremonies were performed in accordance with custom. Section 7 of the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 reads as follows: Section 7: Ceremonies for a Hindu marriage. (1) A Hindu marriage may be solemnized in accordance with the customary rites and ceremonies of either party thereto. (2) Where such rites and ceremonies include the saptapadi (that is, the taking of seven steps by the bridegroom and the bride jointly before the sacred fire), the marriage becomes complete and binding when the seventh step is taken.

Subsection (1) entirely preserves the old customary position under Hindu law, whereby marriage solemnization is a matter for performance of customary rituals. As these vary by locality, caste, and family, and also from case to case, custom should be interpreted without undue rigidity. It often escapes notice that India’s postcolonial definition of custom, under section 3 of the 1955 Act, has actually been expanded and now signifies ‘any rule which, having been continuously and uniformly observed for a long time, has obtained the force of law among Hindus in any local area, tribe, community, group or family’ (Menski 2003: 298; emphasis added). This is significantly relaxed compared to the much tighter definition under Anglo-Hindu law, which demanded proof of custom followed ‘since time immemorial’. The reformed Hindu law of 1955 thus silently supports strong presumptions of the legal validity of customary Hindu marriages and divorces and these protective mechanisms for the legal recognition of Hindu marriages and divorces, hidden away in section 29 of the same Act, are often overlooked.² Another pertinent example for plurality-conscious reforms would be that the rhetoric of formal criminalization of Hindu polygamy is not implemented in practice, and a woman who is party to a polygynous Hindu marriage is entitled to maintenance payments (Menski 2003: ch. 10; Solanki 2011: 198, 209). Overall, then, the Hindu law statutes of the 1950s introduced only selective reforms, and ‘living law’ scenarios often remain completely informal, ² See on this Menski (2003: 445), but wrongly Parashar and Dhanda (2008: 203). Kishwar (1994: 2150) notes astutely that the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 actually has two divorce laws.

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even in urban settings, as Solanki (2011) and others show, and India’s family laws today remain a unique mixture of traditional and modern elements. Significantly, though, many academic and legal commentators are fiercely critical of India’s reluctance to abolish the personal law system and customary laws with their various alleged discriminatory effects (Parashar and Dhanda 2008). While for Derrett (1957: 271) it was ‘evident that Parliament has not legislated so far with the interests of the poor and illiterate citizens (i.e. the majority) in mind’, doubts may be in order, as the lawmakers knew and cared little about customary laws, yet allowed their continuation for people who would not be able to afford costly formal legal processes. Twenty years later, when Derrett (1978) pronounced classical Hindu law as dead, this was not a celebration of Hindu law’s demise, but a wake-up call with ominous warnings that modern India’s secularizing family law reforms had gone too far and would not effectively protect vulnerable members in society. Modernist activists’ emphasis on reformative state intervention does put sustained pressure on the Indian state to intervene more aggressively. The new strategy chosen, however, as hardly anyone has noticed, is not the abolition of Hindu personal law, but the introduction of a new general law with competing sets of legal rules that apply to all citizens. For example, India’s secular Domestic Violence Act of 2005 reflects international law impact and now conflicts with the existing personal laws. This has been leading to new case law, which completely befuddles most academic analysts and also confuses and irritates many senior judges.

CONCLUSIONS In late postcolonial, postmodern Hindu family law, the formal Verstaatlichung of dharma is a methodology of legal reform that endorses rather than overrides customary practices. It could not be argued that traditional Hindu law was completely reformed or is dead today. The explicit recognition of Hindu customs and values confirms that ‘the right law’ for India is today a culturespecific plural construct, a hybrid entity with Hindu elements, continuously challenged to prove that it is a ‘good law’. The application of such laws is indeed subject to constitutional justice tests. Two competing trends in assessing the relationship of Indian law and Hindu religion may be observed. We find continuing urgent calls today for further legal intervention in ‘religious’ personal laws, often based on gender justice arguments, referring to principles of international law and human rights. Indeed, these efforts have resulted in important new statutory provisions beyond the personal law system. Concurrently, however, we also see the state’s and common people’s resistance to this pressure to introduce secular general law, as the latter not only conflicts with the traditional religion-based personal laws, but also contains many aspects

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that disrupt existing gender balances, which, in conditions dominated by patriarchal concepts, cultivate their own forms of respect for ‘tradition’ as well as the best interests of women and children. That there is no agreement on what those best interests are or should be is a global predicament, not only an Indian problem. As a result, all actors on this densely crowded stage of lawreform debate remain somewhat confused and upset. This is particularly evident from recent case-law developments, whose detailed analysis would go too far here. To give just one example, Hindu spouses, both men and women, can today claim divorce on many fault grounds, but there is no effective welfare state system in India to support abandoned women and children. Since around 1988, Indian courts have therefore begun to argue against the ‘modern’ principle of irretrievable breakdown of marriage, reasoning somewhat tongue-in-cheek that, as there is a bit of cruelty in every marriage, ‘cruelty’ by itself would no longer be sufficient as a ground for divorce. This shows an acute sensitivity to social conditions, confirming that India is today working on postmodern countryspecific solutions for family-law problems, which continue to rely partly on ‘traditional’ religious and cultural norms and duties, rather than an insistence on ‘modern’ individual rights. As the wider public is not clearly told what the key agenda is, and the Indian state suffers from a deficit of resources to handle massive problems of poverty alleviation, many complaints of abuses of human rights in Indian family law can be heard. Given the massive challenges posed by India’s huge population, the key to understanding postmodern Indian family-law developments remains continued recognition of self-controlled ordering, largely disconnected from the claimed formal supremacy of state law, and yet connected through the democratic and human-rights safety net of India’s strong Constitution. Avoidance of chaos, which often means the day-to-day survival of vulnerable women and children in society, is primarily a localized, socio-economic challenge. Continued popular resistance to bureaucratized state control of family law thus remains a strong feature of India’s socio-legal scenario. The limited extent to which Indian state law can provide sustainable answers leaves the vast majority of Hindu individuals to rely on self-controlled ordering processes. These remain nourished by Hindu concepts and presuppositions and may actually be surprisingly secular and often not so different from Muslim concepts (Solanki 2011: 67, 91). Even in the minds of those who are explicitly atheistic, agnostic, or secular—and that includes many more Hindus than we realize— this prudent self-sufficiency in a scenario of considerable distance from the bureaucratic modern state is a burden that most people in society have to carry and cultivate, whether they like it or not. The continued presence, resilience and liveliness of Hinduism, in many parts of today’s world, thus confirms in abundance, not only for India, that Hindu values remain pertinent also in so-called secular legal settings.

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REFERENCES Amirante, D. (2014). Lo stato multiculturale. Bologna: Bononia University Press. Baird, R. D. (1993). Religion and Law in Independent India. New Delhi: Ashoka. Banerjee, A. C. (1984). English Law in India. New Delhi: Abhinav. Baxi, U. (1986). Towards a Sociology of Indian Law. New Delhi: Satvahan. Bayly, S. (1999). Caste, Society and Politics in India from the Eighteenth Century to the Modern Age. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Cohn, B. S. (1997). Colonialism and its Forms of Knowledge: The British in India. Delhi: Derrett, J. D. M. (1957). Hindu Law Past and Present. Calcutta: A. Mukherjee & Co. Derrett, J. D. M. (1968). Religion, Law and the State in India. London: Faber & Faber. Derrett, J. D. M. (1978). The Death of a Marriage Law. New Delhi: Vikas. Desai, S. A. (1998). Mulla’s Principles of Hindu Law. 15th edn. Bombay: N. M. Tripathi. Dhagamwar, V. (1989). Towards the Uniform Civil Code. New Delhi: Indian Law Institute. Dhagamwar, V. (1992). Law, Power and Justice: The Protection of Personal Rights in the Indian Penal Code. New Delhi: Sage. Galanter, M. (1972). ‘The Aborted Restoration of “Indigenous” Law in India’, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 14/1: 53–70. Jain, M. P. (1966). Outlines of Indian Legal History. 2nd edn. Bombay: N. M. Tripathi. Jain, M. P. (1990). Outlines of Indian Legal History. 5th edn. Bombay: N. M. Tripathi. Kishwar, M. (1994). ‘Codified Hindu Law: Myth and Reality’, Economic and Political Weekly, 29/33 (13 August), 2145–61. Lipner, J. (1998). Hindus: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices. London: Routledge. Menski, W. (2001). Modern Indian Family Law. Richmond: Curzon. Menski, W. (2003). Hindu Law: Beyond Tradition and Modernity. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Menski, W. (2006). Comparative Law in a Global Context: The Legal Systems of Asia and Africa. 2nd edn. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Menski, W. (2010). ‘Sanskrit Law: Excavating Vedic Legal Pluralism’, SOAS School of Law Research, Paper No. 05-2010, (accessed 14 July 2017). Menski, W. (2012). ‘Plural Worlds of Law and the Search for Living Law’, in W. Gephart (ed.), Rechtsanalyse als Kulturforschung. Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 71–88. Menski, W. (2014a). ‘Legal Simulation: Law as a Navigation Tool for DecisionMaking’, Report of Japan Coast Guard Academy, 59/2.1: 1–22, (accessed 14 July 2017). Menski, W. (2014b). ‘The Liquidity of Law as a Challenge to Global Theorising’, Jura Gentium, vol. xi, Pluralismo Giuridico. Annual, 9–42, (accessed 14 July 2017). Menski, W. (2014c). ‘Lost in Translation: The Monist Management of Colonial Hindu Law’, in Mitsuya Dake and Satoko Nakane (eds), INDAS International Conference 2013. In Search of Well-Being: Genealogies of Religion and Politics in India. Kyoto: Center for the Study of Contemporary India, Ryukoku University, 18–40.

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Menski, W. (2014d). ‘Remembering and Applying Legal Pluralism: Law as Kite Flying’, in Séan Patrick Donlan and Lukas Heckendorn Urscheler (eds), Concepts of Law: Comparative, Jurisprudential, and Social Science Perspectives. Farnham: Ashgate, 91–108. Michaels, A. (2004). Hinduism Past and Present. Hyderabad: Orient Longman. Naipaul, V. S. (2011). India: A Million Mutinies Now. New York: Vintage International. Nandy, A. (1983). The Intimate Enemy: Loss and Recovery of Self under Colonialism. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Oddie, G. A. (2006). Imagined Hinduism. New Delhi: Sage. Parashar, A. (1992). Women and Family Law Reform in India. New Delhi: Sage. Parashar, A., and A. Dhanda (2008) (eds). Redefining Family Law in India. London: Routledge. Sarkar, T. (2001). Hindu Wife, Hindu Nation: Community, Religion, and Cultural Nationalism. London: Hurst & Company. Sen, A. (2009). The Idea of Justice. London: Penguin. Shah, P. (2015). Against Caste in British Law. London: Palgrave Macmillan. Singh, P. (2005). ‘Hindu Bias in India’s “Secular” Constitution: Probing Flaws in the Instruments of Governance’, Third World Quarterly, 26/6: 909–26. Solanki, G. (2011). Adjudication in Religious Family Laws. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Tharoor, S. (2000). India. From Midnight to the Millennium, New Delhi: Penguin. Williams, R. V. (2006). Postcolonial Politics and Personal Laws. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.

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14 Modern Hindu Dharma and Environmentalism Pankaj Jain

For millennia, Hindus have been reciting their mantras to revere rivers, mountains, trees, animals, and the earth itself. In the 1970s, when the Chipko (tree-hugging) movement arose in the Indian Himalayas, several observers noted its connections with the Hindu traditions (James 2000; Kent 2016), but there are other examples of Hindu action for the environment that are centuries old (Jain 2011). However, the modern urban Hindu organizations have included environmentalism in their agenda, as we will see in this chapter, and most of the Hindu organizations of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries are responding to modern ecological problems with modern means, much in line with Western styles of activism (Halbfass 1988). In this chapter, I present the stated ecological missions and ongoing environmental projects of several modern Hindu organizations, in addition to my own research findings on the Bishnois and Swadhyayis. In the concluding discussion, I compare these two categories of modern and traditional Hindu environmental work.

A BRIEF RESEARCH REVIEW The pioneering edited volume Hinduism and Ecology was edited by Christopher Chapple and Mary Tucker (2000) and contained articles by participants in the forum on Religion and Ecology at Harvard University in the late 1990s. The contributors in the volume were from diverse fields, including religious studies, history, geography, anthropology, biology, political science, environmental studies, women’s studies, and Indology. The volume covered several environmental categories such as traditional Hindu concepts of nature, Gandhian notions of an indigenous environmental ethics, the role of

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and view of forests and sacred rivers, and the ways in which texts and ritual practice may help in the development of an environmental conscience. Another significant feature of this volume was the sheer scope of texts and contexts it covered. Its chapters provided several Sanskrit quotations as well as contextual discussions on environmental movements and issues such as the Chipko movement, the Narmada valley campaign, and the pollution of rivers. A review of chapters from this pioneering volume can still serve as a concise review of the main research on Hinduism and ecology. In his chapter, Chapple noted that India has the world’s largest environmental movement, with more than 950 NGOs dedicated to environmental concerns. He also mentions a subtle dilemma within Hinduism. While the ascetic traditions negate and seek to renounce the world, the householder traditions encourage a harmony of human beings with their natural and social worlds. As Narayanan (1997) also notes elsewhere, these two branches of Hindu practice, observed by a majority of Hindus, can provide eco-friendly perspectives by fostering the development of devotion towards natural resources. Laurie Patton and Lance Nelson in their respective chapters continue the discussion on themes in the Hindu world that may be counterproductive to certain contemporary environmental values. One, noted by Patton, was the incidence of animal sacrifice and violence in the Vedic ritual traditions. Similarly, Nelson notes that the Bhagavad Gītā dichotomizes humans and nature and in turn negates and devalues the natural world. The late Anil Agarwal, one of the pioneers of the environmental movement in India, expressed a similar concern that the traditional focus on self and individuality may discourage social activism needed for ecological causes. In his chapter, Philip Lutgendorf notes that forests were viewed as dark and dangerous places in the Rāmāyana. : Kelley Alley observes that the sacred rivers were beyond the notions of cleanliness and pollution, and thus Hindu traditions, in some cases, might not provide an environmentally active guideline for the practitioners—a theme fully manifested in her monograph later (2002). In their respective chapters, O. P. Dwivedi and K. L. Seshagiri Rao present the other side of the debate by citing several examples from Sanskrit texts. They argued that Hindu dharmic teachings inspire people to revere and respect nature based on the idea that divinity is omnipresent. Moreover, ahimsā, or non-violence, discourages harming natural resources, while no: tions of karma and rebirth connect humans with the larger animal world. In her chapter, Mary McGee cited the Arthaśāstra, attributed to the Mauryan minister Kaut ị lya (3rd century ), noting that Hindu kings had the responsibility to protect and manage natural resources, particularly the forests. In her chapter, Ann Gold mentioned a ruler, Vansh Pradip Singh, who ruled the small kingdom of Sawar in Rajasthan from 1914 to 1947, and passionately cared for his trees. Gold came out with her own monograph on this theme (Gold and Gujar 2002). In her chapter, T. S. Rukmani cited the

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Abhijñānaśākuntalam, probably the best-known Sanskrit drama, written in the late fourth century by Kālidāsa, to demonstrate a holistic relationship within Hinduism of man and nature. Vinay Lal and Larry Shin both described, in their respective chapters, the lifestyle and values practised and advocated by Gandhi as a great role model for Indians in particular, and for the world in general. Noting that Gandhian values may be ‘too deep’ and idealistic even for the proponents of ‘deep ecology’, Lal argues that the lifestyle and values that Gandhi promoted were often too difficult to be adopted and practised. Somewhat as a counterpart to Lutgendorf ’s argument, David Lee, in his chapter, cites nature-friendly examples from the Rāmāyana. : Frederique Apffel-Marglin and Pramod Parajuli, in their co-authored chapter, argue that moral ecology presented a better alternative than an environmental ethics based on a religious view. According to them, a religious view often limited itself to the confinement of a particular ideology, which cannot bring together people who often share more than one religious tradition—for instance, the villagers in several South Asian villages whose practices are often informed by Hinduism, Islam, and local tribal culture. Therefore, they coined the term ‘ecological ethnicity’, which better captured the human–nature relationship, based on a moral framework rather than a religious one. The next several chapters address problems related to rivers. While David Haberman specifically dealt with the religious stature of the river Yamuna (and published a monograph later on this theme (2006)), Chris Deegan, William Fisher, Pratyusha Basu, and Jael Silliman described social problems arising from the new environmental situation in the Narmada valley. In the final section of the volume, Madhu Khanna and Vijaya Nagarajan presented Hindu rituals and their potential for environmental ethics. Khanna described the Durgā Pūjā, which is celebrated by millions of Hindus every year in West Bengal, and Nagarajan analysed the practice of drawing Kolams in South India. Both these practices have roots in eco-feminism, as both celebrate the feminine power of the earth, and other Hindu goddesses. However, such practices do not automatically lead to environmental awareness among the practitioners. George James concludes the volume by describing the Chipko movement and its underlying impetus, based on Hindu texts and rituals. James rightly notes that Chipko, literally meaning ‘to hug’, is one of the first environmental movements of India. Stories from Hindu devotional texts such as the Bhagavad Gītā and the Purānas : were used and recited during the Chipko ecological activism. Ladies tied sacred threads on trees and sang verses from the Bhāgavata Purāna : for several days when one of the Chipko leaders Sunderlal Bahuguna was fasting as part of one of the key events of the movement. Bahuguna eventually features in a monograph by James (2014). This volume, with its great breadth and depth, continues to serve as a resource for students and scholars of Hinduism and ecology. One major issue that did not receive much attention in this volume was the eating habits

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of Hindus. Given the recent attention to meat eating as a major cause for global warming, Hindu vegetarian dietary preference remains to be examined for its ecological impact. Detailed research on the environmental work done by global Hindu organizations is still missing. I present some highlights of this modern Hindu environmental work in the next section.

MODERN HINDU NGOS AND THEIR ECOLOGICAL PROJEC TS One of the most widely known Hindu reform movements, the Ramakrishna Mission, founded by Swami Vivekananda (1862–1902), is well known for its social work. Kamala Chowdhry describes its thirty-seven Forest Protection Committees in West Bengal (Paranjape 2005: 139). These committees have helped stop the pilfering and illicit felling of trees. The members of these committees, mostly wage labourers and pastoralists, work together to protect the local forests and use the local natural resources responsibly. Similarly, the works of Swami Vivekananda indirectly inspired, under the leadership of Anna Hazare, one of the most visible movements for ecological restoration in Maharashtra (Pangare and Pangare 1992). Similarly, the teachings of Sri Aurobindo (1872–1950) inspired the founding of a community near Pondicherry in South India called Auroville, in which ecological restoration and progress towards sustainability have been central goals (Sullivan 1994). Another global Hindu organization, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, has undertaken several environmental initiatives, such as seven million aluminum cans and 5,000 tons of paper collected for recycling, 1.5 million trees planted in 2,170 villages, 5,475 wells recharged in 338 villages, solar energy and biogas used at its temples, and 497 Rain Harvesting Projects completed. For their various livestock projects, BAPS cattle farms have been awarded thirty-four National Livestock Awards across the world, while several BAPS temples have installed solar panels and other hi-tech appliances to cut down their fossil fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. They have also participated in local Earth Day celebrations and river clean-up efforts in California and other places across the world. One of the newest global Hindu movements, Art of Living, headed by its founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, has developed biodynamic farming propagated by the Sri Sri Mobile Agricultural Institute. It has trained farmers to revert to organic farming, to plant more trees, and to adopt soil and water conservation measures. It particularly promotes the introduction of organic farming techniques, such as vermi-composting and the use of natural pesticides, biofertilizers, and effective microorganisms. Similarly, the All India Movement for

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Seva, founded by the late Swami Dayananda Saraswati, has included green energy projects and organic farming in the Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, and Maharashtra. Another recent Hindu guru, Amma, ‘the hugging saint’, has inspired green initiatives. Her organization engages in tree planting and the maintenance of plants. Its members also practise eco-meditation, a method of re-establishing the vitally important harmony between nature and humanity. Through the Amrita Vanam (Amrita Forests) Project, they undertake large-scale forestation projects in conjunction with State Forestry Departments. Every November, they distribute and plant 100,000 saplings in the state of Kerala. They also aim to restore the lost tradition of the Kerala manor garden, comprising a grove, a pond, and a shrine. Ecological initiatives by the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University (BKWSU) are focused on renewable energy at their headquarters in Mount Abu, Rajasthan. Their research and development programme comprises the following technologies: hybrid alternative energy systems, passive solar architecture, photovoltaic power packs, solar hot-water plants, solar steam cooking systems, and water recycling technologies. They have also collaborated with various Indian and European agencies to conduct their research. In 1995, the American Sai Organization, an establishment by Sathya Sai Baba, launched a programme called ‘The Earth—Help Ever Hurt Never’. The list of the projects involved reusing or recycling batteries, paper, shopping bags, greeting cards, and shoes. In addition, it promoted a vegetarian diet and launched a tree-planting campaign. Another Hindu movement, Gayatri Parivar, organized a river-cleaning operation on the banks of Har kī Pauri, Haridwar, on 26 October 2005. The Governor of Uttaranchal, head of the All World Gayatri Parivar Pranav Pandya, and students, teachers, and volunteers of their various institutes removed fifty trucks of waste material from the riverbed. On another occasion, in Khammam district, Andhra Pradesh, of Gayatri Parivar, spread the message in twenty-four local schools of celebrating the Holi festival without burning trees and bushes. There is an increased focus on celebrating other Hindu festivals in eco-friendly way. In Orissa, the Sacred Gift builds on the people’s devotion to Lord Jagannath—a devotion that has been a key element of Orissan culture for at least 2,000 years—and aims to set up three forest conservation zones, each incorporating about ten villages situated in state-owned forestlands. Since 2000, each village has had a Forest Protection Committee to promote joint forest management based on practical incentives and employment schemes. In 2001, the local communities developed a management plan in collaboration with Alliance for Religions and Conversation. By mid-2007, 2,369 hectares were earmarked for plantation under the Shri Jagannath Vana Prakalpa Forest Project. A key feature of Hindu environmental work is its focus on animals,

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especially the ‘holy cow,’ as noted by Lodrick (1981). In the next section, I present some of my own research findings about bovine preservation and protection in contemporary Hinduism.

HINDUS AND THE BOVINE DHARMA During my fieldwork in Rajasthan in 2006, I was impressed by a unique centre for cattle protection, Shree Sumati Jeev Raksha Kendra, located adjacent to the town of Malgaon in Sirohi District. This campus is developed by the K. P. Sanghvi Group, and it comprises a Jain temple complex and an animal welfare centre. The centre, established in 1998, takes care of sick, injured, old, retired, and homeless stray cattle, dogs, and donkeys. The institute has a gośālā (cattle sanctuary) that is spread over an area of more than seven million square feet, taking care of more than 5,000 stray cattle. The centre employs more than 150 people, including a few veterinary doctors, to look after the cattle. Cow milk is used for rituals at the adjacent temple complex, and the garden in the shelter premises provides flowers for the temple. According to Ramavtar Aggarwal, secretary of the All India Gośālā Federation, there are more than 3,000 Gośālās in India, and the Sumati Centre at Pavapuri is one of the biggest. Another organization called Love4Cow maintains a nationwide list of Gośālās. The Hindu reported a Gośālā Satyam Śivam Sundaram Gaunivas at Gaganpahad near Hyderabad (5 July 2005). Considered South India’s biggest cattle shelter and managed by the Shiv Mandir Goshala, the shelter houses over 2,000 cows rescued from slaughterhouses, in addition to 200 bulls. Justice Gumanmal Lodha, an ex-lawmaker of the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party, during his tenure as the chairperson of the National Commission on Cattle, published a detailed report to ban cow slaughter in India and submitted to the Union government of India. The report, in four volumes, called for stringent laws to protect the cow and its progeny in the interest of India’s rural economy. Lodha moved close to a national ban on cow slaughter in India, although most states except Kerala had already banned it long ago. However, this type of political activism is also interpreted as pseudoenvironmentalism, since it is thought of as tied to a bigger motive of luring the ‘Hindu’ vote-banks in the electoral politics of Indian democracy. As the chapters in the present volume by Katju by Gellner and Letizia, show the issue of cow protection is highly politicized both in India and in Nepal. A detailed political discussion on this topic is beyond the scope of this chapter and I now shift to two more environmental examples from my own research (Jain 2011).

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DHARMIC ECOLOG Y OF S WADHYAYIS The Swadhyaya movement arose in the mid-twentieth century in Western India as a new religious movement led by its founder, the late Pandurang Shastri Athavale. In my research, I discovered that there is no category of ‘environmentalism’ in the ‘way of life’ of Swadhyayis living in the villages. The concept of dharma can be successfully applied as an overarching term for the sustainability of the ecology, environmental ethics, and religious lives of Swadhyayis. Dharma synthesizes their way of life with environmental ethics based on its multidimensional interpretations. Having heard about the treetemples of Swadhyaya, I called their office in Mumbai to visit one of these sites in the summer of 2006. Soon, I found myself on my way to Valsad in Gujarat. I arrived at the home of a swadhyaya volunteer, who took me to the site of the local tree-temple, together with several other Swadhyayis. All of them showed warmth and enthusiasm to welcome me and explain about the tree-temples and several other works and ideologies of the Swadhyaya movement. The treetemple appeared like an oasis, having suddenly sprung up out of nowhere. It was a dense garden of trees of mangoes and chikoo (sapodilla). Although I appreciated the view of lush green trees, I was particularly impressed that it was built on a land where people had previously lost all hopes of cultivation. Even the government had declared it as barren land. As the caretakers of this garden began explaining the way they perceive the trees and the vision of their guru Athavale, I began asking questions related to environmentalism. What follows is a summary of my findings. Vṛks: amandiras, literally tree-temples, are constructed as inspired by Athavale’s teachings regarding trees as gods. By several explanations from Indic texts, he developed a set of preaching that I would like to term ‘arboreal dharma’, dharmic ecology inspired by the qualities of trees. One of their slogans is Paudhe main Prabhu (literally,’ God in plants’). To explain divine power in trees, he interpreted the capillary action of trees in this way: ‘There is a divine power in trees which makes it possible for water and fertilizer to rise from the roots below and reach the top portion against the gravitational force. It is not just the result of Keśākars: ana : (capillary action) but it is Keśavākarsạna force).’ According to Athavale, ancient Indic sages : : (Kṛsna’s had the spiritual vision to see divinity in the entire universe. Since it is difficult for common people to see this transcendental reality in their routine lives, sages specifically asked them to revere some representative plants such as Tulsi, Vata, and Bilva. In July 1979, Athavale gave a practical shape to his dharmic ecology, when he inaugurated the first tree-temple at the village of Kalavad in the Rajkot district in Gujarat. It was named Yājñavalkya Upavan, an orchard named after the Vedic sage Yājñavalkya. There were 6,000 trees planted here. So far,

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followers of Athavale have created about two dozen such tree-temples in Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Andhra Pradesh. Villagers nurture them throughout the year. They frequent tree-temples not as gardeners but as devotees. The orchard becomes their temple, and nurturing the plants becomes their devotion. The fruits or other products collected from such orchards are treated as prasāda, divine gift. The income generated from selling such fruits is either distributed among needy families or saved for future such prayogs. Athavale had repeatedly emphasized that the main goal of Swadhyaya is to transform human society based on the Upanishadic concept of ‘Indwelling God’. According to him, since the Almighty resides in everybody, one should develop a sense of spiritual self-respect irrespective of materialistic prestige or possessions. In addition to one’s own dignity, the concept of ‘Indwelling God’ also helps transcend the divisions of class, caste, and religion. Athavale exhorted his followers to develop the Swadhyaya community based on the idea of ‘brotherhood of humans under the fatherhood of God’. Activities of Swadhyaya are woven around this main principle, which in turn are also aimed at an Indian cultural renaissance. Although environmentalism is neither the means nor the goal of Swadhyaya’s activities, natural resources such as the earth, the water, the trees, and the cattle are revered and nurtured, and environmentalism does emerge as an important byproduct of its multifaceted activities. I argue that a multivalent term like dharma can comprehend and describe this kaleidoscopic phenomenon, and the way it relates to the ecology. Swadhyaya followers do not regard environmentalism as their main duty, their dharma. Alternatively, from the outside, one can regard their dharma, their cultural practices, as ecologically sustainable. I also want to note that my observations are based on their activities in the rural parts of India; the urban and the diaspora Swadhyayis do not have such ecological projects yet. I now present my research finding (Jain 2011) about the Bishnois, another contemporary rural Hindu community that has continued its environmental work for last several centuries.

DHARMIC ECOLOGY OF BISHNOIS While media and scholars have celebrated Indian women environmentalists and activists such as Medha Patkar, Arundhati Roy, Gaura Devi, and Vandana Shiva, the story of Indian eco-feminism, as of today, rarely mentions Amrita Devi. According to my Bishnoi informants, she led a massive sacrifice for the protection of trees in September 1730, in the village of Khejadali, near Jodhpur. As many as 363 Bishnoi men and women, led by Amrita Devi, sacrificed their lives to protect the khejari trees from the soldiers of King Abhay Singh of Jodhpur. The names and villages of the 363 people who died

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here are recorded by Mangilal Rao and Bhagirathrai Rao, two men from the Mehlana village of the Jodhpur district. Both worked for two years, from 1976 to 1977, to gather this information from traditional writings. The Raos have been traditional recorders of historic events in Rajasthan since ancient times. From their research, it is revealed that people from 49 villages sacrificed their lives; 294 of them were men and 69 were women. This event is believed to have taken place on 9 September 1730. On 12 September 1978, the corresponding day according to the lunar Hindu calendar, a large fair was held at Khejadali for the first time commemorating the massacre, which has now become an annual celebration. Contemporary Bishnois continue to celebrate this incident by actively protecting and preserving their natural resources and animals. In a well-known incident, the Hindi film actor Salman Khan was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment for killing a blackbuck on 26 September 1998, the sacred antelope of the Bishnois. This was possible largely because of the active involvement of Bishnois in the entire legal process. Similarly, in January 2007, local Bishnois of the village Agneyu in Bikaner filed complaints against another film producer when a horse died on set. Similarly, on 14 March 2008, the Akhil Bhartiya Jeev Raksha Bishnoi Sabha (All Indian Bishnoi Assembly for the Protection of All Creatures) demanded the removal of Indian cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni, for sacrificing an animal (New India Press, 14 March 2008). In October 1999, Bishnois surrounded the local police station in Churu, Rajasthan, after more than twenty Indian gazelles and three peacocks were found dead near the village of Sansatwar. Authorities had to suspend the local police officers for their alleged negligence in failing to prevent these killings. Another episode of Bishnoi ecological activism comes from the Abohar Wildlife Sanctuary. Its Divisional Forest Officer regularly depends on the local Bishnoi community to patrol against poachers. During my fieldwork in 2006 in Jodhpur, I met Gurvindar Bishnoi, who had founded an NGO called the Community for Wildlife and Rural Development Society. Like other Bishnoi examples, his mission is to save and protect animals that are injured by accidents or by hunters. Whenever a deer or blackbuck or any other animal or bird is injured, people call Gurvindar Bishnoi for help. He rushes to the location, takes the injured animal to the hospital, and takes legal action, if necessary, against the hunter. He had also produced a video documentary about Bishnois and Jambheśvara. I also visited Śri Jagatguru Jambheśvara Goshalā Sansthā (Shri Jagatguru Jambheśvara Institute for Cattle Protection) in Bikaner, Rajasthan. This cattle sanctuary takes care of about 1,335 cows. This institution is inspired by Amar Thāt, an animal shelter institution mentioned in one of the verses by Jambheśvara’s disciple Udojī Naina. Naina stated that the goats should be looked after and bullocks should not be castrated. Jambheśvara prohibited the keeping of goats as pets and ordained against the slaughter of goats and sheep by asking by whose sanction do butchers kill sheep and goats? Since even a

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prick by a thorn is extremely painful to human beings, is it proper to indulge in those killings? These animals should be treated as our own kith and kin and should not be harmed in any way. As a rule, following the Holi festival, villagers participate in a public auction to take care of the animal sanctuary for the next year. P. Sivaram, a sociologist at the National Institute of Rural Development, Hyderabad, conducted a study of two Bishnoi villages in the Luni block of the Jodhpur district in 2000. The respondents mentioned that they were staunch followers of twenty-nine foundational Bishnoi principles about dharma, nonviolence, vegetarianism, and nature protection, due to which their cattle population, green patches, and soil fertility have increased. Based on these benefits, Bishnois were more prosperous than other communities. From several examples of environmentalism practised by Bishnois, it is evident that the religious charisma of their founder, guru Jambheśvara, has successfully endured over the several centuries. Bishnois effectively act as a deterrent against the hunting expeditions by outsiders. Deer and other animals tend to concentrate near Bishnoi houses during the late afternoons and early evenings, common times for hunting. Jambheśvara also offered traditional interpretations of Hindu myths and legends without any major reinterpretation or reconstruction. He simply reinforced the powerful influence of the term dharma among his followers. Introducing his autobiography, Mahatma Gandhi (1957) mentioned: ‘In my experiments, spirituality means morality, and dharma means ethics; morality practices with a spiritual view is dharma.’ Like Gandhi, Jambheśvara also saw morality, ethics, and spirituality as intertwined. For example, in his 72nd preaching, he emphasized that only moral virtues such as truthfulness, honesty, and compassion evict the evil from a human and transform oneself into a true human being. In his 11th, 23rd, 77th, 99th, 106th, and several other teachings, he emphasized moral actions as a prerequisite for religious life (Jain 2011). Overall, we see an overlap of religious, personal, and ecological attitudes in these Bishnoi examples and also that the term dharma is used interchangeably to refer to one’s religion, duty, as well as the socio-political order of the universe, both by the founder and by the followers of the Bishnoi community. Most of the Bishnois are barely aware of the Western scientific discourse on ‘global warming’ or ‘biodiversity’. For the Bishnoi, a tradition based on the words and life of their guru is sufficient to take up the cause of environmentalism. I have noted a clear evolution from the textual or ritualistic reverence for trees and animals towards a practical everyday implementation of ecological activism. Thus, Bishnoi serve as one of the most powerful examples of environmentalism rooted in a dharmic tradition. Unlike other religious movements, the dharma of Bishnois is not just limited to their religious rituals or scriptures, but it includes natural resources beyond

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their religious sites, as is evident from the examples of their sacrifices done in the farmlands of their villages.

D H A R M A AND RELIGION From all the examples cited here, we find that several modern Hindu organizations have begun adapting to environmental problems in their own ways. Although Hindu traditions already present examples of reverence for trees, mountains, rivers, and other natural resources in their scriptures and rituals, recent new movements have been able to connect the rituals with environmentalism, as evident from the examples cited. Modern organizations have already begun ‘becoming green’ and their ecological initiatives are largely driven by their awareness about ecological issues. Their environmentalism is a conscious response to the problem. On the other hand, Bishnois and Swadhyayis have continued to practise their traditional lives not as a response to modern ecological problems but because of inspiration from the myths, legends, and teachings of their gurus. Most of the modern Hindu organizations that have included environmentalism as a distinct category in their agenda are often understood as ‘new religious movements’, rooted in the idea of ‘religion’ as a distinct category. Since the environmentalism of Swadhyayis and Bishnois appears different from modern organizations, it is possible to theorize these latter case studies using the concept of dharma. Here, we can call the environmental practices of Swadhyayis and Bishnois for types of Dharmic Ecology. Rather than motivated by the modern scientific awareness of ecological issues, Dharmic Ecology reflects the traditional ecological awareness of these communities. Frederique Apffel-Marglin and Pramod Parajuli (2000) have argued that, despite recognition of bio-divinity in Hindu texts and traditions, ‘Hinduism (or any other religion) cannot offer the solution for contemporary environmental crisis’. My survey of modern organizations seems to concur with this assertion. Most Hindu organizations had to adapt themselves to current environmental issues. Without conscious reinterpretations of their traditions, their religious underpinnings did not automatically provide all the solutions needed to respond to the impending ecological crisis. However, my study of Swadhyayis and Bishnois presents an alternative environmentalism that is rooted in the dharmic traditions of these communities successfully preserved and even developing new ecological resources. Apffel-Marglin and Parajuli suggest that, since religions tend to separate sacred from profane, these cannot present a comprehensive framework able to inspire local level collective initiatives that can assume the moral responsibilities for social and ecological justice. I agree that, if we view ‘Hinduism’ from

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the lens of ‘religion’, we might see a divide between sacred and profane. However, most Asian traditions, such as Shintoism, Daoism, and Hinduism, are rooted in quite different frameworks, unlike Western religious foundations (Sanford 2007). I suggest that the Indic traditions should be interpreted using the notion of dharma. Dharma can help transcend the dichotomy of sacred and profane because it includes the notion of duty and ethics in addition to religion. Swadhyayis and Bishnois present this dharmic ethos as an alternative to social ecological framework suggested by Ramachandra Guha (2006). Since duty and ethics are integral components of dharma, dharmic ecology includes the framework of moral ecology that Apffel-Marglin and Parajuli (2000) suggest. Apffel-Marglin and Parajuli further present Gandhi as an emblem of moral ecology but fail to note that Gandhi’s moral inspiration was deeply rooted in his dharma based on Hindu teachings such as non-violence, truthfulness, and celibacy. Thus, dharma that includes ethics, morality, duties, and religion should be given serious attention for environmentalism in India. McKim Marriott has suggested that dharma can be an ethno-sociological category to study and analyse the Indic world that frequently transgresses the world of religion, environmental ethics, and human social order, as is evident from my case studies of Swadhyayis and Bishnois. Swadhyayis and Bishnois use dharma to mean both their religious practices and their socio-ecological duties. Thus, I suggest that the concept of dharma can function as a bridge between the environmental ethics of local Hindu communities and the global ecological message related to planet earth. The word dharma can be effectively used to translate ecological awareness to reach out to local communities of Hindus, based on its meanings related to duties, ecological order, sustenance, virtues, righteousness, and religion.

CONCLUSIO N In this chapter, I have presented dharmic ecological examples of Swadhyayis and Bishnois in addition to various other environmental and animal protection projects by global Hindu NGOs. I have also tried to define dharmic ecology rooted in Indic notions of dharma—that is, different from the notion of religion rooted in Abrahamic religions. Extending this distinction further, I would argue that rural Hindu communities such as Swadhyayis and Bishnois are different from other modern Hindu environmental NGOs, such as that of the Chipko movement. The activists of the Chipko movement were conscious about their survival needs derived from their surrounding forests, but, for Bishnois and Swadhyayis, protection and maintenance of their natural resources are more dharmic than economic. When Bishnois save a blackbuck, their inspiration is based on the dharmic teachings of their guru. Swadhyayis

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build new tree-temples, and millions of other rural Hindus protect their sacred groves with similar inspirations. Following Milton Singer (1972), I suggest that India’s traditionalism works as a built-in adaptive mechanism for making change. Essentially, it is a series of processes for incorporating innovations into culture and validating them. Thus, the charisma of gurus such as Jambhesv́ ara and Athavale could incorporate their innovations and validate them based on traditional interpretations. These examples seem to match Milton Singer’s conclusion (1972: 247): ‘Indian civilization is becoming more “modern” without becoming less “Indian”.’

REFERENCES Alley, Kelly (2002). On the Banks of the Ganga: When Wastewater Meets a Sacred River. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Apffel-Marglin, Frederique, and Pramod Parajuli (2000). ‘ “Sacred Grove” and Ecology: Ritual and Science’, in Christopher Key Chapple and Mary Evelyn Tucker (eds), Hinduism and Ecology: The Intersection of Earth, Sky, and Water. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 291–316. Chapple, Christopher Key, and Mary Evelyn Tucker (2000) (eds). Hinduism and Ecology: The Intersection of Earth, Sky, and Water. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Gandhi, Mahatma (1957). An Autobiography: The Story of my Experiments with Truth. Boston: Beacon Press. Gold, Ann G., and Bhoju Ram Gujar (2002). In the Time of Trees and Sorrows: Nature, Power, and Memory in Rajasthan. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Guha, Ramachandra (2006). How Much Should a Person Consume? Environmentalism in India and the United States. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. Haberman, David L. (2006). River of Love in an Age of Pollution: The Yamuna River of Northern India. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. Halbfass, Wilhelm (1988). India and Europe: An Essay in Understanding. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. Jain, Pankaj (2011). Dharma and Ecology of Hindu Communities: Sustenance and Sustainability. Farnham: Ashgate. James, George A. (2000). ‘Ethical and Religious Dimensions of Chipko Resistance’, in Christopher Key Chapple and Mary Evelyn Tucker (eds), Hinduism and Ecology: The Intersection of Earth, Sky, and Water. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 499–530. James, George A. (2014). Ecology is Permanent Economy: The Activism and Environmental Philosophy of Sunderlal Bahuguna. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. Kent, Elizabeth (2016). ‘Hinduism and Environmentalism in Modern India,’ in Brian A. Hatcher (ed.), Hinduism in the Modern World. New York: Taylor and Francis/ Routledge, 290–308.

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Lodrick, Deryck O. (1981). Sacred Cows, Sacred Places: Origins and Survivals of Animal Homes in India. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. Narayanan, Vasudha (1997). ‘ “One Tree is Equal to Ten Sons”: Hindu Responses to the Problems of Ecology, Population, and Consumption’, Journal of American Academy of Religion, 65/2: 291–332. Pangare, Ganesh, and Vasudha Pangare (1992). From Poverty to Plenty: The Story of Ralegan Siddhi. New Delhi: Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage. Paranjape, Makarand (2005). Dharma and Development: The Future of Survival. Delhi: Samvad India Foundation. Sanford, A. Whitney (2007). ‘Pinned on Karma Rock: Whitewater Kayaking as Religious Experience’, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 75/4 (December), 875–95. Singer, Milton (1972). When a Great Tradition Modernizes: An Anthropological Approach to Indian Civilization. New York: Praeger. Sullivan, William M. (1994). The Dawning of Auroville. Auroville: Auroville Press.

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15 Hinduism in the Secular Republic of Nepal David N. Gellner and Chiara Letizia

I N T R O D U C TI O N Nepal looms large in the modern Hindu imagination for three reasons.¹ First, it encompasses a large stretch of the holy mountains, the Himalayas. Second, there are three top-ranked pilgrimage sites in Nepal (Muktinath, Pashupatinath, and the Janaki temple in Janakpur), as well as many other places of interest to the pious Hindu (Mankamana, with its cable car and promise of wishes fulfilled, is particularly popular with Nepalis). Third, Nepal managed to avoid direct rule by the British (a fact recognized by the British in a treaty of 1923) and preserved Hindu kingship to a degree that Indian princes could only envy. Nepal officially styled itself ‘the world’s only Hindu kingdom’ (ekmatra Hindu rajya) between 1962 and 2006. Even in the eighteenth century King Prithvi Narayan Shah, the ‘father of the nation’ (an epithet that is now controversial), had envisioned his own country as an asil Hindustan or ‘true land of the Hindus’ (in contrast to the North Indian plains, with its foreign rulers and centuries of Islamic influence).² Prithvi Narayan presented himself as the Lord of the Hindus, the protector of cows and Brahmans, and he initiated the processes of Nepalization and Hinduization that were foundational for the creation of modern Nepal (Bouillier 1995). ¹ We are grateful to Torkel Brekke, Axel Michaels, Joanna Pfaff-Czarnecka, John Whelpton, and Astrid Zotter for kindly offering comments and suggestions on an earlier version. The usual disclaimers apply. This chapter draws on the Majewski Lecture that Gellner gave at the invitation of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies in November 2010. It is also based on research by both authors but particularly by Letizia when she was a British Academy Newton Fellow in the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography, University of Oxford, between 2009 and 2011. Both authors wish to thank the British Academy for its support. Gellner acknowledges also the support of the ESRC [ES/1036702/1, ES/J011444/1, ES/L00240X/1]. ² For the quotation on Nepal as ‘true Hindustan’, see Stiller (1989) and P. R. Sharma (2008). Leve (2017: 41–6) has a useful discussion of this text, and its use (arguably very different from the original intention) as a charter for a specific form of multiculturalism in the years after 1960.

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Having avoided Muslim and British rule, Nepal preserved ancient features that were attenuated or reformed out of existence elsewhere in South Asia (for example, animal sacrifice, ancient Tantric rituals in the Kathmandu Valley, the coexistence of Buddhism and Hinduism side by side and sharing the same shrines). Modernity, however defined, was kept at bay until much later than in India (deliberately so by the Ranas, as will be discussed). The country’s legal system supported right up until 1964 a traditionalistic conception of caste (forbidding capital punishment for Brahmans, for instance). Cow slaughter has always been illegal; a whole chapter of the national law code (Muluki Ain or MA) has criminalized it since 1854 (Michaels 2008). Moreover, every constitution from 1962 to this day has designated the cow as the ‘national animal’. There is a complex interplay between perceptions of Nepal from outside, actions by the elite of Nepal that seek to embody Hinduism, and attempts by Nepali people to support or contest this. Hinduism is a rallying cry for some Nepalis, and many ordinary Nepalis would still like to see the state grant some kind of recognition to Hinduism. For others, Hinduism is seen as a problem, or even an enemy. For everyone, it was a stunning change—unimaginable twenty years earlier—when, on 18 May 2006, Nepal was declared a secular (dharma nirapeksa³) republic by the reinstated parliament. This came about in a genuinely revolutionary situation, at the end of a ten-year civil war in which Maoist guerrillas fought the Royal Nepal Army to a stalemate. It happened a matter of days after King Gyanendra had been forced to hand power back to the ‘sovereign people’ following the ‘People’s Movement II’ of April 2006. At that point, Hinduism and the king were so closely tied together in people’s minds that it seemed essential to break the link between Hinduism and the state in order to abolish the monarchy. The transformation of Hinduism in the contemporary secular republic of Nepal can be analysed under three headings: Hinduism of the state and state rituals; Hinduism of personal practice; and Hinduism of the activists who are setting out to reform, channel, create, and/or revive specific rituals or traditions. In this chapter we concentrate on the first and the third themes; and, as far as the latter is concerned, we focus on the discourses of Hindu activists, what might be called the political uses of Hinduism. The second aspect, new trends in personal practice and spirituality, has been surveyed by Gérard Toffin (2016), and we will not treat it in detail here. Toffin shows that religiosity is alive and well among the Nepali middle classes and that they are attracted to many of the same gurus and movements as their Indian counterparts: Ravi Shankar (Art of Living), Swami Kripalvananda (Kripalu Yoga), Swami Ramdev, Rajneesh, Sathya Sai Baba, the Brahma ³ The expression dharma nirapeksha means literally ‘indifferent’ or ‘neutral with respect to dharma/religion’.

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Kumaris, Satya Narayan Goenka, and so on. New religions from Japan (Reiyukai, Jorei, Reiki) are also popular. All these movements tend to focus on personal healing, yoga, health, diet, and overcoming stress. They share an anti-ritual, anti-caste, universalistic, and egalitarian ethos (despite the hierarchical focus on the figure of the guru). In addition to these new trends, analysed by Toffin, as well as continuing adaptations within Hinduism (for example, decreasing the amount and length of rituals, owing to migration, cross-caste marriages, or social changes), we would also draw attention to the continuing strength of Nepalis’ polytropic religiosity, which defies the neat and exclusive categorizations that are beloved equally by government bureaucracies and by activists.⁴ There is no widespread agreement among Nepalis on what secularism can and should mean in the Nepalese context (see also Gellner, Hausner, and Letizia 2016). What emerges in due course will probably be close to Bhargava’s ‘Principled Distance’ conception (2012, 2016) of the Indian model of secularism, as will be discussed. As far as secularization as a social process is concerned, scholars (e.g. Casanova 2006) distinguish three distinct meanings: (1) the decline of religious beliefs and practices; (2) the privatization of religion—that is, its removal from the public sphere, especially from politics; (3) the differentiation of spheres of life (law, state, economy, science, religion) and the removal of religious control over non-religious spheres. For the majority of Nepalis, the first form of secularization has not occurred. In so far as public festivals and holidays are mainly religious, the second might be said to be very partial as well, yet, as we will see, a shift towards a more privatized understanding of religion is definitely under way. The third trend—the differentiation of spheres in line with modernist understandings—has been gradually increasing in Nepal since the 1940s and 1950s. The issues of Hinduism and the state, and the Hinduism of the activists, which are the main focus in this chapter, can be seen as responses to the two processes of privatization and social-sphere differentiation. They are responses to the questions: what is and what should be the place of Hinduism in a modern secular state?

A BRIEF HISTORY OF NEPAL The term ‘Nepal’ referred historically to what is now known as ‘the Kathmandu Valley’, a roughly circular bowl at a height of 1,400 metres in the Himalayan foothills that in prehistoric times (both according to geology and according

⁴ On the Kathmandu Valley as a Hindu–Buddhist ‘polytropy’, see Gellner (2005).

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to local Puranas) was a lake. The Kathmandu Valley was able to support a level of Indic civilization impossible elsewhere in the Himalayas, except in Kashmir far to the west, and Assam far to the east. The fertile soil of the valley, and its strategic position astride trade routes to Tibet, meant that its towns could support an elaborate division of labour, including priests, painters, sculptors, brass-workers, carpenters, and so on. The valley was an outpost of medieval Indic Hindu–Buddhist religion and culture. One destructive raid in 1349 apart, the Muslims did not reach the valley, except as traders from the sixteenth century. Its Newar people and their civilization were in the immortal words of Sylvain Lévi (1905: i. 28) like ‘a laboratory’ for the study of medieval South Asia: they were ‘India in the making’. The central cores of these royal towns (Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, Lalitpur) are now UNESCO World Heritage sites. Images of them are endlessly reproduced as part of the projection of Nepal as the Buddhist and Hindu destination par excellence. The collapse of some of the temples in the earthquake of 25 April 2015 guaranteed worldwide coverage of the event. Arguably even more valuable is the intangible cultural heritage (rituals, dance dramas, festivals, and associated shrines), dating back to the Malla period or even earlier, that is embedded in the way of life of these ancient cities. In 1768 and 1769 Prithvi Narayan Shah, the king of the small town of Gorkha, about 80 kilometres north-west of Kathmandu, conquered the cities of the Kathmandu Valley. This was the key event in the creation of the modern state of Nepal, but, as Richard Burghart (1984) argued, for the next 150 years the Shah rulers of what outsiders called ‘Nepal’ thought of themselves as ‘the kings of Gorkha’. The territories they ruled were theirs by right of conquest and subsequent legitimate Hindu rule. Prithvi Narayan’s successors went to war with the British (1814–16); both sides won battles, but the British East India Company came out on top eventually. The Treaty of Sugauli of 1816 ‘between the Honourable East India Company and the Maharaja Bikram Sah, Rajah of Nipal’ (Stiller 1976: 22) gave Kumaon and Garhwal in the west to the British, and began the process of defining the boundaries in the south by clear lines on the ground (Michael 2012). Although outsiders referred to ‘Nepal’ from the beginning of the nineteenth century, the rulers themselves adopted it as the official self-designation of their realm only in the 1930s. As in so many cases, the imagination of Nepalis as a nation, a community of Nepali-speakers sharing a common destiny, began not in Nepal itself, but among émigré Nepali communities in Banaras and Darjeeling, in India (Hutt 1988; Onta 1996; Chalmers 2003). Under the Ranas, the Nepali state set up a committee to encourage publications (subject to censorship) in its official language in 1913, but at that time the language was still called ‘Gorkhali’. It was only in 1930 that the official designation was changed to ‘Nepali’. The words to Nepal’s first national anthem were composed at the same time and

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were, like Britain’s ‘God Save the Queen’, essentially a hymn of praise to the monarch (Hutt 2012: 309–10). In short, modern Nepali nationalism was initially the bottom-up creation of writers and activists, largely outside the country; it was only taken up later, and piecemeal, by the government in Nepal itself, at which point there was a clear attempt to identify the nation and the monarch. The period between 1845 and 1951 is conventionally designated the Rana period, because during this time the kings of Nepal were puppets and prisoners, and the real rulers were the hereditary Rana prime ministers (Sever 1993; Whelpton 2005). The Rana rulers took care to marry their children to those of the king’s family, so that the Ranas and the Shahs are now so intertwined that they form a composite aristocratic class. The Ranas were strongly and conservatively Hindu, supporting Brahman priests, going on pilgrimage both within Nepal and in India, and enforcing Hindu orthodoxy through the legal system (at the same time, they were willing to adopt Western techniques, Western education, and Western styles of clothing themselves, while attempting to prevent their subjects from having access to them). In the Muluki Ain of 1854, conversion to other religions was prohibited (the first explicit ban on proselytization came with the 1935 revision of the MA); Hinduism and Hinduization were encouraged: Traditional religion [under the Rana regime] cannot be abandoned . . . the conversion of Hindus to other religions is explicitly prohibited, whereas, vice versa, the conversion of Buddhists or atheists to Hinduism is not. The followers of religions other than Hinduism are only protected against intolerant behaviour and thus against coerced conversion. In this way, the MA sanctions the confessional status quo, not without leaving Hinduism the chance of being propagated by diffusion as a popular or national religion, indeed, as the dharma per se. (Höfer 1979: 158)

As Gaborieau (1999) has shown, religions in the period before 1951 were not set on the same level; only Hinduism deserved the label dharma, while Islam and Christianity were just ‘beliefs’ (mat), considered ‘irreligious’ (vidharmi) and ‘foreign’ (videsi): their practice was forbidden, and so was preaching, as they ruined the religion ‘practised by the Hindu community from ancient times’ (sanatan dekhi hindu jatima caliaeko). In particular, converting any Brahman or member of a ‘pure caste’ was explicitly prohibited (Gaborieau 1999, translating MA 1935, vol. 5, 15 §19). Rana rule collapsed in 1951. Nine years of instability followed, with one general election, in 1959, won by the Nepali Congress Party. Its leader, B. P. Koirala, became prime minister until December 1960, when King Mahendra, Tribhuvan’s son, decided to take over and abolish party politics for good. King Mahendra embarked on a vigorous process of nation-building. With political parties banned, former prime minister B. P. Koirala in jail, and a new constitution promulgated in 1962, the king’s ideologues worked out the

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David N. Gellner and Chiara Letizia

main themes of what they called Panchayat democracy: (1) parties were ‘unsuited to the soil of Nepal’ and needed to be banned because they encouraged factionalism and communal conflict; (2) under the leadership of King Mahendra’s father, Tribhuvan, democracy had been restored after the Rana dictatorship; (3) under the unifying leadership of Mahendra the energies of the nation would be released for ‘all-round development’; (4) Nepal was the last and only Hindu kingdom in the world and Hinduism was a tolerant framework that would allow and encourage unity in diversity, as well as democracy.⁵ These ideas had some resonance at the time, but by the 1980s (under Mahendra’s son, King Birendra) they had come to seem increasingly threadbare, a cover for corruption and opportunism. Hinduism came to seem an oppressive legitimation of high-caste domination, a tool to keep non-Hindu or lessHindu minorities down. The Panchayat regime fell in 1990, following a street revolution, known locally as the People’s Movement (jan andolan), and a period of constitutional monarchy and democratic party politics ensued. The 1990s saw a new political openness, which allowed previously suppressed ethnic voices, many of them anti-Hindu, to emerge. The new political and cultural processes were increasingly disrupted by the Maoist insurgency, also known as the People’s War, which lasted for ten years, 1996 to 2006, and culminated in People’s Movement II. This latter uprising derailed King Gyanendra’s quixotic attempt to turn the clock back to the time of his father, Mahendra, by ruling without political parties. Gyanendra, who came to power in 2001 after the brutal killing of members of the royal family, including his brother Birendra, believed that he could use Hinduism to build support for his regime. He did so both by projecting himself as an inclusive Hindu monarch, and by allowing the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) to declare him (as they had his brother before him) ‘Emperor of all the World’s Hindus’ in January 2004, thereby (he hoped) receiving support from Hindus around the world (Jha 2007). However, Gyanendra blundered by effectively driving the parties into the arms of the Maoists and creating a coalition for republicanism and federalism that might otherwise not have been there.⁶

⁵ On the Panchayat period, see Joshi and Rose (1966), S. Sharma (2002), and Whelpton (2005). Despite the fact that it guaranteed equality before the law for all citizens and abolished caste-based discrimination, the 1962 Constitution kept the ban on conversion and proselytization, aiming to protect the Hindu community from conversion. Article 14, the ‘Right of Religion’, affirmed: ‘Every person may profess his own religion as handed down from ancient times and may practise it having regard to the traditions. Provided that no person shall be entitled to convert another person from one religion to another.’ ⁶ For accessible narratives of the war years and after, see Adhikari (2014) and Jha (2014). On the transformation of ethnicity, see Gellner, Pfaff-Czarnecka, and Whelpton (2008), LecomteTilouine (2009), and Gellner (2016). On religion in the period after the war, see Gellner, Hausner, and Letizia (2016).

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THE E THNIC AND RELIGIOUS M AKE-UP O F NEPA L In order to understand why some Nepalis are more favourably disposed towards Hinduism than others, it is essential to know something of the different ethnic groups and castes in Nepal. Ethnicity and religion do not map at all closely on to each other, as, for example, they do (with some exceptions) in Sri Lanka. This may be one reason why the civil war in Nepal, though often severe, was not as lethal or as intractable as the conflict in Sri Lanka. During the Panchayat period, there was a clear attempt to massage the census figures, to increase the numbers of Hindus and decrease the numbers of Buddhists (Table 15.1), just as the census also recorded fewer languages spoken in the country compared to censuses before and after. After 1990 the reverse has occurred, with various ethnic organizations, especially the Nepal Magar Sangh, seeking to persuade Magars to return their ethnicity as Magar, their language as Magar, and their religion as Buddhist, regardless of whether they actually speak Magar at home or at all, and regardless of the precise details of their religious practice. Magar ethnic leaders seek to unify all Magars in this way and wish to construct a clearly defined constituency opposed to high-caste Hindu politicians. Following the fall of the Panchayat regime in 1990, it was not just political parties that were permitted to organize and participate in elections. All kinds of organizations, and specifically ethnically based organizations, were able to come out in the open. The most important development was the rise of the Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities or NEFIN (originally it was the ‘Nepal Federation of Nationalities’: the word ‘indigenous’ was added in 2003). As it came to be organized, it had one member organization for each of Nepal’s ethnic groups or ‘indigenous nationalities’ (adivasi-janajati). The two groups that organized first and most noticeably in the 1990s were the Janajatis and Dalits (Table 15.2). Janajatis used to be called ‘hill tribes’ or (in the Hindu law code of 1854) ‘alcohol-drinkers’ (matwali). Their brewing and consumption of alcohol, and the important role it played in their culture, were the justification, in the Ranas’ traditionalist Hindu view, for ranking them below the ‘sacred-thread-wearers’ (tagadhari)—that is, the high-caste Brahmans and Chhetris (Kshatriyas),⁷ whose Brahmanical rituals forbade alcohol consumption. Dalits are what used to be called ‘Untouchables’. In Nepal the three largest Dalit groups are Vishwakarmas (Kamis, blacksmiths, and Sunars, goldsmiths), Nepalis or Mijars (Sarkis, leatherworkers), and Pariyars (Damais, tailors).

⁷ This category also included smaller groups, such as Thakuris, Sannyasis, and high-caste Newars.

Religion

1952/4

1961

1971

1981

1991

2001

2011

Number

%

Number

%

Number

%

Number

%

Number

%

Number

%

Number

%

Hinduism Buddhism Islam Kirati Christianity Jainism Nature Bon Others Unstated

7,318,392 707,104 208,899

88.9 8.6 2.5

8,254,403 807,991 280,597

87.7 9.3 3.0

10,330,009 866,411 351,186

89.4 7.5 3.0

13,445,787 799,081 399,197

89.5 5.3 2.7

3,891 9,430