Makers of Modern Indian Religion in the Late Nineteenth Century

Makers of Modern Indian Religion in the Late Nineteenth Century

Makers of Modern Indian Religion in the Late Nineteenth Century

Makers of Modern Indian Religion in the Late Nineteenth Century

Synopsis

This is a book about religious transformation in South Asia in the nineteenth century. On the one hand, a fundamental conceptual transformation in the world of religion among people who were exposed to English language and culture took place. This transformation crystallized religiouscommunities with sharp boundaries and distinct histories. On the other hand, the emerging feeling of religious-communal identity motivated religious and lay leaders to work in the interest of the community. This book is about both of these interrelated developments: the conceptual change and theapplication of the new ideas to political discourse; the construction and the politics of religious identity.

Excerpt

During the nineteenth century there took place a complete transformation of Indian religions. It was a transformation characterized by two distinct levels of change. On the one hand, there was a fundamental conceptual shift among Indians who were exposed to English language and culture, which crystallized religious communities with sharp boundaries and distinct histories. On the other hand, the emerging feeling of religious-communal identity motivated religious and lay leaders to work in the interests of their communities. This study addresses both of these interrelated developments—the conceptual change and the application of the new ideas to political discourse; the construction and the politics of religious identity—and each of the three parts of the work is accordingly organized into two chapters.

It is important to state from the outset that this discussion of the politics of religion is not about how religion was used in the struggle against colonialism in any direct sense. Although an analysis of the impact on indigenous leaders of the world view of colonial power is often necessary, the primary focus of the study is on local dialogues and disputes. It is not only concerned with debates about the relationship between indigenous South Asian religions, it is also about attempts to create internal unity and religious and cultural homogeneity and strength, attempts to define religious nations or communities.

The book is built around three case-studies which examine religious leaders from very different milieus: the Hindus of Bengal, the Buddhists of Sri Lanka, and the Śvetāmbara Jains of western India. Why these three? Why not Muslims, Sikhs, Parsis, or Christians? the three religions selected constitute an interesting collection because they are linked in two somewhat peculiar, but nevertheless significant, ways. First, in the minds of the leaders themselves these three traditions were intimately linked through their history. According to Western indology Hinduism, Buddhism,

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.