Christian Identity and Dalit Religion in Hindu India, 1868-1947

Christian Identity and Dalit Religion in Hindu India, 1868-1947

Christian Identity and Dalit Religion in Hindu India, 1868-1947

Christian Identity and Dalit Religion in Hindu India, 1868-1947

Synopsis

When a form of Christianity from one corner of the world encounters the religion and culture of another, new and distinctive forms of the faith result. In this volume Chad Bauman considers one such cultural context -- colonial Chhattisgarh in north central India.In his study Bauman focuses on the interaction of three groups: Hindus from the low-caste Satnami community, Satnami converts to Christianity, and the American missionaries who worked with them. Informed by archival snooping and ethnographic fieldwork, the book reveals the emergence of a unique Satnami-Christian identity. As Bauman shows, preexisting structures of thought, belief, behavior, and more altered this emerging identity in significant ways, thereby creating a distinct regional Christianity.

Excerpt

This book, which deals in various ways with whether and to what extent conversion to Christianity in Chhattisgarh, a new state in Central India, entailed a process of “deculturation,” or “denationalization,” could not have come at a more historically apposite — some might say controversial — time. Indians continue to debate the nature of their national identity, and many consider Hinduism, or Hindu-ness (Hindutva) to be a central and intrinsic aspect of it. For those who hold this view, Christianity represents a culturally indigestible leftover of the nation’s colonial past. Political parties such as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and organizations such as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) exploit popular fears regarding the growth of Christianity for political gain, equating conversion with denationalization. the accusation is nothing new. Gandhi himself called the evangelical efforts of Bishop Vedanayagam Azariah “anti-national” as early as 1937. and more recently, Arundhati Roy, the activist and novelist whose literary abilities I admire a great deal, drew upon the strength of popular sentiments against “missionary” activities when she called the forces of globalization “the new missionaries” in a published speech at the World Social Forum in Mumbai.

In late 2003, during state legislative assembly elections in the state of Chhattisgarh, a local nationalist organization calling itself the Hindu Raksha Manch (the Hindu Protection Platform) ran a political cartoon in local papers depicting the region’s Catholic Bishop, Rev. Joseph Augustine, next to a fierce-looking goonda, who is menacingly holding a lathi over a man presum-

1. Arundhati Roy, “Do Turkeys Enjoy Thanksgiving?” Hindu, 18 January 2004.

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.