Makers of Modern Indian Religion in the Late Nineteenth Century

By Torkel Brekke | Go to book overview

4 Anagārika Dharmapāla and the Politics of Religion

Anagārika Dharmapāla applied his new ideas of religion to a political programme. His prime concern was, as S. Amunugama has described, the building of a tightly knit politico-religious group. 1 However, at the same time Dharmapāla was obsessed with the Buddhist sites of India and he spent most of his adult life in the struggle to take control over these places. Bodh Gayā was the most important focus for his work and an account of its immediate historical background is relevant to the narrative of events that took place.


BODH GAYĀ

During the winter of 1811/12 Francis Buchanan was travelling through Bihar carrying out a survey of the districts of Patna and Gayā for the government of Bengal. On 9 December his itinerary took him from Gayā towards Bodh Gayā, or Buddh Gya as he calls it in his journal. Leaving Gayā, Buchanan surveyed a land dotted with ancient ruins, crumbled temples, dried out tanks, and canals. On his way he ran into a group of Hindu worshippers staying in a strange convent built of stone. The Mahant welcomed him into his sanctuary and explained that the buildings of the place were set up by different Mahants at different times and that the material was taken from ruins at the place. The Mahant took the guest to a storehouse and showed him a number of Buddha statues along with other figures of Hindu deities and supernatural beings. These had been taken from ruins in the vicinity when the builders had collected bricks and stones. Some of the figures had inscriptions which Buchanan believed to be in Pāli. As he continued his journey towards Bodh Gayā he saw enormous piles of stone all around

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Makers of Modern Indian Religion in the Late Nineteenth Century
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Oxford Oriental Monographs i
  • Makers of Modern Indian Religion v
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Contents ix
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I Hindus 11
  • 1: Defining Hinduism 13
  • 2: Swami Vivekānanda and the Politics of Religion 41
  • Part II Buddhists 61
  • 3: Defining Buddhism 63
  • 4: Anagārika Dharmapāla and the Politics of Religion 86
  • Part III Jains 117
  • 5: Defining Jainism 119
  • 6: History, Archaeology, and the Politics of Religion 144
  • Conclusion 157
  • Bibliography 161
  • Index 175
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