Political Hinduism: The Religious Imagination in Public Spheres

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Political Hinduism looks at the numerous ways in which Hinduism might be described as having become ‘political’ since the upsurge of Indian nationalism in the late nineteenth century. Recent studies of Hindu nationalism have mostly focused on Hindutva, and in particular on the activities, organizational structure, and politics of the Hindu right. This book argues that ‘Political Hinduism’ is much more than Hindutva.

The essays by established scholars of Indian history, politics, and culture address issues of topical relevance: transmission of Hinduism to the United States; Gandhi’s religious politics and secularism; disputes over ‘Vande Mataram’ and its immensely rich history; Rajagopalachari’s multiple tellings of the Ramkatha; popular patriotism in Hindi cinema; and much more. Exploring the relationship between Hinduism and popular culture, this volume revisits familiar figures—Bankimchandra, Tilak, Gandhi, Rajagopalachari, Savarkar, and Narayana Guru, among others—to investigate the politics of knowledge embedded in their ideas.

The comprehensive Introduction by Vinay Lal suggests how ‘Political Hinduism’ may be ‘political’ in more ways than is usually perceived. It goes on to show how a more nuanced reading of Hindu nationalism is needed than what is furnished by the idea of Hindutva.

About the Author

Vinay Lal teaches history at the University of California, Los Angeles. 

Published: 2009
Pages: 287
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Oxford University Press