This book offers a focused examination of the Bengali Vaiṣṇava tradition in its manifold forms in the pivotal context of British colonialism in South Asia.
Bringing together scholars from across the disciplines of social and intellectual history, philology, theology, and anthropology to systematically investigate Vaiṣṇavism in colonial Bengal, this book highlights the significant roles—religious, social, and cultural—that a prominent Hindu devotional current played in the lives of wide and diverse sections of colonial Bengali society. Not only does the book thereby enrich our understanding of the history and development of Bengali Vaiṣṇavism, but it also sheds valuable new light on the texture and dynamics of colonial Hinduism beyond the discursive and social-historical parameters of an entrenched Hindu "Renaissance" paradigm.
A landmark in the burgeoning field of Bengali Vaiṣṇava studies, this book will be of interest to scholars of modern Hinduism, religion, and colonial South Asian social and intellectual history.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Vaiṣṇavism in Colonial Bengal: Beyond the Hindu Renaissance, LUCIAN WONG AND FERDINANDO SARDELLA;
Part One: Recovering the Legacy: How Vaiṣṇavas Adopted Colonial Modalities; 1 The Afterlife of an Avatāra in Modern Times, VARUNI BHATIA; 2 Theorising Bengal Vaiṣṇavism: Bipin Chandra Pal and New Perspectives on Religious Life and Culture, AMIYA P. SEN; 3 Vaiṣṇava Institutional Processes in Colonial Bengal, SANTANU DEY; 4 Baba Premananda Bharati: His Trajectory into and through Bengal Vaiṣṇavism to the West, GERALD T. CARNEY; 5 Claiming High Ground: Gauḍīya Missionising Rhetoric on the Adhikāra of Worship, KENNETH VALPEY; 6 Directions for Future Research on Vaiṣṇavism in Colonial Bengal, JOSEPH T. O’CONNELL AND AMIYA P. SEN;
Part Two: Contending the Portrayal: How Ethics Shaped This Religion of Love; 7 The Power of the Secret: The Tantalising Discourse of Vaiṣṇava Sahajiyā Scholarship, TONY K. STEWART; 8 Sahajiya Texts of Nadia: Beyond Reform and Revival, SUKANYA SARBADHIKARY; 9 Love of Woman: Love of Humankind? Interconnections between Bāul Esoteric Practice and Social Radicalism, JEANNE OPENSHAW; 10 Divine Transgression: Devotion and ethics in Bengali Vaiṣṇavism, KIYOKAZU OKITA; 11 Colonial Morals, Vaiṣṇava Quarrels: Tracing the Sources of Nineteenth Century Anti-Sahajiyā Polemics, LUCIAN WONG
Ferdinando Sardella is Assistant Professor at Stockholm University, Sweden. He is a Research Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, University of Oxford, UK.
Lucian Wong is a Post-Doctoral fellow of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies (OCHS), University of Oxford, UK and is Co-Director of the Bengali Vaiṣṇavism in the Modern Period Project of the OCHS.