Religious authority and political power have existed in complex relationships throughout India’s history. The centuries of the ‘early modern’ in South Asia saw particularly dynamic developments in this relationship. Regional as well as imperial states of the period expanded their religious patronage, while new sectarian centres of doctrinal and spiritual authority emerged beyond the confines of the state. Royal and merchant patronage stimulated the growth of new classes of mobile intellectuals deeply committed to the reappraisal of many aspects of religious law and doctrine. Supra-regional institutions and networks of many other kinds - sect-based religious maths, pilgrimage centres and their guardians, sants and sufi orders - flourished, offering greater mobility to wider communities of the pious. This was also a period of growing vigour in the development of vernacular religious literatures of different kinds, and often of new genres blending elements of older devotional, juridical and historical literatures. Oral and manuscript literatures too gained more rapid circulation, although the meaning and canonical status of texts frequently changed as they circulated more widely and reached larger lay audiences.
Through explorations of these developments, the essays in this collection make a distinctive contribution to a critical formative period in the making of India’s modern religious cultures.
This book was published as a special issue of South Asian History and Culture.
1. Introduction: Religious cultures in an imperial landscape Rosalind O’Hanlon and David Washbrook 2. The debate within: a Sufi critique of religious law, tasawwuf and politics in Mughal India Muzaffar Alam 3. The four sampradays: ordering the religious past in Mughal North India John Stratton Hawley 4. Theology and statecraft Monika Horstmann 5. Advaita Vedānta in early modern history Christopher Minkowski 6. The Brahmin double: the Brahminical construction of anti-Brahminism and anti-caste sentiment in the religious cultures of precolonial Maharashtra Christian Lee Novetzke 7. Speaking from Siva’s temple: Banaras scholar households and the Brahman ‘ecumene’ of Mughal India Rosalind O’Hanlon 8. A tale of two temples: Mathurā’s Ke´savadeva and Orcchā’s Caturbhujadeva Heidi Pauwels 9. Replicating Vaisnava worlds: organizing devotional space through the architectonics of the mandala Tony K. Stewart
This books series offers a forum that will provide an integrated perspective on the field at large. It brings together research on South Asia in the humanities and social sciences, and provides scholars with a platform covering, but not restricted to, their particular fields of interest and specialization. Such an approach is critical to any expanding field of study, for the development of more informed and broader perspectives, and of more overarching theoretical conceptions.
The idea is to try to achieve a truly multidisciplinary forum for the study of South Asia under the aegis of which the established disciplines (e.g. history, politics, gender studies) and more recent fields (e.g. sport studies, sexuality studies) will enmesh with each other. A focus is also to make available to a broader readership new research on film, media, photography, medicine and the environment, which have to date remained more specialized fields of South Asian studies.
A significant concern for series is to focus across the whole of the region known as South Asia, and not simply on India, as most ‘South Asia' forums inevitably tend to do. The series is most conscious of this gap in South Asian studies and works to bring into focus more scholarship on and from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and other parts of South Asia.