Swami Vivekananda and the Modernisation of Hinduism 019565093X, 9780195650938

Bringing together fourteen papers, this book gives new depth to our understanding of the aims and achievements of Swami

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SOAS Studies on South Asia •

Swami Vivekananda and the Modernization of Hinduism

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SOAS Studies on South Asia Terence J. Byres, ed., The State, Development Planning and liberalization in India Nigel Crook, India's Industrial Cities: Essays in Economy and Demography Dagmar Engels, Beyond Purdah? Women in Bengal 1890-1939 Michael Hutt, ed., Nepal in the Nineties: Versions of the Past, ViJions of the Future Sudipta Kaviraj, The Unhappy Consciousness: Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay and the Formation of Nationalist Discourse in India Peter Robb, ed., Rural India: Land, Power and Society under British Rule Peter Robb, ed., Society and Ideology: Essays in South Asian History Peter Robb, ed., Dalit Movements and the Meanings of labour in India Nigel Crook, India 's Industrial Cities: Essays in Economy and Demography Ujjwal K. Singh, Political Prisoners in India 1922-1977 (forthcoming)

SOAS Studies on South Asia: Understandings and Perspectives Peter Robb, ed., The Concept of Race in South Asia Nigel Crook, ed., The Transmission of Knowledge in South Asia: Essays on Education, Religion.History and Politics C.J. Fuller, ed., Caste Today Peter Robb, ed., Meanings ofAgriculture: Essays in South Asian History and Economics Burton Stein and S. Subrahmanyam, eds, Institutions and Economic Change in South Asia Michael R. Anderson and Sumit Guba, eds, Changing Concepts of Rights and Justice in South Asia

SOAS South Asian Texts Series Christopher Shackle and Javed Majeed, Hali 's Musaddas: The Ebb and Flow of Islam Michael Hutt, Modern literary Nepali: An Introduction

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SOAS Studies on South Asia

Swami Vivekananda

ahd the

Modernization of Hinduism

edited by

William Radice

Delhi

Oxford University Press Calcutta Chennai Mumbai 1998

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.v

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Oxford University Press, Great Clarendon Street, Oxford OX2 6DP

A~ 11 Ibid, vol.1:2, p.256. 19 Ibid., pp.456-7. J)

Ibid., p.460.

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This great purpose of religion, Slater concluded, was answered in the Bible alone. Slater's 'Concession to Native Ideas, Having Special Reference to Hinduism', as he had titled his paper, was thus an attempt to understand the Indian context within which Christianity had been functioning for almost a century. This attitude was, as we shall see, in certain ways ex~tio~. American missionaries in the late nineteenth century constructed Indian culture quite differently. Moreover, Slater changed his stance shortly after the Parliament-a chanae that can be attributed to the representation of Hinduism by the various Indian

representatives. Manilal Manubhai D'vivedi spoke on Hinduism on 12 September, the second day of the Parliament. Born in 1858, Manilal was a graduate from Bombay. A Justice of the Peace of the town of Nadiad in Maharashtra, be was also a member of the Philosophical Society of Bombay. The biographical notes compiled by the organisers of ~ Parliament also identified him as a 'member of the highest caste of Brahmans'. As caste hierarchy was taken to be one oftbe distinguishing features of Hinduism by missionaries, and since Western knowledge of Hinduism usually filtered through missionary and/or Orientalist interpretations, caste identity was usually deployed as a primary marker of a Hindu identity. D'vivedi attempted a schematic presentation of Hinduism, with the presupposition that Hinduism had only been partially understood by the West. Hindu chronology and the long cycles of the yugas had been ridiculed by historians like James Mill and bY missionaries. D'vivedi in the introduction to his speech focused the attention of his audience on the illogical chronology of the Bible: Whereas the Indian religion claims exorbitant antiquity for its teaching, the tendency of Christian writers has been lo cramp evetything within the narrow period of 6,000 years ... With rapid advances made by physical sciences in the West, numerous testimonies have been unearthed lo show the lllllenableness of biblical chronology, it would be safe to hold the mind in mental suspense in regard to this matter. 21

Thus D'vivedi 's strategy consisted of playing off science against the superior claims forwarded for Christianity in India. With the Columbian Exposition celebrating the scientific and industrial progress of the West, the opposition between scientific enquiry and religious faith could be evoked to prove that Christianity was as unscientific and irrational as the Oriental creeds which met with missionary censure. Having established 21 Ibid., p.316.

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this opposition, D'vivedi attempted a survey of six stages of Indian philosophy that had shaped what the contemporary world understood to be Hinduism._These stages were represented by the Vedas, the SllllaS, the ~ the Pwil_Ja, the Ssmpradiya aJ¥l the SanJ4ja. While adopting the premise that his speech might 'not appear to make any extraordinary demands upon the intelligence of those brought up in the atmosphere of so-called ''Oriental Research"in the West', D'viyedi attempted at several points to refute the claims of Orienlalist scholarship: ln the lint place, Weatem ICholan ~ not quite clear u to the me•ning of the word • Vo'. N,Uve commentaton have alwaya insisled lbat lhe word • Veda' doea not mean the Samhill only, but the Brfbmw and the Upmishads as well; wberaa Orien&alist scbolan_have persisled in understanding the word in the lint 11C11SC alone.1.2

The Orientalist use ofphilological roots to explain social practices within Jndo..Aryan culture was also criticised by D'vivedi: In Vedk timea the whole Indian people i1 apobn of broadly as the Aryu and the ~· Al)'ll means ~le and fit to be gone to, from the root R 'to go' and not an agriculturist, as the Orientalist would have it, from a fanciful root, .. to till.73

D'vivedi's schematic representation of Hinduism was in a general sense an attempt to present Hinduism in a format intelligible to a Western audience. At a more specific level, however, his insistence on the correct interpretation of words and customs reduced the scope of Hinduism as a universal religion. In his concluding remarks on the universal religion of mankind, D'vivedi therefore spoke of universal religious principles which subsume specific religious identities: •... is it not possible kl enunciate a few principles of universal religion which every man who professes to be religious must accept apart from his being a Hindu, or a Buddhist, a Muhammadan or a Par.iee, a Christian or a Jew?'2A· In contrast, Vivekananda's representation ofHinduism at the World's Parliament of Religions attempted to demonstrate the universal principles of Hinduism itself. In a sense it was an attempt to take his master's maxim of yata mat tats path further. His dramatic first presentation: 'SiSters and brothers of America' brought 'a peal of applause that lasted for several minutes'. 25 Even in his first address at the Parliament he 7.2 Ibid., p.318. 7J ll 25

Ibid., p.319. Ibid., p.331. Ibid, vol.I; 1.,p.10 I.

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presented himself in terms of a bearer of an ecumenical tradition-a tradition huge enough to accept the whole world and subsume individual religious identities: I thanJc you in the name of the most mcient order of monks in the world; I thank you in the name of the mother of religions; and I thank you in the name of millions and millions of Hindu people of all clu11e1 ad aecta •••• I am proud to belong to a religion which bas taught the world both tolerance and uni-1 tolentioo, but we eccept all religioos u lnle. l!i

Thus Vivekananda established three essential features of Hinduism at the very beginning: its ancient origins, its vast following and its universal toleration. In his long presentation on Hinduism on 19September1893, he developed these ideas with a special emphasis on the universalism of Hinduism. His paper on Hinduism, therefore, differed radically from D'vivedi's. According to Vivekananda, Hinduism essentially required a pedagogy of the spirit which could move from perfection to everlasting perfection. He carefully developed this point to illustrate the siperiority of Hinduism over Christianity and other religions. Thus he argues that 'the Hindu believes that he is a spirit, him the sword cannot pierce-him the fire cannot bum- him the water cannot melt- him the air cannot dry'.27 Instead of arguing in abstract philosophical terms to defend the notion of reincarnation, Vivekananda offered an explanation in metaphorical tenns: The soul will go on evolving or reverting back from birth to birth and death to death. But there is another question: Is man a tiny boat in a tempest, raised one moment on the foamy crest of a billow and dashed down into a yawning chasm the nexl ...a powerless, helpless wreck in an ever-raging, ever-rushing WICOm promising current of cause and effect. ..28

He went on to illustrate the fundamental difference in approach between Christianity and Hinduism. Far from being tied mechanically to the 'wheel of causation' the Hindus perceived themselves as 'children of jmmortal bliss'. In this, Vivekananda pointed out, lay the triumph of Hinduism: •Allow me to call you brethren, by that sweet name-heirs of immortal bliss, holy and perfect beings. Ye divinities on earth-sirmers! the World's Parliament of Religions, Cliicago, 11 September 1893 in The Complete· Works of Swami l!i Vivekananda's 'Response to welcome', at

Vivekananda (henceforth CW; Mayavati Memorial Edition, 8 vols., Calcutta: -Advaita Ashrama, 1972- 78), vol.I, p.3. 71 Ibid, p.9. JI Ibid, p. I 0 .

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It is a sin to call a man so; it is a standing libel on hwnan nature.• :IP The Swami's delineation of the characteristics of Hinduism had the Christian insistence on Origif!.81 Sin as an important subtext. The Hindu in Vivekananda's construction, was able to move from perfection to higher perfection because Hinduism admitted of man's perfectibility. He attempted to demonstrate to the Parliament that Hinduism treated human nature with areater dignity than did Christianity, which assumed that man was essentially sinful and debased, and could only be redeemed by Divine grace. His speeches at the Parliament present a startling contrast to bis speeches in India, where ~bitterly criticised Hindu ritual practices as degrading women and humiliating man's hip Olllule. Having established Hinduism as superior to Christianity in this ~spect, Vivekananda declared that because of its unique balanced approach to human nature, Hinduism could claim to be a universal faith that did not neec;.l.!O R~~lytise. In the same speech he went on to make another important distinction: Ewry other religion lays down cer1ain fixed clogm•, llld tries to fonie society to lldopt them...• The Hindus have discovered that lbe absolute can only be realiled, or 1bougbt of, or stated, tbroup lhc rellllive, and the images, crosses, and OOldar md Mr. Vh~kanmd1 37

Unfortunately no record of the speeches made on this particular occasion are recorded. It is also surprising that the only woman representative from India, Miss Jeanne Sorabji of Bombay, should not have been invited to speak before the women's committee. Apart from Vivekananda, most male representatives touched upon the Woman Question at the Parliament. Manila! D'vivedi had spoken about marriage. While the natural complementarity between the male and the female fiequenlly cm11e up for disc~ion at the Parliament, 311 D'vivedi gave the same model an interesting twist. He explained that after the marriage ceremony had taken place: The wife is supposed henceforth to be as much dependent on her husband as he on her; for as the wife has the complete fulfihnent of love as her principal duty, the husband has in return the entire maintenaDce of the wife, temporally and

spiritually, as his principal duty.39

This complementary model assumed the existence of separate domains for the man and the woman-the sphere of the provider and that of the nurturer. However, the final stage of renunciation was not a choice available individually to the wife. The wife might only follow the husband on the ascetic path if he so desired (emphasis mine). Similarly, D'vivedi also quickly clarifies some of the other choices not available to the Hindu woman, pointing out that the model of complementarity which is endorsed by Hinduism invalidates the need for such choices: 'It goes without saying the widow re-marriage as such is unknown in this system of life, and the liberty of woman is more a sentiment than something 11 John Henry Barrows, The World's Parliament ofReligions, vol.1:1, p.1 S6. 311 The Suffragette representative at the Parliament, Lydia Fuller Dickinson, used the same model in her speech, 'The divine basis of the co-operation of men and women', Barrows, vol.I: I, p.507. J> Ibid., p.322.

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practically W8IWing in this careful arrangement.•«> D'vivedi then welt on to explain why the liberation of women was a

non-i9SUC: Woman, as WOl'IUID, has her place in nature quite as much u man has u man, 811d if there iJ nothing to hamper the one or the other in the discharse of his or her functions as marlc.ed out by nature, liberty beyond this limit means disorder } J and irresponsible freedom. And indeed nature never meant her living embodiment of lo-woman---to be degraded to a footing of equality with her pmmer, to fight the hard 1truf!81e for exilllence, or to allow love' s pure s1ream to be defiled by being led into channels olber than those marlc.ed out for her.«

This insistence on the complementariness of the male and the female together with the stress on monogamy for the Hindu woman was part of an attempt to rescue Hinduism from missionary charges of the debased nature of Jlindu womanhood in general and the practice of ku1i!J polygamy in Bengal in particular. - In India, the gendered discourse on llinduism was hardly a unilinear one. While it had its defendants in the aggressive chauvinists, it also had its critics among Brahmo and Arya Samaj reformers. The Parliament at Chicago also renected this connict. The veteran Drahmo preacher, Protap Chunder Maz.oomdar, spoke at the Parliament about Brahmo efforts to reform evil practices within llinduism. Drawing a realistic picture of the ill-fated child-widow, perhaps in the face ofD'vivedi's idealised n:pn:sentation of Hindu womanhood, Mawomdar said: Do you know what the widows of India are? A little girl of I 0 or 12 years happens to lose her husband before sbe knows his features very well, and from that tender age to her dying day she shall go through penances and austerities ml miseries and loneliness and disgrace which you tremble to hear of... I do not think that when a little child of 11 loses what men call her husband, mid who bas newr been a wife for a single day in her life, to put her to the wretchedness of a life-long widowhood, and inflict upon her miseriet which would diJgiace a aiininal, is a piece of inhumanity whidJ cmmot be too IOOll done 8W8)' with. Cl

After Mawomdar's impassioned plea on behalf of the child-widow, it is a trifle surprising to note Vivekananda'.~ lpP.lµ'ent lack of interest in the i~_~hen he spoke on the ninth day of the

Parliament. Vivekananda'. s construction ofl-lindu womanhood operated within certain codes that had been standardised by the nineteenth-century Bengali middle-class ( / patriarchy. However, the constraints that operated on these codes in a Cl Ibid., p.322. « lbid., p322. Cl Ibid, vol.1:2, p.348.

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foreign country are of particular interest here. The conflicts Vivekananda had with the Ramabai circle in Boston and Brooklyn that originated jU.1t before the Parliament, provide some important insights into this mechanism of constraint. In a letter to his disciple Alasinga written from Breezy Meadows, Metcalfe, Massachusetts, dated 20 August 1893, Vivekananda mentioned an invitation 'to speak at a Ladies Club here, which is helping Ramabai'. '° Although there seem to be no existing reports of this particular lecture, subsequent developments in the Brooklyn Ramabai Circle reveal that Vivekananda's idealistic depiction or child-widows in India came in for severe criticism. A later lecture entitled 'Ideals of Indian Womanhood-Hindu, Mahomedan and Christian', delivered on a> January 1895, reveals some of the possible causes of the controversy. Vivekananda's silence about the fate of the child-widow in India aroused the fury of the Ramabai Circle in Brooklyn. A contemporary newspaper, the Daily Eagle reported: Much interest was manifested on acco1D1t of the denial by Mrs. James Mckeen, President of the Brooklyn Ramabai Circle, which is interested in Christian work in India, of the statement attributed to the lecture that the child-widows of India were not... .ill-lreatcd. In no part of this lecture was reference made to thi~ denial, but after he had concluded, one of the audience asked the lecturer what explanation he had to make to the statemenl Swami Vivekananda said that it was IDllrue !hat child-widows were abused or ill-treated in any way. 44

According to Marie Louise Burke, who has compiled American newspaper reports during Vivekananda's visit to America, the missionary propaganda that must have confronted Vivekananda in the 1890s in America played upon notions of 'savagery' and 'superstitions' as constituting the Hindu way of life. 45 Vivekananda'ssitence is indicative of a power-laden encounter demonstrating how knowledge becomes a contested site. The contest here was between two avowedly 'authentic' self-representations. At one end of the spectrum stood Ramabai with her understanding, as a widow herself, of the position of the .widowed woman in Hindi society, while at the other stood Vivekananda with his idealised representation that denied Ramabai any legitimacy. Indeed, Vivekananda construed Ramabai's activities as ultimately strengtliening the hands of the missionaries, and his silence and his contrary assertions 43 cw v. pp.17- 8. • CW 11, p.514. 45 Marie Louise Burlce, Swmni Vivekananda in the West: new di.,coveries (Calcutta, 1958), pp.130-1.

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fonn an essential part of his validation of a Hindu identity. While Vivekananda was extremely critical of traditional Hindu social practices such as child-marriage, he was reluctant to admit any of these customs before his American audiences. Although he did not do so in his speeches before the Parliament, he consistently glorified motherhood as a marker for Hindu womanhood in his other lectures in America. In so doing he diverted attention away from the Hindu family-the apparatus ofpatriarchy used to consolidate male power. By describing it as being a / woman's arena of control, he constructed the Hindu woman as a powerful matriarch at the head of the household. Therefore, aePCr&ted with it convinced themselves that its interest in Sanskrit and education overcame other characteristics. Those who remained indifferent to it maintained-presumably-that what was most significant about the British was that they were mlechba, which means, relevantly for us, not · only untouchable and foreigner, but one who cannot pronounce Sanskrit. The numbers of these indifferent pandits is difficult to gauge because they left no such records such as those preserved of the Sanskrit College pandits; but popular opinion has it that the number was very larJc. This indifference, turning one's back and iporina the powerful iovemment, was what constituted resistance to the new threat for the pandits of Banaras and was no mean achievement. The heterogeneous category of 'pandit' reacted in many ways to the threat of, and actuality of, cultural violence at the hands of the British. There were some who 'co-operated', teaching in the Sanskrit College at the first offer, accepting government titles such as Mahamahopadhyaya, officiating at official functions. There were those who were also co-opted but after an initial resistance, or who, while serving the British, remained sceptical of their own sell-out. The vast majority were those viewed by the British, including by. Annie Besant, as 'passive'. When Besant laid the foundations for her Hindu School at the end of the nineteenth century, she complained that her invitation to the Sanskrit pandits to assist her in the great project of the rejuvenation of the Hindu nation was met by utter indifference and disregard. As I describe later, this particular indifference may be due to a low assessment of the worth ofBesant's project. But such a low assessment must be understood to be based both on a real pride regarding themselves as the actual bearers of Hindu or Sanskrit culture, as opposed to some eccentric ex-Christian lady; and to a casualness regarding the import of political and social developments around them. Pandits were, traditionally, wise fools, that is, very learned in their own specialities, but so ignorant of material realities as to need the care of a patron often for mere survival. In the case of the threat to Sanskrit education in the 43

Interview, Murli Dhar Pandey, April 1992.

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nineteenth century, patrons also steadily decreased in number and strength, and pandits had neither the wit, nor the acumen, nor the know-how, to struggle against the sinking of their own ship. An important qualification here is that it was in the very nature of Sanskrit learning itself to keep learners indifferent to taraer socioeconomic prooes,,es. The actual tenn should be smallersocio-economic processes, because the cultural system of Sanskrit implied that it was regulated by a dharma, by laws that were outside temporal changes of the historically measurable kind. The British threat, for example, would be typically interpreted by a late nineteenth-century pandit as a ripple on the surface of a deep and uncrossable ocean that constituted sanltaa dharma (the eternal law), that was beyond the influence of minor historical events like changes in government and transfers of Directors ofEducation.44 To some extent these pandits were 'right', of course. That is, as Bourdieu points out, the symbolic efficacy of a system is generated by its own ability to assert its power. The self-sufficiency of the pandits was such that the British had to take recognition of it, as the observations of many officials and all missionaries tell us.45 For decades after its inception, the Sanskrit College, and all policies related to Sanskrit education, had to accept the fact, however partially and reluctantly. that Sanskrit constituted a closed and complete system. If we look at the report on the progress of education in the NW Provinces for, say, the year 1867- 8, we have less than happy news: 'Dr. Ballantyne's efforts to induce his disciples to tum their attention to Western modes of thought and discipline were in a great measure fruitless. It is a melancholy chapter in the history of education in this part of India. The Pandits admired him for his proficiency in Sanskrit learning but would not foJlow him into a Western grove [sic]'.46 But, as Bourdieu again points out, the symbolic efficacy of a field must be related to power of a socio-economic kind. This the British had, and not the pandits. We may mark the march of time and the crumbling pf resistance by jumping ahead half a century and looking at an announcement for the Banaras Hindu University in 1915: Narrow-minded men may sometimes talk of the material or military conquest 44 Interview, Vishwanath Bhattacharya, August 1992.

45 Ibid. 46

V/24/910 [IOL], p.34.

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of India, but those who can see deep and see f• are much mnd half of the nineteenth century, seemed to have many continuities on the surface, but in fact radically transformed this discow9e by two strategies. One was to lessen the power of the guru-knowledgeAi$.Yll nexus and therefore the exclusiveness, mystery and centtality of the guru image. The second was to take over from older patrons the role of supreme patron, and reinterpret this to include 'one who pays an employee a salary'. The tnmsfonnation in the social status of the Sanskrit pandits, and the marginalisation of their symbols, gives us an insight into the large processes of change in the system of ideas and practices called 'Hinduism'. These processes are nowhere near understood by a particular enquiry such as this, and merit continuing discussion.

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Chaptcr4 A MEETING OF ENDS? SWAMI VIVEKANANDA AND BRAHMABANDHAB UPADllYAY

Julius J. Lipner I am about to narrate a rather interesting story. It is a historical story, with perhaps a historic overtone or two-a story that I hope will in a small way illumine facets of the influence of the subject of this volume during a crucial phase of India's struggle to pass from a state of subjection to rij to one of svarij, that is, speaking broadly, from a state of dependence to one of self-rule. The story concerns the relationship between two men, each of whom played a significant part in shaping the new India coming to birth at the tum of the last century: Narendranath Datta, alias Swami Vivekananda (1863- 1902), and Bhabanicharan Bandyopadhyay, alias Brahmabandhab Upadhyay (1861-1907). Both were Bcngalis; both had nationalist aspirations which encompassed not only the political but also the spiritual liberation of their motherland. Both-catalysts in the ferment of their times-dedicated their lives to an ideal, dying while at the height of their influence and powers. Since Vivekananda is by far the better known, there is no need either to justify the significance of his concerns or to provide a resum~ of his life. In the public mind Upadhyay is still cloaked in relative obscurity, though he is making something of a comeback in religious and cultural contexts.I He remains an enigmatic figure nevertheless- much more so than Vivekananda-some commentators emphasising his religious commitments and innovations,2 others interpreting him almost See, for example, Julius Lipner and George Gispert-Sauch, The Writings of Brahmabandhab Upadhyay, vol. I, including a risum~ of his life 1111d thought, I

(Bangalore: United Theological College, 1991). It is also worth noting that a series of lellers. in Bengali written by Upadhyay during a visit to England and first published in the Bailgabisi (during November 1902 to September 1903), was recently reprinted in the well-known Calcutta newspaper Barlamin (see SID!day 3 June 1990 and following Sundays). lSee, for example, B. Animananda, The Blade: life and work of. Brahmabandhab Upadhyay [Bl) (Calcutta: Roy and Son, n.d.); A. Vlilh, S.J., Im Kampfe mil der Zauberwelt des llinduismus [KZH] (Berlin/Bonn: Ferd. OOmmlen Verlag, 1928); K .P. Aleaz, 'The theological writings of Brahmabandhav Upadhyaya re-examined' in the Indian Journal of Theology , 28:2

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exclusively in socio-political and/or ailtwal tenns.3 Yet in the educated circles of his day, Upadhyay was a man of renown. Rabindnmath Tagore, Benpl's areat luminary and for a time a close associate, described him as 'a Roman Catholic ascetic yet a Vedantin-spirited, fearless, self-denying. learned and uncommonly influential'.4 Claimed in one way or another by Christian indigenisers and Hindu ailtwalists, alternately reformer, revivalist, thinker and activist, nationalist karmayogi par excelleDCC, Upadhyay, who himself seemed to sow confusion by describing himself as a 'Hindu Catholic', was a man of many parts. This is not the place for apologias or demystifying explanations.' Let me first give a brief account of Upadhyay's bacqround, with a view to concentrating on the relationship between him and Vivekananda in the context of some of their chief concerns. Bhabanicbaran was horn in 1861 in Khannyan, a village situated on the railway between Bardhaman to the northwest and the urban complex of Howrah-Calcutta some 35 miles to the south. He came from a well-respected Brahmin family (Bandyopadhyay) which prided itself on its social pedigree. His father, Debicharan, like his father before him, had acquired a local reputation for distinguished service as a police officer under the British. One of Debicharan's younger brothers was K.alicharan, who in time became famous as the 'Rev' K.alicharan Banerji, Christian convert and nationalist. Debicharan had three (survivin&) sons by his wife Radhakumari: Haricharan, who practised as a doctor in Calcutta, then Parbiticharan who went on to work as a pleader in the 'mofussil' or countryside, and finally Bhabanicbaran. Bhabani lost his mother when he was about a year old. His grandmother Chandramoni (Debicharan's mother), with some temporary help from his aunt Nistarini, ran the household and saw to his upbringing. Chandramoni was a formidable woman, fiercely conscious of her responsibilities and caste-status. There is an archival note that later Upadhyay 'used to tell ... how once his grandmother being challenged by her husband about her courage to die as a sari held her finger to the (1979). 3See, for example, Haridu Mukhopadhyay and Uma Mukhopadhyay, Upidhyiy Bralunabindbab o bhiratiy. jitiptibid (CalcutJa, 1961); Bolaideb Sanna, Brahmabindbab Upidbyiy (Calcutta, BE 1368). 4 From the Bengali Pref11ee of the fint edition of Cir adhyiy ('Four chapters'). 5 A book by the author on Upadhyay's life and thought is nearing completion; these matters will be taken up there.

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flame without even flinching until she had to be dragged away'. 6 By the constant osmosis of her company, Chandramoni had a lasting influence on her young charge. It was she who helped inculcate in Dhabani a deep sense of his caste-status, including an awareness of its traditional obligations, as well as an intimate knowledge of Bengali rural ways and expressions. Caste, in one way or another, was to play a continuing and major role for Upadhyay, and his homespun knowledge of everyday Bengali life in town and village was used to great effect, especially in his final years as he sought to disseminate his social, religious and political ideals, particularly through the pages of his famous Bengali daily, the Sandhyi (1904-7).7 Vivekananda too had important things to say about caste, but the emphases of the two men were to differ significantly. As we have intimated already, for all the traditional impact of Chandramoni, Bhabani came from a background strongly susceptible to so-called bhadralok pressures, that is, pressures arising from the interaction, mainly among middle- and upper-class Bengalis, of Westernising and indigenous cultural forces. For obvious reasons, these Westernising influences were filtered mainly through British media such as the English language and its concomitant religious, political, social and other theoretical and functional paradigms. Thus, from an early age- soon after his pi/hSilii or Bengali primary schoolingBbabani was sent to schools emphasising the teaching of English and English patterns of thought and practice in and around Calcutta, the capital city of the rij and the focus of the new India taking shape. Vivekananda came from a background similar to Bhabani's. Both, then, were products of a continuing process of cultural interchange. And one of the most potent of these bhadralokising instruments of the time was the movement known as the Brahmo Samaj.• By the early 1880s, the Brahmo Samaj, whose origins may be traced to the initiative of Rammohan Roy in 1828 9, had already had a chequered career. With hindsight one could say that as a movement it was past the zenith of its influence. It had undergone two major splits: the first in 1866, when the charismatic leader Kcshabchandra Sen and Varia 4 of the Upadhyay corpu.~. in the Archives of the Goethals Library, St Xavier's Collegiate School, Calcutta. 7 Chandramoni's innucnce and tutelage during Upadhyay's fol"llllltive years were also put to effective use in another, more high·brow journal of U~adhyay's during this period, viz. Svariij, from which we shall quote later. For a good historical analysis, see D. Kopf, The Brahma Samaj and the Shaping of the Modem Indian Mind(Princeton University Press, 1979). 6 See p.137,

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his followers left the parent body (renamed the Adi Bra\lmo Samaj) to fonn the Brahmo Samaj of India. Intent as they were on a programme of social refonn, the Keshabitcs had found those from whom they parted, under the leadership of the great Debcndranath Tagore, too religiously preoccupied and socially unprogressive by half. The policy of Debendranath and Co. was festina Jente; they wanted to refonn Hinduism from within on the basis of a sort of theistic Vedantic intuitionism complemented by an egalitarian ethic gradually realised. In 1878, the shoe was on the other foot. This time Keshab was accused of prevarication and authoritarianism on social and religious policy. and a dissident group, in pursuance of their original objectives of social reform, broke away, calling themselves the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj. So, by the time Bhabani and Naren had reached early manhood in Calcutta, intellectually questing and susceptible as they were, there were no less than three divisions of the Brahmo Samaj in the city, dominating the intellectual scene. The earliest serious account of Bhabani and his work9 intimates that Bhabani and Naren first met when Bhabani was about ten, a student in the General Assembly's Institution in Calcutta.10 But this cannot be right. At eight Naren was, as his 'official biography' states, in 'Pandit Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar's Metropolitan Institution'.11 The Blade infonns us, however, that it was 'in 1880 or thereabouts that [Bhabani] met Naren Dutt ... Their acquaintance soon developed into warm friendship and to the end of their life they called each other "Bhavani" and "Naren'" .1 2 Where might they have first got to know each other? Just possibly at the Metropolitan Institution. Bhabani passed his Entrance Examination (the University Matriculation examination of the time) at fifteen from the Hooghly Collegiate School in Chinsura (a town not far from Calcutta). But at about eighteen or nineteen (that is, 1879- 80), he had joined the Metropolitan Institution as a final-year 9

Swami Upadhyay Brahmablflldhav: a sketch in two parts (Part I: A story of his life; Part Il: A study of his religious position), published in Calcutta, I 908, by the author B. Animananda, the religious name of Rewaclumd Gyanchand (18707- 1945), for many years a close friend and disciple of Upadhyay's. Bl (see note 2) appeared under Animananda's name, but the material for the book, collected by Animananda, was finally revised and edited by P. Turmes, S.J. IO Sketch, Part I, p.10: 'Narain Dutta as Swami Vivekananda was at first called, and Bhawani Charan, were fast friends during their school life at the General Assembly's Institute ... '. KZH, p.72, follows the Sketch on this. 11 See The Life of Swami Vivekananda by his Eastern and Western Disciples (LSV] (Calcutta: Advaita Ashrama, 6th cdn., 1960), p.15. 12 Bl p.26.

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student in the First Arts counc (the First Arts examination was held in the second college undel'if8duate year, as a sort of half-way house to the undergraduate degrcc).13 And in 1879, Naren, who had returned to Calcutta from an extended sojourn in Raipur (Central Provinces), passed the Entrance Enmination from his old school, the Metropolitan Institution. So they could have first met there. They probably became friends, however, as habitues of Calcutta's Brahmo circles, especially the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj. For one, the social and, in important respects, the intellectual boundaries between the different Samajcs were fluid (after all, they were all organisations in the Brahmo movement); those interested could move freely and exploratively between the Samajes. For another, both Bhabani and Narcn felt the attraction of rationalist and social tendencies in Sadharan ideology, then under the sway of Mill's utilitarianism, the idealism of Hegel and Kant and to some extent of Comtean positivism.14 But that was not the whole story. Both loved combative sports, and had sensitive, spiritual sides to their natures, revelling in intellectual debate. Naren favoured exercising with the lifhi (quarter-statl), Bhabani excelled in kusti (Indian-style wrestling): Vivekananda bad a sweet singing voice and Bhavani an amiable disposition, and the two friends would often get up picnics and festivals in a suburban garden called the 'Hermitage'. Here they would have musical fiestas and animated diJcusaiona on ... things, religious and social, political and philosophical. They were both aUncted by the Sadlwan Samaj... ts

The ideology of the Sadharan Samaj could hold neither for long. Their spiritual bents were soon to lead to a (temporary) parting of the ways. This came about by each becoming a disciple of a different guru: Naren of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa (1836-86) and Bhabani of Keshabchandra Sen (1838-84). This is not to say that Ramakrishna and Keshab were not closely associated for a time (who influenced whom during this association has generated a spurious controversy), or that Naren and Bhabani did not for a time have close contact with or indeed an abiding regard for the teacher each would eventually choose not to 1872 the Metropolitan Institution had become an affilia~d college of the Univenity of CalcuUa. 14 'Narendra Nath Dutt. .. was a member of the Sadharan Braluno Samaj even in 1882. He also used to go to Brahmananda KcMab Chandra [Sen] very often and also used to visit the Adi Brahmo Samaj occa~ionally.' : G .C. Banerji, Keshab Cbndr. and Ramalcrishna [KCB] (Allahabad, 1931), p.126. 15 Bl, p.26. 13 In

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follow. On the contraiy, in the cultural hothouse that Calcutta was at the time, there was a great deal of overlap and criss-crossing socially, religiously and/or intellectually among the circles of which we speak. Thus when Keshab staged the play, Naba Brindiban Nltak. on 15 September 1881, Naren, we are told. 'played the part of the Yogi while Bhabani busied himself by selling the tickets for the perfonnance'.1 6 By this time Keshab had already announced the birth of the 'Church' of the New Dispensation (nabs bidbin, in Bengali)-still perceived u an extension, if not culmination, of the Brahmo movement-of which he was meant to be the divinely appointed leader and inspiration. Priyanath Mallik, who frequented the Sadharan Sarnaj but subsequemly became a follow of Keshab, once testified: My age is now 73 years and of the men that I brought within the fold of Navavidhan, Bbabani (Upadhyay Brahmabandbab) and Naren (Vivekananda) became famous ... I can bear witness boldly that both these men, especially Vhekanand•, owed the beginnings of their spiritual culture to the pattern eet by Keshab Cbandra.17

The claim for the origins of Naren's 'spiritual culture' may be debatable, but the.testimony is interesting. Indeed, Mallik also claimed that he was instrumental in introducing Naren to his future guru, Rama-

krishna: In those days I would conduct divine service and be [Naren] used to sing hymns. One day while we wete at wonhip thus, the late Ramchandra Dutt brought [Ramakrishna] Paramahamsa there. Paramahamsadeb listened to the ...hymns and at the end started an ecstatic lcirt.m [devotional hymn) himself. Then be told Naren (Vivekananda) ... 'I am veiy pleased with [yolD'] song, do visit me' ... So far Naren was an intellectual, rationalist ... Brahmo. From now he came under the in.fluence of Paramahamsa and the course of his life was changed.IS

16

Bl, p .27. Other sources give Naren's role as the ftvik or priest; since it seems to have been a silent part, 'yogi' is probably a more apt description. For what the play was about and its context in general, see F .L. Damen, Crisis and Religious Renewal in the Brahmo Samaj (1860-1884): a documentary study of lbe emergence of the 'New Dispensation' under Kcsbab Chandn Sen (Katholicke Universiteit Leuven, 1983), especially pp.236-7. 17 Quoted in translation from the Bengali in KCB, p.345. 18 Quoted in translation from the Bengali in KCB, pp.343-4; cf. LSV, pp.301. Mallik's testimony is corroborated in Varia 3 oftbe Upadhyay corpus, p.135, wider 'Talk with Nalu Babu, 12 October 1928': 'It was Reverend Priyanath Mullick of the Nava Vidhan, who too then frequented the [Sadbaran] Braluno

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For his part, Bhabani revered, and in tum was affectionately rcganled by Ramakrishna. The latter invited Bhabani to visit him often at the temple in Dakshineswar where he resided. and would show him special marks of favour, such as throwing himself upon Bhabani during a trance, which 'was regarded by the disciples as special favour on Bhabani Charan•.19 Upadhyay himself is reported to have once told Gaurgobind Gupta, a fonner pupil of his, that on one o~~n when as a young man he visited Ramakrishna, the sage said to him: 'Play the horse, I'll climb on your back and ride you'. This was then carried out.20 But in spite of this mutual affection, Bhabani, unlike Narcn, did not stay with Ramakrishna. He chose another spiritual path, that of following Keshab.21 Bhabani'sjoumey in life now became an increasingly tortuous one, leading further and further away from the direction Naren was taking. In 1887, he was formally initiated into the Church of the New Dispensation, having transferred his loyalties to P.C. Majumdar as Keshab's successor in the factionalism that followed Keshab's death. In 1888, he left for Hyderabad in Sind, to help a Sindhi friend of college days to start a school there run on English lines. Bhabani was to teach Sanskrit; he also took charge, with great success, of sporting activities. It was in Sind, in 1891, that Bhabani was received into the Roman Catholic Church. There was nothing precipitate about this. Personal knowledge of and devotion to Christ had been developing over many years. There were a number of significant influential factors along the way: childhood exposure to, and the subsequent example of, his famous Christian uncle Kalichar8n; Bible study classes in school; Keshab's and then Majumdar's high regard for Jesus; and continuing personal study, under one stimulus or another, of the Christian scriptures. To cut a long story short, all this led, at no small personal cost (f"Or example, resignation from his school job in Sind, not to mention physical hostility by Samaj, that brought [Bhabani] to Keshab. P. Mullick introduced Vivekananda to [Ramakrishna] Paramahamsa'. The 'Reverend' before Mallik's name followed the convention adopted among Keshah's 'missionary' followers. 19 Varia 4, p.140. 20 MaootaDjan Guba, Upiidhyiy Bralunabindhab (Bardhaman: Siksa-Niketan,

BE 1383), p.52. 2I Yean later, in bis journal, the weekly Sophia (14 July 1900), Upadbyay expressed bis view on the relationship between Ramakrishna and Kesbab: 'It should be pointed out that the Paramahamsa too benefited considerably by his association with Keshav ... It was Keshav who brought into prominence the personality of the Pamnahamaa. Keshav's influence, too, tended to broaden the mentaJ and spiritual horizon of his friend...'.

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members of the Hindu community), to baptism as a Roman Catholic. To bring India to Christ in his new-found faith-Bhabani's attested aim-he took up journalism. In December 1894, the following announcement appeared in the Sophia, a monthly journal he was editing: I have adopted the life ofBhikshu (mendicant) Smmyui. The pnctioe prevalmt in OID' country is to adopt a new nmne alq with the adoption of a religioua life. Accordingly, I have adopted a new name. My family surname is Vandya (i.e. praised) Upadhyaya (i.e. teacher, lit. 1111>-tes:her), and my baptismal nmne is Brahmabandhu (Theophilus).22 I have abandoned the fll"lt portion of my family surname, because I llD a dilciple of Jes111 Christ, the Man of Sorrowa, the Despised Man. So my new name is Upadhyay Brahmabandhu.

Before long, 'Brahmabandhu • was quietly changed to 'Brahmabandhab'.23 But Upadhyay, as we shall now call him, in the articulation of his faith, had not abandoned a strong commitment to his cultural heritage. Quite the contrary. It was his intention to show that one could remain culturally a Hindu while being spiritually committed as a Christian. Indeed, he would now devote his energies to arguing that Hindu religion, in its truest insights, was a preparatio evangelica, that is, a preparation for the reception of the Christian Gospel, and that the enlightened Hindu mind would find its spiritual fulfilment in Catholic allegiance to Christ. The basis of this argument was the distinction he adopted between the 'natural' and the 'supernatural' as found in traditional Roman Catholic teaching. According to this teaching. human nature had not been totally vitiated by the Fall of Adam (or 'original sin' as it was also called). Through God's grace, it retained features on the basis of which God's redeeming action could be effective. In other words, saving grace-God's supernatural largesse or redeeming work in our lives-was built on nature; to be saved it was not necessary a priori to express one's humanity within a particular cultural stream. Different forms of cultural expression could act, in thou&ht and practice, as the natural bases for erecting the supernatural edifice of the Catholic faith. So far as Upadhyay was concerned this meant, in effect, that select features of his Hindu heritage could be purified/affirmed/redeemed in the light of his Catholic faith. In short, he 22 The Greek 'Theophilus' can be translated 'God's friend', u can the Sanskrit 'Brahmabandhu/Brahmabandhab'. 23 In 1raditional Sanskrit contexts, brahmabandhu has negative resollll!M'fl with regard to Brahmins; in effect, it means someone who is a Bnihmin in name only. See, e.g., Chindogya Upanishad, 6.1.l, for 111 mstmce of such 1111ge.

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could combine Hindu behaviour and Catholic belief; he could be, as he was to say later, a 'HindtJ Catbolic'.2A So it was that not long after his reception into the Catholic Church. he won from his ecclesiastical superiors permission to wear the octw robe of the traditional Indian celibate renouncer (sannyisin). Already a vegetarian and a teetotaller, he now disposed of his possessions and walked barefoot; to indicate his Christian allegiance he huna an ebony cross from his neck. Upadhyay-les to the degraded and impure lifestyles which identified them as untouchable. It was this that had been responsible 'for the existence of Nowqay continued, •...when a white race comes to live among blacks' 'intczbteeding' is inevitable: ...the inevitable mixtuie of races...ended in divisions which [ultimately] took the form of castes.' (151] Hunter's fantasies about ancient 'race wars' between fair-skimed 'higher races and their racial 'inferiors' (W.W. Hunter, Anmtls ofRural Bengal, Londoo, 7th edn. 1897, pp.111, 131-4) will rightly iepel modem ·ieaden. However it must be recognised that these theories were widely accepted by both Indian and European social thinkers until ielatively recent times. (S. Bayly, 'Caste and "race" in the colonial ethnography of India', in P. Robb (ed.), The Concept ofRace in South Asia.) Ji

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an untouchable class, some of whom, on this rich and fruitful soil of India, were driven to share with carrion birds and carrion dogs the carcasses of dead cattle.' [JSR 29 Nov 1908: 151] Interestingly Nowangay did find a way to reconcile bis natiooalist principles with an ethnological account of the 'causes' of caste. He argued that although innate and historic race pride or 'pride of complexion' had indeed 'established the caste system', the colonial conquerors of India had made the situation far worse. It was the English, be said, who bad intensified the tendency ofbigh- These disproportionate rates of population growth were attributed primarily to so-called mass conversions amongst the 'depressed'. To scientifically-minded 'modernisers', such numerical expansion was a characteristic of organisms and cultures that were strong, vigorous and J> This became a standard motif in Arya Samaj polemic: see K.W. Jones, Arya

Dluum: Hindu consciousness in 191JH:entury Punjab (Berkeley, 1976).

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advanced in evolutionary tenns. Well into the twentieth century, this remained a cornerstone of Hindu supremacist exhortations. For the Punjabi Aryan polemicist Shiv Kishan Kaul, for example, the 'decline' of the Hindu nation was to be explained in tenns of the greater vigour of Christians, Muslims and above all the Sikhs, 'a community throbbing with new life and vigour and with capabilities of expansion.• [Kaul 1937:47] Christians, Muslims and Sikhs were quick to adapt to the period's evolutionist view of the ~led conversion religions. In south India, for example, Iona-running struagles between rival lines of St Thomas Christian bishops on the Malabar coast took a new form during the late nineteenth century. In the 1880s activists from these churches launched a bitterly contested race for untouchable Malayali and Tamil converts. Rival evangelising organisations were founded within each episcopate, and elaborate Suddbi-style mass baptisms were staged. Opposing church leaders made widely publicised gestures of fellowship with these socalled neo-Christians. Each proclaimed that their 'communities' had undergone a great awakening of spiritual and moral energy which was being manifested through these schemes of expansion; each group contrasted its own advanced moral state with the 'unhealthy' condition of their rivals.31 In fact the real concern here was the massing of numerical advantage at a time when the civil authorities in both the Madras Presidency and the dharmic 'Hindu' realms of T.ravancore and Cochin required proof of growth and vigour when deciding on matters of contested ecclesiastical jurisdiction and church property amongst these groups. The so-called converts in these cases included agrarian labourers and tenant cultivators from 'unclean'~ groups. Despite the public protestations of the socalled evangelising societies, the Pulaya, Ezbava and Cheruma 'neoChristians' remained permanently excluded from social and ritual contacts with 'true' St Thomas Christians. These elite cultivators and commercial people bad been reprded for many centuries as a highranking eroup with a recognised and prestigious place in the indigenous moral order of the Malabar coast, in no way to be compared to the region's ritually polluting Christian fisherfolk and other inferior 'convert' communities. Here then, amongst south India's indigenous Christian population, it bad been possible to create a clear separation between a 'public' domain of faith, in which allegedly modern standards of 3I S. Bayly,

Saints, Goddesses and Kings: Muslims and Christians in South

Indian society, 1700-1.900(Cambridge, 1989), pp.312-19.

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progress and high-minded expansiveness pertained, and a parallel domain in which strict standards of endogamy and ritual purity could still be maintained. Indeed by subjecting them to so-called uplift, the St Thomas Christians actually found a new means of exercising authority over their lower-ranking 'converts' at a time when 'traditional• service ties were being undermined by rapid economic change.32 The reformist press praised the Arya Sarnaj's Sl.dUU campaigns in virtually the same tenns that were used by these Christians, that is as a sip that Hindus too bad begun to make dynamic moves on a competitive evolutionary battleground. Press accounts of these 'reconversion• rituals emphasised rites of food-sharing and other symbols which marked the ex-oonvert's restoration to the Hindu fold: these were organised around the symbolism of caste in its progicssive 'modem' fonn, as a bond of piety and enlightened moral community. Thus a report of 1909 described a Auddhi rite for 150 Rajputs whose ancestors had become Muslims 'in the days ofMughal suurainty'. They were 'taken back' under the auspices of the Rajput Shuddhi Sabha 'after the observation of proper penance.' The Sabha's President, a Kanpur barrister named Kanwar Udey Bir Singh. declared, 'It now remains for [Hindus] to take back all those who but for certain stringent caste rules will be good Hindus in all respects.'33 Such cases proved to 'reformers' that the 'barriers of a harmful conservativism' should no longer be allowed to stop converts from being admitted into social and ritual fellowship with Hindus of 'clean• caste. [ISR 7 March 1909:318) But the real danger to the Hindu nation, it was held, was the phenomenon of mass conversion to Islam, Christianity and Sikhism which was proving to be so attractive to the 'depressed' throughout the subcontinent. According to Gokhale, for example, it was these mass conversions which made the Hindu 'race' appear weak, divided and unhealthy in evolutionary terms. [ISR 28 Feb 1909:306) The Arya Samaj explicitly linked the goals of Hindu 'revival' to the elevation of the 'depressed': It is high time for us to realise that the future of India lies not in the bands of the higher cl8SSe$, but of the low caste people, and if we devote the best part of our energy in raising the status of the masses, we can make every Hindu household

32

Ibid., p.315. 33 There was also a report of an Arya §uddhi rite of reconvenion for a Christian convert family; the key ceremony was the eating of sweets from the converts• hands. From the Indian People newspapeT, Allahabad, quoted in ISR 7 March 1909:318.

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resound with the chanting of Vedas at no distant date. 34

But how could Doms, Chamars and other so-called untouchables be made a part of this great spiritual enterprise when so many contemporary ethnographers classed them as members or pre- or non-Aryan races? The prepilration of the 1911 Punjab Census brought this issue to a head when it was proposed on 'scientific' ethnoloiical &rounds that untouchables should be entered as non-Hindus in the provincial population returns. JS To the Arya Samaj the issue was clearcut: faced with the threat of losing up to 25 per cent of the Hindu 'nation' at a stroke of the enumerator's pen, all so-called depressed aroups, including those allegedly lost to the Hindu 'community' through religious conversion, must be subjected to urgent reclamation. It was at this point that Arya branches began to perform Alllfdbi reconversion rites for Sikhs, Muslims and Christians of 'untouchable' origin. And it is notable that the recovery of so-called untouchable converts to the Hindu fold involved more extensive forms of elevation than were deemed necessazy for those of 'clean' caste. To restore these groups, a combination of purifying vedic ritual and moral edification was required. Thus Arya schools were founded where untouchables who had first been purified through rites of Suddhi confirmed their elevation into the Aryan social order by learning Sanskrit and studying the Vedas. 36 In theory at least, those who completed this instruction would cease to be ritually polluting and would share in the purified Hindu identity of all other initiates to the Arya Samaj.37 Many other would-be defenders of Hindu nationhood began to echo these calls to accept members of the untouchable or depressed classes as assimilated members of an all-embracing Hindu community.38 Thus even 34

The Aiya messenger, quoted in J.N. Farquhar, Modem Religious Movements in India (1914; Delhi, 1967), p.371. 35 Marie Juergensmeyer, Religion /IS Social Vision: the movement agaiml untouchability in 20th

SWAMI VIVEKANANDA

parks and planting trees, shelters, the building of public halls, temples and ma(hs, the distribution of food, and the endowment of hospitals and free medicines; charitable activities, in fact, which were little difTerent in

kind from those associated with Christian charitable practice prior to and during the nineteenth century.'9 Whilst it is recognised in Hindu sources that such activity can be carried out for a variety of reasons, disinterested charity is commended. The performance of philanthropic action in Hindu India, therefore, was not neglected but its delivery was regulated in a highly distinctive manner. Recommended forms of Hindu charitable activity have been enumerated under the heading of dharma divided in tum into general prescriptions and svadharma-the particular responsibility of the individual characterised by ~. iSrama and other variables. This type of differentiation was to shape Hindu charitable practice by linking it specifically to the responsibilities of certain ~ groupings, particularly .Kshatriya, and of those classified as grhastba. A considerable range of philanthropic responsibilities were placed on the shoulders of those with legitimate access to material resources. It is the tendency to impose a responsibility for philanthropic activity upon particular segments of society which has been identified by M. Juergensmeyer as a factor which would not have been conducive to fostering a wider tradition of social idealism in India.60 He cites, in particular, the concentration of the responsibility for public order and welfare within the confines of tij-dharma compared to responsibilities largely defined in terms of meeting the obligations of caste membership which were assigned to other sectors in society.6 1 Similarly, in an examination of famine-relief policies in pre-British India, H.M. Khondker has acknowledged the existence of a moral economy at local level but has argued that some transition of the loci for the moral economy from the local to the national level remained incomplete. Khondker goes on to speak of the effects of India's 'rather unusual path to state-fonnation', the impact of the market economy upon the moral economy and the resulting failure to institutionalise the subsistence rights of the people.62 'The Ethics of the Puranas' in S.K . De et al. (eds.), The Cultural HerilajJe ofIndia, vol.2 (CalcuUa, 2nd edn., 1962), p.291. ID M Juergensmeyer, Radhasoami Reality: the logic of a modem faith !I C.S. Venlcaleswaran,

(Princeton, 1991), p.14S. 61 M. Juergensmeyer, 'The Radhasoami alternative to Hindu social ethics', in JntematiOflJll Journal ofComparative Religion , vol. I, no. I , April 1993, p.59. Q H.M.Khondker, 'Famine policies in pre-British India and the question of

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This last observation is particularly important because it draws attention to the emphasis placed by traditional Hindu authorities upon duties rather than upon rights. Clearly, the transition from the definition of socially assigned duties and related privileges to the recognition of universal human rights is one of considerable significance, but Hindu India's earlier reliance upon the definition of duties should not be regarded as untypical of other regions, including until relatively recently the West. It may be argued as a general principle, however, that a society in which welfare provision is regulated by a reliance upon the discharge of duties by certain of its members may prove less effective in securing the practical delivery of these riglis to all and in providing the means by which the deprived may seek redress. In the light of criticisms levelled against the effectiveness of Vivekananda's own initiatives, it is noteworthy that Vivekananda could be critical of the notion of 'rights' as symptomatic of 'a limitation' rooted in ideas of 'mine' and 'thine'. He declared that 'We have "responsibility", not "rights"'. [CW VIII:23] In this respect, Vivekananda's emphasis upon 'responsibility' appears closer to earlier Hindu definitions of duty rather than to more recent definitions of rights. Q If tenable explanations are to be sought for the particular course which has characterised the development of philanthropic activity in India, the identification of structural features of the sort which have just been identified, unlike judgements on what are perceived to be varying levels of compassion or altruism generated within different cultures, at least permits an acknowledgement without inconsistency of the present of considerable philanthropic activity within Hindu society. In summary, it would seem that, in spite of their respective positions in very different world-views, traditional forms of Christian and Hindu charitable activity nevertheless shared certain important features in common. This claim relates not just to the types of activity to which reference has been made above but also to the tension acknowledged in both traditions between an ideal of selfless giving, a conviction tlµlt the act of giving was of long-term spiritual benefit to the performer and the mundane motives which often accompanied acts of charity justified in terms of religion. A considerable level of charitable activity was woven into the popular pattern of both Christian and Hindu practice. In both the moral economy', Soulh Asia (N.S.), vol. I, no.I, June 1986, p.37. Q For fuller discussion of Vivekananda's thought in relationship to the emergence of the concern for 'human rights', see G. Beckerlegge, 'Human rights in the Ramakrislma Math and Mission: for liberation and the good of the world', Relision, vol.20, 1990, pp.119-37.

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Hindu and Christian traditions, the incidence, extent and duration of traditional charitable activity depended heavily upon the impulse of the individual donor and even upon the donor happening to be in the right place at the right time. The delivery of charitable provision under the nominal auspices of the Christian and Hindu traditions, however, was managed in different and, indeed, distinctive ways; in the former largely through individuals and caste groups acting in accord with their appropriate dhinnik responsibilities. This last point needs to be extended to cover the provision of education, given that education has functioned as one aspect of social service provision desipcd to widen the opportunities and raise the status of depressed groups. Returning now to the specific example of Vivekananda's promotion of organised sevl, the question of what Vivekananda noodedto take from the West no longer appears to be quite as straight forward as might have been supposed. Leaving aside the vexed question of what Vivekananda took from Ramakrishna, popular Hindu tradition was far from devoid of stipulations to encowage chari~le activity. It embodied jdeals relating to the way in which charitable action should be perfonned, i.e. governed by sattvik rather than rijasik qualities, and there is every indication that charitable giving, for whatever motive, was put into practice; 64 undue preoccupation with charitable activity, after all, was one of the targets Ramakrishna's criticisms of worldl.incss disguising itself as religion. Utilising the distinction between earlier forms of religiously motivated charitable action, whether Hindu or Christian, and voluntary social service as this phrase is commonly understood, Vivekananda may be said more accurately to have been engaged upon a transformation of Hindu charitable action into a Hindu-motivated expression of social ./ service rather than grafting Christian charitable practice on to the Hindu tradition. It is important to make this distinction because the evolution of social service in the West itselfmarked the inadequacies of earlier forms of charitable practice and the underlying, general movement towards a wider recognition of human rights was in part rooted in humanist criticism of Christian belief and practice. There is nothing inherently 'Christian' in the characteristics of social service which have been identified in the course of this paper, although it is the case that certain traditions of charitable action in nominally Christian countries were 64

See, for ex.ample, Bhagavad Gita 17:20-22 and also discussion of this same distinction by Sri Ramakrishna in The Gospel ofSri Ramakrishna (trans. Swami Nikhilananda, Mylapore, Madras, 1981), pp.IOI, 268, 630.

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historically the first to undergo the transfonnation into fonns of social

seMce. With regard to Vivekananda's promotion of organised sevi, two questions now arise. The first is whether the transfonnation of charity into social service could only have taken place within a tradition in which either the established charitable ideas and practices closely confonned to those of Christianity, that is, where the 'right' motivation was esmblisbed, or an imimilation of Christian charitable ideas had taken place as a neces.wy prelude to a transition to social service. This question has already been addressed in the earlier Slages of this discussion at those points where it has been shown that the emeraence of social service in the oominally Christian West was gn:atly shaped by factors extraneous to Christian conviction. The second question, which follows closely on the heels of the first, concmw the extenl to which Vivekananda's promotion of a Hindu-motivated expression of social service may be said more properly to rcpresem a 'Westernisation' ofVive>kaMnda's outlook, and it is this question which will be addJCSSed in the final part of this paper.

Vivekananda, modernisation and 'social service' Emerging partly as a consequence of the failure of typically individualistic and religiously motivated fonns of earlier philanthropy to deal with new and unprecedented levels of social need, social service may be regarded as both a further by-product of and symptom of that complex cluster of social changes subsumed under the label of 'modernisation'. Definitions of 'modernisation' have not infrequently been characterised by both nonnative and ethnocentric judgements , including the identification of'modernisation' with 'Westernisation'. The term 'modernisation' is used with due caution in this discussion to refer to a cluster of developments and social characteristics which typically can be seen to have accompanied the growth of manufacturing industries; for example, the spread of urbanisation, scientific knowledge, secularisation, education and political participation.as It is not assumed that the path o industrialisation will be the same in all social contexts nor that the cluster of accompanying social changes will conform to one pattern. Within the pattern of structu.ral changes which the broad profile of modernisation implies, L. and S. Rudolph have identified certain attitudinal changes which bear directly upon the subject of the present as This diacussion of'modemisation' draws upon L.I. and S.H. Rudolph, The Modernity of Tradition (Chicago and London, 1967), pp.3f.; R.J.Z. Werblowsky, Beyond Tnidition and Modernity (London, t 976), pp. t f.

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discussion; these include a wider horizon replacing local ties, the primacy of criteria relating to utility, an attitude to the natural and hwnan environment characterised by control rather than fatalism. as The development of social service clearly presupposes the onset ofboth the structural changes implied by 'modernisation' and the attitudinal changes which have been identified. Is it more appropriate, therefore, to consider Vivekananda's promotion of organised service as a response from one caught up in a modernisation process rather than a response from one primarily determined to 'Westernise' Hindu culture, or from one who had recognised that a deficiency in Hindu philanthropic activity could only be made good through the absorption of a Christian-derived social ethic? D. Kopf bas emphasised the existence of a 'great elementary difference' between India and the West during the nineteenth century in that, unlike the West, India saw no industrial revolution, no universal suffrage and no compulsory education and that its technological environment remained 'primitive'. Consequently, be argues that the intelligentsia in Bengal. the few receiving a modem education, were confined largely to an intellectual participation in the ferment of change taking place in the West because 'however much British imperialism disrupted the old traditional order, it did not propel the society forward along the lines of material and social development'. '1 Kopf notes that, under foreign rule, social reform became 'a question of British attitudes to Indian culture and Indian responses to those attitudes' rather than the need to deal with the consequences of social, economic and political change which flowed from widespread industrialisation.68 While Kopf is undoubtedly correct in noting the effects of the lack of an urban proletariat upon the direction of social reform and indeed the effects of the imposition of the standards and imperatives of a colonial power upon indigenous elites, the effects of the disruption of the old traditional order, to which he refers, need to be brought more fully into the picture. The period in question was heralded by the gradual collapse of Mughul rule in India and is generally agreed to have been accompanied by an increasing breakdown of social institutions and economic structures. 111 The advent of British rule in Bengal was to bring not only the establishment of Calcutta but also sweeping changes in the local economy and in revenue gathering due to the enforced need to service as L.I. and S.H. Rudolph, The Modernity of Tradition, p.3. t;T D. Kopf, The lhhmo Samaj... p.46. Ill Ibid, p.14. IP See, for example, P. Spear's summary of social conditions of this period, A History oflndi.a, vol.2 (Penguin, 1973), pp.116-20.

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Britain's indumial machine. A growing crisis was apparent in Bengal by the 1880s which included the effects upon the economy resulting from British intervention in the conduct of existing industries in Bengal and the unfavourable balance of foreign trade, and the self-interest and growing frustration of the middle class due to lack of opportunities. A. Sen has noted that the limited extent of urbanisation in Bengal and the growth of Calcutta neither compensated for the loss of traditional industries nor pve rise to a situation where that city's profits were integrated into the local economy.'° Landlordism and the numbers of fatalities me to famine were but t\W of the less favourable consequences of British rule. Dhinnik responsibility, discharged in an arena shaped by caste relations, extended family networks and corporate village life, had in the past placed a buffer, no matter how meagre, between the individual and private misfortune. The disruption of these institutions caused by the profound economic and social changes experienced in rural India deprived the destitute of this soun:c of relief. 71 Reliance upon the landlord in times of crisis, for example, is identified by P. Greenough as having been a feature of Bengal society. The weakness of this reliance as a foundation for effective forms of relief during periods of severe distress, Greenough shows, became even more apparent in the times of widespread famine under British rule, even though the traditional practice persisted among the wealthy of the unconditional giving of rice to those in need.n As an increasing number of landlords moved into the cities during the period of British rule, this too affected the way in which charity was offered. Some landlords preferred to give to those who made their way into the cities and others discharged their charitable obligations by managing government free-kitchens. New social conditions also favoured forms of philanthropy- school and road building- which drew approbation from the British. 7.l Inevitably, there were those in the new A. Sen, lswar Chandra Vidyasasar 1111d bis Elusive Milestones (Calcutta, 1977), p.127. See also the analysis by D. Rothermund, 'The phases of Indian 'lO

nationaliAD', in D. Rothermund (ed.}, The Phases of Indian Nationalism and other essays, p.J 7. 71 B.M. Bhatia, Famines mIndia: a study msome aspects of the economic bistoryoflndU.186()....1965 (Bombay, 2ndedn., 1967}, p.13. 7Z The role oflancllonla in Bengal during times of famine is discussed in some detail in P. Greenough, Prosperity 1111d Misery in Modem Bengal (New York and Oxford, 1982). 73 Ibid., p.S8f.

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propertied classes created under British rule who did not recognise their social obligations to the less advantaged.14 Cultivators were pressed for rents in periods of hardship induced by famine. Those who managed to secure advances from moneylenders against crops that failed 10 materialise risked losing it all.75 The growth of Calcutta was in itself another outcome of economic ties with Britain and. as Kopf"s own study shows, declining social conditions and moral standards in Calaitta's expanding population were a cause of concern to those whom Kopf describes as confined to being intellectual participams in tbe modernisation of the West. ln an article in the Tattvabodhini Palriki from as early as 1846, reference was made to the allure which Calcutta held for the increasing numbers of rural poor who were drawn to a city of outward glamour where the rich wasted wealth and where lechers were bred; a city which offered only cactus hedges and pools with no water, only mud.~ Thus, whilst in one sense standing on the sidelines of more comprehensive and frenetic processes of intellecl\111, 80cial and economic change which were affectina the West, Indian intellecu11ls were exposed not simply to distant arguments for change but also experienced directly some of the less attractive consequences which resulted from the imposition of a servitor role upon India. They too were caught up in a modernisation process whose major effects, both beneficial and deleterious, were experienced most fully in the West but whose tentacles reached to regions affected by the 'colonial, imperialist, economic, missionary and cultural invasion, in both its aggressive and its less overtly aggressive forms' which was so much a part of the distinctive route to modernisation followed by the West.Tl The degree of disruption either suffered directly, witnessed or anticipated by certain intellectuals in Bengal was regaRled by them as no less momentous and arguably as irreversible as many social theorists in · the West then believed the changes they witnessed to be. One example of this was the way in which intellectuals in Bengal from Ram.mohun Roy onwards sensed that India's destiny would have to be considered in the context of global relations, initially defined in terms of 'F.ast' and 'West'. This sense of a new order or a new era comes across strongly in a passage written by Vivekananda in 1899 in which he declared: 'I have "14 Ibid., p 58.

75 B.M. Bhatia, F11111ines in India, p.111 . ~ A. Sen, ls war C1utndnl Vidyasas• 1111d his Elusive Milestonos, p.71; cf. D. K~f, TheBrahmoSamaj ... p.9lf. R.J.Z. WerblowU:y, Beyond Tradition 1111d Modernity, p.6

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said before that it is an unseen novelty, this conquest of India by England. What new revolution will be affected in India by her clash with the new giant power, and as a result of that revolution what new transfonnation is in store for future India, cannot be inferred from her past history.' [CW IV:4S2] In keeping with the argument that Vivekananda's advocacy of organised sevl was inseparable from the response to an observable pattern of inter-related changes taking place in India, it is noticeable that his promotion ofservice was linked to an indic:tmeU of the comemporary conditions endured by the 'down-trodden millions in India who are held fast by poverty, priestcraft and tyranny' and of the failure of those with status, power and resources in Hindu society to act in the spirit of the great exemplars of India's spiritual traditions culminating in Sri Ramakrishna [e.g. CW V:S8]. Vivekananda did not call for an intensification of traditional charitable practice, which was far from donnant. He called rather for a reaffirmation of the Wlderlying. traditional ideals of humanitarian concern, which he found exemplified in the lives of India's 'true Avataras' [CW VI:394] coupled with a reconstruction of the social framework through which the practical outcomes of this concern could be delivered more effectively. In terms of social frameworks, Vivekananda showed considerable impatience with the restrictions placed upon everyday life by caste and he was explicit about the benefits to India of the coming of the British and of wider travel abroad by Indians as a stimulus to an overhaul of India's traditional social arrangements [e.g. CW V:4f.]. He. was candid in his criticism of the power which had accrued to parasitic Brahmins and socalled holy men who were devoid of education and genuine spirituality [e.g. CW VI:2S3f.; VIll:290], holding 'modem sapient Brahmins' to be responsible for the invention of caste distinctions. [CW VI:247] Vivekananda's recognition of the extent to which he believed popular religion had become corrupted, nevertheless, led him to reaffirm the role of religion as a medium for change [CW Ill:220f.) by channelling the delivery of sevl to those in need through the agency of the sincere sannylsin as the embodiment of renunciation: ' ...the Gerua robe is not for enjoyment'. [CW VI:288; cf. CW VI:2S4f., 289f.] On some occasions, Vivekananda did speak more generally of the need to recruit young, educated and dedicated men and women for this task (e.g. CW IIl:223f., V:223], and initially from the higher castes. [CW VIII:406] His ultimate intention for these recruits, however, was made plain when he cautioned 'No householder disciples, mind you, we want Sannyasins. Let each of you have a hundred heads tonsured- young

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educated m&n, not fools'. [CW VI:293]

Beyond question, it was Vivekananda's redefinition of the role of the sannyisin which was his most strik.ing strategy to change the face of Hindu humanitarian endeavour. There is little evidence to suggest that Ramakrishna entertained such a posmbility and Vivekananda's use of the traditional figure of the sannyisin also marks out a telling difference between his concept of service and that of the earlier Brahmos. Yet, in the cont.ext of the wider Hindu tradition, a redefinition of the role of the ascetic as a means to promote sevi had already taken place, although in very different ways, in the Swaminarayan and the Radhasoami traditions.71 As the Swaminarayan movement has assigned a central role to the ascetic as a provider of sevi, it provides a useful, indigenous point of comparison when considering Vivekananda's redefinition of the role ofthe sannyisin. Sahajananda Swami (1781- 1830), the founder of the Swaminarayan satsang, is said to have 'preserved the best of the beliefs and practices from the past and forged a new form of Hinduism well suited to the modern period' .79 Standing in the viA:i$fidvaita tradition, the assumption upon which Sahajananda Swami based his ethical demand for service to others has been stated briefly as follows: 'Man is the microcosm of God who is the macrocosm and hence the service of humanity is the service of the almighty God'. ID Determined to purify the institution of sannyisa, which had fallen prey to popular abuses, Sahajananda Swami detailed ascetics in the fellowship to offer service to the people. 81 Acts of service included providing food and water to the needy, building and repairing wells and tanks, offering spiritual teaching without making any demands on villagers, and building temples; activities largely within the traditional 18 The idea of sevi in the Radbasoami movement has been the subject of a series of studies by M. Juergensmeyer: see 'Radhasoami as a trans-national movement', in J. Needham and G. Baker (eds.) Understanding the New Reli gions (New York, 1978). Reference bas already been made in this paper to Rlldhasoami Reality: the logic ofa modem faith and 'The Radhasoami alternative to Hindu social ethics' (see notes 60 aod 61 above). ?J R.B. Williams, A New Fa~ of Hinduism: the Swaminarayan religion (Cambridge, 1984), p.xi. ID H.M. Joshi, 'Spiritual Humanism 9f Shri Swaminarayan', in Anon., New dimensions in Vedanta Philosophy: Bhagwan Swaminarayan bicentenary commemoration volrime, part 1(Ahmedabad,1981), ch.33, p.29. 81 The general lerm 'ascetics' is used to embrace the categories of bralrmac4ri, sadhu and pala. For an explanation of the special meanings attached to these designations in the Swaminarayan satsang, see R.B. Williams, A New Face of Hinduism, p.92f. ,

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category of piirta but now completed through the innovation of using ascetics.12 Like the members of the Ramakrishna Math. the ascetics who have followed Sahajananda Swami have been taught to regard social service as 'an integral part of their religious life'. 11 The Swaminarayan satsang and the Ramakrishna Movement emerged at times of profound economic, political and social change in the regions of their birth. although the changes in Gujarat prior to the birth of the Swaminarayan movement were not those resulting from the presence of the British which was consolidated after 1820. It is evident from the chronology of the Sahajananda's life that his mission ended almost as British influence was slowly starting to make an impact in the area where his teaching took deepest root Consequently, there is little evidence to suggest that the origins of Sahajananda's commitment to an extended form of sevl can be traced back to any other source than that of the Vaishnava bhakti tradition which nurtured him. The broad consensus shan:d by students of the Swaminarayan movement is that the assumptions and motivations Wlderlying its practice of service arc derived from traditional Hindu religious roots and specifically those of Vaishnava bhakti. In the light of the way in which sevi and the role of the sannyisin have been redefined in relationship to each other in both the Swami- . narayan and the Ramakrishna movements, it would seem that the need to address the plight of the people in the face of severe social disruption has led two central, nineteenth-century Hindu teachers to an independent reassessment of the strategic role of the sannylsin. Both Sahajananda Swami and Vivekananda identified the purified ascetic as a traditional figure of authcrity in Hindu society able to break the stranglehold of existing interest-groups and corrupt religious leaders. In this respect, it could be argued that Vivekananda's understanding of the sa.nnyisin bears as close an affinity to Sahajananda's ideal as to the more commonly cited resemblance to Bankimchandra's ideal of the activist sannyisin. For both Sahjananda Swami and Vivekananda, the traditional notion of sevi provided sufficient flexibility to respond to the needs of the society which they addressed. The differences between the promotion of sevi by the two, nevertheless, are considerable and it is evident that Vivekananda's model may lay claim to being a form of 'social service' Dave, Life and Philosophy ofShree Swirmin11111yan (London, 1974). pp.71 IT.; M.C. Parekh, Sri Swirmi Nara)'lllUI: •gospel of 8hapV11ta-Dlurnna or God in mJemptive action (Bombay, 3rd edn., 1980), p.48f. II M.C. Parekh, Sri Swami Na111yana, p.81 . I! H.T.

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(as defined in this paper) in a way the Sahajananda Swami's model oould not. In spite of Sahajananda Swami's use of ascetics the agents of sevf, the forms of sevi offered remained traditional and were designed for the welfare of the satsang. Vivekananda's notion of sevi, as has been shown, conformed to many of the formal cbaracteristics of voluntary social service and incorporated the attitudinal chanaes which the Rudolphs associate with the process of modernisation. Where Sahajananda Swami spoke to a satsang, Vivekananda's horiz.ons were both 'national' in a new sense and, indeed, international. The fact that a comparison can be made between Vivekananda's treatment of sevf and the role of the sannyisin and earlier Hindu experimentation with this same relationship strengthens the argument in this paper that Vivekananda's commitment to service was not a simple consequence of the assimilation of the West's philanthropic ideals. Instead, the comparison provides grounds for categorising Vivekan· anda 's innovation as a further example of a Hindu exploration of sevf but now in response to the range of consequences for India of the modernisation of the West which was gripping Britain and thus the empire which Britain held. Once it is conceded that Vivekananda's expansion of seviandeven his use of sannyisins was not without precedent within the Hindu ·tradition, Vivekananda's selection from the richness of India's spiritual traditions cannot be dismissed as an attempt to cloak an ente?prise without roots within the wider Hindu tradition. By 1890, Vivekananda had started to speak of bringing together the intellect of Sankara with the 'heart' of the Buddha and this was a theme which Vivekananda explained in later discussions. [CW VI:227] Vivekananda, in fact, explicitly utilised the examples of those individuals, for example, Caitanya, Kabir, Nanak [CW Vl:l65] and movements like Buddhism, Islam and popular bhalcti [CW V:311] whose teachings may be said t> carry anticipations of a wider concern for social justice. Ramakrishna, for Vivekananda, was the authentic culmination of this tradition of loving . concern displayed by 'the true Avataras, for they had their hearts as broad as the sky-end above all Ramakrishna'. [CW VI:394] The selective use of Indian exemplars, including the contentious appeal to Ramakrishna as a paradigm of practical concern for humanity, and the incorporation of Westem authorities, were all part of a complex response by Vivekananda to a changed and enlarged world. In talking of his dependence upon 'the ideas of the great ancient Masters', Vivekananda observed: 'Circumstances have become a little different, and in consequence the lines of action have to be changed a little, and that is all.•

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[CW IIl:220] In spite of benefits freely acknowledged by Brahmo reformers and, indeed. by Vivekananda [CW V:l I], the coming of the British to Bengal both exacerbated certain existing social problems and created new ones which caused many of Bengal's most perceptive minds to conclude that society would have to change and be changed. Yet, without the presence of tangible indicators of social need, it would be difficult to understand why the reformist spirits of nineteenth-century Bengal would have regarded British and Christian criticisms of social practice in Benpl as anything more than the voicing of cultural and religious prejudice. Vivekananda, having stated that India had much to learn and should learn from the West when appropriate, declared: •... ifthe mere disapproval of the Westerners be the measure of the abominablencss of our manners and customs, then it is our mime arch enemies with opposing views as to what should be done to save Hinduism from its decadence, for tbey saw Hinduism as decadent and degraded, fallen from its ancient heights of purity and political power. Yet when it came to the question of who was morally fit to provide leadership for the Hindu community, a deep division was exposed. As long as the issues condemned remained tho8e customs or forms of behaviour generally unacceptable to the educated ~lite as a whole, and as long as the ideology that justified this condemnation was phrased in a rather vague appeal to morality, then a widespread agreement could be sustained. The following year, however, this consensus began to dissolve with the articulation of differing views on what should be done to revive the Hindu community and what must be rejected as false and spurious. In 1873, Kanahayalal Alakhdhari, a severe critic who had taken' a position closely aligned to the Brahmo Samaj, founded the Niti Prakash Sabha in Ludhiana. Alalthdhari wished to improve Hinduism, but felt that such improvement demanded radical surgery. He rejected most of popular Hinduism and also did not respect the status of Brahmins and the Brahmins' monopoly of spiritual power. In response to Alakhdbari 's criticisms of established Hinduism, Pandit Sbraddha Ram attended the initial meeting of the Niti Prakash Sabha accompanied by a number of his disciples. In a lengthy speech, the Pandit rejected both Alakhdhari as a leader of Hinduism and his ideology of radical change. This speech demonstrated the inter-mixing of ideology and behaviour, which marked the religious movements of the time. It also illustrates the type of cultural chaos created by British dominance. After opening his speech with a bow towards the need for improvement in the condition of Hinduism, Pandit Shraddha Ram came to the central deficiency of Alakhdhari and his fellow refonners.:. 5 Ibid., p.18.

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But only those people can provide protection [for Hinduian) who are lbemselws fum Hindus. Even though all of us think - are firm Hindus only a penon [is) who aix:epts the teachinll' of '1uli and si11Jti••• and if [Alakhdhari] thinks that the Vedas 111d Dharma Shastru are the products ofBrahmins, 111d accepts this as Hinduism he cumot be a true Hindu. Pleue excuse me for this. I w111t to say one thing and that is... that Mr. Alakhdhari who is apinst lniti and s111{ti and who does not keep a knot on his head 111d does not wear the saaed thread that is essential for a Vaishya, and who hat.ea to have cow dung in the kitchen, and who uses a dining-table 111d calls bboje by the word khini, and think• all the caste system is 111eless, then how can Hinduism be spread or prosper through his efforts? [That) is impossible.6

Pandit Shraddha Ram, having defined a proper Hindu, rejected those who would not accept the authority of the scriptures, and their divine origin, as well as individuals who did not follow the proper Hindu customs. He next further underscored the un-Hindu actions and attitudes of Alakhdhari: Then he wears shoes, and he went to listen to the preaching of the Vedas 111d Shastras in front of Christi111s and Muslims, and he camot toleratr a marlc: on the forehead of another person, then how can he protect the Hindu religion? If he considers this kind of freedom [the breaking of norms) as education for the spmld of Hindnirm, and lhink• of it as protection for Hinduism, then in my opinion this effort is useless. Because of this freedom, the efforts of the Muslims, Christians and Brahmo Samaj are not diminished.7

In summation, the Pandit returned to his own concept of Hinduism, of that which must lie at the core of being a Hindu. and which could not be rejected by anyone who wished to remain a Hindu. Gentlemen! If this Sabha does something for the progress of the Hindu religion and it is according to the Vedas and Shastras then I am wholly in favour of it, and you please forgive this accusation. One thing more that I want to point out is that if MUDShi Alakhdhari does not follow the teachinl!' of the Vedas and Shastras then the progress of this Sabha is one thing, but no Hindu will ewr come to a meeting from this day onward. 8

After demolishing Alalchdhari 's position Shraddha Ram gave a lengthy discourse on the Hindu scriptures, and then left with his supporters. (

6 Tulsi Deva, Sraddhi praHJ, pratham bhig: Sri Piqiifit JiV1111 ji i l jive (Lahore: Punjab Economical Press, 1896), p.30. 7 Pandit Bihari Lal, Tajiwjz-i kimil-i dhmna sabhi (Lahore, I 873), Part I,

p.I. • Ibid.

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In Dharma ~ in which he outlined his ideas and amculated a series of answers against the challenges of Hindu reformers, he also dealt with criticisms from Muslim thinkers and then went on to sketch a Sanatanist ideology. On the grounds that as mere humans we could neither fully understand nor be critical of divinely inspired works, Shraddha Ram condemned all those who would employ human rationality or logic to religious questions. Shraddha Ram's assault on reason came with a defence of caste and the prohibitions against ritual pollution: If anyone says that we understand through reuon u forbidden only th0te things whose touch b!lickena the body, and which brllJ8 bit1eme11 to the tongue when eaten, then listen, al this lime I am not spe•lcjng of things of medical science in which rational proofs are poaaible, bllt I am di1C11111ing matters of religiolll 1Cripture1 and religiolll law where rational argumenll are not complelely pr8CticaJ.9

Having

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reason and any appeal to it for authority, Shraddha Ram was left with belief and acceptance as necessary supports of social custom: Sahibs, here this is only a matter of faith. If we are Hindus and followers of the Rishis then we should accept the commands of the Dharma Sbastras without the why and the how of it, and if we accept the Dharma Shastras then we mlllt also certainly accept the prohibition against touching low castes and eating things from their hands. I am not saying that man should not rely on reason at all, but my intention is this, that it is not good to raise doubts and questions in relation to the wisdom of the Dhanna Shastras.10

Shraddha Ram repudiated the arguments used from Ram Mohun Roy to Novin Chandra Rai of the Brahmo Samaj that reason, common sense and logic should be applied as a gauge of proper behaviour, nor was he willing to accept some of the Hindu scriptures and reject others as false. All must accept the Vedas, sm(ti and Aruti. Yet his logic was somewhat inconsistent: Many people of deficient intellect hearing the songs of Ras Dhari believe them to be hymns ofSIDi Krishna Maharaj, but in my opinion these are not bhaj-, but defame our God who never did any sin. I am saying the truth that Krishna Maharaj never did anything improper, but he always uplifted others and wished well for his devotee. Whatever vices the Ras Dhari people have attached to Shri Krishna Maharaj they have done IO to please senall&lisll and 9 Shraddha Ram,Dharma rak# (Lwlhiana, 1876), p.S. 10 Ibid., pp.S-6.

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the mob, and they are singing about the acts of gopis. These things are not written in any respectable book. I I

Not content merely to reject the custom of Ras Dhari, Shraddha Ram looked for additional arilJments and found them in the area of rationality and common sense, the very same type of araument that he bad rejected when used by other Hindu thinkers. Again it is also proven from this m•tter that he [Krishna] did not do my wickednes1 with my women not hia, that up to the time when he wu in Brindabm md Mathura his ese wu only eleven yean, that durina this period hunum sexi.. tity could not be fotme.t.12

Krishna as a prepubescent youth could not do what he supposedly did, that stands to reason, but, of course, reason was not supposed to be a valid criterion according to Shraddha Ram. Furthermore, not only was Sbraddha Ram using similar arguments to those employed in criticising Hinduism by reformers, but he judged Hinduism by his own yardstick of values and rejected those elements of tradition that he saw as unacceptable. Through Dhanna raJc# Shraddha Ram makes a passionate and determined defence of the caste system. In doing this he used two terms that today rarely appear in print. First, he referred to Hinduism as dvija dharma, the religion of the upper three V11J1M1S. effectively excluding the majority of the Hindu population. Secondly, he repeatedly employed the term nic ldmi to the lower castes, specifically untouchables, a term that politicised Hindu leaders in the twentieth century might use mentally, but did not place in print since they would not readily reject a significant section of their community. Meeting, touching, eating, drinking with them [nfc ldm~ is forl>idden in our Shulru. Should we meet them through fon:e, or need or error, theo doing prfyakit is neceuary. Then u far as poaible we Hindus &bould remain dimnt &omtbem.13

Shraddha Ram showed little concern for the lowest segments of society, nor did he strive to tie them more effectively to the body of Hinduism. His was an ~litist religion by and of the upper classes and the dvija Vlll'QBS. This concept of Hinduism fitted well with his own personal experiences. During his career as a defender of Santanist Hinduism, he was supported by members of the aristocracy, wealthy Ibid., p.9. 12 Ibid. 13 Ibid., p.7.

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landlords, merchants and members of the educated ~lite. He found acceptance from the traditional leadership of the Hindu community and defence of the faith meant always for Pandit Shraddha Ram protection ofBrahminical rights, privileges and power. Shraddha Ram conceived Hinduism as a body of belief and custom centred on the major areas of doctrine, scripture and religious practice, including certain crucial outward signs, and the social order as expressed in the term vattiUnuna dhanna : You all know that the ancient Hindua are those who from the begirming to the end accept as lr\le and proper the commands of the divinely in.spired Vedas, and caste feeling, 11Dtoncbability, the sacred thread, the knot on the hair, yog. born, tilth, lint, biddh, etc. which are establilhed by our reliable Rishis and of which evidence is given in the Vedas. These are accepted as right and

proper.14

As for those who would raise questions about the scriptures and who rejected any or all of them that Shraddha Ram considered as necessary to Hinduism, they were either labelled as a 'new kind of Hindu' or simply declared non-Hindus.1s The next significant orthodox leader who came to the forefront did so after the Sanatanist concept was well established in northern India. Organised orthodoxy: the career of Pandit Din Dayalu Sharma (1863-

1937) The second stage of the defence of Hindu orthodoxy centred around the career of Pandit Din Dayalu Sharma. Born in May 1863 in the town of Jhajjar, the young Gaur Brahmin learnt Persian and Urdu in local schools.16 Later he also studied Sanskrit and English. He next attended the Government School in Jhajjar. Din Dayalu worked on the census of 1881, and in the following year founded his first Hindu association, the Panchayat Taraqqi Hunud (Council for the Advancement of the Hindus). In 1883, its name was changed to the Society Rafah-i-'Am in an attempt to include Muslims and thus to serve all religions. The society expressed its ideas in a monthly journal, flariyana. In 1885, Din Dayalu accepted a position as editor of the Mathuri Akbbir, an Urdu monthly dedicated to expressing Hindu 14 Ibid., pp.11- 12. IS An untitled, unfinished and unpublished Hindi biography of Pandit

Din

Dayalu Sharma, pp.S- 9. Information in this section will be from the biography unless otherwise cited. 16 Ibid.

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religious principles. The following year he left Mathura and travelled to Lahore where he shared the editorship of the Urdu weekly Koh·i· Niir with Munshi Har Sukh Rai. Through his travels and work on two newspapers, Pandit Din Dayalu met prominent Hindus of both Punjab and the Northwestern Provinces. Using his contacts, Din Dayalu turned again to establishing an expressly Hindu organisation. In 1886, the young pandit called a meeting in Hardwar and founded the Gau Vamashrama Hitaishini Ganga Dharma Sabha. The immediate issue that stimulated this organisation rested with boxes set along the banks of the Ganges by the Arya Samaj. After they bad bathed in the river, pilgrims placed donations in these receptacles. In this way the money collected at an orthodox pilgrimage site aided Hindu critics of orthodoxy. This new society, after electing officers and establishing its own organisation. urged the priests of Hardwar to end this practice that allo\Wd their enemies to profit from orthodox rituals. Discussion then turned to questions of respect for the holy Ganga, for cows. Brabmin priests and places of pilgrimage. All agreed that Hindus were divided and so there must be an attempt to create a greater degree of unity. and that they must work for the preservation of ssnitan dhanna. At the close of this first meeting, the new society had constructed an organisational structure with officials, a headquarters in Hardwar, and bad published rules. The Sabha bad articulated the view of the priests as to the type of social and cultural tasks facing them and their allies, but little else was accomplished. In the aftermath of the Hardwar meeting Din Dayalu worked extensively organising Sanatan Dharma Sabbas, goshalas (homes for cattle) and Sanskrit schools. He toured Punjab, the Gangetic Plain, and went as far east as Calcutta. During this period he and others spoke of creating an organisation with broad goals, one that would represent all Hindus. At a meeting held in April 1887 in the princely state of K.apurthala, a small group of Din Dayalu's associates joined him to plan a new organisation, the Bharat Dharma Mahamandala, with the purpose of bringing together all leaders of the orthodox Hindu community. The first gathering of the Mahamandala was set for the Hindu holy day, Ganga Dashmi, when Hardwar was filled with pilgrims. It began with ritual bathing, followed by other ceremonies, numerous speeches and the passing of resolutions. These focused on the need to protect v~iSrama dharma, on the necessity for religious preaching. and the task of establishing Sanatan Dharma Sabhas to defend Hinduism from its critics within the community and outside it. Din Dayalu spoke of

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the need for Sanskrit schools and for Hindi to be the language of education and administration. The Mahamandala agreed to send out updit$tks, paid missionaries, to propagate its goals and to act as links between this organisation and the local Sanatan Sabbas. This meeting ended with great enthusiasm and renewed hope that orthodoxy could protect itself in an era of apathy and degeneracy. The Mabam&ndala was sustained by members of the rulin& Hindu aristocracy, landowners, priests and beads of Hindu societies as well as the Theosophists who were represented by Colonel Olcott. The Mahamandala held its second meeting on 24-27 March 1889, at the Shri Govinda Deva temple in Brindaban. This time the announcement was written in Hindi, according to a decision taken at the first meeting to use Hindi for all its proceedinp. The notice claimed that prior to their first gathering there were fewer than a hundred Hindu religious organisations in India, but that in the last two years their number bad risen to over two hundred. Once again the Mahamandala met at the same time as a major religious fair in order to guarantee as large a gathering as possible. It was reported that over five hundred deleptes attended, with more than five thousand visitors. This assembly resembled the first meetin& with a combination of rituals, speeches and resolutions. Much the same results came from the 1890 gathering in Delhi. The Mabamandala met there on 14-18 November, in a much grander and more elaborate setting than the two early gatherings. Although the Delhi gathering followed previous patterns, two resolutions showed new directions-one of which stated that the government should not interfere with Hindu customs. This issue grew from the proposed Age of Consent Bill then being widely discussed. A second resolution condemned the use of dowries, and this placed the Mahamandala in the role of a critic of one contemporary practice. Din Dayalu had already spoken against 'bad customs' such as the singing of obscene songs, as an example of Hindu degeneracy. In response to an invitation from Pandit M.M. Malaviya, the delegates agreed to hold their next meeting in Benaras. The conference at Benaras began on 29 February I 892, and lasted fifteen days. On the fifth day a Mantran Sabha or Advisory Council was chosen, and for the next four days discussion focused on the functioning of this council. The Mahamandala continued its conferences: at Amritsar in 1896, Kapurthala in 1897, and Mathura in 1899. Din Dayalu remained secretary, but turned much of his attention towards the creation of a college in Delhi. The question of where such a college might be located bCcame an issue among the supporters of

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the Mahamandala. Finally, with the assistance of the Vaishya Conference of Delhi, Din Dayalu opened the Hindu College, located in that city, on IS May 1899. This college survived, but it was plagued by a continuing struggle to find funds for its maintenance. In August 1900, the Mahamandala returned once more to Delhi. It claimed an attendance of delegates from over eight hundred Dbarma Sabhas. Again there was a series of grand events. The Maharaja of Darbhanga arrived on his special train to take the office of conference president. A procession carrying the Vedas, a performance of the sandhyl ritual, speeches and resolutions demonstrated the powina importance of the Mahamandala. Yet beneath the surface, tensions between rivals for leadership emerged following the Delhi conference. In 1896, Swami Gyanananda had founded the Nigamagama Maivlali in Mathura. This organisation became part of the Mahamandala in March 1901. Swami Gyanananda then began to issue regulations and make decisions concerning the Mahamandala. He was supported by several Hindu leaders, and also the Theosophical Society. In 1902, Pandit Din Dayalu Sharma resigned his position as ~retary, and gradually withdrew from the Mahamandala." Pandit Din Dayalu Sharma 's prescription for the restoration of

Hinduism Pandit Din Dayalu Sharma accepted the basic conceptual framework laid down by Pandit Shraddha Ram Phillauri. He too saw Hindus as members of a degenerate religious community. This state of Hinduism and the Hindu community was the result of various causes, some from centuries past ·and others contemporary and still eatina into the community. Having concluded that degeneracy existed within the Hindu community, Pandit Din Dayalu looked for ways to improve both spiritual and material life. One method for returning Hindus to their previous status both morally and politically was to restore the virtues of the past: . . .it is certain that having been diverted from OW" own origins 1Dd from many communal customs it is necessary for the community to return to its roots. Again we should have OW" base, 1Dd likewise religious education 1Dd investigation of religious origins and in the futW"e could have communal worldly fame.11 17

J.N. Farquhar, Modem Religious Movements in India (New Delhi: M1msbinm Manobarlal, 1967, a reprint of the original edition), pp.317- 18. 18 Bbanit Dhanna Mllhamandala, Report 1889 (MatblD"&: Shriman Press,

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Progress in the future Jay, then, in the past. One must Rktiscover that which made Hinduism great and glorious, but which had been lost over the centuries and resulted in foreign rule, subjugation and degeneration. First Muslims and then Christians dominated Hindus. Their superiority was not merely political, but carried with it the introduction of aggressive conversion religions that thn:atened the integrity and existence of Hinduism.19 Brahmins had lost their tie to governments and with that the funding generated by this link.20 The threats of conversion and intolerance from Muslims had been replaced by the British and their religion with disastrous results: These days it is the community's misfortune that 1111ong 111 there arc ibose who arc substituting the customs of the white binulari for the customs of the community, tranquillity is only from pm:eiving amongst several kinds of religious and worldly knowledge that your own cuatam1 and practices are fauJ.tless.21

Hindus had themselves 'having rejected the protection of dharma [through] carelessness and lethargy sunk into an inferior and weakened condition•. 22 Pandit Din Dayalu classed Hindu reformers among those who were accepting the ways of the British, the 'white biradari ', and in so doing had lost the best of their Hinduism. Speaking of the contemporary Hindu reformers, he said that they had divided Hinduism through 'false reasoning which is derived from ignorance of the sixteen ancient Shastras, and authentic Puranas; thus the opinions of ignorant people have been imposed on the new religions of today, the Arya Samaj, the Brahmo Samaj and the Dev Samaj. ' 23 These individuals might be highly educated within the dimensions of the British and of English, but they were ignorant of their own religion: To them is too much destruction and false reasoning which is derived from ignorance of [the] sixteen ancient sbastras, and authentic puranas, thus the opinions of ignorant people are imposed and the new religions of today, the 1889), p.2. These reports were prepared by Pandit Nand Kisbore Dev Sharma and Bbairav Sbri Krishna Prasad. 19 Ibid.,p.3. 20 Ibid. 21 Ibid. 22 Ibid. 23 Ibid. p.4.

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Arya Samaji, lhe Brahmo Samaji, the Dev Dharmaji...2A

Having sketched the condition of the Hindus and bow it came to be, Din Dayalu discussed the ways in which it might be overcome. First, through organising one over-reaching organisation, namely the Bharat Dhanna Mahamandala as demonstrated in their first meeting: ... theR wu progress on the fields of Hardwar, that iJ to eay in the land of Hardwar. At the first meeting of the Bharat Dbarma Mahamandala ita rules (niyiun) were drafted by highly qualified lecturen llDd preacben, relijlioua teachers from Bengal, Bibar, the North-West Provinces, md Punjali.etc. Very famous religious publicists, religious teacben, and highly qualified intetpreten, eatablisbed men, religious supporters, and very learned pandita being of one opinion, prepared and determined, accompanied with a reaolule will [engage in] the correction of d1urmll with firmness and carefulnea.25

Fulfilling one's dharmawasessential to the stability of the social order and the propriety of Hindu society. Only then could the degeneration end and order be restored. Din Dayalu described a series of steps that all Hindus should follow and that would be the basis of the Mahamandala's programme: First - Education of Brahmins, Vaishyas, Ksbatriyas, etc. in Vedic religious boob. Second - Providing advancement among OTdinary Hindus of the sacred Sanskrit lmguage. Third - Giving our doctrinal books [that have been] made accessible throllllh translation into the vernacular languages. Fourth - The excellent knowledge of vaqia dhanna which bad been established for the community that bad been made null and void, bas been preserved and protected.26

Education and correct actions would return Hindus to their proper religious practices. Hindus would once again be purified 'through respect of the Shastras, performing puja, and singing hymns, going on pilgrimages to temples according to the Raja Shastras'.27 Correct action would result in the 'transmission of proper custom and the prevention of bad custom•.21 Once Hindus returned to those duties articulated in the sacred texts and accepted by the authority ofBrahmin priests, a properly educated Hindu community would regain its stature 1A Ibid.

25 Ibid., pp.2-3.

26 Ibid., p.3. 27 Ibid. 28 Ibid., p.S.

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as the moral leader of the world. Swami Vivekananda: his thoughts and actions

Born on 12 January 1863, Narendranath Dutta, the son of a successful lawyer, n:ceived an English education at the Mission College in Calcutta. He then began to study law in preparation for an expected legal career. Initially he was attracted to the Brah.mo Samaj. However, his life began to change after he met RamakrishM Paramahansa and was drawn with some reluctance to this charismatic holy man. In 1892 he took the name Swami Vivekananda, and by the time of Ramakrishna's death on 1 August 1896, Narcndmnath had abandoned whatever plans be had for a law profession. His brilliant career included travelling to the United States and Europe, and the creation of both a refashioned monastery and a mission of social service by the time he died on 4 July 1902.29 The ideology ofSwami Vivekananda The ideology articulated by Swami Vivekananda shared the suppositions that can be found among both reformist and traditionalist thinkers, namely that Hinduism was in a degenerate state and as such had fallen from the condition of its past glories. All was well once, but no longer. Vivekananda saw this decline as stemming from failures within the Hindu community. 'The degeneration of India came not because the laws and customs of the ancient were bad, but because they were not allowed to be carried to their legitimate conclusions'.30 This decline in the observance of the proper Hindu behaviour had resulted in a degraded people. 'The whole national character is one of childish dependence. They arc all ready to enjoy food if it is brought to their mouth, and even some want it pushed down ... You do not deserve to live if you cannot help yourselves... ' Their competitiveness made concerted efforts for improvement extremely difficult: Three men cannot act in concert together in India for five minutes. Each one struggles for power and in the long nm the whole organisation comes to grief. Lordi Lordi When will - learn not to be jealous.31 19 J.N. Farquhar, Modern Rel;,ious Mo'l'etnellls in India (New Yorlc, 1919), pp.200--3; Kenneth W. Jones, 'Socio-religious reform movements in British India', New Cambridge History ofIndia (Cambridge, 1989), pp.41-{i. 30 Eknath Ranade, compiler, SWlltrli Vivekananda's Rousing Call to the Nation (Calcutta, 1963), p.25. 31 CW [Complete Works, Mayavati Memorial Edition) V, p.67.

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With the vision of a degraded Hindu character, it was difficult to find examples of past achievement. . According to Vivekananda, Hindus could find one impressive achievement by their community, namely, that ancient nations have come and gone, but Hindus remained: But - live, md if Maou came back be would not be bewildered and would not find himself in a forei81J land. The same laws me here, laWI adjusted 111d thought out through thousands and thousands ofyean; cunoma, the acumen of ages 111d the experience of centuries, that seem to be eternal; and aa the days go by aa blow after blow of misfortune bu been delivered upon them, such blows seem to have one p111pose only, that of making them stronger 111d more comtant. And to ftnd the centre of all this, the heart from which the flood flows, the main-spring of the national life, believe me when I say that the experienc:e of the world is that it is bere.32

In spite of all its difficulties Hinduism survived, even if it was in a somewhat diminished state and without its past glories. The reasons given for ,Hinduism's decline lay partly outside the Hindu community and were attributed to foreigners and foreign religions. Hindus had to face the most immoral of all religions, Islam: The more selfish a man, the more immoral be is. And so also with the race. That nee which is bound down to itself has been the most cruel and the most wicked in the whole world. There has not been a religion that bad clung to this dualism more than that founded by the Prophet of Arabia, and there bu not been a religion which baa shed so much blood and been so cruel to other men. In the Koran there is the doctrine that a man who does not believe these teachings should be killed; it is a mercy to kill him! And the surest way to get to heaven, where there are beautiful houris and all sor1s of sense-enjoyments, is by killing these unbelieven. Tbinlc of the bloodshed there has been in consequence of such beliefs133

Having survived the terror of Islam. Hindus faced a new threat to their religion and ancient culture, again from an intrusive and aggressive religion-Christianity carried by British conquerors. In dealing with Christianity and the British, Vivekananda.walked a thin line between o~right rejection of Western concepts and religion as presented by Christian missionaries and any open condemnation of the British Indian government. After travelling to the United States, Vivekananda saw missionary movement from two different perspectives, both negative: 32 CWID,pp.106-207. 33 CW II, pp.352-3; also

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It is not true that I am against any religion. It is equally untrue that I am hostile to the Christian missionaries in India. But I JITOtest against certain of their methods of raising money in America. What is meant by those lectures in scboolboolu for children where the Hindu mother is painted as throwing her children to the crocodiles in the Ganga? The mother ia black, but the baby is more money. painted white to arouse more sympathy and

set

The Swami continued 'with women being burnt at the stake by their husbands', 'huge cars crushing over hwhan beings', and villages where 'there is a pond full of the bones of little babies' .34 He is disturbed by what appears to be a difference between missionary attitudes towards Hindus and Muslims respectively: One thing I would tell you, and I do not mean any unkind criticism. You train and educate and clothe and pay men to do what? To come over to my country to cune and abuse all my forefltben, my religion, and everything. They walk near a temple and say, 'You idolaters, you will go to bell'. But they never dare to say that to the Muhamm1dan1 of India; the sword would be out. But the Hindu is too mild; be smiles and passes on and says. 'Let the fools tllk'. Thlt is the llUitudc. lS

Both Islam and Christianity are religions of error and abuse; they damaged Hinduism in the past and still threaten it in the present. Also Christianity carried the values and concepts of Western civilisation that were undennining Hinduism: Children brought up and educated in the new schools started on the occidental plan, drank in these idea from their childhood; and it is not to be woodered at that doubts erose. But instead of throwing away superstitions and m•king a real search after truth, the test of trulh became 'What does the West say?' The priests must go, the Vedas must be burned, because the West has said 10.36

Hindus not only accepted Western values and criticisms, but were unwilling to question what was brought to them from the West: To such of our countrymen who go whimpetiug before foreigners- 'We are very low, we are mean, we are degraded, everything we have is diabolical'-to them we say: 'Yes, that may be the truth, forsooth, because you profess to be trulhful we have no reason to disbelieve you; but why do you include the whole nation in that We? Pray sirs, what sort of good mamier is lhat?37

There is here a double negative in that what the West brings is of no 34 JS 36 37

CW IV, pp344-S. CW VIII, pp.211- 12. Ranade, Rousing Call, pp.42- 3. CW V, pp.445-6; also see Ill, p.131 and p.172.

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real help and Hindus do not have the ability to say no to it. This situation has been exacerbated by the education system imported from and conducted by the British. The same system that he experienced and now rebuffed: ...Bild you too undentand full well, I mean tho.e of our countrymen who have become thoroughly Europeanised both in external habill md in way of thought and ideas, and who are continually crying their eyes out, and praying to the Europe11DS to save 1hem--O ye Europem people, you are our saviours, have pity on us and raise us from this fallen state. 38 For Vivekananda self-action on the part of the Hindus was the only solution to their present dilemma. They bad to cease being weak, return to their own religion, their own gods, and seek the stren&th that was inherently in them: Say: 'The soil of Bharat is my highest heaven, the good of Bharat is my good', and repeat and pray day and night,'O lbou Mother oftbe Ulli~e11e, voucblafe

manliness 1mto me! 0 Mother of Strength. take away my weakness, take away my 1111DW1line1111, 111d make me a Mant•39 Vivekananda's cry for manliness sums up the different trends of his writing. Hindus were degraded, under attack from other religions and the principles of Western civilisation, even from the actions 9f Christians in distant America. Their only hope was to find the strength, the virility, the will to return to their own religious traditions and spirituality. Such actions would, he felt, give them the ability to resist alien pressure and temptation. Thus Hinduism would rise once again above all other religions.

Conclusion Looking back over the writings and actions of one reformer, two orthodox defenders of Hinduism and Swami Vivekananda, certain things are clear. All four saw contemporary Hinduism as degenerate and filled with error, as each defined that term.40 The ··Hindu community was perceived as weak, divided, sunk in controversy and thus unable to defend itself from more aggressive religions. Each group offered solutions to the problems of the present, but by opposing

cw v,

38 p.444. 39 CW IV, p.480. 40 This presumption

of degeneracy and moral decay was a major theme in all religious communities whether Hindu, Muslim or Sikh. See Kenneth W. Jones, Socio-religious Reform Movements in British India (Cambridge, 1989).

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forms of action. Reformers, such as Kanhayalal Alakhdhari, called for radical changes within Hindu religious practices in order to cleanse Hinduism of all accumulated 'error'. From the orthodox perspective, these reformers in attempting to purify Hinduism had achieved nothing and instead became part of the overall problem. Between the two Sanatanist pandits and Swami Vivekananda, however, there was a high degree of agreement. For them the rituals, beliefs, sacred texts, and social structure of contemporary Hinduism were correct, proper, and even divinely inspired. Their authority lay in the ancient scriptures, the Vedas, Sruti, stn{ti, the Punmas, and the laws of Manu. These texts were not to be challenged by human reasoning, foreign religious doctrine or concepts of Western science. The revival of Hinduism and Hindus lay in inculcating respect for the ancient texts, for Brahmins, and the system of social structure with all its implications. Acceptance of the vaq111 system and all it meant. even untouchability, was deemed necessary and good for the moral condition of Hindus. Progress would be made by a return to belief in sacred authority and the practice of all religious acts, such as respect for the holy Ganga, Brahmin priests, idol worship, pilgrimages, and proper diet. Together they comprised sanitan dharma, the Eternal Religion, adherence to which would restore Hinduism to its proper place as the leader and teacher of all religions. True, each of these Hindu leaders had his own particular points of emphasis, but all shared the basic supposition as to what was wrong in Hinduism and what should be done to make it right again. Other religions, particularly Islam and Christianity, were declared enemies, their doctrines and practices untrue, at times cruel, and above all, through conversion a threat to the Hindu community. At times competition took the form of violence, at other times missionaries challenged the beliefs and customs of Hinduism by presenting their alternative systems of belief and conduct. In addition Hindu youth faced an English education that taught both the language and culture from another civilisation, thus directly and indirectly supporting the campaigns of Christian missionaries. At times Swami Vivekananda condemned both Islam and Christianity, specifically the activities of Christian missionaries in India and the United States. In his writing and speeches, however, he primarily championed Vedantic Hinduism. Vivekananda's achievement marked him as different from all other religious leaders, for he also brought a new dimension to Hinduism by transforming the traditional Hindu institutions of the Hindu ascetic and monastery into vehicles of social service. He established the Ramakrishna Math and Mission that provided religious training and oig1tlze1lby

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housing for Hindu ascetics. It also became a base for the management of social welfare institutions, which conducted fonns of medical service and emergency relief. In so doing Vivekananda added to Hinduism a social gospel, whereby the tradition of Hindu monks followed a doctrine of action, .t.lnnl yoga. that stxeslCd action within the world rather than attempting to retreat from it, thus offering to both monks and laity a new path to the traditional goal of release from the cycle of rebirth.. Swami Vivekananda is remembered today as a highly successful spokesman for Hinduism in North America and Europe and as an exponent of religious tolerance. He was also a defender of orthodox Hinduism. It is clear that Vivekananda cannot be placed in a single category, for he was both complex and, at times, contradictory. A full understanding of Swami Vivekananda requires of historians and students of religion that they explore the totality of his writinas and speeches as well as other available historical sources. That is more than this short article has aimed to achieve.

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Chapter 12 HISTORICITY, HAGIOORAPHY, AND HIBRARCHY IN GANGETIC INDIA, 1918-1936 William R. Pinch By 1920 two important processes of ideological change were underway in northern India. Throughout and beyond the Gangetic plain, large communities of cultivators, long labelled Shudra (servile) by the highcaste ~lite were asserting Kshatriya (warrior) slatus. At the same time, in Hindu monastic centres throughout the north, a critical mass of Vaishnava monks rose to challenge the accepted hagiography of the Ramananrn order-namely, the tnldition that the fourtecnth-centwy Ramanand had begun his religious career as a monk in the south Indian Shri Vaishnava community, founded by the twelfth-centwy Tamil theologian, Ramanuja. These were not isolated developments in the cultural and social history of modem India. Not only were these two ideological movements related, they impinged on and influenced each other in myriad ways. 1 At the most basic level, both movements were driven by visions of a more egalitarian society than that which obtained at the tum of the centwy. At a more rarified level, both movements depended on a Vaishnava discourse of social reform and drew on Vaishnava mythologies of god as man; as such, they can be talcen to represent two distinct, early twentieth-centwy strands ofVaishnava social and political consciousness. While the dimensions of social ideology implicit to peasant-Kshatriya reform are fairly clear, this is not the case with regard to the precipitate Ramanandi divide; hence, part of this essay will be devoted to demonstrating the egalitarian critique of caste that underpinned the new Rarnanandi hagiography. Both movements also shared a willingness to engage in the writing of 'histories,' in that they depicted a sequence of past events in order to inculcate certain actions and attitudes in the present. Purists would object, and correctly (hence the quotation marks), that the research and writing of radical Ramanandis and new Kshatriyas should not constitute history-writing as such but, rather, the invention of new mythologies. The weight of such criticism can be felt in the fact that neither the 1 This is a central argument of Pinch, Peasmts and Monb in

British lndi•

(Berlccley: University of California Press, 1996).

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peasant-Kshatriya nor the radical-Ramanandi movement can be judged an unmitigated success throughout the Gangetic north. This ambivalence is due, at least in part, to the fact that many observers were unwilling to suspend disbelief. Many Hindi-speaking northerners dismissed the claims to ancient nobility being fostered by the ncw-Ksbatriya ideologues, and likewise many Ramanandis oontinucd to think ofRamanand as a disaffected follower of a monastic discipline founded by a twelfth century southerner. But those who accepted the veracity of one or the other version of the past being propounded by the new idcoloaues did 90 out of a dedication to a distinct oonception of bow society should reform itselfsocially. And, tangentially, both movements gave rise to a new and widely subscribed Hindu historicity that (I suggest) would oontribute substantially to an ideologically altered political and religious landscape in the twentieth-century Gangetic north. Two Vaishnava monks figure prominently in this discussion-one because he propelled many of the ideological changes taking place in Ramanandi society, the other because he was one of many popular intellectuals taking part in peasant-Kshatriya reform beyond the oonfines ofRamanandi society. They are, respectively, Swamis Bhagavadacharya and Dhamidharacharya. Bhagavadacharya was the major proponent of the new hagiography of Ramanand devoid of any connection to Ramanuja; Dhamidharacharya was the author of a tract advocating the Kshatriya status of Awadhia Kurmis, an important community of peasant cultivators in central and north Bihar. Their lives intersected in 1918- 21 when the Ramanandi sampradiy (religious community) was racked by the controversy surroWlding the new Ramanandi hagiography being promoted by Bhagavadacharya, to which (and whom) we now tum. Swami Bhagavadachalya and RJJmanandi identity

The quest for power and influence in the Ramanandi sampradiy takes place on the ground of the past, and those most able to negotiate that ground ultimately dictate the immediate social and political dimensions of the oommunity. The major challenge to the institutional memory of the sampradiy in this century occurred between 1918 and 1921. This challenge originated in Ayodhya and concluded in Uijain.2 The events of 2 The acco1mt

of 1918- 21 given here relies on Peter van der Veer, Gods on Earth: the 1Tlll1llf8etllel of religious ex~ and identity in a north Indian pilgrimage center (London: Athlone, 1988), pp.101- 7; Richard Burghart, 'The Foundins oftbe Ramanandi Sect,' Ethnohistory25, 2. 1978, pp.131-4; and RArMnantl-gnmth-mili l i Sri Riminandiilk [Special Issue of the Ramanand-

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1918-21 extended thus to the southwesternmost edge of the Hindispeaking north: to Malwa, the Vmdhya Range, and the headwaters of~ Chambal River-a region that represents the border between south and north India. This was geo-culturally appropriate, given the implications of the debate for southern influences in the Ramanandi sampradly. Though focused on Ujjain and Ayodhya, the evems of 1918-21 would have implications for Ramanandis throuabout the north and for Vaishnavas all over the subcontinent. In 1918 a group of Ramanandis, led by one Bhagavad Das (who would later change his name to Bhagavadaclwya), decided to reject the accepted wisdom of the Ramanandi sampradiy. That accepted wisdom was encapsulated by the tradition that Ramanand began his religious career as a member of the Shri Vaishnava 3 sampradiy descending from Ramanuja but was expelled from that monastic fraternity due to carelessness regarding corrunensality while on pilgrimage. Bhagavadacharya's group would call themselves svatanmt, or independent, due 10 their insistence that Ramanand was independent of any subservient connections to another religious community and leader, and that he single-handedly founded the Ramanandi samptBdiy. 4 At stake, it was argued, was Ramanand's position as the unequivocal proponent of Vaishnava bhakti (love for god) in the north, an issue that naturally would have some bearing on his status as the originator of ire sampraday that took his name. Ranged in opposition to Bhagavadacharya's independent faction were those who held Ramanuja to be the original earthly fount of knowledge and devotion; these monks, however, thought of themselves as Ramanandis, and would readily have conceded that Ramanand was an important link in the spread of Vaishnava belief in the north. The newly independent Ramanandi element could stomach no presentation of Ramanand that compromised in any way his complete and total control over his own destiny and the destiny of his religious community. In other words, the independent group chose Book-Series dedicated to Ramanand], vol.1, nos.S-6 (Ayodhya, 1935-6). This issue contains numerous essays, poems, and prose tributes by various scholarmonks to Ramanand and the Ramanandi sampradiy, and will be referred to hereafter simply as Riminandatllc. 3 I use the term 'Shri Vaishnava' to refer to Ramanuja-oriented Vaishnavas; however, many who were to be distinguished after 1921 as either Ramanandis or Ramanujis would claim the title. Likewise, prior to 1918-21 the term Ramanandi would have indicated individuals who would later be distinguished as either Ramanuji or Ramanandi. 4 Awadh Kishore Das ('Shri Vaislmava') (ed.), 'Sri Riminand wnpl'lldiy Ice vartman-vidvin [Contemporary Scholars of the Ramanandi sampradiy], Riminandirllc, 62.

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to elevate a core article of faith to ~shape Ramanandi memory. 11$ such, independent Ramanandis demanded either allegiance or refutation: A Vaishnava was either a 'Ramanuji' or a Ramanandi. Those who chose to retain the Ramanuja link- regardless of their opinion regarding tie sacredness of Ramanand-found themselves accused of opposing the divine status of Ramanand and were labelled accordingly. Both sides would seek the moral high ground by claiming the appellation 'Shri Vaishnava.' The tensions which accompanied the emergent quarrel in Ayodhya are said to have been instigated by what was perceived by many to be tie insulting manner in which 90uthern Shri Vaishnavas (and some oorthern Shri Vaishnavas, in emulation) behaved toward Ramanandis and toward the sanctified image ofRamchandra.s Peter van der Veer, who has described the controversy from the point of view of religious organisation in present-day Ayodhya, ootes the catalytic effect of a visit to that town by the leader of the Shri Vaishnava Totadri monastery in south India. Particularly galling to many Ramanandis, according to van der Veer, was the fact that the Anantacharya (eternal leader) refused to prostrate himself before images in two major Ramanandi temples, refused to accept prasid (a ritual offering of food or drink), and 'behaved like a strict Brahmin who thought the Ramanandis an inferior community.' Of course, not everyone in Ayodhya was offended by the visitors from the south: one young intellectual of Ayodhya, who would later be known as Swami Dharnidharacharya, drew close to the Anantacharya in 1918. Over a decade later, Dhamidharacharya would recall having been so impressed with the philosophical and moral discourses by the Anantacharya that, as he put it, 'my heart became purified and I realised that I \Wuld have no better opportunity to become bis disciple.' 6 Those who were offended by the exclusive attitudes of the southern monks and their northern admirers quickly coalesced into the Shri Ramanandi Vaishnava Mahamandal, a council organised by Bhagavadacharya and charged with the mandate of purging the Ramanandi sampmdiy of Ramanuji elernents. 7 Bhagavadacharya also concocted and s van der Veer, Gods on Earth, pp.102- 3. For the quotation immediately below, see p.J 02. 6 Swami Dbamidharacharya. Sri Awadh~iya lcyatriya mirtandalJ [honourable Awadh-lineage Kshatriyas of the sun], 2nd edn., {Chapra: Awadhvamshi Kshalriya Sabha, 1936; 1st edn., Allahabad: no publisher given, 1930), pp.1434. 7 van der Veer, Gods on Earth, p.103 . See also 'Sri Riminand sampradiy ke vartman-vidvin,' Riminandiiilk, 62, where a similar committee (named

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ananged for the 'discovery' of a guru paramparf (guru genealogy) document which purported to date from the fifteenth cenlUry, in which no mention was made of Ramanuja.1 He then orchestrated the 1921 debate held at the Ujjain launbha meli between himself and supporters of the Ramanuja link over the issue of wbethcr the sacred books of the Shri Vaishnavas offended Ramchandra; the jury took little time in deciding in favour of Bhagavadacharya and stating that henceforth the Ramanandi sampratJay was to be independent of the Shri Vaisbnavas.' The new guru parampari placed Ramanand twenty-second in descent from Ramchandra and included no mcnlion whatsoever ofRamanuja. IO The conclusion of the jury in Ujjain, however, resolved little. In a 1924 contribution to a major Hindi-languaac journal of Banaras, one Shyamsundardas continued to insist that the 'thread of descent [in the Ramanandi sampradiy] began with Ramanuja.' u Three years later Bhagavadacharya published his first major work, StiJD8tl Digvijaya/) (the world-conquest of Ramanand), a 400-page treatise in Sanskrit and Hindi on the life of Ramanand, thus correcting the hagiographic 'deficiencies' ofRamanandi tradition. In the introduction to that work, Bhagavadacharya rearticulated his position on Ramanuja, focusing in particular on the narrative of Ramanand's life found in the Bhaktamil by the seventeenth-century Nabha Das, which had formed the basis for Ramanand's life: The intention with which Nabba-ji composed his poetic verse is a point of great dispute. There is no harm in suggesting that Nabha-ji 's intent was to show that Shri Ramanandacharya used the very same philosophical system that Shri Swami Ramanujacharya bad used to propagate religious ideas .... However, it would constitute a great error to suggest that he int.ended lo depict Shri Ramanand Swami-ji as a disciple of the sampradiy and tradition of Shri Ramanuja Swami-j i. 12

Ptlritattvinusandhiyini samiti) is descnl>ed as having been fonned in 1918 al the urgings ofSitaramiya Malhuradas, another leading Ramanandi of Ayodhya. This commiUee also leaned toward the independent position. 8 van der Veer (Gods on Earth , p.103) cites Bbagavadacharya's autobiography, entitled Svimi Blutgavadicitya (Alvar, Rajasthan: Shri Ramanand Sahilya Mandir, 1958), in which lhe forgeries are readily conceded. 9 van deT Veer, Gods on Earth, p.104. The author notes that the Ujjain jury was strategically loaded with prominent nip (warrior) abbots and others sympathetic to lhe independent position. 10 See also Burghart, 'The Founding of the Ramanandi Sect', pp.131-2. 11 Shyamsundar Das, 'Raniavat Sampraday', Nigari pnteirit)i patrild n.s. 4, 3 (1924), p.329. 12 SmnadRiminand-digvijayaJ;r (1 sl edn., 1927), p.18; cited in Shrikrishna

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Many devotee-scholars continued to assert into the 1930s, however, that Ramanand was not the originator of the sampradiy. In the early 1930s, Kaly~ (benediction), a monthly newsletter published in Gorakhpur, brought out a special number on the lives of famous monastic leaders, entitled Yogillk (special issue on yogis). This issue casually described Ramanand as a follower of Ramanuja who had been excommunicated for careless commensal behaviour while on pilgrimage. Awadh Kishore Das, a supporter of the independent position and the editor of a 1935-6 collection of essays on Ramanand and the Ramanandi sampradiy, responded by attacking the editors of Kaly~ in a manner that reflects some of the rancour fuelling the dispute: We have nothing whataoever in common with the Ramanuji SlllDplBdiy. We disagree with them on every point. Ramanand a follower ofa umpradiywbich we do not even accept as legitimate? How many hearts bum with this staloement? Biil it does not end there. This enemy of the Rammwndi rampradlyhas launched a heavy attack ... The editor and author of KJJlyiI.J should realise that jasat-gutU [lord-of-the-

world) Shri Ramanandcharya-ji was never a follower of the Ramanuja lltllrtpndiy but was rather according to the elemal proof of the hutis (rewaled wisdom] and Ustr&s [legal texlB] the leader of the Shri Vaishnava Slllflpnidiy, which later became known by his name. No one excommunicated him and be was not any common devotee, but was the leader of co1mtless devotees and the avatar of lord Slni Ram. 13 He concluded by exhorting Ramanandis to confront those responsible in Gorakhpur and demand an explanation and an apology. The dispute raged in Ayodhya throughout the 1920s and 1930s and, though the issue was never resolved to the satisfaction of all parties, the views of the independent faction eventually emerged to dominate the religious climate in Ayodhya. 14 'Pure' Ramanandis became those who adhered to the svatanlnl, or independent, position and refuted all links with the Ramanuja heritage, while those who retained those links were known as 'pure' Ramanujis. Indeed, opinions in Ayodhya seemed to dominate Ramanandi attitudes throughout much of the north, inasmuch Lal,' Swimi Rimimnd kijiV1111 carilnl'(A biogniphy of Swami Ramanand], in P.O. Barthwal (ed.), Rimlnand ki Hindi racnien (The Hindi Works of Ramanand], (Kashi: Nagari Pracharini Sabha, 1955), p.43. This text was later 11eissued as SriRiminand-DigvijayaJ.i (Ahmedabad: Adhyapika Shricbandandevi, 1967), but without the introduction. See also Burghart, 'The Founding of the Ramanandi Sect', p.133. 13 Awadh Kishore Das, Riminandanlc(1935-6), pp.7~. 14 See van der Veer, Gods on Earth, pp. I 04-6. The author notes that mention of the dispute continues to evoke an emotional response.

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as Ramanujis failed to take part in the procession of monks at the 1932 Jcumbha meli held in Ujjain. ~ Since guru panmpari represented a fundamental element of Ramanandi identity, the dispute was certain to atrea everyone in the SIUlJ'fdy. Bbagavadacharya himself gained stature in the sampradly as a result of his lifelong efforts, though not without certain costs: in forcing the controversy to its logical conclusion, Bhagavadacharya alienated many within Ayodhya, including his own guru, Rammanoharprasad. 16 This may explain why Bhagavadacharya shifted his base of operations to the city of Ahmedabad in Gujarat, apparently in the 1920s or 1930s. Meanwhile, in 1929 a text of major doctrinal importance would be published which would stand for over a decade as the basis for Ramanandi philosophy. This document, entitled Anandab~ (discourses on bliss), was not authored by Bhagavadacharya but by Swami Raghuvaracharya and purported to he the specific teachings of Ramanand. In 1955 Bbagavadacharya publicly took issue with the way Ramanandi philosophy was being taught, denounced Raghuvaracharya 's Anandabbl$y8 as completely devoid of any connection to Ramanand's teachings, challenaed all comers to a debate on the veracity of the sources for that text, and promised to produce a document of his own. His opponents remained silent (according to him), so in 1958 he published SrilinakiJqpibhi$y8Sya (discourses of SriJanaki, or Sita).11 In 1963 Bhagavadacharya authored yet another doctrinal-cum-philosophical treatise, entitled SriRiminandabhi$Yam (the discourses of Ramanand), which created considerable consternation among major sampradiy figures in Ayodhya and Banaras. 11 By the 1970s Bhagavadacharya had achieved prominence outside the Ramanandi sampradAy proper, both in the Ute politics of Gujarat and in the all-India associational politics of the Bhirat Sidhu Samij (or Indian Society of Monks). His career culminated in 1971 with a centennial festival held in his honour in Ahmedabad, which 15 G.S. Gburye, Indian Sadhus (Bombay: Popular Prakasban, 1964), p.152. 16 van der Veer, Gods on Eatth, p.104. 17 Ahmedabad: Swami ShriRamcbaritracharya Vyakaranacbarya. The contentious circumstances surrounding this worlc are recounted by Bhagavadacharya in the introduction, pp.142 (and especially 1-7). 18 SriRimindabhi$yam (Ayodbya: Swami Shribbagavadacharya-Smaraksadan, 1963?). Thoush the publication gives no date, the quote is taken from Bhagavadacharya's preface (pp.5-18) which is dated 26 August 1963. The text purports to be Ramanand's commentary of Badarayana's Brahmasiitn, describi· ng thereby Ramanandi dualist doctrine. See the postsaipt, pp.201-6, for sampradiy reactions to the impending publication of this volume.

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was attended by luminaries from the monastic and political world. 19 Caste in the Ramanandi sampradiy

Given the details ofRamanand's contested life and the core (and, to the new breed of independent Ramanandis, offensive) Ramanuji assertion that Ramanand was expelled from the society of monks for careless eating practices while on pilgrimage, an opinion in 1918-21 on the question ofRamanuja as a spiritual antecedent ofRamanand could only be articulated with reference to caste commensality. Peter van der Veer has argued, however, that the decision to support either the Ramanuji or the Ramanandi position was not taken simply on the basis of caste, and cites as evidence the fact that 'Even abbots of Kunni [cultivator] and Barbi [carpenter] castes chose to become Rarnanuji. •Z> The assumption here is that the low ascriptive status of Kurrnis and Barhis was self evident and remained unchanged through the twentieth century. While this assumption was shared by the Brahminical and colonial elite in the early twentieth century and appears commonplace in the backward classes discourse of the late twentieth century, it was probably not an assumption shared by many Kunnis and Barhis themselves in 1921. For Kunnis, Barhis, and others, caste in the early twentieth century was very much in the eye of the beholder, and many in those communities beheld themselves to be of high-caste status. 21 Whether they considered themselves high caste in the 1920s depended very much on whether they conceived of v~ merely as a social idea to be manipulated, or as a fundamental and all-encompassing corporeal mould from which there was no escape-in a word, as caste. Thus the decision to support the Ramanandi or the Ramanuji faction in the 1918- 21 crisis can only have been informed by the question of v~-not the ~ that external observers impute as caste, but the vatQB claimed, defended, and shaped by those who consciously craft identity. By articulating a guru parampari free of any mention of Ramanuja, independent monks were in effect rejecting the notion of oorporeal superiority which, in their view, fuelled the Shri Vaishnava attitude of religious exclusivity. With this in mind, the fact that a Kunni and a Barhi favored the Ramanuji side and therefore tacitly upheld caste barriers is not particularly surprising, given that Kunnis, Barhis, and many others 19

The proceedings of this festival were published as SwlmiBhapvadicirya:ialibdismrtigrantb [A book c;ornmcmorating a century of Swami

Bl.i?8avadacbarya] (Ahmcdabad: Shrichandanbahin 'Sanskritibhushaoa', 1971). z aom on Earth, p.106. 21 Sec Pinch, Peasants and Monks in British India, cbs.3 and 4. 01g1tizea by

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were actively promoting in the early twentieth century programmes to claim (or, they argued, reclaim) a high-caste, Kshalriya past. 21 Because caste was a slippery concept under the best of circumstances, definitions of Cti'te as ~ had been a long-standing matter of contention in north India. By the 1920s it seemed, given the success of the independent Ramanandi faction in the Gangetic region, ~ was being rejected as an all-encompassing code (as caste) by which a monk should live his life. At stake of course was whether ascriptive caste rank would detennine an individual's status within the monastic community. That initiates were treated differently according to ascriptive rank seems to have been the case in at least some Ramanandi sub-orders, according to a description given in an important early history of Ayodhya.23 Differential treatment for high-caste novitiates included a waiver of the thirteen-year age limit for initiation as well as freedom from having to perform 'any lowly tasks' -i.e. having to prepare meals, clear and clean dishes, carry wood, and draw water from the well. Another early twentieth-century observer of the sampraday opined that originally men and women of any social status (including untouchables) could become Ramanandi monks, tu that by the early 1900s, 'Ramanandis bring disciples from only those jilis from whom water can be taken.•JI For those designated Shudra by the elite, this phrase-from whom water can be taken- was a common enough euphemism for a person of 'pure Shudra' status, with whom restricted physical contact could be made. From the elite perspective, such physical contact would have occurred in the course of consuming goods and services common in everyday life; the designation 'pure Shudra' implied by negation a substantial body of 'unclean' -hence untouchable-people with whom physical contact was both unnecessary and improper. By the early twentieth century, however, it was becoming clear that many Ramanandis objected to the imputation of ascriptive caste rank as a yardstick for status in monastic society. The 1918- 21 debate over the place of Ramanuja in sampradAy tradition should be understood as only the first battle in a larger war over caste in the sampradAy-a war that, 21 A significant contribution here was made by Swami Dbamidlmacharya (after 1921 a Ramanuji), in his Sri Awadh~iya k~triya ~23 Lala Sitaram, Ayodhyi ki itihAs [the history of Ayodhya], (Allahabad: Hindustani Academy, 1932), p.46. Sitaram describes practices in a major nip akhi/'lil'.wanior sub-order) known as the Hanumin Giqfii (the Hanwnan fort). JI Sahay, Silirimhrati Bhagvan Prasad ji ki sacitra jiV1111i [an illustrated biography of Shri Sitaramsharan Bbagvan Prasad], (Patna: Khadgavilas Preas, 1908), p.35. Bhagvan Prasad was a prominent Ramanandi sc:holar-ilevotee and Bbaktmnal exegete of the lat.e nineteenth and early twen1ielh century.

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judging by the contradictory interpretations of Ramanandi views on caste in Western anthropology, is not yet won by either side. 25 By the 1930s three discernible factions appear to have emerged around the question of caste. :as Apin, disagreement revolved around whether an individualand in this eontext a Shudra individual-retained his ~ status after becoming a Ramanandi monk. The egalitarian view, favowed by a group led by Bhagavadacharya, held that 'amongst sadhus there is no ~ system at all,' and that 'someone of Shudra origins can be considered just as pure upon becoming a Vaishnava ascetic as a Vaishnava from a Brahmin family.' (Characteristically, Bhagavadacharya would himself begin to espouse the rights of untouchables after his move to Ahmedabad 'fl In opposition stood Swami Raghuvaracharya (the author of Anandabhi$,ra. a text dismissed by Bhagavadacharya in later years) and his adherents, who maintained that 'the v~ system does in fact exist amongst sadhus and upon becoming a Vaishnava ascetic a Brahmin remains a Brahmin and a Shudra remains a Shudra,' and thus 'the two could never eat together.• A third view, maintained by Udlsin scholars of Ayodhya, occupied the middle ground between the two opposing factions by arguing that though 'the Shudra Vaishnava who exhibits all the qualities of a good Vaishnava can be considered pure in all respects ..., this [purity] is only ornamental; in reality, he is not the same as everyone else.• l l Because of the multiplicity of authoritative voices in 2S The current disagreements over caste in the sampradiy are reflected in the work of van der Veer and BurgbarL See Gods on Earth (pp.172- 82) by the former and 'Renunciation in the religious traditions of South Asia' (pp.641-4) by the latter. Their renderings have much to do with the geographic orientations of each: van der Veer worked and lived in Ayodhya, now dominated by 'pure' Ramanandis; Burgbart's earliest research was in Janakpur (in Nepal), apparently dominated by 'pure' Ramanujis. This fact would illuminate, as well, Burghart's contention that Ramanand did not establish the Ramanandi sampradiy (see 'Founding of the Ramanandi Sect'). The positions of van der Veer and Bwghart, it is interesting to note, mirror interpretive disagreements in the work of George Grierson and John Farquhar in the pages of the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society in the early 1920s. lS The dispute over vspa in the Ramanandi sampradiy is described by Awadh Kisbore Das in JUm.inandinlc, 74. 7J G.S. Ghurye, Indian Sadhus, p.168. 211 Members of each faction, in order to substantiate their positions on the issue, referred repeatedly to such ancient textual authorities as the Bhagavad Gita or the Man1J-S11'1(1i, not to mention a host of Vedic texts. Awadh Kishore Das, the editor of Raminandink, cynically compared these texts to Kimdhenu, a mythical cow that gives an endless supply of millc, and noted with disdain that 'whatever proof you want, you will find it in the Shaslras.' See Riminand.iilk, p.74.

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the sampnidiy, the question of v~ would prove difficult to n:solve. Apprehensive of the potential divisiveness of the controversy, particularly given the increasing influence of monks like Bhapvadacbarya, one well-placed Ramanandi (Awadh Kisbore Das) urged 'all the scholars of the .sampndiy [to) convene and issue a judgement.' Whether 51.1ch a meeting ever took place is not known, thou&h it is clear that the conflicting attitudes continued to thrive. Swami Dhamidharacharya and peasant-Kshatriya identity

As a result of the 1918- 21 crisis, many monks found themselves labelled 'Ramanuji' and castigated for insulting the hagiographic integrity ofRamanand. Among them was Swami Dhamidharacharya, who had come to Ayodhya as a youth around 1910. By the mid 1920s Dbamidharacharya had taken up residence at the Utlar Totadri Math (the northern branch of the Totadri monastery) in Ayodhya, an institution clearly in sympathy with the Ramanuji position. Ensconced in the idyllic setting of the monastery's Venkatesh temple bordering on Vibhishan pond,19 and thereby insulated from the haughtiness of independent Ramanandi opinion, Dharnidharacharya began to gain a reputation of high scholarly ability and to accept students. Labelled a Ramanuji in predominantly independent Ramanandi Ayodhya, there would have been little or no venue after 1921 for Dharnidharacharya to vent his feelings regarding the illegitimate re-casting of Vaishnava history as such. As a result, Dbamidharacharya sought a literary forum for his views beyond the confines of the sampraday and was recruited into the growing peasant-Kshatriya movement.30 In brief, north Indian peasant society in the early 1900s was giving rise to numerous historical identity movements, particularly amongst communities of cultivators who had long been labelled Shudra, or servile, by virtue of the physical labour they employed in the pursuit of their daily occupations. The best known of these movements occurred amongst the major peasant communities, such as Kunnis (major cashcrop cultivators), Koiris, Kachhis, Muraos (vegetable gardeners and poppy cultivators), and Goalas (pastoralists- am-cultivators). The primary strategy employed by peasant-Kshatriya ideologues was to claim a 211 This information is interpolaled

from an address given on the inside cover page ofDbamiclharacharya, Sri AwadhvaqiAiya k~triya mirtandaQ . 'Venkateshwar' is an epithet of Vishnu; Vibhishan is a character from lhc Rimiyapa, the yowigcr brother ofRavana (and lhcrefore a soulhcmer) who emerges as one of the more remarkable devotees ofRamchandra. J> See my ~ts lfllld Monks in British India, ch.3.

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Kshatriya identity based on long genealogical association with the Vaishnava avatars Ramchandra and Krishna. The eoonomic and political risks of such a move were great: the assertion of high status often created the conditions for rural violence, inasmuch as members of the newly declared peasant-Kshatriya communities would agree among themselves to no longer countenance unequal treatment (such as exorbitant rents and obligatory labour, or begin) at the hands of village superordinates. The Kurmi, Kushvaha (Koiri, Kachhi, and Mwao), and Yadav-(Goala)-K.Shatriya movements eventually coalesced politically in the 1930s into the Triveni Sangh, an organisation that pursued peasant interests distinct from what was perceived (by the peasant Kshatriyas) as the powerful Bhumihar-Brahman-dominated Bibar Provincial Kisan Sabha. Marginally successful in the 1937 ministerial elections in Bihar, the Triveni Sangh would eventually be absorbed into the 'Backwani Classes Federation' of the Indian National Congress. Dharnidharacharya was asked to write a history of the influential 'Awadhia' Kurmi cultivating community to which he avowedly belonged, and which was concentrated in the Patna, Gaya, and Saran Districts ofBihar. By 1930 he had published from Prayag (Allahabad) his history of this Kurmi community, entitled Sri AwadhvSJ11Siya Jqatriya mirtanclal).31 The organisational layout of this book offers a glimpse of the Vaishnava and Kshatriya mechanics of the reappropriation of community identity. Dharnidharacharya ~ two areas of overwhelming concern: his personal religious identity as a Ramanandi oriented toward Ramanuja, and his community identity as a Kshatriya descended from the region of Awadh surrounding the town of Ayodhya. In terms of relative space devoted to each subject, the latter took marked precedence over the former. The two strands of identity were, nevertheless, fundamentally intertwined; Dhamidharacharya claimed preceptor (guru) descent and Awadh-centred Kshatriyas claimed genealogical (Vllql{jya) descent from the same divine source: Ramchandra of Ayodhya, the earthly manifestation of Vishnu. Dhamidharacharya 's discussion of his religious identity fills the last forty-five pages (pp.116-61) ofthe book and speaks to such issues as philosophy of religion, the avatars of Vishnu, the correctness of image worship and 31 See Note 6 above. The first thirty pages of lhe 2nd cdn. (which I have used here), up to and including the table of contents, are continually repaginatcd, so that one section consists of six pages, the following of a new lhree pages, and so on. To simplify I have ignored the repaginations of lhe original and have employed lower-case Roman numerals in direct sequence to refer to this portion of the text

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performance of funerary rites as prescribed in the Vedas, and sampmdiy histoiy, including in particular his own tale of the vagaries of becoming a Ramarutji in the midst of an increasingly Ramanandi Ayodhya. Dhamidharacharya's n:collectiom of the Ramanuji-Ramanandi crisis of 1918-21, which filled the formative years of his religious development, need not detain us here. It is significant, however, that the nanative of this conflict makes up the final nineteen pages of the book. The first three pages of the book, moreover, comprise a blessing to Ramchandra and Ramanl.tja, the two central components of Dharnidharacharya's religious personality, and a brief discu•ion of his own name and village. The remainder of the book (pp.4-115), recalling the Kshalriya past of bis community, is thus framed between introductoiy and concluding text that reflected the core concerns of the author's religious identity. This disquisitional framework is srmbolically appropriate, I would argue, inasmuch as the Kshalriya past depended on the details ofVaishnava memory and identity, firmly rooted in the present. The history of Kurmi-Kshatriya identity recounted by Dhamidharacharya begins with a brief recounting of the main Kshatriya branches descending from the sun and moon in a primeval age. The discussion then turns to a more lengthy narrative of the evolution of those lines into 'historical' time, with special focus on the descent of the solar lineage in Ayodhya as continued through Rarnchandra's sons, Lav and Kush. This is followed by a brief outline of the main clan lines said to descend from Kush. Concluding this portion of the book is a lengthy delineation of correct ritual and commensal observances for orthodox, elite Hindus. As evidence for this re-constellated Kshatriya past, Dharnidharacharya cited an immense range of infonnation and interpretation, in both Samkrit and vernaculars-including six Vedas, fifteen Upanishads, seven datSaQ (philosophy), four siitra (aphorisms), three vyikaralJ (grammars), sixteen dharmaSistra'R. (moral treatises), seven sarriJriti (pilgrimage codes), nine itihis (histories:!!), thirteen puriIJ (mythologies), one k.i\'.)'11 (poetry), six ko$ (lexicons), two j~ (astrologies) and three niti Sistra (ethical treatises).34 This material provides the basis for the wealth of 32 Dhamiclharacharya noted here that foremost among the dhannashastric lileralllre is Manu-smrfi. 33 In fact, itihis lranslates as 'thus it was;' hence, worlcs that fall 1D1der that rubric (Dhamidharacharya began his list with the Mahabhirllta, included the .R.im.i,Y3'18, and ended with the Bhaktamil) represent a distinct way of conceiving of the pasL See Romila Thapar, 'Society and historical consciousness: the Itihasa-Purana tradition' in S. Bhattacharya and Romila Thapar (eds.), Situating Indian History, for Sarvepalli Gopal (Delhi, 1986), pp.353~3. 34 Dhamidbaracharya, Sri Awadb~iya k$111riya m~. pp.xxvii-xxix.

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mythological detail historicised in Dbamidharacbarya's account. However, a critical component of the argument is the transition from cosmological time to historical time, and for this the author relies on the narrative structure of Ksbatriya history found in Lieutenant-Colonel James Tod's massive contribution to Indological scholarship, The Annals and antiquities ofRJJjast 'han or, the central and western RJJjpoot states ofIndia, compiled in the early nineteenth centwy.35 The intellectual challenge that confronted Dharnidharacbarya was to confirm in scholarly terms the link between the extant Awadh-Ksbatriya identity of Kunnis in the central Gangetic tract and the remembered Ksbatriya heartland of Aiyavarta-the region 'conquered' by Aryas in north India. Doing so required the historical extrapolation of mythological meaning detailing the lineage ofRamchandra of Ayodhya Such an extrapolation was readily available in Tod's Annals, which itself relied on mythological sources not unlike Dhamidharacbarya's. 36 Dbamidharacbarya rendered Tod's account thus: .... he offspring of the sun-born [ siityll-putra] Vaivashwata arrived at the banlcs of the Sindhu [Indus] and Gansa [Ganges], and established his capital at Ayodhya, which was in fact the fllSt settlement ofKoshala. Tod then writes.hat 'two . ..branches emigrated from Koshala, [one of which) established Rohtas on the banks of the Son river, east of Ani [Amh] and West of Patna.' (Al this time SuryaVllmshiya Kshatriyas in the vicinity of Patna c.me to be well lcnown as A Wlldhvmnshiya Ksluitriyas.) And the other branch seuJed in the Kohari counlry in the vicinity of Lahore.31

This is not an exact translation of Tod's prose but a fairly accurate paraphrase.311 Moreover, the portion which is italicised is not to be found in ~ The fll'St volume of this two-volume set was fll'St published in 1829, the second in 1832. Since then Annals md mliquities of Rajast'lwr has seen numeroua reprintings; I cite the edition by Routledge & Kegan Paul (London), 1957~.

36 Todd, Annals, vol.I, p.17: ' Being desiroua of epitomising the chronicles of the martial races of Central and Westtm India, it was essential to ascertain the sources whence they draw, or claim to draw, their lineage. For this purpose I obtained from the library of the Rana of Oodipoor [Udaipur] their sacred volumes, the Poor&ns, and laid them before a body of pundhits, over whom presided the learned Jetty Gyanchandra. From these, extracts were made of aD the genealogies of the great races of Soorya and Chandra, and of facts historical and geographical.' ;i Dhamidharachatya, Sri Awadh~iya qamya mirtmda.!r. p.38. Note that parenthetical comments are in the text itself, whereas the explanation in square brackets are my own. The italics serve to emphasise text that is not italicised in the original. 38 To compare with the original. see Tod, Annals, vol.I, pp.20, 7S.

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Tod's Annals, but is consciously inserted by Dharnidharacharya himself-hence his use of p~ntbeses. Further, Dhamidharacharya presents no evidence to support the claim that the emigrant Suryavamshiya branch that settled in Ayodhya eventually became known as 'Awadhvamshiya,' or belonging to the lineage ("8r114) of Awadh. It is this lack of evidence, one presumes, which opponents of Kshatriya identity movements would have highlighted in an effort to undercut the status claims of peasant cultivators. :11 Dhamidharacharya's assertion of igraphical terms no one could ignore. The latter, Dhamidharacharya, sought the reform and retention of caste; his goal was to redefine and improve the social status of his peasant community within the constraints of caste meaning. Importantly, both were only too willing to engage in historical invention: Bhagavadacharya by forging a guru parampari for Ramanand and (his critics would argue) by concocting philosophical discourses and biographies out of thin air; Dhamidharacharya by rhetorically manipulating the orientalist evidence to create the impression that peasant claims to a Kshatriya past were supported by colonial research. As new mythologies, the depictions of the past recounted in this essay provided historiographic justification for action (in the form of Ramanandi radicalism) on the one hand, and on the other hand an historicised explanation for a present condition (the 'degraded' status of once-noble Kshatriyas). Notwithstanding the wealth of detail proffered in these depictions of the past, both were based primarily on faith, identity, and desire, and sought ultimately to propel differing programs of social change. The centrality of Ayodhya is, of course, an interesting by-product of these intersecting social and religious discourses. As the place of Ram chandra and as the focus of Ramanandi attentions in the twentieth century, Ayodhya was central to the reformation of Vaishnava consciousness and to the construction of Kshatriya identity in the Gangetic 01gitized by

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plain. The logic of the independent Ramanandi position depended on a radicalised conception ofRamanand as an avatar ofRamchandm bimsclf; the integrity ofRamanand, as Ramchandra, could not be sullied by any association with and maltreatment by Ramanujis. Likewise, the logic of many peasant-Kshatriya claims depended on an underslanding ofRamchandra as an historical figure and on Ayodhya (and Awadh) as an historical place whence came the ancestors of peasant Kshatriyas. Thus as peasant identities based on Kshatriya lineages gained ideological and organisational strength in the early twentieth century, Ayodhya began to emerge on the north Indian political landscape as the place where God was born as Ramchandra. S> The tragic events of 1992 in Ayodhya itself only confinn the strength of the historiciscd myth that underpinned the intersecting Vaishnava discourses, whatever the fate of peasantKshatriya and independent-Ramanandi campaigns. It has been argued recently that the current political turmoil over Ramchandra's birthplace (Ramjanmabhiinu) has its roots in a colonial historiography that was all too quick to perceive and assert an age-old enmity between Hindus and Muslims as the driving force of Indian history. SJ Overlooked in this argument are the social and religious contexts of the early twentieth century: the ideological need for a birthplace of Ramchandra in the twentieth century was symptomatic of the historiography of Kshatriya ancestries grounded in a Vaishnava discourse. In other words, claims of genealogical descent from God demand the physical presence of the remains of God. The allegation that a mosque was built in Ayodhya in 1528 by the Mughal emperor Babar, and not only on the site of Ramchandra's birth but with construction materials taken froni the remains of a temple marking that birth, demonstrates the extent to which the heightened communal consciousness of the twentieth century bleeds into debates over status in society, monastic or otherwise. [Research for this essay was funded by the U.S. Department of Education Fulbright-Hays program and by the Social Science Research Council lntemational Doctoral Oissenation program. I am grateful for tbia support.) S> Similar points could be made regarding Y adav-Kslwriya peasant identity

gro1D1ded in a bistoricised conception of Krishna, 1111d the importance of Math1U11-Vrindaban as a sacred geography. st See the historiographical discussion in K.N. Paniklcar, 'Historical overview,' in Sarvepalli Gopal (ed.), Anatomy ofa Confrontation: the &bri MasjidRllmj111111U1bhumi issue (New Delhi: Viking, 1991), especially pp.28- 33; uid Pandey, The Cons'1uction ofCommlllllllism.

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Chapter 13 SWAMI VIVEKANANDA'S IDEAL SOCIETY AND ITS IMPACT ON GOVIND CHANDRA DEV Hiltrud Riistau Swami Vivekananda's part in the history of religions can never be overestimated. He was the first who being himself a Hindu introduced in a very convincing way the main thoughts of the Hindu religion to the international public, giving at the same time a new interpretation of traditional concepts and values. B\t can we confine his importance to the field of religion? His first words at the Parliament of Religions in Chicago, 'Sisters and Brothers of America.. .' can be taken as the expression of bis firm conviction of the equality of man regaldle~ of his nationality, faith, sex or colour; but it was also the expression of the self-confidence ofa man who, coming from a colonial country, proudly explained to the public that his country- poor, downtrodden and starving as it was-had something valuable to offer. Vivekananda's several speeches in Chicago clearly give evidence that for all his concentration on spiritual themes he never lost sight of the real conditions his fellow beings lived in. This, for example, can be seen in his critical remarks on the activities of the Christian missionaries in India He himself repeatedly stressed that his first aim was to bring bread to the people; to teach religion should be only the second step. [CW 10:432) To his mind, a religion which did not aim at the improvement of the social conditions of the poor and suppressed could not claim to be called religion at all. He did not believe in a religion which did not appease the hunger of the distressed. Thus his challenge to religion was: Bread! Bread! I do not believe in a God who cannot give me bread here, giving me eternal bliss in heaven! Pooh! India is to be raised, the poor are to be fed, education is to be spread, and the evil of priest.cnft is to be removed. No priestcraft, no social tyranny! More bread, more opportunity for everybody! [CW IV:368]

Religion confined to books and dogma was not recognised by him as religion. [CW V:SO] In this way Swami Vivekananda took the real social engagement of a certain religion as a criterion for evaluating its sincerity. But the social implication of Vivekananda's philosophical concepts is

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by no means exhausted by this observation on the relationship between

religious theory and piactical behaviour of religious people. In order to illustrate this we have to go back into the history of Indian philosophy. In ancient and medieval Indian philosophy there was a general inditr• ercnc:c to ethical and social thought. The most important philosophical lines of tradition in South Asia no doubt include Advaita Vedanta. Developed to a comprehensive philosophical system by Sankara 1,200 years ago. it maintained its vitality up to the present time in a process of continuous development. Sankara lived at a time of radical social change, when the feudal features of 90cial development grew more rigid and regional dynasties became stronger. It was a time of all-Indian intellectual and cultural life of the educated: an ideological-cultural unity among the social upper class emerged, but also a feeling for cultural unity amo~ the masses. 1 The inlelloctual climate was characterised by