Hindu Christian faqir: modern monks, global Christianity, and Indian sainthood

By: Dobe, Timothy S
Material type: TextTextPublisher: New York Oxford university Press 2015Description: 363 p.ISBN: 9780199987702Subject(s): Religious leaders - India - History - 19th century | Hinduism - Relations - Christianity | Religion - Hinduism - History | Religion - Christianity - History | Social science - Anthropology - CulturalDDC classification: 294.50922 Summary: "In the mid-nineteenth century, the American missionary James Butler predicted that Christian conversion and British law together would eradicate Indian ascetics. His disgust for Hindu holy men (sadhus), whom he called "saints, " "yogis, " and "filthy fakirs, " was largely shared by orientalist scholars and British officials, who likewise imagined these religious elites to be a leading symptom of India's degeneration. Yet within some thirty years of Butler's writing, modern Indian ascetics such as the neo-Vedantin Hindu Swami Rama Tirtha (1873-1906) and, paradoxically, the Protestant Christian convert Sadhu Sundar Singh (1889-1929) achieved international fame as embodiments of the spiritual superiority of the East over the West. Timothy S. Dobe's fine-grained account of the lives of Sundar Singh and Rama Tirtha offers a window on the surprising reversals and potentials of Indian ascetic "sainthood" in the colonial contact zone. His study develops a new model of Indian holy men that is historicized, religiously pluralistic, and located within the tensions and intersections of ascetic practice and modernity. The first in-depth account of two internationally-recognized modern holy men in the colonially-crucial region of Punjab, Hindu Christian Faqir offers new examples and contexts for thinking through these wider issues. Drawing on unexplored Urdu writings by and about both figures, Dobe argues not only that Hinduism and Protestant Christianity are here intimately linked, but that these links are forged from the stuff of regional Islamic traditions of Sufi holy men (faqir). He also re-conceives Indian sainthood through an in-depth examination of ascetic practice as embodied religion, public performance, and relationship, rather than as a theological, otherworldly, and isolated ideal"-- "This book compares two colonial Indian holy men, the Hindu Rama Tirtha and the Christian Sundar Singh. Challenging ideas about modern Hinduism, indigenous Christianity, and sainthood, the study focuses on the vernacular, ascetic idioms that both men creatively drew on to appeal to transnational audiences and pursue religious perfection"
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Books Vikram Sarabhai Library
Slot 209 (0 Floor, West Wing) Non-fiction 294.50922 D6H4 (Browse shelf) Available 191001

Table of Contents:

1. Introduction: Unsettling Saints

2. How the Pope came to Punjab: Vernacular Beginnings, Protestant Idols and Ascetic Publics

3. Resurrecting the Saints: The Rise of the High Imperial Holy Man

4. The Saffron Skin of Rama Tirtha: Dressing for the West, the Spiritual Race and an Advaitin Autonomy

5. Sundar Singh and the Oriental Christ of the West

6. Vernacular Vedanta: Autohagiographical Fragments of Rama Tirtha's Indo-Persian Diglossic Mysticism

7. Frail Soldiers of the Cross: Lesser Known Lives of Sundar Singh

Conclusion: Losing and Finding Religion.



"In the mid-nineteenth century, the American missionary James Butler predicted that Christian conversion and British law together would eradicate Indian ascetics. His disgust for Hindu holy men (sadhus), whom he called "saints, " "yogis, " and "filthy fakirs, " was largely shared by orientalist scholars and British officials, who likewise imagined these religious elites to be a leading symptom of India's degeneration. Yet within some thirty years of Butler's writing, modern Indian ascetics such as the neo-Vedantin Hindu Swami Rama Tirtha (1873-1906) and, paradoxically, the Protestant Christian convert Sadhu Sundar Singh (1889-1929) achieved international fame as embodiments of the spiritual superiority of the East over the West. Timothy S. Dobe's fine-grained account of the lives of Sundar Singh and Rama Tirtha offers a window on the surprising reversals and potentials of Indian ascetic "sainthood" in the colonial contact zone. His study develops a new model of Indian holy men that is historicized, religiously pluralistic, and located within the tensions and intersections of ascetic practice and modernity. The first in-depth account of two internationally-recognized modern holy men in the colonially-crucial region of Punjab, Hindu Christian Faqir offers new examples and contexts for thinking through these wider issues. Drawing on unexplored Urdu writings by and about both figures, Dobe argues not only that Hinduism and Protestant Christianity are here intimately linked, but that these links are forged from the stuff of regional Islamic traditions of Sufi holy men (faqir). He also re-conceives Indian sainthood through an in-depth examination of ascetic practice as embodied religion, public performance, and relationship, rather than as a theological, otherworldly, and isolated ideal"--

"This book compares two colonial Indian holy men, the Hindu Rama Tirtha and the Christian Sundar Singh. Challenging ideas about modern Hinduism, indigenous Christianity, and sainthood, the study focuses on the vernacular, ascetic idioms that both men creatively drew on to appeal to transnational audiences and pursue religious perfection"

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