Bourgeois Hinduism, or Faith of the Modern Vedantists: Rare Discourses from Early Colonial Bengal / Edition 1

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In 1839 a diverse group of Hindu leaders began gathering in Calcutta to share and propagate their faith in a non-idolatrous form of worship. The group, known as the Tattvabodhini Sabha, met weekly to worship and hear discourses from members on the virtues of a rational and morally responsible mode of worship. They called upon ancient sources of Hindu spirituality to guide them in developing a form of modern theism they referred to as "Vedanta." In this book, Brian Hatcher translates these hitherto unknown discourses and situates them against the backdrop of religious and social change in early colonial Calcutta. Apart from bringing to light the theology and moral vision of an association that was to have a profound influence on religious and intellectual life in nineteenth-century Bengal, Hatcher's analysis promotes reflection on a variety of topics central to understanding the development of modern forms of Hindu belief and practice.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Hatcher's superbly researched work is engaging and accessible, giving Bourgeois Hinduism a wide appeal, particularly to scholars. The author's excitement over bringing the Sabhyadiger Vaktrta and all its implications to light is palpable and contagious."—Religion

"Bourgeois Hinduism is a well-balanced work; neither the translation nor the material that frames it overshadows the other, and both are made stronger by their appearance together... The result is an admirable text that would be of interest to specialists yet accessible enough even for undergraduates." —Journal of Religion

"This book is a must for scholars and students of early colonial Bengal, but would also be of interest to general readers who wish to learn more about the dynamics of indigenous responses to colonialism and proselytization during the age of empire." —Religious Studies Review

"Here is another gem from one of the leading scholars of the nineteenth-century 'Bengal Renaissance.' Bourgeois Hinduism is based upon the discovery of an almost completely unknown pamphlet of discourses by several elite Bengali writers who banded together after Rammohan Roy's death to form a group they called the Tattvabodhini Sabha. Hatcher's translation and discussion of this text deepen our knowledge of the history of the emergent Brahmo Samaj and of the modernist Hindu tradition to which it gave rise. Bourgeois Hinduism is clearly a scholar's work, but it is easy to read and not overly burdened with notes. I am quite sincere when I say that I did not want to put the book down." —Rachel Fell McDermott, Barnard College

"Brian Hatcher translates and places in cultural and religious context a nearly unknown set of texts that display the restless and creative thought of the 'bourgeois' Hinduism of the mid 19th-century urban Bengali elite. This book is a most welcome and authoritative addition to our knowledge of this critical period in the modern history of Hinduism." —Paul B. Courtright, Emory University

"With Bourgeois Hinduism, Brian Hatcher establishes himself as one of the most insightful, resourceful, and discerning historians of colonial India writing today. He has delivered a major contribution to our understanding of nineteenth-century Calcutta on not one, but two different accounts. His recovery and translation of the founding discourses of the influential reformist society, the Tattvabodhini Sabha, expand the fairly meager store of documents written by Indians available to students of early colonialism. In addition, his penetrating analysis of these documents and his reconstruction of the context in which they were composed significantly enrich our knowledge of Indian thought and society at a major turning point in the relationship of India's British rulers to their subjects." —Brian K. Pennington, Author of Was Hinduism Invented?: Britons, Indians, and the Colonial Construction of Religion

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195326086
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 11/26/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 6.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Brian A. Hatcher is Professor and Packard Chair of Theology in the Department of Religion at Tufts University. He is the author of Idioms of Improvement: Vidyasagar and Cultural Encounter in Bengal and Eclecticism and Modern Hindu Discourse and the translator of Hindu Widow Marriage by Ishvarchandra Vidyasagar.

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