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Spiritual Despots : Modern Hinduism and the Genealogies of Self-Rule (Hardcover) (J. Barton Scott)

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Historians of religion have examined at length the Protestant Revolution and the widespread effects of “priestcraft” rhetoric that grew out of it, but J. Barton Scott, inSpiritual Despots, reveals an unexamined piece of that story: how Protestant missionaries spread anticlerical rhetoric throughout India, activity from which the ongoing effects can be felt to this day. Drawing on the archival writings of both British and Indian figures, Scott provides a panoramic view of precisely how priestcraft rhetoric has transformed religion and politics in India since the nineteenth century. After Protestant polemics developed the concept of priestcraft as religious fraud, missionaries travelling throughout the British colonies eventually dispersed it into the lexicon of Hindu reformers. These nineteenth–century reformers translated the religious insult into vernacular languages like Hindi and Gujarati, breathing new life into the idea in the context of their own tradition. Used to vilify religious hierarchy and celebrate the ideal of the autonomous individual, priestcraft rhetoric also became important to the liberalism in India. Indeed, as Scott shows, the history of liberalism in India cannot be separated from the history of subjectivity. Scott draws on close readings of texts in multiple languages from powerful thinkers of the day, such as James Mill, Keshub Chandra Sen, William Howitt, Karsandas Mulji, Helena Blavatsky, and many more, to provide a broad, transcontinental perspective. Uniting writers across time and space, Scott sheds much-needed light on how priestcraft rhetoric and ascetic religious practices in India played a surprising part in creating a new moral and political order based on ideals of self-governance for twentieth century India, demonstrating the importance of viewing the emergence of secularism through the colonial encounter.
Number of Pages: 267
Genre: Religion + Beliefs, History
Sub-Genre: Hinduism, History
Series Title: South Asia Across the Disciplines
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Univ of Chicago Pr
Author: J. Barton Scott
Language: English
Street Date: July 19, 2016
TCIN: 51153855
UPC: 9780226368672
Item Number (DPCI): 248-16-6639
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