The Emergence of Modern Hinduism argues for the importance of regional, vernacular innovation in processes of Hindu modernization. Scholars usually trace the emergence of modern Hinduism to cosmopolitan reform movements, producing accounts that overemphasize the centrality of elite religion and the influence of Western ideas and models. In this study, the author considers religious change on the margins of colonialism by looking at an important local figure, the Tamil Shaiva poet and mystic Ramalinga Swami (1823–1874). Richard S. Weiss narrates a history of Hindu modernization that demonstrates the transformative role of Hindu ideas, models, and institutions, making this text essential for scholarly audiences of South Asian history, religious studies, Hindu studies, and South Asian studies.
“Offering a brilliant, detailed analysis of an extraordinary Tamil religious figure and intellectual, this book is a landmark intervention that is without a doubt one of the most important studies of Hinduism to be published in recent years.” SASCHA EBELING, author of Colonizing the Realm of Words: The Transformation of Tamil Literature in Nineteenth-Century South India
“In recovering the nineteenth-century poet–saint Vallalar, or Ramalinga Swamigal, for a global academic audience, Richard Weiss radically questions received wisdom regarding tradition and modernity and brings nineteenth-century South India into the mainstream of the history of Hinduism. The figure of Ramalingam emerging from Weiss’s absorbing study will not fail to fascinate the reader.” A. R. VENKATACHALAPATHY, author of The Province of the Book: Scholars, Scribes, and Scribblers in Colonial Tamilnadu
RICHARD S. WEISS is Associate Professor of South Asian Religions at the Victoria University of Wellington. He is the author of Recipes for Immortality: Medicine, Religion, and Community in South India.
Weiss, R. 2019. The Emergence of Modern Hinduism: Religion on the Margins of Colonialism. California: University of California Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/luminos.75
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