Hindu Christian Faqir: Modern Monks, Global Christianity, and Indian Sainthood by Timothy S. DobeHindu Christian Faqir: Modern Monks, Global Christianity, and Indian Sainthood by Timothy S. Dobe

Hindu Christian Faqir: Modern Monks, Global Christianity, and Indian Sainthood

byTimothy S. Dobe

Paperback | October 29, 2015

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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 orientalistscholars 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 ProtestantChristian 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 widerissues. 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 Indiansainthood through an in-depth examination of ascetic practice as embodied religion, public performance, and relationship, rather than as a theological, otherworldly, and isolated ideal.
Timothy S. Dobe is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Grinnell College. His research focuses on South Asian religions, especially Hinduism and Christianity, asceticism, sainthood, comparison, colonialism, and performance.
Title:Hindu Christian Faqir: Modern Monks, Global Christianity, and Indian SainthoodFormat:PaperbackDimensions:384 pages, 9.21 × 6.1 × 1.1 inPublished:October 29, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:019998770X

ISBN - 13:9780199987702


Table of Contents

AcknowledgementsNote on Diacritical MarksList of Images1. Introduction: Unsettling Saints2. How the Pope came to Punjab: Vernacular Beginnings, Protestant Idols and Ascetic Publics3. Resurrecting the Saints: The Rise of the High Imperial Holy Man4. The Saffron Skin of Rama Tirtha: Dressing for the West, the Spiritual Race and an Advaitin Autonomy5. Sundar Singh and the Oriental Christ of the West6. Rama Tirtha's Vernacular Vedanta: Autohagiographical Fragments of Rama's Indo-Persian Mysticism7. Frail Soldiers of the Cross: Lesser Known Lives of Sundar SinghConclusion: Losing and Finding ReligionBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

"Interrogating the construction of sainthood in colonial India and the modern West, Dobe highlights the creative agency of two Indian holy men--one Hindu, one Christian. He demonstrates that sainthood is less about miracles and heavenly charisma than about specific kinds of performancegrounded in local contexts and shared vernacular traditions. In the embodied comparative projects of these two 'upstart saints,' Dobe finds clues for rethinking colonial religion. Unsettling in the best way possible!" --Brian A. Hatcher, author of Bourgeois Hinduism