The Limits of Tolerance: Indian Secularism and the Politics of Religious Freedom

Paperback | December 11, 2013

byC.S. Adcock

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This book provides a critical history of the distinctive tradition of Indian secularism known as Tolerance. Since it was first advanced by Mohandas Gandhi, the Tolerance ideal has measured secularism and civil religiosity by contrast with proselytizing religion. In India today, it informsdebates over how the right to religious freedom should be interpreted on the subcontinent. Not only has Tolerance been an important political ideal in India since the early twentieth century; the framing assumptions of Tolerance permeate historical understandings among scholars of South Asianreligion and politics. In conventional accounts, the emergence of Tolerance during the 1920s is described as a victory of Indian secularism over the intolerant practice of shuddhi "proselytizing", pursued by reformist Hindus of the Arya Samaj, that was threatening harmonious Hindu-Muslim relations. This study shows thatthe designation of shuddhi as religious proselytizing was not fixed; it was the product of decades of political struggle. The book traces the conditions for the emergence of Tolerance, and the circumstances of its first deployment, by examining the history of debates surrounding Arya Samajactivities in north India between 1880 and 1930. It asks what political considerations governed Indian actors' efforts to represent shuddhi as religious on different occasions; and it asks what was lost in translation when they did. It reveals that by framing shuddhi decisively as a religiousmatter, Tolerance functioned to disengage Indian secularism from the politics of caste.

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This book provides a critical history of the distinctive tradition of Indian secularism known as Tolerance. Since it was first advanced by Mohandas Gandhi, the Tolerance ideal has measured secularism and civil religiosity by contrast with proselytizing religion. In India today, it informsdebates over how the right to religious freedom ...

C. S. Adock is Assistant Professor of South Asian Studies and Religious Studies at Washington University in St. Louis.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:256 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.68 inPublished:December 11, 2013Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199995443

ISBN - 13:9780199995448

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgementsPrefaceIntroduction: History and the Limits of TolerancePart I: Religion and Translation in Colonial India1. The Colonial Politics of Religious Toleration2. Religious Controversy and Ritual-Politics: Problems of TranslationPart II: The Political History of Universal Religion in India3. The Fountainhead of Religion4. "The Arya Samaj, a Political Body!"Part III: Ritual-Politics and Religious Freedom5. The Contested Politics of Shuddhi6. The Ascendance of Tolerance: Debating Religious Freedom in the 1920sConclusion. Secularism and the Limits of ToleranceBibliographyNotesIndex