Cover: Hinduism Before Reform, from Harvard University PressCover: Hinduism Before Reform in HARDCOVER

Hinduism Before Reform

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$39.95 • £31.95 • €36.00

ISBN 9780674988224

Publication Date: 03/10/2020


336 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches


This ambitious book challenges some of our basic assumptions about the beginnings of modern Hinduism and our understandings of its present. Brian Hatcher bravely spans the Indian subcontinent, from Arabian Sea to Bay of Bengal, to compare two foundational religious movements of the early nineteenth century. Working outside the usual framework of ‘reform,’ Hatcher explores the fundamental problems and possibilities of religion in early colonial modernity.—Richard H. Davis, author of The Bhagavad Gita: A Biography

Brian Hatcher makes us radically rethink the master tropes of the study of religion. The alternatives he proposes and his delineation of the ‘Empire of Reform’ are of immense value to any project that has not already escaped the strictures imposed by the discourses of coloniality, modernity, and globalization.—Leela Prasad, author of Poetics of Conduct: Oral Narrative and Moral Being in a South Indian Town

In Hinduism Before Reform, Hatcher engages with two important early colonial religious movements in India to argue that what we think of as ‘Hinduism’ is intricately involved in an ‘empire of reform’ bequeathed to us by the British Raj, the Enlightenment, Protestant missionaries, and Indian reformers. The result is at once radically plural, culturally provocative, and intellectually persuasive. Readers are in very good and very sure hands on every page of this sophisticated mind-bender.—Jeffrey J. Kripal, author of The Flip: Epiphanies of Mind and the Future of Knowledge

In this major contribution to the discourse on religion and reform, Brian Hatcher spotlights two contemporaneous religious innovators in early colonial India: Rammohun Roy and Swaminarayan. The result is a splendid, nuanced reassessment of what we now call ‘modern Hinduism.’—Paul B. Courtright, author of Gaṇeśa: Lord of Obstacles, Lord of Beginnings

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