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


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


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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 informs debates 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 Asian religion 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 that the 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 Samaj activities 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 religious matter, Tolerance functioned to disengage Indian secularism from the politics of caste.

About the Author

C. S. Adock is Assistant Professor of South Asian Studies and Religious Studies in the Department of History, Washington University in St. Louis.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents



Introduction: History and the Limits of Tolerance

Part I: Religion and Translation in Colonial India

Chapter One. The Colonial Politics of Religious Toleration

Chapter Two. Religious Controversy and Ritual-Politics: Problems of


Part II. The Political History of Universal Religion in India

Chapter Three. The Fountainhead of Religion

Chapter Four: "The Arya Samaj, a Political Body!"

Part III. Ritual-Politics and Religious Freedom

Chapter Five. The Contested Politics of Shuddhi

Chapter Six. The Ascendance of Tolerance: Debating

Religious Freedom in the 1920s

Conclusion. Secularism and the Limits of Tolerance




Product Details

Adcock, C. S.
Oxford University Press, USA
Adcock, C.S.
Religion & Theology | Hinduism
Religion Eastern-Hinduism-General
Publication Date:
6.1 x 9.1 x 0.8 in 0.7 lb

Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Asia » India » Ancient and General
History and Social Science » Politics » General
History and Social Science » Politics » United States » Politics
History and Social Science » World History » India
Humanities » Philosophy » General
Religion » Eastern Religions » Hinduism » General
Religion » Western Religions » Social and Political Issues

The Limits of Tolerance: Indian Secularism and the Politics of Religious Freedom New Trade Paper
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Product details 256 pages Oxford University Press, USA - English 9780199995448 Reviews:
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