Over the past twenty years or so, there has been a seismic shift in Indian political, religious, and social life. A country which drew inspiration from the inclusive Hinduism of Mahatma Gandhi, the anti-caste worldview of B.R. Ambedkar, and the agnostic secularism of Jawaharlal Nehru is now driven by Hindutva.
This newly dominant version of Hinduism – which blends militant nationalism, anti-minorityism, and global Islamophobia – requires the kind of analysis that only the sharpest scholarly historian can provide. Tanika Sarkar has, over the past two decades, trudged a fieldwork-oriented path through the alleys and byways of Hindutva.
She has trawled through papers, posters, and iconography in its organisations and institutions. She has been to the offices and homes of its votaries, interviewing men and women who believe fervently in a Hinduised India. And she has contextualised this new social ferment with her archival knowledge of Hindutva from Bankimchandra to the Babri mosque and beyond.
Scholars and general readers will find her book riveting.
Tanika Sarkar’s books include Hindu Wife, Hindu Nation (2001), and Rebels, Wives, Saints (2009). She was Professor of History at Jawaharlal Nehru University and has taught at the University of Chicago, the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, and St Stephen’s College, Delhi.