RELIGION AND THE RISE OF NATIONAL CONSCIOUSNESS IN INDIA
Keywords:Nationhood, Hinduism, Spirituality, Rationalism, Orientalism
One of the fundamental elements in the colonial conceptualization of India as a “different” society was the fixed belief that the population was a mélange of communities. Religion, particularly the Sanatan Hindu Dharma, in this context, was one of the fundamental elements that came to interpret the Indian society, when European modernity with its full fledged appearance had made it impossible for the Indians to live anymore in an isolated space of history.
With science and rationalism making their way into the land of immense potentiality, holding the hands of the then master race – the British, the idea of an ‘imagined potential nation’ was also getting entrenched. The flag bearers of indigenous tradition, and morality, notably Raja Rammohan Roy, Bhudev Mukhopadhyay, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, Swami Vivekananda, and other such luminaries tried to combine their revered belief system – Hinduism, with that of western rationality and pragmatism amidst myriad of possibilities.
The present paper seeks to examine how the theoretical foundations for national integration was being laid down in close connection with the Hindu religion and its spiritual assimilation during the nineteenth century, when, for the first time in Indian history, two societies with utterly different fundamental properties and historical tendencies came into contact.
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