Hindutva as Political Monotheism

Book Pages: 296 Illustrations: Published: September 2020

Author: Anustup Basu

Asian Studies > South Asia, Media Studies, Religious Studies

In Hindutva as Political Monotheism, Anustup Basu offers a genealogical study of Hindutva—Hindu right-wing nationalism—to illustrate the significance of Western anthropology and political theory to the idea of India as a Hindu nation. Connecting Nazi jurist Carl Schmitt's notion of political theology to traditional theorems of Hindu sovereignty and nationhood, Basu demonstrates how Western and Indian theorists subsumed a vast array of polytheistic, pantheistic, and henotheistic cults featuring millions of gods into a singular edifice of faith. Basu exposes the purported “Hindu Nation” as itself an orientalist vision by analyzing three crucial moments: European anthropologists’ and Indian intellectuals’ invention of a unified Hinduism during the long nineteenth century; Indian ideologues’ adoption of ethnoreligious nationalism in pursuit of a single Hindu way of life in the twentieth century; and the transformations of this project in the era of finance capital, Bollywood, and new media. Arguing that Hindutva aligns with Enlightenment notions of nationalism, Basu foregrounds its significance not just to Narendra Modi's right-wing, anti-Muslim government but also to mainstream Indian nationalism and its credo of secularism and tolerance.


Hindutva as Political Monotheism is an original, important book, brilliant in its juxtaposition of major strands of European Enlightenment thought and Indian nationalist thought.” — Peter van der Veer, author of The Value of Comparison

“A project of impressive intellectual scope and reach, based on erudition across a number of fields and archives. Hindutva as Political Monotheism is a much-awaited and timely study of Hindu nationalism that both extends the scope of well-worn historical terrain and reconfigures it through an utterly fresh conceptual lens. Given the present attempt to transform India’s democratic republic into a Hindu state, it could not have come at a more appropriate time. It will be an invaluable aid in understanding the contemporary situation in historical terms.” — Aamir Mufti, author of Forget English! Orientalisms and World Literatures


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Anustup Basu is Associate Professor of English at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and author of Bollywood in the Age of New Media: The Geo-televisual Aesthetic.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  ix
Introduction  1
1. Questions Concerning the Hindu Political  11
2. The Hindu Nation as Organism  28
3. The Indian Monotheism  89
4. Hindutva 2.0 as Advertised Monotheism  150
Notes  209
Bibliography  251
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-1094-4 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0988-7