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India and Civilizational FuturesBackwaters Collective on Metaphysics and Politics II$
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Vinay Lal

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780199499069

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199499069.001.0001

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M.G. Ranade and Bhakti as a New Grammar for Indian Political Life

M.G. Ranade and Bhakti as a New Grammar for Indian Political Life

(p.215) 8 M.G. Ranade and Bhakti as a New Grammar for Indian Political Life
India and Civilizational Futures

Aparna Devare

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on M.G. Ranade’s (re)interpretation of bhakti writings in light of the colonial encounter in nineteenth-century India. Ranade used the teachings of bhakti saints, among them Eknath and Tukaram, to assert values such as egalitarianism, compassion and co-existence in the emerging public sphere. This was in sharp contrast to the incipient voices of hyper-masculinity that were trying to fashion a more aggressive Hinduism and nationalism in response to the colonial encounter. Although Ranade was an upper-caste reformer, he pushed for a more just and inclusive Hinduism that spoke strongly against caste injustices and promoted religious tolerance. In doing so, he argued for a ‘softer’ Hinduism, not Hindutva. In many ways, he fashioned a new grammar for Indian public life that anticipated Gandhi’s use of bhakti in modern politics. This chapter teases out some of the major strands of Ranade’s use of bhakti and links it to Gandhi, arguing that Ranade laid some of the important groundwork for Gandhi’s introduction of spirituality in politics.

Keywords:   Ranade, bhakti, Hinduism, Hindutva, Gandhi, spirituality

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