“Scarcely Less Bloody than Lascivious”

Brian K. Pennington

in Was Hinduism Invented?

Published in print April 2005 | ISBN: 9780195166552
Published online July 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780199835690 | DOI:
“Scarcely Less Bloody than Lascivious”

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Nineteenth-century British missionaries to India such as William Carey and William Ward of Serampore, and army chaplain Claudius Buchanan helped construct the idea of a conceptual and ritual core to an array of Hindu communities and deities. Although strenuously opposed by French scholar Abbé J. A. Dubois, a strain of Christian iconoclasm then being nurtured by a rampant anti-Catholicism in Britain fashioned a system of Hindu theology and ritual for British evangelical Christians that focused squarely on image worship and cast Hindu ritual as an infantile version of the idolatry condemned in the Christian Old and New Testaments. Idol worship and satī (widow immolation) were used to create the impression of an overarching logic in Hinduism that was then offered to the working-class audiences of the Church Missionary Society’s popular newspapers as a systematized, coherent, pan-Indian Hinduism.

Keywords: idolatry; evangelical Christians; image worship; Hinduism; anti-Catholicism; Abbé J. A. Dubois; William Carey; Serampore; William Ward; Claudius Buchanan

Chapter.  18974 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Hinduism

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