Brave Converts in the Arya Samaj

C.S. Adcock

in Punjab Reconsidered

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780198078012
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199080984 | DOI:
Brave Converts in the Arya Samaj

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The Arya Samaj has long been distinguished among nineteenth century reform organizations as forerunner of Hindu nationalist politics and exemplar of Hindu religious intolerance. Arya Samaj practices that can be classed as proselytizing lie at the heart of this scholarly assessment: practices of religious controversy between contending Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Christian organizations; and the shuddhi ritual of conversion or purification. This chapter argues that understandings of the so-called proselytizing activities of the Arya Samaj have been circumscribed by the framing narrative of Hindu Tolerance. One consequence is a near exclusive focus on the motives or intentions of Hindu elite ‘proselytizers’ in the Arya Samaj. When shuddhi is viewed from the perspective of those who pursued conversion, its subversive potential becomes visible. The chapter treats the case of the Arya Samaj controversialist and former Muslim, Dharm Pal, who pursued shuddhi as a step towards radical caste reform.

Keywords: Arya Samaj; shuddhi; tolerance; Hindu nationalist politics; proselytizing; conversion; subversion; controversialist; Dharm Pal

Chapter.  9447 words. 

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