Fabulous Gurus and Fake Fakirs: Religious Reform in Colonial India

  • Quarters: Spring
  • General Education Requirements: I&S

During the colonial period in British-ruled India a variety of religious reformers began efforts to convince Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs to reform their religious practices and beliefs. An intensive period of outreach by reformers during this period transformed every aspect of religious practice and identity to their more modern version with which we are familiar today. Using educational outreach, print media, and lecture tours preachers and reformers travelled all through Colonial India, seeking to influence their own religious communities, but also often engaging in polemical attacks on others. Our class will review the literature from this period to understand what religious identity and practice meant to people of this time, how religious identity changed in this transformative period, and how such transformations had wide reaching impacts on politics, nationalism, family structure, education, and the role of women in society.