Hindu Mahasabha in Colonial North India, 1915-1930
Constructing Nation and History
By Prabhu Bapu
Routledge – 2012 – 248 pages
Hindu nationalism has emerged as a political ideology represented by the Hindu Mahasabha. This book explores the campaign for Hindu unity and organisation in the context of the Hindu-Muslim conflict in colonial north India in the early twentieth century. It argues that India's partition in 1947 was a result of the campaign and politics of the Hindu rightwing rather than the Islamist politics of the Muslim League alone.
The book explains that the Mahasabha articulated Hindu nationalist ideology as a means of constructing a distinct Hindu political identity and unity among the Hindus in conflict with the Muslims in the country. It looks at the Mahasabha’s ambivalence with the Indian National Congress due to an extreme ideological opposition, and goes on to argue that the Mahasabha had its ideological focus on an anti-Muslim antagonism rather than the anti-British struggle for India’s independence, adding to the difficulties in the negotiations on Hindu-Muslim representation in the country. The book suggests that the Mahasabha had a limited class and regional base and was unable to generate much in the way of a mass movement of its own, but developed a quasi-military wing, besides its involvement in a number of popular campaigns.
Bridging the gap in Indian historiography by focusing on the development and evolution of Hindu nationalism in its formative period, this book is a useful study for students and scholars of Asian Studies and Political History.
1. Introduction Part 1: Hindu Nationalism 2. The Origins and Evolution of Hindu Mahasabha 3. Hindu Mahasabha’s Social Base and Leadership Part 2: Sangathan Ideology 4. Sangathan – the Unity and Organisation of Hindus 5. Hindutva – A Nation of Hindu Race and Culture 6. Masculine ‘Hindu Nation’ and the Muslim ‘Other’ 7. The Militarisation of Hindu Society 8. Gandhi and Hindu Mahasabhaites 9. Nagari and Cow – the Symbols of a ‘Hindu Nation’ Part 3: Hindu Nation 10. Sangathanist Plan for Hindu Majority Nation 11. Conclusion
Prabhu Bapu was educated at the London School of Economics, UK, and has a doctorate in History from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, UK.