Peasants and Monks in British India
In this compelling social history, William R. Pinch tackles one of the most important but most neglected fields of the colonial history of India: the relation between monasticism and caste. The highly original inquiry yields rich insights into the central structure and dynamics of Hindu society—insights that are not only of scholarly but also of great political significance.
Perhaps no two images are more associated with rural India than the peasant who labors in an oppressive, inflexible social structure and the ascetic monk who denounces worldly concerns. Pinch argues that, contrary to these stereotypes, North India's monks and peasants have not been passive observers of history; they have often been engaged with questions of identity, status, and hierarchy—particularly during the British period. Pinch's work is especially concerned with the ways each group manipulated the rhetoric of religious devotion and caste to further its own agenda for social reform. Although their aims may have been quite different—Ramanandi monastics worked for social equity, while peasants agitated for higher social status—the strategies employed by these two communities shaped the popular political culture of Gangetic north India during and after the struggle for independence from the British.
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Arya Awadh Ayodhya backward classes Banaras Bengal Bhagalpur Bhagavadacharya Bhagvan Prasad Bhaktamal bhakti Bhumihar Bihar Bihar and Orissa Bihar and Patna brahman British Buchanan caste census chapter cited claims colonial cultural Dasnami Delhi Dharnidharacharya disciples District early twentieth century eastern Uttar Pradesh economic elite Galta Gangetic core Gangetic north Gaya Goalas Gopas Gorakhpur gosain guru parampara Hindi Hindu ideological Itihas jati jati reform Kabir Kahar Kayasths Koiri Krishna ksha kshatriya identity kshatriya reform kumbh Kurmi Kurmi Kshatriya Kushvaha Kshatriya lineage manandi monastic monasticism movement Muslim nineteenth century north India noted peasants and monks political praday Purnea radical Ramanandi Ramanandi sampraday Ramanandi Sect Ramanuji Ramchandra religion religious sacred thread sadhus Sahajanand sanyasis Saraswati sect Shahabad Shaiva Shri Vaishnava shudra Sikh Singh Sinha Sita social society Swami term tion tradition Triveni Sangh triya Udasins University Press untouchable Uttar Pradesh Vaishnava varna village Vishnu worship Yadav Yadav kshatriyas