Hindi Hindu Histories

Caste, Ayurveda, Travel, and Communism in Early Twentieth-Century India

By Charu Gupta

Subjects: India And South Asian Studies, Hindu Studies, Asian Literature, Literary History
Series: SUNY series in Hindu Studies
Hardcover : 9798855800661, 382 pages, December 2024
Expected to ship: 2024-12-01

Explores how four public intellectuals in North India imagined freedom and Hindi-Hindu nationhood through their writings on caste, Ayurveda, travel, and communism.


What did everyday Hinduism in India look like a hundred years ago? Were its practices more varied and less politically curtailed than now? Hindi Hindu Histories provides illuminating historical accounts of Hindu life through individual actors, autobiographical narratives, and genres in the Hindi print-public culture of early twentieth-century North India. It focuses on four fascinating figures: a successful woman doctor in the Indigenous medical regime, a globe-trotting Hindu ascetic who opposed Gandhi, an anticaste campaigner who spoke for sexual equality, and a Hindu communist who envisioned an egalitarian utopia in the world of labor. These public intellectuals harbored vernacular dreams of freedom and Hindi-Hindu nationhood through their vantage points of caste, Ayurveda, travel, and communism. Opening up a vast and under-explored Hindi archive, this book presents a dynamic spectacle of a plural Hindi-Hindu universe of facets that coexisted, challenged each other, and comprised an idea of Hinduness far more inclusive than anything conceivable in the present moment.

Charu Gupta is Senior Professor of History at the University of Delhi. Her previous books include The Gender of Caste: Representing Dalits in Print and Gendering Colonial India: Reforms, Print, Caste and Communalism.


"This remarkable monograph beautifully crafts four micro studies of unusual and forgotten figures to recover several new horizons in late colonial north Indian history. These intimate portraits are framed within the larger domains of Hindi print culture and literary history, gender, sexuality, communism, Hindu supremacism, and the contested meanings of diverse visions of freedom—all expressed in a compelling vernacular idiom, all veering away from conventional expectations and trajectories. Charu Gupta takes us deep into the uncharted politico-cultural terrains of lived preoccupations and strife. Rather than slot her characters into fixed categories, she uncovers the fluidity, the porosity, the overlaps, and the surprises that their experiences and works express. This is a brilliant and complex book by a historian who has earlier brought together the politics of caste, gender, communalism, and literature in the Hindi-speaking world." — Tanika Sarkar, author of Religion and Women in India