Make Me a Man!

Masculinity, Hinduism, and Nationalism in India

By Sikata Banerjee

Subjects: India And South Asian Studies, Hindu Studies, Gender Studies
Series: SUNY series in Religious Studies
Paperback : 9780791463680, 191 pages, March 2005
Hardcover : 9780791463673, 191 pages, March 2005

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Table of contents

1. Introduction: Constructs of Nation and Gender
2. Empire: Christian Manliness and the British Gaze
3. Nationalism: Masculine Hinduism and Resisting the British Gaze
4. Cultural Nationalism, Masculine Hinduism, and Contemporary Hindutva
5. In the Crucible of Hindutva: Women and Masculine Hinduism
6. Heroic Mothers, Chaste Wives, and Celibate Warriors: Feminist or Feminine Nationalism in India?
7. Summary

Looks at the ideals of masculine Hinduism—and the corresponding feminine ideals—that have built the Indian nation, and explores their consequences.


Make Me a Man! argues that ideas about manhood play a key role in building and sustaining the modern nation. It examines a particular expression of nation and manliness: masculine Hinduism. This ideal, which emerged from India's experience of British imperialism, is characterized by martial prowess, muscular strength, moral fortitude, and a readiness to go to battle. Embodied in the images of the Hindu soldier and the warrior monk, masculine Hinduism is rooted in a rigid "us versus them" view of nation that becomes implicated in violence and intolerance. Masculine Hinduism also has important connotations for women, whose roles in this environment consist of the heroic mother, chaste wife, and celibate, masculinized warrior. All of these roles shore up the "us versus them" dichotomy and constrict women's lives by imposing particular norms and encouraging limits on women's freedom.

Sikata Banerjee notes that the nationalism defined by masculine Hinduism draws on a more general narrative of nation found in many cultures. If the outcomes of this narrative are to be resisted, the logic of masculinity, armed manhood, and nation need to be examined in diverse contexts.

Sikata Banerjee is Associate Professor of Women's Studies at the University of Victoria and the author of Warriors in Politics: Hindu Nationalism, Violence, and the Shiv Sena in India.