Religious Controversy in British India

Dialogues in South Asian Languages

Edited by Kenneth W. Jones

Subjects: India And South Asian Studies
Series: SUNY series in Religious Studies
Paperback : 9780791408285, 291 pages, January 1992
Hardcover : 9780791408278, 291 pages, January 1992

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Table of contents


Part One: External Polemics

Section One: Hindu-Christian Polemics

1. The Polemic Process in Nineteenth-century Maharashtra: Vishnubawa Brahmachari and Hindu Revival
Frank F. Conlon

2. Arumuga Navalar and the Hindu Renaissance Among the Tamils
D. Dennis Hudson

3. Swami Dayananda Saraswati's Critique of Christianity
Kenneth W. Jones

Section Two: Muslim-Christian Polemics

4. Muslim-Christian Confrontation: Dr. Wazir Khan in Nineteenth-century Agra
Avril A. Powell

5. Muslim-Christian Polemics and Religious Reform in Nineteenth-century Bengal: Munshi Meheru 'llah of Jessore
Rafiuddin Ahmed

Section Three: Hindu-Muslim Struggles over Language

6. Images of Virtue and Vice: The Hindi-Urdu Controversy in Two Nineteenth-century Hindi Plays
Christopher R. King

Part Two: Internal Polemics: Religious and Social Reform

7. Viresalingam and the Ideology of Social Change in Andhra
John Leonard and Karen Leonard

8. Sayyid Mumtaz 'Ali and Tahzib un-Niswan: Women's Rights in Islam and Women's Journalism in Urdu
Gail Minolta

9. Vernacular Publishing and Sikh Public Life in the Punjab, 1880-1910
N. G. Barrier

Part Three: In Summary

10. Imagining Community: Polemical Debates in Colonial India
Barbara Daly Metcalf




This book opens the doors to a social and cultural sphere beyond the limited world of the English-speaking elite and provides the basis for an understanding of religious controversy and internal reform. It explores the dynamics of religious interaction and conflict that points toward later developments of communalism and religious separatism still plaguing the subcontinent.

Religious Controversy in British India reveals a world expressed in South Asian dialects that has been closed to many scholars and students of the subcontinent. During the nineteenth century polemical religious literature and those who wrote it mobilized groups and led them back to the "fundamentals. " Sacred texts supporting movements were translated and made available in inexpensive editions. Even texts from the well established oral tradition were put into print. This process was often initiated in response to Christian missionary activity, a response that ultimately expanded to include other religions. In this book, scholars examine the writings of Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs responsible for significant changes within different communities and for a heightened sense of boundary-defining identity.

Kenneth W. Jones is Distinguished Professor in the Department of History at Kansas State University. He is the author of Socio-Religious Reform Movements in British India and Arya Dharm: Hindu Consciousness in 19th-Century Punjab, as well as co-editor of Sources of Punjab History.


"The book is very interesting indeed. The fact that each chapter presents a capsule look at the development of a reformer provides a flavor frequently missing from such volumes. The stories of the reformers highlight the growth of conflict and controversy. " — Ronald Neufeldt, The University of Calgary