Brian A. Hatcher, "Hinduism Before Reform" (Harvard UP, 2020)


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Did modern Hinduism truly emerge due to the “reforms” instigated by “progressive” colonial figures such as Rammohun Roy? Brian A. Hatcher's new book Hinduism Before Reform (Harvard University Press, 2020) challenges this prevalent notion. Aimed at sidestepping the obfuscating binary of “progressive” vs “traditional”, this book examines in tandem two early nineteenth-century Hindu communities and their influential leaders: Rammohun Roy (founder of the “progressive” Brahmo Samaj) and Swami Narayan (founder of the “traditional” Swaminarayan Sampraday movement). Hinduism Before Reform advocates a radically different understanding of the origins of modern Hinduism by problematizing the notion of “reform” itself, instead advocating for viewing these movements as “religious polities.”

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