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Swaminarayan HinduismTradition, Adaptation, and Identity$
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Raymond Brady Williams and Yogi Trivedi

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199463749

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199463749.001.0001

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Swaminarayan and British Contacts in Gujarat in the 1820s

Swaminarayan and British Contacts in Gujarat in the 1820s

(p.58) 4 Swaminarayan and British Contacts in Gujarat in the 1820s
Swaminarayan Hinduism

Sadhu Paramtattvadas

Raymond Brady Williams

Sadhu Amrutvijaydas

Oxford University Press

This chapter contributes to an understanding of the colonial period and the early history of Swaminarayan Hinduism because it records the relationships between officials of the East India Company and Anglican clergymen and leaders of a growing Hindu group in the first few years of British rule over areas of Gujarat. The narrative demonstrates how these leaders negotiated political, religious, and intellectual relationships at the very early stage of interaction. Impetus for the chapter is the recent discovery of extensive references to Sahajanand and his followers in the diary of William Hodge Mill in the Bodleian Library, Oxford. These references, along with a collation, for the first time, of primary British records and primary Swaminarayan Hindu documents from the 1820s, help create a new reconstruction of that relationship. Relations of Hindus with colonial officials also overlap significantly with Hindu–Christian dialogue in this early period. Swaminarayan revived, refined, and reinterpreted aspects of classical Hindu thought and practices that caused British officials and clergy to interpret him as a religious and social reformer, whose reforms contributed to social order and welfare.

Keywords:   Sahajanand Swami, Swaminarayan, Reginald Heber, William Hodge Mill, Sir John Malcolm, Hindu–Christian relations, clergy, East India Company, colonial, reformer

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