Date of Award:
Master of Arts (MA)
Ravi Gupta (Committee Chair)
This thesis demonstrates the intersection of caste, doctrine, religious authority and monasticism in the Swaminarayan sampradāy, a Hindu devotional tradition founded by Sahajānand Svāmī. Religious traditions affected indirectly or minimally by colonialism or the nationalist struggle have seldom been rigorously studied. This thesis brings attention to the Swaminarayan sampradāy to highlight how pervasive societal discourses like that of caste and internal doctrinal developments, impacted religious developments concerning authority, hierarchy, and power. The reification of a doctrine and the creation of a theological office, coupled with the deification of a monk, Guṇātītānand Svāmī, and his low-caste disciple Prāgjī manifested a fractious environment in which theology, authority and ideas about monasticism came to be contested. Theological ideas drove Prāgjī’s developing community, who adapted their devotion to Prāgjī as a result of stifling institutional politics and a modernizing Gujarat. Prāgjī’s incessant preaching, distinct theological beliefs and own budding community, which adored him, changed the course of Swaminarayan Hinduism in western India.
Patel, Kirtan, "Weaving a Religious Community: Monasticism, Authority, and Theology in Gujarat, 1830-1905" (2018). All Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 7244.
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