The Bhagavadgita, Pistol, and the Lone Bhadralok: Individual Spirituality, Masculinity, and Politics in the Nationalist Writings of Aurobindo Ghose (1872-1950)

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Abstract

This article examines the nationalist writings and agenda of the revolutionary turned monk Aurobindo Ghose (1872-1950), who consolidated the cult of the motherland with the politics of a virile masculine resistance to British colonialism. Aurobindo was the first significant political leader to formulate an agenda for direct political action on spiritual (Hindu) principles. The most portrayed and at times caricatured figure of the early twentieth century "Swadeshi" revolutionary was a young (upper-caste and middle-class) Hindu male who carries a pistol and a copy of the Bhagavadgita in his two pockets. And Aurobindo's writings and speeches were the direct inspiration behind this figure. The extremists' strong and addictive ideals of self-sacrifice (atmotsarga) and devotion towards nation (deshabhakti) retained their significance long after "armed struggle" declined in influence in the wake of Mahatma Gandhi's non-violent "satyagraha."
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)77-98
JournalJournal of Men, Masculinities, and Spirituality
Volume1
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2007

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Agenda
Spirituality
Nationalists
Revolution
Masculinity
Motherland
Ideal
British Colonialism
Devotion
Self-sacrifice
Swadeshi
Cult
Caste
Mahatma Gandhi
Monks
Political Action
Middle Class
Masculine

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