Talk- Mahesh Sharma, The Shifting Hindu Religious-Scape: Courts, Land-records, and Photographs

Date: Monday 3rd of July

Time: 3-4:30pm

Venue: Room 1.12, Institutes Boardroom, Coombs Extension Building, Building 8


In the 1750s a major peasant shrine was appropriated by the Nath-Jogis, who were supported by the Raja of Kangra and firmed up a new relationship between the state and the ascetic agency. In the 1880s, the Brahmin priests started marginalising the Jogis and removing the low-caste servitors associated with the shrine, supported by the British. In the 1920s-50s, the Brahmin priests invoked legal instruments and a land-settlement regime to appropriate land and revenue from the shrines, while alienating the Jogis from these shrines as well. These shifts also necessitated change in the symbols of worship as well. A comparison of the photographs taken in 1992 with those taken in 2011 and 2015 provide us a glimpse of the shifting religious-scape in the western Himalayan foothills. It also brings to the forefront the dynamics of control within the Hindu sects, a move towards the making of Hindutva.  


Mahesh Sharma is Professor of History at Panjab University, Chandigarh, India. He is the author of Western Himalayan Temple Records: State, Pilgrimage, Ritual and Legality in Chamba; and, The Realm of Faith: Subversion, Appropriation and Dominance in the Western Himalaya.

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