This book studies the interlinking of religious, social and political identities in modern Tamil Nadu. Through interviews with non-Brahmin Srivaisnavas of many castes, but especially belonging to the lower-caste groups, it analyses their histories of discrimination, their negotiation of lived realities, and hopes for the future. The interviews all refer to the history of Srivaisnavism, an historically important Hindu sect in the region, the religion’s theology of caste inclusiveness, and history of Brahmin leadership exclusiveness.
In addition, the author also addresses colonial changes, Telugu connections, the non-Brahmin movement, Dalit mobilisation, post-Independence caste hierarchies, government policies, party politics, Brahmin reactions, court cases, and inter-religious competition.
Turbulent Transformations breaks new ground by highlighting radical non-Brahmin leaders in the colonial period. It probes the Srivaisnava connections of prominent political figures such as Periyar and Jayalalithaa. And it explores the relation of the temples, the state, and the Supreme Court over questions such as ‘who is allowed to be a priest’.
This book provides insights into new configurations of democracy, caste and modern lived Hinduism. It fills the lacunae created by Brahmin narratives, scholarly studies focused on Tamil Saivism or Christianity, and political and sociological analyses removed from the dynamic pulse of religion in interaction with the non-Brahmin movement over the past century.
List of Images and Map
The Namam: A Note
Appendix 1: Location of Places Mentioned in Interviews
Appendix 2: Alvars and Early Acaryas
Appendix 3: Changing Definitions of Caste
Appendix 4: The Colonial Cauldron of Anti-Brahmanism