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  • ISBN: 9780226615929
  • ISBN10: 0226615928

The Construction of Religious Boundaries Culture, Identity, and Diversity in the Sikh Tradition

by Harjot Oberoi

  • List Price: $109.00
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Univ of Chicago Pr
  • Publish date: 12/01/1994
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In this major reinterpretation of religion and society in India, Oberoi challenges earlier accounts of Sikhism, Hinduism, and Islam as historically given categories encompassing well-demarcated units of religious identity. Through an examination of Sikh historical materials, he shows that early Sikhism recognized multiple identities based in local, regional, religious, and secular loyalties. As a result, religious identities were highly blurred and competing definitions of Sikhism were possible. In the closing decades of the nineteenth century, however, the Singh Sabha, a powerful new Sikh movement, began to view the multiplicity in Sikh identity with suspicion and hostility. Aided by cultural forces unleashed by the British Raj, the Singh Sabha sought to recast Sikh tradition and purge it of diversity, bringing about the highly codified culture of modern Sikhism. A study of the process by which a pluralistic religious world view is replaced by a monolithic one, this book questions basic assumptions about the efficacy of fundamentalist claims and the construction of all social and religious identities.
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