Theses Doctoral

Imprinted Identity: A History of Literature and Communal Selfhood in the Nath Sampradāy

Marrewa Karwoski, Christine

The Nath sampradāy, a community whose early Hindavi literature propagates a selfhood which is deeply enmeshed in both Hindu and Islamic traditions, has been at the forefront of Hindu right-wing agitations in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Examining an extensive vernacular corpus of texts–– from seventeenth-century manuscripts to twentieth-century printed books–– this dissertation investigates the changes that took place in the Nath community over the longue dureé. Analyzing this oeuvre, along with historical records, I explore both how the yogis portrayed themselves in their literature and how they were viewed by others. Specifically, this dissertation addresses how modern technologies and ideologies–– such as print, nationalism, and democracy–– merged to help create a more rigidly Hindu identity for the sampradāy in the twentieth century: a novel selfhood unlike the one previously propagated. In particular, it examines how the influential twentieth-century leader of the Goraknath temple in Gorakhpur, Mahant Digvijaynath, reimagined his Nath identity to make his community a center of Hindutvā politics in modern India.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies
Thesis Advisors
Busch, Allison
Kaviraj, Sudipta
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 15, 2020