privacy policy

Administration of Hindu Temples: Analyzing the Regional Trajectories of State-Religion Interactions in Colonial and Post-Colonial India


· Sujata Chaudhary McGill University (Montreal, Canada)


07/27 | 13:50-14:10 UTC+2/CEST


In the early 19th century,as the East India Company expanded its control,Hindu temples and the revenue they generated became one of the sites of the British administration.As a result of the expansion and establishment of state institutions such as bureaucracy and judiciary in the colonial period,intervention in religious matters became common.This paper focuses on the processes of bureaucratization and judicialization,two distinctive capacities that developed during the colonial administration and have implications for the post-colonial context.These important processes unfolded differently across India and are particularly complex in the case of former princely states, wherein religious matters were not subject to state control.The independently governed princely states were integrated into the Indian Union in the 1950s,even though,many were not willing to join given the autonomy in administration under a Hindu ruler.To this day,they oppose ‘outside interference’ in internal affairs leading to conflicts related to the administration and ownership of Hindu temples.Drawing examples of regional tensions from Himachal Pradesh and former Madras Presidency, and their resolution in secular law courts,the paper analyses lawsuits filed in the provincial courts against the government appointed bureaucrats.Employing a comparative-historical approach to examine lawsuits from North and South India,it explores the peculiarities of regional histories.The paper identifies different regional factors to argue that a framework based on ‘sub-national’ histories is relevant to examine the multiplicity of state-religion relations in India as opposed to a generalized ‘national’ understanding.