This Hindu reform movement – representing modernist hybridisation – has been studied by the Dutch professor P. van Veer in his Imperial Encounters (2001).84 Their discourse arose as a reaction against Evangelical missionaries who were allowed to proselytise in India after 1813. Evangelicalism (Wikipedia link) aimed in the UK to spread middle class piety and combine religious feelings with rationality. Their target for reform was the working class. From around 1800 Evangelicalism turned missionary and saw it as a Christian duty to save heathen souls’. The Evangelicals invented modern institutions to implement social and moral reform programmes in UK. Later on these institutions were exported to India. Beginning with education (Sunday schools, missionary schools) and hospitals and later on employing military discipline (Salvation Army in 1880) and leisure activities (sports, YMCA in 1840, boy scouts in 1900) they wanted to build up a moral Christian character: healthy, sporty, honourable, playing fair and guided by conscience. In India they targeted the bhadraloks with little success.
However the bhadraloks reacted to this Christian barrage by building similar modernist institutions, but based on Hindu’ religion, according to van Veer. Yet there was nothing like a Hindu religion’ so they first needed to construct it. Inspired by the Orientalists’ newly published translations and compilations, the Indian middle classes started to read old Indian scriptures with modernist rational eyes. For this they did not need guidance from any guru -they used their own modernist individual and independent judgment. Many now wanted to rationalise Hinduism’ and cut away superstition, ritual magic and mysticism’ from their cultural past, exactly in the same way as modernist Protestantism and had changed the Christian religion (Brekke 2002). Inspired by the Orientalist modernist discourse the bhadraloks started to talk about their Hindu spirituality’ as opposed to Western materialism’. This reconstruction was hence made following typical modernist strategies: elevating individuality over tradition and deleting the irrational. (McMahan 2008). As discussed, the mind-set of the bhadraloks – their habitus – was like their discourse: a modernist hybrid.
Place your forehead on the floor. Prepare the body with Yoga toes strength, drawing energetically into the core of your pelvis. Firm your legs and lengthen your Yoga toes tailbone. Firm your buttocks without squeezing them together. Lift the shoulders away from the floor without raising your head or your hands. Lengthen the sides of your body from your hips to your armpits. Inhale and lift your arms, head, and legs a little off the floor, extending out from your center as you lift. Stay up for several breaths, extending your upper body and legs in a continuous arc.
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