Soul and Sword: The History of Political Hinduism by Hindol Sengupta

Political Hinduism was once considered a sort of fringe ideology, shadowy and even misunderstood. Its ideas and narratives seemed, in popular discourse, to lack analytical rigour and were easily dismissed.

But history shows that political Hinduism as an intellectual idea was a pioneering theme in India’s nationhood. In fact, it precedes the Indian republic and has been one of the most resilient political theories of India, which survived many bans, boycotts and decades out of power to become, in the twenty-first century, the predominant political force of India. The adherents of political Hinduism are as determined as its detractors—one complains about facing relentless prejudice; the other throws accusations of promoting continuous religious strife.

Hindol Sengupta

One believes that India cannot be saved without decimating political Hinduism; the other is sanguine that only political Hinduism can save the future of India.

Soul and Sword traces the journey of political Hinduism from events that are critical to its self-narration, that is, early Indian resistance to invasions, to intellectual definitions by nineteenth-century littérateurs and more contemporary electoral politics. It tries to understand the context and historical sources used to construct and promote political Hinduism’s world view.

From award-winning writer Hindol Sengupta, Soul and Sword is absolutely critical reading to understand India’s present and future.

About the Author

Hindol Sengupta is one of India’s most awarded and read historians. He is the winner of the Wilbur Award, the Valley of Words Award, the PSF Prize and the Kalinga Literary Award for his writing. He has been shortlisted for the Hayek Prize given by the Manhattan Institute in memory of the Nobel laureate economist F.A. Hayek. He is a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader and was trained in Indian history and international relations at the University of Oxford and the Geneva School of Diplomacy, and in business and finance at Columbia University. He is the author of ten previous books and lives in New Delhi.

Hindol Sengupta

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