Logic in a Popular Form

Essays in Popular Religion in Bengal

Sumanta Banerjee


6.5 x 9.75 inches, vii + 233pp. 2002

ISBN : 9788170461623

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Taking its title from Karl Marx’s description of religion as ‘the general theory of this world . . . [and] its logic in a popular form’, this volume of essays explores the hidden logic behind the popular construction of certain myths, beliefs about godlings and spirits, and cross-religious cults, viewing them as popular inventions attempting to make sense of human existence in the face of an overwhelming and often hostile environment.


These religious manifestations of popular logic—ranging from Kali to Radha, Krishna to Satyapir to Tantrik practice—are fluid, ever-changing, and always innovative. They represent an alternative stream running parallel to, and often challenging, the more strictly structured beliefs and practices of the Indian religious establishments, whether Hindu, Islamic or Christian.


The essays in the present collection are an attempt to rediscover some of the important aspects of this multi-faceted phenomenon of popular religion in the context of nineteenth-century Bengal, including tracing the impact of urbanization, colonialism, and nationalism. They also try to re-examine the relevance of some of the beliefs and rituals that have flowed down from that past and continue to survive in Bengali society today. 

Sumanta Banerjee is a cultural historian who specializes in research into popular culture, particularly of the colonial period. His best known works include The Simmering Revolution: The Naxalite Uprising, The Thema Book of Naxalite Poetry, The Popular and the Streets: Elite and Popular Culture in Nineteenth Century Calcutta and Dangerous Outcast: The Prostitute in Nineteenth Century Bengal.


Culture Studies