Logic in a Popular Form
Essays in Popular Religion in Bengal
6.5 x 9.75 inches, vii + 233pp. 2002
ISBN : 9788170461623 & 9780857426161
Rs 595.00 (HB) 699.00 (PB)
$35.00 (HB) 35.00 (PB)
£24.00 (HB) 25.00 (PB)
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 an historian, journalist and cultural theorist. He has been a leading public intellectual for many decades and has earlier been a fellow at the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla. His most recent publications include Memoirs of Roads: Calcutta from Colonial Urbanization to Global Modernization.