Julius Lipner


The purpose of this article is to comment on the term hindutva, viz. "Hinduness," with special reference to a 19th century Bengali thinker who sought to indigenise his Christian faith, and to draw some topical conclusions. The thinker is Brahmabandhab Upadhyay (1861-1907) whom his sometime friend, Rabindranath Tagore, Bengal's greatest luminary, described as "a Roman Catholic ascetic, yet a Vedantin -- spirited, fearless, self-denying, erudite and uncommonly influential." No doubt Upadhyay was influential then; he had a powerful impact on Tagore himself especially when they were jointly establishing what would later develop as Tagore's brainchild of Santiniketan. For years previously Upadhyay had made a name for himself among the educated in the land in his attempt to give content to his self-description as a "Hindu-Catholic," not only by a vigorous campaign of journalism and lectures but by his extraordinary life-style.

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