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Title: Between Hindu and Indian : the nationalist thought of Lala Lajpat Rai
Author: Bhargav, Vanya Vaidehi
ISNI:       0000 0004 7966 3105
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis undertakes the first ever systematic intellectual study of the nationalist thought of Lala Lajpat Rai. In doing so, it strongly contests the dominant scholarly interpretation of his nationalist thought as representing the nascent stage of Savarkarite Hindutva. Through a fine-grained textual analysis of his entire oeuvre on nationhood, it uncovers the multiple, internally distinct nationalist narratives that Lajpat Rai articulated in the four broad historical phases of his intellectual life. These reveal that while for much of his life, he switched between 'Indian nation'- and 'Hindu nation'-based nationalist narratives, in the latter phase of his life, he settled firmly into narratives grounded in the notion of a 'secular' Indian nation. In unearthing Lajpat Rai's complicated intellectual trajectory, this study makes larger intellectual claims. By demonstrating that, despite apparent similarities with Hindutva, his own 'Hindu nation'-based narratives remained substantially distinct, it draws attention to the variegated nature of 'Hindu nationalism'. By showing that Lajpat Rai eventually moved towards Indian nationalist narratives, it further undermines the assumption that all ideas of Hindu nationhood necessarily culminate in Hindutva. By outlining the different internal structures of his Indian nationalist narratives, this thesis uncovers space for properly discerning the internally differentiated nature of 'Indian nationalism'. In recognising commonalities across his different 'Hindu' and 'Indian' nationalist narratives, it rejects the sharp binary conventionally drawn the two, and by showing that Lajpat Rai endeavoured to organise a 'communal' politics to establish a 'secular' Indian nation-state, it reveals how 'communalism' can be engineered in service of a 'secular' Indian nation. Finally, instead of reading Lajpat Rai's thought through the purposes for which others might have utilised it, this study insists on understanding it in its own right, thus constituting an argument that the political thought of a thinker must be understood independently of reductionist teleological narratives.
Supervisor: Devji, Faisal Sponsor: Sassoon Scholarship
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Indian intellectuals