The decay of the Mughal Empire was bad for business, and as parts of the interior desçended into civil war and chaos, the trading companies dotted around India became concerned for their profits. At the same time, rapid advances in Western military tactics and technology began to offer even small detachments of European soldiers decisive advantages over local troops.
The first British ‘Company’ conquests in India dated from 1756, when, in the ‘Two Hundred Days' campaign as it became known- Robert Clive and a mixed force of British troops and sepoys routed a large Indian army and took-possession of Bengal. The Company ruled the province through a puppet nawab, who depended almost entirely on British arms to quash intrigue and oppose the horde of rival states emerging from the ruins of the Mughal Empire. In order to fund the upkeep of his European regiments, the new nawab was forced to transfer ever larger portions of his dominions to the Company's control. The rising British Empire in India was thus largely based on gifts of land (meaning the right to raise revenues) and trading rights made, reluctantly, by native rulers in return for military service.
Thus by the 1790s Bengal had passed entirely under the British Company control. Several incursions from the inland provinces of Bihar and Oudh were beaten off, with the consequence that the Company began acquiring lands and interests deep in the interior. It was firmly established in the city of Benares and had been gifted territory along the north bank of the Ganges in wealthy and populous Oudh. By the time the process had run its course, the Company's influence stretched across almost the whole of Hindustan. Its most distant outposts lay within 200 miles of Delhi. And the profits it was extracting from its lands and its new privileges far outweighed existing revenues from actual trade.
In not much more than half a century, it was forced to develop an entirely new administrative system, one peopled with governors. With the passage of the India Act of 1784 then, the directors of the East India Company were placed under the supervision of a government appointed Board of Control and so from now on in effect became an arm of the British state.
As late as 1790 there was no great wish in parliament, to see British rule stretch across the whole of India for the cost this would mean. Rather the most valuable British territories, notably Bengal, were to be surrounded by pacified client states that would guarantee their security.
Two obstacles would soon change this. The first, for which they themselves were responsible, was the appointment of the bellicose Richard Wellesley as Governor General of British India in 1798. Much to the Company's dismay - he soon showed himself to be a determined empire-builder so anxious to destroy the surviving native states that he `had barely touched Indian soil before he was preparing for battle'. In his path stood the second great barrier,the Maratha warlords of the central provinces, whose aggressive posturings now provided Wellesley with the excuse he needed to plunge the Company into another Indian campaign.
The principal Maratha leaders were Sindhia of Gwalior - who had already conquered Delhi and subdued so many enemies that his lands now butted up against the British territories in Oudh - and the Holkar of Indore, whose own domain stretched as far as the borders of Bengal. Sindhia and Holkar were bitter rivals, and at least as likely to go to war against each other as they were to attack the Company's possessions. But both possessed formidable armies, and Wellesley quickly became convinced that the threat they posed was very real.
The secret of the Marathas' military success lay in their willingness to wage war in the Western style. Both Sindhia and Holkar had made it their business to recruit European mercenaries - the men they hired were mostly French, but they included a few British officers as well - to purchase the latest guns and cannon and to train their sepoys to fight like the Company's own infantry. Their new regiments were highly effective and conquered much of central and northern India; even the British regarded them as dangerous. But they were so expensive that it proved to be quite beyond the capacity of either ruler to support them.
Some older Maratha states had developed sophisticated administrations and ruled with fairness and even leniency over some of the richest lands in India. But Sindhia and Holkar could only maintain their armies by using them to extort taxes from their own subjects and ordering a never-ending cycle of attacks on other rulers. Starting with their nearest neighbours in the last years of the eighteenth century, the Marathas proceeded to devastate much of central India with such thoroughness that the land took decades to recover. By 1802, most of the territory east of Delhi had been ravaged by Sindhia's men, while Holkar's armies had left `not a stick standing within 150 miles of Poona; the forage and grain were consumed, the houses pulled down for fuel, and the inhabitants with their cattle compelled to fly from the destruction that threatened them'. The Marathas' next target was Bihar, on the borders of Bengal. Inevitably, Sindhia's raiders soon exceeded their orders and crossed into British territory, too.
The consequences were catastrophic. Company armies from Bengal and Bombay drove into the interior and the Marathas' well-trained regiments were destroyed in a series of hard-fought battles. By 1804, both Sindhia and Holkar had been compelled to accept alliances with the British and the unwelcome presence of `Residents' - political officers whose purpose was to keep Indian rulers in line - in their capitals. Only the displeasure of the Company's directors, shocked by the horrific cost of Wellesley's campaign, saved their lands from outright annexation.
For the people of the central provinces, the wars were even more disastrous. Great swathes of territory had been looted and burned, often more than once. Crops had been seized and forts, workshops and looms destroyed. Mile after mile of countryside had been depopulated. And - with Wellesley recalled to London in disgrace - most of the lands overrun by the Company's armies were now abandoned so hastily that they fell into what amounted to a state of anarchy. The British did retain the Doab, and they guarded their flank by taking possession of Delhi, Agra and Etawah. But the thousands of square miles to the south were left effectively ungoverned, prey to famine, newly unemployed sepoys, rapacious local rajahs and bankrupt landholders forced to earn a living by their swords.
It was in these circumstances that Thomas Perry arrived in Etawah in the year 1808. Perry was a Londoner, an experienced Company magistrate who had first come to India more than a decade before his posting to the Doab. He had a good deal more experience of the interior of India than was common at the time, spoke the local languages well, and knew something of the difficulties of governing difficult and fractious territories. But the task confronting him was nonetheless a daunting one. For one thing, Perry reached Etawah to find that the town's first British Collector, WO Salmon, had left the place in `a very disorganized and impoverished state'. Salmon had been forced by the Company's incessant demands for revenue to auction off large swathes of the land around the city, and fear of seeing their established rights snatched away by wealthier rivals had led many desperate landholders to offer `a much larger sum that the estates could have yielded without all sorts of oppression'. Before long several Etawahan notables had failed to make good their guarantees and been dispossessed; others had resorted to extorting the required excess from their increasingly distressed tenants. A short while later Salmon's successor, a Mr Batson, had further increased rents in several districts, so that `revenues had been run up to a ruinous extent'.
The consequences were predictable. Several more important men were ruined, and others driven into poverty. Company rule in Etawah became increasingly unpopular, and there was a good deal of unrest. `During the short period that I have been in charge of this office,' Perry was forced to report a few weeks after his arrival, `almost daily reports have reached me of the commission of offences of the most heinous and aggravated nature.'
This might not have mattered so much in Bengal, where the bulk of the Company's army was based, but Perry was almost wholly isolated. The nearest large military station was at Roy Barelly, several hundred miles away, and communication with Calcutta took weeks and sometimes months. The few assistants posted to the city with him were young and lacked experience of service in the mofussil, as the interior of India was known. Yet the magistrate was expected not only to impose the Company's regulations upon the half-million people of the district and suppress the rising tide of banditry and violence sweeping up from the Maratha lands, but also to control the unrest festering within the town itself.
It was for these reasons that Perry was concerned by the discovery of so many unknown corpses in his jurisdiction. Keeping the peace in Etawah was a hard enough job in normal circumstances. The last thing he needed was dead bodies in the wells.
This area however borederred on the interior ‘ravine country’ a poor and unproductive land, and few of the inhabitants were farmers with fields to till or animals to herd. Some had always made their living as sepoys, selling their services as mercenaries to the Marathas or the King of Oudh. These men had done well for much of the eighteenth century, fighting and plundering their way across Hindustan as sepoys in one or other of the armies carving up the Mughal Empire. But ever since the Company had first appeared along the River Jumna, it had become harder and harder for the soldiers of the ravines to find employment. Most of the rulers who employed them had been defeated by the British armies and disarmed by British diplomacy. The Company itself recruited its sepoys predominantly from Oudh, regarding the soldiers of the ravine district as too ill-disciplined and venal to make good troops.
By the first years of the new century, then, many of the soldiers of the Chambel valley found themselves destitute and desperate for work. A good number of them turned naturally to the other occupation for which the men of their district were known.
India had long been plagued by highwaymen and thieves, even the Vedas, included several tales of the god Rudra that portray him as both a robber and lord of highwaymen. For generations, hundreds, perhaps thousands of the most determined bandits and robbers of India had made their homes in the Chambel ravines, where they were difficult to find and felt safe from pursuit. Now, their ranks swollen by unemployed soldiers, these men did what they had always done: they left their homes and went out on the roads to steal.
At that time around 1812, the East India Company possessed no more than a limited understanding of the interior of India. For much of the eighteenth century, any voyage inland from Bengal or Bombay had been regarded as `a considerable adventure'. The British road network stretched no further than Benares until the 1780s, when it was belatedly extended to Lucknow and Hyderabad; as late as 1808, even the Commander in Chief of the Bengal Army could concede that `beyond the Jumna all is conjecture'.
The Company had, in fact, once possessed a rudimentary intelligence network in central India. It had been run by merchants based in the Mughal capital, Agra, and provided regular reports on the activities of the imperial court, supplemented by snippets of news from the further reaches of the Subcontinent picked up from travelling merchants and visiting indigo planters. But intelligence-gathering in Agra slowed dramatically as the Mughals declined, and little information of any value was received from the interior after 1740. The only regular reports available after that date came from a group of Indian clerks known as `newswriters', who made their living by attaching themselves to native courts and circulating bulletins on local events and news likely to be of interest to other rulers. These reports were of only limited value to the Company. They contained a good deal of unreliable gossip, and the newswriters themselves, being predominantly Muslim, were far from experts concerning the nuances of Hindu society. While their bulletins did provide British administrators with the information needed to keep abreast of politics and military affairs, they contributed little to their understanding of India itself.
It was not until 1785 that the British made a concerted effort to improve their information. The old Persian Office in Calcutta - hitherto an obscure bureau charged with copying correspondence in what was then the lingua franca of Indian diplomacy - was turned into an intelligence-gathering department, and thereafter the Company's interest in collecting and sifting intelligence grew to such an extent that the Holkar of Indore, preparing to renew his lengthy struggle against the British in 1808, was perturbed by the invaders' `favourite object' of receiving `intelligence of all occurrences and transactions in every quarter'.
The activities of the Persian Office, and the increased familiarity of the Company with the Indian interior - the product of Wellesley's wars of conquest - meant that the British were by 1812 a little better-informed regarding conditions in the central provinces. They were familiar with the endemic disorder that plagued much of the land between Oudh and Hyderabad, and aware, at least in the broadest terms, of the prevalence of bandits, rebels and predatory mercenaries throughout the Native States. But even their improved intelligence had distinct limits. Most Company officers still had, at best, a crude understanding of Indian society. Knowledge of Hindu religious institutions, village life and the `world of women' was practically non-existent. And there was a general and uneasy awareness, outside the Presidency towns, of the appalling isolation of the scattered European communities in the interior: a handful of men, and scarcely any women, adrift in a sea of tens of millions of potentially hostile `natives' whose religion and culture - and, thus, motives and activities - seemed impossible to comprehend.
The loneliness felt by British officers stationed inland - particularly those who had failed to master the languages of the Subcontinent - was palpable. Almost all suspected they were cheated and lied to by the servants who acted as their intermediaries with the Indian world. `Even if they served their masters loyally,' remarks one writer on this subject, `they moved in realms of life and thought which they wished to keep hidden from their rulers. The basic fear of the colonial officer or settler was thus his lack of indigenous knowledge and ignorance of the "wiles of the native". He feared their secret letters, their drumming and "bush telegraphy", and the nightly passage of seditious agents masquerading as priests and holy men.'
The following episode, the British campaign against the Thug’s, is known in detail today thanks to a recent book by Mike Dash “Thug”, 2005.
Dash who did extensive archival research for his book points out that around 50,000 people (including women and children) where murdered , and: “Of the 4,500 men who eventually stood trial for Thug crimes between the years 1826 and 1848, a total of 504 - or nearly one in every nine - was hanged. Three thousand more were sentenced to life in prison, more than half of whom were transported to penal colonies in the Far East. Most of the rest served either seven or 14 years' hard labour, or died in prison while awaiting trial. Virtually none escaped the Company's wrath altogether.” (Dash, 2005, p. 254.)
Needles to say that the ‘Thug’s’ were simple skilled criminals, and not ‘devotees’of Kali, the Hindu `goddess of destruction', although this was a popular myth in Victorian England at the time.
Former researchers from Greenberger, (The British Image of India, 1969) to S.Banerjee (Civic and cultural nationalism. In A. Vanaik and P. Brass, eds., Competing nationalisms in South Asia, pp.50-84. New Delhi: 2002) divided British attitude toward imperial India into three periods: the era of confidence (1880-1910), the era of doubt (1910-1935), and the era of melancholy (1935-1960).
In the first period they argue, many authors voiced confidence in the righteousness of the British presence in India, projecting that "the ideal British hero of this `era of confidence' is brave forceful, daring, honest, active, and masculine" (Greenberger p. 11). During the era of doubt, confidence began to recede. Some British supporters of the Raj reacted aggressively to signs that the Empire was crumbling; others attacked the Raj, Western civilization, and mocked the manly English in India; still others tried to adopt a balanced approach to argue that though imperialism was problematic, it had wrought some positive change in India. Finally, in the last era, the era of melancholy, most authors accepted that the Empire had collapsed and their focus was on the fate of the English in India. Further, these are, of course, ideal categories that surely ironed out nuances and multiplicity of opinions within each era. For example at the end of the ‘the era of melancholy’ when Britain gradually developed an admiration for Mahatma Gandhi without whom they would not have granted independence, where after Gandhi ironically was murdered by a Hindu Nationalist.
During the so called ‘era of confidence’ it is interesting to note therefore the links between Christianity, militarism, masculinity, and nationalism. For in Christian Manliness: A Sermon Preached to the Third Lancashire Artillery Volunteers in the Bolton Parish Church 1888 stated,
Samuel, X:12: "Play the men for our people, and for the cities of our God, and the Lord do that which seemeth Him good." These are the words of a Commander-in-Chief. They were addressed by Joab to the chosen men of Israel, whom he was about to lead out to fight against the Syrians.... The subject suggested by the exhortation, "Play the men," is Christian manliness, and Christian manliness should be the characteristic of the Christian man at arms. (n.p.; italics added)
Here for example, in the image of the "Christian man at arms" war and conquest legitimately measure manliness. And within this discourse, of imperialism, the Christian man at arms represented empire and national glory. For example, Sir Henry Lawrence, a much revered colonial administrator and military commander, linked his imperial presence in India with his Christian duty. In his contributions to the Calcutta Review in India (1859) he described the ideology shaping his location as a commander in India: "On the other hand, what may not a Christian soldier do? The man who, a Christian at heart, ... believes his duty ... evincing his love to God by performing his duty to man ... such a man will not be the one to quail in the hour of danger" (p. 43).
This Christian manliness can of course be seen as important for late Victorian debates on nation in general. Some British social leaders-such as Charles Kingsley, William Pater, William Blake, and Thomas Hughes-called for a remasculinization of the British nation, which in their eyes had become soft and effeminate. Imperial expansion was very much a part of this project.
The feeling that arose among certain elite that Englishmen had become too effeminate and were losing the manly qualities that had made England great. And here, many argued that it was time to recapture this manliness and resist the effeminization and decline of Anglo-Saxon glory. Conquering and holding British imperial lands were vital aspects of this rejuvenated masculinity. This, may in addition have been sparked by the Indian War of 1857 wherein the British were amazed at the widespread resistance to their presence and, more importantly, frightened by the fact that they had almost lost India to "native" forces and commanders. And it is no accident that Havelock and Lawrence, saviors of imperial India in 1857, are oft-quoted examples embodying the virtues of Christian manliness.
For example, the monograph published by the Religious Tract Society referred to British colonial administrators and military leaders such as Warren Hastings, Henry Lawrence, and General Henry Havelock as living examples of Christian manliness.
It is no surprise then that during the next period British gendered lens sorted Indian men in in, "martial" and "nonmartial"' as depicted in Sir George MacMunn's text The Martial Races of India (1933):
We do not speak of the martial races of Britain as distinct from the nonmartial, nor of Germany, nor of France. But in India we speak of the martial races as a thing apart and because the mass of people have neither martial aptitude nor physical courage. (p. 2)
Traits characterizing the martial races were clearly drawn from notions of muscular Christianity-physical hardiness, loyalty, strength-while nonmartial races embodied opposite values. Although some martial races were "discovered" in India, clearly, in British eyes, they were anomalies in a land filled with effeminate beings: "India has a population of 350 millions ... and perhaps of them thirty-five millions whose young men are manly [italics added] young men, there may be three million males between the military ages of 20 and 35! Astounding!" (MacMunn, 1933, p. 3). And further: "The (Hindoos) are in an awful fright and today most of the shops are shut. It is really a most despicable race, and without any exaggeration ... [they] have not even the pluck of a mouse."
This gendered categorization of the Indian populace facilitated the rise of several popular stereotypes that still resonate in certain contemporary milieus in both India and the United Kingdom: the manly Sikh, the devious Maratha, and the loyal Gurkha.
In the post-1857 recruitment for the Indian army, the British became attracted to the sturdy peasant inhabitant of Punjab. Colonial administrators found the Sikh and Hindu Punjabi peasants more amenable to civil improvements, such as road, sanitation, and irrigation projects. Agriculture flourished in the area. Its physically hardy inhabitants were compared favorably against the urbanized Hindus, who were symbolized by the effeminate Bengali who (in British opinion) constantly carped about minutiae and made life difficult for colonial authorities. Indeed, the most famous colonial administrators of this area, John and Henry Lawrence, invented the term "Punjab style of rule," seen as active, independent, self-reliant, strong, and militaristic.
Ranjeet Singh, the famous Sikh leader, had particularly impressed the British army commanders with his military acumen. Singh also drew on foreign help through the services of an ex-officer of Napoleon's army and an American soldier of fortune, Col. Alexander Gardner. But, perhaps even more importantly, Ranjeet Singh had been impressed by British martial prowess: "The Rajah said.... [h]is French officers and others had told him that English discipline was nothing But now,' he said, `I see what liars they are; you have shown me not only how troops can be moved but also how those movements can be brought to bear upon a hostile force.' He added that it was now no matter of wonder to him why the English had always been victorious in the East" ('H. E. Fane, . Five years in India. London, 1862, p. 161).
Consequently, during the era of confidence, a Punjabization of the Indian army took place wherein seventy-five percent of its troops were recruited from this area. While deemed capable soldiers, they were still seen to be lacking other traits critical to the English masculinization project-self-control, rationality, prudence-and in British eyes, they remained childlike, that is, volatile and emotive, not capable of governing themselves.
Also within the ranks of martial races, a hierarchy existed in terms of British approval. The Sikhs and the Gurkhas were most favored by the British military authorities and historians, while the Marathas were not so favored. Indeed, at times, even though their martial prowess was praised, they were deemed inferior in terms of all other masculine traits. Shivaji and the Marathas, able warriors who harassed colonial troops, occupied much of the British imagination: "Maharattas are total strangers to charity, and possess an insensibility of heart with which other nations are unacquainted" (W. Thorn, Memoir of the war in India. London, 1818, p. 31). They did not adhere to the "proper" rules of war: "Fighting is neither their object nor inclination; nor indeed are they properly qualified for it. Their single aim is plunder; and their glory consists in effecting an inroad by surprise and making a secure retreat" (Thorn, 1818, p. 519).
Thus "[T]here is something noble in the carriage of an ordinary Rajput; and something vulgar in that of the most distinguished Mahratta. The Rajput is the most worthy antagonist, the Mahratta the most formidable enemy" (H. Lawrence, Essays, military and political written in India, London, 1859, p.144).
Such comments are relevant because contemporary (2005) Hindu nationalist groups do focus on the Marathas as an icon of Hindu martial power and celebrate their military history. The effeminization of the Bengali along with the denigration of Maratha martiality within the British discourse present important implications for the construction of Hindu nationalism.
In contrast to the Marathas, the Gurkhas occupied a favored position in the British classification of martial races. Again, they were praised for their bravery in battle but failed to demonstrate other "manly" traits. The original story of the British army's "discovery" of the Gurkhas as a martial race during the Anglo-Nepal War of 1814-1816 illustrates this inequity. During the war campaign, a Lt. Young was sent in with a force of two thousand sepoys (indigenous Indian soldiers) to intercept two hundred Nepali soldiers who were on their way to protect a besieged fort. The Nepalis easily defeated the sepoys, who ran away, but the lieutenant and his colleagues stayed to face the Nepali soldiers. Impressed by their bravery, the latter exclaimed, "Ah, you are brave men. We could serve under men like you".
Although in this particular scenario, it is the Nepalis themselves who acknowledge the superiority of British leadership, the account was disseminated throughout British sources and hence was seen to reflect popular colonial biases. And a limitation of Nepali men is most emphatically illustrated by the words used by British authors to describe the Gurkha men: "They are tykes, little highlanders, little Gurkhs, little blighters, doughty little Mongolian hillmen." Animal metaphors also abound: they are "tigers, ferrets, mountain goats, and gambolling bull pups".
Monogenism and the theory of racial degeneration also constructed the lens of masculinized colonial observation. Ethnographic studies such as those of Sir Herbert Risley's The People of India (1915) and John Anderson's The Peoples of India (1913) presented scientific measurements of the skulls and bodies of the people of India, who then became categorized and classified according to various traits, one of which was martiality. Some groups like the Jars and Sikhs were warlike, while others, such as the Bengalis, were not. Risley did not hesitate to make sociological comments when presenting his classification based on scientific measurements: "The Arya Samaj [may] almost be described as a nationalist development of Hinduism ... their teaching is of a bold and masculine type and is free from the limp eclectism which has proved to be fatal to the Brahmo Samaj" . Such gendered comments found their way into other objective scientific reports, for example, the 1911 Census Report for Uttar Pradesh: "The Arya Samaj alone has provided a manly and straightforward creed which is in all essentials thoroughly Hindu".
The gendered gaze of the British intersected with two other common European imperial views that were dominant in India-the construction of a mythic, golden, Hindu Vedic past and ambiguity about Islam and its practitioners. Some like Max Mueller regarded Muslims as vicious destroyers of this golden age and the source of the present degradation of Hindu culture. And again, both interpretations-the golden Vedic past and demonic Muslim invader-were(are) used by Hindu nationalists to construct their own cultural vocabulary.
However, some observers were not so positive about Hinduism, past or present, declaring: "not less than a HUNDRED AND THIRTY MILLION SUBJECTS, sunk beneath a load of most debasing superstitions, and the cruelest idolatries that ever polluted the surface of the earth, or brutalized the nature of man" (A.Duff,writing ca. 1850’s; emphasis in the original).
But as the era of confidence receded and the era of doubt emerged in response to growing nationalist resistance, a slightly different view of Hindus and Muslims began to circulate within the colonial milieu. Valentine Chirol in his influential Indian Unrest (1910) wrote, "It is important to note ... that the more dangerous forms of unrest are practically confined to the Hindus.... Not a single Mahomedan has been implicated in ... the criminal conspiracies ... the Mahomedans of India as a whole identified their interests ... with the consolidation and permanence of British rule. It is almost a misnomer to speak of Indian unrest. Hindu unrest would be a far more accurate term" (p. 6).
One vital impact of this complex gendered hierarchy was the innovative manner in which various Indian elite constructed an oppositional masculine identity, one built with Hindu symbols and icons to resist the effeminization of Hindus, the denigration of Maratha martial honor, and the British rejection of Indian demands for self-rule.
Expecially during the 1980’s and beyond a vigorous debate has churned over the status of the label "Hinduism," and generally spring from the ambiguity and multivalency of the adjective "Hindu." At least since the sixth-century B.C.E. reign of Darius of Persia, the word "Hindu" has, by turns, signified regional, religious, or cultural identifications, and from the early twentieth century, in some contexts it has also been charged with nationalist connotations. No one so-called religion, moreover, can lay exclusive claim to or be defined by the term "Hinduism."
And one fact is for sure, if anything, religions change over the course of history, but not always in the same manner as the natural ebb and flow of water. The trajectories of religious change, more precisely, often stand in reflexive relation to dominant social and political forces in play. Moreover, religious change may be carefully engineered or even consciously contrived, in a manner that may serve the political interests of the state. At other times, religious change may be an unintended consequence of other types of evolving social dynamics, such as shifts in demography or reorientations of political economies.
During the above mentioned period, Lal Mani Joshi in his 1983 published book “Discerning The Buddha” not only in rebuffed the that time popular view that the Buddha was born a Hindu and that Buddhism is an offshoot of Hindu tradition, but that Buddhist thought seems to have influenced what are later regarded by many as thoroughly classic Hindu formulations. Specifically, he referred to passages in Upanisads that champion the life of internal meditation over external ritual performance, of the eremitic wandering ascetic over the domestic priest, and the ethicization (rather than the ritual mechanization) of the doctrine of karma and its consequences for explaining a theory of rebirth.
And in a more nuanced way Ronald M. Davidson has pointed out during the 1990’s that Buddhist siddhas demonstrated the appropriation of an older sociological form-the independent sage/magician, who lived in a liminal zone on the borders between fields and forests. Integrated partly in Hindu Saiva, lineages. thieir rites involved the conjunction of Buddhist mandala visualization with ritual accouterments made from parts of the human body, so that control may be exercised over the forces hindering the natural abilities of the siddha to manipulate the cosmos at will.
Operating on the margins of both monasteries and polite society, some adopted the behaviors associated with ghosts (preta, piiaca), not only as a religious praxis but also as an extension of their implied threats. (See also.)
And not all religious assimilations or religious changes are always or purely politically inspired or politically expedient. But many of them are, and we need to explore this possibility historically whenever we attempt to determine why it is that assimilations take place.
And before the eighth century already, the Buddha was accorded the position of universal deity and ceremonies by which a king attained to imperial status were elaborate donative ceremonies entailing gifts to Buddhist monks and the installation of a symbolic Buddha in a stupa.. This pattern changed in the eighth century. The Buddha was replaced as the supreme, imperial deity by one of the Hindu gods (except under the Palas of eastern India, the Buddha's homeland) and the performance of srauta rites as separate ceremonies was largely abandoned.
Also Ronald Inden wrote an informative article in this context titled "Ritual, Authority, and Cycle Time in Hindu Kingship." In J. F. Richards, ed., Kingship and Authority in South Asia. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1998, pp. 41-91. Here he describes how the replacement of the Buddha as the "cosmic person" within the mythic ideology of Indian kingship, occurred at about the same time that the Buddha was incorporated and subordinated within the Brahmanical cult of Visnu.
In its Vaisnava dress, the developing ideology of Indian theories of kingship was undergoing a decisive turn which would also generate a major change in the manner in which the Buddha and Buddhism would be regarded from within a newly regenerated Brahmanical and bhakti (devotional) framework. Within this emergent "full blown" Hindu tradition dominated by the bhakti cults of Visnu (and in some cases Siva), the king was considered a "partial descent" (amsa) of the great god Visnu, the preserver of dharma, the natural and moral order, and himself a form of the Cosmic Overlord. Visnu's wife, Laksmi or Sri, the goddess of wealth, prosperity, and good fortune, who worshipfully accompanies her husband in different forms when he descends (ava-tr) to earth in one of his various forms, was also considered the consort of the king parallel to and obviously closely connected to the land (Inden p. 46).
Like the king, the Buddha would also be accorded the status of an avatar within this developing Brahmanical ideological scheme. Inden (p.71) describes how the new Hindu consecration ceremony, the abhiseka, transformed the king into a this-worldly Visnu, an ideal human being of cosmic significance:
Of course it is no secret that Buddhism in turn was influenced in this respect by the Jains, along with the Parsee the two oldest religions that remain intact to date in India.
And where in the Hindu tradition Visnu was understood as a creator deity with many avatars, in Devinuvara Sri-Lanka they regard Visnu, (rather than Natha, as held in Kandy) as the next Buddha-in-the-making…
When the United Nations was established in 1945, almost a third of the world's population-lived in territories that were non-self-governing, dependent on colonial powers. By early 2004, fewer than 2 million people live in such territories. For example in S. Asia 1945 as we have seen earlier, the izzat of British rule had barely survived the Japanese typhoon. Allied South East Asia Command ruled a large part of the whole area from the borders of Bengal and Assam to Singapore and on to the seas north of Australia. Its writ even temporarily penetrated into south China, Indo-China and Indonesia. This was the first time in history that the region was forged into a political unit. By 1950 however everybody else, from left to right, from Malayan communist to Indian businessman, also, believed that planning and state intervention was the way of the future. Production and organization for war, whether by the Americans, the British Empire or the Japanese, had given people a belief in the state's competence which would become almost a religion.