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Awakening Hindu nationalism through yoga: Swami Ramdev and the Bharat Swabhiman movement

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
JournalContemporary South Asia
Publication statusPublished - 17 Mar 2019


Alongside Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose politics he explicitly endorses, Swami Ramdev is frequently depicted as the contemporary face of neo-Hindutva nationalism in India. This essay concerns specific, but interrelated, aspects of the Swami Ramdev ‘phenomenon’ and their particular relation to Hindu nationalism. We bracket the headline-stealing anti-Islamic and pro-Modi proclamations in order to focus on the nuances of the relationship between his yoga and a majoritarian Hindutva agenda and examine the specifics of Ramdev’s teachings and campaigns. We suggest that the (Hindu) nationalism of Ramdev and his organisations is formed less of propositional or even affective content but instead is a condition emerging from its particular prescription and practice of yoga; it is a condition of the body. In this way, yoga, as it is reproduced at the site of the individual body, produces the national(ist) activist subject.

    Research areas

  • Yoga, Hindutva, Hindu nationalism, Swami Ramdev, body

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