Religion and Revolt: Bengal Under The Raj

Peter Heehs describes how Hindu revivalism stiffened resistance to colonial rule in British India.

Since the Enlightenment the role played by religion in the political and military life of Europe has been comparatively minor. Even where religious labels are used, as in Ulster, the issues remain basically secular. But in Asia religion is still the major actuating force it has been for centuries, defining conflicts and movements in the Middle East, Iran, and parts of the Indian subcontinent.

The Republic of India is officially secular, its founding fathers having been careful to preserve this part of its British heritage. But even during the Raj, religion was recognised as an inevitable part of the Indian political landscape, and so it remains today. It is not surprising therefore that when Indians revolted against British rule at the turn of the century, religious issues became involved in a movement that was essentially nationalistic in character.

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