Cover

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Contents

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p. v

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Note on Transliteration

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p. vii

In order to make this book accessible to a wide audience, I have chosen to use common spellings for Hindi words used in the text. Diacritical transliterations are available in the glossary. I have italicized all the Hindi and Urdu words used in the text....

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Introduction

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pp. 1-25

‘‘What is the point of building a Ram temple on the blood of so many Indians? It is meaningless.’’ Ela Dube, a member of the Hindu nationalist organization Sewa Bharati, raised this rhetorical question in October 1999.1 Although she did not know me, like many other Hindu nationalist women I met while conducting fieldwork in Delhi in 1999, Ela did not hesitate to meet me and generously invited me into her home in a Delhi Development Authority Middle Income Group colony to talk to her...

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Chapter One: Everyday Histories

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pp. 26-53

‘‘Who lit the fire?’’ Atal Behari Vajpayee, prime minister of India, asked this question at a speech delivered in April 2002 while Hindu nationalists orchestrated a violent pogrom against the Muslim community in Gujarat.1 Asserting that Muslims in Godhra had set fire to a section of the Sabarmati Express transporting Hindu nationalists, Hindu mobs killed, tortured, and raped Muslim men and women to avenge the deaths of fifty-seven individuals killed in the fire...

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Chapter Two: National Insecurities

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pp. 54-79

Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two young sons were murdered in the eastern Indian state of Orissa during the night of January 22–23, 1999, when the station wagon in which they had been sleeping was set on fire. According to the Wadhwa Commission Report (1999), a government investigation undertaken by Supreme Court Justice D. P. Wadhwa, a group led by Dara Singh was responsible for this gruesome murder...

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Chapter Three: Violent Dharma

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pp. 80-104

Sadhvi Rithambara is a powerful female renouncer belonging to the Sadhvi Shakti Parishad, a branch of the Hindu nationalist movement in India whose membership is limited to Hindu female renouncers (sadhvis.)1 She was speaking to a rapt audience of men and women in Ramakrishna Puram in Delhi in 1999 during the Sri Mad Bhagavad Gita Gyan Yagya...

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Chapter Four: Benevolent Hindus

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pp. 105-130

I spent several afternoons working with Urvashi and Shashi in the obstetrics and gynecology wing of a government hospital in central Delhi. Referred to by the hospital staff as the ‘‘VHP social workers,’’ Urvashi and Shashi helped process female outpatients seeking prenatal care, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoon. In the overcrowded room, while nurses and doctors wove their way through meandering lines of pregnant women and their families...

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Chapter Five: Fun, Games, and Deadly Politics

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pp. 131-156

Payal invited me to attend a three-day Samiti shivir (camp) that she was organizing from December 24 to 26 in Delhi. Unlike the weekly shakhas held throughout Delhi for local girls and women, these training camps are intensive immersion courses for those who want a deeper association with the movement...

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Chapter Six: Acceptable Transgressions

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pp. 157-182

I arrived at Jamuna Sinha’s house in northwest Delhi feeling quite lightheaded and was extremely relieved when she offered me a cup of tea. I had just spent ninety minutes in an autorickshaw in morning rush hour traffic in Delhi, trying vainly to avoid inhaling the exhaust from the DTC bus crawling along beside me. As I sat down next to Jamuna on the brown synthetic velvet sofa in her living room, I was conscious of how disheveled I looked with my dusty windblown hair...

Notes

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pp. 183-192

Glossary

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pp. 193-194

Bibliography

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pp. 195-211

Index

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pp. 213-219

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 221-224

My greatest debt is to the women and men in the various wings of the Hindu nationalist movement who were willing to share their busy lives with me and generously responded to my intrusive presence and constant questioning. It is with the realization that I would not have been as magnanimous in similar circumstances that I gratefully acknowledge their patience and generosity...