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Indien som utopi och verklighet: Om den teosofiska rörelsens bidrag till indisk utbildning och politik 1879-1930
Karlstad University, Faculty of Social and Life Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6959-1414
2012 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis aims to contribute to a deeper understanding of the political ambitions and actions of the Theosophical Society within the emerging nationalist movement in India during 1879-1930.

Different theoretical perspectives have been applied depending on the historical context, and Ludwik Fleck’s theory of thought collectives and thought styles served as a general frame for interpreting the movement’s actions and development

A central concern in this study has been the attempt to explain how a numerically small movement with its roots in the West could come to have political influence in India for a period of time.

The study starts off in a western historical context in an attempt to uncover the reasons behind the movement's commitment to India. It focuses on a culture or civilization critique the Theosophical Society shared with several other contemporary movements.

The first part of the thesis examines the theosophical movement's establishment in India. The relationship with other Indian reform movements has been identified and dividing lines behind the official's eclectic attitude have been shown. The theosophical activities in India can thus be understood in relation to its critique of the modern development of society. My study of the period partly indicates shifts in opinions over time and position-takings with clear elements of competition in relation to other reform movements.

The second study examines the theosophist’s involvement in education and discusses how the nationalist/theosophical educational ideals are reflected in tuition and in textbooks. Emphasis on the connection to the students’ own reality in order to develop a national consciousness is central. One's own religion, the historical narratives and the mother language are at the forefront of a national identity. The theosophist’s ambitions were to overcome the political and religious issues, but the network that was developed were too challenging to be accepted.

The third study examines theosophy in the open political arena. The pattern is partly the same in terms of methods to reach a consensus for the main target - Home Rule. The political challenges were reflected in an increased political mobilization, which broadened the political activities outside the Congress.

My study shows that there was an opposition in the theosophical movement to the politicization during the war, also among leading theosophists. After the war the marginalization of Theosophy was obvious in politics when the theosophical leadership chose to opt out of the Congress under Gandhi's leadership.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Karlstad: Karlstads universitet, 2012. , 390 p.
Karlstad University Studies, ISSN 1403-8099 ; 2012:21
Keyword [en]
Theosophy, Indian Reform movements, Indian Nationalism, Theosophy and Education, Home Rule Movement, Annie Besant
Keyword [sv]
Teosofi, indiska reformrörelser, indisk nationalism
National Category
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-13049ISBN: 978-91-7063-425-3OAI: diva2:517572
Public defence
2012-06-01, Nyqvistsalen 9C203, Karlstads universitet, 65188 Karlstad, 14:00 (Swedish)
Per-Olof Fjällsby
Available from: 2012-05-11 Created: 2012-04-23 Last updated: 2015-11-12Bibliographically approved

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