2009-10 AM Fictions of India - Expert Group on Religion

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Expert Group on Religion

Group: Representations of India


- Apparently no religious discrimination within native population

- Buddhism

- Teshoo Lama

- Respected person who receives food and shelter by the native population

- Less respect paid by the British

“holy man” (p. 87) vs. “old beggar man” (p. 112), “a heathen’s money” (p. 112) 

- Christianity

- Father Victor and Reverend Bennett “Between himself and the Roman Catholic chaplain of the Irish contingent lay, as Bennett believed, an unbridgeable gulf [...] whenever the Church of England dealt with a human problem she was very likely to call in the Church of Rome.” (p. 85)

- Betrayal of Woman of Shamlegh by a Christian missionary (cf. p. 264)

- Portrayal of native “superstition”?

- Kim’s search for the Red Bull “[...] I saw the Bull again with the – the Sahibs praying to it. [...] ‘Officers praying to a bull!’ What in the world do you make of that?’ said Bennett.” (p. 87)

- Huneefa’s rituals


- Religious discrimination of low-caste Hindus and religious minorities (e.g. Muslims) by upper-caste Hindus

- Outcaste Hindus are not able to practice or forget about religious practices

       - Religious duty of keeping pure
                   • Bakha’s attitude towards cleanliness vs. Hindu purity rituals

“[...] those laws of hygiene which are the basis of Hindu piety. [...] Besides there was scarcity of water [...] they just did without; till sanitation, cleanliness and hygiene had lost its meaning for them.” (p. 76)

- Solutions to religious discrimination

      - Christian belief presented by Colonel Hutchinson 
                    • Henpecked by his wife, fails to acquaint Bakha with Christianity
      - Renewed Hinduism propelled by Ghandi -> joins various social and cultural  groups
                    • Ghandian speech not fully understandable to Bakha, seems unreachable
                    • critique

“ ‘Ghandi is a humbug [...] In one breath he says he wants to abolish untouchability, in the other he asserts he is an orthodox Hindu. He is running counter to the spirit of our age, which is democracy. [...] (p. 150)

- Progressive Indian philosophy

     - Alternative solution presented by the poet (cf. p. 152-156)

Midnight's Children

- A lot of different religious groups within Indian society

- No consensus within these groups


                - Aadam Aziz: loses his faith right in the beginning (cf. p.4)
                - Naseem: conservative, wants the children to be  taught according to Islamic  
                  tradition and religion
                - Free Islamic Convocation: speaks up against partition of India, is ended by the 
                  assassination of the hummingbird by the Muslim League
                - Muslim league: radical Muslims, fighting for partition of India and an own  
                  Muslim state


               - Shiva: Hindu fighting in the Indian army, named after the Hindu god of destruction
               - Ravana gang: radical Hindu, terrorizing the Muslims, fighting for partition of 

Saleem: although he grows up in a Muslim family he is not interested in religion -> To which group, if to any of these, does he belong?

Group: Similarities and Contrasts in Kim and Untouchable

Kim and Bakha are open minded towards different religions

- Kim is open-minded towards: Mohammedans, Hindus, Buddhists

- Bakha is open-minded towards: Mohammedans, Hindus, Christians

Discussion result:

- Religion is presented in the term Caste System

- unanswered: how does Kim feel about christianity? → no clear hints in the book

Mulk Raj Anand "Untouchable" (Group: Impersonal narration and the iedology of the text: The representation of India and of Bakha's consciousness)


- The book points to the topic of untouchability and portrays that the living-conditions of the untouchables are inhumane:

→ A life of work under and in the caste-system has made a bitter and angry man of his father (p. 13 „The rude bullying order to get up. 'Get up, ohe you Bakha, you son of a pig'“)

→ The kind/sort/manner of description shows that the narrator knows about the circumstances of the sweepers. He names them and compares them to animal-life (p.17 „the passive contentment of the bottom dog suddenly illuminated by the prospect of fulfilment of a seret...desire.“); (p. 17 „the smile of a slave“)

→ The untouchables are being discriminated against, e.g. in lack of education (p. 39 „the headmaster wouldn't teach the outcastes. […] These old Hindus were cruel.“)

-The option of a casteless & classless society is mentioned (p. 155 „a casteless and classless society“)

- Gandhi sympathizes with the untouchables and their problems (p. 147 „if I have to be reborn, I should wish to be reborn as an Untouchable, so that I may share their sorrows)

- Gandhi having been educated in England brings back important insight and a more objective point of view, as well as a different concept on humanity