Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Princely States and the Hindu Imaginary: Exploring the Cartography of Hindu Nationalism in Colonial India


In the early twentieth century, Hindutva, or Hindu nationalism, was a philosophy premised on exclusivist notions of “nation-ness” and “nation-state-ness.” India, proponents claimed, had since the earliest times been the pitrabhumi and the punyabhumi of Hindus—their fatherland and holy land. This ideal realm was corrupted by Muslim and Christian “invaders,” foreigners who defiled and split asunder “Akhand Hindustan,” the one India of Hindus. In the context of British rule of the subcontinent, Hindu nationalists mirrored colonial claims and held up the native princely states as exemplars of “tradition,” as territories unspoiled by foreign hands and thus representative of the “true India.” The idea behind Akhand Hindustan came from a prominent member of the princely state bureaucracy, K. M. Munshi. Here the author explores how and why princely states were idealized in the Hindu imaginary and what role reformers, particularly Munshi, played in perpetuating this hard-line ideology. By exploring the regions on which early Hindu nationalism was mapped, the author illuminates the teleology of Hindutva while providing a better understanding of the place of princely states in the politics and society of colonial India.

Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Manu Bhagavan . 2001. “Demystifying the ‘Ideal Progressive’: Resistance through Mimicked Modernity in Princely Baroda, 1900–1913.” Modern Asian Studies 35 (2): 385409.

Manu Bhagavan . 2002. “The Rebel Academy: Modernity and The Movement for a University in Princely Baroda, 1908–1949.” Journal of Asian Studies 61 (3): 919–47.

Vinayak Chaturvedi . 2003. “Vinayak. and Me: Hindutva and the Politics of Naming.” Social History 28 (2): 155–73.

Ian Copland . 1997. The Princes of India in the Endgame of Empire, 1917–1947. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

James W. Laine 2003. Shivaji: Hindu King in Islamic India. Delhi: Oxford University Press.

Karen Leonard . 2003. “Reassessing Indirect Rule in Hyderabad: Rule, Ruler, or Sons-in-Law of the State.” Modern Asian Studies 37 (2): 363–79.

Janaki Nair . 2006. “Tipu Sultan, History Painting and the Battle for ‘Perspective’.” Studies in History 22 (1): 97143.

Biswamoy Pati . 2005. “Interrogating Stereotypes: Exploring the Princely States in Colonial Orissa.” South Asia Research 25 (2): 165–82.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

The Journal of Asian Studies
  • ISSN: 0021-9118
  • EISSN: 1752-0401
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-asian-studies
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 2
Total number of PDF views: 50 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 215 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 26th May 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.