Combining textual analysis and site-specific field study, this paper explores the extension into southwestern Bengal of the Dasnami Sampraday in the early 17th century, mapping the emplacement of a network of satellite monastic sites in relation to a new principal “seat” (gaddi) at Tarakeshwar, and charting the rapid deterioration of these sites beginning in the late colonial period.
Brian A. Hatcher is Professor and Packard Chair of Theology at Tufts University. His research focuses on religious and intellectual transformations in colonial and contemporary South Asia, with a special interest in early colonial Bengal. His publications explore issues of vernacular modernity, translation, the life histories of Sanskrit scholars under colonialism, and the modalities of religious eclecticism and scriptural reform among a wide range of Calcutta-based intellectuals. His most recent book-length project, Religion before India, is a comparison of the emergence of the Swaminanarayan Sampraday in Gujarat and the Brahmo Samaj in Bengal as two religious polities that come to be scripted in terms of an emergent “empire of reform” after the 1830s. At present, he is conducting research toward a new book entitled Mapping a Monastic Mandala, which explores the networking and emplacement of Shaiva monastic complexes in southwestern Bengal from the eighteenth to the twentieth century under the leadership of the Dasnami Sampraday.