Passionate Renouncers: Hindu Nationalist Renouncers and the Politics of Hindutva

  • Kalyani Devaki Menon
Part of the Religion/Culture/Critique book series (RCCR)


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). She was speaking to a rapt audience of men and women in Ramakrishna Puram in New Delhi in 1999 during the Sri Mad Bhagavad Gita Gyan Yagya. This three-day event was organized by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) to spread the message of the Bhagavad Gita, an important Hindu scripture. Rithambara uses the Gita to argue that the principles of worldly involvement and renunciation are not opposed to each other. According to her, renouncers must fulfill their duty to society while also maintaining their detachment from the everyday involvements of human beings. These ideas deviate from the construction of renunciation in classical Hinduism, which suggests that a true renouncer is one who lives in the forest, distant from worldly passions and involvements.


Religious Text Moral Order Electoral Politics Political Aspiration Religious Idea 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Meena Khandelwal, Sondra L. Hausner, and Ann Grodzins Gold 2006

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  • Kalyani Devaki Menon

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