The Emergence of a British Hindu Identity between 1936 and 1937

  • Sumita Mukherjee
Part of the Genders and Sexualities in History book series (GSX)


The size and influence of Hindu communities in Britain noticeably grew and developed after World War II. In particular, the 1948 Nationality Act which gave Commonwealth citizens the right to settle in Britain, and then the enforced exodus of South Asians from oppressive regimes in Kenya and Uganda in the 1960s and 1970s, saw a large increase in Hindus of Indian origin arrive in Britain. These relatively contemporary British Hindu communities have been discussed by sociologists, political scientists and other analysts in terms of their large temple-building projects in Neasden, Leicester and elsewhere; their status as Non-Resident Indians (NRIs); and their financial links to the Hindu Right and their political arm the Bharatiya Janata Party in India.1 Decades earlier, in the 1930s, when there were merely a few thousand Hindu residents in Britain, Indian immigrants faced and discussed similar concerns about their links to the Hindu Right, the shaping of Indian identities, and the question of whether building temples would cement the public presence of Hindus in Britain. Yet, they also faced other broader political concerns about their roles as British subjects within the empire, the interplay of various international and imperial networks, and the ways in which Hinduism should be projected internationally in a world where Western cultures dominated public discourse.


Indian Affair Hindu Community Historical Journal Eastern Religion Religious Nationalism 
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Further reading

  1. Banerjee, S. (2005) Make Me a Man! Masculinity, Hinduism, and Nationalism in India (Albany: SUNY Press).Google Scholar
  2. Burghart, R. (ed.) (1987) Hinduism in Great Britain (London: Tavistock).Google Scholar
  3. Hall, C. and S. Rose (eds) (2006) At Home with the Empire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).Google Scholar
  4. Radhakrishnan, S. (1939) Eastern Religions and Western Thought (Oxford: Clarendon Press).Google Scholar
  5. Ranasinha, R. (ed.) (2012) South Asians and the Shaping of Britain, 1870–1950: A Sourcebook (Manchester: Manchester University Press).Google Scholar
  6. Swami, P. (1932) The Autobiography of an Indian Monk (London: Macmillan).Google Scholar
  7. van der Veer, P. (2001) Imperial Encounters: Religion and Modernity in India and Britain (Princeton: Princeton University Press).Google Scholar
  8. Visram, R. (2002) Asians in Britain: 400 Years of History (London: Pluto Press).Google Scholar
  9. Yogananda, P. (1946) Autobiography of a Yogi (New York: The Philosophical Library).Google Scholar
  10. Younghusband, F. (1937) A Venture of Faith: Being a Description of the World Congress of Faiths Held in London 1936 (London: Michael Joseph).Google Scholar
  11. Zastoupil, L. (2010) Rammohun Roy and the Making of Victorian Britain (New York: Palgrave Macmillan).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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© Sumita Mukherjee 2013

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  • Sumita Mukherjee

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