Translocal Lives and Religion - Connections between Asia and Europe in the Late Modern World - Philippe Bornet

Translocal Lives and Religion - Connections between Asia and Europe in the Late Modern World - Philippe Bornet

2. "In-Between" Religiosity: European Kāli-bhakti in Early Colonial Calcutta

Translocal Lives and Religion - Connections between Asia and Europe in the Late Modern World - Philippe Bornet

Gautam Chakrabarti [+-]
Europa-Universität Viadrina, Frankfurt
Gautam Chakrabarti, PhD, is Postdoctoral Researcher and Lecturer at the Kulturwissenschaftliche Fakultät, Europa-Universität Viadrina, Frankfurt (Oder). He has previously worked for the ERC-Projekt “Developing Theater”, Ludwig-Maximilians- Universität München. He has also taught Berlin- and German Studies, Comparative Literature, English and Anglophone Literature and Culture at the Freie Universität Berlin.

Description

One of the most engaging socio-cultural traits in late 18th- and early 19th-century India was the disarmingly engaged and comparativist manner in which European travellers responded to the multi-layered and deeply syncretic field of devotional spirituality in eastern India. The predominantly-śākta orientation of early modern Bengali configurations of religious devotion led, especially in the vicinity of the rather-heterodox city of Calcutta, to the familiarization of European migrants to the Goddess Kālī, Herself representing a certain subaltern, tāntrika aspect of Hindu devotional practices. Antony Firingi, (Æntōnī Phiringī) originally Hensman Anthony (?‒1836), was a folk-poet/bard, who, despite being of Portuguese origin, was married to a Hindu Brahmin widow and well-known throughout Bengal for his celebrated Bengali devotional songs addressed to the Goddesses Kālī and Durgā, towards the beginning of the 19th century. He was also celebrated for his performance in literary contests known as kabigān (bardic duels) with the then elite of Bengali composers. His āgamani songs, celebrating the return of Goddess Durgā to her parental home are immensely-popular till today and he was associated with a temple to Goddess Kālī in the Bowbazar-area of North Calcutta that is nowadays famous as the Phiringī Kālibāri (foreigner’s Kālī temple). In this essay, the literary-cultural construction of a religious hybridity, operating between and cross-fertilizing Indo-European cultural conjunctions, is examined through the study of individual, “in-between” religious agency, in this case of Hensman Anthony, who comes across as a figure representing the condition of the transcultural subaltern.

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Citation

Chakrabarti, Gautam . 2. "In-Between" Religiosity: European Kāli-bhakti in Early Colonial Calcutta. Translocal Lives and Religion - Connections between Asia and Europe in the Late Modern World. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 35-55 Feb 2021. ISBN 9781781795835. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=31740. Date accessed: 18 May 2021 doi: 10.1558/equinox.31740. Feb 2021

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