In essence, this collection of essays represents a contribution towards the writing
of social history, more so the social and intellectual history of religion.
Thematically, these essays deal with the life and times of the famed Bengali
mystic Sri Ramakrishna Paramhamsa [1836-86] and seek to bring out in clearer
relief, the dialogic process that tied the saint to his many admirers, across time
and tradition. One of the important arguments of this work is that while specified
historical conjunctures as say the colonial society of late 19th century Bengal do
explain why certain elements of the saint's life and teachings become attractive
for several stratas in contemporary society, his popularity as a social being or
importance as a religious figure has also to be understood outside such short
term temporalities. Not all of the Ramakrishna that we know is the tendentious
construction of the contemporary bhadralok. A good part of his appeal also
seems to lie in the fact that his preachings and parables reflect a fairly continuous
history of certain upper-caste cultural beliefs and practices.
About the Author
AMIYA PROSAD SEN [b.1952] took his Bachelor's and Master's
Degrees in History from St. Stephen's College, University. Of Delhi followed by a
Ph. D. from the same university. After a brief career in the Civil Services, he
settled down to teaching and research with which he has been engaged since
1984. He currently serves the Department of History, Deshbandhu Collage, and
University of Delhi.
DR. Sen. has been Agatha Harrison Fellow at St, Antony's college, Oxford
[1993-95] and Visiting Fellow at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Simla
[1998-99]. He is the author of Hindu Revivalism in Bengal. 1872-1905. Some
Essays in Interpretation. OUP. Delhi. 1993 and Swami Vivekananda. OUP. Delhi.
2000 his special area of interest is the intellectual history of modern Bengal
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