The Hindu Cosmopolitanism of Sister Nivedita (Margaret Elizabeth Noble): An Irish Self in Imperial Currents
Harvard Theological Review
Cambridge University Press
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Barua, A. (2020). The Hindu Cosmopolitanism of Sister Nivedita (Margaret Elizabeth Noble): An Irish Self in Imperial Currents. Harvard Theological Review, 113 (1), 1-23. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0017816019000324
Recent debates on the theme of cosmopolitanism have revolved around the questions of whether, and how, individuals who inhabit specific locations across the world, each location shaped by its concrete particularities, can also imagine and practise visions of belonging to global horizons. The perspective of the “one world” looms large in these debates, as scholars from a variety of academic perspectives such as political theory, moral philosophy, and others argue whether the cultivation of a sense of translocal belonging is compatible with an affective identification to one’s localized roots. Some of these arguments have important precursors in the socio-religious contexts of Bengal around the turn of the twentieth century, as various intellectuals, writers, and social reformers sought to universalize forms of traditional Hinduism, and project Hindus, and people of the world more generally, as members of a global family. One of the most well-known of these figures was the poet-thinker Rabindranath Tagore, who attempted, through some of his novels, poems, and writings on political themes, to configure forms of universal humanism which were yet grounded in the milieus of Indic cultures, sensibilities, and spiritualities. Tagore’s contemporary, the Irishwoman Margaret Elizabeth Noble (1867–1911), who was given the name Sister Nivedita (“the dedicated”) by her guru, Swami Vivekananda, too utilized some traditional Vedantic Hindu themes to develop a form of cosmopolitanism which was both firmly entrenched in Indian socio-religious idioms and was directed towards ever-widening circles of global consciousness. As we will see, Nivedita’s complex set of cultural affiliations and affective identifications – perceived as a member of the ruling race in India while also as a female disciple of a Hindu guru – shaped her distinctive understandings of the cosmopolitan, or to use her own term, “cosmo-national,” individual as one who is not antithetical to, but is deeply immersed in, the densities of national locations.
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0017816019000324
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/280196