Hindu and Christian debates over the meanings, motivations, and modalities of ‘conversion’ provide the central connecting theme running through this book. It focuses on the reasons offered by both sides to defend or oppose the possibility of these cross-border movements, and shows how these reasons form part of a wider constellation of ideas, concepts, and practices of the Christian and the Hindu worlds.

The book draws upon several historical case-studies of Christian missionaries and of Hindus who encountered these missionaries. By analysing some of the complex negotiations, intersections, and conflicts between Hindus and Christians over the question of ‘conversion’, it demonstrates that these encounters revolve around three main contested themes. Firstly, who can properly ‘speak for the convert’? Secondly, how is ‘tolerating’ the religious other connected to an appraisal of the other’s viewpoints which may be held to be incorrect, inadequate, or incomplete? Finally, what is, in fact, the ‘true Religion’? The book demonstrates that it is necessary to wrestle with these questions for an adequate understanding of the Hindu and Christian debates over ‘conversion.’

Questioning what ‘conversion’ precisely is, and why it has been such a volatile issue on India’s political-legal landscape, the book will be a useful contribution to studies of Hinduism, Christianity and Asian Religion and Philosophy.

chapter 1|11 pages


chapter 2|31 pages

Locating the debates

chapter 3|19 pages

The ideologies of empire

Christian missionaries in a Victorian age

chapter 4|21 pages

The ‘heathens' and their ‘idols’

Christian missionaries and the edifice of ‘Hinduism'

chapter 5|32 pages

Preaching the kingdom

‘Caste' and ‘conversion’

chapter 6|35 pages

Christian orthodoxy and Hindu spirituality

‘Particularity' versus ‘universalism’?

chapter 7|22 pages

Donning the saffron robe

The many meanings of ‘mission'

chapter 8|29 pages

The political bounds of ‘toleration'

Hindus and Christians in ‘secular' India

chapter 9|12 pages