A Protest Against the Protest: The Nath-Siddhas and Charpatnath
DEVOTION AND DISSENT IN INDIAN HISTORY. ED. V. RAMASWAMY. NEW DELHI: FOUNDATION BOOKS (CAMBRIDGE UNIV PRESS OF INDIA). 2014. PP-216-254
30 Pages Posted: 8 Jan 2015
Date Written: October 1, 2014
Historians are coming to terms with a comprehensive paradigm shift in the early medieval India, which also has a bearing on the historiography of protest and revivalist movements. While there is abundance of literature on the protest movements, and the dissidents as well, but the nature of protest, however, needs a critical review. This paper seeks to understand the process by which the ‘protest’ itself becomes dogmatic and therefore requires a protest and/or ‘reform’ to further revitalize the ‘tradition’. Moreover, the protest in itself needs a cogent qualification: for a question arises that the protest is aimed against whom/what? We shall ask this twofold question from the non-conformist north-Indian Nāth-Siddhas over a long period, from the 10-16th century, reflected in the waxing and waning of the movement, particularly in the Panjab. Also, we shall contextualize the protest against the changing profile of ascetic institutions and their nexus with the state; as much as against the dominant medieval perceptions impacting the language, norms and issues of devotion and worship.
Keywords: siddhas, naths, alchemy, panjab, chamba, himachal, western himalayas, protest, tantra, sakt, siva
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