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The NLS Public Lecture Series | Book Discussion – “Being Hindu, Being Indian: Lala Lajpat Rai’s Ideas of Nationhood”


OAB 202


Thursday, May 2, 2024, 5:00 pm

This event is open to the public.

NLSIU will host a public lecture by Dr. Vanya Vaidehi Bhargav, Senior Research Fellow, University of Leipzig. Dr. Rinku Lamba will be the discussant for the talk.

About the Speaker 

Vanya Vaidehi Bhargav is an intellectual historian of modern South Asia with a DPhil in History from the University of Oxford. Her research has been published in the Journal of Asian Studies, Global Intellectual History, Studies in Indian Politics, and Religions. She has been a Research Fellow at ICAS: M.P., New Delhi, India, and a Senior Research Fellow with “Multiple Secularities – Beyond the West, Beyond Modernities”, University of Leipzig, Germany.


“Being Hindu, Being Indian” undertakes a systematic intellectual study of Lala Lajpat Rai’s nationalist thought through his active political life, spanning 1888 and 1928. Contesting the dominant scholarly interpretation of Rai’s nationalism as the precursor of Savarkarite Hindutva, it highlights the internally differentiated nature of ‘Hindu nationalism’. An examination of Lajpat Rai’s thought as a Hindu Mahasabha in the mid-1920s reveals that Rai organised a Hindu politics in service of a secular Indian nation-state. The book argues that this neither reduces his secularism to Hindu majoritarianism, nor completely proves right revisionist scholarship that increasingly questions the analytical contrast between these categories. Methodologically, the book constitutes an argument to respect the nuances, fluidity, and internal tension in a politician-thinker’s thought.