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Filing Religion: State, Hinduism and Courts of Law

Daniela Berti (Editor) Gilles Tarabout (Editor) Raphael Voix (Editor)

The Indian Constitution posits a separation between a secular domain that the state regulates and a religious domain in which it should not interfere. However, defining the separation between the two has proved contentious-the state is directly involved in the administration of several religious institutions and the courts are regularly asked to decide on rights linked to religious functions and bodies. Such decisions contribute to (re)defining the religious categories and practices. This volume explores how the apparently ‘technical’-legalistic action taking place in the courts of law significantly shapes the place that Hinduism occupies in Indian and Nepalese societies, perhaps even more so than the ideology of any political party. The approach developed in this volume is resolutely historical and anthropological. It considers law as part of social, religious, and political dynamics. The volume does not deal as much with politics of secularism in general, as with how courts deal in practice with Hinduism and how it contributes to shaping contemporary Hinduism.

Contents: Foreword/Kalyanakrishnan Sivaramakrishnan. Introduction/Daniela Berti, Gilles Tarabout and Raphael Voix. Section I: Secular Issues and Court Practice. 1. Birth vs Merit: Kerala’s temple priests and the courts/Gilles Tarabout. 2. National gods at court: secularism and the judiciary in Nepal/Chiara Letizia. Section II: Gods Affairs. 3. Plaintiff deities: ritual honours as fundamental rights in India/Daniela Berti. 4. Celibate gods and ‘essential practices’ jurisprudence at Sabarimala, 1991–2011/Deepa Das Acevedo. 5. Slaves and sons: the court dynamics of a religious dispute in South India/Ute Husken. Section III: Ascetics and the Law. 6. The legal making of a ‘Hindu Sect’: understanding the tandava case in its context/Raphael Voix. 7. British justice and the lustful Mahant/France Bhattacharya. 8. ‘This land is mine’: Mahants, civil law, and political articulations of Hinduism in twentieth century North India/Malavika Kasturi. 9. Claiming religious rights from a secular power: Judgment regarding the rules of succession to the position of Shebait in a North Indian temple/Catherine Clementin-Ojha. Section IV: Personal Law: Twists and Turns. 10. Recent changes in case law concerning Hindu marriage/Jean-Louis Halperin. 11. Unfair advantage? Polygyny and adultery in Indian personal law/Srimati Basu.

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About the author

Gilles Tarabout

Gilles Tarabout, Ph.D. in social anthropology, has specialized in the study of Kerala’s society and popular religious practices. Apart from his own publications in the field, he has co-edited volumes bearing on various themes; Islam and Christianity in India, Religious Possession in South Asia, Conceptions of the Body in Hinduism. Currently senior fellow (CNRS) at the Centre for Indian and South Asian Studies, Paris, he is also in charge of the Indo-French Cooperation Programme in Social Sciences at the ‘Maison des Sciences de I’Homme’ (Paris).

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Bibliographic information

Title Filing Religion: State, Hinduism and Courts of Law
Format Hardcover
Date published: 10.06.2016
Edition 1st. ed.
Language: English
isbn 9780199463794
length 404p.,