India is full of stories of yogis, bursting in saffron on photo-postcards and mundane streets. These are saints who speak in many voices: calm and wise, vitriolic and adversarial, mystical and transcendental. Their non-worldliness sets them apart from the common man. But one event showed the world another face of the quintessential sadhu?that of the political actor.
When the Saints go Marching In documents the role played by sadhus in Indian national politics. They came together in 1992, to oversee the Babri-mosque demolition and propelled the BJP into national prominence. Then these sadhus splintered among themselves and with the BJP, and preferred reticence to the spotlight.
What were the factors that caused the theatrical union of these highly-individualistic, strong-willed and eloquent sadhus? How did the sudden splintering in their unity come about soon after 1992?
This volume is based on fieldwork across two decades and presents a unique insight into the mind of ascetics who were active in a political upheaval. By drawing our attention to their inconsistencies, worldliness and their human aspirations as actors in this political drama, this volume breaks the monolithic image of the sadhu that traditional narratives have scripted. This book makes necessary immediate reading, given the penetration of religious fundamentalism and its looming presence in national political life.