Bharatbhoomi Punyabhoomi: In Search of a Global Theosophical India in Tarakishore Choudhury’s Writings


  • Arkamitra Ghatak Presidency University



This article deals with a particular text, Brahmavadi Rsi o Brahmanvidya written by Tarakishore Choudhury, an illustrious High Court lawyer in twentieth century colonial Calcutta who later became the famous Vaishnava saint Swami Santadas Kathiya Baba. The essay aims to highlight the various nuances, contradictions and inflections of power within the intellectual universe of the colonized Western-educated Bengali intelligentsia in order to locate multiple “global” moments within the text. It inspects how the intellectual and theosophical shifts experienced by the author were shaped by the dual forces of a transnational information circuit sustained by a print economy underscored by the contours of the British empire as well as extra-rational indigenous traditions of knowledge-production. It also dissects how the comparativist framework within which ideas, societies and political economies produced in the ‘West’ and in India are juxtaposed by Choudhury. His aim was to discursively assert the spiritual and material glory of ancient India and construct a notion of a hyperreal India about to emerge on a global theosophical career both appropriating and subverting the intellectually dominant metanarratives of the ‘hyperreal West’ and colonial rule. The final section of the article focuses on the ambivalence and implicit assertions of autonomy by this intellectual actor in constructing what constitutes the ‘Indic’ and determining the terms through which Western discourses, if at all, were to be appropriated and reconstituted in the process.

Author Biography

Arkamitra Ghatak, Presidency University

Arkamitra Ghatak completed her major in History at Presidency University, Kolkata, in 2016, securing the frst rank in the order of merit and was awarded the Gold Medal for Academic Excellence. She is currently pursuing a Master in History at Presidency University. Her research interests include intellectual history in its plural spatialities, expressions of feminine subjectivities and spiritualities, as well as articulations of power and piety in cultural performances, especially folk festivals. She has presented several research papers at international student seminars organized at Presidency University, Jadavpur University and other organizations.