Hello friends, in my third post for the #HindooHistory Substack, I discuss the "Hindoo" and the Enlightenment view of religion. Please read, share, and subscribe!

You might be surprised to learn that in an 1814 letter written to Thomas Jefferson, John Adams makes reference to the Juggernaut and then claims to be studying "Oriental History and Hindoo religion" Image
The appearance of both the "Jaggernaught" and the reference to Joseph Priestley's book in Adams's letter is fitting: Although the popular image of Buchanan's Hindoo dominated the American landscape, an intellectual engagement emerged among the American elite. Image
This process began with the foundation of the Asiatic Society in Bengal in 1784. Although the East India Company no doubt had selfish motives for studying the natives more closely, the fruits of the Society's labor were not confined to India. Image
By the early 19th century, translations of the Gita and the Manusmriti arrived on American shores, and became objects of study for scholars like Hannah Adams and Joseph Priestley. Image
Both Adams and Priestley were key figures in the early study of comparative religion, which was inextricably linked with a particular view of "religion" that emerged from the English Enlightenment.
Although the rationalist approach to navigating denominational difference did allow for a degree of religious pluralism, the Hindoo remained on the outside the category of "religion," relegated to the appendix in Adams's book, as a type of "heathenism" Image
In the endeavor to systematize religion weigh the claims of various Christian denominations, other systems of religious thought ended up getting sucked into denominational conflict, to play a "negative role in the parochial conflicts within Christendom" Image
We see this play out in Adams's Compendium. The "primitive monotheism" of the early Hindoo texts are leveraged as evidence for Christian truth, but Adams then presents what we can call the "standard model" of the Hindoo in America, what Altman calls the "declension theory"
On this model, the primitive monotheism of the Vedas degraded over time, with blame falling on the corrupt priesthood who led the masses to idolatry and heathenism. This critique recalled the anti-clerical discourse that prevailed among the English Deists. Image
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More from @HindooHistory

22 Jul
The Hood River Glacier, 1900

"Women's Missionary Meeting"

"Sunday evening at the Congregational church was devoted to a special meeting of the women's missionary society of that church."

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21 Jul
Ogden Standard, 1913


"California has not seen the end of its anti-alien agitation.If the following from the San Francisco Chronicle correctly sets forth the latest problem in race hatred that is facing the people of that state"

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"Of all the Oriental races that have come to this State, the Chinese are by far the least objectionable and most useful and the Hindoos by far the worst."
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The Brownsville Herald, 1930

"WASH TUBBS - Ridiculous But True"

"My word, sir, that is a problem! I have already refused $60,000,000 in cash because I feared the vil designs of certain potentates in India"

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The Morning News, 1896


"Must be Handled Roughly, as They Don't Appreciate Kindness"

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Five Mile Beach Journal, 1905

"Placid Hindoo Servants"

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The Ogden Standard, 1914


"A man named Vavara, believed to have been a religious fanatic, wrecked the Hindu temple at Filbert and Webster streets this afternoon, exploding a dynamite bomb at the feet of Swami Trigunatita"

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"Vavara was instantly killed, the bomb blowing him almost in two. The swami was horribly injured about the legs and feed. Of the congregation of about thirty-five persons, four were injured."
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