Dr. Mukesh Kumar
Dr. Mukesh Kumar
- Humboldt post-doctoral Researcher
Dr Kumar is a Humboldt post-doctoral fellow at the SAI. He has B.A., M.A., and M.Phil. degrees from Delhi University, and a PhD degree (2019) from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). His research interests lie at the intersection of history and anthropology; he employs and combines methods of ethnographic fieldwork and archival work to examine the changing forms of religious culture, and the issue of Hindu-Muslim cultural encounter in north India from a longue durée perspective. Some of his works have appeared in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, London, and Economic and Political Weekly. One of his research articles was awarded the best PhD paper at the ANU Religion Conference, 2018.
Dr Kumar's Humboldt project analyses efforts for a new identity construction among a group called the Shuddhi Jogis (literally ‘purified Jogis’) in the Mewat region of north India. Historically, Jogis, a vernacular term for yogis, existed across religious divisions. There are various types of Jogis such as the Hindu Jogis, the Muslim Jogis, and a low caste Jogi community of snake charmers in north India and elsewhere. All of them historically drew religious inspirations from the Hindu ascetic god, Shiva, and his follower and the founder of the Jogi ascetic sect (also popularly known as the Nath sect), Guru Gorakhnath. In the middle of the twentieth century around the Partition and Independence of India, the ongoing efforts of a Hindu reform movement, the Arya Samaj, and its conversion campaign known as shuddhi (literally purification) led to the conversion, sometimes forceful, of some Muslim Jogis to Hinduism. The formation of the Shuddhi Jogi community in Mewat was, thus, the result of the religious conversion of Muslim Jogis. On the other hand, the Hindu Jogis refused to accept the newly converted Jogis as members of their Hindu Jogi caste community. The refusal, in turn, led to the creation of a new type of the Jogi community generally referred to as 'purified' (shuddhi) Jogis after their converted status. This project will pay particular attention to the efforts of Shuddhi Jogis for building strong ties with the established Hindu Jogi community and the Hindu identity within the framework of historical transformations in the Jogi community and the sect. How religious identities are invented, challenged, and sustained, and its relationship with history and religion is the primary concern of this project.