Kept in translation: Adivasi cultural tropes in the Pragat Purushottam Sanstha


  • Gregory D. Alles


bhagat movements, Bakrol, Bhadaran, Chhotaudepur, Dahyabhai Maharaj, Narayan Muni Maharaj, Ramanavami, Purushottam Maharaj, Rathvas, Swaminarayan Hinduism


This article considers a little studied branch of Swaminarayan Hinduism, the Pragat Purushot‐ tam Sanstha, whose headquarters are located in Bakrol, Anand district, Gujarat. It is speci ‐ cally concerned with the results of the activities of this branch among adivasi (tribal) people in the Chhotaudepur district in eastern central Gujarat, results that are of the sort that were once equently referred to as ‘Sanskritization’, but that I prefer to call, with a nod to local terminology, ‘bhagatization’. The article rst situates the Pragat Purushottam Sanstha within the broader family of Swaminarayan communities, contrasting it with another, much better known community, the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, with whom it shares an early lineage. Then it identi es ways in which participation in the Sanstha has led adivasi people to replace some of their traditions with practices drawn om the outside. Although it is common in the area to view people who participate in a community such as the Pragat Purushottam Sanstha as abandoning adivasi traditions altogether, this article suggests that such a view is misleading. Drawing inspiration om James Cli ord’s work with cultural translation and Greg Urban’s work with cultural transformation, it suggests that the Sanstha exempli es one way in which elements of adivasi culture persist when adivasis translate their traditions into settings marked by increasing contact with globalizing modernities.