Arya Samaj In Trinidad: An Historical Study Of Hindu Organizational Process In Acculturative Conditions (caribbean)

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Latin American and Caribbean Studies


Arya Samaj is a democratic Hindu reform movement founded in 1875. Though reflecting Western and Christian methods, it aims to revive ancient Vedic ideals. Brought to Trinidad after 1910 by Indian Missionaries, the Samaj spearheaded a Hindu renaissance and socio-religious reforms while also provoking an orthodox counter-reformation in the 1930s. While retarding assimilation of Hindus into the dominant Trinidad culture, the Samaj promoted inter-communal dialogue and was an effective and unified pressure group. Yet, despite emphasis on constitutional rule, the "Aryas" eventually suffered the same factionalism as other Hindus. Differential acculturation between competing groups within the movement was found to be the immediate source of conflict. Opposing factions differed significantly in their members' average educational level, exposure to Christianity, proximity to urban centers and acceptance of secular values.Evidence of Hindu factionalism worldwide suggests the cause of conflict is more basic, however. This study concludes that unity is a foreign value for Hindus. Hinduism stresses the divinity of man, multiple pathways to salvation, and detachment from the world, all of which emphasize autonomy of individuals while weakening organizations. Divisive tendencies are accentuated by emphasis on status as a worldly reflection of the individual's true spiritual condition. Paradoxically, however, the desire for status cannot be admitted without exposure to criticism and consequent loss of the very status desired. Forced to deny all forms of selfish motivation in themselves, therefore, Hindus are particularly prone to the psychological defense mechanism known as projection, whereby others are accused of the very motives denied in oneself. Under such conditions, negative responses to leadership initiatives are inevitable, and conflict becomes a way of life.


Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies

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