The goddess and the nation: Subterfuges of antiquity, the cunning of modernity
This chapter focuses on two goddesses who put in an appearance in late colonial India - Tamilttay (Mother Tamil), and Bharat Mata (Mother India). It also focuses on some of these contradictions, inspired by Sudipta Kaviraj's observation. The chapter argues that although both Tamilttay and Bharat Mata cloak themselves in the mantle of great antiquity, strategically borrowing for their "disguise" from a vast repository of symbolic practices and beliefs that the author gloss here as "Hindu," they are products of a modern imagination, and telltale signs of their modernity set them apart from the pantheon of older Hindu goddesses on whom they are quietly parasitic. In both Tamil devotion and Indian geopiety, the objects of their adulation - the Tamil language and the Indian territory - are transformed from rarified abstractions into embodied entities that can be seen and touched.