This article examines the contemporary relationship between the Ārya Samāj and Sanātan Dharm movements among Hindus in India and abroad. Since their beginnings in the nineteenth century, the two loosely organized groups have disagreed about correct ritual practice, with the Arya Samaj promoting a simple “Vedic” fire sacrifice, and those identifying as Sanātan Dharm accepting image worship as an integral aspect of Hindu practice. While Hindus whose families come from northwest India identify themselves, their families, and their practices as either Arya Samaji or Sanatani, fieldwork conducted in India and the United States from 1999 to 2009 suggests that the relationships between these two movements are more flexible than this discourse indicates. This article argues that the Arya Samaj and Sanātan Dharm positions have been combined within extended families, individual ritual practices, and transnational communities in more fluid ways than previously understood.
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