India is frequently represented as the quintessential land of religion. Johannes Quack challenges this representation through an examination of the contemporary Indian rationalist organizations: groups who affirm the values and attitudes of atheism, humanism, or free-thinking. Quack shows the rationalists' emphasis on maintaining links to atheism and materialism in ancient India and outlines their strong ties to the intellectual currents of modern European history. At the heart of Disenchanting India is an ethnographic study of the organization "Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti" (Organization for the Eradication of Superstition), based in the Indian State of Maharashtra. Quack gives a nuanced account of the Organization's specific "mode of unbelief. " He describes the group's efforts to encourage a scientific temper and to combat beliefs and practices that it regards as superstitious. Quack also shows the role played by rationalism in the day-to-day lives of the Organization's members, as well as the Organization's controversial position within Indian society.
Disenchanting India contributes crucial insight into the nature of rationalism in the intellectual life and cultural politics of India.