Religious transnationalism, development and the construction of religious boundaries: the case of the Dera Sachkhand Ballan and the Ravidass Dharm



In this article, I examine the general assumption that transnationalism is creating new divisions and iniquitous social hierarchies. For caste-based religious centres like the Dera Sachkhand Ballan (DSB), which is engaged in modes of subaltern religiosity among Ravidassias, transnationalism can be a powerful agent of religious and social change. By nurturing transnational networks, especially in the United Kingdom, the DSB has now emerged as the main driver of Ravidassia identity in Punjab. The material support of overseas followers has made this achievement possible for religious and social institutions in Punjab, and has enabled overseas Ravidassias to demonstrate to higher castes a sense of collective achievement. Transnationalism is thus central to the process of differentiating between the followers of the DSB and Sikhism. It also provided critical support for the birth of a new religion in 2010, the Ravidass Dharm.