Holy Warriors

A Journey Into The Heart Of Indian Fundamentalism

Edna Fernandes

Published: 1 April 2008
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 368 pages
ISBN: 9781846270970


Home to all the major religions, India is also, inevitably, host to virtually every type of religious fanatic. No other nation has witnessed as much proselytizing or heard as many war cries in the name of God as India. For centuries, Hindus, Christians, Sikhs and Muslims have waged bloody wars, sought violent conversion and declared jihad against their enemies, as their religions have been hijacked by the forces of fundamentalism. In Holy Warriors, Edna Fernandes travels to the country's recent and past theatres of religious extremism - from Kashmir to Gujarat, Punjab to Goa - to meet the generals and foot soldiers of communal wars who assert their faith in rhetoric and rage. Theirs are stories of bigotry and bloodshed, insecurity and despair, but Fernandes listens with understanding, tolerance and a deft sense of humour, and paints a uniquely vivid and clear-sighted picture of a country divided by dogma.

About the author

Image of Edna Fernandes

Edna Fernandes is a British Indian journalist who was born in Nairobi and grew up in London. She is a Special Correspondent for the Mail on Sunday newspaper, writing international reportage features, and she also writes for History Today. A former foreign correspondent for the Financial Times and political correspondent for Reuters in London, her articles have been reproduced in newspapers around the world. Her first book Holy Warriors: A Journey into the Heart of Indian Fundamentalism was shortlisted for the UK's 2008 Index on Censorship TR Fyvel prize and nominated for India's Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Best Book Award. Fernandes' new book, The Last Jews of Kerala, was shortlisted for India's 2009 Vodafone Crossword Literary prize. It is also a Sunday Times Travel Book of the Year. www.ednafernandes.com More about the author


‘An entertaining and insightful thematic travelogue, a tour of Indian flashpoints.’



‘As fair and objective an assessment of the perils that lie ahead for India as any that I have ever read. It is a must-read for all of those who wish the country to prosper as a secular democracy. A powerful book’ Khushwant Singh

‘Edna Fernandes meets extremists of every faith, and paints a vivid portrait of a country so often divided by dogma.’

‘In Holy Warriors, the British-Indian journalist Edna Fernandes offers and insightful analysis of religious fundamentalism, combining solid research with bold investigative reporting... Fernandes's survey is brave, enlightening and sobering, a must-read for anyone interested in modern India.’ Jean Hannah Edelstein

‘The reportage is even-handed and responsible and even delightfully witty. Fernandes's asides are precise and wicked. Above all, she offers a valuable reminder of the dark side of the economic miracle that is modern India’ Naseem Khan

‘This energetic account of religious violence and prejudice in India is witty, informative - and disturbing. Purity and impurity, rather than good works and sin, would appear to constitute the dominant polarity in religious consciousness on the Subcontinent. But one faith's purity may be another's filth... Holy Warriors sets out to explore the conundrum: what exactly is the relationship between fanatical religious observance and sectarian violence in modern India? The book opens with a brief consideration of Partition, the carnage that accompanied it and the unhappy irony that it did not produce clear and separate national identities for Pakistan and India... After the grim facts, Fernandes tells of her own trips to these troubled areas and her long interviews with many of those involved in the violence: victims, police chiefs, religious leaders, politicians (but not the killers). Her travelogues are attractive; she is a witty caricaturist, and a stubborn interviewer... often fun, always informative, Holy Warriors is a useful introduction to the sectarian divides of contemporary India.’ Tim Parks

‘This impressively researched and lucidly written book travels quickly beyond many banalities about India today. Anyone interested in exploring the complex appeal of religious extremism in half-modern societies should read it’ Pankaj Mishra

‘This is an amazing book, incredible. Anyone interested in religions and how they get on - or don't - should get hold of it. I'm telling you, it's a compulsive read.’ Nihal

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