Abstract

The worship of Vishwakarma, a god long associated with India's hereditary artisans and their tools, has achieved new relevance with the rise of industrial capitalism in South Asia. No longer moored solely to artisanal caste interests, worship of the god heralds a range of publics in which technē (crafting, fabricating, or making) is an exalted activity and public concern. Using “technophany” as a conceptual framework, we argue that deifications of technology and technicity sit at the core of Vishwakarma worship. Rather than treat religion and technology as ontologically distinct modalities of being-in-the-world, we use this framework to show how artisans, technicians, mechanics, and engineers use Vishwakarma worship to bring industrial technologies into alignment with the cosmos. Drawing on historical and ethnographic materials, we push beyond earlier scholarship that has treated Vishwakarma worship as a holdover from peasant culture or as a set of practices pitted against industrial capitalism.

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