The north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh has the dubious distinction of being the heartland of communalism in India. The years between the two world wars, in particular, saw the most widespread and unprecedented outbreak of communal conflict in this state. One of the significant factors underlying this escalation of communal tensions was Hindu religious resurgence and a gradual, but radical, transformation in the nature of Hinduism. Hinduism became increasingly militant and martial in its public expression. Indeed, some of the roots of so-called ‘muscular Hinduism’ that characterizes Hindu nationalism of recent years can be traced back to the 1920s and '30s. The public face of Hinduism, from this period, appeared less and less to be that of devotion and religious worship and more and more that of aggressive chants and armed displays. The dominant image of Hinduism emerged to be one of very large crowds of people, wielding staffs, flags, swords and other arms, marching in processions during religious festivals. These festivals imparted an aura of triumphant and aggressive expansionism to Hinduism, which in turn, elicited counter Muslim reactions, and contributed to the aggravation of communal tension and violence. The spread of communalism in north India in this period was marked by another, equally significant, development. Communal conflicts came to be increasingly concentrated in urban centres and a section of the urban poor came to play a pivotal role in the upsurge of Hindu martial militancy.