Past Event

Historicizing Bhakti

January 10, 2020
3:00 PM - 5:00 PM
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Columbia Global Centers | Mumbai, 12-13, Maker Chambers VI, First floor, Jamnalal Bajaj Road, Nariman Point, Mumbai 400 021

How do we evaluate records associated with the great poet-saints of early modern north India, both life-stories and poetic anthologies? 

Professor John Stratton Hawley will discuss the combination of methods and approaches that have contributed to his various studies of bhakti, including his recent book on the idea of the Bhakti movement.  These methods include manuscript research, oral history, the analysis of visual documents, and contemporary rapportage. The range of sources is deliberately wide: collective biographies (especially the Bhaktamals of Nabhadas and Raghavdas), works organized around the motif of the Digvijaya, anthologies of poetry, visual resources (miniature paintings, murals painted on public buildings), conference proceedings, interviews, and textbooks used in India today.  

Questions of public memory and religious sensitivity fundamentally affect his work.  
This program is part of the 'Historical Methods Seminar Series' co-hosted by the Columbia Global Centers | Mumbai and the South Asia Institute at Columbia University in partnership with the Mumbai History Teachers Academy.


About the speaker:

John Hawley

John Stratton Hawley is Claire Tow Professor of Religion at Barnard College, Columbia University. His most recent books on India’s bhakti traditions are A Storm of Songs: India and the Idea of the Bhakti Movement (Harvard, 2015), Sur’s Ocean (with Kenneth Bryant, Harvard, 2015), a poem-by-poem commentary called Into Sur’s Ocean (Harvard Oriental Series, 2016), and Krishna’s Playground: Vrindavan in the 21st Century (Oxford, 2020). He is the co-editor of two recent volumes bearing on bhakti: Text and Tradition in Early Modern North India (Oxford, 2018) and Bhakti and Power: Debating India’s Religion of the Heart (University of Washington and Orient BlackSwan, 2019). A Storm of Songs won the A. K. Coomaraswamy Book Prize of the Association for Asian Studies in 2017, and Sur’s Ocean won the A. K. Ramanujan Book Prize for Translation of the Association for Asian Studies in 2018. Professor Hawley has received multiple awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Smithsonian, and the American Institute for Indian Studies. He has been a Guggenheim Fellow, was recently a Fulbright Fellow, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.