About the Book
This book presents the life stories and poems of six well-known saint-poets of north India - Ravidas, Kabir, Nanak, Surdas, Mirabai, and Tulsidas - who have contributed more to the religious vocabulary of Hinduism in north India today than any voices before or since. In worship, in education, even in politics, modern Hinduism sings their tune.
For half a millennium, these saints poems have circulated from the banks of the Yamuna to the rice fields of Bihar and back to the deserts of Rajasthan. They have provided a language for many of life's most vivid concerns - cruelty and loneliness, status and intimacy, hope and infatuation, and the maddening transitoriness of it all.
With a biographical and interpretive essay on each poet and a selection of representative verses in original translation, this book offers a complete introduction to a literate that transcends the boundaries we associate with religion, and those of India as well. This new edition of the Songs of the Saints of India will appeal to travelers, students, and anyone eager to hear the 'music' of north Indian religion and see its hidden contours. It will also be of interest to all those in the fields of Indian literature, culture, religion, history, and South Asian studies.
About the Author
John Stratton Hawley is Ann Whitney Olin Professor of religion, Barnard College, Columbia University, USA.
Mark Juergensmeyer is professor of sociology and director of the program in Global and International Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara, USA.
Excerpts from Review:
'Between the covers of this book live six extraordinary North Indian saint-poets. Hawley tells their lives in the flowing, good-humoured prose that gracefully conceals his great care and scholarship. Then, with Mark Juergensmeyer, he offers us a generous selection of each saint-poet's poems, translated in verse forms that are fluent, sparkling, vivid, never far from the tones of speech. Through them, as rarely before this, we hear the original voices: we hear Kabir cut through sham with his wit. Nayak meditate, Surdas shape his words to his vision, and Mira sing. We have waited long for an anthology of Hindi bhakti of this range, authority, and literary excellence.'
- A.K. Ramanujan
'The author's deep knowledge of the bhakti traditions of north India is evident both in their choice of representative poetry for each of the six saints and in the renderings of their poetry, which are so skillfully fashioned that one can easily hear the nuances of each poet's voice in registers of contemporary English.'
- The Journal of Asian Studies
'This is one of those rare and wonderful books that makes first-rate scholarship immediately accessible to the non-specialist.'
- Religious Studies Review
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