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Booklets and Sants: Religious Publics and Literary History

Orsini, Francesca (2015) 'Booklets and Sants: Religious Publics and Literary History.' South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, 38 (3). pp. 435-449.

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Abstract

The story of print and religious publics in colonial India has largely been told as one of reformist groups and religious polemics. But this covers only a small part of the story of religious print, which extends well beyond reformist groups. This essay focuses on the most systematic and long-lived project of publishing sant orature (bani), the Santbanı Pustakmala of the Belvedere Press, Allahabad. It examines its scope, aims and methods as well as its religious orientation and conceptualisation of a religious-devotional public in early-twentieth-century North India. Halfway between oral bhajan groups and the scholarly publications of the collected works (granthavali) of sant poets, throughout the twentieth century the Belvedere Press booklets have commanded tremendous currency as religious print-objects in the Hindi devotional public sphere. The results of one publisher’s effort and investment, and of significant reorganisation of material from manuscript sources, these booklets have been extremely popular and lasting products in the extensive market for religious material, clearly a crucial technology for individual and group religious practice (bhajan), before which the lineages’ own publishing efforts pale into quasi-insignificance.

Item Type: Articles
Keywords: Sant poets; bhakti/devotion; print; booklets; religious publics
SOAS Departments & Centres: Faculty of Languages and Cultures > Department of the Languages and Cultures of South Asia
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religions. Mythology. Rationalism
P Language and Literature > PI Oriental languages and literatures
ISSN: 0085-6401 (Print) 1479-0270 (Online)
DOI (Digital Object Identifier): 10.1080/00856401.2015.1051202
Depositing User: Francesca Orsini
Date Deposited: 01 Dec 2015 16:57
URI: http://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/21462

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