SOAS Research Online

A Free Database of the Latest Research by SOAS Academics and PhD Students

[skip to content]

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

Full text not available from this repository.


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: Journal Article
Keywords: Sant poets; bhakti/devotion; print; booklets; religious publics
SOAS Departments & Centres: Legacy Departments > 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):
Date Deposited: 01 Dec 2015 16:57


Download activity - last 12 months
Downloads since deposit
Accesses by country - last 12 months
Accesses by referrer - last 12 months

Research Mentions and Reach

Additional statistics for this record are available via IRStats2

Repository staff only

Edit Item Edit Item