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

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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: 14790270
Copyright Statement: © 2015 South Asian Studies Association of Australia. This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies on 18 August 2015, available online:
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 02 Sep 2019 07:56

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