Religious Devotion and the Poetics of Reform: Love and Liberation in Malayalam Poetry, 1st Edition (e-Book) book cover

Religious Devotion and the Poetics of Reform

Love and Liberation in Malayalam Poetry, 1st Edition

By George Pati

Routledge

178 pages

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pub: 2019-02-26
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Description

The poetry emanating from the bhakti tradition of devotional love in India has been both a religious expression and a form of resistance to hierarchies of caste, gender, and colonialism. Some scholars have read this art form through the lens of resistance and reform, but others have responded that imposing an interpretive framework on these poems fails to appreciate their authentic expressions of devotion. This bookargues that these declarations of love and piety can simultaneously represent efforts towards emancipation at the spiritual, political, and social level.

This book, through a close study of Naḷini (1911), a Malayalam lyric poem, as well as other poems, authored by Mahākavi Kumāran Āśān (1873–1924), a low-caste Kerala poet, demonstrates how Āśān employed a theme of love among humans during the modern period in Kerala that was grounded in the native South Indian bhakti understanding of love of the deity. Āśān believed that personal religious freedom comes from devotion to the deity, and that love for humans must emanate from love of the deity.

In showing how devotional religious expression also served as a resistance movement, this study provides new perspective on an understudied area of the colonial period. Bringing to light an under-explored medium, in both religious and artistic terms, this book will be of great interest to scholars of religious studies, Hindu studies, and religion and literature, as well as academics with an interest in Indian culture.

Table of Contents

1 Introduction: Themes, Theories, and Trajectories

2 Place: Caste, Colonialism, and Reforms in Kerala (1870–1924)

3 Person: Mahākavi Kumāran Āśān (1873-1924)

4 Poetics of Devotion: Bhakti as Devotion

5 Poetics of Reform: Bhakti as a Movement

6 Conclusion

 

Appendix 1: Transliterations of Malayāḷam Poems

Appendix 2: Translation of Naḷini or Oru Snēham (1911)

About the Author

George Pati holds the Surjit S. Patheja Chair in World Religions and Ethics and is Associate Professor of Theology and International Studies at Valparaiso University, USA. His research interests include religious literature in the Malayalam language, South Asian devotional traditions, and the mediation of Hindu devotion through texts, rituals, and performances of Kerala, South India.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LIT008020
LITERARY CRITICISM / Asian / Indic
REL000000
RELIGION / General
REL022000
RELIGION / Devotional
REL032000
RELIGION / Hinduism / General
REL032030
RELIGION / Hinduism / Sacred Writings
REL084000
RELIGION / Religion, Politics & State
SOC039000
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology of Religion