Female Saints, Bhakti Thought, and the Idea of India

3:00–8:00 pm
UChicago Center in Delhi


Contemporary discussions on morality, ethics, and the role of the individual in society have led to a renewed interest in the literature and life stories of saints of the so-called “bhakti movement” that spread across the Indian subcontinent in the late medieval and early modern period (and that continues to shape devotional culture in South Asia today). Of particular interest are the poetry and life stories of female saints like Antal, Annamaya, Sahajobai, and Mirabai: how can (or should) we “read” their poetry and lives as documents of resistance, strategies of subversion, or attempts to establish alternative moral and ethical structures and authority? What does it mean to listen to the words of these and other saints within the context of their own times, and what does it mean to listen to (and repeat) them in our own? This event featured discussions on these and related questions by scholars from Delhi University, Jawaharlal Nehru University, and the University of Chicago, and also featured musical and dramatic presentations of the poetry and life stories of several female bhakti saints. 

Medha, Delhi University
Anamika, Delhi University
Punam Kumari, Jawaharlal Nehru University

Performances by:
Medha, Delhi University
Prabhjot Singh “Prabhu”, Himachal Pradesh
Madhusudan Baul, West Bengal
Bhaktiversity Theatre Group (Atul Singh, Organizer)

This event was held in collaboration with Bhaktiversity and UChicago Center in Delhi.