Theses Doctoral

Garland of devotees: Nābhādās' Bhaktamāl and modern Hinduism

Hare, James P.

This dissertation explores the Bhaktamāl and its subsequent tradition. Nābhādās' late sixteenth- or early seventeenth-century collection of hagiographies praises the qualities of hundreds of devotees and thereby sets the boundaries of a devotional community that far exceeds the sectarian context in which its author wrote. By closely considering the Bhaktamāl, its commentaries, manuscripts, and print editions, this thesis traces crucial aspects of the development of modern Hinduism from the early seventeenth century until the beginning of the twentieth. Priyādās completed the first major commentary on the Bhaktamāl in 1712, approximately a century after Nābhādās composed his garland. Priyādās presents a conception of the Vaishnava community that differs significantly from Nābhādās'. After Priyādās, the Bhaktamāl tradition continued to develop through a thriving manuscript culture, and the Bhaktamāl became a popular text. During the nineteenth century, the Bhaktamāl shaped British understandings of Indian society and played a central role in traditionalist articulations of modern Hinduism. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the concerted efforts of "Sītārāmśaraṇ" Bhagvān Prasād "Rūpkalā" and George Abraham Grierson helped to create a sense of fixity within the Bhaktamāl tradition. Since the time of its composition, the Bhaktamāl has remained a prominent locus of dispute over the boundaries and logic of the broad-based devotional community that we now know as Hinduism.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Hawley, John Stratton
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
March 11, 2011


Ph.D., Columbia University.