City of Mirrors

Songs of Lalan Sai

Reddit icon
e-mail icon
Twitter icon
Facebook icon
Google icon
LinkedIn icon
Saymon Zakaria, Keith Cantú
Carol Salomon
South Asia Research
  • Oxford, England: 
    Oxford University Press
    , August
     648 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.
Review coming soon!

Review by Glen Hayes forthcoming.


Carol Salomon dedicated over thirty years of her life to researching, translating, and annotating this compilation of songs by the Bengali poet and mystical philosopher Lalan Sai (popularly transliterated as Lalon) who lived in the village of Cheuriya in Bengal in the latter half of the nineteenth century. One major objective of his lyrical riddles was to challenge the restrictions of cultural, political, and sexual identity, and his songs accordingly express a longing to understand humanity, its duties, and its ultimate destiny. His songs also contain thinly veiled references to esoteric yogic practices (sadhana), including body-centered Hathayogic techniques that are related to those found in Buddhist, Kaula, Natha, and Sufi medieval tantric literature. 

Dr. Salomon's translation of the work is the first dedicated English translation of Lalan's songs to closely follow the Bangla text, with all of its dialectical variations, and is here produced alongside the original text. Although her untimely death left her work unpublished, the editors have worked diligently to reconstruct her translations from her surviving printed and handwritten manuscripts. The result is a finished product that can finally share her groundbreaking scholarship on Baul traditions with the world.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Carol Salomon was, at the time of her death in 2009, senior lecturer in Bengali in the department of Asian Languages and Literature of the University of Washington.

Keith E. Cantú is a doctoral student in religious studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Saymon Zakaria is assistant director of the Bangla Academy. He has delivered academic lectures on language, literature, and culture at the University of Chicago, the University of Washington, the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, and the Sapientia-Hungarian University of Transylvania.

Add New Comment

Reading Religion welcomes comments from AAR members, and you may leave a comment below by logging in with your AAR Member ID and password. Please read our policy on commenting.

Log in to post comments