Bhakti and Power

Debating India's Religion of the Heart

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John S. Hawley, Christian Novetzke, Swapna Sharma
Global South Asia
  • Seattle, WA: 
    University of Washington Press
    , April
     272 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.
Review coming soon!

Review by Jackson Stephenson forthcoming.


Bhakti, a term ubiquitous in the religious life of South Asia, has meanings that shift dramatically according to context and sentiment. Sometimes translated as “personal devotion,” bhakti nonetheless implies and fosters public interaction. It is often associated with the marginalized voices of women and lower castes, yet it has also played a role in perpetuating injustice. Barriers have been torn down in the name of bhakti, while others have been built simultaneously.

Bhakti and Power provides an accessible entry into key debates around issues such as these, presenting voices and vignettes from the sixth century to the present and from many parts of India’s cultural landscape. Written by a wide range of engaged scholars, this volume showcases one of the most influential concepts in Indian history—still a major force in the present day.

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

John Stratton Hawley is Claire Tow Professor of Religion at Barnard College, Columbia University. He is the author of A Storm of Songs: India and the Idea of the Bhakti Movement.

Christian Lee Novetzke is Professor of South Asian Studies and Comparative Religion at the Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington. He is the author of The Quotidian Revolution: Vernacularization, Religion, and the Premodern Public Sphere in India.

Swapna Sharma is Senior Lecturer in Hindi at Yale University. 


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