Voices of Dissent: Bhakti Poetry

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Discipline CoreSUS1EN2524

Semester and Year Offered: 3rd Semester, MS2016, MS2018

Course Coordinator and Team: Dr Usha Mudiganti, Prof. Gopal Ji Pradhan, Dr Mrityunjay and Dr Vaibhav

Email of course coordinator:usha[at]aud[dot]ac[dot]in

Pre-requisites: The student needs to be able to read, write and comprehend Hindi and English

Aim: This course will be transacted in English and Hindi. The course will introduce students to the bhakti tradition though poetry which spans centuries and will include poems from north to south and east to west. The term bhakti is used in its narrowest sense in today’s world where religion has come to play an all important part in personal and public life. The course will lead the student to understand that bhakti is also about questioning and dissent as much as it is about faith, love and ecstasy. In this course, poetic renderings of social transformations across centuries will be read while foregrounding the idea that bhakti literature is the source of modern literature in India. The course will look at different forms of bhakti and analyse the features on gender and caste lines. The course will highlight both the personal and political aspects of bhakti.

Course Outcomes:

  1. Develop critical sensibility and reflectivity towards self and society
  2. Gain relevant skills to build an academic argument
  3. Acquire the ability to critically read a range of poems translated from different times and regions


Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

  • Introduction: The bhakti traditions; major influences of the Bhakti traditions, debates in Hindi literature on bhakti traditions, language and literary creation in the Bhakti tradition, caste and bhakti in India and gender in the bhakti traditions.
  • Bhakti in South India: Selections from the Alvar poets, selected poems of Akkamahadevi,
  • Bhakti in Eastern India: Selections from Jaydev’s Geet Govind,
  • Bhakti in North India: Selections from the poems of Surdas, Kabir, Jaisi, Tulsi, Nanak and Lal Ded
  • Bhakti in Western India: Selected poems of Tukaram, Janabai, Chokahamela, Mirabai

Influence of Bhakti: Sufi and bhakti; the folk traditions and bhakti; modern renderings of bhakti

Assessment Details with weights:

  • Class test 20% (end August)
  • Mid semester 20% (end September/ early October)
  • Group Presentations 30% (Throughout October)
  • End semester 40% (as per AUD academic calendar)


Reading List:

Some poems from the following anthologies will be taken up for class discussions and a few others will be independently studied by students for their class presentations.

  • Chitre, Dilip. Says Tuka: Selected Poems of Tukaram. Mumbai: Poetrywala: 1991. Print.
  • Lal Ded Ranjit Hoskote. I, Lalla: The Poems of Lal Ded.New Delhi: Penguin Books, 2013. Print.
  • Nammalvar. Hymns for the Drowning. New Delhi: Penguin Books, 2005. Print.
  • Ramanujan, A.K. Ed. and Trans. Poems of Love and War. New Delhi: OUP, 2006. Print.
  • Trans. Speaking of Shiva. New Delhi: Penguin Books, 2000. Print.
  • Shivaprakash, H. S. Trans. I Keep Vigil of Rudra: The Vachanas. Gurgaon: Penguin, 2010. Print.
  • Subramaniam, Arundhati. Eating God: A Book of Bhakti Poetry. New Delhi:
  • Penguin Books, 2014. Print.
  • Schelling, Andrew. Ed. The Oxford Anthology of Bhakti Literature. USA: OUP,2011. Print. (Selections)
  • Tharu, Susie and Lalita, K. eds. Women Writing in India. Volume 1. 600 B.C to the Early Twentieth Century. New Delhi: OUP, 2012.
  • मनमोहनसिंह- सुंदरगुटका, गुरुनानकबानी, रणधीरप्रकाशन, हरिद्वार, 2009.
  • महीपसिंह- आदिग्रंथमेंसंग्रहीतसंतकवि, भारतीयज्ञानपीठ, दिल्ली, 2003
  • महीपसिंह- आदिग्रंथ, सांस्कृतिकऔरसामाजिकअध्ययन, राजपालएंडसन्स, दिल्ली, 2009
  • विद्यापति- डाक्टरशिवप्रसादसिंह, विद्यापति, लोकभारतीप्रकाशन, इलाहाबाद, 2008
  • आचार्यहजारीप्रसादद्विवेदी, कबीर, राजकमलप्रकाशन, दिल्ली, 2006
  • मध्यकालीनकाव्य, लोकभारतीप्रकाशन, 2010
  • गोस्वामीतुलसीदास, आचार्यरामचंद्रशुक्ल, प्रकाशनसंस्थान, दिल्ली, 2004
  • सूरदास, आचार्य रामचंद्रशुक्ल, प्रकाशनसंस्थान, दिल्ली