The landscape of North Indian religion was dramatically transformed in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries by a remarkable family of poet-saints. Among the most famous and beloved of these figures-in India and throughout the world-are Mirabai, Surdas, and Kabir. In this book, John Stratton Hawley takes a probing look at all three, finding that many of the beliefs and legends surrounding them-even central motifs-emerged long after their deaths. This volume probes the lives, works, beliefs, and legends of three Bhakti poets-Mirabai, Surdas, and Kabir. Analysing the oldest manuscripts across North India, Hawley describes how these poets were heard and perceived in their own day and reveals startling facts about them. Hawley shows that these poets are, surprisingly, creations of those who have loved them through the centuries. Weaving in some sixty-five English verse translations, most of them based on early manuscripts, Hawley tells this fascinating story of change and transmission. The new preface updates the research on the field.
This book will interest students and scholars of religious studies, medieval Indian history, and informed general readers.