Avindha or Govinda? Competing narrative claims in the tradition of an Indian holy man

Monday, April 28, 2014
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm, Bunche Hall Meeting Room - 10383

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Free and open to the public. Please RSVP.


Center for India and South Asia
(310) 206-2654



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Indian holy men have been researched from many angles. This paper discusses how the traditions associated with a Muslim Maharashtrian holy man, who has become an iconic figure within the mainstream regional bhakti cult, are variously interpreted by his descendants, followers and researchers.

By comparing and analyzing competing narratives, practices and social claims that historically developed around Mahammadbaba from Shrigonda, the paper argues that the complex articulations of Baba’s personality and teachings do not fit into the communal and simplifying classifications of India’s holy figures associated with Indian modernity.

Further, such categories become problematic for his own descendants when they find it necessary to understand their ancestor according to these classifications. It also argues that the processes of recording the tradition substantially participate in its change and to considerable extent also in its invention.

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