The Contemporary Life of Hindi Hagiography in Gujarat: Gender, Authority, and Devotion

Emilia Bachrach,
Elon University.

The Contemporary Life of Hindi Hagiography in Gujarat


This talk introduces the Pushtimarg, a Hindu tradition whose sectarian identity and devotional practices have developed in relationship with a distinct genre of Hindi prose hagiography. While steeped in the social world of late-medieval north India, these hagiographies continue to be read and reworked by contemporary devotees—including women, who are avid readers of the texts in India’s western state of Gujarat. Bachrach argues that by engaging with traditional techniques of exegesis, women have used the hagiographies as a medium for renegotiating not only the structure of devotional and familial relationships, but also the very structure of community leadership and the public identity of the Pushtimarg, both in India and abroad.