Panel on Akath at South Asia Conference

I am excited to share that there is a panel devoted to my book Akath Kahani Prem Ki at the 40th Annual Conference of South Asia at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, USA. The panel is called “Kabir in context: Purushottam Agrawal’s New Study”.  The panel will be chaired by Prof. Thomas Trautmann. Professors David Lorenzen, John S Hawley and Pashuara Singh will present papers. I will respond to the discussion.

From the conference website:

Purushottam Agrawal�s 2010 book, Akath kahani prem ki: kabir ki kavita aur unka samay [Love�s Untellable Story: Kabir�s Poetry and His Times], is the most important new study about Kabir since the 1974 publication of Charlotte Vaudeville�s book Kabir. The most obvious comparison is with H. P. Dvivedi�s path-breaking book, also titled Kabir, first published in 1942. Agrawal�s own English version of his book is expected to be published in 2011. Each paper in the panel will offer discussions of selected topics found in Agrawal�s work and will suggest ways in which his treatment of these topics could be extended or modified. David Lorenzen will offer a general review of Agrawal�s study and discuss in more detail Agrawal�s ideas the nature of the Kabir-bijak of the Kabir Panth and about the roles of Ramananda and Kabir in fostering an indigenous early modernity that was later aborted as a result of political changes taking place first in the Mughal Empire and then with the advent of British colonialism. Pashaura Singh will discuss Agrawal�s analysis of early collections of Kabir�s songs and verses in the Adi Granth and the Kabir-granthavali. Singh will pay particular attention to the selection process for Kabir�s compositions in the Adi Granth of the Sikhs and will discuss why some compositions were included in the early drafts of the Adi Granth but edited out of the final text. John Hawley will discuss three aspects of Agrawal�s study: first, his analysis of the creation of a Sanskrit Ramanand in the early twentieth century and its bearing on the historical relation between Kabir and Ramanand; second, the coherence of the Kabir corpus and the problem of the songs and verses written in Kabir�s name after his death; and third, the role of Kabir in creating a modern Hindu identity. Purushottam Agrawal himself will respond to these three papers and offer his views about what he regards as the most important contributions of Kabir to Hindi literature, to the importance of the early collections as well as later oral tradition, to the social and religious changes that took place in medieval and colonial India, and to the continuing changes that have been incurring since Independence.

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