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Dr. Martha Selby, Chair 120 INNER CAMPUS DR STOP G9300 WCH 4.134 78712-1251 • 512-471-5811

Fall 2009

ANS 372 • My Sweet Lord: Devotion in Medieval India

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
31165 TTh
9:30 AM-11:00 AM
MEZ 1.122

Course Description

This course will look at the various manifestations of devotional religion underlying north Indian culture. Our main focus will be on Hindu bhakti traditions which we will study by reading translations of devotional poetry in its historical and cultural context. The core of the syllabus will be the Vaishnava verse of such poets as Mirabai, Tulsidas and Surdas; traditions such as Sufism, Sikhism and the Sant movement will also be explored. Most of our sources will be selected from the pre-modern literatures of languages such as Hindi, Punjabi and Bengali, but our search for the roots of these literary traditions will also lead us back to Sanskrit texts such as the Bhagavata Purana and the Gitagovinda, and we will also look at seminal Alvar poetry from the Tamil culture of southern India. Major themes and issues will include: verse structure and poetics; literary genres; poetry & painting; hagiography; textual transmission & historicity; the translator's lens; "literature", literacy & orality; music, performance & recital styles; the sectarian milieu; and temple worship. We will also examine the three postulates of the course title: “MY” - the personal connection inherent in devotionalism; “SWEET” – the role of aesthetics and sentiment in devotional attitudes; and “LORD” – perceptions of divine majesty. Students with some knowledge of the religious and cultural “map” of India will be best positioned to benefit from this course. The essential prerequisite, however, is an energetic interest in the subject and a desire to study a wide range of primary literature.

Grading Policy

Participation in class discussion 20% Class presentation 20% Two essays @ 15% 30% Final exam 30%


Edwin F. Bryant, trans. Krishna: the beautiful legend of God (Srimad Bhagavata Purana, Book X). Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2004. J.S. Hawley, Three bhakti voices: Mirabai, Surdas, and Kabir in their time and ours. Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2005. Kabir The weaver's songs, trans. Vinay Dharwadker. Delhi: Penguin Books, 2003. Karine Schomer & W.H. McLeod, eds, The sants: studies in a devotional tradition of India. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1987.


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