Re-Viewing the Janamsakhis: The Problem of "Hagiography"

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Old 18-Aug-2013
Yaar Punjabi
Re-Viewing the Janamsakhis: The Problem of "Hagiography"

Simran Jeet Singh is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Religion at Columbia University. His interests span devotional traditions of early modern South Asia and his dissertation research focuses specifically on the life and memory of Guru Nanak as recorded in the Puratan Janamsakhis. Simran received his B.A. from Trinity University, an M.T.S. from Harvard Divinity School, and an M.A. and an M.Phil. from Columbia University.

This paper interrogates the assumption that the biographical writing related to the life of Guru Nanak could be aptly categorized as hagiography. I will illustrate various problems with applying this non-native genre to traditions of biographical writing in early modern South Asia, including the ways in which this understanding has affected the ways in which we think about history, literature, and religion. I am particularly interested in drawing out the ways in which this frame relates to the placement of Guru Nanak within the grouping of sants. I expect that this basic approach will figure in prominently within my own dissertation work. My paper will also aim to review secondary scholarship to understand the ways in which "hagiography" has been used to understand janamsakhis. I hope to demonstrate that this particular category has remained too ambiguous and broad to perform analytical work, and I expect to find that the widely applied category of hagiography creates more problems than it solves. This demonstration will be especially important to my larger project of constructing a new and more nuanced approach for understanding early Sikh biographical writing. By Simran jeet Singh

R and P section is closed.So i have to make this thread here..

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