Divided into four sections--North, South, East, and West--this anthology maps Bhakti literature from 100 BCE to the 20th century. Including a wide range of writings-from early poems to Siva, Alvar poets, Virashaiva poets, Varkaris, and Vaishnava poetry, to Panjabi songs, Bauls of Bengal, and Bengali Shakta lyrics-the anthology roughly sketches the four geographical compassDivided into four sections--North, South, East, and West--this anthology maps Bhakti literature from 100 BCE to the 20th century. Including a wide range of writings-from early poems to Siva, Alvar poets, Virashaiva poets, Varkaris, and Vaishnava poetry, to Panjabi songs, Bauls of Bengal, and Bengali Shakta lyrics-the anthology roughly sketches the four geographical compass points in terms of the significant sub-genres of Bhakti poetry associated with these regions. Apart from acclaimed poets such as Tukaram, Kabir, Mirabai, Tulsidas, Vidyapati, and Chandidas, the volume also includes works by some of the earliest practitioners like Tipputtolar (ca. 100 BCE-250 CE), Nakkirar (ca. 6th c.), and Mannikavacakar (9th c.). It also includes works of some later poets like Namdev (1270-1350), Rami (ca. 1440), and Dhurjati (16th c.) as well as more contemporary practitioners like Ramprasad Sen (1718-1775), Kamalakanta Bhattacarya (ca. 1769-1821), and Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941). The poems, originally written in various vernacular lanaguges, have been translated by past masters like A.K. Ramanujan, as well as well-known practitioners like Vidya Dehejia, Susan Daniels, William J. Jackson, Dilip Chitre, Ananda Coomaraswamy, among others. With a detailed Introduction by Andrew Schelling, this volume has perceptive notes for poets and translators that provide valuable insights to their work. A special appendix Statements on Poetry adds special feature of this volume. With a glossary providing meaning to Sanskrit terms, and a bibliography, this volume gives a comprehensive view of the Bhakti movement....
|Title||:||The Oxford Anthology of Bhakti Literature|
|Number of Pages||:||273 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
The Oxford Anthology of Bhakti Literature Reviews
Gosh, I love the cover design, which is quite striking. This is a well researched book with a great bibliography, glossary, and list of translators. What a treasure. One "problem" is that just as you're settling in with the voice of a poet you're escorted on to the next. :(I made some wrong assumptions about this book based on the title. First, I read "Literature" in the title to mean books. Actually, the word refers to poetry. My mistake, but no problem, I love poetry and was excited to be able to look at an anthology of ancient bhakti poetry. Thank you, Mr. Schelling!The second problem, however, is that bhakti has been loosely defined by the editor. This is an inevitable result for someone looking in at a complex tradition from the outside, as is usually the case for academics. In the Introduction the editor rightly points out that scholars track bhakti's origins to the Svetasvatara Upanisad, Bhagavad Gita, Bhagavata Purana and other texts about bhakti yoga. It should be noted that all these texts are Krishna bhakti texts. This is because bhakti originates from Krishna and bhakti yoga holds Krishna as its goal. In other words, bhakti is the yoga of devotion for Krishna; it isn't devotion for any or all demigods of Indian: and the lovely picture on the cover suggests as much.The confusion is understandable. Bhakti, loving devotion, exists in all traditions of India and around the world. But when we use the word bhakti to define our book and it's focused on Indian poets, there is a natural expectation that the poets and singers wouldn't just "fit the profile of bhakti" as the editor writes. What is the profile of bhakti if not that they are bhakti yogis, or followers of Krishna?That said bhakti texts identify Siva as a manifestation of Krishna so including poems to Siva is acceptable and I was moved by the early Tamil poems to Siva. And since Shakta is Siva's wife and they work together on the administration of the material world, in service to the Divine, we can also include poems to Devi here, no problem.However, I began to disagree strongly with Mr. Schelling on his choice to include Rami/Ramoni, but especially his statement that her poem can be "seen in the light of bhakti." Her poem has nothing to do with devotional love, but her feelings for Chandidas. Therefore hers is not a bhakti poem but a love poem. And here is where I found the biggest rub and left off serious reading when I saw the next chapter was by Bauls of Bengal, who are notorious for confusing carnal lust with spiritual love and created havoc in society by doing so by having affairs with women, many married, and calling it a spiritual path.Bhakti is not love as we know it. It is the spiritual love the soul has for her Divine Source. When we conflate lust with spiritual love the we do harm to bhakti, the poetry, and the tradition. Sexual love is not bhakti and bhakti is not mundane sexual love. The self has nothing to do with the temporal material body and its pushings. And because this distinction is not laid out clearly according to the source Bhakti texts themselves, even the actual bhakti poems have become tainted by mundane feeling. While Mr. Schelling has spent much time to make a presentation, a great disservice has been done. If the reader can educate themselves and understand bhakti proper, then these poems can take on new light and give true spiritual sustenance. If not, and the reader thinks that ordinary sex is bhakti, they will completely lose the power and possibilities of bhakti, and the path that many of these poets, singers, and other saints have given their lives for is obscured and irrelevant.
It's useful, particularly for the beginner. Some sections eg on the Bauls, brought to my attention poetry which I had been only peripherally conscious of. However the introductions and the quality of criticism could be improved. It certainly doesn't measure up to A K Ramanujan's brilliant essays or Linda Hess on Kabir.