Hindi Religious Traditions

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HINDI RELIGIOUS TRADITIONS . Forty percent of India's billion-strong population speaks some form of Hindi as a first language, with the great concentration extending across north India from Rajasthan in the west to Bihar in the east. Urdu, Hindi's sister tongue, is spoken by tens of millions more, and is distinguished from Hindi chiefly by its preference for expressions derived from Persian and Arabic. Urdu is a tongue with Muslim associations, while Hindi has a Hindu flavor that is intensified by vocabulary adopted directly from Sanskrit. The membrane between the two languages is by no means impermeable, however, and the religious situation is similar: many of the practices surrounding Muslim holy men (pir s), for example, closely resemble those associated with their Hindu counterparts (gurūs, sant s, etc.).

Hindi speakers, who see themselves as occupying the geographic center of Hindu culturewhat in earlier times was called the Middle Country (Madhyadeśa), where Aryan culture in India flourishedoften suppose that regional distinctiveness is something characterizing other areas of the subcontinent more than their own. Local and regional identities are indeed strong in India, even within the Hindi-speaking area; nonetheless, there is a core of religious literature and tradition that sets the Hindi region apart from other areas of India and makes it possible for people whose personal religious emphases vary widely to communicate as members of a single, if large and complex, family.

The Bhakti Core

This core is defined by a corpus of devotional (bhakti) poetry generated from the fifteenth to the seventeenth centuries and associated with such names as Kabīr, Mīrā Bāī, Sūrdās, Tulsīdās, and Nānak. In the compositions of these singer-saints and others contemporary with them, various dialects of Hindi came into their own as media suitable for religious expression. Doubtless, earlier poetry also served as the focus for popular piety, but it seems to have remained largely oral; what survives in writing from the fourteenth and earlier centuries is largely in the nature of epic and romance, touching only obliquely on matters of faith. With but a few exceptions, religious texts apparently remained the province of those versed in Sanskrit and the Jain Prakrits: if there were vernacular texts, they have now been lost.

A written tradition of religious literature in the vernacular began to build in the fifteenth century with adaptations of the great Sanskrit epics, the Mahābhārata and the Rāmāyaa. The earliest were composed by Viudās at the court of Gwalior in 1435(?) and 1442. A century and a half later writers began giving vernacular form to the Sanskrit Bhāgavata Purāa. The most prestigious medium of literary expression in the western Hindi regions was Braj Bhāā, the language spoken from Gwalior northward throughout the Braj region, where the god Ka is said to have spent his youth. To the east, an alternate tradition held sway: Avadhi, the dialect spoken in Avadh, the natal region of the divine king Rāma. Avadhi too played host to vernacular adaptations of Sanskrit works, by far the most influential among them being the Rāmcaritmānas (Spiritual lake of the deeds of Rāma) of Tulsīdās, composed toward the end of the sixteenth century. A third major linguistic strand in the religious literature of medieval north India is less regional in character and less associated with myth and legend than either Braj Bhāā or Avadhi. Because it apparently had its home in a marketplace environment that made it accessible to Hindi speakers of various classes and regions, it typically contains a great mixture of dialectal forms and varies according to where it was spoken. Such language, which sometimes comes tolerably close to the khaī bolī that is the basis of modern standard Hindi, is difficult to describe, but insofar as it was productive of a religious literature it is often simply called sādhukkaī bhāā, "what holy men speak." In sādhukkaī bhāā the events of daily life and personal experience play an important role.

Anthologies of vernacular religious poetry, extant examples of which date back to the end of the sixteenth century, can be found in each of these three dialects; often an anthology contains more than one. Collections as different as the massive Kartārpur Pothī compiled at the time of Guru Arjun (1604) and the much smaller anthologies prepared for individual merchants or princes suggest by their linguistically diverse contents that songs composed as far west as the Punjab and as far east as Bihar could be considered part of a single network.

Within this overarching tradition, a more or less distinct thematic milieu is associated with each of the three major dialects. Much of the religious poetry in Braj Bhāā is devoted to Ka; Rāma is often addressed and described in Avadhi; and in sādhukkaī bhāā one finds a mixed agenda appropriate to the multiformity of the language: important traces of devotion to Śiva and Śakti, for example, sometimes lurk behind a predominantly Vaiava facade. Sūrdās, Nanddas, and a host of other poets native to the Braj region composed their Ka lyrics naturally enough in Braj Bhāā, as did Tulsīdās when he wrote his Śrīkagītāvalī (A series of songs to Ka); Mīrā Bāī, traditionally understood to have been a princess of Rajasthan, seems often to have done the same. Braj Bhāā was also deemed appropriate as a medium for the praise of Rāma, but when Tulsīdās began crafting his epical Rāmcaritmānas, Avadhi presented itself as a ready tool. Avadhi had already established itself as a fit vehicle for epic or elegiac themes such as those that fill the story of Rāma, and in a similar way Braj Bhāā, through its identification with the amorous Ka, came to be seen as the most graceful medium for love poetry in Hindi. Sādhukkaī bhāā, associated especially with such figures as Gorakhnāth, Kabīr, Ravidās, and Dādū, expressed its eclectic character in anthologies of poetry associated with the sant tradition, those "good folk" who preached allegiance to no particular form of God other than that transmitted through the charisma of one's gurū. In the language of sant s such as Kabīr, the designation Rāma had less to do with the avatāra of Viu who was an exemplary king bearing that name than with the totality of the divine presence.

Historians of Hindi literature have usually accepted a tripartite linguistic and theological division in categorizing medieval devotional poetry. They typically present the first two as divergent expressions of sagua bhakti the Kriaite and the Rāmaiteand the last as nirgua bhakti. According to the sagua ("with qualities") persuasion, God can appropriately be worshiped through divine attributes and forms that make themselves felt in the phenomenal world, hence through myth and image. According to the nirgua ("without qualities") persuasion, the purpose of the religious life is to discard such earthbound symbols and attain a purer apprehension of the divine; this teaching is at the heart of the message of poets such as Kabīr and Nānak.

To overemphasize this tripartite taxonomy, however, is to ignore what binds together this whole array of poet-saints and all who venerate their names. Tradition has recognized these ties by affirming a series of connectionsimagined or otherwisebetween individual saints. To an extent these links reaffirm the individual dialects and religious traditions to which this article has referred, but they also create confluences between them that have a tendency to draw the group into a single stream. In sant poetry, some of these ties are claimed in verses attributed to the saints themselves: Ravidās makes mention of Nāmdev and Kabīr; Dādū adds Ravidās's name to the list; and Eknāth and Tukārām, the Maharashtrian poet-saints, in turn acknowledge Dādū. Other connections emerge in hagiologies as old as the Bhaktamāl of Nābhādās (c. 1625) and the Caurāsī vaiavan kī vārtā (c. 1650) attributed in its final form to Gokulnāth. The former depicts Kabīr, Ravidās, and Pīpā as pupils of a common gurū, Rāmānand, and the latter draws the catholic Sūrdās into a chain of sectarian poets such as Kadās and Khumbhandās, who were pupils of Vallabha. Other relationships seem to have been postulated later on, such as the tradition that Nānak met Kabīr, that Tulsīdās encountered Sūrdās, or that Mīrā Bāī embraced Ravidās as her gurū. And repeated patterns in the biographies of poet-saints on both sides of the nirgua-sagua linea miraculous and undesired access to wealth, for exampledraw these figures into even closer proximity.

Such associations at the level of hagiography echo others that figure in the poetry itself. For all their differences of perspective, the bhakti poets seem united in their conviction that one must cultivate personal experience as a way to approach God; hence they downplay and often ridicule the preoccupations of ritual religion. Furthermore, all the bhakti poets, with the occasional exception of Tulsīdās, seem to consider both sexes and all strata of society as potentially worthy devotees. Finally, they share a common mode of discourse. Poets as different as Sūrdās, with his tender affection for Ka as a child, and Kabīr, with his predilection for trenchant social criticism, unite in dedicating a significant proportion of their creative efforts to poems in the vinaya ("humble petition") genre. These songs of petition and complaint are occasioned primarily by the experience of being separated from God (viraha ), and although the desire to see God (to have darśan, "sight") may seem natural from a sagua perspective such as Sūr's or Tulsī's, one also encounters it in poems attributed to Kabīr and Nānak. Indeed, these twin themes of viraha and darśan are persistent in bhakti poetry throughout the subcontinent.

The Preservation of the Tradition

It is a measure of the extent to which the bhakti poets of the Hindi area define a regional sensibility that their works have become important elements in curricula used in the early twenty-first century in the public schools of north India. But the religious impact of the poets is felt even more keenly outside the classroom.


Every autumn, in the period surrounding the festival of Daśahrā or Vijayamadaśamī, when Rāma's victory over the demon Rāvaa is celebrated, Tulsīdās's Rāmcaritmānas becomes the basis for dramas (rāma līlā s) depicting salient events in the life of Rāma. The most famous of these rāma līlā s is performed on the grounds of the palace of the maharaja of Banaras and extends over a period of thirty-one days, drawing pilgrims from far and wide; equally well-attended rāma līlā s are celebrated in cities and towns wherever Hindi is spoken. In a similar way, the weeks leading up to Ka's birthday Ka Janmāamī, which comes in August or September in the monsoon season, witness the performance of verses by Sūrdās and other Braj Bhāā poets in musical dramas depicting the life of Ka, particularly his childhood and youth. These rāsa līlā s emanate from the Braj region, which is a great center of pilgrimage, especially during the rainy months of Śrāva and Bhādrapad.

Though the Rāmcaritmānas typically becomes the basis for large public performances only in autumn, it serves as the focus of private devotions all year round: often individuals and religious associations engage brahmans to chant it uninterruptedly from start to finish, or do so themselves. Likewise, one can sing the songs of Ka in devotional groups at any time. Indeed, such bhajan ("singing") groups provide much of the informal religious life with which Indian villages and cities pulse. The Indian film industrywhose primary medium is Hindihas adopted many traditional bhajan s into its films, making them familiar not just in Hindi-speaking areas but throughout the country and beyond. It is difficult to say whether the public consciousness of religious literature in Hindi is now shaped more by schoolbooks and cheap religious pamphlets, by performers and itinerant preachers, or by the many films depicting religious themes, or again by a television series such as Rāmānand Sāgar's hugely successful Rāmāya (19871988), which was principally based on the Rāmcaritmānas and is available worldwide on cassette.

Communities and orders

Much of the religious life of north India over the past half millennium has been defined by the religious communities, both householder and ascetic, that were established to channel the religious fervor of the medieval period. These provide access to the bhakti tradition in both its sagua and nirgua modes, with the Gauīya, Vallabha, Nimbārka, Haridāsī, and Rādhāvallabha sampradāya s ("sectarian traditions") devoted primarily to Ka; the Rāmānandī order devoted especially to Rāma; and the Kabīr, Ravidāsī, Dādū, and Sikh Panths spreading the message of the sant s.

Among the Kaite groups, the most influential have probably been the Gauīya and Vallabha sampradāya s. The former looks to the ecstatic saint Caitanya (14861533) as its foundera Bengali who established temple and monastic lineages not only in his native region but in Braj and Orissa as well. The Caitanyaite influence on Braj has undoubtedly had much to do with elevating the worship of Rādhā, Ka's favorite among his milkmaid loves (gopī s), to a status almost on a par with his own: she is his consort, consubstantial with him. Other lineages that have their centers in Braj (the Rādhāvallabha, Haridāsī, and Nimbārka sampradāya s) share in this adulation of Rādhā, which finds expression in the poetry of such saints as Hit Harivaś, Haridās, and Vindāvandās.

The Vallabha Sampradāya, which traces its history to the sixteenth-century theologian Vallabhācārya, appears to have attained institutional definition somewhat later than the Gauīya Sampradāya, but was very successful in doing so. Though patronized early in its history by Mughal rulers, it was forced to flee the Braj area during the period when Aurangzeb occupied the throne; it transferred its center to Nāthdvārā in western Rajasthan. Partially in consequence of the proximity of Nāthdvārā to the west, Gujaratis have become among the most influential devotees in the Vallabhite fold, and their mercantile connections make them an important force across North India. Vallabha, in sympathy with the general sensibilities of the bhakti movement, questioned the propriety of clerical and monastic institutions, feeling that true faith admitted of no boundaries between religious specialists and ordinary people. Vallabha's progeny, however, developed a ritual style sufficiently elaborate, and a following sufficiently prosperous, to transform their homes into grand temples possessing some of the most detailed ceremonial traditions in all of Hinduism. One of the salient aspects of this style is its careful attention to hymnody: through dhrupad (a style of classical music) the Sampradāya has preserved a tradition of performing bhakti poetry that is otherwise obsolete in modern India.

Membership in both the Gauīya and the Vallabha sampradāya s involves initiation at the hands of one of their spiritual leaders. Such initiation is open on an ascriptive basis to anyone who seeks it, though family traditions usually determine the teaching heritage with which a person becomes allied. Another restriction pertains to social status. Normally, membership in these communities in confined to members of caste society; Dalits (formerly "Untouchables"), despite the thrust of some bhakti teachings, are usually not welcomed and do not seek to belong.

Membership patterns are significantly different among communities whose allegiance is to the nirgua side of the bhakti tradition. The theological emphasis on turning away from particular characteristics and forms attributed to God appears to go hand in hand with questioning the legitimacy of similar distinctions in society. Among nirgua poets, Kabīr and Ravidās made especially sharp comments about caste, owing in part, no doubt, to their own humble origins; the communities that have formed in their names continue to appeal to a largely lower-caste clientele. With Ravidās this is overwhelmingly true: over the past centuryparticularly in the Punjab but now elsewhere as wellhis name has served as a rallying point for communal pride among the camār (leatherworking) caste to which he belonged. Ravidās temples, educational institutions, and community centers have been established, and poetry ascribed to him serves as an essential component of Ravidāsī teaching. The institutional heritage of Kabīr, the Kabīr Panth, is more complex and wide-ranging, embracing both monastic institutions and lay groups. It extends from a center in Kabīr's own city, Banaras, eastward into Bihar, and as far west as Gujarat. Although the Kabīr Panth has a predominantly lower-caste membership, merchant castes also play an important role, particularly in the Dharmadāsī branch.

Mercantile castes have exercised an even greater influence over the development of the Sikh Panth, the community that traces its origins to Nānak, since each of its ten gurūs, including Nānak himself, belonged to merchant (khatrī ) families. The Sikh community is by no means restricted to khatrī s, however, and its leadership has been shared at least equally by the Punjabi farming and landowning caste called jā. Whereas Kabīr and Ravidās groups often revere their gurūs in image form, ensconcing them at the center of their ritual lives, the Sikh community has, at least since the time of the tenth gurū, eschewed any such practice. In Sikh worship, the functions that otherwise would cluster around an image or gurū are diverted to a bookthe bhakti anthology that took shape in the Goindvāl Pothīs and ultimately emerged as the di Granth. For that reason the di Granth is referred to as a gurū in its own right, the Gurū Granth Sāhib. Through it, Sikhs come in daily contact with the words of the nirgua bhakti saints who stand at the fountainhead of their tradition.

Each of the communities mentioned so far, with the possible exception of the Ravidāsīs, can trace its origins directly to the medieval bhakti period, sometimes claiming an individual poet as its founder. But the bhakti heritage extends as well to groups whose institutional associations with the medieval saints are harder to establish. Prominent among these is the Radhasoami Satsang, a nirgua tradition that came into focus in the mid-nineteenth century and has since splintered into a number of gurū -centered communities, some with a sizable international constituency. Radhasoami is quite influential in North Indian life: many government bureaucrats count themselves members; its publications are numerous; and when large convocations are held at its center in Beas, Punjab, hundreds of thousands of pilgrims attend. Radhasoami's history features the establishment of several visionary communities, such as the one at Beas, part of whose impetus was to leave behind the encumbrances of caste as members gathered to lead a common life in the presence of a living gurū. Curiously, this seemingly plain-spoken egalitarian message from the bhakti tradition went hand in hand with an esoteric interpretation of other bhakti themes: the traditional importance of listening to the truth within, for example, was transmuted into a doctrine of the gurū as the incarnation of an eternal sound-current. When one seeks the roots of this kind of thinking, one is drawn back, through the Dharmadāsī branch of the Kabīr Panth, to the apotheosis of Kabīr himself as a primordial, supernatural force. Here, as in other aspects of the nirgua bhakti tradition, the demythologizing fervor that was expressed in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries seems to have created a vacuum that was filled by remythologizing later on.

Hindi Traditions in a Larger Perspective

To sketch the religious traditions that have Hindi as their linguistic medium is scarcely to portray the full dimensions of the religious life of Hindus resident in North India. This article has said little about rituals pertaining to days, weeks, months, years, or the life cycle; about the panoply of religious specialists from brahmans to curers to ascetics; about the pantheon revered in various areas; about temple architecture and practice; or about how one's experience of religion is conditioned by one's sex, age, or position in the caste hierarchy, one's urban or rural locale, or one's proximity to a major religious center. Often, one or another of these factors affects patterns of individual piety more profoundly than the specifically "Hindi" traditions discussed here, and often what matters most does not hold constant across the whole Hindi region or the entire social spectrum. In the Hindi area as elsewhere, Hinduism resists easy generalizations. One can, however, point to certain motifs that seem particularly significant in North Indian religion, as contrasted with other areas of the subcontinent.

In the realm of ritual, for example, one might observe that it is somewhat more acceptable in North India than elsewhere for a young man to take on the sacred thread just prior to his marriage; elsewhere, there is greater insistence on keeping these two major rites of the life cycle separate and distinct. As for festivals, Holī, the spring first-fruits celebration that falls in March or April, assumes a bacchanalian intensity one might more easily associate with Gaeśa Caturthī in Maharashtra or Dūrgā Pujā in Bengal. Among religious specialists, one might mention the historically formative role played by the iconoclastic Nāth order, with its mixed ascetic and householder membership. The Nāth Sampradāya, which regards Gorakhnāth (c. eleventh century?) as its most important preceptor, was particularly influential in laying the basis for the sant tradition as it spread across North India in the early medieval centuries. It is associated with a particular form of yoga that assumed the potential immortality of all and questioned the efficacy of traditional forms of temple and Brahmanic ritual.

This discussion has already touched on several points relating to the pantheon, but it might be stressed in addition that while all of India has tended in recent centuries to foreshorten the distance between the great and local gods by focusing increased attention on intermediary figures such as the elephant divinity Gaeśa, North India has led the way in expanding the significance of his monkey cousin, Hanumān. In Hanumān, servant of Rāma, superhuman strength and superhuman devotion unite, making this god the very personification of efficacious bhakti ; at the same time, he remains peculiarly accessible and unthreatening because he belongs to a subhuman species. The Hanumān cālīsā (nineteenth century?), dedicated to him, is one of the most frequently recited texts in North India, and many Hindi speakers turn first to the monkey god in times of peril and stress.

Like all of India's major regions, North India has its own set of pilgrimage places: Pukar and Nāthdvārā in Rajasthan; Badrināth and Gagotrī in the Himalayas; Mathurā and Vndāvana in Braj; Ayodhyā in Avadh; and Hardvar, Prayāga, Banaras, and Gayā stretching along the Ganges from west to east. What is striking about several of these places, howevercertainly Vndāvana, Prayāga, Ayodhyā, and Banarasis that they attract pilgrims not merely from the Hindi-speaking regions but from all over India. Three among theseVndāvana, Ayodhyā, and Banarasgain their national reputation because they are perceived as the homes, the primary residences, of three great gods in the pantheon: Ka, Rāma, and Śiva. Banaras benefits additionally from its special association with the Ganges, holiest of India's waters; the Jumna (Yamunā), sister to the Ganges and for Hindus a goddess like her, contributes to the status of Vndāvana. Prayāga owes its special sanctity to the fact that it marks the confluence of these two rivers; every twelve years it plays host to the most populous of all Hindu festivals, the Kumbha Melā. Participants in the Kumbha Melā come from all corners of the subcontinent to bathe in the confluence of the Ganges, the Jumna, and the invisible Sarasvatī at the auspicious moment when the sun passes into the house of Aquarius; all caste groups, all major religious organizations, and all ascetic orders are represented.

The Kumbha Melā suggests what is perhaps the most distinctive feature of regional religion in the Hindi-speaking area: in some of its most important respects it is pan-Indian as well. One can find at Madurai "the Mathurā of the south" or in the Godavari a Ganges transposed to central India, but never the reverse; the songs of Mīrā Bāī are known all over India in a way that the Tamil lyrics of her south Indian counterpart āl can never be. The fact that Hindi rivals English as a lingua franca for modern India is not the only cause of the tendency among Hindi speakers to feel that the religion they practice somehow sets the Hindu paradigm; it is that history and mythology have made them before all others host to the gods. Ka and Rāma lived where they live, and when Śiva descended from the Himalayas to the plain, his feet first touched a place where Hindi is spoken. Successive invasions and movements of population have complicated and transformed the religious landscape of North India more than most areas of the subcontinent, but nothing can alter the Hindi region's special claim that the gods were there first.

See Also

di Granth; Banaras; Bhakti; Caitanya; Drama, article on Indian Dance and Dance Drama; Gorakhnāth; Holī; Kabīr; Ka; Kumbha Melā; Līlā; Mīrā Bāī; Nānak; Pilgrimage, article on Hindu Pilgrimage; Rādhā; Rāma; Sikhism; Śiva; Śri Vaiavas; Sūrdās; Tulsīdās; Vallabha; Vndāvana.


An excellent, up-to-date resource for the study of devotional literature in medieval Hindi dialects is Ronald Stuart McGregor's Hindi Literature from Its Beginnings to the Nineteenth Century (Wiesbaden, 1984). Parshuram Chaturvedi's compendious Uttarī Bhārata kī sant paramparā (Allahabad, 1964) provides a more ample but often less critical overview of saints and communities of the nirgua persuasion, and Prabhu Dayal Mital's Braj ke dharma-sampradāyõ kā itihās (Delhi, 1968) does the same for sagua traditions based in Braj. In regard to Avadhi and its Rāmaite traditions, one might mention Camille Bulcke's Rāma-kathā: utpati aur vikās (Allahabad, 1950) and a series of pioneering articles by Richard Burghart that explore topics relating to the Rāmānandī sect: "The Founding of the Ramanandi Sect," Ethnohistory 25 (Spring 1978): 121139; "Wandering Ascetics of the Rāmānandī Sect," History of Religions 22 (May 1983): 361380; and "The Disappearance and Reappearance of Janakpur," Kailash 6 (1978): 257284. The definitive study of performance traditions associated with Tulsīdās Rāmcaritmānas is Philip Lutgendorf's The Life of a Text (Berkeley, Calif., 1991), and a sense of the ūfī premākhyān tradition in Avadhi can be had in Aditya Behl and Simon Weightman's translation of Manjhan's Madhumālatī (Oxford, 2000).

For sectarian traditions associated with Tulsīdās, Sūrdās, Kabīr, Nānak, Mīrā Bāī, and other bhakti saints, see Richard K. Barz, The Bhakti Sect of Vallabhācārya (Faridabad, 1976); W. M. Callewaert and Bart Op de Beeck, Devotional Hindī Literature (Delhi, 1991); J. S. Hawley and Mark Juergensmeyer, Songs of the Saints of India (New York, 1987); Lucy L. Rosenstein, The Devotional Poetry of Svāmī Haridās (Groningen, 1997); Rupert Snell, The Eighty-Four Hymns of Hita Harivaśa (Delhi and London, 1991); Heidi Pauwels, In Praise of Holy Men (Groningen, 2003); Gurinder Singh Mann, The Making of Sikh Scripture (New York, 2001); Hew McLeod, Sikhism (London, 1997); Parita Mukta, Upholding the Common Life (Delhi, 1994); Linda Hess and Shukdev Singh, The Bījak of Kabir (San Francisco, 1983); David N. Lorenzen, Kabir Legends and Ananta-Das's Kabir Parachai (Albany, N. Y., 1991); J. S. Hawley, Sūr Dās: Poet, Singer, Saint (Seattle and Delhi, 1984); W. M. Callewaert and Peter Friedlander, The Life and Works of Raidās (Delhi, 1992); Alan W. Entwistle, Braj, Centre of Krishna Pilgrimage (Groningen, 1987); and W. L. Smith, Patterns in North Indian Hagiography (Stockholm, 2000). Radhasoami is described in Lawrence A. Babb, Redemptive Encounters (Berkeley, 1986) and Mark Juergensmeyer, Radhasoami Reality (Princeton, 1991), and the larger sant context emerges in Karine Schomer and W. H. McLeod, eds., The Sants (Berkeley and Delhi, 1987). David Gordon White analyzes the Nāth tradition in The Alchemical Body (Chicago, 1996).

A fine description of the religious universe of a village at the southeastern extremity of the Hindi-speaking region is Lawrence A. Babb's The Divine Hierarchy (New York, 1975); a complementary study of a village farther north is Susan Snow Wadley's Shakti: Power in the Conceptual Structure of Karimpur Religion (Chicago, 1975). The religion of Dalits in the Punjab, including their veneration of Ravidās, is the subject of Mark Juergensmeyer's Religion as Social Vision (Berkeley, 1982). The ambience of pilgrimage in Banaras (Varanasi) and Vndāvana is described in Diana L. Eck's Banaras: City of Light (New York, 1982) and my At Play with Krishna (Princeton, 1981). In Beyond Hindu and Muslim (New York, 2000), Peter Gottschalk describes the intersecting religious worlds of Muslims and Hindus in a village in Bihar.

John Stratton Hawley (1987 and 2005)