South Asian 123: Religion in Medieval India: Devotional (Bhakti) Literature of South Asia

Category: South Asian
Course #: 30254
Units: 4
Times and Locations:

TuTh 11 am-12:30 pm

2030 VLSB

This course will introduce students to the rich heritage of devotional literature in pre- and early modern South Asia, often referred to as Bhakti. This course will include examples from medieval India as well as from many languages and regions, an area that encompasses modern-day India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Bangladesh. Our focus will be the medieval and early modern periods, and the devotional literature composed in the South Asian languages. The characteristic feature of Bhakti is an intense, passionate relationship with the divine. Additionally, Bhakti enabled a disregard for social conventions, such as duty to family, rituals, caste, gender, and normative economic and political values. Bhakti also often provided a vehicle for the outlet of social and economic discontent. In this course students will explore such questions as what makes literature devotional? How does this literature embody encounters between different cultural, religious, and aesthetic traditions? How has this body of literature been read from both secular and sacred perspectives? How does devotional literature contribute to the construction of religious identity and community? How have medieval literary traditions in South Asia been appropriated for modern uses such as nation-building?