Book / Bhakti Influences in Kumaran Asan’s Poetry

Pati, George. Religious Devotion and the Poetics of Reform: Love and Liberation in Malayalam Poetry. Abingdon, UK: Routledge, 2019.
eISBN 9781351103619 / 178 pages / USD 49.46

About the Book (edited): The poetry emanating from the Bhakti tradition of devotional love in India has been both a religious expression and a form of resistance to hierarchies of caste, gender, and colonialism. Some scholars have read this art form through the lens of resistance and reform, but others have responded that imposing an interpretive framework on these poems fails to appreciate their authentic expressions of devotion.

This book argues that these declarations of love and piety can simultaneously represent efforts towards emancipation at the spiritual, political, and social levels.
This book, through a close study of Nalini (1911), a Malayalam lyric poem, as well as other poems authored by Mahakavi Kumaran Asan (1873–1924), a low-caste poet, demonstrates how Asan employed a theme of love among humans during the modern period in Kerala that was grounded in the native South Indian Bhakti understanding of love of the deity.

Asan believed that personal religious freedom comes from devotion to the deity, and that love for humans must emanate from love of the deity. In showing how devotional religious expression also served as a resistance movement, this study provides new perspective on an understudied area of the colonial period.

Bringing to light an under-explored medium, in both religious and artistic terms, this book will be of great interest to scholars of religious studies, Hindu studies, and religion and literature, as well as academics with an interest in Indian culture.

Table of Contents
1. Introduction: Themes, Theories, and Trajectories

2. Place: Caste, Colonialism, and Reforms in Kerala (1870–1924)

3. Person: Mahakavi Kumaran Asan (1873–1924)

4. Poetics of Devotion: Bhakti as Devotion

5. Poetics of Reform: Bhakti as a Movement

6. Conclusion

Appendix 1: Transliterations of Malayalam Poems

Appendix 2: Translation of Nalini or Oru Sneham (1911)

About the Author: George Pati holds the Surjit S. Patheja Chair in World Religions and Ethics and is Associate Professor of Theology and International Studies at Valparaiso University, USA.

More info:

Reposted from Kerala Scholars eGroup

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *