Singing to the Jinas

M. Whitney Kelting

Published in print August 2001 | ISBN: 9780195140118
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199834365 | DOI:
Singing to the Jinas

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This book draws upon 14 months of field research centered on devotional singing and Svetambar Jain laywomen's religiosity in Pune, Maharashtra. These women balance their lives between received ideals of womanhood (Jain, Gujarati, Indian, middle‐class) and their own personal understandings of what it means to be a good Jain. This book argues that the Jain laywomen's theologies are developed in the practice and performance of Jain hymn singing. The devotional songs articulate theology through their lyrics and through the contexts in which each is sung, which reflects the women's interpretations of these contexts and songs. The performance contexts were chosen according to theological and musicological appropriateness and prepared performance patterns were broken specifically to infer theological challenges. Finally, hymn singing and public worship contexts provide locations for negotiations over religious authority between the spheres of expertise and prestige. Jain laywomen negotiate between the competing spheres of expertise and prestige, to find a balance that privileges their praxis‐oriented approach to Jain religiosity and highlights the grace and compassion of the Jinas.

Keywords: authority; devotionalism; expertise; hymns; performance; praxis; prestige; theology; women; worship

Book.  288 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: East Asian Religions

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Idealized Women in Singing to the Jinas


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