Panths and Piety in the Nineteenth Century

Anshu Malhotra

in Punjab Reconsidered

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780198078012
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199080984 | DOI:
Panths and Piety in the Nineteenth Century

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This chapter explores the devotional world of the Gulabdasi panth, a nineteenth century sect of Punjab, through varied interpretations of Gulabdas’ life, and by reading the writings of one of his followers, Piro. Piro, a Muslim prostitute of Lahore who came to live in the Gulabdasi establishment, portrayed her story as embedded in Hindu-Muslim dissension. At the same time the theology, cultural expression and social practice of the Gulabdasis indicated a plethora of influences on them: monism of Vedanta via Sikh ascetic sects; bhakti literary and devotional practices; Sufi emotional states and philosophical ideas. The chapter examines the significance of deploying a term like syncretism to understand the theological equivalences and cultural conversations between different religious traditions of Punjab. They suggests that religious conflict, as highlighted by Piro in her personal tale, did not negate pluralistic attitudes, and could even reveal shared ethics and cultural values.

Keywords: Gulabdasi; panth; monism; Vedanta; Sikh sects; bhakti; Sufi; syncretism; Punjab; religious conflict

Chapter.  11409 words.  Illustrated.

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