John Stratton Hawley

in Hinduism

ISBN: 9780195399318
Published online April 2012 | | DOI:


Sūrdās (Sūradāsa, or for short, Sūr) is among the most important of India’s religious poets. He is traditionally considered to have been blind. Although his life story is widely told and highly celebrated, especially in northern parts of the Indian subcontinent, there are no biographical data about him that can be regarded as historically reliable. Judging by the moment when his poems were first anthologized in collections that have come down to us, however, it seems clear that Sūrdās flourished at some point in the 16th century. The language of these lyrics is Brajbhāṣā, an aspect of Hindi, and many of them are regarded as being among the finest poetry ever to have been composed in North India. So profound was their impact that many centuries after the poet’s death—right up to the present day—other poets have chosen the signature of Sūrdās as a way to locate their own compositions in the proper genre or lineage. Thus the corpus of poems attributed to Sūrdās and collected in the Sūrsāgar (Sūr’s Ocean) named after him has grown steadily, even dramatically over time. In the largest manuscript yet discovered, a 19th-century tome housed in Datiya, these poems number almost ten thousand. The best known among them are sung throughout India and the world.

Article.  4749 words. 

Subjects: Hinduism

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