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When Sparrows Became HawksThe Making of the Sikh Warrior Tradition, 1699-1799$
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Purnima Dhavan

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199756551

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199756551.001.0001

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Devotion and Its Discontents: The Affective Communities of Gurbilas Texts

Devotion and Its Discontents: The Affective Communities of Gurbilas Texts

(p.149) 7 Devotion and Its Discontents: The Affective Communities of Gurbilas Texts
When Sparrows Became Hawks

Purnima Dhavan

Oxford University Press

The gurbilas hagiographical genre became the medium through which disparate heterodox groups expressed devotion to the last Guru, without necessarily becoming Khalsa Sikhs. Gurbilas texts often served an important exegetical function in the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Panjabi society. Groups drawn to the worldview expressed in these texts formed an affective community that was drawn to the courtly values and warrior asceticism embodied in these narratives about the Tenth Guru. It was through the writing and circulation of such texts that the many diverse groups engaged with the new Khalsa formation, resulting in both accommodations and tensions among these groups, profoundly transforming all the agents involved in this process. The spread of such affective literature helps us better understand the loyalty commanded by Sikh rulers, even by those who were not Khalsa Sikhs.

Keywords:   Affective communities, gurbilas, courtly values, heterodox groups, Guru Gobind Singh

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