Sufis and Krishna Bhaktas in Awadh
This chapter discusses the genre of the Harikatha/Krishna story in the “religious marketplace” of Awadh and advocates a comparative and multilingual approach informed by a geographical sensitivity. While we tend to see the Harikatha as “belonging” to Krishna bhakti groups, the range was broader and the first vernacular Hindavi Harikatha text was in fact a non-sectarian one. And while the archive of Krishna bhakti groups has little to say about Awadh, it is non-sectarian and Sufi sources (both in Persian and Hindavi) that testify to the popularity of Krishna songs and tales in the region in the early sixteenth century. By focusing on Malik Muhammad Jayasi’s Kanhāvat (1540) the chapter suggests possible ways to understand Sufi takes on the Krishna.
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