Religious Culture of Gujarat (Twelfth to Twentieth Century)
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Religious Culture of Gujarat (Twelfth to Twentieth Century)

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Item Code: NAU078
Author: Francoise Mallison
Publisher: Primus Books, Delhi
Language: ENGLISH
Edition: 2019
ISBN: 9789352909650
Pages: 305 (12 B/W Illustrations)
Other Details: 9.50 X 6.50 inch
Weight 530 gm
About the Book

The 22 essays in this volume, written between 1974 and 2010, deal with the religious history and _ culture of Gujarat. The first part of this book focuses on Gujarati devotional literature: Vaisnava pad-bhajan, Vallabhite dhol, Sant-vani, Ismaili Gindn, Cisti Gujarati bhajan, all with textual and thematic convergences. The second part analyses stories of saints and sacred places. Their constructions are in no way authentic historical accounts, but they provide a vivid picture of the time and society that produced them.

The focus of these essays is more on an exploration of popular religions (lok-dharma) mainly in Saurashtra and Kutch, both in their oral and written transmission. Gujarat has a rich variety of religious currents (all of which are not treated here; some are merely evoked, e.g. Jainism, Devi cult, and Parsis). They are reflected in literary sources and local NOM TET CMM melon tele Gujarat’s capacity to promote a regional culture nourished by a multiplicity of religions.

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About the Author

Francoise Mallison, Directeur d’Etudes Emeritus at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Section des Sciences Historiques et Philologiques, Paris, specializes in the medieval religious culture of northern India and Gujarat. She studies the devotional literature of Vaisnavas, Sants, and Muslims in Gujarati language, and has published _ translations of Narasimha Maheta and the lyrics of Swaminarayan as well as articles on Ismaili vernacular poetry. She has written Au point du jour: Les Prabhatiyam de Narasimha Mahetda (1987), and co-edited (with Diana L. Eck) Devotion Divine: Bhakti Traditions from the Regions of India, Studies in Honour of Charlotte Vaudeville (1991) and (with Tazim R. Kassam) Gindns: Texts and Contexts, Essays on Ismaili Hymns from South Asia in Honour of Zawahir Moir (2010).

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The volume Religious Culture of Gujarat was primitively conceived to render accessible to scholars and students a collection of my articles, mainly those written in English, albeit two of them are translated from French (Chapters 10 and 12), spread over a rather long period (1974-2011) and disseminated in more or less available publications. It would have been logical to present them in chronological order, but I realized that the 22 essays summarized the bulk of my work on ‘the religious culture of medieval and pre-modern India as documented in Gujarat ..., [on] the contribution of a region to the general history and the transformation undergone by the general pattern when applied to a local analysis’. Gujarat was an ideal field of research on this subject, rich as it is with so many religious currents expressing themselves in Gujarati language, like Vaisnavism, now pre-eminent in many branches, Santism, Jainism, Parsism and Islam also in many shades but more particularly the Shi’a Isma’ili community. It was then decided that this collection was to be organized in two parts and 22 chapters grouped as to give a representation of the medieval and pre-modern religious history and culture of Gujarat.

The first part deals with the devotional texts, not only written but also oral texts forming still a vivid religious literature. Vaisnava bhakti comes first to show how the traditional textual approach is inappropriate, how an exploration of classical pre-Gujarati literature is unavoidable as well as the comparison with contemporary versions (Chapters 1 and 2). Chapter 3 is a good example of the success and variations on the definition of a ‘Vaisnava’, contrary, in a certain way, to its concept in Vallabhism, the influence of which, meanwhile, is very important in Gujarat, if not exclusive (Chapters 4 and 5).

The other groups of this first part explore Santism, Isma’‘ilism and Gujarati Islam. Sant-vani (‘The Sayings of the Saints’), predominant in Saurashtra and Kutch offers a fascinating picture of the popular religion of the low-castes and untouchables (Chapters 6 and 7). More fascinating even are the religious hymns (ginans) of the Muslims Shi'a Isma’ili, known in Gujarat as Satpanthis or Khojas. The ginans, mainly in Gujarati, borrow from Hindu creed, rites, and literary forms to express the spiritual aspirations of their authors (Chapters 8, 9 and 10). The last group gives an account of the Muslim devotional literature in Gujarati, in which sometimes Islam and bhakti join hands together (Chapters 11 and 12).

The concluding Chapter (13) is a review of the bhajan culture of Gujarat shared by all the religions sheltered on the Gujarati soil.

The second part deals with stories of saints (Hagiography, Chapters 14, 15 and 16) and of sacred places (Chapters 17, 18, 19 and 20). It is evident, even more than in hymns, that the life stories of saints are the constructions of those who venerate them, in Gujarat as elsewhere. The exemplarity of the conduct of the saint depends upon what the society around him values—in Gujarat, more often than not, the economical SUCCESS.

Gujarat is rich in ancient sacred places like Somnath, Dwarka, etc., but how Dwarka became the abode of Krishna or how Sudama-puri (Porbandar) was shifted from a Saiva-cum-Devi cult centre to the sacred place of the friend of Krishna, Sudama, offer surprising revelations (Chapters 17 and 18), as also do the very peculiar lokdharma shrines of Saurashtra, Kutch and Sindh (Chapters 19 and 20).

The concluding essay of this part does not deal exclusively with religious literature but, the very existence of a place like the Brajbhasa Pathsala (1749-1948) of Bhuj (Chapter 21) open to students who are eager to learn the art of poetical composition whatever their religious affiliation, shows the capacity of a region to promote a regional culture nourished by a plurality of diverse religious currents. This idea is in contradiction with the common a-priori that it is a religion which gives its cultural identity to a region.

The final conclusion is given in one essay (Chapter 22). It shows that the traditional open religious culture of Gujarat resisted colonial culture up to the beginning of the twentieth century when the printing press put an end to creative oral transmission. It shows also that the Western analysis did not enough account for the late traditional religious production of the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century.

This selection of articles, spread along some 37 years, gives me the opportunity to acknowledge the help, the encouragement and the teaching that I received: first to my family, my parents, my husband for sharing my interests and collaborating with me, my children, some proud to be born in India, some accompanying me during my fieldwork; to my teachers late Professor Charlotte Vaudeville who taught me how empathy for your research subject is a sine qua non condition for its success, and late Professor Harivallabh C. Bhayani who parted so generously with his wonderful vast knowledge; to my students who were faithful and to Dr. Samira Sheikh who accepted to write the Introduction; to my colleagues and collaborators in France, in India and all over the world, specialists of bhakti, who became dear friends; to Gujarati fellow scholars, never tired by my queries, welcoming, protecting, worthy of the legendary hospitality of Gujarat, to all of them goes my gratitude, as well as to the publishers of the essays who agreed to let them be reprinted.

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Francoise Mallison was born in 1940 to educationist parents and grew up near Paris. She remembers being fascinated by history, old books and manuscripts ever since her secondary education in a famous lycée near Paris. At university she took a competitive examination to be admitted to the Ecole Nationale des Chartes, the oldest institution in Europe specializing in the archival sciences, including paleography, text editing, and the history of the book. Here, she chose to specialize in medieval history and wrote a thesis on the economic development of a monastery in northern France, based on a collection of twelfth and thirteenth century documents. With her training and expertise, she could easily have gone on to a career in the French National Archives or libraries and never visited India, but the work was dusty and dull and she found herself at a crossroads. Fascinated by India, she enrolled for classes in Hindi at the then Ecole des Langues Orientales Vivantes (now INALCO) and was fortunate enough to have an enthusiastic teacher who kindled a desire to visit India.

This was in the 1960s. People still travelled to the East by sea. Francoise borrowed money from a friend and travelled to India by charter plane in the company of four friends. But tourist travel in India did not satisfy her. When she returned to Paris, her teacher at INALCO suggested she attend a lecture by Charlotte Vaudeville, the renowned scholar of north Indian literature. Francoise believes this scantily-attended lecture on the medieval poet-saint Mirabai changed her life. Charlotte Vaudeville had already worked on Gujarati literature, including the genre of barahmasa, (or twelve-monthly, a genre of love poetry), and had met the renowned Gujarati scholar Harivallabh Bhayani. As practically no French scholars had yet studied Gujarati vernacular literature, Vaudeville suggested that Francoise turn her attention to the religious and literary culture of Gujarat.

Francoise Mallison left for India again in 1966, this time for six weeks. For her doctoral research, she had decided to work on a unique text of injunctions for women, the Sati-gita of Swami Muktanand (1756-1828), from the Svaminarayan tradition of Gujarat. She travelled to Gujarat with the names of a few scholars who knew Vaudeville, but without much other orientation. She recalls this period with affection; without money or contacts, she spent the nights in railway waiting rooms, and sallied forth to meet scholars and read texts during the day. This is when she first met the senior Gujarati scholars Harivallabh Bhayani, Umashankar Joshi, and K.K. Shastri. In 1967, Francoise returned to India, to Pune, where Charlotte Vaudeville arranged for her to work for the local branch of the Ecole Francaise d’Extréme-Orient, a job that ensureda small stipend. In May 1968, Mallison learnt of the activities of her fellow- students in Paris only through Hindi newspapers in Mussoorie, where she had immersed herself in advanced Hindi lessons. She submitted her thesis on the Sati-gita in 1969. Her edition and French translation of the Sati-gita was published in 1973, as L’épouse idéale (The Ideal Wife).’

Although supportive, Frangoise’s parents were puzzled by their daughter’s Indian enthusiasms and missed her during her long absences in India. But meanwhile she had met a staunch supporter. Wolfram Mallison had moved from Germany to study at the Ecole Nationale des Chartes and was a year ahead of Francoise. They met in 1960 and were married nine years later, in 1969. While Francoise learnt Hindi in India, Wolfram travelled widely in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran. In 1971, with their baby daughter Thérése, the young couple moved to India. Francoise remembers her six years in Pune as a happy time. She had succeeded Charlotte Vaudeville as director of the Pune branch of the fcole Francaise d’Extréme-Orient (hereafter EFEO). The institute was housed within the leafy campus of Deccan College and had access to all its facilities. The family rented a house on the campus. While Wolfram taught German and learnt Marathi, Francoise ran the EFEO office and began research on the Gujarati poet Narasimha Maheta.

During her research on the Svaminarayan tradition, Mallison had become fascinated by the different streams of Vaisnava thought and literature in Gujarat. One stream of Vaishnavism was represented by vartds, or narratives, of the Vallabhite tradition. Another stream, more popular in the western region of Saurashtra, was that of the poet Narasimha Maheta (fl. late fifteenth-early sixteenth century). Even though he is not part of the dominant Vallabhite Vaisnava tradition, Narasimha’s poetry is sung and recited throughout Gujarat. Considered the founder of Gujarati poetry and a major devotee of Krishna, Narasimha was never deified (unlike his close contemporaries Vallabh and Caitanya), nor did he found a sect. Nevertheless, compositions attributed to Narasimha found their way into the devotional lives of a range of castes and communities. Among the most popular of his poems are the morning hymns or prabhatiyam. Mallison studied both the manuscript and oral versions of these dawn poems, and translated them into French. Characteristically, the volume contains both their Gujarati text and copiously annotated translations into French.

In 1977 the Mallison family returned to France and resumed life in Les Montézes in the south of France. Francoise remained a senior researcher at the EFEO. From 1981 she began to travel twice a month to Paris to deliver lectures at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes (hereafter EPHE), the school of graduate studies at the Sorbonne, and then in 1988, she succeeded Charlotte Vaudeville as directeur d’études, or professor, at the EPHE, a position she held until her retirement in 2004. Mallison’s growing expertise on the religious—especially Vaisnava—traditions of Gujarat was welcomed by Gujarati scholars who saw her as a collaborator. She worked closely with the late Harivallabh Bhayani and has many memories of his deep learning, modesty, and sense of humour. In the 1980s, Mallison joined the growing number of European scholars who worked on bhakti, the devotional practices and compositions of early modern India. She participated in a recurring series of conferences on bhakti. She organized one of these conferences in Paris in 1991, an occasion that honoured Charlotte Vaudeville with two volumes of contributions, one of which was co-edited with Diana Eck. The proceedings of the Paris conference, co-edited with the late Alan Entwistle, appeared in 1994.

Mallison’s work on Vaishnavism in Gujarat, the fruits of which appeared in articles throughout the 1980s and 1990s, is characteristically thorough. A browse through successive articles, many of which are reprinted in the present volume, gives the reader a sense of her research methods. In an article from 1980 on bhakti in Gujarat, Mallison drew attention to the fact that the compositions of Krishnaite authors written in Gujarati between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries had not yet been systematically collected and edited. While many Jain and Sanskrit texts from a much earlier period had been well preserved and studied by scholars, later texts had fallen through the cracks and were in dire need of attention. Further, such texts had not attracted orientalists, who tended to study religious ritual or hagiography rather than manuscript versions of texts. She also identified a problem with posing manuscript versions of the Krishnaite compositions as authoritative. Most people in Gujarat sing and recite ‘vulgates’ preserved by oral tradition. How then to prepare text editions, and which versions should be considered authoritative? Mallison argued that the literary texts were ‘at the source of the phenomenon’ that was transmitted, and were thus deserving of scholarly study.’

The popularity of Vaishnavism in Gujarat led her to consider its antecedents. Why did the cult of Krishna, reconfigured by Vallabhacarya in the early sixteenth century, achieve such remarkable success? Was Vallabha’s arrival in Gujarat preceded by other versions of local Krishna bhakti? In answering these questions, Mallison found herself questioning the analysis of her teacher Charlotte Vaudeville, who held that the cult of Krishna, long-suppressed in the region of its birth in the Braj area, re-emerged in the early sixteenth century by supplanting the local cults of Shiva and the goddess.’ In Gujarat, Mallison argued, versions of the avatars of Vishnu had long been prevalent and had never disappeared.’ Following Bhayani, she showed that a series of texts on the life of Krishna had been produced in Gujarat from the eleventh century onwards. When Vallabh came to Gujarat, he encountered a widespread and sophisticated Krishnaite culture there. ‘Vallabha and Vitthala did not simply win Gujarat over to their faith; it would be more correct to say that the Krishna bhakti of Gujarat absorbed and inspired it.’* The proliferation of Krishnaite Vaishnavism produced ethical conceptions of the Vaishnava. Gandhi’s favourite prayer, often attributed to Narasimha Maheta, declares that ‘He alone can be called a true Vaishnava who understands the suffering of others, who helps them in their miseries and has no conceit.’ This strikingly praxis-oriented conception that emphasizes ethics and correct observance was not unique; Mallison showed that there were several versions in Gujarat that explained true Vaishnava belonging.’ Such texts reflect a remarkable synthesis between the local Vaishnava culture and the ‘imported’ Vallabhan version from the sixteenth century. Vaishnavism thus grew from a sectarian tradition into the regional norm and dominant cultural pattern of Gujarat.’

Influenced by Harivallabh Bhayani’s anxiety to record and preserve Gujarati literary traditions that were dying from neglect or obsolescence, Mallison turned her attention to less known genres and texts. This deep commitment to literary works that may be submerged or lost runs through Francoise Mallison’s work. Her major work on the literary (as distinct from orally transmitted) tradition of Narasimha Maheta is a manifestation of her commitment. While she has written on the Vallabhan tradition, she also argued that its compositions (such as the dhol songs), preserved largely by wealthy Gujaratis from merchant and farmer groups, were likely to survive, while folkloric and non-sectarian Vaishnava forms were likely to disappear ‘once their oral transmission [was] definitively discontinued’.’ Her concern with little-noticed literary traditions led to the next phase of her research: on the Muslim and ‘low- caste’ devotional compositions of early modern Gujarat.

In the late 1970s, while working for the EFEO in Pune, Mallison found a volume of articles by the Russian orientalist Vladimir Ivanow, on the then mysterious Imamshahi community of Gujarat and its religious poetry, known as ginan."° Ivanow had found that the Imamshahis were a ‘lost’ branch of the Nizari Isma’ili tradition, a Shi‘t branch of Islam. Mallison was fascinated by the history of the community and by their poetry, written in Gujarati and infused with Islamicate concepts and vocabulary. A friend in Pune tried to get her copies of the sacred books from the Isma’ili community there, but to no avail. Francoise is dogged in tracking down texts that interest her. In the company of an acquaintance, the owner of Kokil Book Store in Bombay, she visited the main Isma’ili jamdat-khand in Bombay, where an obliging accountant gave her some old, discarded books. These turned out to be invaluable early editions of the ginans of the major Isma’ili figures of South Asia: Pir Shams, Pir Sadruddin, and Pir Hasan Kabiruddin.

Apart from Ivanow, few scholars in the 1970s had studied the Isma’ili and Imamshahi literature of Gujarat." Struck by the similarity of this poetry to some of the devotional literature she had been studying— in particular to the non-sectarian Vaishnavism of poets such as Narasimha—Mallison resolved to dig further. The results of her research represent an important departure in the study of pre-modern Gujarati literature. Francoise Mallison’s scholarly trajectory has been defined by twin concerns: first, to establish the genealogies of literary traditions and second, to identify and track literatures submerged or hidden by dominant discourses. Both concerns were deployed in her ground- breaking research on the Muslim and Sant literatures of early modern Gujarat. Until recently, the Muslim poets of Gujarat had been relegated to the proverbial footnote in the standard compendia of Gujarati literature. Compositions of the Gujarati Sant poets who, unlike in north India, were usually from ‘lower’ castes, often met a similar fate. The primarily oral mode of transmission of the poems and the humble or secretive origin of their adherents meant that both Isma’ili and Sant compositions were generally classed as folklore, not literature, and had thus neither been preserved nor edited. This was in spite of the fact that sant poetry was very popular throughout Saurashtra and Gujarat, and cheap printed editions of the bhajans were widely available. Mallison found that ‘It looks as if the status of a literary work were denied to lyrical religious compositions created and sung among the low castes and untouchables of Saurashtra and yet appreciated paradoxically by the whole of the Gujarati-speaking public.’" In a series of studies, Mallison pointed out the structural and thematic links between Vaisnava poetry, the compositions of ‘untouchable’ or ‘lower’ caste sants, and Muslim preachers, including Ismai'li pirs.

In her first publication on the Ismai'li ginans, she thoroughly tracked all available literature on the subject, concluding that in literary form and use these texts bore remarkable similarities to contemporary north Indian Vaisnava compositions.’* She further found that compositions attributed to the sants of Saurashtra—‘gurus belonging to the lower castes ... who more often than not are untouchables’*—often crossed sect boundaries. In common with the nirguni poets of north India, the Gujarati sants—Mahapanthis, Nijarpanthis, Nathpanthis, followers of Kabir and Ravidas, and many others—recognized the Non-Qualified Absolute in the shape ofa primeval flame or light. Other common themes included submission to a teacher, initiation in the form of sanctified water (amrt) taken in a bowl, secret rituals, and admonitory poetry that warned of the end of the Kali age and the arrival of the avatar who would re-establish a golden age. What was more remarkable was that several texts and authors from the sant traditions of Gujarat were claimed by the Isma’ilis as their own, just as several ginans formed part of the Sant corpus. Parallel to the sant eschatology that predicted the arrival of the avenging avatar, Nakalamk or Kalki, the Isma’ili versions interpreted Nakalamk as an incarnation of ‘Ali, the son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad." Both traditions contained ‘the cult of the divine name (sat-Sabda) as the only skiff to cross the ocean of existence, renouncement of the external practices of religion, and devotion to the interior Guru (satguru)’.’°

Ismaili gindns are living texts. An edited, non-scholarly selection of these poems—the only versions to which scholars have access—still forms part of the community’s religious literature. Manuscript versions are not available for scholarly scrutiny, most having been destroyed in the early twentieth century when sanctioned print editions were first prepared. In spite of the fact that no ‘scientific, non-sectarian’ editions of the gindns are possible at present, Mallison’s research presents a range of analyses that help illuminate the sectarian history of western India. In some of the garbis or dance-hymns attributed to Pir Shams, for example, she finds the Pir admonishing followers to reject the worship of idols, goddesses, and cows, and to adhere instead to the Imam of the time. The Imam, however, is represented as Vishnu. As one verse says, ‘Do not be misled by error, O stupid Hindu, adore Saramgapani [Vishnu]."" Through such admonitions, Mallison argues, the Isma’ili tradition opposed itself to the worship of the goddess while making alliances with the non- sectarian Vaishnavism then becoming popular in the region, especially among ‘lower’ castes. Tit] is as if Hinduism was used to fight Hinduism’, she remarks, demonstrating also that in this period, there was no unified set of Hindu practices and that Isma’ili Pirs found that the devotional vocabulary that resonated most closely with their own was that of non- sectarian, non-anthropomorphic (nirguna) Vaishnavism.

Mallison’s studies of Isma’ili and Isma’lli-influenced literature from South Asia is particularly valuable because she is not a scholar of classical Islam. Much recent scholarship on South Asian Isma’ilis has been influenced by a desire within the modern Isma’lli community to align themselves with a transnational Islamic history and to trace continuities in Isma’ili thought from its origins in the Middle East. South Asian Isma’ili texts have often been parsed for evidence of what are thought to be core Isma’ili or Islamic beliefs and practices. Scholars and lay Isma’ilis have laboured hard to find Arabic or Persian etymologies and glosses for key terms used in the ginans. While these efforts have yielded impressive results, largely in keeping with the community's current positioning, one unfortunate consequence has been to separate South Asian Isma’ili texts from their Indic contexts. The ginans were, after all, composed in South Asian languages (primarily Gujarati and Sindhi), and employed mythological idioms, mystical vocabularies, and literary genres in common with their Vaisnava and sant contemporaries. Mallison’s vital contribution to our understanding of these texts has been her deep knowledge and interpretive experience of early modern Gujarati literature.

How can one interpret the fact that these mystical poems, deeply loved by upper-caste Hindus Gujaratis, ‘untouchables’, and Isma’ilis, were so strikingly similar? What common histories did they reveal? In her thorough and suggestive analyses, Mallison is careful to present no authoritative answers to these questions, but at the very least suggests that Gujarat offered a rich arena for the creative interaction of religious traditions.’ There are endless examples of how accommodation and tolerance for each other’s religion have brought great prosperity to the land."® This spirit animates Mallison’s studies of the sant and Isma’ili compositions of Gujarat. When she first presented some of her findings at the EPHE, her lectures were received enthusiastically by her audience, especially by Isma’ilis who came from the Francophone islands of Réunion and Madagascar. It was around this time that she met Zawahir Moir, a London-based scholar who had produced, with Christopher Shackle, the first authoritative philological study and translations of the ginans."" Moir had become intrigued by a branch of the Isma’ili community, the Imamshahis, whose seat in Pirana, near Ahmedabad, was a site of some religious contestation. In her attempt to understand the religious culture of the Imamshahis more deeply, Moir contacted Charlotte Vaudeville, who introduced her to Mallison. The two met in Les Montézes in 1990, the beginning of a deeply fruitful intellectual engagement.

These interactions prompted Mallison to propose and organize a conference on the ginans, held, thanks to the Société d’Etudes Ismaéliennes and its president A. Rahmatoullah, inthe south of France in April 2002. Among the participants was Balvant Jani, a scholar of Gujarati literature and traditions then based at Saurashtra University in Rajkot. One of Bhayani’s students, Jani had begun to train a number of students in preparing text editions of medieval and oral compositions, and had worked closely with Mallison on her emerging interest in Gujarat’s sant literature. Tazim Kassam, the translator of Pir Shams’ poetry was another participant, and it is with Kassam that Mallison later edited a volume of essays on the ginans in honour of Zawahir Moir."

Francoise Mallison’s scholarship and integrity have influenced many students and younger scholars, including myself, and this collection of her essays will be widely welcomed. The present collection brings most of Francoise Mallison’s major articles in English, thus far scattered in a range of publications, to a wider readership, including those who read neither Gujarati nor French. Over the past four decades, her writings have shown a remarkable cohesiveness in scholarship and intentions. While specialists in bhakti traditions or Gujarati literature have long been aware of Mallison’s important contributions, this volume will help reconfigure how Gujarati texts and religions are to be understood, No longer can ‘Hindu’ and ‘Muslim’ literatures be seen as independent streams with no meeting points. No longer can we savour sant poetry without considering how voices excluded from Gujarat’s elite built bridges with other communities and forced their common vocabularies of dissent into mainstream culture. Nor can we ignore her call to look beyond dominant stories, and to study and preserve Gujarat’s literatures with care and without prejudice.

Mallison’s interests in the spiritual expressions of Gujarat tend towards the non-sectarian. A scrupulous scholar, she is careful not to judge the traditions she writes about. Unlike many of her generation, her interest in Indian religious traditions is not born out of personal spiritual crisis. Not for her the participatory enthusiasms of many western scholars of the seventies and eighties; she is content with the traditions into which she was born. Nor is she interested in privileging one spiritual tradition above another. Nevertheless, one may see evidence of her partiality towards the expansive, the humanist, and the liberationist tendencies in the compositions she studies. Her love for India derives from her wide travels and her many friends. Her scholarship is respectful and non- judgemental. She makes no soaring theoretical claims, nor does she fight battles over concepts and terminology. Nevertheless, her work is path- breaking. In civility and scruple, she represents a scholarly discipline that is all too rare nowadays and is one that is well worth emulating.

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