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Title: Early Indian Bhakti, with special reference to Kabir : a historical analysis and re-interpretation
Author: Sharma, Krishna
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 1964
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This thesis rejects the current definition of bhakti and seeks a reorientation of the present academic opinion about bhakti and the Bhakti Movement. It questions the basic assumptions responsible for the existing views, and points out the error of treating bhakti as a cult and a doctrine, and of its identification with Vaishnavism. The present study suggests that bhakti cannot be confined to Vaishnavism and that a personal concept of God, a dualistic view of Reality, and an antagonism to jnana are not its necessary concomitants. It brings forth evidence to show that the concept of an impersonal God, a non-dualistic view of Reality, and an emphasis on jnana can also be the legitimate constituents of a bhakti tradition. Taking this position it prepares the ground for a re-evaluation of the Bhakti Movement and suggests a new approach to the study of Kabir and his nirguna school. Chapter I examines the existing opinion on the subject. Tracing its origin, growth, and perpetuation it shows the western bias which shaped It. Pointing out the inapplicability of the western standards of judgement in the Hindu context, the nature of Hindu Theism and Monotheism has been reassessed and a new approach to bhakti is suggested. Chapter II is a study of the classical texts which are invariably cited to substantiate the current theories. It shows that the bhakti of the Bhagavad-Gita, the Bhagavata-Purana and the Bhakti-Sutras of Narada and Sandliya is in fact incompatible with the present definition of bhakti. Chapter III shows that the difference between Sankara and the Vaishnava acharyas does not rest on bhakti, but is caused by Sankara's challenge to Vaishnavism and the Vaishnava loyalties of the Vaishnava acharyas. Chapter IV re-evaluates Kabir and attempts to trace his antecedents. The conclusion sums up the main arguments advanced in this thesis.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral