The patchwork fabric of the Kabir tradition

Presented by ANU College of Asia & the Pacific

Kabir (ca. 1440-1520) was an outstanding figure medieval Hindi Poet saint who is primarily known through his verses which circulated in India from the sixteenth centuries onwards and still form part of the fabric of contemporary South Asian identities today. I will discuss how new elements were over time incorporated into the verses in the Kabir tradition and this created the current patchwork fabric of Kabir traditions which exist today. I will discuss two aspects of this research: first a soon to be published monograph on the Hindi origins of the first major collection of Kabir verses to be translated into English by Rabindranath Tagore and Evelyn Underhill in 1914. Second, a forthcoming project studying the later fabric in the traditions and how it helps us to understand how Kabir traditions evolved from their origins into their modern forms.

About the Speaker
Peter Friedlander lived in India from 1977-1982 where he learned Hindi in Varanasi. He then studied at SOAS (London University) and completed his PhD on the life and works of the medieval Hindi poet-saint Ravidas in 1991. Peter has been fascinated by Kabir since he first encountered Kabir's sayings when he was learning Hindi. He has published a number of papers and book chapters on Kabir and the evolution of Kabir's verses and teachings.