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Pushtimarg, Past and Present: New Perspectives on a Hindu Sampradaya

Focusing on the devotional sect of Pushtimarg, this panel encourages a diversity of papers to stimulate new debates on the significance of the sect vis-à-vis its social histories, devotional practices, theologies, literatures, visual and performing arts from the 15th century up to the present day.

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· Isabella Nardi Università degli Studi di Napoli "L'Orientale" (Napoli, Italy)
· Emilia Bachrach Oberlin College (Oberlin, Ohio, United States of America)

Long Abstract

This panel aims to take advantage of a common focus—the Pushtimarg—to highlight how diverse disciplinary perspectives might fruitfully complicate its academic research.

The Pushtimarg (The Path of Grace) has been studied by historians of religion who have attended to the social context of its emergence during the late 15th century in the region of Braj. The sectarian literature, namely Sanskrit treatises, Braj Bhasha hagiographies and devotional poem-songs, have animated scholarship across religious and literary studies. The Pushtimarg’s social history has also been a subject of scholarly interest, namely the sect’s movement from Braj to western India from the late 17th century, its struggle to re-establish itself during the 19th century in the Bombay Presidency, and its eventual growth into a transnational community during the 20th and 21st centuries. The Pushtimarg’s intricate network of temples and Krishna icons (e.g. Shri Nathji at Nathdwara), managed by hereditary leaders, and the renowned performative practices of seva (service) have been a subject of interest for art historians and anthropologists who have attended to the sect’s visual culture, musical traditions, and temple economies.

Building on this rich and growing record of scholarship, this panel encourages a diversity of papers from multiple and trans-disciplinary perspectives. We invite papers that address primary source materials—including text, image, music, and performance and the social contexts of their reception—from a variety of methodological positions including, but not limited to, decolonial studies, transculturalism, and feminist and queer studies.