Alexandria Digital Research Library

The Searching Self: Religious Autobiography in Pre-Colonial South Asia

Author:
Martinez, Chloe Anne
Degree Grantor:
University of California, Santa Barbara. Religious Studies
Degree Supervisor:
Vesna A. Wallace
Place of Publication:
[Santa Barbara, Calif.]
Publisher:
University of California, Santa Barbara
Creation Date:
2013
Issued Date:
2013
Topics:
Literature, Asian, South Asian Studies, Religion, General, and Biography
Keywords:
India
Conversion
Bhakti
Autobiography
Jain
Sikh
Genres:
Dissertations, Academic and Online resources
Dissertation:
Ph.D.--University of California, Santa Barbara, 2013
Description:

This dissertation investigates the ways in which the literary tools of autobiography are used to describe religious experience in pre-colonial South Asia. Arguing against a Western scholarly tradition that presents autobiography as a narrowly-defined genre produced primarily in the West and its colonial outposts, this project gathers and compares examples from a wide range of regional, linguistic, religious, and historical contexts in order to better understand what characteristics distinguish---and unite---these autobiographical expressions. We will also take three case studies---one Jain, one Sikh, and one Hindu---to illustrate some of the myriad ways in which South Asian religious autobiography functions.

This is an important and timely contribution to the study of South Asian religions and the humanities in general for three reasons. First, our analyses illustrate the multiplicity of ways in which autobiography can convey religious meaning and are used to make specific kinds of religious claims. Second, we put Western literary criticism in conversation with South Asian sources in new and productive ways, particularly regarding issues of authorship, genre, and poetic technique. Finally, our data helps to dispel the notion that autobiography---and by extension, individual subjectivity---was a colonial import to South Asia.

This project will begin with a discussion of autobiography as genre and technique, and a consideration of how that genre/technique is particularly suited to describing religious experience. Our second chapter examines a number of examples of religious autobiographical writing from pre-colonial South Asia in order to begin to form a picture of what autobiographical literature looks like in pre-colonial South Asia. Our third chapter is a case study of the Ardhakathanaka, the autobiography of 17 th-century Jain merchant Banarasidas, considering its uses of autobiography as literary technique and as polemic. Finally, we study two examples of what we will call the "autobiographical pose": works that are not, in fact, autobiographies at all, but that use the autobiographical voice. The cases for this chapter will be poems attributed to the 16th-century Hindu poet-saint Mirabai, and the 18th-century " apni Katha," a work attributed to Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth and last personal Guru of the Sikhs.

Physical Description:
1 online resource (192 pages)
Format:
Text
Collection(s):
UCSB electronic theses and dissertations
ARK:
ark:/48907/f3ff3qgd
ISBN:
9781303539657
Catalog System Number:
990040924900203776
Rights:
Inc.icon only.dark In Copyright
Copyright Holder:
Chloe Martinez
Access: This item is restricted to on-campus access only. Please check our FAQs or contact UCSB Library staff if you need additional assistance.