Rāṅgey Rāghav’s Literary Biographies, Loī kā tānā and Ratnā kī bāt, in the 1950s and the Debates on the Status of Indian Women and Dalits





Hindi literary biography, bhakti, Dalit, Women’s Studies


The article proposes to investigate the political and ideological uses of Hindi literary biography, with focus on two texts by Rāṅgey Rāghav, Loī kā tānā (“Loi’s Warp’’) and Ratnā kī bāt (“Ratna’s Speech”), based on lives of Kabir and Tulsīdās respectively. The relevance of Rāghav’s biographies goes beyond the merely literary and derives from the ideological and political functions played by these texts in the period they were written. Viewed by Rāghav as complementary works with a didactic and ideological value, they move away from the ‘brahmanical’ interpretations of the early modern Hindi poets by scholars of the 1920s and 1930s. To understand Rāghav’s motives and strategies, one needs to examine the ideological and political context in which he recast values linked to the main figures of the early modern devotional (bhakti) literature. As the 1950s witnessed debates on the status of Indian women and Dalit communities, the same becoming crucial to Hindi literary sphere, special attention needs to be paid to the representation, in Rāghav’s biographies, of Loī and Ratnā—Kabīr’s and Tulsīdās’ wives respectively—who embody some of the politically and ideologically progressive slogans which Rāghav projected on to these poets. The present work, based on recent studies on literary biography (Benton 2005, 2011, Middlebrook 2006, Miller 2001), is also an attempt to investigate some of the intellectual and ideological aporias which seem to have affected Hindi literary progressivism since the first decades of the postcolonial period.

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How to Cite

Mangraviti, Fabio. 2021. “Rāṅgey Rāghav’s Literary Biographies, Loī Kā tānā and Ratnā Kī bāt, in the 1950s and the Debates on the Status of Indian Women and Dalits”. Cracow Indological Studies 23 (2):59-89. https://doi.org/10.12797/CIS.23.2021.02.03.