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The six poets presented here — Ravidas, Kabir, Nanak, Surdas, Mirabai, and Tulsidas — have contributed more to the religious vocabulary of Hinduism in north India today than any voices before or since. In worship, in education, even in politics, modern Hinduism sings their tune. For half a millennium, these saints' poems have circulated from the banks of the Jumna to the rice fields of Bihar and back to the deserts of Rajasthan, providing a language for many of life's most vivid concerns — cruelty and loneliness, status and intimacy, hope and infatuation, and the maddening transitoriness of it all. With a biographical and interpretive essay on each poet and a selection of representative verses in original translation, this book offers a complete introduction to a literature that transcends the boundaries we associate with religion and those of India as well.
John Stratton Hawley, Professor of Religion at Columbia University, is a specialist in the devotional traditions of North India. Mark Juergensmeyer is Director of Global and International Studies and Professor of Sociology and Religious Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.