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International Journal of Hindu Studies

, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 475–496 | Cite as

From Neither/Nor to Both/And: Reconfiguring the Life and Legacy of Shirdi Sai Baba in Hagiography

  • Jonathan Loar
Article
  • 14 Downloads

Abstract

The paper focuses on two hagiographic texts about the Indian saint Shirdi Sai Baba: G. R. Dabholkar’s Śrī Sāī Satcarita (1930) in Marathi and B. V. Narasimhaswami’s four-volume Life of Sai Baba (1955–69) in English. A comparative study of these texts highlights a notable shift in the saint’s life story. Whereas Dabholkar describes a saint who is “neither Hindu nor Muslim,” Narasimhaswami emphasizes particular devotional testimonies to reconstruct Shirdi Sai Baba as a syncretistic figure who is “both Hindu and Muslim.” Narasimhaswami’s reconstruction also reveals a politics of compositeness, in which a dominant Hindu embrace contains a domesticated Muslim-ness.

Keywords

Shirdi Sai Baba India Saint Sainthood Hagiography Religious identity Syncretism 

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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.South Asian Reference LibrarianAsian Division of the Library of CongressWashingtonUSA

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