Hinduism and Tribal Religions

Living Edition
| Editors: Pankaj Jain, Rita Sherma, Madhu Khanna


  • Sutapa Chaudhuri
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-024-1036-5_652-1

Janabai (also called Sant Janabai, Jani; about 1298–1350) was a woman saint and mystic poet of medieval India. She was a major figure in the Bhakti movement that swept the whole of India from twelfth to seventeenth centuries. She is well known as a composer of abhangas, or devotional verse, that are popularly recited or sung to this day. Sant Janabai, whose devotees prefix the honorific “Sant” or saint to her name as a mark of respect and honor, belonged to the Varkari Panth in Maharashtra.

The Varkaris

The Varkaris, an influential religious community of bhaktas or devotees, worship Lord Vithoba (also called Sri Vittal, Pandhari, or Pandurang), a manifestation of Lord Vishnu, in the temple at Pandharpur in southern Maharastra. The Varkari devotees address their deity as sakha (friend), or a loving parent, more particularly a mother, or a lover, who admires and supports their devotion.


Janabai was born to a poor and lower-caste, Sudra family of Varkari devotees who lived in...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. 1.
    Abbot JE, Godbole NR (trans) (1933) Stories of Indian saints: Mahipati’s Bhaktavijaya, vol I, 1998 reprint. Motilal Banarasidass, New DelhiGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Pandharipande RV (2000) Janabai: a woman saint of India. In: Sharma A (ed) Women saints in world religions. SUNY Press, AlbanyGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Vanita R (2010) God as Sakhi: medieval poet Janabai and her friend Vithabai. In: Vanita R (ed) Gandhi’s tiger and Sita’s smile: essays on gender, sexuality and culture. Yoda Press, New DelhiGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Sellergren S (1996) Janabai and Kanhopatra: a study of two women saints. In: Feldhaus A (ed) Images of women in Maharashtrian literature and religion. SUNY Press, AlbanyGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Tharu SJ, Lalita K (2004) Women writing in India: 600 B.C. to the early twentieth century, vol I. OUP, New DelhiGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Zelliot E (2000) Women saints in medieval Maharashtra. In: Bose M (ed) Faces of the feminine in ancient, medieval, and modern India. OUP, New YorkGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EnglishDr. Kanailal Bhattacharyya College (Under University of Calcutta)HowrahIndia