SynopsisAs the right wing tries to claim Kabir for itself, while other conservatives disown him and yet others portray him as a secular idol beyond religion, the poet has never been so misunderstood. Coming from the Nirgun bhakti tradition, the words of this fifteenth-century poet have the power to reach beyond time and speak to us today. Was he a Hindu or Muslim or was he beyond religion? Did he try to cultivate a new faith or did he eschew organised religion altogether? Was his modernity an exception or a reflection of the times he lived in? What does Kabir’s life and poetry tell us about this nation’s past and present? In this rare appraisal of Kabir’s writings and his life, Purushottam Agarwal approaches this timeless poet-revolutionary with little preconceptions, presenting him the way the poet wanted to be seen, rather than what his followers and fans want to see in him.
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About the author
Purushottam Agrawal is a New Delhi based writer and literary historian. He works on Bhakti,
spirituality without religion, and India’s organic early modernity which, he argues, was halted in
its tracks by colonization. His work draws upon sources in Hindi, English, Sanskrit, Urdu, Braj,
His book on Kabir, Akath Kahani Prem Ki: Kabir ki Kavita aur Unka Samay (2009) is considered
a contemporary classic and won the first Rajkamal Kriti Samman.
He is a well-known public intellectual, lending his voice to newspaper and television debates. He
is a contributing editor at The Quint.
Devdutt Pattanaik writes and lectures on