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Bodies of SongKabir Oral Traditions and Performative Worlds in Northern India$
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Linda Hess

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199374168

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199374168.001.0001

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“You Must Meet Prahladji!”

“You Must Meet Prahladji!”

(p.19) 1 “You Must Meet Prahladji!”
Bodies of Song

Linda Hess

Oxford University Press

The book’s main themes are introduced through the story of a village singer, Prahlad Singh Tipanya. Emerging from a poor Dalit (former untouchable caste) family with no musical tradition, Prahladji became a highly honored singer and interpreter of Kabir, constantly performing in rural and urban spaces. The chapter also presents core concepts in the poetry of Kabir, including inirguṇ and sagun, subtle sound, and spiritual and political dimensions. It shows the forms and contexts of Kabir singing in the Malwa region of Madhya Pradesh and argues that to know Kabir in oral tradition, one must know people. In contrast with written knowledge, oral knowledge unfolds through embodied experience and relationship. The chapter shows how Prahladji relates to audiences and other singers, and issues that arise in his life and representation of Kabir.

Keywords:   Prahlad Tipanya, oral tradition, nirguṇ-sagun, sound, caste, Dalit

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