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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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Political / Spiritual Kabir

Political / Spiritual Kabir

(p.345) 8 Political / Spiritual Kabir
Bodies of Song

Linda Hess

Oxford University Press

This concluding chapter reviews the tendency to split Kabir along political/spiritual lines—a theme that has recurred throughout the book. Some people valorize one side and reject the other, while some try to embrace both. The scope widens to include urban intellectuals, activists, and artists. Ancient Indian debates about social responsibility versus world renunciation are cited. The story of Lenin’s conversation with Gorky about Beethoven’s Appasionata, and a reply in the 2006 German movie, The Lives of Others, contemporize the discussion. Can too much music, too much beauty and bliss, wreck your revolutionary spirit? Does turning inward make you forget the world’s harsh realities? If you use Kabir’s social messages for your own purposes and push the spiritual ones away with distaste, are you enacting a crude and misguided political appropriation? What do music, spiritual practice, and self-knowledge have to do with politics? What is at stake in asking these questions?

Keywords:   political, spiritual, bliss, revolution

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