Remembering Gandhi with “Vaishnav Jan To”
January 31, 2020
Narasinha Mehta was a 15th-century poet-saint of Gujarat. He was an exponent of Vaishnava poetry and is revered in Gujarati literature, as its Adi Kavi (Sanskrit for "first among poets"). He is most famous for his bhajan Vaishnav Jan To which became popular as Mahatma Gandhi's favourite and become almost synonymous with him.
Neelima Shukla Bhatt in her book, Narasinha Mehta of Gujarat: A Legacy of Bhakti in Songs and Stories presents an illuminating account of the life, legend, and works of the great poet-saint who profoundly influenced Mahatma Gandhi and remained a source of moral inspiration for him.
Remembering Gandhi, let us revisit the three-part interview series with the author, where Ananya Vajpeyi discusses the legend of Narasinha Mehta, how Gandhi related to the Narasinha tradition and the relevance of the bhajan Vaishnav Jan To as a cultural resource for healing in dark times.
Neelima Shukla-Bhatt is an Associate Professor and Director of South Asia Studies (with a focus on religions and cultures) at Wellesley College. She received her Ph.D. in the Study of Religion from Harvard University in 2003.Ananya Vajpeyi is an Indian academic and writer. She is a fellow and an Associate Professor at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies. She is the author of the award-winning book Righteous Republic: The Political foundations of Modern India (2012).
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