This book represents the first systematic collection and analysis of the principal legends about Kabir Das, a fifteenth-century poet-saint. It focuses on the ways in which the legends embody and reflect the often changing social and religious needs of those who created and listened to them. Particular attention is paid to the earliest known collection of legends, Ananta-das's Kabir Parachai. This book makes available for the first time an English translation of this text, with detailed notes on its variant readings, as well as a corrected Hindi edition based on a comparison of over a dozen manuscripts. The various historical synchronisms between Kabir and his leading contemporaries, including Ramananda and King Virasimhadev Baghel, are reevaluated, and a solution is proposed to the longstanding debate about Kabir's dates.
David N. Lorenzen is Professor in the Center of Asian and African Studies of El Colegio de Mexico.
"It is particularly useful to have in one place, in English, a compilation of all major legends surrounding Kabir's life, and one which includes most of its significant variants. I also appreciate the tone of the discussion: at once sympathetic and scholarly, it avoids the poles, at which most such discussions have clustered, of unquestioning credulity and strident skepticism. " — Ken Bryant, University of British Columbia
"This is a work of careful, long-considered scholarship. The critical edition and translation of Ananta-Das, arguably Kabir's earliest biographer, are of very great value in themselves — fresh contributions in a field that urgently needs to grow. Lorenzen's introduction adds another dimension by highlighting the social messages embedded in Ananta-Das's narrative. By presenting what the authors consider to be Kabir's earliest hagiographical halo, this book brings to light an all too little known aspect of a very well known figure. " — John S. Hawley, Professor and Chair, Department of Religion, Barnard College, Columbia University
"The strength of this book lies in the meticulous text scholarship it manifests. The authors have obviously done their homework and are showing us fully what they have found. " — Daniel Gold, Department of Asian Studies, Cornell University