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Poemsby Arvind Krishna Mehrotra
Synopses & Reviews
The poems of Kabir are among the literary and spiritual treasures of the world. He was born in Benares into a low-caste Hindi family of weavers who had recently converted to Islam, and is said to have lived for 120 years. Kabir's authorship has traditionally been assigned to a whole body of devotional songs that go beyond the usual divisions of caste and creed, challenging social division and freely mingling Muslim and Hindu motifs, to advocate and celebrate individual unity with the divine. The songs of Kabir offer a poetry of passion and paradox, full of earthy metaphors, riddling questions, and ecstatic riffs.
Neither the Vedas
Nor the Qur'an
Will teach you this:
Put the bit in its mouth,
The saddle on its back,
Your foot in the stirrup
And ride your wild runaway mind
All the way to heaven.
In these translations by Arvind Krishna Mehrotra, one of India's finest contemporary poets, a timeless poet comes alive for our time, while distinguished scholar of religion Wendy Doniger contributes a preface that places Kabir's achievement in its historical context.
A New York Review Books Original
Transcending divisions of creed, challenging social distinctions of all sorts, and celebrating individual unity with the divine, the poetry of Kabir is one of passion and paradox, of mind-bending riddles and exultant riffs. These new translations by Arvind Krishna Mehrotra, one of India’s finest contemporary poets, bring out the richness, wit, and power of a literary and spiritual master.
About the Author
Kabir, the North Indian devotional or bhakti poet, was born in Benares (now Varanasi) and lived in the fifteenth century. Next to nothing is known of his life, though many legends surround him. He is said to have been a weaver, and in his resolutely undogmatic and often riddling work he debunks both Hinduism and Islam. The songs of this extraordinary poet, philosopher, and satirist, who believed in a personal god, have been sung and recited by millions throughout North India for half a millennium.
Arvind Krishna Mehrotra is the author of four books of poetry, the editor of The Oxford India Anthology of Twelve Modern Indian Poets and Collected Poems in English by Arun Kolatkar, and the translator of The Absent Traveller: Prakrit Love Poetry. A volume of his essays, Partial Recall: Essays on Literature andLiterary History will be published in 2011. He is a professor of English at the University of Allahabad and lives in Allahabad and Dehra Dun.
Wendy Doniger [O’Flaherty] graduated from Radcliffe College and received her Ph.D. from Harvard University and her D.Phil. from Oxford University. She is the Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions at the University of Chicago and the author of many books, mostrecently The Bedtrick: Tales of Sex and Masquerade, The Woman Who Pretended to Be Who She Was, and The Hindus: An Alternative History.
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