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Making Pilgrimage Places of the Gurus in Varanasi: Countering Hindu Narratives in Local Sikh Historiography
Lunds universitet.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3366-7368
2012 (English)In: South Asian History and Culture, ISSN 1947-2498, E-ISSN 1947-2501, Vol. 3, no 1, 97-115 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The Sikhs in Varanasi constitute a small minority situated within the boundaries of a Hindu-dominated culture. Most of the families now residing arrived in the years surrounding the partition in 1947 as migrants and traders from West Punjab, and only a few have a previous history in the city. In attempts to create meaningful representations of a shared past and visibility in the Hindu pilgrimage centre, the new-comers constructed their own collective history centring on the Sikh gurus' visits to and wonders in Varanasi. This article first examines how images of Varanasi and its inhabitants unfold in the historical writings of the Sikh gurus and the hagiographical literature (janam-sakhis) that aimed at proving the spiritual supremacy of the first guru, Guru Nanak. It continues to describe and analyse how the written history constructed by contemporary Sikhs in Varanasi manifests itself as a ‘counter-narrative’ in relation to a dominant discourse of the city as being a centre of Hindu pilgrimage and religious learning. The narrative structure of this modern history is set and framed by selected stereotypical images of Varanasi, but instead of verifying Hindu values and authority it creates an alternative paradigm that eventually confirms the spiritual superiority of the Sikh gurus and their teaching. Constructed as a counter-narrative, the local historiography provides contemporary Sikhs a possibility to make claims on the visibility, the identity and the right to occupy a space within the sacred geography of Varanasi and negotiate ‘an other’ representation of the collective self from within the dominant cultural discourse.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis, 2012. Vol. 3, no 1, 97-115 p.
National Category
History of Religions
Research subject
Humanities, Study of Religions
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-23551DOI: 10.1080/19472498.2012.639512OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-23551DiVA: diva2:589742
Funder
Swedish Research Council
Available from: 2013-01-19 Created: 2013-01-19 Last updated: 2016-05-03Bibliographically approved

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Publisher's full texthttp://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/19472498.2012.639512

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Myrvold, Kristina
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CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf