Savant Singh (1694–1764), the Rajput prince of Kishangarh-Rupnagar, is famous for commissioning beautiful works of miniature painting and composing devotional (bhakti) poetry to Krishna under the nom de plume Nagaridas. After his throne was usurped by his younger brother, while Savant Singh was on the road seeking military alliances to regain his kingdom, he composed an autobiographical pilgrimage account, “The Pilgrim’s Bliss” (Tirthananda); a hagiographic anthology, “Garland of Anecdotes about Songs” (Pad-Prasang-mala); and a reworking of the story of Rama, “Garland of Rama’s Story” (Ram-Carit-Mala).
Through an examination of Savant Singh’s life and works, Heidi Pauwels explores the circulation of ideas and culture in the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries in north India, revealing how Singh mobilized soldiers but also used myths, songs, and stories about saints in order to cope with his personal and political crisis. Mobilizing Krishna’s World allows us a peek behind the dreamlike paintings and refined poetry to glimpse a world of intrigue involving political and religious reform movements.
Notes on Texts, Transliterations, and Dates
Introduction: Rādhā-Krishna Devotion in Kishangarh
1. Soldiers Marching: Kishangarh at the Crossroads
2. Gods and Saints Relocated: Sectarian Rivalries and Hinduism in the Making
3. Devotees on the Move: The Pilgrim’s Bliss
4. Legends Mobilized: Garland of Stories and Songs
5. Myth Retold: Garland of Rāma’s Romance
Conclusion: Pilgrimage, Hagiography, and Scripture
List of Illustrations
A tour de force. Heidi Pauwels brings into focus the histories and relationships of the sectarian communities that lived, thrived, and competed in eighteenth-century north India.
John Stratton Hawley, author of A Storm of Songs: India and the Idea of the Bhakti Movement
Pauwels takes us deep into the world of a renowned rasika or connoisseur of divine beauty and love who transcended sectarian debates to seek out joyful companionship in devotional feeling.
Molly Aitken, author of The Intelligence of Tradition in Rajput Court Painting
In this remarkable study based on previously untranslated materials, Pauwels offers us a rare glimpse of the world of one such yogi-raja, Sawant Singh (aka Nagaridas), as he navigated the lush and treacherous Krishna-Bhakti landscape connecting temple, religious retreat, and court in the tumultuous mid eighteenth century.
William Pinch, author of Warrior Ascetics and Indian Empires