Tellings and Texts: Dadupanthi Homiletics in North India

Dadupanthi Saints / Photo from University of Oxford

By Dr. Monika Horstmann / 10.01.2015
Professor of Linguistics
University of Heidelberg

“The Example in Dadupanthi Homiletics,”[1], from Tellings and Texts: Music, Literature, and Performance in North India


India is rife with preaching. There is no city, no village where there are not on generous display flyers, posters, and banners announcing a katha or pravachan, the terms commonly used in North India for sermons.[2] Preachers may draw thousands of listeners; popular preachers and recorded sermons are marketed like any other celebrity or commodity; newspapers feature “spiritual columns”; special TV channels broadcast religious programmes featuring long homilies. Homiletic traditions vary widely by regional culture, sect, stylistics, duration, locale of performance, established or ad hoc relationship between preacher and audience, range of reach from local to global, involvement in, or abstention from, political involvement on the part of the preacher or his or her patrons, to name just a few of the numerous variables. Sermons may be published and in their printed version retain the properties of the live performance to varying degrees. And yet it is surprising that interest in the homiletic tools used by modern preachers has not been particularly vigorous.[3]

This chapter examines a single homiletic tool—the example—as it features in the Dadupanth. I will work my way through the topic by relating live performance to what texts, which started being written from the early seventeenth century, reveal about preaching and the role and function of example. The analytical expertise that comes from reasonable familiarity with the live homiletic performances that I have witnessed only in that sect accounts for such an approach. For the earlier period, we only have the bare texts, whereas for the contemporary period we have the same texts (and others in the same genre) and instances of their use. For this reason, in this essay I will consciously move back and forth between older texts and contemporary preachers, mindful that contemporary practices, while providing clues about how the synthetic texts would be expanded in homiletic performance, may not mirror older ones.

The Dadupanth in Its Cultural Region

The Dadupanth, named after its founder Dadu (1554-1603), took its origin in Rajasthan, where Dadu, as a young man with a religious vocation, had migrated from his home in Ahmedabad. The sect comprises male sadhus and female sadhvis, organised in numerous branches, on the one hand, and lay followers, on the other hand.[4] The Dadupanth belongs to the sant religion which favours interior worship of the monistically conceived divine over the orthodox varnashrama Hinduism with its rituals. Though predicated on interior religion, Dadupanthi worship, as much as other sant forms of religion, has an important public arena with rituals of its own, namely the satsang or congregation of devotees. Here faith is disseminated by the word, mainly in the form of devotional singing and preaching. The high points of communal religious life are formed by the melas, religious fairs, which also feature sumptuous communal feasting. Wealthy lay followers and some representatives of monastic lineages directly or indirectly meet the expenses for all these events. Preaching is one of the instruments that bond together celibate sadhus and lay followers. The sant sadhu or guru is a spiritual advisor and ideally should be an exemplar of monastic virtues. He thereby represents a type of religious specialist different from the officiating priest who, according to the orthodox varnashrama dharma, need not relate to the interior religious life of his clients. The particular symbiotic relationship between celibate sadhus and sadhvis and their lay followers favours a flourishing tradition of preaching. Lay followers sustain the celibate religious men and women in all their material needs, while these sustain the lay followers in their religious quest.[5] This is not to offer a monocausal explanation of the institution of preaching. Given their emphasis on the revealed word as authority, religious groups along the devotional (bhakti) spectrum generally feel the need for religious instruction and exegesis by discourse to give proof of that authority. A point against attributing the sole cause to the symbiosis between preachers and laymen could be made by pointing to the parallel institution of katha in the Sikh tradition, where the dichotomy between a celibate monkhood and lay followers is not typical, or to Vaishnava kathakars.[6]

Rajasthan being the homeland of the Dadupanth, the sect’s profile in general and the art of the preachers in particular need to be contextualised in the religious culture of that region, for the sants—Dadupanthis and others—share features relevant to our topic with other religious groups in their habitat. This habitat includes both Rajasthan and the more-or-less culturally and linguistically contiguous Gujarat, the adjacent regions up to Punjab in the North and down to Madhya Pradesh in the South-East, and Dadupanthi enclaves in Bengal and elsewhere. The inhabitants of this region acknowledged and addressed religious difference. This is perhaps best captured in the recurrent term “six darshanas” to indicate the totality of creeds in the region, which sants propagating their own creed used to express the idea that their thought was superior. The six creeds (not the six commonly understood doxographic systems usually indicated by that term) were by and large—for the stereotype is a short-hand term—all and sundry religions, and the term remained current into the twentieth century. In the common understanding of the sants, these creeds comprised, to say it in a verse by Dadu:

jogī jaṃgama sevaṛe, bauddha saṃnyāsī śekha

ṣaddarśana Dādū rāma binā, sabai kapaṭa ke bhekha. (33.1//7)[7]

Yogis, jangamas, sevaras (Jains), Buddhists, sanyasis and shaykhs—

Unless they have the name of Ram, the [proponents of the] six doctrines wear false religious costumes.

By the time of the sants, Buddhists had become a rare species, a sign of the antiquity of the stereotype. Its frequent usage nevertheless indicates the acute rivalry amongst religious groups. Preaching was naturally also a way in which rivals could score points. In the process, assimilation of homiletic practice took place.

In Rajasthan and for homiletic practice the Jains provided a powerful ancient model group. Whereas Dadupanthis rejected Jain doctrines, Jain practice made its impact on them and other sants.

The lifestyles found in the Dadupanthi sadhu and sadhvi order with its many branches vary. (The picture that I am giving here is rather one of the past, for the monkhood, including the small number of nuns, now counts a few hundred at the most.) In the early period of the sect the followers of Dadu were given to a peripatetic lifestyle. They observed the ramat, i.e. itinerancy in a group of followers. The master and his followers moved along routes that touched the villages of patrons and emerging places of worship and religious centres (maths) of sadhus. This lifestyle has not quite vanished, though it has become much less perceivable because the number of sadhus and sadhvis has dwindled. The branch of Dadupanthi virakts especially adhered to a peripatetic life, and a few of them continue to do so. With no fixed settlements they moved alone or in groups or clusters. The leaders of those clusters (mandalis) were called mandaleshvars. Due to the great mobility of sadhus and sadhvis, many religious centres of the Dadupanth (maths) remained as good as vacant outside of the festival season. There may have been there a mahant or his deputy with a small number of resident monks and disciples, and perhaps a staff of labourers, according to the local circumstances.[8] During religious festivals, however, temples and maths even today easily draw thousands of visitors.

Those festivals provide important occasions for preaching and may last several days, with sermons featuring every day. The other occasion for preaching is formed by the chaumasa, the four months of the rainy season, when mahants and their retinue and virakts (wandering sadhus) are invited either by other maths or families of lay followers to sojourn with them. In the golden past of the Dadupanth, that is up to the end of the nineteenth century, the arrival of monks and nuns and their guru-mahant used to be observed with great éclat and ritual propriety—by the various royal courts of Rajasthan, too. Now chaumasas are still occasions for the display of generous hospitality—for acting as a chaumasa host is still considered a highly meritorious act—but they take place in a much reduced format. During these four months, monks are supposed to preach regularly, ideally every day. The occasions of Dadupanthi preaching thereby obviously resemble those of the Jain tradition, where the rainy season is that of the paryushana, the season of regular sermons given by Jain monks or nuns. As is well known, the Jain community is also organised as a dyad of ascetics and lay followers (literally, “listeners” to the instruction imparted by ascetics), and the first archetypal event after the enlightenment of a Jain fordmaker is his samavasarana, the occasion and locale of his first sermon.

The ceremonial arrival of a Jain monk or nun in a place that can still be observed regularly in Rajasthan has its counterpart in that of Dadupanthi sadhus and sadhvis. The Jain emphasis on written sacred texts and religious instruction of a congregation by sadhus or sadhvis has its counterpart in similar activities in the Dadupanth, and so does the injunction that the sacred texts have to be studied, which is called svadhyaya (lit. “self-study”), a precondition for any aspiring preacher. This study does not only cover the sacred scriptures, but also extends to other material which enables a preacher to compose a sermon, material comprising religious songs, verses, verse narratives of both sant and other provenance, mnemonic and other homiletic aids. The fruit of such study and instruction imparted to disciples in the art of preaching may be seen in the sparse analysed samples of sermons available.[9]

Dadupanthi sermons delivered in Hindi on the great festive occasions last between one hour and an hour and a half. According to what I have seen, a preacher does not consult a prepared script but may hold the open sacred scripture in front of him. If he preaches on a sequence of couplets from the sacred scripture, he may read these out as he proceeds in his discourse. This is not to claim that no preacher uses or ever used written scripts; numerous manuscripts show by their annotations in the margin that their users made exegetical notes. Dadu’s disciple Bakhana, a resident of Naraina, has in his “Chapter on the Orator Without a Purpose” a couplet saying,

On paper you find all their prasangs (contextualising examples), on paper you find the “Chapter of Remembrance”,

On paper you find the boundless light, but inside of them terrible darkness holds sway.[10]

The live performance of a sermon is therefore oral in its fullest sense, although it draws on memorised or printed material and perhaps on notes the preacher has taken while preparing for the task. Preaching during the chaumasa is mandatory for heads of religious institutions. The mandatory character of preaching is mentioned as enjoined upon monks in the Panthpaddhati by Jnandas, which may date to around the middle of the eighteenth century.[11]

I myself have not seen a disciple being actually trained for his job as a preacher. At the time of my research I was ignorant of the wide scope of issues that needed examination, but in part the missing evidence of homiletic training is also symptomatic of the structural change in the Dadupanth, where the number of sadhus has constantly dwindled since the earlier part of the twentieth century, and all the more during the last three decades that I have been watching the life of the sect.[12] Naturally this has resulted in a declining demand for homiletic pursuits.

Taken together, texts reaching down to the beginning of the sect as well as live experience and recorded homilies give an idea of the status and means of the art of preaching, though we are far from being able to trace changes that inevitably occurred in topics and homiletic strategies over the long period of four hundred years. Suffice it to mention that, to my limited knowledge, long hagiographic narratives such as those composed by Jangopal, or the narratives of Bajid discussed by Imre Bangha in this volume, do not feature in homilies as long extracts or full-length texts. Portions of Raghavdas’s Bhaktamāl are however read out by preachers and may thus form the substitute of a homily. Kathas based on the Bhāgavata-purāṇa also enjoy popularity. The text, especially Book 11, which is relevant to ascetics, has always inspired sants to compose their own versions.[13]

Since the early anthologies of the Dadupanth that appeared not long after Dadu’s death, Dadupanthi texts have featured, besides the sacred word of Dadu, compositions by other sants and non-sants, as well as texts that must be considered to have formed homiletic aids. These consist of lists of terms, of celestial bodies, lexical aids, assorted sayings, and nutshell versions of the Indian epics. When the Dadupanth adopted Sanskritic intellectual mores, texts on grammar or poetry also became popular.

Preaching is mentioned alongside devotional singing and communal feasting by Dadu’s first hagiographer Jangopal as what Dadu himself practised when he came to the villages of his followers.[14] In 1660, Raghavdas wrote his hagiography Bhaktamāl. In this text he enumerated the fifty-two direct disciples of Dadu and many later disciples as well.[15] In the case of a good number of Dadu’s direct disciples, he mentioned that they were talented orators. Raghavdas clearly distinguishes the various talents relating to the word and its performance, namely preaching, the composition of devotional songs and verses, and devotional singing. About Dadu’s son and successor as head of the sect he says, “as an orator he resembled Vyasa Muni”.[16] His rhetorical skills were complemented by his famed qualities as a singer, on which the hagiography elaborates. Raghavdas’s account of two of Dadu’s disciples, Rajjab and Jagjivandas, is especially relevant for the topic of example. Of Rajjab, a famous and prolific author, he enumerates all poetic and rhetoric accomplishments:

… in his Sarvāṅgī he told the essential truth, he compiled [in it] the poetry of all, sakhis, sabads (devotional songs), kavittas, not one of them without an example (drishtant), all the topical stories (prastav) in the world were standing before him in obeyance…[17]

In this quotation the term prastav needs to be noticed, which according to Swami Narayandas means prasang, the context and the topical narrative elaborating on the example (drishtant), to which we will presently turn.[18]

Of Jagjivandas, Raghavdas says:

… He was a great and accomplished pandit, the excellency of his knowledge is beyond description, his vani is vast, his examples (drishtant) in the form of sakhis are attractive…[19]

Dayaldas is said to have been won over by a sermon given by Dadu, which he was able to repeat from memory word for word.[20] Kapil Muni administered to his audience “the nectar of immortality in the form of kathas, and Chainji loved performing sermons (katha) and praise (kirtan)”.[21] All these references show that preaching was considered a constituent of worship and that the preachers had at their disposal as an homiletic tool the drishtant (example), completed by a prose narrative (prastav, or more commonly prasang[-katha], i.e. topic, narrative context).

As I turn to present-day homiletic practice, my observations span only three decades.[22] Thus any changes in homiletic tradition remain a vexingly elusive issue. Only a few factors of change can be hinted at. The Dadupanth developed a literary, aesthetic, and learned culture that was supported by patronage. To no small extent the Dadupanthi Nagas contributed to these achievements. When their military and ceremonial function at the court of Jaipur waned and their link with wealthy magnates and nobles slackened as a consequence of British Paramountcy, the Dadupanth sought to redress the decline of the tradition and the blatant lack of education among its sadhus that had become all too manifest, at least by the end of the nineteenth century. In 1928 the Dadu Mahavidyalay was founded in Jaipur expressly to redress this lack, and monks were encouraged to have young sadhu-disciples enrolled in this college for a formal education in Hindi and Sanskrit.[23]

The Dadu Mahavidyalay enjoyed for many years the reputation of being Jaipur’s premier Sanskrit college. One of the three preachers whose sermons I examined,[24] the late nineteenth Acharya of the Dadupanth, Swami Hariram (1917-2001), was educated in both the traditional and college style, first during his childhood and early youth by his guru at the Dadudvara of Naraina, the headquarters of the sect, and then up to his late twenties at the Dadu Mahavidyalay, where he earned the degrees of Shastri in Grammar and of Kavyatirtha, before he passed an exam in Hindi literature from the University of Calcutta. His preparations for the exam of Shastri in Vedanta were interrupted in 1944 when he was made the pujari of Naraina.[25] The second preacher is Mandaleshwar[26] Haridas, who was trained in the traditional way by his guru. Haridas used to write poetry himself, and he is an acclaimed orator. He used to be mahant of Kacharoda near Phulera, but at one point resigned and took to peripatetic life. There has probably been no mela in the last thirty years that has not featured his sermons. The third preacher is the late Mahant Pokhardas (d.2008) of Gangaramji ki Poh (Nagaur District), who had been trained at the math by his guru Gangaramji and, though carefully fulfilling his homiletic duties, was not a preacher by vocation.

The touchstone of preaching is no doubt that it be both understood and enjoyed by the audience. Swami Hariramji’s sermons were greatly praised by everyone, but some people would pass the comment: “He is very learned”, in other words, a little hard to enjoy. Haridasji’s sermons reach the heart of everyone. Pokhardasji’s homilies were far from flamboyant, but they were devoutly listened to as the words of a beloved guru. As for the comprehensibility of sermons as a whole and the many quotations that occur in them and may be used as drishtant elaborated on by a prose narrative, every devotee understands them. Devotees are themselves often mines of quotations from the scriptures and oral sources. An incident of this, perhaps only striking to me, was a public recital of memorised couplets by Dadu, chanted from a dais with great gusto and at rapid pace to an enthusiastic audience, which lasted about twenty-five minutes. This took place during a stop in a foot pilgrimage in 2005. The performer was a local bus driver. This reminds one of the aforementioned competitions of reciting couplets memorised from the scripture, which a monk remembered having practised as a child-sadhu.


So far the term drishtant (dr̥ṣṭānt), “example”, has been found to describe a verse quoted from the sacred words of Dadu, the compositions of other sants or by authors of the wider tradition inside and outside of the sant spectrum. The drishtant is usually elaborated through a prasang, “context”, i.e. one or several contextualising verses pertinent to the topic of the sermon, and an ensuing narrative, which in its turn can be simply called either prasang or prastav. According to modern terminology, that narrative is called a prasang-katha. What has come down to us are, first of all, the sant or other poetic compositions, from which drishtants can be drawn. Second, special collections of drishtants have also come down to us, either by that name or under other rubrics, notably phutkar “miscellaneous”. What was not transmitted in sectarian writing until well into the twentieth century were the prose narratives themselves. These were part of the oral tradition transmitted in the monastic milieu which formed a specialised domain within the floating oral tradition of the region concerned and beyond that region, for the oral tradition travelled with its transmitters and audiences, among whom transhumance, periodic migrancy, and other forms of mobility attributed to the circulation of tradition.

The Dadupanthi exemplum thereby partly differs from, and partly converges with, its medieval European counterpart, which has been the subject of intense research by scholars of both medieval and Renaissance literature and history. Since the late 1960s, the historical aspects of exempla have found special interest also among scholars of medieval history, since Jacques LeGoff in 1968 launched

[u]n plan d’étude d’un genre littéraraire, les exempla, […] qui devrait conduire à la connaissance précise des contes populaires du Moyen Age, l’exemplum, historiette à l’usage des prédicateurs, étant en general la transportations savant à l’usage du peuple d’un conte populaire sous-jacent.[27]

The medieval exemplum was thus defined as a narrative used by preachers, irrespective of its classical function or the function that it assumed when used by Renaissance intellectuals.[28] In medieval Europe, the exemplum as a homiletic tool attained importance from the eleventh century onwards, when it flourished in monastic as well as urban milieux. This culminated in the period between 1220 and 1320, when after the Lateran Council of 1215 the Mendicant Orders oriented their attention especially to the laity. A new public, beyond the walls of monasteries, needed to be convinced of the religious message. Dadupanthi preachers have found themselves confronting the same task.

The study of the exemplum as narrative in European medieval preaching into the Renaissance has also shed light on its enormous variations. Basically, the purpose and function of example may well be captured in the words of Peter von Moos in his study of exemplum from antiquity to Renaissance:

Exemplum is a set of events of real or imagined human life in the recent or distant past which, isolated ad hoc from its original context, is mostly narrated (in a historia) or just alluded to (commemoratio) with the pragmatic, strategic or theoretical intention of illustration, confirmation, stating and resolving of a problem, reflection and orientation.[29]

As for its variants, all kinds of literary types or fragments and quotations thereof may serve as exemplum in that sense. This prompted Burghart Wachinger to make a statement also applicable to the Dadupanthi case: “An example is that which serves as an example for something else. Only its function in context renders an example an example”.[30]

The narration may be complex, boxing additional examples and sub-narratives, or may shrink towards zero so that the example may be mentioned in a mere figure of speech which assumes that the listener or reader is aware of the narrative implied.[31]

In the Dadupanthi tradition, the narrative is an inherent but latent constituent of the verse exemplum. The exemplum triggers the narrative. This no doubt raises the question, to be addressed further on, if to any significant extent we can assume an established link between a particular verse example and the ensuing narrative.

The drishtant as a homiletic device is also found elsewhere in the Indian preaching tradition. In the late thirteenth century, soon after their founder Chakradhara’s death (1278, according to the sectarian tradition) the Mahanubhavas made compilations of drishtants, extracted from Chakradhara’s works and used for religious instruction. In this way they took care to preserve his original teachings.[32] Let it be repeated that in the Dadupanthi tradition drishtant is only one of the numerous homiletic instruments at the preacher’s disposal. Lists of various items, names, yogic postures, lexical and many more aids—come down to us in Dadupanthi compilations—added to his tool-box.[33]

Whereas in Sanskrit poetics the drishtanta or “the aim or end of what is seen”[34] is a syntactic figure of speech which forms “the adjunction of a second situation which bears upon the same point as the first and where the purpose is entirely one of illustration”,[35] this description is only one of the various descriptions applicable to the drishtant used for homiletic purposes. It enunciates a general truth A, which is exemplified by a proposition B (or the other way round), as in the following verse:

Absorbed in playing with cowries, a child fearfully holds his breath.
Bakhana says: You will find the Lord, if in the same way you direct all your attention to His feet.[36]

The use of examples going beyond figures of speech is certainly well attested in literary history, though not necessarily by that term. Poetics would be a case in point, as for example Vishvanatha Kaviraja’s Sāhityadarpaṇa, followed by Keshavdas in his Rasikapriyā and in the same author’s Kavipriyā (see Busch in this volume). In these texts abstract definitions and tropes to be employed in poetry are illustrated through examples. The Rasikapriyā, though not the Kavipriyā, also provides narrative verses to illustrate the definition.

For the Dadupanthi tradition, we need to consider separately first the drishtant in the sense of a verse, mostly in the form of a couplet (doha) or a song or a portion thereof, and second the narrative (prasang-katha) in which the example is unfolded. Raghavdas’s hagiography is perhaps the first Dadupanthi source to expressly mention the verse example and a subsequent narrative. In this connection he refers to Jagjivandas, who composed some 2,500 couplets and was famous for his elaboration of couplets in narratives.

From an early period onwards we indeed find in the Dadupanthi compilations of sakhis (“testimonies”) by Jagjivandas grouped together, significantly often next to other drishtant sakhis or sakhis of the phutkar (miscellaneous) rubric, which in turn could also be arranged systematically by topics or authors or both categories.[37] An early occurrence dated 1676 CE is a manuscript which gives 109 of Jagjivandas’s sakhis.[38] In any event, Jagjivandas’s drishtants as well as those of Raghavdas form stock items in Dadupanthi anthologies, especially those rich in homiletic aids.

The wealth of manuscripts often of great length and calligraphic quality indicate that the patrons of these were men—and occasionally women—of considerable means. The anthologies reflect in many ways the homiletic requirements of their patrons. This points to the fortunes of the Dadupanth. From the late eighteenth century the Nagas especially accumulated great wealth, which was also spent on the production of exquisite manuscripts. A brief remark on that branch may not be out of place, since the text to be examined presently was composed by a Dadupanthi Naga. The Nagas, fighting monks, have a long history and in the period under review were attached to almost all major religious orders. The Dadupanthi Nagas cultivated Rajput ideals, also with respect to courtly taste for literature and the arts.[39] They regard as the progenitor of their lineages Sundardas, the son of Raja Jaitsi of Bikaner. Hapoji (Haridas), the sixth son of Raja Mansingh of Amer by a servant woman, joined those Nagas who were disciples of Dadu, though they may have resisted full institutional integration into the early Dadupanth. In their formative period these Nagas are not reported as warriors but as men cultivating literature. Famous among them is Raghavdas, the author of the Bhaktamāl (1660), who belonged to the same lineage as Hapoji. In pursuing the arts, the Nagas emulated the taste of the kings and court of Amer. In the latter part of the eighteenth century the Nagas became formally attached to the Kachhwaha court, now residing in Jaipur. In the early nineteenth century we find their leader Santoshdas also serving in the royal bodyguard.[40] Whereas they had previously engaged in fighting as a special contingent in the Jaipur army, between 1818 and 1857 they were deployed to quell civil rebellions of local Thakurs after Jaipur became a British protectorate. Their standing firmly by the side of the British in the revolt of 1857 earned them recognition. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, though still on the payroll of Jaipur State and enjoying land and revenue grants, they had lost most of their practical function. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the army of Jaipur was finally re-organised on modern principles and the Dadupanthi Nagas were disbanded, and apart from the mahant of Nivai, the head of all Nagas who retained the privilege of having his own chair in the darbar, and another Dadupanthi who retained the rank of one of the eleven rajgurus of the Jaipur king, all their privileges lapsed.[41] While the Nagas and the Dadupanth as a whole suffered by this change, and innumerable Dadupanthi institutions went to shambles, several members of the Naga elite established themselves in the professions, and some of their leaders had the considerable foresight to encourage their disciples to resign the monkhood and adjust to civil society.

What we can lay our hands on up to the early nineteenth century is only the overwhelmingly copious manuscript evidence of the drishtant tradition. The prose narratives attached to them remain as yet elusive, not to speak of the difficulty of determining how firmly the verse examples were connected with particular narratives. The evidence becomes more explicit with the year 1827 (VS 1884), when Champaram ceremonially completed his Dr̥ṣṭānt-saṃgrah.[42] In this work he adopted a structure either new or hitherto not recognised by students of Dadupanthi homiletics. Champaram still does not give us prose narratives, but he opens up an avenue leading to them. Champaram’s work, published for the first time as late as 1984, became a recognised source for examples, recorded in scholarly works long before its publication, for C.P. Tripathi had used it in manuscript form for his 1909 edition of the Dādūvāṇī.

Champaram, who died in VS 1900 (c.1843 CE), was a Naga of the akhara of Giridhardas within the Udaipur Jamat, which was founded sometime before 1784.[43] He was quite a typical author for the literary culture of the Nagas. Besides the Dr̥ṣṭānt-saṃgrah, he composed a work on prosody (Prastārdīpak) and the Kṣīrārṇav, which is among the largest anthologies compiled by Dadupanthis and to date unpublished. This work was completed ceremonially in 1840 at the main mela of the sect at Naraina and also includes Champaram’s own verses. The Dr̥ṣṭānt-saṃgrah is a work of some consequence for the topic of homiletics. This is what the author says in it about himself and his work:

Within my intellectual capacity, I have made exegesis in the form of examples,
devotees must not blame me for what I have heard myself from my guru. (1)

The words of Dadu Din Dayalu are an ocean,
one cannot swim across, even the most excellent pandits get exhausted. (2)

While pandits preach, they give many examples,
I have not written down all of these, may all Sants pardon me for this. (3)

My name is Champaram, I am the servant of all Sants,
nobody should feel frustrated by listening to the book I have written. (4)

In the year VS 1884, on the full moon day of Asoj,[44] in Rupnagar. (5)

Herewith the pada part of the book called Dr̥ṣṭānt-saṃgrah is finished.

The book Dr̥ṣṭānt-saṃgrah is complete with this. 449 dohas, 13 ancient drishtants. The total number of verses of the book is authenticated as 715.[45]

The “ancient drishtants” are examples in which the name of its author is given, such as Jagjivandas, Bakhana, and Raghavdas. All other examples, that is 436, are anonymous.

Champaram follows exactly the sequence of the sakhis and padas as they occur in the various chapters of the Dādūvāṇī and complements each of the couplets or song verses of songs he selects with a prasang couplet. In this way a selection from the canonical scripture gets firmly linked with a verse establishing a context. He gives no prose narrative, though, for the preacher was supposed to provide it. The editor of Champaram’s work, however, the most prolific Dadupanthi author and polyhistor of the twentieth century, Swami Narayandas, who was also first initiated as a Naga but at some point adopted the lifestyle of a solitary virakt in Pushkar, complemented the prasangs with prose narratives. The Swami, who was born in 1903 and died in the 1990s aged well over ninety, also compiled six volumes of drishtants (over 3000 of them) and a number of other works related to the genre.[46] In his edition of Champaram’s work Narayandas points out that he heard Champaram’s drishtants with the stories supplemented by himself from the then elderly Mandaleshwar Ramdas Dubal Dhaniyan,[47] who in turn had picked them up from the old monk Ramnivas. Narayandas does not give exact dates for these two men but says that the tradition he received can be estimated to span about three hundred years.[48] In any case, the oral tradition on which the narratives provided by Narayandas are based goes back to the period of Champaram himself.

In what follows I will discuss cases from Champaram’s work and the prose narratives supplemented by Narayandas. I shall focus on one particular aspect that can be systematically captured best as an aspect of one of the seven characteristics proposed by John D. Lyons in his study of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century exemplarity. This is the characteristic of exteriority, which will here be further limited to an aspect which I propose to call territoriality. According to Lyons:

Example is a way of gesturing outside the pure discourse of the speaker/writer toward support in a commonly accepted textual or referential world. As external to discourse, or as a unit of discourse separated from the unqualified enunciation of the speaker alone, example can be conceived as something that speaker and audience, writer and reader look toward as possible common ground. In this case example would be ouside the “inside” constituted by the discourse of direct assertion and would itself be a closed entity, which would present itself to be beheld by the public. Example is part of argumentation as a kind of evidence in the full Latin sense of evidentia, something capable of being seen, radiating its visibility outward (ex + videre). Although example is often associated with authority it differs from simple authoritarian assertion by appealing to something that diverts the audience from a direct affirmation and says “see for yourself”.[49]

In the beginning of this essay I dwelt at some length on the cultural region and lifestyle of the Dadupanth. Through its ramats and by establishing footholds all over Rajasthan, the Dadupanth made a territorial claim that needed to be confirmed continuously by pointing to the roots that it had sunk in the region and, possibly, to the intimate link that the populace had with Dadu himself. I call this aspect “territoriality”. We find that more often than not the prasangs and the narratives they triggered connect preacher and audience with particular topographically defined situations and characters. Thus narrative strengthens the sect’s link with localities where followers of the sect live and helps forge and sustain territorial alliances.

Case I[50]

आज्ञा अपरंपार की, बसि अंबर भरतार।
पटंबर पहर कर, धरती करे सिंगार॥३.१५७॥

ājñā aparampāra kī, basi ambara bhartāra,
hare paṭambara pahara kara, dharati kare siṅgāra.

If it is your will, Infinite One, reside in the sky, oh Lord,
Donning a green shawl, the earth will embellish herself. (3.157)


आंधी गांवहि मांहि, रहे जू दादूदासजी।
बरसी नांहि, कर विनती बर साइया॥३.१८॥

āndhī gāṃvahi māṃhi, rahe jū Dādū Dāsajī,
varṣā barasī nāṃhi, kar vinati bar sāiyā.

When Dadu Das stayed in the village of Andhi,
He asked the Lord for a boon [with the words]: “There is no rain!” (3.18)

The sakhi by Dadu is from the “Virah kau aṅg” (“The Chapter on Separation”). The couplets in that chapter express that the only way to experience the divine beloved is by suffering the pangs of separation from him. The lover thirsting for the sight of his beloved is absorbed in him. Consumed by the piercing pain of the arrow of separation, man is shattered and transformed. This is the note set by the couplet immediately preceding the one quoted above and which is the first of three sakhis which conclude the chapter on viraha, capturing the ultimate union of the virahini with her beloved with images of the rainy season. These sakhis can be read in two ways, as prayers for the rasa of union with the divine and for rain. The prasang dwells on the prayer for rain as it was uttered by Dadu when he stayed in Andhi. The generally valid prayer for release from spiritual and physical drought is transported to the topographically specific, to the village of Andhi (Jamva Ramgarh tahsil, Jaipur district). Andhi is a constituency of the Dadupanth founded in Dadu’s own lifetime.

Narayandas adds to the example given by Champaram the story of how Dadu’s disciples Purnadas and Tarachand, both Khandal Vaishyas from the Maharval gotra, were in the process of organising the master’s chaturmasa in Andhi and how the whole village was in dispair and about to leave for Malwa because a drought had hit it. Due to Dadu’s intercession, it started raining. The inhabitants of Andhi and the chaturmasa were saved.

Purnadas, the devout Mahajan disciple from Andhi, occurs already in the earliest hagiography by Jangopal.[51] Purnadas had invited Dadu to Andhi, and the large number of people who are reported by Jangopal to have gone there to see Dadu indicates that he stayed there for an extended period. There was also at least one more festival in Andhi organised by disciples of Dadu. Jangopal mentions eleven of these disciples by name, including Purnadas, though he does not refer to Tarachand.[52] This may point to the elaboration of the tradition of connecting that sakhi with Andhi by pointing to another individual of local importance.

How the tradition and its elaboration were formed we do not know in detail. However, we know about Andhi, a place where today about 100 families are Dadupanthis, about a tenth of the village population, sixty of them Maharval Khandelvas. The Dadupanthis have four places (ramshalas) in Andhi, the oldest one said to have been the locale of Dadu’s chaturmasa. It is a big complex, now in a state of disrepair, with interesting remains such as those of an aqueduct, something that points to the patronage the place must have enjoyed in the past. As one enquires about the Dadupanth from people in Andhi, it is the Meharval shopkeepers who are immediately forthcoming and show the visitor round the village, take him to their religious places, and point out the event of Dadu’s chaturmasa.[53] The Dadupanthis of Andhi have maintained a distinctly local Dadupanthi identity, which they enact with enthusiasm and vigour. Today they are pillars of a relatively recent tradition of a Dadupanthi sacred journey, where they form a distinct local group.[54] The refreshed memory of their role at the formative stage of their sect encouraged them to invest in 1996 in a new ramshala though they are not well-off. They are emphasising their adherence to Dadu, although they realise that the festivals they celebrated in the past are no longer in vogue and also beyond their means.

This then is a case where tradition and its narrative as part of the community’s memory have been crucial for the identity of a local caste group within the sect that seeks to assert its position in the vagaries of change.

Case 2[55]

दादू निबरा ना रहै, ब्रह्म सरीखा होइ।
समाधि रस पीजिये, दादू जब लग दोइ॥४.३११॥

Dādū nibarā nā rahai, brahma sarikhā hoi
lai samādhi rasa pījiye, Dādū jaba laga doi.

Dadu, do not stop striving though you have become like brahman,
As long as there are two, drink the rasa of profound meditation leading
to absorption. (4.311)


न्यारे ने हीरा लह्यो, फिर भी हेरत ठौ
बूझी बादशाह, अब क्यों ढूंढत और॥४.२५॥

nyāre ne hīrā lahyo, phira bhī herata ṭhaura
bahuryoṃ būjhi bādśāha, aba kyoṁ ḍhūṃḍhata aura.

The man sifting dust for valuable matter had found some, yet still he
went on searching the place,
The emperor asked once again: “Why do you now search again?” (4.25)

बेखुदखबर होशियार बाशद, खुदखबरपामाल।
मस्तानः गल्तान, नूर प्याले ख्याल॥४.३१२॥

bekhudkhabara hoshiyāra bāshada, khudkhabara pāmāla,
bekīmata mastānaḥ galtāna, nūra pyāle khyāla.

He who is forgetful of himself is wide attentive, he who is carefree is worthless,
Priceless is he who is drunk, wallowing in his desire for the cup of light. (4.312)


या साखी सुन औलिया, चल आया आमेर।
करत गुरु देख के, मुड़ चालत लियो फेर॥४.२६॥

yā sākhī suna auliyā, cala āyā Āmera,
kathā karata guru dekha ke, muṛa cālata liyo phera.

Because the saint had heard this sakhi, he came to Amer,
Seeing the guru preaching, he turned and went back. (4.26)

दादू हरि रस पीवतां, कबहूं अरुचि होइ।
प्यासा नित नवा, पीवणहारा सोइ॥४.३१७॥

Dādū hari rasa pīvatāṃ, kabahūṃ aruci na hoi.
Pīvata pyāsā nita navā, pīvaṇahārā soi.

Dadu, while drinking the juice of Hari he will never grow a dislike of it,
While drinking his thirst will be perpetually renewed: Such is the one
who truly drinks. (4.317)


वरुण मित्र किया जाट को, आना मेरे गेह।
तिसाया पीवत भया, अमृत कर अति नेह॥४.२७॥

Varuṇa mitra kiyā jāṭa ko, ānā mere geha,
gayā tisāyā pīvata bhayā, amr̥ta kara ati neha.

Varun befriended a Jat, [who said,] “Come to my house!”
He went because he was thirsty. Passionately fond of the nectar, he
drank continuously. (4.27)

चिड़ी चंचु भर ले गई, नीर निघट नहिं जाइ।
बासण ना किया, सब दरिया मांहि समाइ॥४.३३१॥

ciṛī cañcu bhara le gaī, nīra nighaṭa nahiṃ jāi
aisā bāsaṇa nā kiyā, saba dariyā māṃhi samāi.

The bird took a beakful [of water]. The water is not diminished by this.
No pitcher was made to contain all oceans. (4.331)


गुरु दादू का दर्श कर, अक्बर किया संवाद।
सुनाइ कबीर की, ब्रह्म सु अगम अगाध॥४.२८॥

guru Dādū kā darśa kara, Akbara kiyā saṃvāda
sākhi sunāi Kabīra kī, brahma su agama agādha.

Receiving Dadu, Akbar had a conversation with him.
Dadu recited a sakhi of Kabir [and said]:
“The Supreme Self is inaccessible and unfathomable”. (4.28)

The sakhis come from the “Paricay kau aṅg” (“The Chapter on the Experience”). Within that chapter of 351 couplets, Champaram provides a prasang for twenty-eight of them. The quoted prasangs (25-28) thus stand last in that chapter of his commentary. Experiencing the divine is an act of applying oneself continuously and drinking with all one’s senses the nectar that starts flowing when the soul realises union with the divine. The first sakhi of Case 2 is not topographically specific but has a humble man teach the emperor a lesson on persistence. The story supplemented by Narayandas has the emperor pass by a man sifting dust for something valuable. Commiserating with him, he slips a precious stone into the dust. The pauper duly finds it, but when the king passes by on some later occasion he sees the same man again sifting dust. The king asks him why he is doing so now that he is wealthy. The man answers that one does not give up a job in which there is such great profit. This narrative is not associated with Dadupanthi territoriality but asks the listener to judge the man’s action by the standard of what any sensible person would do. The example links the notion of continuous meditation, which is remote from the lives of ordinary listeners, to their ordinary life-experience. It says: “It is only sensible to doggedly pursue a track which has been found to deliver infinite wealth”.

The next sakhi depicts a man drunk on a potion of light. This is complemented by the example of the Muslim saint (auliya) who heard someone pronouncing this sakhi by Dadu. It struck the saint as the uttering of a mystic fully immersed in God and therefore lost to the world—Dadu must be the master whom he had been looking for! Accordingly, he went to visit Dadu in Amer (where Dadu had resided since c.1580). When the saint came to Amer he found Dadu preaching, that is, interacting with the world and not withdrawn from it in the state of mystic rapture. Appalled by this, he turned on his heels and returned from where he had come.

This is all that we can conclude from the example, which also has the function to authenticate the sakhi as Dadu’s, for in the verse itself his name is not given. The narrative supplemented by Narayandas says that Dadu was on his way back to Amer from Fatehpur Sikri, where he had been received by Emperor Akbar. His return, then, must have been a triumphant one. The veracity of Dadu’s interview with Akbar has been debated. It is said to have taken place in 1586. Dadu’s residence in Amer lies at the foot of the structures preceding the royal palace of Amer, on land provided by the then-king Bhagavantdas, who is said to have been the mediator in the meeting of Dadu with the emperor. In 1585 a daughter of Bhagavantdas, Man Bai, was married to prince Salim, the later Emperor Jahangir. Dadu’s meeting with Akbar figures in the earliest hagiography devoted to Dadu, by Jangopal, who wrote it not long after Dadu’s death. It would have been embarrassing for a religious community to falsely claim that the king on whose land and under whose vigilant eye Dadu lived, had been instrumental in the meeting of their master with the emperor. I therefore see no reason to disavow the veracity of that meeting, although there are no other sources to support it. This is not surprising, for the meeting will not have had the same importance for the emperor that it had for Dadu’s followers. A master who had received the emperor’s attention, one who spoke in the parlance of a sufi saint—he it was who so deeply disappointed the auliya. Did Dadu then just pose as a mystic? A disciple was sent to prevail on the auliya to come back, and he agreed after some hesitation. Dadu found out what troubled him, and argued that unless he instructed his followers they would remain ignorant of the mystic state of which that sakhi was the expression. The example is interesting for bringing up a Muslim saint as interlocutor of Dadu. This is an apposite exegesis of that Persianate sakhi amidst a sequence of almost exclusively Hindi sayings in the latter part of the fourth chapter of sakhis in the Dādūvāṇī, and it once again brings home to the listener a grand moment in the history of the sect.

This is followed by a sakhi that expresses once again the bhakta’s insatiable thirst for God and is complemented by an example introducing Varun and a Jat as interlocutors. The narrative elaborates that Varun, after all the god commanding the water, had come to the desert of Marwar and, suffering from hunger and thirst, was fed and given something to drink at the house of a Jat. Varun promised him that he would help him in times of need. When there was a drought, the Jat asked Varun to give him of his nectar to drink and drank insatiably. Here the territorial aspect is constituted by Marwar, where Jats are numerous. Jats form a major part of the Dadupanthi constituency. I will return to this presently.

Dadu’s last sakhi in the sequence talks of the boundlessness of the ocean of brahman. Champaram’s example points to the apposite saying of Kabir without quoting it, for he could expect every Dadupanthi preacher to be familiar with it. Its earliest Dadupanthi occurrence is in Jangopal’s hagiography of Dadu:

तन मटकी मन मही प्रांण बिलोवणहार।
कबीरा ले गया औरंनि हूं आधार॥

tana maṭakī mana mahī prāṃṇa bilovaṇahāra,
tata Kabīra le gayā auraṃni huṃ ādhāra.

The body is a churn, the mind is the milk, breath churns it up.
Kabir took the essence with him to also support others.[56]

The story complementing this is also set in the context of Dadu’s conversation with Akbar in Fatehpur Sikri. On that occasion Dadu reportedly quoted Kabir’s couplet. The narrative confirms the link joining Kabir and Dadu, who saw himself, and was seen by his disciples, as a trustee of the spiritual bequest of Kabir. Kabir gives legitimation to Dadu, and at the same time, according to the sect, Dadu also enjoys a sovereignty that partly derived from the recognition Akbar had given him. Both the example and, in even more certain terms, the narrative place this in a topographic perspective.

Up to this stage, we have proceeded from verses by Dadu complemented by verse examples provided by Champaram and, then, by prose narratives provided by Champaram’s editor, Swami Narayandas. This is an oral tradition now reduced to writing. The question to be asked is how far this tradition has remained oral in the sense of not relying on written sources as derived orality. Related to this question is one that I raised earlier in this essay, namely whether the link between the verses by Dadu and examples as given by Champaram can be considered as fairly stable. A third question, which is pretty futile to raise now given that the preaching tradition is seriously eroded, would have been whether the prose narratives provided by Narayandas represent a broadly shared tradition or vary from monastic lineage to monastic lineage, and whether they keep constantly absorbing folk narratives or are relatively frozen. New forms of religious communication have gained prominence over preaching. For example, hagiographical films on Dadu or other sants shown at melas and available also on DVD have become quite popular and draw undivided attention. They deserve attention also because their production involves new forms of patronage and aims at middle class target groups, who have had a strong impact on the recent, distinctly laical, development of the sect. Sectarian preachers can also hardly cope with performers boosted by the media and enjoying popularity with the urban middle class.

The exempla quoted under Case 2 and the stories relating to them do indeed form part of the surviving oral tradition. In 1985 I recorded the sermon of Mahant Pokhardasji of Gangaramji ki Poh. The sermon was on sakhi chapter four of the Dādūvāṇī, the “Paricay kau aṅg” (“The Chapter on Experience”) to which the exempla quoted under Case 2 refer. Pokhardasji, like his guru Gangadasji, was a Jat, and his local followers were mainly Jats and Rajputs, including affluent followers from the professional classes of Jaipur and Jodhpur. In a region where the rivalry between the Jats and Rajputs is engrained, this is significant, especially because the math has served as a haven for Rajput widows who turned Dadupanthi nuns. It had been the charismatic Mahant Gangadasji who had supported these women and encouraged them in the face of initially fierce oppostion from the local Rajputs. As for Pokhardasji, he was not much conversant with Hindi, which he used only as the language for homilies. He felt really comfortable only with Marwari. His charisma was not that of an orator, but of a shepherd of his following which ranged, and continues to range under his successor, from village people to urban public service elites. What he had learnt, he had acquired from his guru Gangadasji. There is hardly a chance that he ever studied manuscripts, not to speak of doing so with the intent of looking for homiletic aids. When I recorded his sermon, Swami Narayandas’s edition of Champaram’s examples was barely a year old. Under the circumstances, the only channel of transmission of the examples given by Champaram he could access was the oral tradition that had come to him mainly through his guru and perhaps through preachers he may have listened to at religious functions.

Pokhardasji took recourse to a sermon pattern which is rhetorically not very sophisticated. It consists in the consecutive treatment of sakhis, in that case from the “Paricay kau aṅg”. He commented on sakhi by sakhi. In this fashion Pokhardasji strung together sakhis 299 to 331 from that chapter, giving, apart from some variants, only the stories recorded by Narayandas. Not all the sakhis he built his homily on were ones Champaram had provided examples to, but those that had also occurred in Pokhardasji’s sermon. He also used the very same sakhi by Kabir which had already been quoted by Jangopal in his hagiography and also by Narayandas. When giving the narratives supplementing the examples of Champaram, Narayandas often adds that one needs to consider not only that particular single sakhi for which Champaram provides an example but a whole cluster of sakhis from the relevant chapter.[57] In fact Champaram himself quite often proceeds by sakhi clusters. This is in accordance with the method Pokhardasji followed, whose homily covered an unbroken string of sakhis from that one chapter. All this points to a transmission of the Dādūvāṇī which was supported by the homiletic tradition that provided an internal structure, including clustering. The thematic sakhi chapters, and to some extent also the songs, the refrains or select stanzas of which are also used as topics for homilies, are thereby given a living body fashioned from (a) the citation from the Dādūvāṇī, (b) the example, and (c) a narrative. The link between a sakhi, or a verse from a song, and a particular example and narrative, which may at first sight appear idiosyncratic, thus seems to have been forged by an ongoing homiletic tradition.

As one tries to find access to the tradition, particular preferences of preachers and singers find an explanation. There is, for example, one very popular song by Dadu which has been often sung at the festivals of the Dadupanth of the last decades of the twentieth century by a distinguished singer from a Naga lineage, with other singers following suit.[58] The performance of that song by an expert singer provides for a deeply emotional experience. It was only by studying Champaram that I discovered that that song also represented an exemplum supplemented by the story of how the learned Jagjivandas became a Dadupanthi and the founder of the early Dadupanthi settlement at Dausa. Dausa is an ancient stronghold of the Kachwaha dynasty, and here the early Dadupanthi constituency that had formed around Jagjivandas was supported by merchant castes.[59] These patrons became momentous in a number of sectarian settlements which soon formed in Marwar, Shekhavati, and other regions. The Dausa Dadupanthis even now keep recollecting, re-living, and reminding their co-religionists of their role in the making of the sect, and also as sponsors of festivals and pilgrimages.[60] The ancient examples and stories have been instruments of self-assertion in the rapidly changing world of the merchant castes of that region. The role of the Dausa community in the history of the Dadupanth cannot be overestimated, and it is interesting to see how the story of the origin of their branch became linked to one of the songs of Dadu, the performance of which is able to raise great emotion. In this way territoriality is established, sustained, and mobilised by historical recollection, homily, and emotion.

The sectarian homiletic tradition of which I have spoken goes back to the formative stage of the sect. With its stories complementing the scriptural passages and exempla, however recently printed, this tradition sheds light on the transmission of the Dādūvāṇī itself and of similar text corpora. On the surface of it the Dādūvāṇī and many other vanis in the Dadupanthi tradition are thematically and musically arranged scriptures. Per se that canonical corpus tells us almost nothing about the way in which these texts were brought to life. However, given the fact that most of the huge collections of texts were similarly arranged by thematical chapters and also that all these texts represent manuals for preachers, there can be no doubt that the Dādūvāṇī originated from the redaction of sayings by, or used by, Dadu in live homiletic contexts. Again, what we have at our disposal are only those collected sayings, soon declared canonical, but not the examples that Dadu certainly gave and elaborated on through stories. The huge anthologies by Rajjab, Gopaldas, and others modified the system initially introduced by Dadu’s amanuensis Mohandas Daftari when he edited the words of the master.[61] Whereas Mohandas had arranged the sakhis under thematic chapters and the songs by ragas, the anthologies, each of which comprises compositions of well over a hundred authors, became arranged exclusively by thematic chapters. In these chapters, couplets, songs, and all other compositions are found collected under the appropriate thematic headline. This system perfectly meets the requirement of preachers, and also reflects how soon the sectarian tradition answered their homiletic needs by bountifully producing the appropriate resources.


1          I wish to thank the organiser and participants of the workshop “Tellings, Not Texts: Singing, Story-tellings and Performance” for their stimulating interventions. I particularly acknowledge Francesca Orsini’s suggestions, the correction Muzaffar Alam made of my earlier translation of the Persianate couplet below, and Sharad Chandra Ojha’s communication on the Dadupanthi community of Andhi. All that may be useful in this article I owe to the gracious forthcomingness of the Dadupanthi community. I especially remember the late Acharya Swami Hariramji of Naraina and the late Mahant Pokhardasji of Gangadasji ki Poh. Among the living I express my special gratitude to Acharya Sv. Gopaldasji of Naraina and to Sukhdevdasji Maharaj of Gangadasji ki Poh for three decades of unflinching friendship and forebearance.

2          As a caveat it may be added that performances of widely different formats are named by these terms. My description of preaching in the Dadupanth, which already shows numerous variants, can therefore not be taken as representative of the genre in toto.

3          Scholars have explored in great depth the homiletic and literary structures of Buddhist and Jain preaching that emerge in their canonical and other literature. By contrast, the resources of modern preachers have not attracted comparable scholarly interest; Kirin Narayan’s Storytellers, Saints, and Scoundrels: Folk Narrative in Hindu Religious Teaching (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1989), a quite self-referential account of the performance of folk-narrative in a religious context, does not touch upon homiletics. By comparison, other forms of oral religious narrative, mainly oral epics, have attracted great attention, e.g. John D. Smith, The Epic of Pābūjī (Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1991); Śrī Devnārāyaṇ Kathā: An Oral Narrative of Marwar, ed. by Aditya Malik (New Delhi: D.K. Printworld, 2003); and idem, Nectar Gaze and Poison Breath: An Analysis and Translation of the Rajasthani Oral Narrative of Devnārāyaṇ (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005).

4          Dadupanthi monastic lineages are not divided by gender. The head of a lineage may have both male and female disciples.

5          See further below. For the symbiotic relationship between monks and nuns on the one hand and lay followers on the other, see Monika Thiel-Horstmann, Symbiotic Antinomy: The Social Organisation of a North Indian Sect (Canberra: Faculty of Asian Studies, Australian National University, 1986).

6          The introduction of katha as an element of Sikh worship is attributed by the sectarian tradition to Bhai Mani Singh (1644-1734); Mandanjit Kaur, The Golden Temple: Past and Present (Amritsar: Department of Guru Nanak Studies, Guru Nanak Dev University, 1983), p. 96.

7          Dadu, Śrī Dādūvāṇī, ed. with commentary by Swami Narayandas (Jaipur: Shri Dadu Dayalu Mahasabha, 2004, 6th edn), Sakhi 14.33, p. 296.

8          For the institution of the math, see Véronique Bouillier, ‘Y’a-t-il des monastères dans l’Hindouisme? Quelques exemples shivaïtes’, in La Vie monastique dans le miroir de la parenté, ed. by Adeline Herrou and Gisèle Krauskopff (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2009), pp. 25-35.

9          To my knowledge only M. Thiel-Horstmann, ‘Dadupanthi Sermons’, in association with Tilak Raj Chopra, in Living Texts from India, ed. by M. Thiel-Horstmann, T.R. Chopra, and Richard K. Barz (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1989), pp. 141-83.

10        Bakhana, Baṣanāṁ-vāṇī, ed. by Bhajandas Swami with commentary by Brajendrakumar Singhal (Jaipur: Shri Swami Lakshmiram Trust, [n.d.]), p. 123 (sakhi 2).

11        Monika Horstmann, ‘The Flow of Grace: Food and Feast in the Hagiography of the Dadupanth’, Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft 150 (2000), pp. 513-80: pp. 531 (st. 18), 535 (st. 62).

12        A sadhu, now in his early fifties and a walking treasure-house of religious and folk couplets and the narratives connected with these, told me that during his childhood (like most sadhus he had joined the monkhood as a child) and youth, there were held among the sadhus contests of reciting memorised sakhis (couplets) from the religious tradition. These exercises would certainly have been useful for aspiring preachers, though that particular sadhu received hardly any formal education, not to speak of the education required to be a preacher.

13        See, for example, Monika Horstmann, ‘Caturdās’s Bhāṣā Version of the Eleventh Book of the Bhāgavatapurāṇa’, in Transforming Tradition: Cultural Essays in Honour of Mukund Lath, ed. by M. Horstmann (New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan, 2013), pp. 47-62.

14        See Monika Horstmann, ‘Dadupanthi Anthologies of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries’, Bhakti in Current Research, 2001-2003, ed. by M. Horstmann (New Delhi: Manohar, 2006), pp. 173-75 with reference to primary sources.

15        Fifty-two is the canonical number of Dadu’s direct disciples, probably conceived on the model of the fifty-two branches of samnyasis and Vaishnava Naga (warrior ascetic) branches. Raghavdas himself belonged to the first lineage of Dadupanthi Nagas.

16        Raghavdas, Bhaktamāla (Caturdās kr̥t ṭīkā sahit), ed. by Agarchand Nahta (Jodhpur: Rajasthan Prachyavidya Pratishthan, 1965), chhappai 366.

17        Raghavdas, Bhaktamāla (Nahta, 1965), chhappai 378.

18        Raghavdas, Bhaktamāla (Caturdās jī kr̥t padya ṭīkā tathā Bhaktacaritra prakāśikā gadya ṭīka sahit), ed. by Swami Narayandas (Jaipur: Shri Dadu Dayalu Mahasabha, [n.d.]), chhappai 493, commentary.

19        Raghavdas, Bhaktamāla (Nahta, 1965), chhappai 391.

20        Raghavdas, Bhaktamāla (Narayandas, [n.d.]), chhappai 503.

21        Ibid., chhappais 528 and 571, respectively.

22        Some of this, dating from the early 1980s, has been documented (Thiel-Horstmann, 1989); some material recorded in 2005 at the halts of a Dadupanthi foot pilgrimage has been touched upon briefly in M. Horstmann, ‘An Indian Sacred Journey’, in Prozessionen, Wallfahrten, Aufmärsche: Bewegung zwischen Religion und Politik in Europa und Asien seit dem Mittelalter, ed. by J. Gengnagel, M. Horstmann, and G. Schwedler (Köln, Weimar, Wien: Böhlau, 2008), pp. 336-60. Some homiletic material, recorded at the workshop organised in 2004 at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts on the occasion of the fourth centenary of Dadu’s death, still awaits analysis. Additional evidence is provided by recordings of the late Swami Hariramji’s sermon at the Naraina mela of 1987 (anonymous, [n.d.]). Numerous performances I have attended over the years remained unrecorded.

23        The college exists to this day, but it is no longer a training college for sadhus. Run by the Dadupanth and under its headmaster Swami Bajarangdasji, who is also an alumnus of the Dadu Mahavidyalay, it is overwhelmingly staffed by non-Dadupanthi teachers. The college is also one of the richest repositories of Dadupanthi manuscripts.

24        Thiel-Horstmann (1989).

25        Baldev Vamshi, Smaraṇāñjali: Śrī 1008 Śrī Dādū sampradayācārya śrī svāmī Harirām jī mahārāj (1917-2001) (New Delhi: Akhil Bharatiya Shri Dadu Sevak Samaj, 2002), pp. 5-6.

26        This title describes the head of a group of wandering sadhus (virakt). It does not necessarily indicate that its bearer really leads a peripatetic life.

27        Quoted by Jaques Berlioz, ‘Les recherches en France sur les exempla médiévaux, 1968-1988’, in Exempel und Exempelsammlungen, ed. by Walter Haug and Burghart Wachinger (Tübingen: Max Niemeyer, 1991), p. 289.

28        Medieval homiletic tools formed to no small extent the source for the development of the tools of intellectuals of the Renaissance. For an overview, see Les instruments de travail à la Renaissance, ed. by Jean-François Gilmont and Alexandre Vanautgaerden (Turnhout: Brepols, 2010).

29        “Exemplum ist ein in pragmatischer, strategischer oder theoretischer Absicht zur Veranschaulichung, Bestätigung, Problemdarlegung und Problemlösung, zur Reflexion und Orientierung aus dem ursprünglichen Kontext ad hoc isolierter, meist (in einer historia) erzählter oder nur anspielend erwähnter (commemoratio) Ereigniszusammenhang aus dem wirklichen oder vorgestellten Leben naher und ferner Vergangenheit”; Peter von Moos, Geschichte der Topik. Das rhetorische Exemplum von der Antike zur Neuzeit und der Historiae im “Polycraticus” Johanns von Salisbury (Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 1988), p. xi (my translation).

30        Burghart Wachinger in Kleinere Erzählformen im Mittelalter: Paderborner Colloquium 1987, ed. by Klaus, L. Grubmüller, Peter Johnson, and Hans-Hugo Steinhoff (Paderborn: Schöningh, 1988), p. 230, n. 11, as quoted by Walter Haug, “Exempelsamlungen im narrativen Rahmen: Von ‘Pañcatantra’ zum ‘Dekamerone’”, in Exempel und Exempelsammlungen, ed. by Walter Haug and Burghart Wachinger (Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1991), p. 265 (my translation).

31        See Haug (1991), p. 267.

32        Shankar Gopal Tulpule, Classical Marāṭhī Literature: From the Beginning to A.D. 1818 (Wiesbaden, Otto Harrassowitz, 1979), pp. 324-25.

33        For a lexical aid, see Garibdas’s Anabhay-prabodh, discussed in Winand M. Callewaert, ‘The Anabhay-prabodha of the Dadupanthi Garībdās’, Orientalia Lovanensia Periodica 5 (1974) and 8 (1977), 163-85, 309-30. A related work is the Sarb-bistār (Sarvavistāra), which explains key-terms by appropriate stanzas (Naraina MS VS 1895). For a list of yogic postures and gestures, see the Aṣṭ kumbhak das mudrā in the same manuscript.

34        Monier Monier-Williams, A Sanskrit-English Dictionary (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1956 ed.), s.v. dr̥ṣṭānta, pp. 491-92.

35        Edwin Gerow, A Glossary of Indian Figures of Speech (The Hague and Paris: Mouton, 1971), p. 199, with sub-categories on pp. 199-201; for a comparison with the figures of speech in Latin antiquity, see also Gero Jenner, Die poetischen Figuren der Inder von Bhāmaha bis Mammaṭa (Hamburg: Ludwig Appel Verlag, 1969).

36        Bakhana [n.d.] p. 101, sakhi 1. The commentator explains that the child is absorbed in his play and at the same time afraid that his parents may come and interrupt it.

37        The portion of that rubric can easily run into hundreds of sakhis. See for example MS 4 (undated) with 667 items plus another 210 chands of “drishtants etc.” in Gopalnarayan Bahura and Lakshminarayn Goswami Diksit, Vidyā-bhūṣaṇ-granth-saṅgrah-granth-sūcī, ed. by Svargiy Purohit Harinanarayanji (Jodhpur: Rajasthan Prachya-vidya-pratishthan, henceforth Vidyā-bhūṣaṇ). A good number of voluminous manuscripts, pointing to the considerable wealth of the patron, come from Dadupanthi Naga lineages; see for example Vidyā-bhūṣaṇ MS 68 (undated, but according to the genealogy given in the colophon from about the end of the nineteenth century) with 107 drishtant sakhis by Jagjivan which follow 120 drishtant sakhis by Raghodas. A Naga manuscript, Naraina MS VS 1895 (jyeṣṭha b. 7), also a Naga manuscript, has first 46 folios and a little further down in the anthology 80 folios of just the phutkar (miscellaneous) type.

38        Dadu Mahavidyalay MS 2. W.M. Callewaert, who filmed the manuscript, gives no Vikrama date.

39        On the Nagas, see James Hastings, ‘Poets, Saints and Warriors: The Dadu Panth, Religious Change and Identity Formation in Jaipur State. Circa 1562-1860 CE’ (PhD dissertation, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2002), specifically pp. 176-77 for the Nagas, literature, and the arts.

40        Dastūr komvār (Jaipur, Rajasthan State Archives, Bikaner) 31, pp. 796-98 for the years VS 1863 and 1874. Santoshdas is mentioned as serving in front of the Chandra Mahal and in the Sukhnivas, the private wing and suite, respectively, of the royal palace. He acknowledged his subservience to the king by giving him nazar of a ceremonial shawl and prasad, which shows both his subservience to the king and his religious rank.

41        The rank of rajguru had been acquired by Jugaldas, who was a guru of the Sisodia wife of Jaisingh III and the mother of Ramsingh II. His descendant Gangadas, who died in 1970, still bore the title of rajguru; see Narayandas, Dādū panth paricay, 3 vols (Jaipur: Shri Dadu Dayalu Mahasabha, VS 2035-2036), Vol. 2, pp. 805, 807-08; and Śrī Dādū mahāvidyālay rajat-jayantī granth, ed. by Swami Surjandas (Jaipur: Shri Dadu Mahavidyalay Rajat-Jayanti Mahotsav Samiti, VS 2009), pp. 142-43.

42        Published in Narayandas, Śrī dr̥ṣṭānt-sudhā-sindhu. 6 vols (Jaipur: [n.p.], 2019 VS].

43        For Champaram’s death, Narayandas (VS 2035-2036), Vol. 3, p. 94. The Udaipur(vati) Jamat is based in the Sikar district of Rajasthan. Its foundation is variously dated CE 1833 and even 1848; see Hastings (2002, p. 220) for references. Both these dates do not tally with the fact that the founder of that Jamat, Harikeshdas, died in 1784/VS 1840 (Narayandas VS 2035-6, Vol. 3, p. 13). His grand-disciple was Giridhardas. Neither does the late date tally with the genealogy Champaram gives of himself, namely Vriddhanand (the mystical guru who, according to hagiography, appeared to Dadu twice in his life), Dadu, Sundardas (the elder, the alleged progenitor of the Dadupanthi Naga lineage), Prahlad, his two disciples Haridas (Hapoji) and Shyamdas, Chaturdas, Keval, Hridayram (who in VS 1750 caused a schism of the Dadupanth), Harikeshdas (d.1784), Prem, Ramjidas, Shukdev, Bhojandas, and finally Champaram himself. That late date seems to have been the result of a confusion of the foundation of the Udaipur Jamat with the merger of the Ramgarh Jamat with the Udaipur Jamat which took place in VS 1900 (c.1843 CE); see Narayandas (VS 2035-6), Vol. 3, p. 55.

44        This day marks the end of phase of the moon during which the Navaratra and Vijayadashami celebrations take place. These festivals relate especially to warriors, and hence to the Nagas.

45        The computation of the verses may be that of the scribe, not of Champaram himself.

46        Narayandas, Śrī dr̥ṣṭānt-sudhā-sindhu. 6 vols (Jaipur: [n.p.], [n.d.] [c.VS 2019]).

47        Narayandas (VS 2035-6), Vol. 2, p. 1000. He wrote a summary of Jagannath’s Guṇgañjnāmā, one of the great Dadupanthi anthologies, and was renowned for his knowledge of drishtants.

48        Narayandas, Śrīdādūvāṇī pravacan paddhati (Jaipur: Shri Dadu Dayalu Mahasabha, VS 2040), p. 2.

49        John D. Lyons, Exemplum: The Rhetoric of Example in Early Modern France and Italy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989), p. 28.

50        Narayandas (VS 2040), pp. 82-83, Dadu’s sakhi 3.157.

51        Jangopal, The Hindī Biography of Dādū Dayāl [Jangopāl’s Dādū-janma-līlā], ed. by Winand M. Callewaert (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1988), 9.18.

52        Jangopal (1988), 14.28-30.

53        I am basing this on the report of my collaborator, Sharad Chandra Ojha, who made inquiries in Andhi in March 2004.

54        Horstmann (2008), pp. 353-54.

55        Narayandas (VS 2040), pp. 115-18. Dadu’s sakhis 4.311-12, 317, and 331 (there are no intervening sakhis Champaram commented on). The numbering of Dadu’s compositions is throughout that given by Swami Narayandas both in his edition of Champaram’s work and that of the Dādūvāṇī; see Śrī Dādūvāṇī, ed. with commentary by Swami Narayandas (Jaipur: Shri Dadu Dayalu Mahasabha, 2004, 6th edn).

56        Dādū-janma-līlā, see Callewaert (1988) 5.27, Winand Callewart’s translation with minor modifications: Callewaert took prāṃṇa to mean “life-giver”, whereas I take it in its literal sense and interpret the verse as referring to the yogic practice. Swami Narayandas adds a variant of the last quarter of Kabir’s saying which makes it: “Kabir took the essence with him, while the world drinks the whey”.

57        See for example Narayandas (VS 2040), pp. 106 (3 sakhis), 118 (6 sakhis).

58        Song 193 (“Raga Ramkali”): paṇḍita, rāma milai so kījai…; Narayandas (VS 2040), p. 374.

59        The Dadupanthi settlement at Dausa was soon recognised by the ruling Kachhwaha house, a fact which is not mentioned by Swami Narayandas in his narrative, an author who knew it so well but whose objective here was to provide a narrative for religious instruction and not a lesson in history.

60        Horstmann (2008).

61        Horstmann (2005), pp. 164-69 with reference to primary sources.